Revelation 1:17-20 Part 2

The terrible sight of Almighty God as He reveals Himself to men is fearsome at best.  John’s very being was close to coming apart at the Presence of King Jesus.  It was very similar to Daniel’s reaction in Chapter ten of his prophecy.

Yet Jesus tells John not to fear.  The terror must be replaced, you see.  For the believer, the awesome majesty of God isn’t a cause for fear of undoing – or dissolution; rather it is the ground of our confidence and stability!  And that’s the reason I’ve exhorted you to contemplation of this Revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John was one of mercy and grace and love.  So Jesus touched him and set him on his feet in order that John might see, and hear, and record what he heard and saw for the Churches.  And the Churches were to be strengthened for that which was to come quickly.

Not so for non-believers.

For the covenant people, the appearance of God and His glory-cloud was for their salvation and instruction.  But for Egypt (for example), it was a terrifying omen of their destruction.

The same was true in many other prophecies of old.  Consider Habakkuk chapter three:


10) The mountains saw thee, and were afraid; The tempest of waters passed by; The deep uttered its voice, And lifted up its hands on high.

11) The sun and moon stood still in their habitation, at the light of thine arrows as they went, at the shining of thy glittering spear.

12) Thou didst march though the land in indignation; Thou didst thresh the nations in anger.

13) Thou went forth for the salvation of thy people, for the salvation of thine anointed; Thou woundest the head out of the house of the wicked man, laying bare the foundation even unto the neck.


So, for the evil ones, there is terror from God’s Presence and His indignation; but for those who are His, there is nothing to fear from that wrath and displeasure, for there is rescue and preservation in Him.

    John’s fear of the dreadful and petrifying appearance of Jesus, including the sharp, two-edged sword protruding from His mouth, was appropriately obeisant; after all, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  The sword of the Warrior King (as explained in chapter two of John’s Revelation) makes war on His enemies; but, as the writer of Hebrews says in chapter four verse 12:


“For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

So the Word of God (the double edged sword) is dreadful and terrifying in its temporal and eternal destruction of His enemies; but, at the same time, it is temporally and eternally salvific and protective of those Who belong to Him.

Then, having strengthened John, Jesus says, “I am the First, the Last, and the Living”.

That’s exactly the way Yahveh described Himself in the older Scripture Revelation, isn’t it?  Listen – from Isaiah forty four:


1) Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel, who I have chosen:

2) Thus saith Yahveh that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, who will help thee: Fear not, O Jacob my servant; and thou, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

3) For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

4) and they shall spring up among the grass, as willows by the watercourses.

5) One shall say, I am Yahveh's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto Yahveh, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

6) Thus saith Yahveh, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Yahveh of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God.


And from Isaiah chapter forty eight:


12) Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.

13) Yea, my hand hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spread out the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.


Our Lord Jesus declares Himself to be the “First” and the “Last”, revealed to Isaiah (and others) and here to John.

Jesus also declares Himself to be the “Living”!  Listen:


“For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?”  (Deut. 5:26)


And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, “Come hither, and hear the words of Yahveh your God.”

And Joshua said,


“Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Hivite, and the Perizzite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Jebusite.”  (Joshua 3:9, 10)

And in Jeremiah’s Revelation regarding idolatry, we hear this:


“But Yahveh is the true God; He is the living God, and an everlasting King: at His wrath the earth trembleth, and the nations are not able to abide His indignation.  Thus shall ye say unto them, ‘The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens.’  He hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding hath He stretched out the heavens:  when He uttereth His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings for the rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasuries.”


So, Jesus, speaking to John, declares Himself to be Yahveh of old, The First, The Last, and The Living!  And the context is plain, and clear, that there is none other than Him; and that any other understanding of Him is an idol and is a false god!  And John is to be comforted by these Words from Jesus, for they are immediately reminiscent of, and connected to, the same words to Jacob, and to Isaiah, and to Jeremiah.  And John is to know that the resurrected and enthroned Jesus is Yahveh of old; and He comes with the terrible Sword of indignation for His enemies – and comfort, protection and salvation for His people.

Jesus is God.  He is self-existent, independent and omnipotent.  And He, having been raised from death, is never to die again.  Death is no master over Him.  He is alive forever more.  As the apostle Paul says in Romans chapter six:


3) Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

4) We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

5) For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection;

6) knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin;

7) for he that hath died is justified from sin.

8) But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;

9) knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him.


As the risen Lord, Jesus has the keys of death and of hades (verse eighteen).  We need to spend just a little time here, because the “keys” are mentioned again in chapters three and twenty two.  And they are direct references to the “key of the house of David” in Isaiah 22.  Listen at verse twenty two:


22) And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; and he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.


This Isaiah prophecy is a clear Word regarding the coming Christ and His unlimited sovereignty over all of creation.  He alone controls grace and judgment.  He alone decides irrevocably whether one has access to the “house of David”, or whether one is consigned to the depths of death and hades!

And this is in no way different from the “keys to the Kingdom” given to Jesus’ apostles in Matthew chapter sixteen; for it is the Word of the inspired apostles, received by the Church, that is the very Word of Jesus Christ the resurrected and ascended Lord of Heaven and Earth.

The apostles of Jesus Christ, having the Word of God – Jesus the Christ – were appointed to full authority to speak in His Name.  And that authority is still with us in His Church.  That Word is the Royal Dominion of the King; and that dominion remains exercised in His Church.  He is the reigning Monarch of all of creation; and He has the keys to the Kingdom and the keys of death and hades.  Through the preaching and teaching of the doctrine of Jesus’ apostles, our Lord irrevocably controls access to the Kingdom and to death and hades!  They belong to Him; and He won’t relinquish them.

At the time that John received Revelation of Jesus Christ there was opposition to His Kingdom from two sources.  First, as our Lord Himself accuses the priests and scribes and Pharisees of Israel, they had taken away the key to the door of the Kingdom from the covenant people.  They were the teachers; they were the preachers; they were the wise men ordained to the positions from which the people were to hear.

Instead they were wolves tearing at the very fabric of truth, whitewashed tombs, killers of the prophets, and pursuers of the apostles and the new Church!  And Jesus promised them that all the blood of the righteous from Abel to Zechariah would be brought against them, as justice would come upon them quickly!

Secondly, the Roman empire claimed authority over all the world.  It was the fourth great civilization-changing kingdom revealed to Daniel.  It claimed to have authority over life and death and eternity.  The emperor was god on earth!  The goal of the empire was the entire world, and it would stop at nothing to attain it.  Caesar was absolute ruler; there was no god but Caesar.

But in John’s Revelation it is Jesus Who declares that He is the Lord of life and death and the grave.  Not the emperor of Rome; not Satan; not the ruler of the temple in Jerusalem.  He is the One Who has complete command of all history and eternity.  He has defeated death; and He is First and Last and Living.  And it is in terms of this accomplished, plenary and unconditional dominion that He commissions John to write the Revelation to the Churches.  And it unequivocally sets forth His comprehensive government.

The apostles are the new “scribes” of the Church.  It is their inspired preaching and teaching that opens the door of the Kingdom to those who will hear.  Their doctrine of Jesus Christ is true.  And the Gospel is the power of God into salvation for those who are faithing! 

It is apostolic doctrine – the Word of God through the apostles – that Jesus Himself empowered with the keys to the Kingdom.  Jesus also holds the keys of death and hades.  And men who will not hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ will suffer the wrath of the One Who holds them.

There are many who preach another gospel.  Let them be “anathema”.  That means “unredeemable”.  Those who preach a gospel other than apostolic Gospel are unredeemable!   The apostle said “let them be unredeemable”!

In addition there are many “spongy” hearers.  That means that they soak up foul water as well as good.  But the apostle said you must hear HIM!  Faith comes through hearing – and hearing by the Word of God.  In the preaching of apostolic doctrine, the very voice of Christ is heard!

Then verse nineteen.  John is to write what he has seen, that is the Person of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords standing in the midst of the lampstands holding the stars.  And he is to write what they are, that is, what they correspond to (as is evident in twelve other places in The Revelation).  We’ll see those things in a minute in verse twenty.  Then John is commissioned to write the things that are about to be, which are related to the things he’s seen!   The things that are about to be are those also mentioned in verse one: “that which is necessary to be done in quickness”.

Now.  The things John has seen.  He has seen Jesus – the One Who has been given all authority in the heavens and on the earth.  And Jesus is standing in the midst of the lampstands…..the First and the Last and the Living.  They are all connected to one another; and the One Who shed His blood for them, and Who is their bread of life, holds them together by His very presence.  They correspond to the Church!   And it’s ONE Church (no matter the divisions among sinful men), and it is in many places and all places, all over the earth.  It is ONE and MANY as its Lord is ONE and MANY.  The “seven” is the perfection of the whole!

Let me remind you (since we spoke of this a couple of times previously) that Revelation of Jesus Christ is not a book of symbols.  It is not symbology written for the purpose of cloaking its purpose from the Roman authorities!  It is a fatal mistake to interpret it that way!

Revelation of Jesus Christ is a letter of prophecy!  Although that which is prophesied will take place quickly, it is still prophecy!  And it’s written in the language of prophecy, not in mysterious symbols to cloak its meaning!  And there’s nothing in it that’s not connected to, or directly attributable to, all other prophecy.

And prophetic language isn’t symbolic language.  Jesus isn’t using symbols to reveal Himself and His Church to John; He’s using the language revealed to all the prophets before John! It is correspondent, or equivalent, language; and it is the language of God from HIS perspective!  And it is the very language by which Yahveh revealed His Word to all the prophets before John……the difference being the enthronement of the Christ and the immediate fullness of His Parousia!

The language is from Is, from Was, and from Coming.  It’s the language of First, and Last, and Living (as Jesus describes Himself).  It’s the language of God through the prophets of old. 

And the prophets of symbology are false prophets!  The true prophets are the ones who have stood in the Presence of Almighty God in His heavenly council and wrote the words put into their mouths!

Listen to Jeremiah at chapter 23:


14) In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies; and they strengthen the hands of evil-doers, so that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them become unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.

15) Therefore thus saith Yahveh of hosts concerning the prophets: Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is ungodliness gone forth into all the land.

16) Thus saith Yahveh of Hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they teach you vanity; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of Yahveh.

17) They say continually unto them that despise me, Yahveh hath said, Ye shall have peace; and unto every one that walketh in the stubbornness of his own heart they say, no evil shall come upon you.

18) For who hath stood in the council of Yahveh, that he should perceive and hear his word? Who hath marked my word, and heard it?

19) Behold, the tempest of Yahveh, even his wrath, is gone forth, yea, a whirling tempest: it shall burst upon the head of the wicked.

20) The anger of Yahveh shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall understand it perfectly.

21) I sent not these prophets, yet they ran: I spake not unto them, yet they prophesied.

22) But if they had stood in my council, then had they caused my people to hear my words, and had turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.


You see, it isn’t those who claim the “ability” to prophesy; it isn’t those who arrogate to themselves prophetic “gifts”; rather it is those who have actually been in the Presence of God and in His council chambers (according to Yahveh in Jeremiah 23)!  It isn’t those who wish to have these abilities, like Simon Magus who desired them with all his heart; rather it is the ones who, as dead ones, were touched by Almighty God and given the words in their mouths to speak.

And the apostle John has been in the very presence of the post-incarnate Yahveh, and has received the Word directly from Him!  That’s the Biblical definition of a prophet!  And that Word is no “mystery”; and it is not given in symbols; and it is not received in symbols; and it is not for the purpose of “hiding” anything; and it is not for the purpose of concealing anything from the Roman authorities!

Just consider the fact that the Word of God was being preached all over the known world; and John had already been banished from His seven Churches because of the Word of God and the witness of Jesus.  The Roman authorities already knew all about it!  So, NO!  Revelation of Jesus Christ is prophetic language – not mysterious symbols!  In no way was it received and written in such a way as to camouflage or obfuscate anything from anybody!   It just has to be read and understood, as best we can, through God’s language and from God’s perspective.

Which takes us, lastly, to the stars in the hand of Jesus.  Once again, this is prophetic language – not mystery!

Several Lord’s Day’s ago when we were considering the stars in the hand of Jesus (verse sixteen), we traced some of the prophetic language with regard to them.  And from God’s perspective He made a connection, or a correspondence, between the stars that He had made and His covenant people.

And as He brought the nation of Israel into existence, He actually called her “heaven and earth” (Isaiah 51)!  She was a new “edenic paradise” to occupy a land of milk and honey; and that new “heaven and earth” was a new creation with its own lights.  Prophetic language is used of Israel having its own sun and moon and stars as a separate and distinct creation of God, the creation of which is described with the same language as the original creation.

And God required obedience of her – and worship of God as He commanded worship.  It was all much the same as when God made light, and the sun and moon and the stars; and then having made man, He placed Adam and His wife in the first garden and commanded obedience of Him.

But Israel, like Adam, would not believe – would not obey – would not worship according to God’s commands, and would not anticipate the prophesied Messiah as God revealed Him.

So, in the prophetic language of Scripture, what did God say He would do?  Listen for the wrath of Yahveh toward Israel in Isaiah chapter thirteen:


9) See, the day of the LORD is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger – to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

10) The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light.  The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.


And again from Joel chapter three:


15) The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine.

16) The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble.  But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.


You see, there’s a correspondence in the very mind of God between His covenant people and the created “lights” of the heavens!  Some lights are very bright; some are dimmer; some are constellations; some rule the day; another the night……prophets and apostles and elders and pastors and teachers.  These are prophetic manifestations of God’s creative activity (on the one hand); and then demonstrating prophetically His decreation (on the other) as a nation of God’s own choosing is destroyed for its faithlessness.

Heaven and earth (the creation) was cursed when Adam disobeyed; and God’s creation (Israel) was cursed and decreated when she disobeyed.  And that decreation of Israel (in prophetic language) is prophesied in His unsheathing His sword, and in causing the sun and the moon to darken and the stars in the heavens to fall.  Heaven-and-earth-Israel would pass away in the decreating wrath and anger of Almighty Father/Prince of Peace!

Here in verse twenty, we have the very same prophetic language before us, don’t we?  And instead of inventing and fabricating fables to pass on to generations of people, all we have to do is find where Yahveh Himself uses the same terminology in His prophetic Word!

This is Yahveh of old, the Ancient of Days, the Is, Was and Coming; the First and the Last, with “stars” in His hand.  “In His Hand!”  There are seven of them – perfection – all of them.  His covenant people, in prophetic language a “new heavens and a new earth”, are in the hand of the bodily resurrected, ascended, and crowned Jesus Christ!  Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah in Chapter eleven:


“In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.  In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.”


He is creating a “New Heavens and a New Earth”!  He has “reached out His hand” and rescued His people; and He is holding them there as a new creation!

These are correspondent to the Churches.  Each correspondent to the whole, and all seven representative of the one!  Each is a “messenger” to the Churches that there is soon to be a “new heavens and a new earth”- a “new creation”, for there shall always be “light” in the Church of the Resurrected Christ. It will never be extinguished; there shall never be a “decreation” of this new heaven and earth.   For as Isaiah said,


“for I create a new heavens and a new earth, and the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind”. (Isaiah 65)


And Isaiah sixty six:


“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure.


That assurance is in Jesus’ hand as He stands there in full sight of the apostle John.  The administration of all periods of time are in His hands (that’s what it means….”into the ages of the ages”); and IN HIM are summed up all the things in heaven and on earth.  He, the federal Head of His Church, fills all things in all ways; and all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He embraces, governs and controls the whole.

Other than Jesus’ own words here, the greatest Revelation of the everlasting supremacy of Jesus Christ is found in Paul’s letter to the Church at Colossae, chapter one:


15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

16) For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

17) He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

18) And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

19) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.


Incarnate God became dead; and, LO, He is now eternally living.  And the new creation that He has made will endure forever!  Having heard, who would NOT want to cling to this One!

As the assurance is in Jesus’ hand as He stands there before the apostle John.