Revelation 1:9-20 The glorified Lord & Revelation's Key!

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Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation

Revelation Chapter 1:9-20 The glorified Lord & Revelation's Key!

by I Gordon

We have begun our study into the book of Revelation and have seen straight away that it is primarily a revelation from Jesus and about Jesus. This came out clearly in the first study and we'll carry that on today where:

  • We'll give a little background to where John was writing from and who he was writing to
  • We'll look at Jesus unveiled as John met the glorified Christ!
  • We'll explore the key verse which outlines the structure of the book of Revelation
  • We'll end with an application looking at the difference that seeing the real Jesus makes in your life

Let's jump right in!

Can a prison sentence be useful?

Rev 1:9-11 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (10) On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (11) which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

Now contrary to what the Preterist will tell you, the Apostle John wrote Revelation in 95/96AD1 and would have been in his 90's himself at this time. He was exiled on the island of Patmos2 (which is off the west cost of what is now Turkey) when this amazing Revelation was given to him. Patmos was an island prison - the Alcatraz if you like of the 1st century... well minus the cells, guards and Clint Eastwood type escapes! Being old, John probably thought that his days of receiving revelation and being used by God were over but how wrong he was for he was about to receive the most incredible prophetic revelation ever given to man! This is a good reminder to us... God may not be through using you just yet! And though John was being punished on Patmos for preaching the gospel, it didn't stop him faithfully testifying to what He was given here. You and I should learn and be thankful for his faithfulness right to the end!  

Don't despise your prison times!
Digging a little deeper on this, John was meant to be isolated and unable to share the Gospel but God used it to give him the greatest revelation yet! 1565 years later John Bunyan would be imprisoned for the same "crime" of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And like John, his imprisonment lead to another monumental work coming forth. This time it was "Pilgrims Progress" that came from the prison experience. So never underestimate God's ability to bring good out of a bad situation! In the Bible God used a prison experience to exalt Joseph to be 2nd in command over the land of Egypt. He used a prison experience to turn the extremely wicked King Manasseh around completely so that He then walked with the Lord and taught Judah to do likewise (2 Ch 33:10-16) And you too may have a prison time. Ok... hopefully not because of anything you did wrong! And hopefully not a literal prison - although who knows if the Lord doesn't come back! But don't despise your times of difficulty, trial and even times of being set aside. Remember that God uses all things to mold and make you! Sometimes we get so busy "doing things" that God has to give us some downtime, some alone time, so that we can hear from Him again.

Now John calls himself a brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that is in Jesus. Yep... this Christian life has it all! It's got the sufferings - check! It's got the kingdom experiences... check! It's got the patient endurance... check! We normally only like the second (kingdom highs) but mostly experience Jesus in the first (sufferings), resulting in the third (patience endurance)! But on this day John had an incredible experience. It was on the 'Lord's day' which was a term used by the early Church for the day that Jesus rose from the dead - Sunday.3 This particular Sunday he heard a voice like a trumpet4. Now, personally, I'd like to hear that voice! One day I will and if you are a believer you will too! And when you hear it, everything will change. The voice told John to write what he was about to see and send it to the seven churches. Two quick points from this:

  1. By divine decree this book is meant to be sent and most importantly read by the churches. So it is a great pity a large percentage of them don't today! 
  2. God is still in the business of getting us to share what He has revealed. Maybe, just possibly, He is not asking you to write on a scroll and put it in the post these days. But maybe it is through a website or a YouTube or social media channel, or some other way of making His truth known to as many as possible. However you can reach people the word needs to go out.  

So let's look now at this One who was speaking to John because it's the most powerful vision of the risen Lord that we have in the New Testament.  

The Unveiled Christ

Rev 1:12-16 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, (13) and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. (14) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. (15) His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (16) In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double- edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

Let's break this down...

  • Rev 1:12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands
    Rev 1:20 tells us that the seven lampstands are the seven churches of Revelation. So Jesus is pictured amongst the churches. The seven golden lampstands is imagery from the Menorah, the seven branched lampstand that stood and gave light to the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and Jewish temple. (Exo 25:37; Zec 4:2) In this age, the light is to come through the church. Now in my country at least, the church is largely ignored today by society and those in authority but individually we can give still light. Jesus even said that in this age we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). So let that light shine for Him!

  • Rev 1:13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.
    The 'son of man' title goes back to Daniel 7:9-14 and was used by Jesus of Himself when He stood in trial before the High Priest (Matt 26:62-66). When John sees the glorified Christ he says He is 'like a son of man' but different... He is a man... but a glorified man! The robe with the golden sash is a pointer to the High Priest in the Old Testament. (Exod 28:4-6) The High Priest's sash had threads or thin strips of gold in it (Ex 39:1-5) yet this One has a sash of complete gold. The gold speaks of divinity and it shows that the Old Testament High Priests were imperfect types of the real High Priest, Jesus! This helps us understand why He walks among the lampstands (churches) - He is performing His role as the High Priest. It was the High Priest's task alone to make sure the lampstand was burning and producing good light. So they would have to inspect it daily, checking the oil supply, removing soot and trimming the wicks. This is how Jesus is seen here as the High Priest inspecting the churches for the light they give. How is the light of the church you go to? How is your light for that matter? Always remember that the lamp requires oil to burn brightly and you cannot be the Christian you even want to be without Him!

  • Rev 1:14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
    Having a head and hair like white wool pictures His age, wisdom and holiness. Daniel received a vision of the 'Ancient of days' that gave the same image - "I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool.' (Dan 7:9) This One we worship has been around a long time. For all time! He has seen it all, knows it all and His wisdom is beyond measure! And that comes down to how He is dealing, right now, with your life as well.
    His eyes were like a flame of fire - William Shakespeare once said “The Eyes are the window to your soul”. Well these are eyes that look right into the depths of your being and remind us of His penetrating insight of all of us and His refining purity. 'Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.' (Heb 4:13) Later in Revelation it mentions those same eyes of blazing fire again (Rev 19:12) for they are focused on the battle as He comes as King of kings and Lord of Lords.

  • Rev 1:15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
    Feet like burnished bronze - Bronze speaks of judgement and reminds us of the brazen altar in the outer court of the tabernacle. This One pictured fulfilled the sacrifice of the brazen altar and had to go through the judgment of God for your sin and mine. And now all judgement has been committed into His hands (John 5:22). And His voice is like rushing waters. I remember going to Niagara falls in Canada and the scale and volume of the waters going over the falls was just amazing. The sound was awesome, giving the feeling of awe at the power and majesty of nature. And Jesus' voice will instill that same feeling of power and authority!

"His voice as the sound of many waters" is the voice of authority—the voice that called this universe into existence, the voice that will raise His own from the grave, the voice that will take His own out of the world to be with Him.
J. Vernon McGee

  • Rev 1:16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double- edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
    The two edged sword is His word. Oh the power of His word - both His written and spoken word! Psalms 33:6, 9-11. Also see Heb 1:3, Isa 48:1-2. Isaiah 11:4 He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
    His face was like the sun shining in all its strength - This reminds us of Moses having to be hid in the cleft of the rock from the glory of God for no man can see my face and live.' (Ex 33:20) It also reminds us of the prophecy of Isaiah that the day will come when: 'The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. (20) Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.' (Isaiah 60:19-20) The disciples were given a preview of this on the Mount of transfiguration where 'He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.' (Mat 17:2) A glimpse, as it were, of what our Lord shall be like in the Kingdom age!
Crown Him with many crowns...
Now one thing also to note in this vision of Jesus is that He does not have a crown on His head. Later in the book He will be seen first with one crown (Rev 14:14 - a victors crown) and then many diadems (Rev 19:12 - a symbol of royal dignity). Why is that? Because when He is moving amongst the churches in Revelation chapter 1 it is in His role as High Priest and Priests didn't have crowns. But when He comes again in Revelation 19 it is as the royal King - the King of kings - and He is coming to take His rule over the whole earth!

How would you react if you saw Jesus? 

Now how do you think you would react if you saw Jesus like that? There are lots of books and YouTube stories of people supposedly seeing Jesus but they don't tend to react like John did! Here is John's reaction:

Rev 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. (18) I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

So how would you react if you saw the glorified Lord Jesus? MercyMe's great song comes to mind:

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You, Jesus, or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine!

So would you run up and give Him a hug, a high-five, or fall at His feet motionless? John, as a natural reaction to what he saw, instantly (and wisely) went with the latter option. Even though he had leant on Jesus' bosom at the last supper and called himself 'the disciple Jesus loves', this experience of a glorified Jesus was on a whole different level! Thankfully, Jesus didn't leave John in that place of fear and uncertainty for very long...

Jesus' response to John bowed at His feet
With a fearful John lying prostrate at Jesus' feet, Jesus does three things:

  1. He immediately reaches out to John
  2. He touches John, placing a comforting hand on him
  3. He gives John a word of comfort, reassuring him of who He is.
This is what Jesus does when we need it! He reaches out, touches and lifts us up with a timely word. How He does that is His business. He speaks through His word, the Bible. Sometimes He will speak to your heart saying why are you troubled, restoring confidence. Sometimes He will use a Christian brother or sister to help restore your courage and strength and put you back on the right path. And what is your part in this? Are you humbling yourself before Him? Are you taking your concerns to Him? Are you reading His word and going to Him in prayer? Are you waiting and expectant of an answer, in His own way and time, to your prayer?

John's fear is replaced with peace for he hears 'Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last... the Living One.' Now any good Israelite would know that 'the first and the last' is a title of the eternal Almighty God in the Old Testament (Isa 44:6; Isa 48:12). John is in the presence of the eternal God!5 He is in the presence of the living One. All other religions follow someone that is dead. Christians follow the One that even death, that great enemy of mankind, could not cope with! John is in the presence of the One that has all authority and power, holding command over the living and the dead. Jesus controls who goes into hell, who doesn't, and those who will never even see death at His return. May we be those in the third group but if we can't, may we definitely be those in the second!

"Some imagine that the devil is somehow the "lord of Hell."  Some imagine that the devil has authority or power to determine life or death.  Clearly, they are wrong, for only Jesus holds the keys of Hades and of Death.  We can trust that Jesus never lets the devil borrow the keys." Pastor David Guzik

"My friend, you and I can take comfort in the fact that Jesus has the keys of death. He is the One who can relieve us of the terrible fear of death." J. Vernon McGee

Revelation's Key!

Let's now move from the key to Hades to the key to the book of Revelation. What is this key and what does it unlock? Well, it unlocks how we interpret this book especially in regards to the timing of particular events. So have the events of this book already taken place? Are they currently taking place? Or are they still future? The answer is 'Yes!' but it is important to divide it correctly according to what God has told us. Here is the key verse in the book that shows us clearly how to do this:

Rev 1:19-20 Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

It has often been truthfully said, every book in the Bible contains a key which unlocks the book. The Revelation is no exception... We find this in the nineteenth verse... John, guided by the Holy Spirit then wrote the Revelation according to the divine direction. In examining this command to write we find that three things are mentioned. He is to write first the things he had seen, then the things which are, and finally the things that are about to be after these. When John received these instructions he had already seen something and the vision he had he was instructed to write down. Then present things, the things which are, and future things, to be after present things have passed away, must be located in this book. So we have the past, the present and the future in this key verse.
A.C Gaebelein 

I totally agree with this... Rev 1:19 is the key verse. There are many charts and outlines that people have drawn up for the book of Revelation over many years, but if they don't go along with the divine outline given here in Rev 1:19 they are of no use. John is given the divisions and outline for this book. It is a three-fold division comprising of past, present and future visions. But it needs to be divided correctly. The future events in Revelation, that which is said to occur 'after these things' is the Greek words 'meta tauta'. God is very clear when this begins, stating it twice in the same verse:

Rev 4:1 After these things ('meta tauta') I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things ('meta tauta')."

So the division for future events, after the Church age, occurs at chapter 4.1. Here is a simple chart which shows this:

Rev 1:19 Key to unlocking the book of Revelation

Rev 1:19: Why does this outline matter?
This outline matters because there is no shortage of books and YouTube videos saying that we are currently experiencing some seal or trumpet judgement. Or they have already happened in the past. I have a book at home from a well known author who thinks that one of the trumpet judgements was fulfilled in the Gulf War with Saddam Hussein. Others have said that the Russian word for Chernobyl is 'wormwood' so the nuclear reactor meltdown that occurred in 1986 fulfils the 3rd Trumpet prophecy of a star called wormwood polluting a third of the waters. Last week I watched a guy on YouTube state that we are at the stage of the 6th seal already. And all the comments from people were saying 'Yes! Great teaching!' 'You are onto it!' 'Finally, this is what I have always said!' Actually no, none of this is great teaching. Not one of the 7 trumpets have been blasted and not one of the seals have been broken yet! While we can see similarities in these things and many signs today of that which will take place in the future, we are still in the church age, 'the things that are', and haven't experienced any of the judgements that come 'after these things' from Revelation 4 onwards. Yes, we can see many signs of the approaching events as they do cast a shadow. But we are still in the Church age, the age of grace... even if time is rapidly running out.

So this outline matters! This key to Revelation is important! And ok... to be fair this is not a skeleton key. It doesn't unlock every door and every mystery in the book of Revelation. That might be asking too much! But it is the God inspired outline which God was very clear on because He wants us to be clear on it. And it causes no end of confusion to start saying that God's judgement through the seals, trumpets and bowls have already been unleashed.  

Conclusion & Application

So, as we conclude, how has Jesus been revealed in this first chapter? 

  • He is the faithful witness (Rev 1:5)
  • The firstborn from the dead (Rev 1:5)
  • The ruler of the kings of the earth. (Rev 1:5)
  • The One who loves us and freed us from our sins  (Rev 1:5)

  • He is the One who is coming in the clouds whom every eye shall see (Rev 1:7)
  • The Alpha and Omega (Rev 1:8)
  • The Almighty (Rev 1:8)
  • The glorified Lord with eyes like fire and a face shining like the sun (Rev 1:13-16)

  • He is the First and the Last (Rev 1:17) 
  • The Living One (Rev 1:18)
  • The One who died and is alive for ever and ever! (Rev 1:18)
  • The holder of the keys of death and Hades (Rev 1:18)

All that just in one chapter! Now you know why this book is the revelation of Jesus Christ! It is the unveiling of the glorified Lord first to the Church and then to the world when every eye shall see Him!

So what would He say to you? What would He like you to know given all that is revealed about Him in this chapter? I believe He would say what He said to John all those years ago - "I AM! Do not be afraid!" The application of this message is to take onboard what it says about Jesus. We can read these great truths, but what good is it for your personal life if you don't appropriate who He is? That is the application and challenge for you today. What are you currently fearful of? For it is a challenge that must be appropriated when fear comes upon you. When you feel paralyzed by the fear of man, thoughts of the future or the difficult circumstances that you are now facing... remember Him! Take Him into account. Let me remind you again...

He is the ruler of the kings of the earth.
He is the Almighty!
He is the living One who holds the keys of death and Hades.
And, most surprisingly of all, though He is the One who knows all things, He is the One who loves you (and me!)

If you are a believer that is the One who is with you. And He said He will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).

God Bless!

  1. If you haven't heard of Preterism feel free to move on. But there is a belief called Preterism that teaches that the prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in the 1st Century with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Thus they have to place the writing of the book of Revelation much earlier than the 95/96 A.D widely accepted by most scholars. They have to place it before 70A.D actually for their theory to be maintained. Preterism should be rejected for many reasons. There is a very good article written here on this if interested:

    You can also look here to see how the early Church Fathers, well after 70AD, still spoke of a future coming Antichrist who will sit in a future Jewish temple:

    If you really want to get into the dating of Revelation and why the early date suggested by Preterists is wrong I would suggest this article:

  2. John Walvoord, in 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ' writes: “According to Victorinus, John though aged, was forced to labor in the mines located at Patmos.”
  3. This phrase appears in many early Christian writings and refers to Sunday, the day of the Lord's resurrection. Some have suggested this phrase refers to the Day of the Lord (see note on 1Th_5:2), but the context doesn't support that interpretation, and the grammatical form of the word Lord is adjectival, thus "the Lord's day."
    John MacArthur

    And J. Vernon McGee saying it in his own unique way!

    "On the Lord's day." The meaning of this is controversial. Some outstanding scholars interpret this as being a reference to the Day of the Lord. While I certainly respect them and their viewpoint, I cannot accept this view, although the great theme of Revelation will deal with the Day of the Lord, which is the Tribulation period and the millennial kingdom. But John says that he was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day and, in my judgment, the Day of the Lord and the Lord's Day are two different things. We recognize that anti-fat and fat auntie are two different things and that a chestnut horse and a horse chestnut are two different things. And I would say that the Day of the Lord and the Lord's Day are two different things also, and that the Lord's Day refers to what we call Sunday.

  4. When you look at trumpets in the Bible you see a number of important events. Here are a few examples:

    • God was manifest on Mount Sinai, on the third day, with lightning, thunder and the sound of trumpets (Ex. 19:16; 20:18).
    • The Lord's year of jubilee, when all debts were forgiven and the land was restored to its rightful owner, was accompanied by the sound of a trumpet (Lev. 25:9).
    • The first victory in the Promised Land, when Joshua led Israel to victory over Jericho, had seven trumpets before the fall of Jericho (a pointer to the trumpets in Revelation!) (Jos. 6:13,20).
    • A trumpet will announce that the Day of the Lord is at hand (Joel 2:1).
    • And the sound of the trumpet will be heard at the rapture of the Church (1Cor. 15:42; 1Th. 4:6) This is the sound I (and you) want to hear!

  5. Our daily bread has the following thought: "Whether the company is Twentieth Century Fox in Hollywood or Twentieth Century Data in Dallas, time has caught up with these companies and they’re a century behind. Should they change their names? Consultant Frank Delano says, “You can’t do business in the 21st century with a 20th-century name. You need a name that is really universal with no limitations.” " Well there is nothing limiting in any way being called the Alpha and the Omega... That never gets old!

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