A Journey into John’s Vision of the Son of Man

While on vacation, I read a pair of unsettling books. The first focused on Putin’s disinformation efforts aimed at undermining Western countries, such as the United States. The second book examined the process by which autocratic regimes seize control of democratic societies.

While reading these books, I’ve been learning about Revelation too. The people who first read Revelation had a really hard time under the Roman Emperor Domitian. John wrote it from a penal colony because he was so dedicated to Christ.

In difficult moments, both in history and today, Revelation serves as a reminder of a crucial truth: God is in control and guiding history toward the fulfillment of His kingdom.

John’s task in writing the Book of Revelation was to convey the visions he experienced to those who had not seen them.

John on Patmos

John suffered along with persecuted Christians, who refused to submit to emperor worship.

I, John, your brother who share with you the persecution and the kingdom and the endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 1.9).

Perseverance is essential in current times, as persecution is a prevalent issue. Revelation offers a glimpse into a future where hardships are replaced with blessings.

The two books I’ve been reading shed light on the relationship between autocracies and religion.

Autocratic leaders, such as Vladimir Putin, are known to exploit religion to further their objectives. This is seen in the distorted version of Christian teachings he has used to justify the invasion of Ukraine.

Conversely, when religious institutions resist submission to autocratic control, they often face dire consequences, including imprisonment and death.

Most of my blog readers likely do not experience persecution for their beliefs. Nonetheless, I imagine they feel a deep sense of sorrow regarding the current state of our country and the world at large.

I think this sadness arises from a connection to the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit experiences grief, we too feel that pain. Romans 8 illustrates the concept of sharing in the Spirit’s suffering.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8.26).

The Book of Revelation shows us the true Ruler of heaven and earth. It will inspire our prayers and give us hope in a troubled world.

Write What You See

John described the powerful moment when he received the command to write the Book of Revelation.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet

Saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” (Revelation 1.10-11).

The Roman emperor was worshiped on the first day of the week. Rather than honor the emperor, the early church set aside the first day of the week to worship Jesus.

On that day in a rough penal colony, John was activated, captivated, and motivated by the Holy Spirit. Should we not approach the Lord’s Day in a similar manner?

The seven churches formed the postal route for the region.

John’s Initial Vision

“God knows your name. He knows your hopes and dreams. He knows where you are.” These thoughts are often what I express to those who are going through difficult times.

John’s initial vision echoed my advice but in a much more profound way. He conveyed to the churches that Jesus is present and actively moving among them.

Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,

And in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest (Revelation 1.12-13).

The lampstands are the churches. As Jesus taught, we are to shine as light in the darkness.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world . . . Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5.14 and 16).

The good news is that Jesus walks in the midst of his church. Just as we should strive to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, so should we look for Jesus’ presence.

The Lord’s Majesty

Isaiah described the unimpressive image of Jesus in his earthly ministry.

For he grew up before him like a young plant
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
(Isaiah 53.2)

John received a revelation of Jesus’ heavenly glory.

His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire;

His feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters.

In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force (Revelation 1.14-16).

John’s overarching vision was one of Jesus’ immense strength, dominion, and grandeur.

Earthly leaders may strive to exhibit these attributes, but only Jesus truly possesses them.

The fundamental reality of the universe is that Jesus reigns supreme, and God’s kingdom is coming.

This inaugural vision should inspire us to remain committed to love and obedience.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. Rudy has devoted years to the study of Revelation. You will benefit from his insights. The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

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