CHRIST AMONG THE CANDLESTICKS
REVELATION, Chapter One
Let us start this study by getting something straight. The book of Revelation in the Bible is not a revelation of mysterious men and beasts. Neither is it a revelation of the anti-Christ, the false prophet, or the devil. The book talks about them, but is not a revelation of them. The book is a revelation of Jesus Christ, and if you want to know more about Jesus, just read the revelation and you will learn much about Him! But if you are not interested in Jesus, and you want to go for the sensational and the as yet unrevealed, read the revelation and add to its interpretation one more opinion among the thousands that have been put forward. It may satisfy your ego and impress people with your "wisdom," but it won't do much for their spiritual development and walk with God!
I say this because we live in a world that is more concerned with the sensational than it is with truth and character. An evangelist that promises to reveal every detail of the future and unravel all the mysteries of the Revelation will draw ten times as many people as one who preaches Christ. It shouldn't be that way, but that's the way it is!
We will have no new revelation in this study. There will be no mystery unfolded. But if our Lord is revealed in all His glory, both as He is now and as He will be in the future, then the purpose of this study will have been accomplished.
Rev. 1:1 states that the Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ. God gave it to John to show things which were soon to happen, and he used symbols..."signified it" ...by an angel. Christians were living in perilous times, and there was much persecution by the authorities of Rome. Any writings that spoke of these evil men would bring much wrath on the Church. So the Revelation was "signified" so that the Christians would understand it but the Roman authorities wouldn't!
John wrote of three things:(Rev. 1:2)
- The Word of God
- The Testimony of Jesus Christ
- The Things that He Saw
The Revelation is a hard book to understand. Many have neglected the study of it for that reason. I am among those who have neglected it. But it is a mistake to do so. Rev. 1:3 says that those
Who hear, and
Who keep those things that are written therein,
are blessed! Do you want a blessing? Then read, hear and keep the things recorded by John in the Revelation. You may not understand it all, but God has promised a blessing to those who put their minds to it. There is a reason for this. "The time is at hand." The things written in the Revelation would "shortly come to pass" for the people of that day, and there is much in the Revelation that will "shortly come to pass" for us who live today. Jesus is coming soon...and this is one of the main messages of the book!
Rev. 1:4 says that the Revelation is addressed to the seven churches in Asia. John pronounces "grace" and "peace" from the Trinity,
From the Father...Who is, which was, and which is to come From the Holy Spirit...represented by the seven Spirits From Jesus Christ...the faithful witness (martyr)
Jesus is three things:
- He is the faithful witness
- He is the first begotten of the dead
- He is the prince of the kings of the earth
Jesus has done three things for us:
- He has loved us
- He has washed us from our sins in His own blood
- He has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father
No wonder we say the Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ! Unto Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever! Amen!
Again the Revelation talks of Jesus Christ! It speaks of the main message of the book. BEHOLD HE COMETH WITH CLOUDS! (Rev. 1:7)
When He comes, three things will happen:
- Every eye shall see Him
- Those who crucified Him will see Him
- All the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him
He is comingOnce again we become aware of the fact that the Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ! He is coming in the same manner that He went, and even though the world does not believe it, it will happen, and happen soon! Even so, Amen!
Rev. 1:8 introduces Christ as God. What is true about God the Father in verse 4 is also true about Jesus Christ. He is the OMNIPRESENT ONE. He was in the beginning with God (John 1:2). He is
Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending..... which is, and which was, and which is to come...the Almighty! Really, for an eternal God there can be no beginning or ending since our minds would ask, "What was before the beginning and what will be after the ending?" Actually, the only way to talk about God is that He is the God of the "eternal present"...the "I AM THAT I AM," as He told Moses. It is hard to grasp with our finite minds, but this is what faith is all about. "By faith we understand..." (Heb. 11:3)
In Rev. 1:9 John tells why he was on the island of Patmos. The Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ are not popular in the world. Those who wish to be faithful witnesses for Jesus will often suffer for it.
Now begins the revelation. (Rev. 1:10) John was in the Spirit on the Lord's day. (We believe this was Sunday, the day of His resurrection.) He heard a voice behind him identifying the speaker as Jesus, the OMNISCIENT, the "Alpha and the Omega," that is, the "A" and the "Z"....the first and the last. He was told to write what he would see in a book and was to send it to the seven churches in Asia.
John turned to see who was speaking, and what he saw is a key to understanding chapters 2 and 3 of the Revelation. He saw two things:
- He saw seven golden candlesticks
- He saw Christ in the midst of them
Isn't it wonderful that John described the second thing that he saw before the first? He called the candlesticks "golden," but when you read their description in chapters 2 and 3, they are anything but beautiful. If they were "golden," they were tarnished gold! The Church, which we know is the people of God, can be very discouraging to look at. Believers can be very carnal, and even sinful. Sometimes it is a temptation to say, "I don't want to have anything to do with such carnality and hypocrisy.....I don't want to associate with such people .....I'm going somewhere else!" But when you do this, remember the second thing John saw. He saw that Christ had not abandoned the churches..... He still walked among them! The day you turn your back on the Candlesticks, you turn your back on the One Who walks among them!
So, instead of talking first about the churches, John talks about the second thing that he saw....i.e., about the One Who walks in the midst of the candlesticks! He talks about Jesus! What a wonderful truth! No matter how discouraging and sometimes hopeless the condition of a church may be, if we first look to Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith," we will become aware of his OMNIPRESENCE, His OMNISCIENCE, and His OMNIPOTENCE, and we will find our faith re-enforced and strengthened. Having looked at Jesus, we will be able to look at the church and know that He holds the answer to its problems.
This is what happened with John. He saw Jesus in all His glory, wisdom, and power and, having seen and described Him, was able to address the problems of the churches with confidence.
Let us now look at Jesus and see how qualified He is to meet every situation. He is described in verses 13-18.
He was clothed with a garment down to the foot—MAJESTY
He was girt about the paps with a golden girdle—AUTHORITY
His head and His hairs were white like wool—WISDOM
His eyes were as a flame of fire—HOLINESS
His feet were like unto fine brass—JUDGMENT
His voice as the sound of many waters—POWER
lIe had in His right hand seven stars—CONTROL
Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword—TRUTH
His countenance was as the sun shineth in its strength—GLORY
Before we look at the churches, we should look at Jesus! He is the One Who will never leave us or forsake us. Men may leave, but Jesus won't. No one can pluck us out of His hand. He will in no way cast us out. If He is no longer beside us, guess who moved! A man can leave Jesus, but Jesus will not leave a man!
Now look at His description. Is there anything with which He is not qualified to cope? There is nothing He cannot do. He can meet every need of man. He is answer to every problem. And that is why, as we turn to the study of the seven churches, Jesus is introduced to them as the OMNIPRESENT One Who has the qualification to meet their particular need.
In Rev. 1:17-21 John says he fell at Christ's feet as dead. But Christ, laid His hand upon him and said, "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Before the cross, Satan had control of the destiny of man because of sin, but "through death, Jesus destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage!" (Heb. 2:14) Hallelujah!
Jesus took control! The devil no longer has the keys to hell and death. Jesus has them! The devil can no longer send a man to hell. Men send themselves to hell by refusing to accept the owner of the keys as Saviour!
Christ then told John to write
“the things which thou has seen, and
the things which are, and
the things which shall be hereafter;"
This means that we can expect to read about the past, the present, and the future in the Revelation. We will not always know which things are past, which things are present, and which things are future. Neither will we know how Far in the future some of the things are. At times it will appear that what was future in John's time has now taken place and is in the past. At other times, nothing has happened to make us believe that what was prophesied has taken place. Therefore, it would be logical to look for it in the future. But let us not be troubled by the fact that; many things are still a mystery. What is important is that Jesus is revealed in majesty and power. Jesus, the Son of God, the OMNIPRESENT, the OMNISCIENT, and the OMNIPOTENT, is no longer a mystery. He is revealed in the Revelation!
The last verse of Revelation chapter one reveals the mystery of the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. They could be one of three things:
They could be actual angels assigned to each church.
They could be messengers.... men or angels....to the churches.
They could be the pastors of the churches. (Personally, I believe the pastors are referred to here.)
The candlesticks are the seven churches. So, having looked at Jesus, let us now look at the Churches, confident that Christ is still among the Candlesticks and that He the answer to all their needs!