A Glimpse of the Throne Room

The Living One

Revelation 1:9-20



Last week we began a series of messages where we will be looking at Revelation chapters 1, 4, and 5.  I believe these three chapters give us a glimpse of the throne room of God.  As we looked at the greeting in verses 4-8 of chapter one last week, we found recorded for us a greeting that comes not from John, but through John.  The greeting of grace and peace comes from the Triune God of Heaven.  It is a personal greeting from:

God the Father –

“Alpha and the Omega" – Omniscient, all knowledge

“Who is and who was and who is to come” – Self existent eternally.

“The Almighty” – Omnipotent – all powerful

God the Holy Spirit –

“The seven spirits who are before his throne.” - Spirit of Jehovah, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Might, Knowledge, and Fear of the Lord.

God the Son –

“Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.” – The One who accurately portrays God, who is the first of many resurrections, and who is sovereign ruler.

This personal greeting is an open invitation for everyone to hear what the Triune God of the universe has to say to us.  It is a greeting of grace and peace.  I hope you never forget the power of what that means.  John says that Jesus Christ, deserves glory and dominion because He has freed us from our sin by His shed blood.  That we are made a kingdom and priests that represent Him on earth.  John tells us that one day Jesus will return in the clouds and for those who have not received Him, they will wail on account of Him.

What a powerful greeting to all who will listen.  We will continue today by looking at how John describes his vision of Jesus Christ, the Living One!  Follow along as we read verses 9-20.

Revelation 1:9-20

9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.

14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.

16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one.  I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.  19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.  20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

The Situation (vv. 9-11)

John begins by describing his situation when he received this vision of the Jesus Christ.  John refers to those he is writing to as brothers and partners.  Any person who has received Jesus as their Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters as the sons and daughters of the Living God.  But not only that, we are all partners in the work of the ministry.  This is a unique partnership where we are all striving for the spread of the message of the God’s saving Gospel message.  If you are saved here this morning, we are brothers and sisters, and partners together for the work of the ministry.

But more specifically, John refers to those he is writing to as partners in tribulation.  As I mentioned last week, the churches of Asia were under some intense persecution during this time.  John says they are partners in patient endurance.  They were enduring persecution patiently waiting for Christ’s return, the return he mentioned in verse 7.  John can honestly call himself a partner in tribulation and endurance because he says in verse 9 that he is on the island of Patmos because of his testimony of Jesus Christ.  It was a common form of punishment in the first century.  John was probably seen as a criminal for his actions.  John had been exiled to this island for an unknown period of time, for simply talking about Jesus’ purchase of our salvation.

One Sunday during John’s exile, he said he was in the Spirit.  This is not uncommon.  Like many of the prophets of the Old Testament, Peter, and even Paul, John was transported to a plane of perception that is beyond normal human perception.  John hears a loud voice from behind him, one like a trumpet.  Moses experienced this sound when he was on Mt. Sinai in the presence of God (Exodus 19:16).  In a moment we will find that this trumpet sounding voice is Jesus Christ in verses 12-16.

The voice tells Johns that he must write everything that God allows him to see and write it in a book and send it to the seven churches of Asia.  This is the first of twelve times John was commanded to write what he was being shown in the book of Revelation.  But there is one time that John was told that he could not write something down (10:4).  So, we have no idea what the message of the seven thunders was in chapter 10.

So, this is the situation in which John finds himself as he receives this powerful vision that God has given him.  In verses 12-16, John records what he saw when he turned to see the voice of the One speaking to Him.  It is the Son of Man, the Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself.  In these descriptive images that John sees, we find the power of the Son of Man put on display in some a very vivid way.

The Power of Son of Man (vv. 12-16, 20)

Before we talk about verses 12 and 13, go to verse 20 with me.  This verse clearly tells us what the seven golden lampstands and seven stars represent that are talked about in verses 12 and 13.

As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Clearly the lampstands in this vision represent the seven churches of Asia.  This is a beautiful picture of the churches acting as lights to the world.  They are golden, indicating the tremendous value the church is to God.  He tells us that the stars are the angels of the seven churches.  The word translated angel is the traditional word used to signifiy angelic beings.  The word is ἄγγελος aggelos {ang'-el-os} meaning  a messenger or one who is sent from God to bring his message to the church.  Some see this as the pastors of the seven churches, but honestly, we don’t know that.  It for sure indicates that God is conveying his message to the church through messengers represented by the stars.  Now that we know what the lampstands and stars represent, let’s go back to verses 12-13.

~ Presence Power (vv. 12-13, 20)

The first thing John sees when he turns to look at the One with the loud trumpet voice is seven golden lampstands.  Though these lampstands are seven specific churches in Asia, we can take these golden lampstands as representing the church as a whole even today.  But what John sees in the midst of the golden lampstands is very important to us.  He sees “one like the Son of Man.”  The terminology, “Son of Man” is Jesus’ favorite terminology to describe Himself.  This phrase is used over 80 times in the Gospels.  It is a term that Jesus uses in reference to His Messianic role, God in flesh sent for redeeming the human race.  He certainly was the Son of God but became the Son of Man as a human being.

Standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, we find Jesus is present and active in His church.  His presence is in their midst.  His presence is in our midst.  But look at the descriptions.  He is wearing a long robe and a golden sash around his chest.  This is the picture of the Old Testament Priest.  The priests wore long white robes and sashes around their chests (Exodus 28:4).  This pictures Jesus Christ as the Great High Priest of His people.  In the book of Hebrews, we are told that Jesus is our Great High Priest that intercedes for us before God (Hebrews 2:17-18, 3:1, 4:14).  He is a High Priest that has experienced the temptations and physical sufferings of human life and yet was without sin.  He stands as our Great High Priest before God the Father.

John turns to see this image of Jesus standing in the midst of the churches which indicates to me that the church of God has the power of His presence if we choose to submit to His will.  How different it might be if we recognized His presence in our midst not just in Sunday services, but daily as we live as His church.  But not only do we have the power of His presence, but we see in verses 14 and 15 the refining power of Christ.

~ Refining Power (vv. 14-15)

John’s description moves from the priestly clothing to the very character of the Son of Man.  Jesus has a purifying effect on His church.  We are told in Ephesians 5:25-27 that Jesus gave Himself up for the church so that He might sanctify her and cleanse her.  That is the picture of John’s description of Jesus in His vision.  How do we know that?

“The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow.”  This indicates bright blazing purity, knowledge, and wisdom of the Son of Man.  Similar descriptions are made of God the Father (Ancient of Days) conveying the idea of holy truthfulness.  In other words, He will not sugar coat it.  No matter how much we don’t want to hear it, His truth pierces the façade we try to cover ourselves in.

“His eyes were like a flame of fire.”  The eyes of the Son of Man reveal with perfect clarity everything.  His gaze penetrates deeply into the reality of the church.  There is nothing hidden from Him.  He knows your heart’s motivation this morning.  He knows if you are just acting the part of a Christian, but inside you heart is dead.  He knows!

“His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace.”  Bronze usually symbolizes judgment in the Bible.  That would make this is a clear reference to judgment for sin.  Jesus’ feet were not just bronze, they were burnished and refined in a furnace.  Jesus had spikes driven through His feet to take judgment for our sin.  He certainly went through the furnace of judgment for our sin.  But if we do not receive Him as our Savior, we sit under His feet of judgment.

“His voice was like the roar of many waters.”  The voice of the son of Man was like the roar of waves crashing on the seashore, or the sound of water crashing down from a waterfall.  It indicates that Jesus has the voice of authority, power, and sovereignty.  When Jesus Christ speaks, the church should listen.  At the transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:5, God the Father says, “This is My beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”

When John turns and see this vision of the Son of Man, he sees the power of Jesus’ presence and the refining power of His person.  Third, John sees:

~ Sovereign Power (v. 16)

In verse 16, John sees the seven stars held in the right hand of the Son of Man.  Remember, the seven stars are the seven angels or messengers to the seven churches according to verse 20.  The right hand always indicates authority, control, or sovereignty.  In other words, these angels or messengers are under the sovereign power of Jesus Christ.  Some scholars say that angels are never depicted as leadership in the church and so these messengers are the earthly leaders of the church like pastors, elders, or bishops.  But honestly, we cannot be sure that is who is intended here.  But we do know that church leaders do have to answer to Jesus Christ for how they lead thus putting them under His sovereign control.

John tells us that a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth.  This indicates protection and sound judgment.  The sword speaks of the power of our Lord to defend the church.  It also speaks of His judgment to rightly discern who is the enemy of the church and who is not.  The Christian is told to use the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God in Ephesians 6:17, so that we may be able to stand in this evil day.  So certainly, the sword indicates protection, but it also indicates judgment.  Listen to how Hebrews 4:12 describes the discerning judgment of God’s Word.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

So, we see sovereign authority, complete protection, and perfect judgment, then John says that the Son of Man’s “face was like the sun shining in full strength.”  Jesus Christ is a reflection of the glory of God.  The full strength of God’s glory is seen in the face of the Son of Man.  In the same way, the glory of God through the Lord Jesus Christ should shine through His church.

Jesus is in the midst of His church, the lampstands, and He gives great power by His presence to them.  The church is sanctified and purified through the bright whiteness of His holy truthfulness, through His piercing gaze to our reality, through the refined bronze of His exacting judgments, and through His roaring voice of power and authority.  This is the vision of the Son of Man!

The Effect (vv. 17-19)

The effect of this on John was very traumatic as it would be for any of us.  Look at what verse 17 says took place when John saw this.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

John fell on his face terrified.  This was the same reaction the disciples had at Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew 17:6-8.  Certainly, this would be expected as John sees the Son of Man in all His glory.  Fear, humility, awe, reverence, and honor for the person of Jesus Christ should bring us to fall at His feet as though dead as we begin to understand who He is in our lives.

The Son of Man responds the same way He did at the transfiguration.  “He touched them saying, rise and have no fear” (Matthew 17:7).  Only in Revelation 1:17, Jesus adds some descriptive terms that should eliminate some of John’s fear.

But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.  I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Jesus tells John that he doesn’t need to be afraid because He is not only the Creator of all things in the beginning, but He will bring all things to its end.  Even more than that, He tells John that He is the Living One, that He is the One who died, but now lives forevermore.  As the eternal I Am, the First and the Last, the Living One, Jesus holds the keys of Death and Hades.  Because of that, all who are redeemed like John, have nothing to fear because He has already delivered us from death and Hades by His own death on the cross and through His resurrection to eternal life.

In other words, Jesus is saying that He has conquered death and taken away the keys of death from Satan.  You don’t have to be afraid anymore.  Hold your place in Revelation and turn with me to Hebrews 2.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

This Jesus, who stands in the midst of the lampstands, has conquered the curse of death.  Knowing that Jesus has conquered death, as believers, we no longer need to fear death because we will experience a resurrection to eternal life like His.

In verse 19, Jesus, the Son of Man tells John:

Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.

This is the very structure of what John writes in the book of Revelation.

Chapter 1 – the things John has just seen.

Chapters 2 and 3 – the things that are taking in the churches

Chapters 4 to the end – the things that will take place after this


Next week we will enter the throne room of God in chapter 4.  But chapter 1 has given a glimpse of the most important occupant of the Throne Room.  The Triune God of Heaven seen in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

This up-close look at the Son of Man, the Living One, should make us stop and examine our lives today.  do we live each day as though He is our life?

Have you experienced the power of the Son of Man?

~ In His presence not only in our midst here, but in your life?

~ In His refining work in your heart and life?

~ In His sovereignty in your life as you submit to Him?

Have you experienced the life changing effect of Jesus Christ?