John’s Vision of Christ
9 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.”
12 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,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was 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 coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 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 now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 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[e] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Today, we see the dramatic vision John has on the island of Patmos, as an exiled prisoner because of his witness for Christ. Jesus' command is to take his words and write them to the seven churches, which we have seen are in Asia Minor. When John turns to see the voice, he sees an incredible vision of Jesus, the son of man. It is ironic that we first meet Jesus as a baby in a manger, and when he returns it will be in His great and promised glory. We see a glimpse of this glory in John's description above. In fact, it was so frightening he fell to his feet as if he were going to die.
After Jesus tells him to not be afraid and that he was dead and now he is alive forever. Then, he tells him to write what he has seen, what is now, and what will take place later. Remember two of the different ways to interpret Revelation, are historical, what is taking place now, and futuristic, what will take place later. It is really important for us as we read this book to be aware of how multi-faceted this vision is. Some of it is taking place right now for the churches, some of it will happen soon, and some of the vision applies to the future events leading to Jesus' return.
We are also given clues to two of the symbolic images. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. Again, since it is written specifically and historically to the seven literal churches in Asia Minor, there is no good reason to not think they are the recipients for it. But also the number seven is symbolic of a number of perfect completion. E.g. Seven days of Creation.
So again we see that there is a way to see the book applying to a certain historical context, but which also has relevancy for all time. And isn't this how God's Word is. The book of Hebrews says, "The Word of God is living and active."
God's Word is alive and that is why the book of Revelation continues to speak to us today, if we will listen to the Holy Spirit's leading and guidance.