Saturday, 29 August 2020
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. Revelation 1:17
John, having seen the vision of the Lord, now says what his immediate reaction to what he saw was, stating, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.” The overwhelming nature of what his eyes beheld astonished him to the point of actually fainting. This type of reaction is seen elsewhere. When Isaiah beheld a vision of the Lord, his reaction was –
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5
Ezekiel is said to have fallen on his face when beholding a vision of the Lord (Ezekiel 43:3). Daniel’s reaction to such visions was similar on several occasions, such as –
“And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8 Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.” Daniel 10:7-9
Such reactions are given to show that the presence of the Lord is like an overwhelming horror. Not because the Lord isn’t glorious, but because He is glorious. When sinful man comes into the presence of absolute holiness, the realization of his own lowly state is realized. The terrifying nature of what must come upon us in our judgment is suddenly realized. This is why Paul says concerning these things –
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.” 1 Corinthians 5:10, 11
This is speaking of saved believers; the redeemed of the Lord. And yet, Paul speaks of “the terror of the Lord.” Our joining with Christ is to be one of eternal joy, but our judgment will first sift out all that is of no value. When we are purified through this judgment, only then will what remains be set for the eternal state of glory.
Despite John’s reaction, and despite what we must face in our own judgment as believers, John next provides words of comfort, saying, “But He laid His right hand on me.” The right hand is the symbol of authority, power, and rule. And yet, instead of striking John with it, the words note that the Lord tenderly laid it on him. Something similar is also seen in Daniel 8 –
“Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.” Daniel 8:18
In the act of laying His hand on John, the Lord also gave him words of wonderful comfort, saying, “Do not be afraid.” It is, again, similar to what occurred after Daniel swooned in Daniel 10 –
“Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.’ While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling.’” Daniel 10:10, 11
Like Daniel, John was overwhelmed by what he saw, knowing that his just due for being in the presence of pure holiness was to be destroyed. But because of the mercies of the Lord to His redeemed people, he had already been set apart for pardon of sin and purification through Christ. Despite his fallen state, he would be glorified. As Paul says elsewhere –
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
Judgment for purification lies ahead, but judgment for salvation has already been obtained. As a note of surety concerning this, the Lord then said to John, “I am the First and the Last.” This same proclamation is spoken by the Lord (Yehovah) three times in the book of Isaiah. It is found in Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, and 48:12. In fact, in Isaiah 44:6, He says –
“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
‘I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6
How can this be when this same description is spoken concerning Jesus three times in Revelation (here, Revelation 2:8, & Revelation 22:13)? That this is without a doubt referring to Jesus is because here and in 2:8 it adds on a note that He was dead, but is alive. And in Revelation 22 it specifically says in the same context, “I, Jesus.” The answer must be that Jesus is the incarnate Lord. He is the One and only God, and the second member of the Godhead. To say otherwise is to say the Bible is contradictory.
Christ is before all things and He is the end purpose of all things. As He is God, His existence is the source for everything else. As He is the only God, no other God exists or will exist after Him. As such, He is the judge and end of all matters. What He determines, no one can thwart or call into question.
The Lord’s words to John, “Do not be afraid,” are based on His proclamation that He is “the First and the Last.” However, understanding why that should lead him to not be afraid continues to be explained in the next verse. Stay tuned. Good news is one verse away.
Life application: John was completely overwhelmed by the vision he saw of Christ and it mentally overwhelmed him. This appearance was similar to one John had witnessed many years earlier as a young man. When Jesus took Peter, James, and him up on a mountain alone, they saw Him transfigured – a slight foretaste into the glory to come. However, this appearance in Revelation 1 reflects the full glory of the Risen Christ in all His splendor. John was completely overwhelmed by what he saw.
Both Daniel and John were considered “beloved” of the Lord, both were given the blessing of seeing the Lord of creation, and both were told to not be afraid. The power of God in Jesus Christ is ultimately one of comfort for the believer. As this is so, we should live for Him now, knowing that we will be judged for rewards and loss, but when that is done, we will be in His presence forever and ever, contemplating the glory of our Creator.
He is before all things and He holds all things together by the power of His word. He is the Lord of the universe and the Lord of His people. He is Jesus.
Lord, because of You, and because of what You have done for us, we can live without fear. Trials cannot overcome us, pains are a temporary inconvenience, and death cannot hold us. We know that we are safe in the power of Your right hand and that nothing in all of creation can separate us from You. All of our hope, all of our trust, and all of our confidence is in You alone. You are great and greatly to be praised. Amen.