Speaking to the Churches

I liked doing my short Lenten devotions so much I thought I’d give myself the opportunity to do something like that again. So, here begins a week of short devotions from Revelation 1–3 and Christ’s letters, dictated through John, to the seven churches.

And so, the introduction.

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.” (Revelation 1:9–20 ESV)

Fear not. Because John is afraid. This is a fearsome vision, much like Daniel’s encounter with the “Ancient of Days” in Daniel 7. John is afraid, overwhelmed by his vision, by what is happening to him, by who he meets and what he’s told. He is overwhelmed by the one who is like a “son of man” walking in the midst of the church — the church that is to be light for the world.

The First and the Last speaks a fearsome truth that cuts, pierces, stabs, and divides. And he is to speak a word of the truth to the churches, to the lamps whose light he is in the midst of. Twice he commands John to write what he has seen. He is to write his vision in a book and share it with the seven churches.

Jesus his speaks his authority to John. “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.” The first and last, the Alpha and Omega, is a title claimed by God at the very beginning of Revelation. It is also claimed by Christ, who was dead, but lives forever. Who is and was and who is to come. First and last, dead and living, holding they keys of Death and Hades.

That is his dominion, and he is the master of those things we believe so final. Death is his, as is that place of the dead — Sheol or Hades. We need not fear death or the place of the dead. God holds them, has mastered them. And in our midst is one who was dead but rose, and now lives forever.

Fear not.

The church, the light of the world, is not light on its own. Christ walks in our midst, and we are overseen, by angels. We shine not by our own brightness, but by the brightness of the one who walks in our midst, who holds us as his ultimate concern, who has appointed angels to watch over, care for us, and protect us.

No matter what happens. We are not alone. We do not need to be afraid.

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