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Displaying items by tag: Don't be afraid

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".


PART 3 - Revelation 1:17-19
*** Background ***: In the last two studies, we saw many wonderful details about Jesus. Jesus presented himself to John in such a striking way!  It looks like this encounter with Jesus became engraved in John's mind for the rest of his life.  This memorable effect seems to be the goal that Jesus has in mind for those who are reading this part of the text, not just for John.
Jesus appeared to John in this vision in a way that John could identify not only Jesus' activities in heaven, but also what Jesus means to humanity.  Jesus looks like a human being, but He is so much more.  He is divine.  He looks like God the Father.
In this description of Revelation 1:12-20, Jesus showed people that He is the King and Priest.  As a Priest, He presents His sacrifice on the cross as a means of cleansing us from our sins.  He takes care of each one of us individually and offers us a way to win the spiritual battle that we face here on earth.  He offers us the sword of His truth.
*** When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead ***: This whole scene of Jesus, with all His glory, with so much brilliance, with Him walking among the seven lampstands and with the seven stars in his hand, must have been an impressive scene to leave anyone a little shaken.  John said that when he saw this scene, he fell at Jesus' feet as though dead. Very often in the Bible, we see people falling at the feet of Jesus after having a special encounter with the Son of God. For example, Peter at the boat (Luke 5:8), the Samaritan leper who was cured (Luke 17:15-16), the sick woman who touched Jesus (Luke 8:47), and many others. Ezekiel also fell with his face to the ground when he had a vision about the glory of God (Ezekiel 1:26-28). Saul, on the road to Damascus, is another example (Acts 9:3-6). One significant moment was when Peter, James, and John saw Jesus' Transfiguration. After hearing God speaking from the cloud covering Jesus, “they fell facedown to the ground, terrified” (Matthew 17:1-8). During their vision, both Daniel and John had a similar experience to the one described in the Transfiguration. We read in Daniel 8:18 and in Daniel 10:8-9 that Daniel fell with his face to the ground, trembling with fear. The scene of the Transfiguration, and John's and Daniel's vision of the messenger from God were no ordinary encounters with Christ. Those men saw Jesus as Heaven sees Him, covered with the Glory of God. A tremendous feeling of overwhelming fear must have taken over them, and caused them to fall down.
*** Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid” ***: In all three instances that we mentioned earlier (Daniel’s vision, the Transfiguration, and John’s vision), the men hear the words: “do not be afraid”, and they hear that right after they fall to the ground. Jesus Himself tells them that. In all three scenes, Jesus touches them and restores their strength. God had already promised this special care to the people who experience this powerful encounter with Him. We read this promise in Isaiah 41:10: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." This verse takes on an even greater dimension when we remember that Jesus had in His right hand the people who are transmitting the message of God, right?  The seven stars we talked about in the last episode.  The same right hand that holds the stars is the hand that reaches down to touch John. This is the care that Jesus has for His followers. Jesus is demonstrating here in this moment, not only His transforming power, represented here by His right hand, but also His compassion, and His love for human beings.
Jesus' extraordinary touch is enough to restore John, but Jesus did something more.  He comforted John with the words "Don't be afraid".  Jesus knew that the whole scene perplexed John.  It was a lot of information all at once.  But Jesus is sending this message with the exact purpose of protecting people, so they can prepare to meet Him on the last day.  This message serves exactly to inform people that they don't need to be afraid.
*** “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!” ***: Once again, Jesus is identifying Himself. He is presenting His credentials, which are the reasons why we do not need to be afraid when we fall at His feet. He is "the First and the Last". He always existed, and He will always exist. He is Life itself. He is the one who died, but has resurrected and now lives for all eternity. Jesus' victory on the cross guaranteed the defeat of sin.  Jesus is basically telling us the end of the message of Revelation here.  He's already a winner.  Evil has no chance of defeating Jesus.  Jesus' death and resurrection guaranteed the opportunity of eternal life for all who believe in Him.
*** “And I hold the keys of death and Hades” ***: Before we get into the death and Hades part, let's think about what a key represents.  The keys to my house are very important.  They give access to my family, to my things.  My keys to my house represent my safety. If someone has the keys to my house, they have also control over the house. So I don't give my keys to just anyone. In the case of these keys here in Revelation, they give access to two apparently strange things: death and Hades.  We need to look at this text carefully, so we can understand exactly what Jesus was communicating at that time.
Some Bible versions translate the word Hades as hell. Hades is the Greek word hadēs, and in the Greek culture, hadēs can be a place or a person. In other words, this expression refers to the place of the dead, or to the one who rules over the dead. Christians in the first century were familiar with the pagan concepts of Hades and its mythology. But most importantly, we (as did the first century Christians) need to see this concept of "death and Hades" under the light of the Scriptures, in order for us not to be misled by false pagan teachings. We have to find out what the Bible has to say about this concept. The word in Hebrew that corresponds to Hades is Sheol. So let's now see what the Bible says about death and Hades/Sheol.
In Acts 2:29-33, we read that Jesus actually went to Hades, or as some translations say, the "realm of the dead". Meaning, Jesus died. But it also says that He was not abandoned there in Hades (which means He did not stay dead). He was resurrected to life, and is now exalted by the right side of the Father. This passage of Acts 2:29-33 gives us the explanation to Psalm 16, written by David centuries earlier. Now, let's look further at Hades/Sheol as a place. What does the Bible say this place is? In order to answer this question, we need to look at Psalms 88:3. David says in the original language: "For my soul is full of troubles, and draws near to Sheol". Different versions translate Sheol as death or grave. Many versions leave the original word Sheol. In Genesis 37:35, we read about how devastated Jacob was when he thought Joseph was dead. He said he would mourn Joseph's death until he went to the grave (or Sheol) himself. So we can see here that Sheol is not a place where only the bad people go to. According to the Bible, good people go there too. Jesus, David, Jacob, and Joseph expected to go to Sheol when they died.
Psalms 49:14 tells us that Sheol is the place where our forms decay and are consumed. So the translation "grave" is a very appropriate translation for Hades/Sheol, as the place that holds the dead. 2 Timothy 1:10 tells us that Jesus "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light". He overcame death. He is larger than death. Jesus has dominion over death. He judges the dead. He is in control, meaning, He holds the keys to death and the grave.
After Christ's death and resurrection, God's people can enjoy eternal life and not worry about the second death. Revelation 20:6 says that the second death has no power over the sealed people of God. The passages in Revelation 20:10, 13-15 are very clear, and tell us that the devil, the two beasts, death and Hades, along with the people whose names were not written in the book of life will all be "thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death." And that is HOW there will be no more death, or graves, or sinful beings, or pain and tears (Revelation 21:4): death itself and the grave, Satan and the beasts, and the lost people will be forever destroyed. So, Jesus is saying here in this text in Revelation 1, that He has control over the final destiny of everything, including death.  So even if your Bible version has the word hell instead of the word Hades, it is important to keep in mind the biblical meaning of what that means, and the meaning is grave.
*** “What is now and what will take place later” ***: Jesus told John that he should write down everything he was seeing, "what is now and what will take place later". As we saw in Revelation 1:1, about the “things that must soon take place”, the events relating to the time of the end started when Christ died, resurrected and ascended to Heaven. The message John was writing to the seven churches was relevant to them. They needed serious help. As we will see when we go into detail on each of the churches, things were happening at that time already. But the message was not just about the "things that are now". They were also important for the following generations since there were important things that would still take place at a later date. This is why a historical approach is essential when studying the book of Revelation. We need to look at the events from the start of humanity. We cannot understand the end if we do not understand how it all began. So, with this phrase, Jesus is telling John that the message that He is sending includes things that were already happening and also things that were yet to happen.
*** Overview ***: We often read in the Bible that people fell at Jesus’ feet when they had a special encounter with Christ. At that moment, Jesus's hand was always quick to lift those people up, encourage and strengthen them. He wanted to assure His people that He is the one who conquered death. Jesus is the one in control, and one day the opposing forces will be destroyed forever, including death itself. He is the Living One, who is telling John to write this message about the things that were happening at that time, and also about the things that would "soon take place". Jesus gave John all this historical background, with references to the times of the prophets and Moses so we, who are now reading this message, can all understand that He is still the same God, who was so present in the past; and that He has been giving His people the same message throughout history. We cannot separate the beginning from the end of the world, because the problem tormenting humanity at the end of the world will still be the same that afflicted Adam and Eve initially: sin. The events that "will take place later" on Earth are the things that will happen as a consequence of what happened in the past. These future events will lead to the resolution of the sin problem once and for all. But we don't need to be afraid of this process because Jesus is in control.  He holds His faithful people with His right hand of victory.  He wants to restore our strength, and give us eternal life.

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.

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 of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


PART 2 - Revelation 1:14-16, 20
*** General considerations ***: There's no better subject for us to talk about than Jesus, is there? It is so wonderful that Revelation starts with that description of Jesus right in the first chapter. Jesus wants to show us who He is. He wants to establish a relationship with the people who are reading this message. The message needs to become much more than just words in a book. He wants us to have the experience of this remarkable encounter with Him.
*** Background ***: In Revelation 1:14, 15, 16, and 20, we have a very shocking description of Jesus' appearance. But I’d like for you to have one thing in mind. John is explaining here, far beyond the description of Jesus' physical appearance. The main point of this description is to show us the character, the love, and the purpose of Christ. If we were to take a picture of this scene, where only His outward appearance would show, it would be a very strange picture. So let's keep that in mind, that this is a picture of how we see in Jesus only when we spend time with Him and when we take time to develop a relationship with Him. This is a picture of Jesus' character.
In study #8, which was part 1 of this study on Jesus, we saw a description of Jesus, that we see here in Revelation. And we compared it with other verses in the Bible, which describe Jesus in a very similar way. These other verses are found in Ezekiel 1:26-28, Matthew 17:2-6, and Daniel 10:5-12.
The verses in Daniel have all the elements that we see here in Revelation 1. The verses in Ezekiel and Matthew are also equivalent, even though they don't include so many details. The words these writers used to describe Jesus are almost the same. Interestingly, Daniel wrote about this vision that he had about 600 years before John's vision even happened.
In these verses in Revelation, we see 7 descriptions of Jesus, 2 things that He was actively doing in that scene, John’s reaction, and Jesus’s compassion in response to John’s reaction. So all of this is described here in this photograph of Jesus.
Interesting how the number 7 appears all the time, right? Well, we saw the first description of Jesus in study #8, which was: Jesus looks like a human being who is wearing the outfit of a King and Priest. We also saw the first thing that He was doing in the scene, and He was walking among the seven lampstands, which represent the 7 churches to which John is sending this message of Revelation.
So now let’s explore the other 6 descriptions of Jesus and also see the second thing He was doing.
*** Hair on his head was white as wool and snow ***: John described Jesus as having hair as white as wool and snow. Let’s compare this description with Daniel 7:9. In this verse, we read the part of his vision where Daniel sees the "Ancient of Days” (the Ancient of Days is God the Father) and He is taking His seat at the throne. Daniel describes God the Father as wearing clothes "as white as snow" and "the hair of his head was white like wool". Later in the vision, in verses 13 and 14, Daniel says that the one "like the son of man" approached the Ancient of Days. As we saw on study #8, Jesus is the One who looks like a son of man. Continuing with the text in Daniel, we read about how God gave Jesus "authority, glory and sovereign power". John, in Revelation 1:14, is describing Jesus as having the same characteristics and authority as the Father. The Father has white hair, Jesus has white hair also. Jesus Himself said: “[…] Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. […]” and we read this in John 14:9. And, in Matthew 28:18, we read that after His resurrection, Jesus said this to His disciples: “[…] All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
*** His eyes were like blazing fire ***: the original in Greek says His eyes were like "a flame of fire". Hebrews 4:13 says that nothing can hide from God's sight. He sees everything (Job 28:24; Proverbs 15:3). In Exodus 15:26 we read that if people were to do what is right in the "eyes of the Lord", obeying His commands, He would spare them from the plagues that afflicted the Egyptians because He is the healing God. In Deuteronomy 4:23-24, we read that God is a "consuming fire" to those who do not keep His commands. Here in Revelation 1:14, we see the description of blazing eyes that see absolutely everything. Eyes that can purify His faithful servants, and also consume (or judge) those who choose not to follow His teachings.
*** His feet were like bronze ***: the word for bronze used in this verse, is chalkolibanō, and means polished or burnished bronze, or fine brass. Bronze and brass are used interchangeably in different translations. The Hebrew word for chalkolibanō used in Daniel 10:6 is nə·ḥō·šeṯ. Bronze and brass are both metal alloys, meaning they are not made of a single pure metal. Bronze is a metal that contains copper and tin, and brass is made of copper and zinc. Many of the furniture and utensils in the tabernacle were made of or covered in gold (Exodus 25 to 30). However, all other utensils, clasps, and pegs were made out of bronze (Exodus 27:19; 26:37; 27:17). Perhaps the most interesting things made of bronze in the Tabernacle were the Altar of Burnt Offerings (Exodus 27:1-8), and the Basin for washing (Exodus 30:17-21). Sacrifice was offered at the altar, where the offering was burned with fire. It reminds us of a furnace, doesn’t it? The priests had to wash at the basin before offering sacrifice and before entering the Tent Of Meeting so they wouldn't die when they entered it. Both the altar and the basin point to Christ. Jesus is the sacrificed Lamb, and through His sacrifice, our sins are washed away and therefore we can live (1 John 1:7, Romans 6:22). Another important bronze object, also symbolic of Christ, is the bronze serpent God instructed Moses to build to save people from the deadly snake bites when they were in the desert (Numbers 21:4-9). If someone who had been bitten looked at the bronze snake up on the pole, they would live. At first, this story sounds very strange, right? But Jesus explained the meaning of the bronze snake in John 3:14-15. He said: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” We can now see that the shining bronze feet seen in Daniel 10:6 and Revelation 1:15 are likely a strong reference to all these bronze items we saw here, which are symbols of Jesus' sacrifice. Just as the metal alloy is made of two different elements, Jesus is both divine and human (Colossians 2:9). According to 2 Corinthians 5:21, He was sinless, and yet He made himself sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), in order to nail sin on the cross, and offer us life through His death.
*** His voice was like the sound of rushing waters ***: Psalm 29 gives a detailed and powerful description of the majesty and strength of the voice of the Lord. The Psalm says that "The voice of the Lord is over the waters", it thunders, it "strikes flashes of lightning", so much so, that "in His temple all cry, Glory!". This description of the voice of the Lord reminds us of the sounds that accompanied the cloud of the Lord in Exodus 19:16, with all the thundering and lightening. The original in Greek of Revelation 1:15 says that "His voice was like the sound of many waters". This description of the sound of Jesus' voice is identical to the description of God's voice in Ezekiel 43:2. John describes the magnitude of Jesus' voice as being just as strong as the voice of the Father. We can really understand this magnificent voice when we read Revelation 19:6 - the voice of God sounds like the voice of a great multitude. So, it’s not just that anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father but also, anyone who has heard Jesus, has heard the Father.
*** In his right hand he held seven stars ***: Let’s talk about the second thing Jesus was doing in this scene. He was holding something in His right hand. And John said that He was holding seven stars in His hand. Verse 20 reveals "the mystery of the seven stars". The verse says they are "the seven angels of the seven churches". The word "angel" in Greek is angeloi, and the word in Hebrew is mal·’aḵ. The word angel means messenger or representative. In the Old Testament, the word mal·’aḵ is most often than not translated as "angel", as we can see in Judges 2:4. But Malachi 2:7 gives us another dimension of the word by telling us that the church leader is "the messenger [mal·’aḵ] of the Lord". As we saw in Revelation 1:3, The "Testimony of Jesus" which is to be sent to the seven churches, is expected to be passed along to the members by "the one who reads". We can understand that "the one who reads" is one of the local leaders, referred here in verse 16 as one of the seven stars or angels in Jesus' hand. The fact that the stars are in His right hand is very comforting. God's hand is powerful and mighty and He will protect His faithful people (Joshua 4:24;  2 Chronicles 20:5-9). Jesus Himself said, in Matthew 28:20 that He would be with His followers until the end of the age. We can see here that Jesus is highlighting in this scene, that the people, or messengers, who are passing along the unaltered message of God, are under His protection and guidance. What a wonderful thing!
*** Coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword ***: Let’s now talk about the part of the scene that is possibly the most shocking of them all, visually speaking. But let's keep in mind what we talked about earlier, that this is a picture of Jesus’ character. John said that Jesus had a sharp, double-edged sword coming out of His mouth. Normally, we would expect that if someone was carrying a sword, they would have it in their hand. But Jesus's sword comes from His mouth. Right away, we can see that the sword is a symbol for something else. As always, the Bible explains what this symbol is. Hebrews 4:12 says: "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." The sword coming out of Jesus' mouth is His Word, His teachings, His testimony. And His sword executes judgement (see also Job 19:25-29, Isaiah 66:15-16). Jesus' sword protects His followers, and it also destroys those who choose evil over His love. Did you notice here? The sword is the same. There is only one truth. God’s truth, described here as a sharp sword, protects those who follow it but destroys those who reject it. The truth simply is. People’s destiny - if they will be protected or destroyed - will depend on which choice those people will make and not on the sword itself. If they choose to follow the Truth, they will be protected. If they reject the Truth, they will be destroyed. The sword is sharp, and it will work according to each person’s choice.
*** His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance ***: 2 Chronicles 7:14 says that when we humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, and turn away from evil, He will hear our prayers and forgive us. In Psalms 80, David is asking God to revive and restore his people and to shine His face upon them, so they could be saved. In Psalms 119:134-135, David uses the same expression, asking God to shine on him. He wants God to teach him His decrees. The fact that David is asking God to shine His face in order for him to learn God's law is very interesting, because immediately before God gave Moses the second set of stones with the Ten Commandments, Moses asked to see God's glory (Exodus 33:18-23). God agrees to show Moses only His back. No one on Earth can see God's face and live. So God tells Moses He will protect him with His hand while He is passing by. We can understand that God's glory is fully expressed through His face. The shine or brilliance from His face brings salvation and a desire to follow His commands. In Revelation 1:16, John is able to see the face of the one "like the Son of Man", and the glory of His face is so strong, that he compares it to the sun, just as John had seen during Jesus’ Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2). What a magnificent vision!
*** Overview ***: John sees the entirety of Jesus, literally from head to toe. The description of Jesus is similar to the Old Testament description of the Father. The Son and the Father share the same authority and glory. Jesus can see the innermost thoughts of men, and nothing is hidden from Him. He is able to judge because He can see everything. Jesus sees the whole picture in the smallest of the details. Through His sacrifice at the cross, He was able to wash humanity from their sins, prevent their eternal death, and allow them to enter Heaven. Jesus' powerful voice and righteous hand call and protect His church and give them the means to continue: His word, which is the ultimate weapon to be used in the spiritual war being waged on this Earth. Every word that comes out of the mouth of Jesus is like a sharp sword that can at the same time protect His people and consume those who choose a life without Christ. Jesus is the only one who brings salvation, and the glory of His face is the inspiration to follow Him and His teachings.

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