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Author:Rev. Daniel R. Hyde
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Congregation:Oceanside United Reformed Church
 Oceanside/Carlsbad, CA
Title:My Eyes Have Seen The King
Text:Revelation 1:10-20 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:End Times

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Daniel R. Hyde, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Originally published in The Presbyterian Banner (January/February 2005): 3-4. Reprinted here with permission of the author.

Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

If you haven't noticed, accounts of visions of Jesus abound today. Not only do people claim to hear the voice of the Lord, they claim to have seen the Lord. And this is not just among mystical Roman Catholics. So-called "evangelical" Christians who claim to believe the Bible give their testimonies of seeing Jesus in their dreams, at the foot of the beds at night, and in times of deep prayer and devotion. If you're like me, you have had much experience hearing these accounts. What is striking, first of all, is how similar these accounts all sound: "he had a trimmed beard, long flowing hair, beautiful eyes, and a melodic voice that said, 'Do not fear, I am near you,'" or something of that nature. What is also striking about these purported visions of the exalted Christ are the contrasting "visions" of God, and especially Christ, in the Scriptures. Here in Revelation we have one such biblical vision. The differences are striking: John is an apostle who had lived with the Lord and knew what he looked like while on earth; his words are inspired by the Holy Spirit and do not come to us with a grain of doubt; and his vision of the Lord struck in him terror, reverence, and awe. We conclude our study of Revelation 1 as the Lord Jesus Christ calls John to be his prophet of comfort to the church and doom for the unbelieving and unrepentant world.

John is Called to Herald this Glory

After opening this letter with such grandeur, John now gives us the account of how he became the seer of the Lord. John describes his call as being "on the Lord's Day" (v. 10). Remember, he was on the isle of Patmos as an exile. It was while on that isle on a particular "Lord's day" that he was given this grand vision of the exalted and sovereign Lord. We notice that God was doing something special on his special day.

We do well to reflect upon the significance of the Lord's day for a few moments. This term, "the Lord's day," means that the day is wholly owned by the Lord. We see this because John does not use the ordinary term for Lord, kurios, "the Lord," but the term regal kuriakos, "belonging to the Lord." This term was used in the imperial court to say that something belonged to the King, such as his treasury. The only other time it is used in the New Testament is in 1 Corinthians 11 in reference to the "Lord's Supper." Thus, the day we call "Sunday" in secular terms, is the day in which "the ruler of the kings on earth" (Rev. 1:5), to whom belongs "dominion forever and ever" (Rev. 1:6), and who calls himself "the Almighty" (Rev. 1:8), gives us a glimpse of his "not yet" kingdom when every "day" shall be his. For on it, we commemorate and participate in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and ushered in the beginning of the new creation on that momentous first day of the week. It was the day on which John could rest from his sufferings and receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a special way.

So just as Yahweh redeemed the Israelites from bondage and then gave them the Sabbath in order to rest and to be a part of their response of gratitude, so too we have been delivered in a greater Exodus and have been given a special day, a day which he calls "mine," for us as his followers to obediently and gratefully respond to him. It is the day on which we are called to worship him publicly, following the pattern of the apostles, to lay down our lives before him as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:4-10).

Thus it was "on the Lord's day" that John was called. But notice also that on that day he was "in the Spirit" (v. 10). What John is saying is that he experienced the same phenomenon as the Old Testament prophets, such as Ezekiel (ch. 1) and Isaiah (ch. 6). Listen to the familiar story of the call of Isaiah and think about how it is similar to John's call:

1In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" 4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for 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!" (Isa. 6:1-5)

John was "taken up" into the divine throne-room to receive his marching orders: "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" (v. 11). And by saying that he was "in the Spirit" was an Old Testament way of saying that he was a true prophet, not a false prophet (cf. Ezek. 3:12, 14, 11:1, 5, 37:1 cf. Rev. 4:2, 17:3, 21:10). So here is an authentic, authoritative word from the Lord, through John, to the suffering pilgrim church on earth. May we have ears to hear!

John's Call is Confirmed in Seeing this Glory

As John is caught up in the Spirit into the visionary throne-room of God, he, like the Old Testament prophets, is given a vision, a glimpse, of the Lord who has called him. Here John beholds the King of glory, the LORD of hosts himself as confirmation of what he had heard.

In reading about John's vision, we recognize that on the one hand he describes the glory of the exalted Christ, yet on the other hand, John cannot adequately describe this glory of Christ as he stretches our imagination with simile and metaphor. It is also interesting that while John hears the Lord commissioning him to herald the Revelation to the seven churches, he turns "to see the voice" (v. 12). Here is the meaning of vision par excellence. He sees the voice!

As he turns he sees "one like a son of man" (v. 13), who identifies himself as "the first and the last" (v. 17), which we have seen means that he is the sovereign director of history. He calls himself the "living one" (v. 18), that is, the resurrected one, and the possessor of "the keys of Death and Hades" (v. 18), that is, he is the Lord of life and death, the sovereign King who decides who lives and who dies!

As we move deeper into this vision we stand in wonder at how John described what he saw. He saw this King "clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest" (v. 13), that is, he is a king-priest, wearing the high priestly garments of Aaron (Ex. 28:4). His hair was "like wool, as white as snow," his eyes were "like a flame of fire" (v. 14); his feet were "like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace" (v. 15). All these similes are meant to convey to us the utter purity and holiness of the Lord (cf. Isa. 1:18), especially as the simile of his hair being "as white as snow" would communicate (hair: Dan. 7:9; eyes: Dan. 10:5 cf. Rev. 2:18, 19:12; Heb. 4:13). He continues by saying the voice of this son of man was "like the roar of many waters" (v. 15 cf. Rev. 14:2, 19:6). Who can stand before the Lord when he speaks? His voice is that of a powerful and majestic king, not a mere whisper in our dreams. John also says that he was holding in his right hand, the hand of strength in Scripture, "seven stars," and that "from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword," that is, the might of his Word is unsheathed and prepared to battle sinners in preaching and Satan in condemnation (sword: Rev. 2:12, 16, 19:15). The face of the Lord was "like the sun shining in full strength" (v. 16). Here John speaks of what the writer to the Hebrews says when he speaks of the Son of God as "the radiance of the glory of God" (Heb. 1:3 cf. Mal. 4:2; Ps. 84:11; Isa. 60:1; Acts 26:13f.).

This vision of Christ always reveals to us information about the "environment" of where the King of glory is seen. John sees him in the middle of seven golden lampstands, most likely seven Jewish menorahs. These lampstands are interpreted by Jesus himself as the seven churches (v. 20). What John sees is the ascended, glorious Jesus the King of glory who is nevertheless right down in the midst of his suffering church! And as he is the "light of the world" (John 8:12), he is himself shining to the world through his light-bearers, the church (Matt. 5:14; Ex. 25:31; Zech. 4:2). Do you see what this means? It means that Jesus Christ, the King, who has all authority (Matt. 28:18), is not sitting idly by as the world grows ever darker. He is actively engaging in evangelizing the world through his church. This means that we must be active in preaching, teaching, evangelism, loving our neighbors, sending out missionaries, being active in our communities as his lampstands.

So in reading and interpreting this marvelous vision, what are we to say? The "big idea," the overall message of this vision is that our exalted and ascended Lord, Jesus Christ is presently reigning and active in our midst. Does this not fill you with wonder and awe? Does this not comfort your poor desolate hearts?

So how are we to respond to this glory of Christ? We are to respond in godly fear, in reverence and in awe of this glorious Christ. We, like John, like Moses before the burning bush, like Isaiah in the throne-room of God, are to fall at his feet "as though dead." As we stand before him even now may we bow in humility as we acknowledge his holiness and our manifold sins and trespasses. Do you not realize before whom you stand today? Do you not know that his eyes of flaming fire penetrate our hearts and can see our souls?

Yet do not despair, beloved, for the Gospel is revealed here as well, to lift us out of the merely pit: "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" (vv, 17, 18). By his resurrection he has overcome death, and sin, the cause of our spiritual death as he delivers us from death's power and sting. Do not be afraid, beloved, for the King of glory is also the merciful shepherd who lifts up his wounded sheep. Behold your King! A true vision of your King, and no mere humanly contrived substitute.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Daniel R. Hyde, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2005, Rev. Daniel R. Hyde

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