Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ received and written by the apostle John. More specifically today’s passage is found in the second and third chapters of this New Testament book. “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for my name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:1-7).
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be heart by the second death” (Revelation 2:8-11).
“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, These things says He who has the sharp two-edge sword: I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to my name, and did not deny my faith even in the days in which Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrines of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To Him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it” (Revelation 2:12-17).
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and secure my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sick bed, and those commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from my Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:18-29).
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:1-6).
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, These things says He who is holy, He who is true, he who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and on one ones: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God. And I will write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:7-13).
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot, I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked—I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:14-22).
When you come to the second and third chapters of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will find it being comprised of seven individual letters—each written unto a different church within Asia. Within the second chapter of this prophetic book you will find four letters written unto the first set of churches while in the third chapter you will find the final three letters written to the remaining churches. If you want to understand the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you must needs recognize that it was a vision that was given unto the apostle John while he was exiled on the island of Patmos for the testimony of the Lord Jesus. It would be there on the island of Patmos the apostle John would receive the vision that would become known as the Revelation of Jesus Christ. There upon the island located in the Mediterranean Sea the apostle John would receive the vision concerning the end of all things and the Last Days. There upon the island of Patmos the apostle John would first and foremost see a vision of the risen and exalted Jesus—the very One whom He had personally walked with and followed for three and a half years. On the island of Patmos the apostle John would see a vision of the same Jesus Christ whom he served faithfully during the days of the Holy Spirit and of the early church. Having written one of the four main gospel accounts of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as three distinct epistles the apostle John would now receive a vision from Jesus Christ which was given unto Him by the Father that He might show it unto His servants.
I sit here today thinking about the words which are found in the second and third chapters of this prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with the incredible reality that the apostle John had personally walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ for three and a half years. The apostle John was one of the apostles who were eyewitnesses unto His death, His burial and His resurrection from the grave. Moreover the apostle John was an eyewitness to the infallible proofs which the Lord Jesus performed over a period of forty days after He was raised from death to life. Not only this but the apostle John was a personal eyewitness to the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into heaven and heard the words which the angelic messengers proclaimed after His departure and return unto the Father who was in heaven. That which the apostle John wrote was not based on hearsay nor reports given unto him by others who had seen and heard those things of Jesus the Christ while He was upon the earth. The apostle John was witness to the sufferings of Christ in the flesh, was witness to His crucifixion and death upon the cross and might even have been witness to His burial and His lifeless body being laid within the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. What’s more is the apostle John would be a personal eyewitness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as he would be personally present on multiple occasions when Jesus appeared unto he and the disciples in physical form. The apostle John would be present when the Lord Jesus would speak unto His disciples prior to His ascension unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. He would hear the words which Jesus spoke which have become known as “The Great Commission.” He was there at the mount of Olives when the Lord Jesus Christ ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven and was even present in the upper room when the Holy Spirit was manifested unto all those who were present.
What we find here in the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is an entirely different revelation and vision given unto the apostle John by the same One whom he had walked with and followed for three and a half years. The apostle John would be exiled to the island of Patmos for the word and testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ as Rome would attempt to silence the word, the message and the gospel he preached. What’s so incredibly interesting when you take the time to think about this is that while Jesus was present upon the earth in the form of flesh and blood Rome never seemed to bat an eye at His word, His gospel or His message. Even though Jesus spoke of a kingdom and that He had come to manifest and demonstrate that kingdom it never seemed to garner the attention or concern of Rome. What’s more is that it would be a Roman centurion who would come unto Jesus on behalf of his servant who was sick at home and on the verge of death. When Jesus heard the words spoken by this Roman centurion concerning authority and the power of command He marveled greatly and declared that he had not found faith so great in all Israel as He had within this centurion. Not only this but when you come to the New Testament book of Acts you will find another Roman centurion by the name of Cornelius who was a man who worshipped God and prayed before and unto the living God. It would be Cornelius and his entire household who would be the first Gentiles to hear the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Here was this Roman centurion who was part of the Italian band who would be the first Gentiles to receive the gift and promise of the Holy Spirit—this despite the fact that in the coming years Rome would raise itself up against Christianity.
When you come to the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you can and will find this apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ being exiled by Rome to an island in the Mediterranean Sea for the word and testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. History teaches us that they attempted to put the apostle John to death by boiling him alive in oil and yet he did not die as a result of this. Since they could not put John to death they deemed it better and more effective to exile him to an island of slaves whereby he might be banished from teaching and preaching the word and name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture doesn’t reveal how long the apostle John was present on the island of Patmos before the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him, however, we know that he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day when the risen and exalted Jesus appeared unto him. It was ordained and appointed that this original disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ would receive this vision and revelation of the end of all things and the Last Days. The apostle John would receive a vision concerning the end times that would indeed be intrinsically linked and connected to the vision(s) which Daniel saw in the land of the Chaldeans. In fact the prophetic book of Daniel is at many times and by many people read and studied together with the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. What’s more is that if you read the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will find that not only is it the foretelling of things and events yet to come but it is also the fulfillment of that which has already been prophesied in times past by the ancient Hebrew prophets. If you take the time to read this prophetic book you will find countless and repeated references to the words which the ancient Hebrew prophets spoke concerning those things which they themselves had seen.
If there is one thing I absolutely love about the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ it’s that it is not only prophecy about events and things to come but it is also the revelation of things which were prophesied centuries earlier by the ancient Hebrew prophets. You cannot read this prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and not find within it powerful currents of the prophetic words and writings of the ancient Hebrew prophets from Isaiah, to Jeremiah, to Zechariah and others. What’s more is that this prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ must needs be understood in direct relation to the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel. More often than not the prophetic book of Daniel has been used as a key to understanding and unlocking the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ as the prophet Daniel would see some of the very same things the apostle John would see in the vision he received while on the island of Patmos. How absolutely incredible it is to read the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and see the wonderful and amazing reality of those things which are still to take place in the coming days but were also the fulfillment of what had been prophesied by the ancient Hebrew prophets centuries earlier. There on the island of Patmos the apostle John would see visions of the fulfillment of things which the Hebrew prophets of generations past prophesied of which they saw according to the word of the LORD. Oh there is something truly captivating about this for this prophetic revelation of Jesus Christ was not only a revelation of Jesus Himself but it was also a revelation of those events which were to take place in the Last Days.
With all of this being said there is a great need to recognize and understand that at the very heart and at the very center of this revelation and vision was indeed a vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It was indeed true the apostle John had personally walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ for three and a half years together with the other disciples and many who also walked with and followed Him, however, this vision and revelation would be entirely and altogether different from anything he had experienced while Jesus was in the flesh. I am absolutely amazed with and by the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it brings me face to face with the absolutely wonderful vision of the revelation which the apostle John received concerning the Lord Jesus Christ who had not only risen from the grave but who had also ascended unto the right hand of the Father and was in His exalted and glorified state. The apostle John would indeed receive a vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ as he had never seen, witnessed or experienced before for he would see a vision of that same One he had walked with and followed for three and a half years in all His glory, splendor and majesty. Oh how absolutely wonderful and incredible this truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle John and this vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The more I read and study the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the vision which the apostle John saw—first and foremost concerning the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Before the apostle John would be shown any of those things which were to take place He would see a vision of Christ Himself such as he had never experienced nor witnessed before. If you ant to understand the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ there is a great need to understand it as being a revelation of Jesus Christ as well as a revelation from Jesus Christ. Both of these elements and aspects are indeed present in this prophetic book as the Lord Jesus Christ would not only show and reveal Himself unto the apostle John but He would also show Him those things which were to come in the Last Days. If you begin reading with and from the ninth verse of the first and opening chapter of this New Testament prophetic book you will find the apostle John witnessing and beholding Christ such as He had never been seen before. Up until this point there were only a few individuals who had seen a vision of the risen and exalted Jesus Christ. When Stephen was being stoned to death he would see the heavens opened and the Son of God standing at the right hand of the Father. While Saul of Tarsus was journeying to Damascus he would see a vision of the resurrected, ascended and exalted Jesus Christ who would call and choose Him as a vessel and instrument to bring the word and gospel to the Gentiles and to kings and rulers for His name’s sake. Here on the island of Patmos we find the apostle John receiving a vision of the resurrected and exalted Jesus Christ whom he had personally walked with and followed for three and a half years before His suffering, crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension unto the right hand of the Father. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first chapter of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ beginning with the ninth verse:
“I John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, and, What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea. Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and birdied about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like find brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; he had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 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. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which 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 which you saw are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:9-20).
Within this vision which the apostle John saw concerning the Lord Jesus Christ we find him describing his being a brother and companion in the tribulation, in the kingdom and sin the patience of Jesus Christ. The apostle John was on the island which was called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. On the Lord’s Day—we don’t know which day this actually was nor how long the apostle had been on the island—he speaks of his being in the Spirit. Having been in the Spirit the apostle John would hear behind him a loud voice as of a trumpet speaking directly unto him. That which the voice spoke unto him was a statement and declaration of His authority, His power and His eternal and divine nature. The voice of the One speaking to Him emphatically declared and proclaimed that He was the Alpha and the Omega as well as the First and the Last. Moreover this voice which spoke to him from behind would instruct him to write in a book what he would see and send it to the seven churches which were in Asia. The entire message which would be revealed and given unto the apostle John would indeed be written down in a book or scroll and sent unto the seven churches which were in Asia—churches which are in the modern country of Turkey. The seven churches which the apostle John was to write these words and send them to were Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatria, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. It would be unto these seven churches the words which were written and recorded by the apostle John would need to be sent to that they might receive the revelation and vision of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you continue reading the words which are found in these verses you will find that similarly to Moses who turned aside to see the Angel of the LORD who had appeared to Him in the midst of the burning bush. The book of Exodus describes how the Angel of the LORD would appear unto Moses in the midst of a burning bush which would burn with fire and yet would not be consumed. When Moses saw this bush burning with fire and yet not being consumed he would turn aside to see this tremendous sight before him. What’s more is the vision which the apostle John saw on the island of Patmos would be similar to the vision Joshua had in the land of Canaan just before he would lead the children of Israel to march around the walls of Jericho. The vision which the apostle John would receive on the Lord’s Day would be similar to the vision which the prophet Daniel would see in the land of the Chaldeans which would cause him to fall prostrate on his face before the LORD his God. Not only this but this vision would be similar to the vision which Ezekiel would see by the river Chebar in the land of the Chaldeans. I would even dare say this vision would be similar to the vision which the disciples Peter, James and John had atop the mountain of transfiguration when the Lord Jesus Christ would be transfigured before them. Additionally I am reminded of the vision which Saul of Tarsus himself had on the road to Damascus as he would be thrown from his horse in the presence of and before the risen and exalted Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the following accounts of individuals who would see visions of the glory and splendor of the living God including the prophet Isaiah who would see a vision of the glory of the LORD in the year that king Uzziah died:
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of MIdian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn. So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst ofd the bush and said, Moses, Moses! And he said, Here I am. Then He said, Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. Moreover He said, I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said: I have surely seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to me, and have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:1-10).
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, Are you for us or for our adversaries? So he said, No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and said to him, Why does my Lord say to his servant? Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy. And Joshua did so” (Joshua 5:13-15).
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: 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. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the LORD, saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I! Send me. And He said, Go, and tell this people” (Isaiah 6:1-9).
“…And adobe the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD” (Ezekiel 1:26-28).
“IN the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time as long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate not pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. 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. Therefore I was left along 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. 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. Suddenly, a hand touched me, which man’s me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 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. Then he said to me, Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come. When he had spoken such words to me, I turned my face toward the ground and became speechless. And suddenly, one having the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke, saying to him who stood before me, My lord, because of the vision my sorrows have overwhelmed me, and I have retained no strength. For how can this servant of my lord talk with you, my lord? As for me, no strength remains in me now, nor is any breath left in me. Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, heys, be strong! So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak, fore you have strengthened me” (Daniel 10:1-19).
“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As he prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with him. Then it happened, as they were parting from him, that Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son. Hear Him! When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen” (Luke 9:28-36).
Each of these passages of Scripture describe encounters which various men ofd faith had with the eternal and living God during their generation. From Moses to Joshua, from Isaiah to Daniel, from Ezekiel to Peter, James and John we find men who encountered the divine glory and presence of the living God in their generation. This is something we dare not and must not miss nor lose sight of for when we come to the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ we encounter the absolutely wonderful reality of the vision and revelation which the apostle John received. The apostle John would hear the Lord Jesus Christ emphatically declare that He was both the Alpha and Omega as well as the First and the Last. When the apostle John turned to see the one who had spoken unto him he would see seven golden lampstands and in the midst of the seven lampstands one like the Son of man. What the apostle John writes next is truly astonishing and powerful when you take the time to consider it for the apostle John would describe exactly what this one looked like. The apostle John would describe how this one was clothed with a garment down to his feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. Not only this but his head and hair were white like wool—as white as who—and His eyes were as a flame of fire. Moreover the apostle John described his feet like fine brass as if refined in a furnace and his voice as the sound of many waters. Moreover this one whom the apostle John saw would have in His right hand seven stars and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. The countenance of this one was like the sun shining in all its strength—perhaps like the sun shining in the noonday sun. What an incredibly powerful vision and revelation the apostle John would have of the risen and exalted Jesus Christ who would not only reveal unto him those things which would take place in the coming days but would also reveal unto him more of himself.
If you continue reading within this prophetic book you will find the apostle John looking upon this one who had appeared unto him and falling at His feet as dead. When the One who had spoken to him saw this he laid His right hand upon him and would encourage him to not be afraid. This One who spoke and appeared unto him would go on to declare that He was the First and the Last and that He was the one who lives, and was dead, and behold is alive forevermore. This one who spoke unto him would declare that he had the keys of Hades and of Death thus signifying supreme and ultimate authority over two distinct prisons which were meant to ensnare and hold captive countless men and women. It was the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews who would declare that it was through Jesus’ death he would destroy the one who had the power of death—that is, the devil. Not only this but it would be the apostle John in his first epistle who would declare that the Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the evil one who is the Devil and to render him completely and utterly powerless. How absolutely wonderful and marvelous this truly is when you take the time to think about it and how the Lord Jesus was and is not only the One who was dead but lives and is alive forevermore. Jesus was that One who suffered in the flesh and died upon the cross and was buried in the earth but would rise from death to life on the third day. How absolutely wonderful and powerful this is when you stop and consider the great victory, triumph and victory the Lord Jesus Christ had through His suffering, through His death and even through His resurrection. Oh how absolutely wonderful and powerful this is when you take the time to consider this One who has the ultimate authority, dominion and power forevermore and who reigns at the right hand of the Father which sits upon the throne in heaven.
As you begin reading the second and third chapters you will find the individual letters which were dictated by the mouth of the Lord Jesus and written down and recorded by the apostle John. The first church the apostle John was instructed to write to was the church of Ephesus which had seen some mighty men of faith among them. The church of Ephesus would see the likes of the apostle Paul, Timothy, the apostle John and others. The church which was present in Ephesus would be those to whom the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ would be written by the hand of the apostle John as well as those to whom the first epistle written by the apostle and the epistle written by the apostle Paul. When speaking unto this church Jesus would affirm unto them their works, their labor, their patience and that they cannot bear those who were evil. Moreover those who were in Ephesus tested those who say they are apostles and are not and have found them lairs. Not only this but they persevered and had patience and labored for His name’s sake and have not become weary. Despite these affirmations and commendations from the mouth of the Lord Jesus, however, the Lord would have something against them. The apostle John writes and records how Jesus declared unto them how He had this against them—namely that they had left their first love. Immediately after making this declaration unto these saints Jesus would go on to instruct and command them to remember from where they had fallen and to repent and do the first works. If there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning the epistle which was written unto the church which was at Ephesus it’s that they had not only LEFT their first love but they had also fallen. These realities are such which we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the dangers we as the saints of God can indeed face—not only in leaving our first love but also in falling from a specific height from which we once were.
Oh in order to truly understand the nature of falling we must needs recognize and acknowledge the author of such falls for there is one who was not only cast from heaven but also one who Scripture provides a continual picture of his falling and being cast down and cast out. Jesus described unto this church that they had left their first love and I can’t help but think about this as being a reference to leaving the place which they were at first. These dear saints once walked in the love of God and yet here we find it written how they had left their first love. Scripture doesn’t reveal how or when they left their first love—only that they had left their first love. What’s more is Scripture doesn’t even reveal what it looks like to leave your first love and what life is like in that state of distance. The only way I can adequately describe both leaving your first love as well as the concept of falling is through the picture of Satan who is the ultimate example of one who left his first estate and through pride and arrogance attempted to lead an insurrection and coup against the living God. As a direct result we have within Scripture countless examples and references to the fall, to the casting out and the casting down of Satan. It is these passages of Scripture I would like to call and draw your attention to for they bring us face to face with the devastation and destruction that can arise from leaving our first love and leaving our original place and abode with the divine and eternal presence of the living God. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic books of Ezekiel and Isaiah, the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke as well as the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, all of them, sleep in glory, everyone in his own house. But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, like the garment of those who are slain; thrust through with a sword, who go down to the stones of the pit, like a corpse trodden underfoot. You will not be joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land and slain your people. The brood of evildoers shall never be named. Prepare slaughter for his children because of the iniquity of their fathers, lest they rise up and possess the land, and fill the face of the world with cities” (Isaiah 14:12-21).
“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the LORD God: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz and Simon, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you. You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever” (Ezekiel 28:11-19).
“Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name. And He said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20).
“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor in in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a. Third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her child as soon as it was born. She bore a male child who was the rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of the brethren, who accused them before our God dayt and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:1-17).
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3).
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the like of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10).
Each of these passages describes the casting down and casting out of the great serpent of old who is called the Devil and Satan. From the time he was cast out of heaven as referenced in both Isaiah and Ezekiel, to Jesus describing His seeing Satan fall like lightning from heaven, to the apostle John seeing Satan not only being cast into the bottomless pit where he would be bound for one thousand to years and his ultimate being cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone we find the continual fall, casting down and casting out of Satan. This is important for us to recognize for when we read of the epistle written unto the church in Ephesus by the apostle John from the mouth of Jesus we find his writing unto them of their need to remember from whence and where they had fallen. It is in the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia we find his writing unto them concerning their having fallen from grace. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for Jesus spoke unto the church of Ephesus concerning their need to remember from whence they had fallen and the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches which were in Galatia concerning their falling from grace. Not only this but it was the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews who wrote of the their falling away when they had need of being teachers. Oh there is a great need for us to work our our salvation with fear and trembling and that we would diligently strive to make our calling and election sure. Oh that we would be men and women who would repent where repentance is needed and would be those who would ensure that we are continually living in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we would not be those who fear anything we are about to suffer and would be those who are faithful unto death. Oh that we would be men and women who would hold fast to the name of Jesus and would not deny His faith—even during days of tremendous persecution, affliction and suffering. Oh that we would be men and women of great endurance and patience who watch and pray for the coming of our Lord Jesus.
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need to read the letters which were written unto the churches and be those who recognize the need to repent for any degree and measure of sin that is present within our lives. Oh that we would be those who would recognize the need within our lives to live holy and righteous in the sight and presence of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely wonderful it truly is for we have indeed been called to be those who walk in fellowship and communion with the living and eternal God. We as the saints of God have indeed been called to be those who understand the need to be holy even as He Himself is holy. We as the saints of God have been called to be such who acknowledge that we are and have been called to be those who live our lives in full and complete surrender before and in the sight of the presence of the living God. We have a great need to be such who possess a wonderful and powerful sense of discernment, wisdom and understanding in the presence of false teachers, false apostles, false prophets and those who would seek to produce their deception among us in this generation. We as the saints of God have a great need to have ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking unto the churches for in each of the epistles we find Jesus instructing the individual churches to hear what the Spirit was speaking to the churches. This is incredibly important for although there would be individual epistle written unto the individual churches themselves they would be called to have ears to hear what the Spirit was speaking unto the churches. Each of the churches was called to have ears to hear what the Spirit was speaking unto the churches, each of the seven churches was called to overcome and each of the seven churches would have Jesus speak unto them concerning their works. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are such who are listening to and hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and such who are overcoming. Each of the seven churches was called to overcome and we as the saints of God must ourselves be those who are indeed called to be such who overcome—and not only those who overcome but those who overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
It is with this in mind I leave you with Jesus’ words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—words which are also recorded in the gospels written by John Mark and Luke. Here in these passages we encounter Jesus’ words concerning the Last Days and our need to be those who are diligent, patient, enduring and who ave strong and courageous in the midst of the days in which we are living. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the fourth verse of the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“And Jesus answered and said to them: Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judaea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not god back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, Look, here is the Christ! Or There! Do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, Look, He is the desert! Do not go out; or Look, He is in the inner rooms! Do not believe it” (Matthew 24:4-26).