Revelation 1:17-19 (NASB77)
17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. 19 "Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.
In the first chapter of Revelation, John beholds a vision of Christ in a fashion that most of us can only imagine. That this vision was symbolic is easily recognized in the description that John gives in verses 9 through 16. Following this, we arrive at our passages above where John declares, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man,” the glory of this vision so wondrous and the presence of God so intense, that John could do nothing but prostrate himself before Him.
What’s equally amazing is that when John beheld the Lord he stated, “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” (Rev. 1:12-13).
The “seven lampstands” are symbolic of the “seven churches” (Rev. 1:20). This immediately sets the tone for the entire book of the Revelation, for since His ascension almost two thousand years ago, the Lord has remained in the midst of His people, His church, accomplishing all that our heavenly Father has determined in perfect accordance with His will and Word.
What did the Lord tell John? “Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things.” Here we find a key as to how the book of the Revelation must be considered. In the visions which followed, John would see spiritual symbolism relating to his past or “things which you have seen,” the present or “things which are,” and finally, the future or “things which shall take place after these things.” Of course, the challenge for you and me is to decipher these things, keeping in mind that what was to take place in John’s future could easily now be part of our past.
Allow me to share one other thing that I also find quite amazing about what John recorded.
Revelation 1:10-12 (NKJV)
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet… 12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands…
First we see that John “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” There he hears a “voice, as of a trumpet” behind him and he must turn to “see the voice” that spoke with him. Ever wonder why John had to “turn”? I believe the following passage tells us.
Isaiah 46:9-10 (NKJV)
9 Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure…’
Here we go, beloved! In His omnipotence and through His omniscience, God declared through the prophet Isaiah for us to “remember the former things of old.” Why? Because our Maker has declared “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” This tells us that the records of the Old Testament are much more than just historical writings about the creation of humankind and the people of Israel. No, my friend, they are much more than that, for within these historical records are spiritual revelations from Genesis to Malachi. From Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Abraham, and from Abraham to Moses and the nation of Israel, there is much more to be perceived than what lies on the surface. In His great wisdom, our Creator has a purpose which has been unfolding since the dawn of humankind. Behind every story lies a spiritual essence that is wondrous to discover, and only by means of His precious Spirit of truth can we hope to perceive these things.
In keeping with Isaiah 46, it is my opinion that John’s vision of the Christ in the “Lord’s Day” was a vision of Christ at the end of the age, and having been brought to the end he had to “turn” in Spirit in order to see what led up to it. This forms the content of the book of the Revelation.