The Awesome Lord Jesus Christ
Revelation is John's faithful description of the words and visions Jesus gave him. Having been alerted by a trumpet-like voice, John wrote down what he saw, to send to seven churches in what is now western Turkey (Revelation 1:10-11). It sets the scene for the specific prophecies to them. The voice was behind him, so he turned around to see who was speaking. A man was surrounded by seven lampstands, like the seven-branched lamp holder in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-40). Now, each lampstand represented a church which should have been illuminating a dark world with the gospel (Revelation 2:1,5).
The man himself was like the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13-14, who had all authority, power and glory; who was worshipped all over the world, and whose kingdom cannot be destroyed. This was none other than Jesus. He was dressed as a high priest (Exodus 28:4), and yet his hair was like that of the Ancient of Days (a description of God in His wisdom) in Daniel 7:9. Daniel 10:5-6 completes the picture of the Son of Man, "I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz round his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude." Ezekiel 43:1-2 attributes the rivers of truth in His voice to God: "… and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory."
So, the Lord Jesus Christ is depicted as the high priest who is both man and God, the messenger feet declaring Him a prophet, and the gold sash differentiating Him as a king (the priest had a sash of blue, purple and scarlet in Exodus 39:29). The stars in His right hand were the 'angels' (meaning 'messengers') of the seven churches (Revelation 1:20). They may have been supernatural angels but the word could also mean the churches' truth-messengers (ie the teaching elders). Either way, they were under God's powerful authority. Coming out of the Lord's mouth was a sharp double-edged sword, which correlates well with the Word of God judging the intention of every heart (Hebrews 4:12). That awesome description is topped by His face which was shining as God's, in the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:25.
Why such a lavish kaleidoscope of imagery? It was to ensure that John could not mistake that the Revelation came from the awesome Jesus: God and Man, Priest and King with a very important prophetic message. It is the Word of God about the future, without which it will be impossible to have hope in very dark days when internal corruption and external persecution will threaten the very existence of the church. Like the Early Church, it is easy for us to be complacent when there is no pressure, and to syncretise with ungodly opponents when trouble threatens. But if we do we have forgotten that the Lord Jesus is watching us, and that His presence is awesome in every way. That is why we need to take His authority seriously and be ready to listen to His instructions and obey without arguing.
© Dr Paul Adams