It is coming for all of us. And it comes first and foremost for us who believe. This is something that we see from this passage to the end of chapter 3.
In his vision, John hears a voice call out to him, and when he turns, he sees Jesus walking among 7 lampstands with 7 stars in his hands.
But this is not the Jesus he remembers, at least not entirely. He sees Jesus in his glory.
One thing that I’m not sure of is if John literally saw Jesus as how he describes or if he is simply using figurative language to get across his meaning.
Either way, I think what he is saying is that we as the church are accountable to Jesus, and he will judge us.
There are a lot of symbols in Revelation. Some are explained clearly and some are not. In this passage, the symbols of the lampstands and the stars are explained. Jesus is walking among the lampstands, which Jesus says are the 7 churches John was to write to, while the seven stars are their angels. (20)
What he means by angels have been disputed since angels can simply mean “messengers.” But considering that angels do seem to play some part in the churches (I Corinthians 11:10), I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that there are angels assigned to each church.
But again, the picture is of Jesus walking among the churches, and as we shall see in chapters 2-3 he is inspecting them. And though he has given charge to his angels to watch over these churches, these angels themselves are in his hands.
As we look at the description John gives of Jesus, we see certain things about our Judge.
First, he is wise. That’s what his white hair symbolizes. Not that he is some decrepit old man, but that he is infinitely wise in his judgments.
Second, his eyes like burning fire symbolize the fact that he sees through everything. (See 2:23). His eyes burn away all the veils that would cover the truth and lay bare the things that are hidden.
Third, his feet are like bronze, crushing everything that is beneath them. In other words, he brings judgment, and it can be hard judgment for those who refuse to repent of their sins. (See 2:21-23)
His voice like rushing waters speaks with the power and authority of the Almighty. (See Ezekiel 1:24).
From his mouth came a two-edged sword. Two-edged because Jesus’s words of judgment to us both cut and heal. They cut those who are in sin, but bring healing to those who are hurting. And we see both in chapters 2 and 3.
And in his face, we see the utter glory and holiness of God.
When John saw Jesus like this, he fell on his face in fear. Most people would when facing a holy judge who is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful.
But Jesus comforted John as he does us, saying,
Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and Hades. (17-18)
Why did John not need to fear? Because through the cross of Christ, Jesus paid for our sin, and by his resurrection, God the Father showed that he accepted Jesus’ payment. And now he has set us free from death and we have eternal life in him.
So no matter what judgment we may face, we can know that nothing will separate us from his love.
But we will be judged. Jesus is walking among the lampstands. And even among the lampstands, as we shall see in his letters to the churches, Jesus sees each individual in them.
So as we look at these letters over the next several days, let us take them in. Let Jesus’ words cut you and heal you. If you need to repent, it’s better to let those words cut you now than later. And if you are hurting, let his words comfort you. But whatever your situation, remember the words of John in his first letter.
We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment., because in this world we are like him.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:16-19)