This new sight of Christ is the heart and soul of this crowning book, this end-book of the Book.
It was out of this sight that this end-book grew. It is written wholly under the spell of this new sight of Christ. It is a revelation both of Jesus Christ and by Jesus Christ; first of, then by.
John begins his story by telling that he had gotten such a revelation, and of the special blessing attached to reading and fitting one's life to it. [Note: Rev_1:1-3.] Then follows his salutation to those for whom the revelation was given, and the book written. [Note: Rev_1:4-8.] It is peculiarly a Church book. Its message is not peculiarly for individual followers, but for groups of believers gathered together as Churches.
The salutation is absorbed with the One whom he has seen in the vision, what He has done for us in shedding His blood, and that He is actually coming again. "Behold He cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they that pierced Him." The Jew is specifically designated: the coming has special significance for the Jewish nation. And all the people of the earth shall penitently mourn as they see Him. And then like an endorsing signature from the One of whom he is writing comes the sentence: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was, and who cometh, the Almighty One."
Then comes the new sight of the crowned Christ. [Note: Rev_1:9-20.] It was on a Lord's day. John was on the lonely sea-girt isle of Patmos. He was alone, brooding probably over some bit of the Word of God, and about the Jesus of whom he had been so earnestly testifying. It was these that had brought him to his lonely island prison. These ever burned within him, the wondrous written Word, the immensely more wondrous Word made flesh, of whom he had written, the Word that was God and became a Man and walked the will of God.
And as he brooded he became conscious of the Spirit of God overshadowing him, gentle as the soft breeze, noiseless as the fragrant dew, mighty as an enveloping presence that filled his being and had possession of him.
Then a voice spake and the tone of authority in it was unmistakable. "What thou seest, write." He was to see something. He was to tell what he saw. There's a delightful touch of the simplicity of natural speech here. He turned to see the voice. And he saw Him who was the voice of God to him. Then the sight is told in the same simplicity of speech.
There is a group of candlesticks, light-holders, made of gold. And in the midst of the group there is some One standing. He is in outer form like a man. But there is such an overpowering sense of divine glory that John falls on his face as one dead. Yet through all this overwhelming experience the impression of a man stands unmistakably out.
With keen, quick glance John takes in head and hair, eyes and feet, voice and hands, mouth and face. A simple, natural man in every outer particular like himself, a brother man, wearing man's garb and girdle. This is the first impression indelibly stamped on John's mind.
But there's more, ah, much more than a man in this man! This is the stupendous part. There is some One, other than man, and more than man, possessing this man. The divine fills the human. It is this sense of the glory filling the man that is so overpowering to John.
A glorious presence overshadows the man and shines out of Him, but never obliterates nor makes the man less. That indescribable glory within shining out through the man magnifies every part of His human being. The head and hair are white, not like a pale or painted white, but a transparent whiteness, an intense searching, glowing light shining out from Him through the human head and hair.
The eyes are as a flame of pure fire, the feet like melting metal glowing in fire. And the whole countenance was as the sun in its noontime strength shining out of a rainless, cloudless sky. Humanity enveloped in deity, yet remaining true, full humanity. God within man immeasurably more than man, yet not overwhelming, not disturbing nor obliterating, any part of his humanity, rather making every part stand out more distinctly.
Is this incidentally a kind of parable? Is it something like this on an immensely humbler scale that was meant for us men? God the Holy Spirit dwelling in a man. He the chief one, the divine one, yet expressing Himself through the man, and doing it fully to meet the need of the hour. His presence magnifying, vitalizing, and using every human power, yet Himself the dominant personality.
It is most striking to note that this is the same in principle as every appearance of God in the Old Testament pages. Sometimes He talked with men when there is no suggestion made of any appearance or of what the appearance was like. But wherever the appearance is spoken of it is always either fire or some touch of the human kind or both.
In Eden He waits and speaks, two human things. He talks with Abraham as a man talks, and ratified the covenant by passing fire through the pieces of the covenant sacrifice. [Note: Gen_15:1-21.] It is as a simple, natural man appearing at Abraham's tent door that He talks about Sodom. It is a human voice speaking about Isaac, though no appearance is mentioned. Moses sees a flaming bush, and hears a voice in the desert, and sees a whole mount aflame while a voice speaks at Sinai.
And so it was always: the fiery presence-cloud in the Wilderness, Joshua's Captain taking command, Manoah's angel ascending in the flame of the altar, the voice in the night heard by Samuel, the flooding of Tabernacle and Temple with the glory-presence, Carmel's fire descending, Elijah's "still small voice," Isaiah's vision of glory and the voice, Ezekiel's man of flame speak ing, and Daniel's, both of the latter two akin to this Revelation appearance.
But there is a distinctness and a fulness of description here greater than at any previous time, yet the same essential thing as at every appearance of God in Old Testament pages. The coming of Jesus among us has brought God closer to us and made Him mean more. Jesus was God coming closer and in a way that we could understand better and take hold of more easily.