Write What You See
Patmos was a small island in the Aegean Sea some 55 miles from Ephesus, an important seaport in the ancient world and a center of Christian witness. John had been sent there by the Roman government for his witness to Christ, which was a witness against the Roman gods. There, on “the Lord’s Day” (Sunday), John was inspired with a vision of the exalted Christ standing in the midst of the seven churches to which John was to share his vision.
These churches are referred to as “golden lampstands” (Revelation 1:12), which represents the manner in which God’s presence was reflected in both the wilderness Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Temple. The imagery comes from Zechariah 4:1–4 and is an indication of how much of John’s vision connects to Old Testament prophecies and promises.
Much as did Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1–6) with his Temple vision, John falls to his feet in worship at what he has seen. But the revelation is meant to provoke action, and so John is instructed to write “what is to take place” (Revelation 1:19).
Again, the emphasis is on God’s control of human affairs. The cosmic Christ holds the seven stars, representing His control over the entire universe and the manner in which His message to the churches will sustain them in their time of testing.
It takes faith to recognize God’s hand at work when all seems to be in disarray. But for those who do see it and embrace it, the knowledge of God establishing His reign in the Risen Jesus leads us first to worship and then to faithful service.
Revelation 1:9-20 (ESV):
9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that 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 are the seven churches.