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John Beholds the Glorified Jesus

John Beholds the Glorified Jesus

 Chapter 5

John Beholds the Glorified Jesus

Vision 1​—Revelation 1:10–3:22

Subject: Jesus inspects spiritual Israel on earth and gives warm encouragement

Time of fulfillment: This feature of the Lord’s day extends from 1914 until the last of the faithful anointed ones dies and is resurrected

1. How is the first vision presented, and how did John indicate the time of its real application?

THE first vision in the book of Revelation begins with chapter 1, verse 10. This vision, like the others in Revelation, is introduced by a declaration that John hears or sees something extraordinary. (Revelation 1:10, 12; 4:1; 6:1) This first vision is presented in a first-century framework in which messages are addressed to seven congregations contemporary with John. But John indicates the time of its real application when he says: “By inspiration I came to be in the Lord’s day.” (Revelation 1:10a) When is this “day”? Do the dramatic events of these tempestuous times have any connection with it? If so, we should pay close attention to the prophecy, as affecting our very lives​—even our survival.​—1 Thessalonians 5:20, 21.

In the Lord’s Day

2. When does the Lord’s day begin, and when does it end?

2 In what time frame does this place the fulfillment of Revelation? Well, what is the Lord’s day? The apostle Paul refers to it as a time of judgment and of fulfillment of divine promises. (1 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Philippians 1:6, 10; 2:16) With the arrival of that “day,” Jehovah’s grand purposes move progressively and triumphantly toward their climax. That “day” begins with the crowning of Jesus as heavenly King. Even after Jesus executes judgment on Satan’s world, the Lord’s day continues, with the restoration of Paradise and the perfecting of mankind, until Jesus finally “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father.”​—1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Revelation 6:1, 2.

3. (a) How does Daniel’s prophecy of the “seven times” help us see when the Lord’s day begins? (b) What events on earth confirm the year 1914 as the beginning of the Lord’s day?

3 The fulfillment of other Bible prophecies helps us to see when the Lord’s day begins. For example, Daniel described a chopping down of rulership in the line of King David; after “seven times” it would be known “that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one whom he wants to he gives it.” (Daniel 4:23, 24, 31, 32) The major fulfillment of that prophecy started with the desolating of the kingdom of Judah, which is indicated by Bible evidence to have been completed by October 607 B.C.E. Revelation 12:6, 14 shows that 3 1/2 times amounts to 1,260 days; hence, seven times (twice that number) must be 2,520 days. Reckoning “a  day for a year,” we arrive at 2,520 years as the duration of the “seven times.” (Ezekiel 4:6) Therefore, Christ Jesus began his heavenly rule in the latter part of 1914. The erupting of the first world war in that year marked “a beginning of pangs of distress” that have continued to plague mankind. Since 1914, how remarkably events in this bloodstained earth have confirmed that year to be the start of the “day” of Jesus’ presence!​—Matthew 24:3-14. *

4. (a) What do the words of Revelation itself indicate as to when the first vision is fulfilled? (b) When does the fulfillment of the first vision end?

4 Hence, this first vision and the counsel it contains are for the Lord’s day, from 1914 onward. This timing is supported by the fact that, later in Revelation, the record describes the execution of God’s true and righteous judgments​—events in which the Lord Jesus plays an outstanding part. (Revelation 11:18; 16:15; 17:1; 19:2, 11) If the fulfillment of the first vision began in 1914, when does it end? As the messages themselves show, the organization addressed is God’s congregation of anointed ones on earth. The fulfillment of this first vision ends, then, when the last faithful member of that anointed congregation dies and is raised to heavenly life. Nevertheless, the Lord’s Day, with blessings to the earthly other sheep, continues till the end of Jesus Christ’s Millennial Rule.​—John 10:16; Revelation 20:4, 5.

5. (a) What does a voice call on John to do? (b) Why was the location of “the seven congregations” favorable for sending a scroll to them?

5 In this first vision, before John sees anything, he hears something: “And I heard behind me a strong voice like that of a trumpet, saying: ‘What you see write in a scroll and send it to the seven congregations, in Ephesus and in Smyrna and in Pergamum and in Thyatira and in Sardis and in Philadelphia and in Laodicea.’” (Revelation 1:10b, 11) Authoritative and commanding as a trumpet call, a voice calls on John to write to “the seven congregations.” He is to receive a series of messages and to publish the things he will see and hear. Notice that the congregations mentioned here actually existed in John’s day. All of them were situated in Asia Minor, right across the sea from Patmos. They were easily accessible to one another by means of the excellent Roman roads that existed in the area. A messenger would have had no trouble carrying the scroll from one congregation to the next. These seven congregations would resemble a section of a modern-day circuit of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

6. (a) What is meant by “the things that are”? (b) Why can we be certain that conditions in the congregation of anointed Christians today must be similar to those in John’s day?

6 Most of the prophecies in Revelation were to be fulfilled after John’s time. They referred to “the things that will take place after these.” But the counsel to the seven congregations deals with “things that are,” situations that really existed in the seven congregations at that time. The messages were valuable aids to faithful appointed elders in those seven congregations, as well as in all other congregations of anointed Christians of the time. * Since the vision has its prime application in the Lord’s day, what Jesus says serves notice that similar conditions are to be expected in the congregation of anointed Christians of our own day.​—Revelation 1:10, 19.

7. Whom does John see in this first vision, and why is it so important and thrilling to us today?

7 In this first vision, John sees the radiant Lord Jesus Christ in His heavenly glory. What could be more fitting for a book of prophecies relating to the great day of this Lord commissioned by heaven? And what  could be more important to us, who are now living in that time period and giving careful heed to his every command? Moreover, how thrilling it is for supporters of Jehovah’s sovereignty to be assured that the Messianic Seed, having endured all the tests and persecutions brought by Satan and having suffered an agonizing death when His “heel” was bruised almost 2,000 years ago, is now alive in heaven, empowered to bring God’s grand purpose to its triumphant completion!​—Genesis 3:15.

8. For what action is Jesus now poised?

8 It is evident that Jesus is now poised to go into action as enthroned King. He has been appointed as Jehovah’s Chief Executioner to carry out Jehovah’s final judgments against this old, wicked system of things and its diabolic god, Satan. He is also on hand to judge those of his congregation of anointed ones and the great crowd of their associates, as well as to judge the world.​—Revelation 7:4, 9; Acts 17:31.

9. (a) How does John describe the glorified Jesus Christ amid the golden lampstands? (b) What is indicated by the templelike setting and the garment that Jesus wears? (c) What is signified by his golden girdle?

John turns at the sound of the loud voice, and here is what he sees: “I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me, and, having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands.” (Revelation 1:12) Later, John learns what these seven lampstands symbolize. But it is the person in the midst of the lampstands that catches his eye. There was “in the midst of the lampstands someone like a son of man, clothed with a garment that reached down to the feet, and girded at the breasts with a golden girdle.” (Revelation 1:13) Jesus, the “son of man,” here presents himself before the awestruck witness, John, as a magnificent, glowing figure. He appears in brilliant glory among flaming golden lampstands. This templelike setting impresses on John the fact that Jesus is present in the role of Jehovah’s great High Priest, with judgment powers. (Hebrews 4:14; 7:21-25) His long, impressive garment conforms to his priestly office. Like the Jewish high priests of old, he wears a girdle​—a golden girdle over his breast where it covers his heart. This signifies that he will wholeheartedly carry out his divine commission received from Jehovah God.​—Exodus 28:8, 30; Hebrews 8:1, 2.

10. (a) What is indicated by Jesus’ snow-white hair and fiery eyes? (b) What is the significance of Jesus’ feet being like glowing copper?

10 John’s description continues: “Moreover, his head and his hair were white as white wool, as snow, and his eyes as a fiery flame.” (Revelation 1:14) His snow-white hair indicates wisdom due to length of life. (Compare Proverbs 16:31.) And his fiery eyes show that he is sharp, alert, as he searches, tests, or expresses indignation. Even Jesus’ feet catch John’s attention: “And his feet were like fine copper when glowing in a furnace; and his voice was as the sound of many waters.” (Revelation 1:15) In the vision, Jesus’ feet are like copper, glowing, bright​—properly so for one who walks zealously and with a fine standing in the presence of Jehovah God. Moreover, while in the Bible divine things are often pictured by gold, so things human are sometimes represented by copper. * So Jesus’ glowing feet like fine copper remind us of how “comely” his feet were when he walked the earth preaching the good news.​—Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15.

11. (a) Of what do Jesus’ glorious feet remind us? (b) What is indicated by the fact that Jesus’ voice “was as the sound of many waters”?

11 Indeed, as a perfect human, Jesus had a radiance that was apparent to angels and men. (John 1:14) His glorious feet also remind us that he is treading holy ground in Jehovah’s organization, in which he is High Priest. (Compare Exodus 3:5.) Further, his voice resounds thunderously like a huge  cascading waterfall. It is impressive, awe inspiring, as is fitting for the one officially called the Word of God, the one who comes “to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness.”​—Acts 17:31; John 1:1.

12. What is the significance of the “sharp, long two-edged sword”?

12 “And he had in his right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth a sharp, long two-edged sword was protruding, and his countenance was as the sun when it shines in its power. And when I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet.” (Revelation 1:16, 17a) Jesus himself explains the meaning of the seven stars a little later. But notice what is coming out of his mouth: “a sharp, long two-edged sword.” What a fitting feature! For Jesus is the one appointed to pronounce Jehovah’s final judgments against His enemies. Decisive utterances from his mouth result in the execution of all wicked ones.​—Revelation 19:13, 15.

13. (a) Jesus’ bright, shining countenance reminds us of what? (b) What overall impression do we get from John’s description of Jesus?

13 Jesus’ bright, shining countenance reminds us that Moses’ face emitted shining rays after Jehovah had communed with him on Mount Sinai. (Exodus 34:29, 30) Remember, too, that when Jesus was transfigured before three of his apostles almost 2,000 years ago, “his face shone as the sun, and his outer garments became brilliant as the light.” (Matthew 17:2) Now, in a visionary representation of Jesus during the  Lord’s day, his face similarly reflects the radiant splendor of one who has been in Jehovah’s presence. (2 Corinthians 3:18) In fact, the overall impression conveyed by John’s vision is that of an effulgence of glory. From the snow-white hair, the flaming eyes, and the shining countenance down to the glowing feet, it is a superlative vision of the One who now dwells “in unapproachable light.” (1 Timothy 6:16) The realism of this spectacle is so vivid! How did the overawed John react? The apostle tells us: “And when I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet.”​—Revelation 1:17.

14. How should we be affected when reading of John’s vision of the glorified Jesus?

14 Today, the colorful, detailed description of John’s vision fills God’s people with heartfelt appreciation. Already, we have passed through more than 90 years of the Lord’s day, during which the vision continues to have its thrilling fulfillment. Jesus’ Kingdom rule is to us a living, present reality, not a future hope. Hence, it is proper for us as loyal subjects of the Kingdom to look further with wonder at what John describes in this first vision and to listen obediently to the words of the glorified Jesus Christ.

[Footnotes]

^ par. 3 For a detailed explanation, see the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? pages 88-92, 215-18, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

^ par. 6 In the first century, when a congregation received a letter from an apostle, it was customary to circulate the letter to other congregations so that all could benefit from the counsel.​—Compare Colossians 4:16.

^ par. 10 The interior decorations and furnishings of Solomon’s temple were made of gold or overlaid with it, whereas copper was used in equipping the courtyard.​—1 Kings 6:19-23, 28-35; 7:15, 16, 27, 30, 38-50; 8:64.

[Study Questions]

 [Pictures on page 23]

Archaeological remains of the cities where the seven congregations were located confirm the Bible record. It was here that first-century Christians received Jesus’ encouraging messages that today stimulate the worldwide congregation

PERGAMUM

SMYRNA

THYATIRA

SARDIS

EPHESUS

PHILADELPHIA

LAODICEA