The Son of Man (1)

It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man…”
Revelation 1:11-13a NLT

In the previous verse we remember that John hears a voice “like a trumpet blast”. But who’s voice was it? As we read on, we find out that the Speaker was none other than Jesus Himself, the Son of Man. And He was standing in the middle of seven golden lampstands. What was their significance, I wonder? As usual, with the Book of Revelation, several possibilities have emerged. But in verse 20 of this chapter, Jesus explains that the seven lampstands are the seven churches, as he previously listed in verse 11. Why seven though? The number “seven” in the Bible denotes completeness and perfection. God’s promise that He would never flood the earth again was sealed by a rainbow, consisting of seven colours. God rested from His creation work on the seventh day, and there are other examples of “sevens”. So, coming back to our churches located in what is now Western Turkey, perhaps Jesus’s message extended beyond them to all churches everywhere. 

Jesus, the Son of Man, personally gave this message to John. In other places in Revelation John had a dialogue with an angel, but this message was so important that it was Jesus Himself who delivered it to John. Perhaps another reason that we cannot assume the messages Jesus gave were just for the seven churches.

As Christian pilgrims, we enjoy a personal relation with God and the other parties to the Trinity, the Holy Spirit and Jesus. But how do we hear God speaking to us? Jesus’s voice was dramatically heard by John. We read it was loud and like a trumpet blast. Not like the still small voice heard by Elijah at the mouth of the cave (1 Kings 19).  But how do we hear Him? If asked, Christians will say they hear God through Scripture, or through other Christians, perhaps through a prophecy. Occasionally, but rarely, they might hear the “still small voice” of God. Personally, I have heard God audibly. On one occasion it was when I was driving and the voice was so real that I turned in my seat to see who was sitting in the back seat. On another occasion, God engineered a physical event, accompanied by a whisper in my mind, that gave an immediate answer to an anguished prayer. I also hear and see God through His creation. Seeing the explosion of growth in the Spring in the woods near where I live, animals and plants busily doing what they are designed to do, I sometimes catch a glimpse of God and hear His voice . The bird song, the wind rustling the tree tops, the stream trickling even onwards. The consequent thoughts as I rest in His presence.

John turned to see who was speaking to him. He was willing to open his ears to a message about to be delivered. And that is perhaps an encouragement to us all. There will be many things said in this life that we don’t want to hear, but we must always be ready and waiting to recognise the voice of God speaking. What a tragedy if we filter out His voice, as we do the other voices, thereby missing out on an important and personal message, tailor made just for us. Ananias heard the voice of God and as a result he found Paul in Damascus and prayed for him. What an important message that was. And how disappointing it would have been for him (and for Paul) if he had ignored it. So who knows – God might be about to deliver a message for us, you and me, that might change the course of history.

Dear Father, we thank You for those times when You have lovingly spoken to us and encouraged us on our journey. Please let us never miss out on hearing Your voice. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

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