The Appearance Like a Bright Sun

Wim Malgo (1922-1992)

An interpretation of the last book of the Bible. Part 13. Revelation 1:16-18.

John is describing the face of the glorified Lord. It’s so overwhelming to him that he can’t look at it. Because, again, the word is “as” or “like”: “…as the sun shineth in his strength” (Rev 1:16). The ESV translates it, “…like the sun shining in full strength.” We can’t look directly at the sun. But Israel is promised, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings…” (Mal 4:2).

This is how John sees the most important aspect at the beginning of Jesus Christ’s revelation: he sees the Lord Himself as King, priest, prophet, and judge. The tortured figure—the most despised one—has now become the victorious figure! John is overwhelmed by Jesus Christ’s holiness and majesty: “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead…” (Rev 1:17). The Lord doesn’t leave him lying there, but instead puts His right hand on him and says, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death” (verses 17b-18). John is indeed redeemed, but he is still on earth. Therefore, he can’t yet see the unveiled Lord.

Daniel, one of the Bible’s greatest men of God, described exactly the same thing in Daniel 10:5-9: “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.”

And then Daniel experiences the same thing as John: “And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling” (vv. 10-11). The Lord wanted to reveal Himself to him, to pass on the revelation. The Lord wants to entrust His glory to us, so that we can bear His image.

How Daniel and John’s experience contrasts with that of all unconverted humanity! When they (all nations) see Him, a wail will break out (Rev 1:7). Jesus, “girt…with a golden girdle” (v. 13), thus fulfills Proverbs 1:28: “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.”

After this poignant and overwhelming revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, John doesn’t get a break, but rather the urgent command: “Write the things which thou hast seen…and the things which shall be hereafter.” Jesus Christ’s revelation to John wasn’t given to be an end in itself, but laid a sacred obligation on him to pass this revelation on to the churches. And to avoid any ambiguity, the Lord interprets the mystery of the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks in verse 20: the goal of Jesus Christ’s revelation is the Church which, as His body, will be closely involved in “the things which shall be hereafter.”

Midnight Call - 08/2020

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