When it comes to the book of Revelation, the reader must recognize that the literary form of apocalypse is vastly different than the NT Letters, Gospels, or Acts. It is challenging to read but also rewarding. It sparks the readers imagination with vivid images and poetic expressions that are full of symbolism and meaning.
Just reading the opening part of the book brings an awareness of how powerful and deep this writing is. But the richness of the text can be difficult to understand. Revelation is a book that rewards those who faithfully and humbly seek to grasp its meaning. And as we learn and grow in the Scriptures, different aspects of the text will become more easily perceived and understood. But it requires patience and persistence. We mustn’t give up if we find the text to be complicated or even confusing. Apocalypse is not meant to be readily apprehended upon the first reading. But as the reader continues to meditate upon the words and expand their scope of biblical understanding, deeper levels of comprehension will gradually surface.
In the opening chapter, John describes the beginning of his vision that he received from the Lord. There are some things in life that upon experiencing them are so overwhelming that we are helpless to do anything. This is the way John depicts his response upon seeing the Lord in the vision. The Lord is painted in highly figurative language that is awe inspiring and truly incredible.
“And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow, and his eyes were like a flame of fire, 15and his feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16And he had in his right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp two-edged broadsword, and his face was like the sun shining in its full strength” (vv. 14-16).
John’s response was to fall down “as one dead” (v. 17). What a tremendous picture of the power and majesty of the Lord. When beholding the king of all kings, John is stunned by the visual appearance of Jesus. Can you imagine if you were standing before a figure that is described with the features that we read about? Who would not tremble at the feet of this Living One who was dead but is now alive forever?
I will leave you with the words that John expressed early on before delving into his vision, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of the prophecy, and those who hear and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is near” (v. 3). Amen.