“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, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
At the time of John’s writing of Revelation, the church was struggling to keep the faith, oppressed by a Roman government that was hostile to Christianity, and beset by false teachers who were seeking to lead believers astray. It is at this critical point in the life of the church that Christ gives the book of Revelation to His servant John to convey to the churches. The aim was and is, to take the church behind the scenes in order to see the exalted, reigning Christ, who is sovereign over all the events of history and who will bring all things to a glorious end. This book, though written in symbolic form that can be difficult to interpret, has been used by God to encourage and revive the hope of His church throughout the generations. It is indeed a prophetic book, but it wasn’t meant to be used as a prophetic puzzle for our amusement. The main focus of the book is to reveal Christ in his present and future glory, reigning with His saints.
After the prologue and greeting, John now tells how he was commissioned by Christ to write the book of Revelation. One Lord’s day, while in exile on the Island of Patmos, John hears a voice behind him telling him to write what he sees in a book and to send it to the seven churches in Asia Minor. He turns to see who it was that was speaking with him and he sees seven lampstands and “one like a son of man” standing in the middle of them. This vision of the exalted Christ was so glorious and majestic, that he was struck with awe and fear and fell at Christ’s feet “as though dead.” Christ touches him and tells him to fear not, because He is the eternal one, who died for his sins, and is now alive forevermore; and who is sovereign over death and the grave.
This vision of Christ as the exalted sovereign King standing in the midst of His church gives us much encouragement in a world of uncertainty. We can know for certain that nothing will happen to us apart from His will; He will sustain and uphold us under all circumstances. As the one who holds the keys of Death and Hades, He alone determines the time of our death and has the power to release us from the grave and raise us up to live with Him forever. This ought to revive our faith and give us courage to proclaim the glorious gospel, knowing that we serve a majestic Christ.