Please read Revelation 1:4-20 in your Bible. I’ve used the NIV (1984) as my resource for this article. This is the second of three articles in a series.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase “he’s something else” (the title of today’s message) can mean, “unusual; extremely good or extremely bad.” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/something-else) As I’m pointing to Jesus and saying “He’s something else,” I feel it’s necessary to make it perfectly plain that Jesus is SO unusual He’s one of a kind, and so extremely good He’s God. So - make no mistake about that.
I also want to make certain that no one thinks I’m applying to Jesus the hit song “He’s Something Else,” made famous by the all-girl band, the Liverbirds. Like some other rock group I won’t mention, the Liverbirds were from Liverpool, England, performing from 1963-1968. They took their name from a mythical bird, a symbol of Liverpool. In 2009 Irene Cara covered the song, changing the title to “My Baby.” That song has nothing to do with Jesus either.
Now that we’ve got all that settled, let me tell you what I DO mean when I say “He’s something else.” We will continue our look at Jesus in Revelation one to see Him in a different light, to emphasize the divine side of His absolutely unique existence as both God and man. We will also, along the way, be reminded that when He comes the second time, it will not be as a helpless peasant child, but as the All-conquering Hero, the One who restores creation to its perfection, according to the plan of God the Father. This is the second in a series of three messages to view Jesus in this way. Yes, I think it’s that important.
Only the Son of Man is powerful enough to save us.
1. The descriptions of Jesus in Revelation 1 point to a powerful being.
Vs. 4 + 8 = HIM WHO IS, WHO WAS, WHO IS TO COME.
V. 4 = He is enthroned = He exercises His authority.
V. 5 = THE FAITHFUL WITNESS = He is trustworthy and truthful.
V. 5 = FIRSTBORN OF THE DEAD = He leads us to life.
V. 5 = RULER OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH = He triumphs.
V. 6 = He MADE US TO BE A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS TO SERVE HIS GOD AND FATHER = He delegates power for service.
V. 6 = TO HIM BE GLORY AND POWER FOR EVER AND EVER!
V. 7 = HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS = Just as He ascended.
Verse seven = ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN BECAUSE OF HIM. This sounds very negative but consider this: in Revelation, a SIMILAR phrase - INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH - is a euphemism for wicked, self-condemned, unbelieving folk (Revelation 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8). They are OF THE EARTH, not of heaven in their spirituality and moral life.
They will MOURN because only at the end they will see they’ve rejected Jesus at their peril. They may cry out, but it will be too late. Zechariah 12:10-14 speaks of mourning, but there it is a cry of repentance provoked by the Holy Spirit, not at all what John records.
Verse eight = Jesus is the ALPHA & OMEGA, FIRST & LAST (v. 17). The words “I AM” remind us of God’s declaration to Moses, naming Himself as the “I AM,” or Yahweh. ALPHA/FIRST refers to Jesus activity in the creation of the world (see Colossians 1:16). He is the source, the beginning of all that exists. OMEGA/LAST = His Second Coming is the event signaling the end of the universe, Jesus is also the end of all that exists. This proclamation is repeated twice at the end of John’s vision; Revelation 21:6 & 22:13.
Verse Eight = Jesus is THE ALMIGHTY. This is how the Hebrew words Yahweh Sebaoth are translated; “Lord of Hosts.” The Leader of the Angels is one aspect of God’s complete power over His creation. God is all powerful but He chooses to not use His power to negate the free will of the people He’s created. Instead, He relies on the guiding power of love. We do well to follow His example, using love to influence others.
Verse thirteen = “LIKE A SON OF MAN.” According to the Gospels, Jesus used the title “Son of Man” more than any other to refer to Himself. It is important we understand this choice. It may sound less powerful than “Son of God,” but it is a title no less divine. The title SON OF MAN originates in Ezekiel 2:1, where an angel addressed the prophet in this way and repeated it dozens of times in the book. In Daniel 7:13, a figure endowed with divine power is said to be LIKE A SON OF MAN. In Daniel 8:17, Daniel himself is called a SON OF MAN. This phrase is repeated in Revelation 1:13 in a description of Jesus and in 14:14 as a description of an angel.
This title is used for prophets, angels and Jesus Christ. It refers to someone endowed with a message from God and the divine power to make it known to all people in miraculous ways. I assume Jesus saw this as His ministry and that is why He referred to Himself in this way.
Verse thirteen = He was DRESSED IN A ROBE REACHING DOWN TO HIS FEET. Wearing a full-length robe was a sign of wealth and/or authority. Persons so dressed did not do menial work for a living; they would be the ancient equivalent of what we call a “white collar” laborer. This is yet another symbol of Jesus’ personal authority.
Verse thirteen = WITH A GOLD SASH AROUND HIS CHEST. In Old Testament times, the high priest wore a gold breastplate adorned with twelve semi-precious stones. Perhaps this SASH is meant to remind us that Jesus is our High Priest.
In Revelation 15:6 the seven angels who carried the plagues wore gold sashes. The image of a gold sash is an ancient equivalent of having a badge or ID. It verified the person wearing it had authority. Whether high priest or angel, they represented God and enacted His will.
Verse fourteen = HIS HEAD AND HAIR WERE WHITE LIKE WOOL, AS WHITE AS SNOW. White is a biblical symbol of purity. The fact that His head is white indicates a purity of Jesus’ inner man. This also directly associates Jesus with the Ancient of Days described in Daniel 7:9, whose head of hair is also WHITE LIKE WOOL and whose clothing was as WHITE AS SNOW.
Verse fourteen = HIS EYES WERE LIKE A BLAZING FIRE. Fire is, among other things, a biblical symbol of judgment. That His eyes are ablaze indicates that Jesus sees accurately and judges fairly. This description is repeated in Revelation 2:18 & 19:12, marking it as important.
The phrase EYES OF THE LORD is repeated over 100 times in Scripture, it refers to God’s omniscience, His attention to His people, and whether or not they obey His moral law. For example, in 2 Chronicles 16:9 it is written, FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD RANGE ALL OVER THE EARTH TO STRENGTHEN THOSE WHOSE HEARTS ARE FULLY COMMITTED TO HIM. This is also seen in Hebrews 4:13; NOTHING IN ALL CREATION IS HIDDEN FROM GOD’S SIGHT. EVERYTHING IS UNCOVERED AND LAID BARE BEFORE THE EYES OF HIM TO WHOM WE MUST GIVE AN ACCOUNT.
Verse fifteen = HIS FEET WERE LIKE BRONZE GLOWING IN A FURNACE. FEET were considered the lowliest part of the human body; washing the feet of others was done by the lowest slave. To sit at someone’s feet was a place for a learner, showing their humility before their teacher (Deuteronomy 33:3; Luke 10:39). To be under someone’s feet was to be utterly defeated (Joshua 10:24; Psalm 8:6). Given this cultural understanding, how extreme is this statement? HOW BEAUTIFUL ON THE MOUNTAINS ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD TIDINGS, WHO PROCLAIM SALVATION, WHO SAY TO THOSE IN ZION, “YOUR GOD REIGNS!” (Isaiah 52:7). I mean, beautiful FEET? Really?
The prophet Ezekiel described FOUR LIVING CREATURES he saw in a vision. One detail is that they had feet that BEAMED LIKE BURNISHED BRONZE (1:7), but theirs were calf-like (hooved?).
In the Bible, BRONZE is a sacred metal. Many of the furnishings of the tabernacle were to be made of bronze. When a plague of snakes killed many of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, God commanded Moses to raise up a bronze snake and all who beheld it were saved (Numbers 21).
GLOWING IN A FURNACE = a FURNANCE is a biblical symbol of judgment, a place where fire melted metals to refine them.
Put all these elements together and in this one detail you get a picture of God defeating the enemies of His people, one of the things that will happen in connection with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote of this in 1 Corinthians 15:25 = FOR HE MUST REIGN UNTIL HE HAS PUT ALL ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET.
Verse fifteen = HIS VOICE WAS LIKE THE SOUND OF RUSHING WATERS. In Ezekiel 43, the prophet was given a vision of the glory of God returning to His temple. He wrote that the VOICE of the glory WAS LIKE THE ROAR OF RUSHING WATERS; a sound that commanded attention. Like a mighty waterfall, no one should miss the message of God or His commands. This image requires us to sit up and take notice!
Verse sixteen = IN HIS RIGHT HAND HE HELD SEVEN STARS. The RIGHT HAND is a symbol of authority; a king’s scepter was held in his right hand. Verse twenty explains the SEVEN STARS as being the ANGELS OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES to whom the letters of chapters 2+3 are addressed. In some way, the angels represent these churches and are responsible for their condition.
Only the Son of Man is powerful enough to save us.
“Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” is the witness of the writer of Proverbs (9:10). “Fear” in this sense is the realization that God is all-powerful. He can do as He wills and it is only because He wills good for us that we are able to stand.
My prayer is that this study of John’s vision will reintroduce some awe and wonder, some reverence and holy fear back into our conception of Jesus. While He is the Gentle Shepherd and the Great Physician, He is also the Conquering King of Kings and Divine Judge. Both sides of Jesus are necessary, not just for biblical accuracy, but for a balanced view that promotes salvation.
Harper’s New Testament Commentaries, G.B. Caird