The oldest surviving disciple actually to have been with Jesus sat on a rocky prison island far from everything that was near and dear to him. What must have been going on in John’s mind as he found himself stranded on this desolate island? How did he wind up here, and like this, too? After all, he had seen Jesus leave, and he had seen the two angels standing there, saying: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
That, however, had been years and years ago, and Jesus had not yet returned. Meanwhile, the other apostles present on that day already had died, most of them martyred for their witness about Jesus. The young church had undergone a generational change and was now facing horrible persecution from the outside and strange heretical movements from within. John must have felt alone, tired, and restless. And then, suddenly, he was given a vision.
What comfort can you imagine that John got from this vision? Read Revelation 1:9-19.
Jesus had told His followers, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), words that, no doubt, must have encouraged John as he faced his lonely exile. Surely this vision, this “revelation” of Jesus, must have been a great comfort to Him, knowing that Jesus, “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” was now manifesting Himself in a special way to the exiled apostle.
What followed from these verses are visions about the future of this world. An awesome panoramic view of history would be portrayed before him, basically what’s to us the history of the Christian church but was to him its future. And yet, amid the trials and tribulations that would come, John was shown how it would all end. “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” ( Revelation 21.1-2, NKJV).
The great apocalyptic vision John has recorded in Revelation helped John confidently to rest in God’s provisions and promises.
|Life now can be hard, even fearful at times. How, though, does knowing that God knows the future and that the future, long-term, is good, give us comfort now?|