What God's Faithful Servant, John, Saw While Exiled on Patmos
The Book of Revelation
John is exiled on the Isle of Patmos, where he writes of future events when Jesus will return to earth.
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island far from his friends and his homeland sat an old man. This old man was a Jew. In his younger days he had been a fisherman, and his home had been near the Sea of Galilee. But one morning he had left his fishing-net to follow a dear friend, and always from that time he had tried to please this friend.
The time came not long afterwards when this friend went away, to heaven; but never again did the young man return to his humble toil by the seaside. Hereafter he became a preacher of the gospel, for his friend was Jesus. He was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.
This old man was John. He was now on the lonely island because a wicked ruler had sent him there as a prisoner. But John was not unhappy, although he was often lonely. He knew the time would soon come when death would take him out of this world of trouble. Then he could go to be with Jesus, his beloved master of the Lord. How he longed for that time to come!
One day while John was on the island he sat thinking about God. He remembered how the Christians always met together to worship on that day, which they called the Lord's day, because Jesus had risen from the grave on the first day of the week.
While he thought about these things, presently he heard behind him a voice like a trumpet-blast, speaking. This voice said, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: what you see write in a book and send to the seven churches which are in Asia."
John turned about to see who was standing behind him and speaking with such a mighty voice. And when he had turned he saw seven golden candlesticks and among them one standing who looked like Jesus. But never before, not even on the mountain-side when Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah, had John seen his master look like this.
Now he was dressed in a long garment which reached his feet. About his chest was a girdle of gold, and in his right had were seven stars. The face of Jesus shone like the noonday sun, his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet shone like polished brass. When he spoke his voice sounded like the rushing of a mighty torrent of water.
John fell down at the feet of Jesus as if he were dead. Then he felt a touch, and looking up he saw Jesus bending over him and saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the same one who was crucified, and who died, but not I am alive forevermore. Write the things that you see and hear and the things which shall be hereafter."
Jesus then told John that the seven stars he saw were the churches, and to these seven churches John should write letters. And Jesus told John what he should write in each letter. One of these letters he intended for the church at Ephesus, where Paul had preached the gospel during his missionary labors.
John faithfully wrote these letters; and they were kept safely, and finally copied in other books. Today we have each one of them written in the Book of Revelation, which is the last book of our Bible.
After John had written these letters he had a vision of the throne of God in heaven. He saw a door open in heaven and he heard the voice like a trumpet calling him to come up and enter the door. When he had entered he saw the great throne of God and around this throne sat twenty-four old men dressed in white and wearing crowns of gold. Other heavenly beings were round about, and all were worshiping the one who sat on the throne.
While John was looking on this wonderful sight he noticed in the hands of God a sealed book.
And a strong angel cried out with a mighty voice, "Who is able to break the seals and to open the book?"
Then a search began in heaven, but no one was found who was worthy to take the book, break the seven seals, and open it to see what was written inside. John wept when he saw that no one could do this. He longed to know what was written in the book of God.
While he wept one of the old men who sat near the throne spoke to him and said, "Do not weep, for, see, the Lion of the tribe of Judah has been able to take the book and open it."
John looked quickly and saw one who looked like a lamb. He knew it was Jesus, who had been killed like the lambs at Passover, and whom John the Baptist had called the Lamb of God. This one came to the throne and took the book.
The heavenly beings who stood around the throne now rejoiced greatly, and fell down to worship before the Lamb who had taken the book right from the right hand of God. They sang a new song, praising this one who took the book because he had given his own life to redeem them from sin and make them pure, that they might enter heaven.
When the Lamb of God opened the book, John saw the strange things that were in it. These things he wrote down, that others might read them and know what he had seen.
Afterwards John saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old earth on which he lived seemed to pass away out of sight. Then, in the clouds he saw the great city of God coming down to dwell in the new earth. And he heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, "Behold, God's house is with men and he shall dwell with them. They shall be his people and he himself shall be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from the eyes of his people. Never again shall they weep for sorrow, never again shall they cry for pain, because sorrow, pain, and death shall be taken away from them."
And John saw the beautiful city of God, far more beautiful than anything he had ever seen on earth. And he saw there is no need of the sun to shine as light for the people of God, because God himself is their light. No shadows of night ever darken that beautiful place, for night does not come in heaven.
John saw that people from every nation of earth dwelt in that city, people whose sins had been forgiven because they believed in Jesus. He saw that nothing unclean or impure entered that city, and only those were admitted whose names were written in heaven's book.
Through the city John saw a pure river of crystal water flowing, and along the banks of that river he saw the tree of life, on which fruit was always ripe. And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
When John saw all these things he fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to him. But the angel picked him up and said, 'Do not worship me, for I am just a servant. Worship God. And blessed are they who obey his commands, for they shall be able to enter the gates of the beautiful city, and to eat of the fruit that grows on the tree of life by the banks of the river."
Jesus then said to John, "I have sent my angel to tell you these things in the churches. And whoever wishes may come and drink of the water of life freely, for the invitation is to all men. But only those who hear and obey the words of God may share the blessings of the heavenly city. Any one who tries to add more words to the book of God shall be punished, and any one who tries to take away any part from that book shall have his own part taken away from the book of life, and from the holy city."
Then Jesus said, "Surely I come quickly."
John, the aged prisoner, replied, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
All those who love God and whose hearts have been made pure by the blood of Jesus feel, just as John did, the desire for the coming of the Lord.
Things We Learn from the Epistles
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