Beyond Today

Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow | Learn more...

You are here

Follow Me... Beyond Our Personal Patmos

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

Most of you are familiar with the opening lines of the Lord's Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 5:9-10 Matthew 5:9-10 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×
). These words, taught during Jesus Christ's Sermon on the Mount, may match our sincerest desire, but too often the sheer gravity of circumstances here below can draw our attention away from remembering Jesus' admonition as to where to focus our attention.

It's often been said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” When our life seems derailed by trials, it can hinder our vision of God sitting on His throne, transcendent above our overcrowded fishbowl down here. It's all too easy for our hearts to become isolated from God's promises for our ultimate spiritual well-being.

The last book of the Bible shows that we must keep our focus in the right place to bear with the hardships of this life and ultimately experience the wonderful blessings God has in store for us.

Exile and revelation

The apostle John was present when Christ taught about prayer during the Sermon on the Mount, and he was reintroduced to the power of Jesus' words in his time of need nearly 60 years later. Toward his life's end he wrote in Revelation 1:9 Revelation 1:9I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
, “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Most reliable sources indicate that John was exiled on this tiny Aegean island off the western coast of modern-day Turkey during the turbulent persecution of Christians under the cruel Roman Emperor Domitian.

Consider for a moment what may have been running through his mind as he looked down a craggy cliff to the churning waters crashing against the rocks below. Here he was, isolated on this remote island, unable to carry out the duties committed to him by his beloved Lord and Master decades earlier.

What thoughts did John have as he considered his state? Did he wonder where God was, if he had been abandoned to end his days in exile after giving so much of His life to serving His Master and spreading the gospel?

Perhaps you've had similar questions plaguing you at times. It may seem that at times we're also cut off and alone, exiled to our own personal Patmos!

Whether such questions were on John's mind then or are in yours right now, we do know that John was given reassurance about the future—reassurance that through him has also been given to us: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave Him [Christ] to show His servants—things which must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1 Revelation 1:1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel to his servant John:
American King James Version×
).

Christ was going to share with John the broad sweep of events that the world and His Church would experience in the time ahead, culminating in the climatic appearance of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1 Revelation 21:1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
American King James Version×
).

Much of this heavenly vision would be unfathomably joyous, while other portions could cause utter heartache as Christ reveals what would happen to God's true servants in this age. So He lays a foundation of hope lest this astonishing disclosure be devastating to John and to others receiving the message.

Gaining a heavenly perspective first

Christ knew how to best reveal to John how His Father's will would “be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Before revealing the future, He gives John a glimpse of what “in heaven” entails, opening a window on something wonderful to anchor our existence below.

This was to be the foundation of all revelation that would follow. That is, “first things first.” It was as if Jesus, the risen Christ, was saying “Follow Me” not only by teaching us what to pray, but what to experience with our entire being when approaching the presence of “our Father in heaven.”

God invites John to gain a heavenly perspective of what's ageless beyond our fleeting human existence and trials (compare Colossians 3:2 Colossians 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
American King James Version×
; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
American King James Version×
; Romans 8:18-23 Romans 8:18-23 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
American King James Version×
). Let's follow along and understand how we might move beyond our “personal Patmos” that may be isolating us not merely from others, but from God.

The revelation commences with the sound of “a loud voice, as of a trumpet,” declaring, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:10-11 Revelation 1:10-11 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus Christ begins to unveil what the Father gave Him to communicate by personally disclosing His eternal existence—encompassing everything that has been, is and will yet be. He and the Father had no origin but simply exist, beyond the bounds of time and space, and are the Source of all other life.

In this vision, Jesus appears in the midst of the seven lampstands (Revelation 1:13 Revelation 1:13And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.
American King James Version×
) symbolizing the churches that were being challenged in the first century, as well as all God's people who would follow down through the ages to our time. He's not an absentee savior or cosmic bystander, but as the Good Shepherd He is in the midst of His spiritual flock even when we are unaware of His presence.

A snapshot of the roles of Christ

Here we are given a snapshot of God's heavenly throne with a description of Jesus as “One like the Son of Man” wearing a garment that reached down to His feet, a golden band encircling His chest (Revelation 1:13 Revelation 1:13And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.
American King James Version×
).

It's here that God wants us to accompany John and approach His throne with the picture firmly in mind of One who has been like us in the flesh (as the Son of Man), but is now garbed in a gleaming robe that points to His role as our King and High Priest and God's ultimate heavenly Messenger.

This picture of God's throne above describes Christ as One who has “in his right hand seven stars, [and] out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:16 Revelation 1:16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength.
American King James Version×
). The stars signify angels or messengers of God's people (verse 20), the sword is God's Word (see Hebrews 4:12 Hebrews 4:12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
American King James Version×
), and His blazing brilliance is the radiance of divine glory (see Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
American King James Version×
).

Here John—and we—face the reality that God has placed Christ in absolute control of the universe. He has a grasp of all and has the power to carry out divine judgment on His Father's behalf.

Notice also that the first words Christ mentions after revealing Himself are some that we can never hear enough: “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17 Revelation 1:17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
American King James Version×
). He says this as He lays His right hand on John, showing deep personal care and friendship.

Why are we to not be afraid? He goes on to declare again: “I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore … And I have the keys of Hades [the grave] and of Death” (Revelation 1:17-18 Revelation 1:17-18 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
American King James Version×
).

It is a claim that He alone can make, having existed in both worlds of life and death and now owning both! He's no stranger to the gravity of the world's pulls and the isolation of abandonment.

This claim echoes what He had declared as the God of Israel in the Old Testament (see John 1:1-3 John 1:1-3 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
American King James Version×
, John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
; 1 Corinthians 10:4 1 Corinthians 10:4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
American King James Version×
), stating then: “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure' … Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11 Isaiah 46:9-11 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executes my counsel from a far country: yes, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
American King James Version×
).

Approaching the unapproachable

The great Revelator, Jesus Christ, continues in Revelation 4 to open up God's throne room to John and to us. John describes the vision: “Behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald” (Revelation 4:2-3 Revelation 4:2-3 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3 And he that sat was to look on like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like to an emerald.
American King James Version×
).

Here the power, glory and holiness of God's nature and attributes are captured in a scene of precious jewels that dazzle and shimmer so brightly as to be nearly blinding—described elsewhere as “unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16 1 Timothy 6:16Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.
American King James Version×
).

It is the same throne David prayed toward when He said of God: “You are very great; You are clothed with honor and majesty, who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain” (Psalms 104:1-2 Psalms 104:1-2 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with honor and majesty. 2 Who cover yourself with light as with a garment: who stretch out the heavens like a curtain:
American King James Version×
).

Notice that John's vision of this scene “in heaven” is stamped with a rainbow, which may harken back to the rainbow after Noah's Flood (Genesis 9:11-17 Genesis 9:11-17 11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look on it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth. 17 And God said to Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.
American King James Version×
), perhaps signifying God's promise of tempering His judgments in the harrowing prophecies being revealed to John (and see Ezekiel 1:28 Ezekiel 1:28As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of one that spoke.
American King James Version×
).

Revelation concludes with the establishment of “a new heaven and a new earth” in which there is “no more sea”—no more of the barrier that had kept John confined on Patmos—with God the Father and the New Jerusalem coming down to the new earth (Revelation 21:1-3 Revelation 21:1-3 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
American King James Version×
).

Ultimately there will be no barriers between God and those who truly seek Him as their Heavenly Father, who hallow His name by what they do and not merely by what they have heard, and who yearn for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

This same passage captures God the Father declaring, in similar manner to Christ's opening words in Revelation: “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts” (Revelation 21:6 Revelation 21:6And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.
American King James Version×
). Indeed, God sees things He has planned as if they already are (compare Romans 4:17 Romans 4:17(As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who vivifies the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were.
American King James Version×
), and He sees you in that picture with Him.

The invitation is at hand for you as much as for the apostle John. Christ clearly states: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and He with Me” (Revelation 3:20 Revelation 3:20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
American King James Version×
).

The key to keeping that door open is found in Jesus' opening words, which reveal that we heed His call of “Follow Me” by first focusing our attention on “our Father in heaven” before looking around down here. It's the key that opens up the book of Revelation. It's the key that helps us to, in the words of Hebrews 4:16 Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
American King James Version×
, “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

You might also be interested in...

We live in a deeply troubled age. Yet a magnificent 1,000 year period of...

Discover what you can do to survive the four frightful outbursts of violence...