Summary: filled with wonder, at who He is, His loveliness. His light. His goodness. His truth. It’s difficult to remain standing. At some point you have to fall before Him and worship-aknowledge His worth-ship.
And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet, as dead. And he placed his right hand on me, saying “Don’t be afraid, I am the first and the last, and the Living One, and I was dead, and Look! I live forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, and what is, and what will happen after these things.
The mystery of the seven stars, which you saw in my right hand, and the seven gold lights; The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lights are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:17-20
v. 17 Fell down as dead (Isaiah 6;
v 18 20:6, 13, 14.
v 19 This could be an outline of the book. The word hereafter is a translation of the Greek phrase, Meta tauta, which means “after these things.” This is a structural phrase for John (found 7 times in his Gospel), and is found also in Rev. 4:1; 7:1; 18:1; and 19:1—six occurrences dividing the book of Revelation into seven sections.
v 20 Here we begin the messages to the seven churches. The churches can be viewed in a number of ways.
1. They are the literal churches of John’s day
2. They are representative of church ages in history.
3. They are representative of what we see in all the Church throughout history, and today.
We will assume all of these views have value for the interpretation of the following two chapters.
I Fall to Pieces
Have you ever been so in love you felt like the world was spinning round from night to day each time you saw the object of your affection? In the late 1950’s and early 60’s Patsy Cline made famous a song written by Hank Cochran & Harlan Howard, singing
I fall to pieces
Each time I see you again
I fall to pieces
How can I be just your friend?
You want me to act like we've never kissed
You want me to forget (to forget)
Pretend we've never met (never met)
And I've tried and I've tried
But I haven't yet
You walk by and I fall to pieces
The song goes on. This may not be exactly what John experienced, but, I think it’s related, we’ll get back to that idea in a moment. And this isn’t the only place we see this behavior in the Bible. Twice, John fell down like this in wonder at the feet of the angel that was his tour guide through the Revelation (Revelation 19:10 & 22:8). In both cases the angel said “don’t do that!” Others have been a bit overwhealmed by angels. Falling down at a vision of angels seemed to be a hallmark of Ezekiel’s prophetic career (Ezekiel 1:28; 3:23; 43:3 & 44:4). Daniel, also, was overwhealmed at an angelic visit, and fell on his face (Daniel 8). And there are others who seemed a bit unimpressed with angelic appearances. When the angel appeared to Mary in the Gospel of John, she simply walked away from it when she saw it wasn’t willing to tell her where Jesus was. She was only interested in seeing Jesus. When an angel came to arrange a prison escape for Peter the night before he was scheduled for execution, he had to hit Peter on the side to wake him up (would you be sleeping if you were scheduled to die the next day?). Peter thought he was dreaming till he realized he really was out of the prison and the angel was gone-but no sense there of being in any way bowled over. If anything those closest to Jesus seemed nonplussed by angle visitations, but not overwhealmed. There is a sense in which falling down seems justified, however. Some people actually saw God.
Moses asked to see God face-to-face. He said “no man can see my face and live”. It seems that these bodies of ours are simply not designed to withstand the weight of God’s glory (Exodus 33 & 40:34; 2 Chronicles 5:14, 7:2). Isaiah had a vision of God sitting on His throne, and he said “woe unto me . . . I am undone (I fall to pieces) for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Glory”. Maybe this is what it’s like to have a real encounter with the LORD. The 24 Elders we’ll meet in a few chapters fall down before Jesus and cast their crowns before Him and worship Him. They do this over and over.
And that brings me back to the opening statements. When you love someone, really, heels-over-head in love, there may be several reasons-lust is a possibility-if that’s all there is, when you get what you want, you dump the not-so-beloved. Hero-worship is a possible reason-you are enamoured with who you think the beloved is. When the sheen becomes a bit tarnished as you know the hero better, the love fades as well. But there is a kind of love that I think the Bible describes as a kind of consecrated love. Paul describes it in Ephesians 5-the love between a man and a woman gives us a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church. In a more ancient, or at least old-fashioned, version of the marriage Vows, both man and woman say “with my body I worship Thee”. This love is so unified the two become one and as each loves the other, the distinctions between them begin to disappear. As Paul said, “a man who loves his wife, loves himself”. The Church falls at Jesus’ feet to worship Him. Jesus knelt before His Disciples and washed their feet. Maybe being in love to the point you fall to pieces each time your lover walks by is a taste of that heavenly love. Maybe the LORD pulls back the viel that separates us from each other and for a moment love enables us to look with heavenly eyes at someone and see them in the glory they will enjoy for eternity-we have a brief glimpse of the heavenly glory that springs from the Spirit of God. That kind of love doesn’t fade. And it just might be the combination in the presence of God. We are overwhealmed at His power and the brightness of His glory, and we are amazed (as Solmon mused concerning his bride, she was “more terrible than an army with banners”), filled with wonder, at who He is, His loveliness. His light. His goodness. His truth. It’s difficult to remain standing. At some point you have to fall before Him and worship-aknowledge His worth-ship.