GETTING THE MESSAGE/When man seeks his own glory

GETTING THE MESSAGE/When man seeks his own glory


The great sin of the old world at Babel continues to this day: “Let us make a name for ourselves.” God’s glory is denied, and man seeks his own glory and good apart from God. We are all pulled that way, and it leads to misery and death.

Christ came to restore us to the life of God, that we might glorify God and enjoy him forever. In Revelation 1:14-16, the apostle John saw a vision of the glory of Christ. In verse 17, we see John’s response to the vision: “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”

Why was John floored this way? Because he knows he is in the presence of God. This is the common response to a sinner who suddenly finds himself in the presence of God. Daniel responded the same way in Daniel 10. Isaiah in the presence of God said in alarm, “I am undone.” Ezekiel, after a vision of the Lord, sat down overwhelmed for 7 days. 

The Bible mentions these responses for a reason. They could have been omitted from the stories. But God would have us consider what it will be like when we stand before him. Salvation appears in a wonderful light when we do. 

Even though John fell as though dead, he was very much alive. He is a believer in Christ, and the Lord places his hand on him and assures him of his favor, saying, “Fear not.” We might stop there and consider how many things there are that can provoke fear in this world. But if God assures us that we need not fear in his presence, then what are these things compared to that?

The Lord itemizes reasons his people need not fear in the presence of God. He says, “I am the first and the last.” Christ, as the eternal Son of God had no beginning. But here he points us to his sovereignty over all creation and the salvation of his people. It is good to be under his care.

In Isaiah 41, the Lord uses this expression to say that although the nations foolishly run after other gods and are never satisfied, he will have a people he redeems for himself out of the nations. He says of the redeemed, “I took you from the ends of the earth and called you from the farthest corners.” So, the Lord is telling John, “Don’t fear, you are one of mine.”

Next, the Lord says, ‘I am the living one.” He alone is God, and he alone can give spiritual life. He is telling John that John has life in him. We cannot just want Christ as the one who can deliver us from death. He must be the object of our life, now and forever. He is our life.

The third reason the Lord says do not fear is, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.”  Literally it reads, “I became dead.” In John 1 we read that “The word became flesh.” The Lord took upon himself human nature in order to die for our sins. He had to be clothed with our sins so that we could be clothed with his righteousness.

The apostle Paul’s motivation behind his labors and sufferings for Christ was that “He loved me and gave himself for me.” How can we stand in the presence of God? We don’t look within or to our own accomplishments, but rather to Christ and what he accomplished for us in his death. John’s assurance wasn’t that he was an apostle. It was that Christ died for him.

The last consolation the Lord gives is, “I have the keys of death and hades.” Hades referred to the place of souls departed from the body in the Old Testament. God had made our souls eternal. That Christ has the keys means he has conquered death and that he will assign men their eternal place. He is the judge of all men. 

John will later see a vision of souls dressed in white before the throne and before the Lamb (Revelation 7). There is no value you could attach to having that white robe in the presence of God. You won’t be there without it. People attached to this world have little care about what happens after this life. These words, “I have the keys of death and hades,” matter not.

This is not the case with one who knows Christ. The redeemed soul knows what sin he was redeemed from. He lives in gratitude for the assurance from his Savior, “Fear not.”

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