Revelation 1:19, 20
Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;…
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter, etc. These words suggest two general remarks concerning Christ.
I. THAT HE REQUIRES MEN TO RECORD THE REVELATIONS HE MAKES TO THEM. He is the great Revealer of God to humanity, and his revelations are ever recurring and constant. And here we are taught that they are not only to be taught and studied, but to be recorded. The revelations here referred to are of three classes.
1. Those which had been experienced. "The things which thou hast seen." What things John had already seen! How manifold, wonderful, significant! What man of any reflection or conscience has not seen things from God?
2. Those things which were now present. "The things which are." Things that were at hand, that came within his observation and consciousness. There are eternal principles that underlie and shape all human history. These principles are as present as the air we breathe, although the majority of the race are unconscious of them. There are some which reveal themselves in vivid consciousness - these shall be recorded, their images shall be photographed on the heart.
3. Those which were approaching. "The things which shall be hereafter." With that inspiration of him who sees the end from the beginning, the human soul may catch a glimpse of all future times. The divinely inspired genius becomes to some extent independent of all space and time, overleaps all boundaries, geographic and chronologic. It seems to have been so with John on this occasion. In his visions the future ages of the world appeared down to the final trump of doom. John seems to have
"Dipt into the future, far as human eye could see;
Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonders that would be." Now, these three classes of things John had to write down - those that had unfolded themselves, those that were unfolding themselves, and those that would be to the end of time. Whatever maul has seen or will see of the Divine, he is bound to record. "Write." Literature, though sadly corrupted and the source of enormous mischief, is a Divine institution. Rightly employed, it is one of the grandest forces in human life. Truth orally communicated is inexpressibly important and immeasurably influential. He who speaks truth rationally, faithfully, earnestly, devoutly, touches the deepest springs in the great world of mind. What bloodless and brilliant victories the truth has won in all ages! Albeit truth written has some advantages over truth spoken, for man seems to multiply himself by the book he has written. His book is a kind of second incarnation, in which he may live and work ages after the fingers that held his pen are mouldered into dust. Thank God for books, our best companions, always ready with their counsel and their comfort. They are arks that have borne down to us, over the floods of centuries, the vital germs of departed ages. Let men write them, but let their subjects be not the trashy things of time and sensual pleasure, the visions of a wild fancy or the speculations of a reckless intellect, but the revelations that Christ has made.
II. THAT HE EXPLAINS TO MEN THE MEANING OF THE REVELATION HE MAKES TO THEM. "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks." There are two kinds of mystery, the knowable and unknowable.
(1) The unknown of the knowable. It is conceivable that the whole created universe is knowable, even to the intellect of finite man. Yet what the most enlightened man knows is but a fraction of what to him is still unknown - a mystery. Hence every step in the advance of an earnest inquirer is turning the mystery of today into an intelligible fact of tomorrow. What is mystery to one man is not so to another; and what is mystery to a man today is no mystery tomorrow. The other kind of mystery is
(2) the unknown of the Unknowable. He whom we call God is the great Mystery, the absolutely Unknowable - whom no man "hath seen or can see." Now, in the former sense the meaning of the word "mystery" is here employed, In Christ's explanation here we have two things worth note.
1. The ideal Christian pastor. "The seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches." Who the angels were is a matter of speculation. Every settled Christian community, whether religious or not, has some leading person or persons amongst them. In these Christian congregations in Asia Minor there seems to have been some leading man. He was, no doubt, like Timothy in Ephesus - the pastor. Every true Christian minister or angel is a "star." His light is borrowed, but borrowed from the primal source - the "Sun of Righteousness." His orbit is Divine. Faithful teachers are stars that shall shine forever (Daniel 12:3); false teachers are wandering stars (Jude 1:13), or stars which fall from heaven (Revelation 8:10; Revelation 6:13; Revelation 12:4).
2. The ideal Christian Church. "The seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven Churches." Observe:
(1) Christian congregations are lights. "Candlesticks."
(2) They are precious lights. They are "golden." They throw the best kind of information upon an ignorant world.
(3) They are imperfect lights. A lamp is a composite and requires constant care. No finite power can make the sun brighter or larger. Not so with the lamp. The lamp may grow dim and go out - the "golden candlestick" may be there, but no light issues therefrom. "It was thought by the ancients that if ever the fires which burned on the altar of Vesta became extinct, they could not be rekindled unless by being brought in contact with the sun." - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;