Verse 17: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead
I'm not a bit surprised. I’d have done the same thing, and I bet you would have, too. It doesn't sound to me like he fell at His feet in worship. It sounds like John was scared half to death and may have actually passed out cold.
The one with the stars? I talked in my last post about how cozy those stars had to be, resting in the right hand of God, and now that hand is upon John. Believe me, if you are going to have a hand on you, you can't do better than the right hand of God.
This is the part of the verse that has me convinced that John had dropped to the ground out of fear rather than worship. I would imagine, even after all the years since John had watched Jesus ascend into Heaven, he would still recognize the voice. I'm assuming He used a different voice than the trumpet/many waters (read: loud) voice that John heard at the beginning of this encounter. That voice, along with the vision would have been overwhelming. It's no wonder John went down in a heap.
But now, I would imagine a gentler, more familiar voice working to comfort John and help him regain his composure.
The phrase “fear not” is significant.
I counted 65 times the Bible said “fear not”, and another 44 times it said “be not afraid”. I would say that constitutes a theme.
It always amazes me how people will take a comment made in the
Bible, take it out of context, twist it around and make doctrine out of it. But the Bible says at least 110 times to not be afraid. If Jesus Christ says that the most important commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Matthew 22:37), And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39), I’d say an argument could be made that the third most important commandment is to “fear not”.
Of course, we are expected to fear God: (Psalm 111:10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 10:28: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
To fear anything or anybody else, shows a lack of faith in God: (Psalm 118:6) The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
So when God Himself shows up, fear is a natural reaction. It would be for anybody. In fact it is for pretty much everybody. John is just the latest in a list of people (Moses, Joshua, Ezekiel, Daniel, the list goes on) who upon finding themselves in the presence of the manifest power of God, collapsed in fear. Then, when the only person you are actually expected to fear, tells you to “fear not”, that’s got to be very comforting.
This is where it really gets good. Let’s start with Isaiah 44:6 - Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
So this is God. There is only one God, and this is Him: The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The hand that hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. (Isaiah 48:12) This is the Guy. No wonder John was shook up.
Then, in the same breath He says:
This can only describe Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only one who was dead, and now is alive forevermore. This is the most compelling argument I can think of for the position that Jesus Christ is, in fact The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I have relatives who claim to believe the Bible and will tell you that the
Bible says that Jesus is not God. I would love to hear their argument to dismiss this scripture. But alas, they have made it pretty clear that they won’t read my blog, specifically because they know I will make an argument for the deity of Jesus Christ. If you are reading this blog, and you believe that the Bible says that Jesus is not God, please comment below and give me your argument against this passage. I really am looking for the truth, and if you have a compelling argument, I promise not to dismiss it out of hand just because it counters what I have come to believe.
This is a lovely little word that most people say at the end of every prayer and most of them don’t even know why. The habit started in synagogues and since the first Christians were Jews who were raised in a synagogue, it carried over to the church. The idea is that when a corporate prayer is recited, everyone says “amen” as a way of putting themselves in agreement with what was said. While the word (amēn) is generally understood to mean something like “so be it”, it can probably be more specifically defined as meaning “this is the truth”. I get the feeling that Jesus tacked this word onto the proclamation of who He is because this might have come as news to John as well.
The first part of this phrase is easy: If you have the key to something, you have power over it. The keys to your car - no one (theoretically) can drive your car without the keys. Even if they can, metaphorically speaking, they would still have to have the key to getting it started. Ok, I’d better stop there before I make myself dizzy. You get the idea. Jesus has control over hell and death. He made that pretty clear when He wouldn't stay dead.
Now hell and death seem to be related. While death wouldn’t seem to require explanation (it means your dead), the word translated as hell is hadēs. Hades has been variously translated as the grave, the place of departed souls or the realm of the dead. Most people think of the word hell as meaning the place of punishment for sinners. Heat, darkness, eternal torment, the lake of fire and all that. There is a debate going on as to whether that kind of hell actually exists. There are people making the argument that hell simply means the grave and that when you die, if you don’t go to heaven, you simply cease to exist. Poof! Gone, forgotten. I’m not ready to delve into that argument, but either way the two words are related, Jesus has control of both, and I don’t want to go to hell. Because any way you want to look at it, hell would mean an eternity separated from God, and I would much prefer the alternative.