Bible Study with Jairus-Revelation 1
The Perspective of the Apostle John: Christ as Judge
Though I’ve read the book of Revelation before, I’ve always found it difficult to understand. I’ve often felt that the last days discussed in Revelation were still far away from the times we live in. But as I reflected on the pandemic, war and other current events, my most recent study of the Book of Revelation has been more enlightening than ever. As I studied the book of Revelation at a recent Bible study, I began to feel that the things described in it are not far away from us.
Although I admit that there are still many things in the book of Revelation that I do not fully understand, I feel that the Holy Spirit has given me a better understanding this time. Though I dare not claim that we are experiencing the end of the age depicted in the book of Revelation, I can nonetheless say that the Day of the Lord is very near.
Since 2015, the Lord has revealed to me in visions and prophetic dreams that there will be many great revivals. Many of my dreams featured a great revival of China. But I had absolutely no idea where these revivals would start. Then one day, in a dream, I saw an angel stretching out a huge stick that reached all the way from heaven to the ocean. As the angel began to stir, the waves churned and the ground became unstable. Because of this dream, I realized that a great revival is coming, and it will be accompanied by shaking. God will shake all kingdoms that can be shaken, so that the kingdom that cannot be shaken may be sought and obtained (Hebrews 12:27).
This shaking represents judgment, which is one of the themes of the book of Revelation. After the pandemic, I received inspiration in the spirit that the great revival has already begun. Why do I believe this? Because the great revival begins with cleansing and judgment. This judgment begins in the house of God, and it allows the church to mature. When wheat is about to be harvested, exposure to the sun will help it ripen more quickly. In the same way, exposure to judgment prepares the church for the harvest. God will harvest His sheaves.
This harvest also includes the judgment and harvesting of the weeds. The wheat of God will be gathered into the barn, and the weeds will be thrown into the fire by the angels. All of this takes place because God the Judge has given all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).
Although the great revival we are facing may not be the last great revival of the last days, I believe it is nonetheless a preparation for the great revival of the last days. For this reason, I believe that reading the book of Revelation at this moment in history can bring insight and inspiration to our lives today.
The Lord Is Our Judge
We often say that the Lord is both a lamb and a lion. The first time He came to earth, He came as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He brought grace and delayed his judgment. Jesus clearly said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” (John 12:47-48). God’s word clearly tells us that the Lord will judge those who reject Him on the last day. Revelation, the last book of the Bible, discusses the judgment of the last days. The Lord, as revealed in Revelation, will be the Judge.
The Holy Spirit introduced the drama of the book of Revelation in a very creative way. The Bible is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit inspired people to write the Bible, so the Holy Spirit is its true author. As a writer and playwright, I have often said that the Holy Spirit introduced the drama and He is the best playwright. If we think of the book of Revelation as a movie, and the first chapter of Revelation as the prologue, what would be the best way to introduce the Judge? I personally think that there would be no better way than to surprise the Apostle John with the appearance of the Judge.
John was Jesus’ favorite disciple. He often laid in the arms of the Lord and was very familiar with Jesus Christ the Lamb. But just like the disciples whom the Lord Jesus appeared to after His resurrection, John did not recognize the risen Christ at first. Seeing the risen Christ shocked John since he was only familiar with Christ the Lamb. John’s visual description of the risen Christ, the Judge, was brand new to John. As the best playwright, the Holy Spirit began the book of Revelation with a vivid and new image of Christ as the Judge, an image that shocked the apostle John.
Revelation Of Jesus Christ
Let’s imagine the book of Revelation as a movie. Let’s follow the playwright, the Holy Spirit, into this earth-shattering show. Even though the Holy Spirit is the playwright, the idea for this drama came through the collaboration of the three members of the Trinity. Jesus Christ said that He would receive truth from the Father and declare it to the Holy Spirit (John 16:15). In the same way, Revelation 1:1 mentions that the revelation of Jesus Christ came from the Father and was “given by God” to Jesus Christ. God told Him that He should show His servants the things that would soon take place. He communicated the message by His angel to His servant John through symbols (Revelation 1:1).
The characters in this movie script are the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit; the angels, evil spirits, and devils; saints and sinners; Christ and the Bride, who are united with the Lord; the Antichrist and the great prostitute, who is composed of evil spirits and sinners; dragons and beasts; a woman and a male child. These all comprise the pictorial symbols mentioned in verse 1. We must learn how to understand this symbolic language. I believe I have gained new inspiration about some figurative images, including the sickle and Babylon, which we will describe in detail later. As a preview, let me quickly summarize these concepts. The sickle is a gift from God, and it is up to us to sharpen it. Babylon is a united system of evil spirits and sinners, including but far greater than the fallen system of Catholicism. Babylon includes the fallen religious, political, economic, and other systems in this world. This network of systems devours human minds, hearts, and souls.
The language of symbols is the language of pictures. These pictorial symbols often hinder us from understanding the Bible. That’s why it’s so important to understand these figurative images. If you understand the symbols and visual language, you will better understand the entire book of Revelation. An example of figurative language is the saying, “He was shot by Cupid’s arrow.” Of course, we don’t mean that a person was actually shot. Instead, we understand that this is a figurative way to say that someone is in love. Although the meaning of this figurative language is clear to us today, it might not be clear to a reader thousands of years from now. No longer familiar with the idiom, people may become confused by the references to “Cupid” and his arrow. Similarly, there are many symbols and much visual language in the Bible which were understandable to the readers at the time when the Bible was being written. However, the meaning has been lost in our current culture, making it difficult for us to understand this visual language.
In addition, many biblical images were based on spiritual inspiration rather than on historical or cultural idioms that were common at the time. For human beings living in the material realm, it can be difficult to put spiritual realities into words. There may be no physical reality that we can compare the spiritual reality to. It is difficult for our natural minds to grasp. In these cases, figurative language and images can help us express heavenly things that are beyond words.
For example, in order to explain how the Holy of Holies in heaven was built, God asked Moses and David to build a tabernacle and a temple that matched the heavenly pattern. The temple itself and the accompanying utensils were pictorial images that represented a heavenly reality. When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once a year to sprinkle the blood, it was an image of the blood of Jesus which restored fellowship between God and man. When Moses approached the mercy seat, saw God’s glory, and heard Him speak (Numbers 7:89), it represented our ability to draw near the Holy of Holies with boldness through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 4:16). This pictorial representation shows that in Jesus Christ, we can meet with God face to face.
Since 2015, God has given me dreams that help me express spiritual realities through pictorial images. In my dreams, I have been taken to heaven, paradise, and other places in the underworld. I saw various images and scenes of the lives of the people there. When I would tell my wife about these things, she would ask, “What is the use of these things?” I said, “These visions of the spiritual world have greatly expanded my spiritual imagination, helping me break through many traditional Bible teachings that limit my thinking. These images help me better understand how God speaks through pictorial languages in the Bible.” I believe that the dreams that God gave me were not useless. They helped me better understand the visual language in the Bible. I believe that the more we understand the figurative images in Revelation, the more we will understand the book as a whole. In this study, we will focus on clarifying these images and the message that the symbols are describing.
Preparation to Hear God’s Voice
In Revelation, John heard Jesus speaking to him personally. If we want to learn how to hear Jesus’ voice, we should prepare ourselves like John did. Although some of John’s circumstances were brought about by the sovereignty of God and were beyond his control, we can still learn from John’s example. We can learn about the importance of preparing our hearts before God.
Cultivating a Quiet Heart
The first way we can prepare our hearts is by cultivating a quiet, undistracted heart. God speaks to us often. But if we are too busy, we may not be able to quiet down enough to hear God speak. For instance, if we are on a crowded bus, and someone steals our wallet, we might not even notice it. But if we are sitting quietly on a balcony, drinking coffee, we could feel the breeze blowing across our faces. That’s why it’s so important to find a quiet environment where we can better hear God’s words. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” But we are often unable to quiet down because we live in a distracted world.
It’s easy to imagine that the Apostle John was also very busy. Perhaps he was very busy with his ministry to the seven churches that he later wrote to in the book of Revelation. If he had not been exiled and put in prison, he might have been too busy with ministry to be able to see this vision. God knew how to quiet John’s heart and mind to receive his word.
John was exiled to the island of Patmos. In chapter 1 verse 9 he said, “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” The island created a quiet environment for John. He was probably exiled because of his faith in Jesus. Now that he had fewer external distractions, he was able to quiet his heart before God and hear his words. On the Lord’s day, he became receptive to the Spirit and heard God’s voice.
Letting Go of Rigid Thinking.
Another way we can hear the voice of God is by letting go of our own rigid thinking. Our past experiences with God tend to generate rigid expectations about future interactions with Him. The Pharisees, who claimed to love God and obey His laws, were completely blind to the coming of God in the flesh. They were so wrapped up in their rigid thinking, which focused on outward obedience, that they didn’t recognize Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God. In the same way, our minds, prejudices, and traditions can solidify our thinking so much that we cannot understand God’s leading in a new era. In order to become trailblazers who lead the work of God in a new era, we must let go of rigid thinking and receive the fresh guidance and presence of Jesus.
The New Image of The Judge
The Lord Jesus has appeared to me several times in visions, but each appearance was unique. No two visions were identical.
Once, I was taken to China in the spirit. The Lord Jesus appeared to me, robed with light, and laid His hands on my head. After falling to the ground, I got up. But He was gone.
On the last day of 2017, He first appeared to me as an old Chinese lady. Then He took me to heaven in the spirit and changed His form. There, He told me about my calling. Through a glass window, he showed me people going up to heaven. They looked as if they were riding an escalator to heaven. This vision gave me a burden for China’s great revival.
Another time, I was taken to Japan in the spirit, and the Lord Jesus appeared to me. He healed my hands, which had been wounded from fishing, with a healing balm drawn from the nail marks on his feet. Yet another time, I was taken to heaven in the spirit and saw Jesus’ face and strong muscles up close. Every appearance has been unique.
Testimonies of people with prophetic experiences abound. I have heard others say that every time the Lord appears, He looks different, depending on the amount of light He emits. Sometimes, he appears as a lion, an eagle, or some other manifestation.
The appearance of the risen Lord can be in many different forms. Perhaps this is why the disciples did not always recognize him when he appeared after his resurrection. When He appeared to the twelve disciples, to the men on their way to Emmaus, to Mary as she wept by the tomb, or to Peter as he fished by the sea, they did not recognize Him right away. In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ often appears in a specific form that communicates an important figurative message.
For example, one day the Lord Jesus appeared to me as an old Chinese lady and led me down the mountain near my hometown. He led me to the entrance of the village. There, I saw some women and children weeping. Then I heard voices saying, “This represents the people in China who are being oppressed by the unfair distribution of wealth.” Suddenly, I saw that a strange currency was about to be unloaded from the bed of a big truck. It seemed to be a huge amount of money, near $200 million. The money was not in US dollars, or CNY. It was in a strange currency. Then I heard voices that said, “The wealth will be redistributed to those who are godly and righteous, so that they can evangelize and transform Chinese society.”
Not long after that, the old lady started to take me to heaven in the spirit. I fought and struggled against her with all my strength, because I was worried that I was being deceived by an evil spirit. But her power overcame me. Then she gave me an enormous push from behind and lifted me to heaven, where she transformed into Jesus Christ. He showed me images of people, similar to the images of saints used in the past, and He asked me if I wished to be like them. I cried, “I am willing in my heart, but my flesh is weak. I still have some fleshly weaknesses that I cannot overcome.”
During this experience, I was shocked to see a cherub flying toward us. What shocked me even more was that the Chinese saints in glory sang a four-verse hymn together to praise God and to bless and encourage me. Sadly, I cannot remember the lyrics of this hymn. But this experience has greatly encouraged me.
Many of these spiritual experiences involved figurative images:
- God often uses my rural hometown in China to represent China.
- Coming down from the mountain on the north side of my hometown represents the presence of God who is with me in heaven (represented by the high place on the mountain) and in China (represented by my village). I believe that one day he will lead me back to China.
- Walking to the entrance of the village represents my future return to China.
- The crying women and children represent the oppression of the Chinese church and Chinese people. They are oppressed by evil spirits and evil people.
- The truck represents the gospel and its ministry.
- The huge amount of strange currency on the truck represents the supply of God’s rich gospel, as well as His supply of physical wealth.
- Only when I arrived at the entrance of the village did I see this truck, which represents the timing of these supplies, which may only become available when I arrive in China to preach the gospel one day.
- The cherub I saw in heaven signifies a heavenly atmosphere.
- Being taken behind the glass by Jesus Christ shows us that we can see people going to heaven behind the glass, but they can’t see us. This means that everything is in the hands of God; He knows everything.
- Jesus Christ showed me pictures of people going to heaven one by one. These are also symbols. They represent the great revival that will bring people’s saved souls to heaven.
These figurative images greatly shocked my spirit and also gave me a great burden for the future revival of China and the world. Even the Chinese saints who sang hymns in heaven represented the fact that the great revival in China will be a collaboration between God, the saints in glory, and the saints on earth. This deeply inspires me.
This is just one example of a spiritual experience full of visual language that conveyed God’s message to me. These images helped me to break through my mental limitations and accept God’s call—a calling that I never dared imagine.
Similarly, the image of the Lord Jesus Christ described in Revelation 1 is not a fixed image, but a symbolic image that describes what God will do during the judgment of the last days. The pictures themselves are God’s words to the apostle John and the church in the end times. Let’s examine the image of the Lord described by the apostle John.
The golden lampstand represents the church (1:20). Walking in the midst of the golden lampstand represents Jesus walking amongst the churches and checking on them. The robe that reaches down to his feet does not mean that the Lord wears a robe every day in heaven. Rather, this symbolic image represents holiness, just like the robe that Joshua put on to cover his filthiness (Zechariah 3:4), or the bright, clean linen that the bride of Christ wore, which represents the righteous deeds of the saints (Revelation 19:8). Once, during a vision, I was standing in line to see Jesus. While standing in line, I was asked to first put on a robe. This symbol shows us that filthy people cannot see the Lord, but that Jesus bestows on us a robe of righteousness that covers our uncleanness. In figurative visual language, the robe Jesus was wearing in Revelation 1 reminds us of the righteousness of Jesus that covers His body, the church. Although the church is weak and filthy, we are the body of Christ. As such, we are covered by Christ’s righteousness. His holiness and His blood cover our sins and weaknesses. Later verses will mention the specific weaknesses of each church, but for now, we are reminded through this symbolic image that it is God cleansing us. We must not forget that we are more than conquerors in Christ.
When I was reading the book of Revelation, I was amazed. The Holy Spirit is truly the best playwright and director! He describes the risen Christ to us like a good director of photography. He starts with a long shot of Jesus wearing a robe, then moves to a medium shot of Jesus with a golden sash, and finally moves to a close shot of Jesus’ eyes and hair. The camera focuses on these characteristics one by one, presenting the image of the risen Lord in minute detail.
First, God offers us a wide-angle view of Jesus’ entire body, including a robe reaching down to his feet. Next, the camera zooms in to focus on the Lord’s chest, with a golden sash around it. Symbolically, his chest represents love. While he was on earth, John had reclined on Jesus’ chest and in his arms. At that time, Jesus probably did not have a golden sash around His chest, so this vision must have left a deep impression on John. The golden sash on the chest of the risen Christ stood in stark contrast to John’s memory of Jesus’ chest in the past. Jesus had always been God in the flesh, but He was mainly revealed as the Son of Man. Even here, the apostle John calls him the Son of Man (1:13). But this appearance more clearly demonstrated Jesus’ divinity as well. In the Bible, gold represents God’s divine nature. For example, the streets of the New Jerusalem are made of gold. So the focus on the gold sash reminds us of Jesus’ deity.
Next, the director’s camera focuses on Jesus’s hair. This close shot describes His white hair as
“white wool, like snow.” These images are symbolic. When Jesus appears to me personally, I often see His hair glowing like His entire body. Sometimes, I don’t see His white hair. Some people have seen visions of Jesus with golden curly hair. Each person that sees Jesus, in heaven or in a vision, will not necessarily see the same image John described here. As I said, Jesus is God. He can appear in many forms. John’s description of His appearance is mainly a figurative way to convey the specific message He wants to tell the church.
What does his white hair represent? Some say that His white hair represents his eternal nature. I’m not against this explanation. But I feel that the white hair is another way to express his holiness and flawlessness. As the Holy Spirit, our director, reveals more of the risen Christ and the Judge, we are constantly seeing more of His divinity and holiness. In other words, the gentle Lamb the apostle John was familiar with, who was merciful to sinners and tolerant to those who were against Him, has become the Lord who will judge sinners and those who oppose Him. The setting of the Book of Revelation is the last days. Judgment Day is coming soon. Based on the logic of the “director,” we would expect the next shot to reveal more of His judgment. As expected, the next shot focuses on His eyes, which are like a flame of fire. This image speaks of His judgment.
The next scene also points to judgment. The apostle John describes the Lord’s feet as like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, which is a common symbol of judgment. The furnace speaks of trial and testing. Bronze represents judgment as well. After Korah’s rebellion, God asked Moses to hammer the bronze censers of the rebellious Israelites into bronze sheets to cover the altar, as a lesson for future Israelites.
In addition to pictures, movies also use the language of sound, which can make movies more realistic. Through John’s description, we hear the Holy Spirit’s depiction of the voice of Christ. It sounded like the roar of many waters. What does the sound of many waters represent? Judgment. We often refer to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, which is like a gentle maternal reminder. However, a strong rebuke from your mother is more like the sound of many waters. It stuns you and motivates you to obey out of fear of punishment.
One time, when I was taken to heaven in the spirit, I experienced the “sound of many waters” for myself. In the vision, I was waiting in line to see the Lord. I was so excited that my heart wanted to jump out of my chest. While waiting, someone gave me a robe to put on and told me to wait there. As I was entering the room where the Lord was, I found that I could not stand up. I fell backward to the ground. Then I heard the voice of the Lord, like the voice of many waters, saying, “Get up.” I immediately gained strength, stood up, and entered the room to meet Him. The voice of the Lord was so rich and powerful that it could not be described in words. The enemy can’t mimic His voice. Hearing the voice of the Lord is truly shocking and terrifying!
The seven stars in Jesus’ right hand also speak of judgment, because the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches (1:20). Jesus not only walks among the churches (represented by the golden lampstands), but He also judges His churches and angels first. The sharp two-edged sword that comes out of His mouth represents His judgment. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” His face is like the sun shining in full strength, which shows that harvest time has come. The sun has facilitated the drying of the wheat.
With each new scene of this powerful drama, emotions continue to build. The apostle John is already completely overwhelmed. The gentle lamb he knew on earth had become the lion of the tribe of Judah. John saw that Jesus was the King. The Father had given Him all authority to execute judgment!
In the next shot, John fell at Jesus’ feet as if he were dead. John, the apostle who used to lie in the arms of Jesus like a baby, now fell at His feet as though dead. If even the apostle John could not bear the appearance of the glorified and holy Lord, how could we sinners bear it? No wonder the Bible says that the coming of the Lord will great and dreadful (Malachi 4:5)! We will never be able to stand before Him if we do not repent and are not covered by His holy robe!
The Seven Stars and The Seven Lampstands (The Church) are also Symbolic
The seven stars are also symbols of judgment. Why do I say this? Let’s imagine the Lord Jesus walking among the golden lampstands, holding the seven stars in His hand. He expressly states that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and that the golden lampstands are the seven churches (1:20). Although John briefly mentions that he is addressing his letters to the seven churches (1:11), he also expressly states that the letters are written to the angels of the seven churches (chapter 2-3). In other words, the angels of the seven churches are the overcomers of the seven churches. The Lord is speaking to the overcomers in every church.
Daniel said, “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3). We are all stars, and we must shine like stars. The Book of Proverbs says, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” (Proverbs 4:18). As stars, we must keep shining brighter and brighter until the full dawn appears. Revelation 1 mentions that the face of the Lord Jesus was like the sun shining in full strength. As believers, we are destined to be conformed to the image of Christ, who is like the midday sun. This is not something that one person can do on his own. But when each of us shines like a star, we can collectively become like the midday sun.
A brother made a wise observation. He said, “Elijah, the greatest prophet in Israel’s history, appeared during the reign of Ahab, the worst king of Israel. A king is like the moon. If the moon is bright, the stars are less visible. But if the moon is not visible, the stars will shine brightly. In the same way, a good king doesn’t need a prophet to remind him to follow God. But during the reign of a bad king, the prophet’s star will be very bright.”
This is a great insight. We as the church are the royal priesthood of God. Collectively, we are both kings and priests. When we fall into sin, we no longer give light to the world. The lamp is put under the bushel; the salt loses its taste, and the function of the Old Testament king is destroyed. Therefore, the prophets of this age (the overcomers, also called the angels of the church) must shine more brightly. They must shine like stars and illuminate the dark church and the world.
The seven stars in the right hand of the Lord Jesus are symbolic. After the Lord Jesus was resurrected, He sat down at the right hand of God the Father. Therefore, the right hand of God represents the exaltation of God. Being held in His hand is also symbolic language. It signifies that He is holding the seven stars tightly. He will never let go of the prophets and overcomers of this age (the angels of the churches). God will not give up on his church! God’s judgment begins with His church and the angels (overcomers) of His church. The letters in Revelation 2 and 3 were clearly addressed to the angels of the seven churches. This is something I had never noticed before. I had thought the letters were written to the church, but the Holy Spirit shows me that the recipients of the letters were the angels of the seven churches (2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3: 1, 7, 14).
The Lord is calling His overcomers from the seven churches to overcome every weakness and attack of the enemy. If they cannot overcome them, the Lord will remove their golden lampstands from their places. In other words, if the light of the church is weak, and the overcomers can no longer conquer their weaknesses and sins, they will no longer shine like stars. Their golden lampstands will be completely dark.
We will continue to share more symbols and figurative images in Revelation 2 and 3. I hope that this introduction to symbolic images in the book of Revelation will help you understand the entire book of Revelation so you can see where God is moving today.
 All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.