John now shares with us what he saw (v12) – the voice I saw!
That sounds immediately strange and so it is!
You don’t see a voice, but there is a significance attached to this, as we will see.
John is “in the Spirit” (v10) – there are many times in the scriptures when unusual things are seen and heard, and at times few hear and see:
Paul on the road to Damascus
Paul in the third heaven
John in Revelation
That vision only comes because:
They listen when others only hear
They perceive when others only see
John hears a “great voice as of a trumpet”
That small detail ties this event into a whole series of significant events in the OT scriptures.
The trumpet is so often in scripture an alarm:
To warn – Exodus 19; Neh 4; Jer 6; Ezek 33
To war – Judges 7; Josh 6; Jer 4; Jer 42; Ezek 7
To worship – Exodus 19; 20
To warning – Exodus 19; Neh 4; Jer 6; Ezek 33
The first time we hear the trumpet sound is back in Exodus chapter 19 at Mount Sinai; where the new nation of Israel received her first and foundational revelation from God; the only one written by the hand of God:
Here in Exodus 20; Deut 9:10
In the days of Belshazzer (Dan 5)
In John 8:6 with the woman caught in the act of adultery!
In Exodus chp 19 + 20; the trumpet announces a revelation from the presence of God in the midst of a Kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6).
Why would we hear such a trumpet here in Revelation chapter 1? For exactly the same reason!
Here in Revelation chp 1 we have not only the:
Son of man
Son of Mary
Son of Abraham
Son of David
Son of Joseph so called
Son of the Blessed
Son of the Highest
But we have also the eternal Son of God – the God of Sinai and so the trumpet sounds!
At Sinai there was at least one great distinction as the trumpet sounded in the midst of a Kingdom of priests – that Kingdom of priests was expressly prohibited from looking on; “lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze and many of them perish” (Ex 19:21).
Here we see ‘the voice I saw’
You will find also that the trumpet sounds at the end of the OT, in a series of final references in the minor prophets; announcing not:
Presence of God
Revelation of God
Day of the Lord
And the conclusion of all things is anticipated; Joel 2:1; Zeph 1:14ff; Zech 9:14ff
The trumpet is also presented by God to be sounded on the day of Jubilee in acknowledgement that the earth and the rules governing this earth are the Lords and not mans (Lev 25:23) and that both man and the land enter into a Sabbath of rest; perhaps that too may be relevant here as ultimately this book will conclude with an eternal rest.
The content of that voice:
“Alpha and omega the first and the last”
Cf verse 8:
“I AM alpha and omega the beginning and the ending”
The title “I AM” is of significance
V8 – beginning “arche”
V8 – ending “telos” – an end, termination, a completion
V11 – first – ‘protos’
V11 – last – ‘eschatos’
As the first and the last we glimpse the character / the nature of Christ; at the dawn of time and at the conclusion of time He was and shall be there, as such, as a consequence of such, as preceding all and succeeding all He gives rise to and concludes all.
He is the cause and conclusion of all!
The book of Revelation then whilst it is the Revelation from Christ grammatically (1:1) is also the Revelation concerning Christ thematically (1:8).
This book which deals with the conclusion of all things brought into being by Christ as the cause is dependent upon Him for its conclusion! All is directed from His throne!
Interestingly the bulk of Revelation is book ended by 2 great thrones:
The Sapphire throne of Revelation chp 4 + 5
The Great White throne of Revelation chp 19 + 20
The Throne that governs, instructs, ordains, determines
The Throne that judges, concludes and completes all things
Between these 2 great thrones lies the bulk of the book of Revelation and the entirety of human history!
What is especially of interest to us is the identity of the one who sits upon that throne :
Alpha and Omega (Rev 21:6)
That is it is Christ – He is the beginning and the end of all things.
When John turns to see the voice, first he sees the 7 lampstands! Where else would we expect to find Christ but in the midst of His people? Where would people find the voice of Christ today in this dark world??
The first glimpse of Christ in this book is very interesting (v13) – a garment down to the foot and a girdle about the chest.
The girdle is associated with the priestly office and the prophetic office (eg Elijah and John the Baptist)
The garment down to the feet is the same Greek word used for the priestly garment in the LXX .
Righteousness is the girdle of His loins (Isa 11:5)
His Appearance is that of the Priest
His Attributes are that of the King (1:13, 18; 3:7; 1:16; 19:15-16)
His Activities are that of the prophet in chapters 2 to 3
All together He is the God of heaven (Dan 7:9; Rev 1:14)