The Revelation of John- A Vision From Prison

Wine Tasting at Orchid, California on the road back from Santa Barbara
Wine Tasting at Orchid, California on the road back from Santa Barbara

The Book of the Revelation of John has left many people scratching their heads wondering what John was smoking when he received his Revelation from God. I actually think his Revelation is pretty straight forward. John is in prison on the Island of Patmos. He is in prison for his faith in Jesus Christ. John has not killed anyone or robbed a bank. He is not in prison for adultery. John’s crime is that he preached that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. His target audience is seven churches in Asia. His theme throughout the Book of Revelation is that God and the people of God will ultimately be victorious in the struggle with oppression from Rome. While Rome is not mentioned by name, its hand print is alluded to from the beginning to the end of the Revelation.

The part of the Revelation of John I would like to look at today is in the very beginning, the first chapter where John identifies where he is when he writes the Revelation. It is a Sunday and he is in the Spirit. He may be a long way from church, but the church is definitely in him. We do not know if John is being forced to bust up rocks or given a cushy set of tasks or if his legs are in chains, but three things are clear: John is in prison, the day is Sunday, and John is still in the Spirit, even though he cannot attend church.

The Bride and Groom, Ima and Christian with Nathan and Shara
The Bride and Groom, Ima and Christian with Nathan and Shara

I have been thinking about the following passage of scripture all weekend. Denise and I drove to Santa Barbara on Thursday to help them celebrate the wedding of two of their friends. The drive down the California Pacific Coast was long, but beautiful. We stopped along the way at Pismo Beach to put our feet in the water, and then kept on driving. The wedding was Friday. After the wedding we joined the bride and her groom with family and friends for an intimate dinner at a local restaurant. We were just getting to know the bride and now her groom. Because I did not know anyone in the wedding party and wanted to make

The Wedding Cake
The Wedding Cake

the time useful, I started to practice with the flash and natural light settings on my camera. In two weeks I will be leading a church sponsored trip to Greece and Rome and I recently had my camera adjusted so I figured this was just as good a time as any to test the flash settings. I was asked to pray an invocation over the meal, and then DSC_0787I fired away, taking photos of the cake, the bride and groom cutting the cake, and family sharing the joyous moment.   The wedding was intimate and did not have anyone assigned to take photos of the reception, so I thought to myself, “Maybe this is what the Lord would have me to do?”

All through the meal and yesterday, which was Saturday, I kept thinking about church in Detroit.

I began to think about creating a fall set of programs to enhance our ministry to single persons and programs to strengthen marriages. My mind then danced to the tune of youth and adult Sunday School.

Bride, Groom and Family
Bride, Groom and Family

I live on a “Preachers Clock.” What I mean by that is that all week long I am thinking about what I am going to preach. The “Clock” ticks all week long and on Saturdays it starts to climb and reaches a climax on Sunday morning. Yesterday, even though we were on a beach in Santa Barbara, California, the “Clock” was “Ticking” and I was thinking about what I would preach if I were in church this week. I smiled as my mind raced to the Island of Patmos and the Apostle John.   Like John, I was a long way from home and I would not physically be in church on Sunday: but “Church” is in me! A little later this morning Denise and I along with Nathan and Sharla and Meleah will be worshiping at the First Congregational Church of Berkley, California, where they are members. Its not the same as our church in Detroit. I will not be playing the harmonica, but we will sing the songs of Zion, we will pray communal and private prayers and someone will preach the Word of God. Like John on the prison Island of Patmos I am in the Spirit, but a long way from home.

Revelation 1: I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” [1]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What do you think is the primary message of John in the Book of Revelation?
  2. Are there any aspects of the imprisonment of John on the Isle of Patmos that you can relate to?

 

Prayer:

Lord, keep me in your Spirit! No matter where I am, help me to remember you. Teach me to pray in the Spirit, dream in the Spirit, feel in the Spirit and love in the Spirit. Regardless if I am in the money or down to my last dime, help me to rejoice in prayer and in song. Even when my body is a long way from home and a long way from church fill me with the Spirit of church. Lord, should my body be chained and my movement contained, remind me to sing and shout and lift praises to you Holy name. Free my mind and liberate my soul. Grant me visions of peace, salvation, justice and love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Book cover
Book cover

Additional Prayers Photos and Meditations from Nicholas Hood III at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/

More about Nicholas Hood III ministries at www.nicholashoodiiiministries.org

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Re 1:9–11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.