9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” ~ Revelation 1:9-11
John, the Apostle received Revelation one Sunday morning when he was on the island of Patmos, a tiny island four miles wide and six miles long, just off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea. There, he was remanded to die because of his loyalty to and obedience to the Lord Jesus. He was a prisoner on the island, but his questions are answered when the revelation of the Lord begins.
Now, the theme of the book of the Revelation is the revealing of the exalted Son of God, amid the hardships that John was having to endure. This first vision of the Lord Jesus, along with all the rest of them in Revelation, was a tremendous encouragement to him and the persecuted believers who first received this great book. This vision of the Lord Jesus is not a future vision, it is a present vision.
In v.9 we read, "I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."
Here, John the Apostle identifies himself as our brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. This means John was writing as an eyewitness who was also in the trenches of a battle which is a piece of cake for this God-man whom he lived with for the better part of three years.
The tribulation of which John writes is not in terms of some defined period of time in the future, but, John, along with every other believer in Christ at that time, was undergoing persecution, yet, there is confidence in him because he has seen the exalted Lord Jesus Christ.
This is one of those big keys in life. They say, "Eighty percent of life is how we respond to the twenty percent that happens to us." When we have a hard time being weighed down by the hardness of life, and we are tempted to be defined by it, we can rise above it all after we have received a correct vision of the risen Lord of all. The key is seeking Him, practicing His presence every day, availing our souls to Him!
The kingdom of which John writes is not some future kingdom. No, he is writing in the present tense here. Even though we live in a world that has been turned upside down, the Lord Jesus is still on His throne, and, we will lack that proper understanding until we have decided that we are all in with the Lord Jesus. It took John quite a while to get to this point, but, we should not be surprised by the tremendous faith he is showing here for he has seen the Lord exalted high and lifted up above all.
By the way, we do not arrive at doing this. We will have our up days and we will have our down days. And, even the down days have their purpose in our lives.
The word patience in v.9 speaks of endurance and perseverance in difficult times. John had to go through tremendous persecution before getting to this point and subsequently writing this book. The fires had to burn hot for him to recognize that there was another who was in the fire with him.
In v.10 we read, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet."
Patmos was a barren place, a remote little island. It belongs to a group of about fifty islands in the Mediterranean. It is about ten miles long and about six miles wide. Isolation to such a remote island was a common form of Roman punishment. And if the crime was considered criminal, then he was a part of what we would call a chain gang. So here was ninety year old man, John, having committed in the eyes of Rome a criminal offense, breaking rocks on a rock of a penal colony.
Doomed to a rock of exile, the apostle soared on the wings of prophetic revelation to the very throne of God. Shut out from the world, he traversed the heavenlies, and in these bleak circumstances, John was given the most extensive revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We gain the greatest knowledge of God through our deepest sufferings, if we are served by them rather than being a servant to them.
John wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” John was empowered through the Holy Spirit to an experience that is beyond the normal senses. God supernaturally revealed these things to John on a certain Sunday morning. God's timing is always perfect. Have you ever noticed that some mail requires a signature, to be delivered? And likewise, some blessings or answers to prayer require a “spiritual address” before God will deliver them to us. We must develop the habit of cultivating an ever-increasing fellowship with God, so that we can handle the blessings when they arrive, be they good or bad.
In v.11 we read, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
Twelve times in this book, John is told to write something down. Once he is told not to write something down. He is commanded here to write this down and to send it to the seven churches which were in seven prominent cities in Turkey at that time. Historians tell us that these seven cities were centrally located for the most effective dissemination of information. There are no coincidences with God. If we were to study a map of Asia Minor, we would see that the order of these cities is the route that a messenger would take if he was going to visit all those places. As we go through this book, we are going to see God's great design and we will be convinced of His great sovereign control over the events of our lives, both good and bad. The key is learning to embrace Him through them both.