In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:16–20)

Jesus said that his followers had eternal life and that they would never perish. Then he added, “no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John 10:29-30) At the beginning of the book of Revelation, John described his encounter with a glorified Jesus. In his hand were seven stars that represented the “angels,” that is the pastors of the seven churches in Asia Minor that Jesus’ letters were sent to.

John was in exile on a tiny island in the Mediterranean, suffering there for proclaiming the Good News. Christians throughout the Roman Empire were suffering just as John was, and often far worse. Many were dying for Jesus every day. Jesus words were comforting words, therefore, for John and for the people that John wrote the book of Revelation to. The Roman Empire might have believed itself to be in charge. It might even have looked like they were right. But the one who really was in charge, who really did have the power of life and death was not the Roman government who sent Christians to die in the arena. Instead, the real power belonged to Jesus, the one who had been killed by that Roman government, but who was now alive forever. Jesus had proven with his resurrection that he could undo whatever the Romans might try.

God is the one who is really in charge of our lives and our deaths. It is in his hands that we can relax, comforted in the knowledge that he will rescue us from those who imagine they can control or destroy us.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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