Good morning everyone;
At the start of the book of Revelation, John tells us two things about himself and his situation – these are important to understand as they set the stage for all that follows in the Book of Revelation.
Prior to the 7 visions he receives he makes these two key statements:
1. verse 9 “I was exiled…”
2. verse 10 – “I was in the Spirit”
These are fascinating and apparently contradictory statements. The first speaks of a condition of powerlessness and weakness. Roman authorities in Asia Minor had vanquished him to the prison island of Patmos (verse 9). John (and the churches he oversaw) were seemingly at the mercy of the mighty Roman Empire. This is how things appear to be. But Revelation and the visions of Revelation are about how things really are.
An exile is someone who has lost everything…removed from his land, his people, his resources. An exile is seemingly without power…but John’s description of his situation continues in verse 10. He writes “I was in the Spirit…” Which is literally “I came to be in the Spirit.” He is describing a spiritual condition which is not his normal condition. John is not referring to his spirit – but THE Holy Spirit. He is powerless as an exile, but powerful in the Spirit!
I am convinced – as are many other commentators on this text – that John had been praying and worshiping His Lord – Jesus Christ. Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit “shall glorify [Him] because it is from [Jesus] that He [the Spirit] will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:14). Perhaps John had found a remote place where he could get away in solitude to pray for the churches he pastored. So deep was his devotion and focus on Jesus that he entered the Presence of God by the Holy Spirit.
This condition is available to every believer in Jesus Christ. That state of “being is the Spirit” place is the very same place described in Hebrews 4:10-16 – it is the place of “rest” – the believer’s true Sabbath which has become available to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As John “comes to be in the Spirit” (1:10a) he hears “a loud voice…like a trumpet” (1:10b) – and he is given a series of seven visions.
These visions were not just for him and the seven churches of Asia Minor in the first century – they are also for us. They are visions of “things as they really” are – not as they seem. When we are Christ focused – centered on the Lamb who is “standing” at the Throne of Heaven – we are transported from our powerless exile to the place of prayer and worship.
We can see that we are not at the mercy of the chaos and oppression of the world. We understand that our prayers matter – that the “weapons that we fight with are not merely human” (2 Corinthians 10:4) – John did not have the military resources of the Roman soldiers that kept guard over him on Patmos – he had something far greater – “divine power to destroy strongholds..” (prayer, worship, and obedience to Christ!).
We are not called to wage warfare according to the flesh – with fleshly arguments or military power. political power – or even economic power. John and the early church had none of those! Those weapons are powerless to change people’s hearts and to create God’s peace.
I want to encourage you this morning to use this awesome privilege and power of prayer – prayer “in the Spirit” – prayer from a place of dependence on Christ. Allow the vision of Revelation 4 and 5 – a vision of true power and authority to guide and control you. Worship “the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory!” Revelation 5:12. Jesus is WORTHY – this means that He is more powerful more glorious than all the powers of the cosmos that come against us! Remember Revelation 8 – your prayers are energized by the heavenly incense and fire from the throne of God (see Revelation 8:1-5)!
In God’s time his holy angels will “[throw your prayers down] on the earth” to bring about God’s desired outcome! (Rev. 8:5).
Note: I encourage you to read Revelation 1, 4, 5, and 8:1-5 and take time to enter God’s presence in worship…then, as the Lord leads you, write down the prayers the Holy Spirit gives you!
Blessings to you in the Name that is above every other name!