I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 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,”
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands, One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. (NKJV)
John might have been in exile, but he wasn’t alone. Other than that he was a prisoner, we don’t know anything about his situation on that island, except that it was Sunday and he was “in the Spirit.” I doubt that means what seems to be a lot of what is associated with that in our time; perhaps he was simply musing about the Lord, you can do that in the midst of the most mundane and boring tasks as well as in church. In fact, it makes those tasks much better. Regardless, suddenly he’s aware of a Presence. He’s not alone. He hears a voice.
Sometimes the Lord speaks very quietly. He did that to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11, 12. There had been a violent, stormy wind, an earthquake, and then, lightning, but Scripture tells us that the LORD wasn’t in those things. After all these things, there was a still small voice, or as someone has translated it, “the sound of a gentle quietness”. That seems to be strange, but sometimes after a lot of noise and commotion, silence is all the more noticeable. The Lord sometimes speaks quietly.
John hears a loud voice, as of a trumpet, v. 10. In fact, Scripture often represents the voice of the Lord as noticeable and attention-getting. John himself later describes it as having the sound of many waters, v. 15. Ezekiel 1:24; 43:2 also describe God’s voice like that.
In our culture, at least some folks seem to think God has to speak in a timid, hesitant voice, lest He offend someone. Better yet, He doesn’t speak at all.
But He does speak.
He speaks in the calamities and catastrophes which happen because we’ve told Him to go away. He’s telling us to pay attention to what happens when we defy and deny Him.
One of the advantages of being old is that I can remember a time when it wasn’t like this. People could leave their doors unlocked. Women could walk down the streets at night and be safe. I used to wander around at night – in an area of town which is probably a very high crime area today. No problem. Yes, there was crime, but nothing like we see today. The high school I attended, which was in the “tough” part of town, had a rifle range in the basement, with live ammo. I qualified as a marksman there. Never any hint of trouble. You could buy rifles at the local dime store. Rifle racks in the cabs of pickup trucks were common – complete with rifle(s). The boys all carried pocket knives. No biggie. Now, people are terrified if a person tries to take a nail file onto an airplane. And guns? Why, to some people, they are the greatest evil in our time.
People decided drugs were cool. Love should be “free.” “Free speech” meant filthy speech. We should throw off those old puritanical hang-ups of decency and modesty. We rejoiced in the “new morality,” which was just the old immorality brought up to date.
We decided we knew better than God.
We jumped off the cliff.
We had no idea what we were doing.