9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account 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 what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”
12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
John tells us who he is. He is our brother. He is our partner in both the tribulation and the kingdom, that is he shares the trials and the triumphs that we all undergo, that is, we undergo these trials and tribulations if we have chosen the path of Christ. John is “in the spirit on the Lord’s day”. I remember Rev Mario commenting on this passage, saying that it was always the Lord’s day if we had the consciousness of Christ. John informs us at the very beginning of his narrative that he is entering into the spiritual worlds, and recounting a vision.
Since the insights of Freud and others, we understand that dreams are not literal, they are symbolic. They are symbolic of inner processes taking place within the psyche. They describe and explain our inner processes, so that when we understand the dream, we accept what is changing within us.
The visions of John have echoed down the centuries. The Book of Revelation has provided more inspiration for artists and illustrators than any other biblical scripture. John’s visions resonate so strongly within us, because they are more than individual, they belong to humanity. In the words of Carl Jung, they are archetypal.
In the first vision, we are introduced to two of these archetypes: the number seven, and the I AM.
In the previous passage we met the “seven spirits before the throne”. These are the seven creative powers of the divinity. Through the seven powers, the divine forces enter into our psyche and into our lives. Now we meet the seven powers as the seven churches. The seven powers manifest in the human being through the seven spiritual centres. John calls these the seven churches of Asia.
The I AM stands in the midst of seven golden lampstands. These are the spiritual template for our spiritual centres. The I AM needs to work through the spiritual centres, but work will need to be done on each of them first.
One of the oldest rules of clairvoyance is that we first meet self. Before John can come to an understanding of the great mysteries of transformation which Christ brings upon us, we need to look deeply into self and discover there our old wounds and traumas, debilitating memories, and our motives and desires. If we hear the voice of the I AM, we will begin this investigation. Spiritual change never begins with a manifesto, it always begins with questions.
We enter the world of illuminated manuscripts. This early picture doesn’t try to portray the Son of Man in literal detail. His hair is not white, his feet are not “burnished bronze” and his eyes are not emitting flames. The unknown artist has instead focused on the sword, the sun and the stars. The artist is also making a subtle point: There are likenesses between John, the visionary, and his vision. Both are given halos, and they share the same colour hair, even the features are similar.
Perhaps the artist knew that the Son of Man was John, the perfected John. We each have a version of the perfect Self within us. Like John’s perfected self, our inner Son of Man is directing us, teaching us and inspiring us to move forward.
We don’t perceive our inner Son of Man, because the intellect builds walls against inner perception. Let us this day, dare to look into the eyes of our inner reality, let the walls between us melt away, let us gaze into the eyes of Christ within us, the hope of glory.
Our intellect has built its walls and we cannot penetrate outside those walls. We cannot get out and the presence of the Lord cannot get in. Unless these walls are flattened we can never know what it is within us that motivates us, which we call our beingness or what I would like to call my true self.
Let it be said, and let it be said time and time again, that neither you nor I would like to look straight into the eyes of our true self. For as soon as we look into the eyes of the true self we have to melt.
Rev Mario Schoenmaker, Address, 1st May 1976