Listen to Your Master’s Voice
[Editor’s Note: David Bryant’s recent blog post gave a fresh look at the ascended Christ through the eyes of John in Revelation 1. Then he shared a personal experience of a time when over a million men encountered God’s Son in a similar way as John during a period of silence on the National Mall in DC. This week his blog post takes us further into the exciting ramifications of hearing the Master speak to those who wait and listen.]
Grasping for images to describe what he could not believe he was seeing that extraordinary day on Patmos island, John reported:
He was dressed in a long robe with a gold strip of cloth around his chest.
The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow.
His eyes were like a blazing fire.
His feet were like bronze metal glowing in a furnace.
His voice sounded like rushing waters…
His face was like the sun shining in all its brightness.
Put Yourself in John’s Sandals
What if at that moment you had stood there instead of John? What would have been your reaction if you had experienced John’s mind-blowing engagement with the King?
What facet of John’s descriptions of him might have struck you first?
Or perhaps struck you down?
Would it have been Jesus’ face, lucent like the blazing sun?
Would it have been his eyes, searing with flames of fire?
What about his voice?
Yes, his voice. Remember what John notes:
His voice sounded like rushing waters.
One English version translates the Greek phrase for “rushing waters” as a sound like powerful “cataracts” (The Message); another calls it a voice that “thundered like mighty ocean waves” (New Living Translation).
Personally, I think the Good News Bible translates the concept best by suggesting that to John’s ears Jesus’ words resounded like a “roaring waterfall.”
Roaring? Jesus’ voice resembles roaring?
Wait a minute. Let’s take a look at this.
The Lamb of God Roared? Really?
Are we talking about the Jesus so often characterized to children as meek and mild?
Are we referring to the historic Jesus who lived incognito, in quiet rural obscurity during his first thirty years?
Is this the same Jesus who humbled himself so fully he refused to debate his detractors? The Jesus about whose trial Isaiah prophesied: “As a sheep before its shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth”? The Jesus who surrendered, without protest, to the asphyxiation of crucifixion? The Lamb of God who bears the sin of the world?
Does John mean to suggest this reputedly temperate teacher now possesses a voice that . . . roars? A voice he’s not hesitant to project at full volume?
It appears so.
Some have likened Jesus’ delivery to that of a lion. Actually, a lion is how he portrays himself in Revelation 5.
But in this case, the image is even more sensational than that. Here, his voice imposes itself on his devoted hearer with rumbling reverberations reminiscent of a colossal waterfall . . . in other words, like Niagara Falls!
Perhaps this sonic metaphor supplies us with a valuable hint about the depths of the revelation John received that day during his rather wrenching reintroduction to his Redeemer.
Maybe John is providing believers everywhere an invaluable audible testimony about the true nature of the monumental personage whom we worship and adore, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In other words, maybe John is enabling us to see Jesus more clearly by inviting us to hear Jesus more carefully—by focusing us on the mouth of His Royal Highness, so as not to miss one word he utters.
Words Matter Considering the Source
Jesus’ words. Ferociously final, bursting from lips full of virtue and vitality and victory.
Words, to flood the nations with abounding hope. Words, to amplify for all earth’s peoples the Father’s gracious invitation to us to forsake the domains of darkness and enter freely into the kingdom of his dear Son.
Words that are the very voice of Jehovah himself as hymned in Psalm 29 (emphasis added):
. . . worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic . . .
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
. . . the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
Only now that voice is fulfilled in Christ whose proclamations continuously animate and energize all of creation.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory . . .
sustaining all things by his powerful word . . .
at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
(Hebrews 1, emphasis added)
Listen to Your Master’s Voice
Listen to the voice that brought Lazarus out of the tomb simply by speaking three little words: “Lazarus, come forth!” Suddenly, as before a flood, death was swept aside (John 11).
Listen to the voice that one day will summon all the dead of all the ages to stand accountable before him at the Final Judgment (Revelation 20). Remember how Jesus declared in John 5 (emphasis added):
A time is coming and has now come
when the dead will hear
the voice of the Son of God
and those who hear will live.
Listen to the voice of our mesmerizing Master of Ceremonies, who invites his redeemed people to rally around him every time he calls out to them. As he claims in John 10 (emphasis added):
My sheep listen to my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life,
and they shall never perish.
Listen to the voice of our matchless Minister of Communications, whose every utterance requires the saints to give him undistracted attention, just as the Father commanded us in Matthew 17 (emphasis added):
This is my beloved Son . . .
Listen to him!
Our mandate is clear—keep listening to the dictates of the One of whom it can be said, even at this very moment:
His eyes are a blaze of fire,
on his head many crowns . . .
he is addressed as “Word of God.”
The armies of Heaven . . . follow him.
(Revelation 19, The Message, emphasis added)
Eyes to the Ground, Ears to the Heavens
Fundamentally, the summons in Revelation 1 that planted John at Jesus’ feet, face down in the dust of Patmos, bids all believers to draw near to their King in awe—with ears wide open, with hearts expectant, primed to hear from the Sovereign who has been anointed exclusively to speak God’s everlasting power and promises into our everlasting lives.
Our Lord Jesus has predestined us to be saturated unrelentingly with his joyous decrees as Alpha and Omega. By uniting us to himself he has positioned us perfectly to become drenched by the truths of his inexhaustible outpourings of grace, for all ages to come.
He has destined us to sit and soak in his presence forever—he whose voice is Heaven’s wholly holy “thundering waterfall.”
Soaking in his every decree—this is precisely what Hebrews 12 exhorts God’s people to do.
You have come to Jesus . . .
Be sure that you don’t say no to the one who speaks.
People did not escape when they said no
to the one who warned them on earth . . .
At that time his voice shook the earth.
But now he has promised,
“Once more I will shake the earth.
I will also shake the heavens” . . .
Then what can’t be shaken will remain.
We are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken.
So let us be thankful.
(NIRV, emphasis added)
We must never cease listening to our Master’s voice, trembling at every word.
Because he’s got lots to say and he has every right to say it.
And every time he speaks nothing stays the same.
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.