After declaring His victory over death and that He has taken away all of Satan’s power, the Lord gives John His outline, not just for the Book of Revelation, but for the ages. We serve a Savior Who does not just know the future. He declares it, and no one can stop Him from fulfilling His agenda!
(19) Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
(20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
“The things which thou hast seen” covers everything John has relayed to us thus far. “The things which are” is a reference to the letters Jesus was about to have John write to the seven churches. “The things which shall be hereafter” refers to the prophetic visions that John was soon to receive. All of what John received was both glorious and disturbing, but John was faithful in delivering the entire message as must we be. It is not pleasant to tell people that they are sinners but had someone never told me that I was a sinner, I would have never seen my need of a Savior. It is not pleasant to read in Revelation that God in His wrath will end the world, but that news is just as urgent and needful as the message that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16a).
In verse 20 Jesus plainly explains to John the vision that he saw: The seven stars are the seven angels (messengers, pastors) and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches. Such plain speech characterizes the rest of the book. John will see incredible things and the angel John speaks to will explain them as clearly and as plainly as John is able to understand them. Will everything John tells us be fully understandable to us today? Probably not. Many of the things in this book are yet future to us, so some of the details don’t fully make sense to us – yet. But the Lord is telling us all that we need to know. The book is truly a revelation.