We saw that the book of Revelation may be viewed as a postcard from Patmos. The apostle John was on a Mediterranean island and really wanted to write home. The people that he loved in the churches that he cared for had seen him arrested and dragged out of town. They had heard nothing of him or from him. He could have been dead; he could have been anywhere. So John got a message to them. He sent them a letter and we get to read his mail.

What would you write in those circumstances? God gave him clear directions about what to write, but in the message that was sent we see both God's heart and John's heart for confused and troubled people all in one letter.

This letter contains words of encouragement for people whose world was turned upside-down by an outbreak of dreadful persecution in which they lost many loved ones, and knew that their own lives were hanging by a thread. Weaved into the revelations that John posted was the message he wanted them to hear:

Don't worry! I'm fine!

Fortunately he did not have to put his message in a bottle and wait for it to be washed up on some unknown shore. The Roman postal system efficiently delivered the message to the seven churches on his distribution list. They must have been ecstatic when the news that he was alive and well was read aloud in their Sunday gathering.

In what we know as the first chapter of his letter he gave them at least two reasons for confidence that all was well. He described a vision of Jesus in which the Lord held seven stars in his hand - and then went on to say that those stars were the angels of the seven churches. The messengers, the leaders, and in particular the preaching elders. Men like John who were the first target when persecution erupted, as they always have been. And in the picture John is able to see and say that he was more secure than it had seemed to them. They last saw him being man-handled by soldiers; but in reality he in the palm of Jesus' hand, not in the fist of the Romans. He was one of those "stars". And so he could say,

Don't worry! I'm fine 

He also highlighted another thing in those powerful hands of the heavenly Man. He held the keys. John probably heard the rattling of large bunches of keys on a regular basis as his guards patrolled the Mediterranean equivalent of Alcatraz. Every time he heard a key in the lock he must have wondered if this was to be the end. But now he saw: none of these soldiers had access to the key that unlocked the doorway from life in a body to life in eternity. "Don't worry! I'm fine. I know who holds the keys".

And he hopes that we will make the inference: if he is fine where he is, we are fine where we are. Whatever our personal Patmos; whatever our danger, our pain, our confusion or our disappointment. If we are his servants, we are in his hands. We are in the hands of him who holds the keys. We are much more secure than it seems.

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