Friday, 08 April 2016 19:58

8. Dressed for the occasion * Revelation 1:12-20 , Part 1

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12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.

15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.

16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.

18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.

20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


General Considerations

Here we have the description of the glorified Christ. This is a very similar description of Christ we find in the book of Daniel, but with a few differences. Let's compare this section of Revelation with Daniel 10:5-12, and with a few other Bible texts. Please see the picture with the table of verses.

 

There is a tremendous amount of content in these 8 verses of Revelation. And so we will be studying this section in 3 parts. Part 1 will be Revelation 1:12-13; Part 2 will be verses 14, 15, 16, and 20; and Part 3 will be verses 17-19.

 

PART 1 - Revelation 1:12-13

*** Seven golden lampstands ***: the Greek word used for "lampstands" is lychnias. In the New Testament, we see this word used in reference to the church, meaning the followers of Christ: "You are the light of the world". And lamps are expected to go on lampstands and bring light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; Luke 11:33). The word lychnia is also used in Hebrews 9:1-5, where we read a brief description of the earthly tabernacle, which was first set up in the time of Moses. The lampstand is one of the objects in the first room of the tabernacle. So, let's look in the Old Testament and see what else we can learn about it. The Hebrew word used for "lampstand" is mə·nō·raṯ, or as we say today, menorah. Exodus 25:31-39 has the description of this seven-lamp golden lampstand. It was the priest's job to keep the light in those lamps burning continuously (Exodus 27:20-21). In the vision in Zachariah 4, we also read the description of the seven-lamp golden lampstand, which were the eyes of the Lord "which range throughout the earth". When we studied Revelation 1:4, we saw the seven spirits of the Lord before the throne (just as the golden seven-lamp lampstand), ready to start His work on Earth. Here in Revelation 1:12, Jesus is walking among the seven lamps, which are the seven churches John is writing to (Revelation 1:20). Since the Church is the "light of the world", and since a hidden lamp or an unlit lamp is useless, we can understand that the flames of all the lamps are burning. This is an indication that the work of the Holy Spirit here on Earth, more specifically in the Church, is still going on, and the presence of Christ can be felt among the lampstands. The menorah has one base and seven branches. Here in this section of Revelation, we see seven individual lampstands, which are the churches. We can ask ourselves, where is the base? The base of the churches, or lampstands, is Christ. He is the cornerstone of the church (Ephesians 2:19-21). He is in the scene, walking among His churches. Naturally, we see individual lampstands.

*** Like a son of man ***: this expression is seen in Daniel 7:13-14, when Daniel is talking about his vision of "one like a son of man, coming in the clouds". Jesus frequently referred to himself as "the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:30, 37, 39, 44; Matthew 26:46; Mark 14:21; Mark 14:62; Luke 19:10). Now, it becomes evident that Jesus is the one walking among the lampstands.

*** A robe reaching down to the feet ***: the original Greek text says the one like a son of man "had been clothed" (endedymenon) "to the feet" (podērēs). The Hebrew word for such garments is meil. In the Old Testament we see the "meil" being the garment of the high priest (Exodus 28:31; Exodus 29:5), king Saul (1 Samuel 24:4; 1 Samuel 24:11), prince Johnathan (1 Samuel 18:4), king David, and Levite priests (1 Chronicles 15:27). So here we have Jesus, after His resurrection, wearing a priestly and kingly garment. This description clearly identifies Christ's role in Heaven as King and Priest.

*** Golden sash ***: the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sash as: "a band worn about the waist or over one shoulder and used as a dress accessory or the emblem of an honorary or military order". In Greek the word is zōnēn, and in Hebrew abnet. In the Old Testament we see man of rank (1 Samuel 18:4) and priests (Leviticus 8:7) wearing a sash. Exodus 28:2, 4 says that this garment piece shows that "dignity an honor" is given to the person wearing it. In Isaiah 22:20-23 we read how the Lord will dress Eliakim with a robe and sash, and give him "the key to the house of David". "What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open". This means the Lord would give Eliakim full authority over Jerusalem and Judah as the king's representative. The text says Eliakim will be "like a father" to God's people, and "he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father". In Isaiah 11, we read a messianic prophecy about the descendent of Jesse. Verse 5 explains that "righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about his waist". Both in the vision of Daniel 10 and Revelation 1, Jesus is wearing a golden sash. In the original Hebrew text, Daniel describes it as it being "pure". It is the utmost belt or sash one could possibly wear. Christ's golden sash is above all other man-made sashes ever worn by anyone. We can now understand the meaning of the robe and golden sash in Revelation 1:13 as an indication of Christ's absolute authority over His people.

*** Overview ***: in Leviticus 26:12, we see God's promise to the people of Israel: "I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people". In Revelation 1:13, we see Jesus walking among the the seven lampstands. His promisse still stands, to walk among His people. The church is His kingdom, and He is their God. He is walking among them as "one like the son of man", and so He understands human problems and their suffering. He is one like the son of man, in other words, a human-like figure because He actually came as a human and lived as a human, ministered on Earth, and died for the liberty of humanity. But as we see in this description of Jesus, He resurrected and is no longer the humble carpenter from Nazareth. He is no more the disfigured body covered in blood hanging from the cross that John saw at Calvary. Jesus is glorified - dressed as a pure, righteous, faithful, and all-powerful King and Priest.

   
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