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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

Today, we are going to talk about Jesus! The camera of Revelation will zoom in on Jesus and will show us a lot of things about Him. Revelation is a very visual book, and Jesus’ description of verses 12 to 20 is actually quite shocking. But you will see that what seems to be a description of what He looks like on the outside, is actually a description of His character, of His love, and of His purpose.
 
In the next verses, we will explore the scene that presents the glorified Jesus. We will see that Jesus is near seven lampstands and that He has seven stars in His hand. These elements here in this scene are symbols, and they have a very beautiful meaning.
 
We have a lot of content here on these 8 verses. So we will divide this study about Jesus into 3 parts.
 
- Part 1: Revelation 1:12-13 - Jesus’ outfit and the seven lampstands.
- Part 2: Revelation 1:14, 15, 16, and 20 - Jesus' appearance and the seven stars in His hand.
- Part 3: Revelation 1:17 to 19 - why Jesus told John that he didn’t need to be afraid, and also why Jesus has the keys of death and Hades.
 
Just so we can understand the context of verses 12 and 13, let’s take a quick look at the whole scene. Here we have a description of the glorified Christ. This is a description of Jesus that is very similar to what we see in the book of Daniel, with just a few minor differences. Let’s compare this section of Revelation 1:12-18 with Daniel 10:5-12, Ezekiel 1:26-28, Matthew 17:2-6, and Daniel 10:5-12.
 
The description in Daniel is the one that has all the elements mentioned here in Revelation. But even the descriptions in Ezekiel and Matthew are very equivalent, even though they don’t include all the details. But all these verses mention Jesus’ divine outward appearance, using almost the exact same words; and also the similar reaction the men had when they saw Jesus looking like this. We see also in these books, how compassionate Jesus was towards these men and how He comforted them so quickly.

 

Ezekiel 1:26-28 Matthew 17:2-6 Daniel 10:5-12 Revelation 1:12-18
A figure with the appearance of a man Jesus A certain man One like son of man
  Garments white as light Clothed in linen Dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet
    Girded with a belt of pure gold Golden sash around His chest
From loins up, appearance of glowing metal that looked like fire   His eyes like torches of fire His eyes like blazing fire
From loins down, appearance of fire   His feet like polished bronze His feet like burnished bronze, glowing in a furnace
    Voice like roaring multitude Voice like the sound of many waters
  Face shining like the sun Face like lightening Face shining like the sun
Fell on his face Terrified, fell face down to the ground No strength, face to the ground Falls at His feet as if dead
   Hand touches the disciples  Hand touches Daniel  Hand touches John
Heard a voice "Do not be afraid" "Do not be afraid"  "Do not be afraid"

 

 

 

PART 1 - Revelation 1:12-13

*** Background ***: Let's begin by remembering that in verse 11, John was in a vision from God and that he had heard a voice like a trumpet telling him to write the message in a book and to send it to seven churches in Asia. So John first heard this trumpet voice. Then here, on verse 12, John tells us that he turned around to see who was this voice talking to him but before he sees who was talking, he first sees seven lampstands. So let’s now explore this expression: seven lampstands.
 
*** 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” (Matthew 5:14). We normally expect lamps to go on lampstands so they can bring light to everyone in the house (Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; and Luke 11:33). The word lychnia is also used in Hebrews 9:1-5, where we read a brief description of the tabernacle here on earth, 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, on study #5, we saw the seven spirits of the Lord before the throne (just as we see here this golden lampstand), and the Spirit was ready to start His work on Earth. Here in Revelation 1:12, Jesus is walking among the seven lamps, and we see a little bit later, on verse 20, that these seven lampstands 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 something useless, we can understand that the flames of all the lamps here in this scene 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 still 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). Jesus is in the scene, walking among His churches. Naturally, we are seeing here individual lampstands.
 
*** Like a son of man ***: John described who he saw when he turned around to see who was talking to him with the trumpet voice. And John described the person as being ”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 ***: John then noticed what Jesus was wearing, and He was wearing 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 this type of garment that goes all the way to the feet is meil. In the Old Testament, we see the "meil" being the garment of the high priest (Exodus 28:31; Exodus 29:5), of King Saul (1 Samuel 24:4; 24:11), of prince Johnathan (1 Samuel 18:4), and of King David, and Levite priests (1 Chronicles 15:27). Did you notice in this list of people who used to wear this meil, what they all had in common? They were either part of the royal family, or they were priests. So here we see Jesus, after His resurrection, wearing a priestly and kingly garment. This description clearly identifies Christ's role in Heaven as King and Priest. This little detail about Jesus’ outfit seems very insignificant when we first read this verse. But there are no extra words in the book of Revelation. There is nothing in it that doesn’t have an important meaning.
 
*** Golden sash ***: Jesus was wearing an accessory. He was wearing a 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". We notice here that the sash gives the scene a military tone. In Greek the word for sash is zōnēn, and in Hebrew the word is 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 and honor" or ”glory and beauty” is given to the person wearing it. In Isaiah 22:20-23 we read how the Lord will dress Eliakim in 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 prophecy about Jesus talking 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 seven lampstands. His promise to walk among His people still stands. 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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