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Displaying items by tag: seven Spirits of God

6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

*** The Lamb who was slain ***: John first heard about the arrival of the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). But when he turned around to look, he saw something different. He didn’t see a Lion. John saw a lamb. The words of John the Baptist about Jesus easily come to mind: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). The word “Lamb” used in Greek is arnion, which means “little lamb”. In the New Testament, this word is also used in John 21:15, when Jesus asked Peter for the first time if he loved Him. After Peter answered, Jesus told him to feed His little lambs [arnia]. In the Old Testament, we see a passage that refers to a young lamb. When God was about to take the Israelites out of Egypt, He told them specific instructions about their last meal before the trip. They were supposed to take a 1-year old blameless lamb, care for it at home for a few days, and then kill it and eat it (Exodus 12:5-6). The time they had to spend with the little lamb, feeding it, caring for it, playing with it, created a bond that made its sacrificing a lot more meaningful. It meant a lot more because time spent together made it feel like the lamb was part of the family. For them, that little 1-year old lamb was now very special. The time Jesus spent on Earth, living among human beings, allowed His followers to understand that Christ wants to have a personal relationship with them. And so, the Lamb John describes in Revelation 5:6 is also special, and it has 3 characteristics that makes it different from any other lamb in the Universe:

It had been slain: As we read in chapter 5, the Lion and the Lamb refer to the same individual: Jesus. The fact that Jesus was seen as Lamb is perhaps the most important aspect about His arrival. Revelation 5:5 says that Jesus had prevailed, and that is why He was able to open the scroll. Jesus was the necessary sacrifice in order to win the battle over sin once and for all. This is the reason why God the Father was not able to open the scroll. Jesus was the One who had laid down His life for humanity (Isaiah 53:4-12). This is not to say that there was no sacrifice on the part of the Father, or the Holy Spirit. To use the words of Daniel 9:26, Jesus was ‘cut off’ the living Trinity, ripped apart from the Divine unity. Suffering was shared in equal measure among all three. The first part of John 3:16 reveals a Father who deeply feels the separation experienced at the Cross: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son […]”. God loved the people in the world in such an extreme way, that He gave His Son to them. But God also greatly loved His Son, whom He gave to the world. Through the death of Christ, God was reunited with His earthly children, but separated from His only begotten Son. Through Christ’s resurrection, God could once again have a complete family. And so, we can see the power of the second part of John 3:16: “[…] that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Seven horns: Throughout the Old Testament, we see the word ‘horn’ being used to represent power and strength (Numbers 23:22; Deuteronomy 33:17;  1 Samuel 2:1;  1 Samuel 2:10;  1 Kings 22:11). 2 Samuel 22:2-4 says: “And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from my enemies.” It is no surprise that the concept of a horn was used both in Daniel and Revelation as a symbol for powerful systems arising on Earth (Daniel 7:7-8,20; Daniel 8:3-9,20-22; Revelation 13:1,11). In the scene John describes in chapter 5 of Revelation, the Lamb has seven horns. As we’ve studied before in lesson #11, seven represents divine fullness and perfection. As a slain Lamb, Jesus arrived in heaven with complete power as Savior and Judge.

Seven eyes: Verse 6 specifically says that “the seven eyes are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Back in lesson #5, we saw that the seven Spirits of God is the Holy Spirit. We can understand this scene a little better when we read Isaiah 11:1-5: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the belt of his loins, and faithfulness the belt of his waist.” Revelation 5:6 depicts the Holy Spirit, in all his fullness, resting on the Lamb. The end of the verse 6 tells us where God is sending Him to Earth after the arrival of the Lamb in Heaven. The Holy Spirit is being sent down to fulfill Jesus’ promise to His disciples. Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit, to teach His people all they needed to know about Christ and and His salvation plan (John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-15). Right after Jesus’ arrival, God sent the Holy Spirit to all the Earth. Jesus had to be glorified first, In order for God to send the Holy Spirit to His people (John 7:39). During the Pentecost, which was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Christ’s followers, Peter said this about Jesus in his sermon: “Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured forth this, which you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33).

*** Overview ***: Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, had arrived in Heaven to take His place at the right side of God. He had just arrived from Earth, where He had laid down His life in order to reestablish the connection between God and His children. His ultimate sacrifice gave Him the right to open the sealed book, and full authority and power to rule as the King of the Universe. The Holy Spirit was resting on Jesus, right before being sent to all the Earth. It all happened just as Jesus had promised His disciples, and just as it was described by the prophet Isaiah. The arrival of the Lamb triggered the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Earth, and we can read about it in Acts 2. Christ had accomplished His mission on Earth, and now it was the Holy Spirit’s turn to directly interact with the people. The plan of Salvation involves all the individuals of the Trinity, not just Christ. All of them have a specific role. The promise Jesus made to His disciples is still true for us today. The fact that we have the Holy Spirit here, shows us clearly that Jesus is alive, and sitting next to the Father in Heaven. Everything is under God’s control.

Saturday, 19 March 2016 16:46

5. Workers in a foreign land * Revelation 1:4-6

4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,

5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,

6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

*** To the seven churches in the province of Asia ***: These churches were located in the Roman province of Asia. Today, this region is part of Turkey.

*** Grace and peace ***: We see this form of greeting in Peter and Paul's letters (Romans 1:7;  1 Corinthians 1:3;  2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3;  1 Peter 1:2;  2 Peter 1:2). 'Grace' is the common Greek greeting word charis. 'Peace' is the common Hebrew greeting shalom, and here in the original Greek text the word used is eirēnē. For early Christians, this is a meaningful form of greeting, always stated in this order. First grace, then peace. As they say "hello" they recognize the blessing of Jesus' grace, and the following blessing of peace that comes after receiving His grace. It is clear that this grace and peace come from the Trinity, in equal measure: "from him who is, and who was, and who is to come", "from the seven spirits before the throne", "and from Jesus Christ".

*** From him who is, and who was, and who is to come ***: As we can read, the grace and peace come from the Trinity. The first person in this sentence is God the Father. Revelation 4 starts by describing a scene in the throne room, and God the Father is sitting on His throne. Jesus has not arrived in that room yet. In verse 8 we see the four living creatures around the throne crying "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." God the Father revealed His name to Moses in Exodus 3:13-17: "I am who I am". The verses in Exodus also mention the part where He WAS also the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was the God who made a covenant with those men, for generations to follow. So the people could rest assured that I AM WHO I AM, the one WHO WAS the God of the forefathers, would also be the one WHO WOULD COME and deliver them from their "misery in Egypt". God's name was still relevant in the time of John, and it is still relevant today. God is in charge of the plan that can set humanity free once and for all. And this is the message of freedom He is giving to Jesus, and that John needs to pass along to the churches.

*** From the seven spirits before his throne ***: the second person in the sentence is the Holy Spirit. We read that the Holy Spirit is present before the throne of God. Going back to the Greek version of the Old Testament (Septuagint), in Isaiah 11, we read about what happens when the Holy Spirit rests on Christ. But before we read about what happens, we have a seven-fold description of the Holy Spirit: Spirit of wisdom, of understanding, of counsel, of might, of knowledge, of godliness, and of fear of God. Zachariah 4 talks about 7 lamps which were the eyes of the Lord "which range throughout the earth". In Revelation 4:5, we see the seven Spirits of God portrayed as seven torches of fire burning before the throne of God. In Revelation 5:6, we see Him portrayed as seven eyes sent out to all the earth. When we look at all these texts, we can paint the scene: the Holy Spirit, in His fullness, standing in front of the throne of God, ready to go down to Earth and start His activities.

*** From Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth ***: now we have the third source of grace and peace. This section is a very clear reference to Jesus. In John 18:36-37, we read the conversation Jesus had with Pilate, where Jesus mentions the three titles stated in this Revelation text: He came to "testify to the truth", and that was the reason He "was born", and that He has a "kingdom". These three titles are terms from Psalm 89:27 and 37, used to describe David's descendent, God's "first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth", who will be established on the throne as "the faithful witness in heaven". The word translated as witness is the word martus. This word also came to mean "martyr", as in the one who witness unto death. We then have here, Jesus Christ, the one who witnessed the truth unto death, the Son of God who was raised from the dead, and by doing so became the sole and supreme ruler of this Earth.

*** To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood ***: Christ loves us in a continuous way. The act of freeing humanity has already been completed with His death at the cross.

*** And has made us to be a kingdom and priests ***: in Exodus 19:5-6, we read that God's chosen people would be for Him "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation". In 1 Peter 2:9 we read that God's chosen people are a royal priesthood and a holy nation. By His blood, Christ promoted His followers to the status of kingdom and priests. Christians are made "citizens of God's household" (Ephesians 2:19). Earth is no longer their home (Philippians 3:20), they belong to Heaven. The acceptance of Christ's teachings and Him as our personal savior is the documentation necessary to become a citizen of Heaven. Citizenship starts at the moment of this acceptance. Even though Christians today still live in a foreign land, the land of the citizens of this Earth, they already possess all the rights and duties of one who is a citizen of heaven. The text is clear in stating what is our duty, our job: Jesus made us priests. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul clarifies this job a bit more. The job of a representative in a foreign land: "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled with God." As priests, we are to appeal to others to be reconciled with God, in the name of Jesus Christ. In other words, we are to preach the message. Now let us look further into this priesthood job, and learn how exactly we get started. Exodus 29 has all the step by step details given by God, and Leviticus 8 tells the story of when the consecration of Aaron and his sons took place. We know Aaron was the high priest, and his sons were priests. In our case, Jesus is the High Priest (Hebrews 8:1), and we are made priests.

- Becoming a priest: let's see how the sons of Aaron became priests and let's draw a parallel to our reality today:

Sons of Aaron

Us Today

Aaron's sons acknowledged the sacrifice that was ready to be offered - Exodus 29:1-3

We acknowledge the teachings of Jesus and His sacrifice - Gospels

The sons of Aaron were publicly washed by water - Exodus 29:4

We are baptized with water - Acts 8:36

They were then dressed in priestly tunics

- Exodus 29:8

God dresses us with His garments of salvation and robe of righteousness - Isaiah 61:10

They were ordained by the sacrifice offered

- Exodus 29:9-34

Christ's death ordained us and made us priests

- Revelation 1:5-6

In Exodus 29:44-45 we read that after Aaron and his sons had been ordained, God consecrated them as priests, and told them He would then come and live with the Israelites and be their God.

*** To him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen ***: The glory and power belongs to the one who is the faithful witness, ruler of kings, firstborn of the dead, loves us, and freed us from sin. It belongs to Jesus Christ.

*** Overview ***: John is writing to the Cristians of Asia, and he describes the Trinity individually in the fullness of their existence in relation to humans and the Trinity's divine activities. God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son equally greet and bless the churches with grace and peace. Jesus's sacrifice gave us the gift of belonging to heaven. There is nothing we can DO to receive it. We just need to truly accept it. And BECAUSE we received this gift, we are called to DO the work of priests. Doing the work does not turn us into citizens of heaven. Doing the work help us spread the message so others can have the opportunity to also choose Christ, and become citizens as well. John emphasizes the transformational powers Jesus' love: His death gave us freedom from sin, gave us heavenly citizenship, and made us priests. And that is why Jesus deserves eternal glory and power.

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