KEY TEXT: Revelation 1:12-16 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
KEY THOT: When John turned to see where the voice came from, he saw a frightening vision of the Exalted Christ that is more symbolic than literal, each feature representing a particular divine attribute relevant to His message to the seven churches. Jesus was "like a son of man" standing among seven golden lampstands. The seven lampstands were interpreted in verse 20 as "the seven churches" (1:20). This tells us that Christ is very much involved in the life of the church, as He has promised in Matthew 18:20 that "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." This is not just a doctrine but a reality.
This Christ that now stands in our midst as a church is clothed with a long robe with a golden sash around his chest. This is a priestly garment which suggests Jesus' role as the eternal High Priest before God, making intercession for us. The white robe suggests righteousness and the golden sash may suggest royalty. So, Jesus is our righteous and royal High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek: "We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:19-20).
What John describes next about Christ was quite similar to Daniel's vision of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:9, "As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.
John describes Christ in similar words: "The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters" (v.14-15). The "son of man" that Daniel and John both saw in their visions is the same Christ who is "given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:14).
Even Jesus himself pointed to Daniel's vision regarding his own self-identity:
- Mark 14:61-64 Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said, "I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." And the high priest tore his garments and said, "What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?" And they all condemned him as deserving death.
Jesus was put to death because he claims to be the Son of Man in Daniel's vision who is none other than God himself, the Ancient of Days.
In the last part of this vision, John saw Jesus as the One who holds the seven stars (angels of the churches) with a sharp two-edged sword coming out of his mouth, a picture of the Word of God to cut and set free with a face shining like the sun in full strength. This vision reminds us of the Transfiguration of Jesus seen by Peter, James and John at the Mount of Transfiguration as recorded in Matthew 17:2-3, "And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him." Moses and Elijah are personification of the OT as Law (Moses) and Prophets (Elijah) and Jesus is the author of the Word of God. When we meditate on God's Word daily, we begin to reflect His glory in our own faces too as His word like a sword cuts off from us all carnal intentions and thoughts so that we might become more and more like Christ.
As we ponder over this vision of Christ who has been given "an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:14), we give thanks to God that we are part of His kingdom through faith in Christ.
We experience this kingdom glory in part today; but one day in full: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). As the hymn-writer Richard Baxter wrote in his famous hymn, "Lord it Belongs not to My Care":
Thy blessèd face to see;
For if Thy work on earth be sweet
What will Thy glory be!
May our attitude to Christ's work be always sweet, and never turns sour. For only then can we look forward to the glory that is to come!
Lord, help us see Christ as the exalted Son of Man to whom You have given all authority and dominion, and not just as a user-friendly Helper to serve our personal needs. For He is the Lord God to whom we must bow our knees in worship. AMEN.