Agonizomai: Rev 1:12-16 - The Christ of Glory

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rev 1:12-16 - The Christ of Glory

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12-16 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lamp stands, 13 and in the midst of the lamp stands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 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.

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Hebrew imagery, especially apocalyptic imagery, is quite unique. This book is full of it. The images are subject to much speculation and various interpretations and some degree of conjecture is unavoidable. Most of us are not Hebrews and none of us is a 1st century Hebrew, much less one from the first or second millennium BC. {I refuse to use the common notations CE and BCE - humanistic inventions designed to erase the historical Christ from the history He has both created and recorded} This being the case, I will limit my own thoughts to what seem to be the more obvious and less controversial aspects of the genre.

We know what the lamp stands represent because we are told explicitly in the last verse of the chapter. {Re 1:20} It is no stretch, therefore, to picture Christ in the midst of the seven churches, or lamp stands (just as He is in the midst of His whole church everywhere by the Spirit). The Apostle identifies the Person in His vision as "one like a son of man," meaning that He has a recognizable human form - because the eternal Son took upon Himself eternally the form of mankind in order to save men. Jesus, the new Adam, is the Federal head of the new humanity - the redeemed and ultimately glorified humanity that He came to recreate through salvation.

The description of His Person is as of one in high priestly robes, with the golden sash or girdle marking the high nature of His office and the purity of His qualification for that office.

Reference to His hair as being white like wool or snow hark back to visions of purity and holiness. Daniel’s vision comes to mind {Da 7:9} or references to the transfiguration such as Mt 17:2. The flaming fire of His eyes evokes the concept of both His penetrating sight into the souls of men and, possibly, His burning anger against sin. The appearance of burnished bronze as His feet brings to mind great strength and sureness in His way and also power to crush His enemies under His feet. Finally, His voice like the roar many waters reminds us of the power of the sea or in the rushing waters of a mighty river - insistent, relentless, unassuageable, determined - pushing aside all obstacles by dint of sheer power.

When we come to the voice of the Word of God we enter the realm of mystery. It is by speaking that God created everything that there is, ex-nihilo. It is by speaking in the incarnation of His Son that He recreated spiritually living men from the spiritually dead. God’s word is powerful; it is compared to a sword which is for cutting and piercing, for stabbing and killing. But it is God Who alone is able to kill and to make alive, to wound and to heal and against Whom no one can stay a hand. Jesus’ incarnate life and words, full and complete and perfect are the sword that divides souls, carves history, slices deadwood, pierces and destroys the works of the devil.

Almighty God spoke in Son and as Son and the universe changed. It is far from apparent to the universe of men (most men, that is) but at the revelation of Christ His absolute centrality to all things, past present and future will be gloriously made plain. For now, in this commencement, the application is limited to a view of Him walking in the midst of His church - the church He bought and paid for, the church His death atoned for, the church made up of the redeemed. His word and His glory are central.

And it is Christ who holds his ministers (angels - the stars - see Re 1:20 again) in His hand of power. They are His chosen servants for His church(es). As He holds them in His right hand of power He also speaks the discerning words that issue directly from His mouth. Surely the picture is that the glory of the resurrected Lord and of God Almighty are manifested in the Word that God speaks through his ministers and messengers (or angels). It must be the Word of God, and they must be HIS minsters (submitted, obedient) but this is God’s chosen means of delivering His revelation to men since the Lord’s ascension.


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