Friday, December 02, 2016

Revelation Advent -- December 2

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 white wool, like 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... As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:12-16, 20 ESV)

John's vision continues. John is not seeing things as they actually physically are. He is seeing symbolic, figurative pictures. A pattern seen over and over in Revelation is that a visionary image is given and there is an explanation of the image. Among the images are lampstands and stars which, we are told, the churches and the angels of the churches. We see the imagery of Jesus. These are rich images that allude to the richness of the Old Testament. What do we learn from this image of Christ? Many things:

Son of man -- Jesus is the end times Son of man of the Old Testament visions of Daniel. He is the one that will set things right at the end of the age. He will come with power and authority.

Clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash -- Jesus is the royal ruler of heaven and earth.

The hairs of his head were white -- White hair denotes age and wisdom associated with age. Jesus is very wise.

His eyes were like a flame of fire -- Jesus sees everything and nothing misses his penetrating gaze. He purifies. His eyes burn away sin. Who can stand before Christ? Only those who have been cleansed by being freed from their sins by his blood.

His feet were like burnished bronze -- This is Old Testament imagery of a warrior.

His voice was like the roar of many waters -- as Have you ever stood before a huge waterfall, such Niagara Falls? The sound indicates great, overwhelming power. Jesus' voice has that kind of power.

From his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword -- We are reminded that the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. Jesus' spoken words cut away sin, defends the weak and cuts down the arrogant.

His face was like the sun shining -- This is Old Testament imagery of a strong and victorious warrior.

Each of these images are metaphors that paints a picture of who Jesus is. This powerful, wise, warrior-king walks among the lampstands, his churches. Christ intimately loves his church, comprised of individual churches throughout the world, and cares for them. We see the kind of care from the symbolic description of Christ. He fights for his churches, provides wisdom, and rules his churches as an exceptionally wise father. In the next couple of chapters we see how Jesus' penetrating gaze sees all in each of the churches, the good and the bad, along with the promise of great rewards for those who persevere. Where each of the churches are weak, the images of Christ in this vision shows the kind of strength he gives to those churches. At the end of Revelation we will see the purified church, referred to as the bride, standing in the new heavens and earth.

Christians are not to live in isolation. We are called to live and serve in the bride of Christ, the church which is comprised of local churches throughout the world. Christs cares for believers especially through the churches. Christ uses each of these attributes of himself and more to tend to his churches. Christ gives encouragement to churches on the good they are doing and admonishes the churches on their failings, all the while strengthening the church through his encouragement and power. In every area of weakness in the churches, Christ various parts of his attributes to best strengthen those churches.

Two thousand years ago the eternal Son of God came to earth and dwelt among the human race. He now reigns from heaven and walks among the individual churches. As you worship with you church you are interacting the the Lord that walks with and cares for your church. Christ's usual means of caring for you is through his church.

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