Friday, January 21, 2011

Revelation Chapter One, Part 5 of 6

1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
Again, recall the passage from Ezekiel that described the Lord standing in the Heavens above the Cherubim and Ezekiel: “and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about,” 1:27; see also Ezekiel 8:2. The second portion of the verse which speaks of Christ’s voice sounding like many waters hearkens again to the prophet Ezekiel, when he writes: “And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory,” Ezekiel 43:2. The progression can be delineated; John describes first Daniel’s Ancient of Days, and now he sees Ezekiel’s God of glory above the Cherubim. Both are pictures of the risen and glorified Jesus Christ.

1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars
The seven stars held in our Lord’s hand are the angels, or messengers of the seven churches, verse 20. It is debatable as to whether the word “angel” at this point can mean a human messenger or a literal angel assigned to the particular church in question. If the former, then Jesus holds the welfare of His ministers in His hand to safeguard them, John 10:28-29. If the latter, then our Lord is showing us that He is superior to all principality, might, dominion and power, Ephesians 1:20-21; Colossians 1:16-17.

1:16 out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword
I am reminded in this passage of Hebrews, where we are informed that “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,” Hebrews 4:12. Elsewhere the word of God is referred to as the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:17.

Yet we cannot disregard the fact that Jesus Himself, before His incarnation as the Son of God was the Word of God, John 1:1, 14. When our Lord comes in the fullness of His glory out of Heaven to wage war during His Second Coming, that is, His bodily, visible return to earth, His name is called the Word of God, Revelation 19:13. Two verses later we read that out of the mouth of Christ goes this same sharp sword, and with it He strikes the nations of the earth; likewise with it He smites the armies of the Antichrist, verses 15, 21.

Jesus comments in one of His final discourses to the Jews about rejection of His word and authority. He tells them “if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak,” John 12:47-49. There will come a time when the word that saves will be the word that kills. Why? The Lord has prophesied that it will be so, and the Scripture must be fulfilled. The Old Testament is replete with testimonies from the prophets that during the Day of the Lord, God will visit the ungodly with insatiably fiery vengeance. Those who have made it their lot and their choice to make themselves open enemies of God will have the reward God forewarned would come upon them: total and awful destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power, 1st Thessalonians 1:9. Behold, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation. Please turn before it is too late for you, if you who are reading this does not believe in the only begotten Son of God.

1:16 his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
John was at least familiar with this aspect of Christ’s Person, though he was no more ready for it than during his first encounter with Jesus’ unveiled glory on the mount of transfiguration. Our Lord is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person, Hebrews 1:3. Christ is the physical embodiment of deity in its fullness, Colossians 1:19; 2:9.

Yet there is a special promise to the Jews in this appearance of our Lord. The prophet Malachi writes: “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings,” Malachi 4:2. The resplendence of Christ’s glory will make the earth mourn at His coming, and the Jews too shall mourn for killing the Author of life. But after this period of mourning they shall repent nationally and gladly receive Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Son of David and heir to his throne. This is a foretaste of things to come. When our Lord returns in power, no more shall the meek Lamb of God walk among men, but the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The days of turning Jesus’ name into a profane word, or mocking God’s dear Son will be ended, for the earth shall see God’s glory manifest in Jesus Christ, and they will be afraid. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.
When Moses came down from his encounter with God on Mount Sinai the people were afraid to venture near to him, Exodus 34:29-30. When Job saw his righteousness compared to the Lord’s he abhorred himself, Job 42:5-6. When Ezekiel saw God, he collapsed on his face in humility, Ezekiel 1:28. Joshua did likewise in a similar circumstance, Joshua 5:14. Daniel was so distraught by his encounter that he needed to be revived, Daniel 8:17-18. John had known Jesus in His humility; it was something far else to know Him in the power of His resurrection. As Paul wrote: “though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer,” 2nd Corinthians 5:16. We as Christians are much to blame for allowing the holiness of Christ and the majesty of His person to be neglected subjects. We promote His love, forgiveness and mercy to almost or total exclusion of His righteousness, glory, holiness and sovereignty. We have a church of professing Christians who are so in love with Christ’s love that it has been warped into a perversion of genuine Christian love.

Jesus loves; but not at the expense of truth. He forgives; but not unjustly. He demonstrates mercy, but does not dispense it universally. There is no brotherhood of man and universal Fatherhood of God; there is forgiveness, grace and mercy found in repentance and faith in Christ; otherwise there is condemnation and the wrath of God abiding on those who (in their opinion) think Jesus is too loving to damn the lost or reject anyone on any grounds. This is not what the Bible tells us. Christ loves sinners, but He cannot allow a sinner stained in his sins to enter Heaven; we must be cleansed by His blood through faith. The alternative is eternal separation in the Lake of Fire. Remember, brethren; John—the apostle who Jesus loved—fell as dead at His feet merely looking upon Him! As Peter wrote, “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1st Peter 4:18.

1 comment:

  1. Another really good post, Ian.

    I am inclined to believe that the angels of the churches refer to the leaders of these churches, since there would be no need for john to write a message to literal angels, but like you I would not want to be too dogmatic.

    Isn't it interesting how many of the supposed visions of God today never seem to result in the humility and repentance we find every time people saw a vision of God in the Bible?

    If you're interested, i left a short answer to your comment on my post.


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