Revelation 1:9-16 Part 5

“And I turned around to see the voice that was speaking with me”.

We enter now into the five verses, verses twelve through sixteen, describing what, and Who, John saw when he turned around. And it’s obvious that it is Jesus….. the resurrected, ascended, glorified and enthroned Son of God/Son of Man. How do we know that? Among other things, because of verse eighteen which says, “I became dead and LO, I am living”.

It is Jesus the Anointed One, the God-man Who, in resurrection body, has assumed the throne as Almighty God. He is in His heavenly sanctuary; and John sees Him in all His glory. And he sees the sanctuary of God in all its glory.

I’ve never seen it (as most of you are aware, I’m not dead quite yet!). But I have something more sure than sight. I have the Word of God. And, as we always do, we’ll let that be the further attestation and documentation of what John saw and heard, as we search through the Scripture for the same, and similar, encounters with the Presence of God.

In advance of that though, I want to spend a little bit of time strengthening and fortifying your faith in the person of Jesus. As we’ve seen so often in the past, false or mystical impressions (or perceptions) or so-called “visions” of God the Son are not faith-building, but are destructive of the Christian Faith. And they leave people weak and faithless where they should be strong.

We have the historical facts of Scripture as the Word of God describes Jesus as a babe in a manger and in the arms of His mother. We have the historical facts of Scripture as the Word of God describes Jesus as a man teaching His disciples and healing the crowds and confronting pharisaical judaism. We have the historical facts of Scripture as the Word of God describes Jesus as a suffering servant of God moving relentlessly toward Jerusalem and contemplating His obedience to the will of the Father. We have the historical facts of Scripture as the Word of God describes Jesus in His suffering and death and burial. And we have the historical facts of Scripture as the Word of God describes Jesus’ resurrection…..and then His ascension to the glory-cloud/sanctuary to receive His inheritance.

All of those things are historical fact as recorded in God’s inspired Word. And we can contemplate them. We should contemplate them. They are an indisputable and uneradicable history of the salvation of mankind and, indeed, the creation itself!

But are any of those periods of Jesus’ history the reality right now!? In other words, why would Jesus ever appear to anyone now as a babe? Or why would anyone ever see a vision of Jesus now as a man feeding five thousand people on a hillside – or healing the sick? Or why would Jesus appear in a vision to anyone right now as He appeared at the last supper? Or why would Jesus ever appear to anyone right now bleeding and dying, or hanging on a cross! That’s not the reality now!

The reality now is as He appears to John in the Revelation. He is presently enthroned in the heavenly (real) Sanctuary; and John describes Him as He now appears. So when folks claim that they’ve seen Jesus in a vision, and He appeared to them as He was in 30AD, they’ve seen the wrong Jesus! It’s irrefutable proof that they’re just conjuring up stuff! That was 2000 years ago in the history of the creation and the history of mankind, and Jesus hasn’t appeared that way since!

And as we continue to build our faith in the Person of Jesus the Christ, let’s just consider for a couple of minutes the body of Jesus.

The Scripture indicates that, as prophesied in the older Scripture, the second Person of the triune Godhead did, indeed, take on the “form” of man. Before that specific time in creation’s history, God the Son had no human “form”. In the birth of the baby, then named Jesus (Yeshua, Iesus) as was prophetically required, God the Son took on humanity….. a human body.

He lived thirty-something years (sinlessly) in active, submissive obedience to the sovereign will of the Father. In the fullness of time, all prophesied in the Word, God-man – Jesus – was crucified, descended into death/hades, and was buried. On the third day hence, He bodily arose out of death.

Some days later, in created space and time, He ascended – BODILY _ into the Glory Cloud and entered the throne-room/sanctuary above the heavenlies.

Get this now……….the human, Jesus, entered the real Sanctuary, where he received all the glory that He had before He was born. The human – Jesus – took on the glory that was His before He was born human! There is a human being – just like us – in the heavenly Sanctuary!

Further, the man – Jesus – for His Faithfulness to the will and purpose of the Father, has been given all the nations as His inheritance! Born of the Spirit; born of a woman, this Jesus now has a crown – King of Kings over all kings and all nations.

Further, the human – Jesus – is invested with “all power in heaven and upon the earth”. A human being – just like us – in the heavenly sanctuary, has all power over everything! This man, like unto us, now exercises total sovereignty over every creature and all of creation!

Further!..... the human – Jesus – as seen and as recorded by John, now appears as the One. The One born; the One dead; the One living; the One glorified God-man. He is God!

You must ponder that; you must meditate on that; you must digest that…….for herein is the Gospel of Jesus Christ without which no man can be saved. The Gospel is the power of God into salvation for all those who are faithing. The man, Jesus the Christ of God, did all of this in order that mankind might be rescued from its “captivity in deadness”. And even the creation itself “groans for its regeneration”! We have a real “man” on the throne of God….. We are like unto Him; and those who belong to Him are IN HIM, for we are human as He is Human.

SO! Now I think we can go to the text and understand, just a little bit better, John’s description of the glorified Jesus Christ, God the Son, the God-man. Here it is:

12) And I turned around to see the voice that was speaking with me; and when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

13) and in midst of the lampstands like a son of man, having been clothed upon to the feet and having been wrapped at the chest with a golden girdle;

14) His head and hair white as wool, white as snow, and His eyes as flaming fire,

15) and His feet like burnished brass as in having been fired in a furnace, and His voice as a sound of many waters,

16) and having seven stars in His right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth, and His face as the sun shines in its power.

One like the Son of Man in the midst of seven golden lampstands.

I’m sure you will bear with me when I say to you that I am thoroughly intimidated by this. It is utterly frightening to have to preach it.

While my wife was ill, study time was non-existent; and for three weeks I wasn’t able to approach this text. And for three weeks I dreaded approaching this text! I don’t know how anyone could ever adequately deal with it. But we’ll do the best we can, and trust you’ll be edified.

As we’ve seen on several occasions from the older Scripture, in the tabernacle and in the temple there was a golden lampstand just outside the holy of holies in the “holy place”. It was a single lampstand; and it had seven “branches” and seven “lamps” which were fueled continuously with oil. As you may remember, it was an earthly, man-made “picture” of the heavenly reality. And that reality was the perfection (indicated by the “seven”) – the perfection of the covenantal unity of God’s people (the “Church”), fueled continuously by Holy Spirit.

But here in our text we have something “new”, don’t we? We have One like the Son of Man appearing in the midst of seven golden lampstands! Not a lampstand with seven lamps; but seven lampstands! And John doesn’t mention seeing a fuel-source for the lamps.

And the question has to be asked – and answered: what has happened? What’s different? Why is Jesus standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands, since the man-made temple was required to be furnished with a single lampstand with seven lamp-bowls with a fuel-source to each (a single fuel-source).

And, of course, the answer is the ascension to the throne of God by Jesus the God-man. Before His resurrection and ascension, the Church had a centralized, national character. And the unity of the Church was focused geographically – in Jerusalem. The covenantal people of God was Israel.

But after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Church – the new Israel – is multi-national, multi-centralized! The Church is still a “seven” – still a unity – but what holds it together is no longer a covenant with one nation in a special, holy piece of real estate. The unity of the Church is centered in Jesus.

The Church is no longer one covenanted nation, for it has been sent into all the world to take dominion in the name of the newly-crowned universal King of the nations. There is no longer a special place on the earth that is “holy”; rather, the whole world has become “holy place”! For Jesus Christ has redeemed it.

The glorious sight that John describes is a blaze of glorious light because of Jesus, Who is in the “midst of them”. It is He Who holds them together as a “seven”; and it is He Who feeds them and causes them to shine brightly in the world.

In “that which is to be done quickly”, Jesus will terminate the covenant with the nation symbolized by the single lampstand; and covenant with the nations of the earth as their King. And His Church – pictured by the seven lampstands – will shine upon the whole earth with His glorious light. And all the earth will see their good works and glorify the Father in the heavens.

We’ll see all of this again when we come to verse twenty; and we’ll then have an opportunity to discuss the seven “angels” of the seven Churches, and the seven “stars” in Jesus’ hand.

But the imagery here in verses twelve and thirteen is of Jesus, the Ascendant to the throne of God, Immanuel – God with us. He is in the midst of the entire Church for which He died and was resurrected. He is the One Lampstand from Whom all the Church receives its nourishment and its light.

While the Voice is speaking (that’s the sense of the verb here in the text) – while the Voice is speaking, John turns to see the voice that was speaking to Him. And He sees seven golden lampstands, and like a Son of Man in the midst of them.

And where is Jesus, the Son of Man, prophesied?

It was Daniel, in the midst of a Revelation of the four great civilization-changing, world-wide kingdoms of the earth, who received the vision of Jesus being crowned King of Kings. It was Babylon; then Persia; then Greece; and lastly Rome. Then the everlasting Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Listen to it in Daniel chapter seven:

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13,14)

In Daniel’s vision, The Son of Man, the One born of a woman, crucified, dead and buried, resurrected on the third day and ascended to the throne, is prophesied as the King of the fifth great, world-wide, civilization-changing Kingdom of the earth……and “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”

As John sees Him, that’s the description of Him that he writes – The Son of Man, directly from the prophecy of Daniel. It is the Lord Jesus Christ in the fullness of Daniel’s prophecy; and He’s standing in the midst of the lampstands – all of them connected to each other by Him.

Further, Jesus is dressed, as prophesied in Exodus 28, 29 and 39, in the robes and glorious golden ephod of the royal high priest of the tabernacle. Jesus is the Royal High Priest of the Church in whose midst He dwells and reigns.

Fiery Light…….that’s the impression recorded by John upon seeing the Son of Man amidst the pure gold lampstands of the universal Church. The whiteness of His head and hair like the Ancient of Days in Daniel chapter seven; the flaming fire from His eyes like the throne also in Daniel chapter seven; and the eyes of the Son of Man in Daniel chapter ten.

We’ll continue this next Lord’s Day; but before I leave you, I’d like to read portions of the first chapter of the prophecy of Ezekiel. I’ve urged you to read this several times, and I hope you have. Every bit of the language with which John describes Jesus here in the Revelation is also revealed to Ezekiel. Listen carefully. First here’s verses three and four:

3) The word of Yahveh came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of Yahveh was there upon him.

4) And I looked, and, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with a fire infolding itself, and a brightness round about it, and out of the midst thereof as it were glowing metal, out of the midst of the fire……

And then beginning at verse twenty-two:

22) And over the head of the living creature there was the likeness of a firmament, like the terrible crystal to look upon, stretched forth over their heads above.

23) And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two which covered on this side, and every one had two which covered on that side, their bodies.

24) And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings like the noise of great waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a noise of tumult like the noise of a host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

25) And there was a voice above the firmament that was over their heads: when they stood, they let down their wings.

26) And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above.

27) And I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of his loins and upward; and from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him.

28) As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahveh. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

Continuing the glorious picture of Christ is the statement “His voice as a sound of many waters”. The apostle John is identifying the voice of Christ with the sound of the glory cloud – a sound which, throughout Scripture, resembles numerous earthly phenomena; wind, thunder, trumpet, armies, chariots and waterfalls. Or perhaps we should say that all these earthly phenomena were created to resemble various facets of the Cloud and the voice of God.