Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 5 – Revelation 1:12-16

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. (NKJV)

Golden Lampstands


What do the seven golden lampstands represent? See verse 20.



The marvelous thing about the Scripture is that it often explains things like symbols that are used. In verse 20 Jesus will tell us that the seven lamp stands represent seven specific churches.


What is the significance of Jesus standing in the midst of the seven lampstands?



While Jesus holds the seven stars (the angels of the seven churches) in His hand, He is standing among the lampstands. Jesus is present in His churches. It doesn’t matter what the state of the church is, as we will see later; He is there. I’ve heard people say that God showed up at church long before we did on Sunday and He has been waiting for us. The statement is actually inaccurate. Wherever His people are, Jesus is among them.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matt 18:20 KJV)

In this sense, Jesus doesn’t arrive at a building until His people do because He is in their midst. On the other hand, since Jesus – being God – is omnipresent. He has never left the church.

The Glorified Christ

Other than John, who has ever seen Jesus in His glorified body?



As John turned to see who was speaking to him, he saw something that no other living person has seen. When the disciples saw Jesus after His resurrection, He appeared as a normal person. In Luke 24:13-32, the two disciples who walked along with Him on the road had no idea that the person they were talking to had an immortal body. When Jesus left and ascended into heaven, there was no indication that His appearance was any different from you or me at that time or during any of the other encounters. In Acts 7:55, 56 Stephen saw the Glory of God and Jesus standing beside Him. Stephen didn’t have a chance to describe Jesus in this encounter; however, there isn’t anything there to indicate that Jesus’ appearance was extraordinary. In Acts 9, Jesus appeared to Saul in a bright light but he never recounted any description of Jesus. Even the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament are quite different than this description of Him.

If Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8) why did Jesus appear so naturally to most people after His resurrection, in a bright light to Saul and so much differently to John as described here? 




Jesus has always had the ability to appear to us as meets our need and not our expectations. Would Saul have turned to Christ and become the Apostle Paul had Jesus not literally knocked him of his horse? The disciples had seen Jesus as a man for years and He was their friend. They only needed to know He was still alive. It was enough for Stephen to see Jesus standing beside God the Father to assure him that he would soon be with Jesus. John is going to carry a message that will describe the end times. The importance is underscored by the appearance that Jesus assumes to deliver the message. 

Like A Son of Man


How is the title, Son of Man, a reference to the Messiah?




I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve [worship][1] him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Dan 7:13-14 RSV)

As far back as Daniel, the term “Son of Man” had meaning related to the Messiah. It is clear from these verses that the person is equal with God in that He is worshiped in the presences of God (the Ancient of Days). Worship and glory are things that God reserves for Himself. The term “Son of man” is descriptive of someone who has the form of a man but is obviously more than a man.

He answered and said, "But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods." (Dan 3:25 ESV)

King Nebuchadnezzar had a pagan culture which influenced his comment; however it is apparent that he saw someone who had attributes of a “god” but also the form of a man. We believe that this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Historically, the term “Son of Man” came to be a title of the Messiah.

How did Jesus establish His identity as the Son of Man and the Messiah?




Jesus refers to Himself and to His next appearance as the Son of Man 78 times in the gospels. In Matt 24 and 25 Jesus uses the title seven times in reference to His return.

But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?"

"I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:61-62 NIV)

In this instance, Jesus clearly identifies Himself as the Christ and the Son of Man as he refers to Dan 7:13-14. In Matt 25:31-46 the Son of Man is later called King and Lord. Jesus established the clear connection between His title of Son of Man and His deity.

Considering the Book of Revelation and the coming events, what aspect of the Messiah  is important? See John 5:27.




And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. (John 5:27 NLT)

Another important function of the Son of Man is that He will have the authority to judge all men. As John was able to see Jesus – His divinity and His physical being – when He returns as judge all people will be able to see Him and recognize him. His timing will catch some unprepared and unaware however that will not prevent them from being judged.

Robe & Golden Sash

What do the robe and golden sash that Jesus is wearing represent?




The robe and golden sash that Jesus is wearing is representative of His designation as King and Priest. At the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth and the beginning of His ministry, He is declared to be the King of the Jews and of Israel.

Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49 ESV)

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." (Matt 2:1-2 ESV)

Throughout His ministry, the disciples were continually expecting Him to take control of the nation and establish His reign (Acts 1:6). However, that wasn’t His plan or timing.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14 RSV)

It wasn’t until after His ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit that they fully understood that He wouldn’t be crowned King of Israel and King of kings until the end times. It is fitting that Jesus now appears in His royal and priestly robes as He discloses more about how this will all take place.

What is the role of a priest in most religions?



The job of a priest in most religion is to be an intermediary between God and man. Most religions recognize that people aren’t able to approach God without the aid of someone appointed to prepare the way. In the Old Testament, God appointed Aaron and his descendents to be priests. They were given the prescribed means of approaching God and atoning for the sins of the people.

How has the role of priest changed in Christianity?




The means of access has changed after Jesus’ death and resurrection. He is currently serving as our priest.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Such a high priest meets our need — one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever. (Heb 7:23-28 NIV)

List the ways in which Jesus’ priesthood is superior to all others.




Jesus’ priesthood is superior to those of the Old Testament because they died and had to be replaced. When Jesus died, He performed the most significant part of His priesthood by atoning for our sins. He was raised and now lives to prove His sacrifice paid for our sins.

Because He lives, He is always able to intercede for us. Think about that. Our God and Savior is interceding for us at this very moment.

Because He is holy and just, without any sin or fault, His sacrifice was for us and not Himself. All the other priest had to offer sacrifices for themselves showing that their intercession was not perfect. But Jesus’ intercession is perfect because His sacrifice was perfect. He doesn’t have to offer any other sacrifices day after day.

Why do we need to be reminded of Jesus’ priesthood at the beginning of Revelatin?




Our greatest need is to have a priest intercede for us because we are sinners. That need will be more evident in the Book of Revelation as our Holy God is finally fed up with all of the sin and corruption in the world and He puts an end to it by releasing His wrath on the world. Only those who have Jesus as priest will escape His wrath.

Is Jesus your King and Priest? If not, you should surrender now, while you can.

White Hair

What does Jesus’ white hair symbolize?




I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow, And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. (Dan 7:9 NASB)

Jesus inherited the same hair as His Father. White has always been a symbol of purity and so it can be applied to Jesus. Note that the description of the Ancient of Days says His hair is like pure wool. The purity of God is beyond question and so is the purity of Jesus.

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. (Prov 16:31 NLT)

If gray hair is a symbol of living a righteous life, how much more would white hair represent the righteousness and purity of Jesus? As we think about Jesus being our King, Priest, and Judge, it is important to remember that He is completely holy and righteous. If it were not so, He wouldn’t have the right to bring about the judgments of the end times.

Eyes Like Flaming Fire

What do Jesus’ eyes represent and what does that mean in our lives? See Heb 4:13.




I’m sure you all know about Superman who had X-ray vision enabling him to see right through walls. He also had a heat ray vision to weld or burn holes through anything he wanted. Well, that is nothing compared to the eyes of Jesus.

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:13 NKJV)

If we really stopped to think about this verse, how would it change our lives? There are two important truths in it. The first is that He sees everything that we do. There isn’t any good or bad deed that goes unnoticed. The second is that we will give an account for all our actions. He will reward us for the good we have done and He will punish us for the bad. The good news is that Jesus has already taken the eternal punishment for the bad if we belong to Him, but that doesn’t mean that we can do anything we want and that He will ignore it. The next time we are tempted to do something we know is wrong, we should remember that Jesus is right there watching everything. He can even see our thoughts.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this; for from now on you will have wars. (2 Chron 16:9 RSV)

He will give us the strength to overcome the temptation as He shows His might in our behalf. However, as happened with King Asa, when we fail to take the way of escape and rely on His power, punishment will almost certainly come. As we study the Book of Revelation, we will see how that punishment will come upon the earth.

Brass Feet – Refined

What does Jesus’ feet represent? Consider that they have been refined as if in a furnace.



The purpose of a furnace is to refine and purify metals so that they can be made useful.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (Heb 5:8-9 KJV)

Jesus has already walked through the trials of this life. The Greek of this text doesn’t indicate that Jesus was imperfect and was now made perfect, but that His time of testing was completed. He went through the trial and was shown to be pure. He did not become pure. The result is that His suffering gave Him the ability to be the source of salvation for us.

For because he himself has suffered  when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  (Heb 2:18 ESV)

He now helps us when we are being tempted so that we can walk through them. During the end times, most Christians will face temptations that few of us have ever seen. When we are tempted, we can remember His feet. He has been through it all ahead of us and is able to help us through it now.

In Ex 3:5 and Josh 5:15 Moses and Joshua were told to take off their sandals because they were standing on holy ground. Jesus is holy yet His feet had to walk this filthy, sin-filled earth. When He comes back, His holy feet will again touch this earth, but it will be a cleansing time as He comes to reign supreme.

Voice Like Many Waters

What do you think the sound of Jesus’ glorified voice will be like?




I don’t think we can even comprehend what the voice of the Lord is like. We underestimate the power of His voice.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. (Ps 29:3-4 KJV)

The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace. (Ps 29:11 KJV)

This Psalm goes on and talks about His voice breaking trees, making nations jump, shaking the desert and stripping forests.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Gen 1:3 KJV)

We forget that it was simply by speaking that He created all that exists. Yet consider the ending of Psalm 29. The voice of the Lord is a comfort to those who know Him, yet will strike fear into the hearts of those who are opposed to Him.

When you hear His voice, will you be strengthened and have peace?



Seven Stars

What promise can we see in the seven stars in Jesus’ right hand?




There is security in knowing that Jesus holds His people in His hands. It isn’t just these seven angels or messengers of the seven churches (see Rev 1:20).

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30 NIV)

Once we have surrendered ourselves to Jesus and become His sheep, we can be secure in the knowledge that He will never let us go. There is nothing that will ever be able to take away His promise of eternal life. To believe that promise you need to answer these questions.

Who is greater than God the Father? Is Satan, your neighbor, or do you think you are greater than God?


Jesus says that no one is greater. That means that Satan can’t do anything to make you lose your salvation. Your neighbor can’t and as a matter of fact, if you could do anything that would cause you to lose your salvation, then you would have to be greater than God. Knowing that you are secure, you are free to live your life fully for Him. You don’t need to fear that you somehow won’t measure up at the end then be rejected. This again is a comfort that will help us as well as those going through the end times.

This doesn’t advocate the right to do whatever we want. While Jesus promises us eternal life, it doesn’t mean that He won’t shorten our lives here if we fall into sin.

For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord in order that we may not be condemned along with the world. (1 Cor 11:30-32 NASB)

Paul warned the believers in Corinth to examine themselves before taking communion. They were a pretty wild bunch and apparently the Lord had disciplined some with sickness and even death. We should take Paul’s warning seriously.  

On the other hand, if you don’t belong to Jesus, you don’t have eternal life and you aren’t secure in His hands. Judgment will come upon you and you will be condemned along with the rest of the world. Unlike believers, that will mean eternal death instead of eternal life.

Sword

What is the sword that comes from Jesus’ mouth and what verses identify it?




The sword that comes from Jesus’ mouth represents the Word of God as described in the following verses.

For 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. (Heb 4:12 NKJV)

This verse doesn’t say that the Word is just a sword but that it is even sharper than a sword. When judgment comes on the world, God’s Word will cut and pierce and bring to light the intentions of the heart. This means that no sin can be hidden from the Lord.

From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. (Rev 19:15a  NLT)

 A sword that can strike down the nations is no ordinary sword and that would fit the use of the Greek word “logos” which is translated as “word” in Heb 4:15. Logos is used to describe Jesus in John 1:1-3 and 14 as God and creator of the universe. Again, Jesus used “logos” when He described the judgment of the last day.

He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. (John 12:48 RSV)

Any who have rejected the Bible and not turned in faith to Jesus for salvation will eventually come face to face with the consequences of that decision and it will cost them their eternal lives. If they think they can say that they were sincere in their beliefs, they will have to reckon with the fact that His Word will completely judge every thought and attitude. The only remedy is to trust in the words that Jesus spoke to bring eternal life. Those words require us to accept Him as our Savior and surrender to Him as our Lord.

His Face

What does His face shining like the sun mean?




The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9 ESV)

Jesus is the true light – representing complete and pure holiness as well as eternal life. The only way that we may become holy is by letting Him be our light.

How bright will Jesus be?



Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person … (Heb 1:3 NKJV)

Even when Jesus stood before John, He couldn’t have demonstrated the complete radiance of God’s glory. John wouldn’t have been able to live in the presence of His light.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Rev 21:23 NIV)

This city is a cube 1,400 miles on each side and is completely illuminated by the glory from the face of God and Jesus. But there will be a day when we will see Him face to face and we will be able to stand (right after we bow before Him in worship).

As you think back over all the symbols and descriptions of Jesus, how do they help you in your faith?




If we know Jesus, then all of these symbols used to describe Him can bring great comfort, hope, and power to overcome the problems of this life. Meditate on this description of Jesus then –

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16 NASU)


[1] pelach (Aramaic) — to serve, to worship, to revere, to minister for, to pay reverence to (P'al)
1)    to pay reverence to
2)    to serve
(from The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research.)

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