"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Rev 22:7

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Jesus Glorified

Revelation 1:12-16

Revelation 1:12 - Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands...

John turns around to see who spoke to him with the voice of a trumpet and he sees seven golden lamp stands. Later, we see that the lamp stands are the seven churches listed in Revelation 1:11:

Revelation 1:20 - ...the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

A lamp stand bears light, but it is not the source of the light. As discussed in Revelation 1:4, the Holy Spirit is the source of the light for the lamp stands. In other words, it is the works that believers do through the Holy Spirit, given by God, that make them shine as lights to the world:

Philippians 2:13-15 - For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

Hebrews 8-9 show that the religious specifications in the Mosaic Law were patterns of items in the heavenly realm. Therefore, since seven lamp stands represent the seven-fold Holy Spirit working through the seven churches, it should not surprise us to see a similar representation in the earthly tabernacle.

Temple Menorah
Source: Wikipedia

The following passage describes a single lamp stand with seven lamps, commonly known as a menorah:

Exodus 25:31-32, 37 - You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece. And six branches shall come out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side.... You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.

The Greek word translated "lampstands" can also be "candlesticks." Candlesticks symbolizing the churches that feed into one lamp stand, represented by Jesus fit the picture of the menorah better than seven separate lamp stands. The following vision of the heavenly lamp stand supports the "candlestick" interpretation, with the separate lamps or candlesticks feeding into one lamp stand. We will discuss this vision in more detail in Revelation 5:8:

Zechariah 4:2 - And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps."

Revelation 1:13 - ...and in the midst of the seven lampstands [One like the Son of Man]...

In the next section, John describes Jesus as "One like the Son of Man" (Revelation 1:13). John sees Jesus surrounded by seven lamp stands that represent the seven churches in Asia. Recall from the last section, that the menorah used in the tabernacle had seven branches with lamps, or candlesticks that all come into one shaft, or base (Exodus 25:31-32). This is the same picture of Christ as the vine and believers as the branches abiding in Christ:

John 15:5 - "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

Revelation 4:5 reveals that the Holy Spirit is the source of the fire and light of the lamp stands, or the churches. However, Christ is the "Light," who gives light to believers to glorify the Father:

John 1:4-9 - In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
Matthew 5:14-16 - "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

In the wilderness tabernacle there was one menorah with seven lamps (Exodus 25). In the temple there were ten menorahs, each with seven lamps:

2 Chronicles 4:7 - And he made ten lampstands of gold according to their design, and set them in the temple, five on the right side and five on the left.

The ten menorahs may allude to the ten specific descriptions John gives us of Christ's appearance, who represents the supporting base of the menorah in Revelation 1:13-16:

    1. One like the Son of Man
    2. Clothed with a garment down to the feet
    3. Girded about the chest with a golden band
    4. Head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow
    5. Eyes like a flame of fire
    6. Feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace
    7. His voice as the sound of many waters
    8. He had in His right hand seven stars
    9. Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword
    10. His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength

Revelation 1:13 - ...One like the Son of Man...

"Son of Man" is the title that Jesus gives to Himself throughout the Gospels, but we see in Scripture "One like the Son of Man" long before Jesus became a man. Daniel saw the pre-incarnate Christ in the following vision:

Daniel 7:13 - "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him."

This title clearly speaks of Jesus appearing in the form of a man. The following passage helps explain why Jesus is both the "Son of Man" and the "Son of God":

Philippians 2:5-8 - Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus had to become the "Son of Man," because He was the only sinless human who could fulfill the Law and free humanity from its penalty of sin and death in the flesh:

Romans 8:1-4 - There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Jesus, being both the "Son of Man" and the "Son of God," is the only mediator between God the Father and men:

1 Timothy 2:5-6 - For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

And the Father has given Jesus the authority to judge men because He is the "Son of Man":

John 5:26-27 - For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.

Revelation 1:13 - ...clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girded about the chest with a golden band.

A parallel passage in Daniel specifies that Jesus' garment was linen. These two passages together show that the golden band is across His chest and down around His waist:

Daniel 10:5-6 - I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.

A garment, or robe and a band, or sash is part of the apparel of the high priest:

Exodus 28:4 - And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a skillfully woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. So they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister to Me as priest.

Jesus the High Priest keeps the lamp stands of the churches lit by the Holy Spirit. Similarly, it was the duty of the earthly high priest to keep the lamps in the tabernacle burning by replenishing the oil:

Leviticus 24:2-4 - "Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually. Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron shall be in charge of it from evening until morning before the LORD continually; it shall be a statute forever in your generations. He shall be in charge of the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD continually."

Based on the psalm below, the garment the Lord wears shows His majesty and His being "girded" is a sign of His strength:

Psalms 93:1 - The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.

A band, or sash symbolizes Israel's dependence on the Lord:

Jeremiah 13:11 - 'For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,' says the LORD, 'that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.'

The girded band is gold. Gold can represent holiness and purity, as it retains all its qualities when tested in fire:

Job 23:10 - But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

The tabernacle was holy, which is why many of the items in it were gold:

Exodus 28:36 - "You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet: Holiness to the Lord."
Exodus 39:30 - Then they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription like the engraving of a signet: Holiness to the Lord.
Hebrew 9:3-4 - ...and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna....

Gold can also be associated with kingship, as illustrated throughout the Old Testament with great amounts of gold bestowed to many of Israel's kings. Gold was also one of the three gifts the magi brought to Jesus, who were looking for the "King of the Jews" (Matthew 2).

Interestingly, a parallel passage in Daniel 10:5 shows Jesus girded with gold from "Uphaz." Many scholars believe "Uphaz" is the same place as "Ophir," where Solomon acquired much gold (1 Kings 9:28, 2 Chronicles 8:18, 9:10). Since Solomon spared no expense, the gold from Ophir was likely the finest available.

Revelation 1:14 - His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow...

Daniel described the "Ancient of Days" as having hair like white wool:

Daniel 7:9 - "I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire.

Many believe that this passage describes God the Father. However, God is invisible and Jesus is the only physical manifestation of the Godhead:

John 1:18 - No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Hebrews 1:1-3 - God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Colossians 1:15 - He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
Colossians 2:9 - For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

However, identifying the "Ancient of Days" as Jesus in Daniel 7 is problematic when we get to this verse:

Daniel 7:13 - "I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him."

God the Father is invisible, so both figures seen by Daniel are Jesus. Daniel saw a vision which may not have been of an actual event, but more like a dream that could have allowed him to view Jesus in two different ways at the same time. But it is also possible that the Lord physically exhibited his omnipresence in this vision.

In the passage above in Daniel, Jesus as the "Son of Man" might have looked like He did during His ministry on the earth as a normal man. But as the "Ancient of Days," Jesus appears in His glorified form, where He demonstrates His oneness with His Father and acts as His "express image" (Hebrews 1:3):

John 17:5 - And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

Some believe that the hair that is "white as snow" and "like wool" depicts God's antiquity. However, there is no scriptural support for that notion. White hair would physically add to the brightness of His glory. But the word-for-word parallel "white as snow" in the passages below suggest that the white hair represents Christ's power to cleanse sin:

Isaiah 1:18 - "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Psalms 51:5-7 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

The coat of sheep is wool, so it is fitting that Jesus, who has hair like wool is the "Lamb of God" who has the power to take away the sin of the world:

John 1:29 - The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Revelation 1:14 - ...and His eyes like a flame of fire...

In a parallel passage, Daniel describes the Lord's eyes as "torches of fire" (Daniel 10:6), which is a piercing gaze that relates to the Lord's displeasure with sin:

Psalms 39:8-13 - Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish. I was mute, I did not open my mouth, because it was You who did it. Remove Your plague from me; I am consumed by the blow of Your hand. When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; surely every man is vapor. Selah "Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were. Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more."

This imagery shows that the Lord's judgment is on both the righteous and the wicked:

Psalms 11:4-7 - The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.
Hebrews 4:13 - 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.
Proverbs 20:8 - A king who sits on the throne of judgment scatters all evil with his eyes.

Revelation 1:15 - His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace...

The parallel passage in Daniel 10:6 describes the Lord's feet as "burnished bronze." Bronze is a strong metal strengthened through the purification process of smelting:

Numbers 31:22-23 - "Only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead, everything that can endure fire, you shall put through the fire, and it shall be clean; and it shall be purified with the water of purification. But all that cannot endure fire you shall put through water."
Ezekiel 24:11 - "Then set the pot empty on the coals, that it may become hot and its bronze may burn, that its filthiness may be melted in it, that its scum may be consumed."

While bronze signifies purification and strength, it also pictures judgment and restitution:

Numbers 21:5-9 - And the people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread." So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
Numbers 16:35-40 - And a fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense. Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: "Tell Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, to pick up the censers out of the blaze, for they are holy, and scatter the fire some distance away. The censers of these men who sinned against their own souls, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar. Because they presented them before the LORD, therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Israel." So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned up had presented, and they were hammered out as a covering on the altar, to be a memorial to the children of Israel that no outsider, who is not a descendant of Aaron, should come near to offer incense before the LORD, that he might not become like Korah and his companions, just as the LORD had said to him through Moses.

Incidentally, God told Moses to make the altar and its accompanying utensils and laver to use in the atoning sacrifices for sin with bronze, showing purification:

Exodus 27:1-6 - You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide - the altar shall be square - and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze. Also you shall make its pans to receive its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall make a grate for it, a network of bronze; and on the network you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. You shall put it under the rim of the altar beneath, that the network may be midway up the altar. And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze.
Exodus 30:18-19 - "You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it."

But the bronze color of the Lord's feet depicts judgment, because He will trodden down His enemies at the end of the Tribulation when He returns to the earth - they are not purified like metal, but consumed like scum in smelting (Ezekiel 24:11):

Isaiah 63:3-6 - " I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth."

Revelation 1:15 - ...and His voice as the sound of many waters...

The voice of Jesus not only sounds like a "trumpet" (Revelation 1:10), but also like that of "many waters." The following passages, describing the "sound of many waters" is like the deafening sound of a powerful waterfall like Niagara Falls:

Psalms 93:3-4 - The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea.
Jeremiah 51:16 - When He utters His voice - there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: "He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries."
Ezekiel 1:24 - When they [the living creatures] went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings.
Ezekiel 43:2 - 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.

Revelation 1:16 - He had in His right hand seven stars...

Revelation 1:20 shows these seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. Being in the Lord's right hand signifies these angels have favor, as shown in the following passages:

Genesis 48:17-18 - Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, "Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head."
Psalms 44:3 - For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them.
Matthew 25:34, 41 - Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world....' "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"

The right hand also symbolizes strength, protection, and salvation:

Psalms 63:8 - My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.
Isaiah 41:10 - Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Psalms 18:35 - You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.
Psalms 20:6 - Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.

Once saved, no one can snatch a believer out of the Lord's hand and take away their salvation:

John 10:27-29 - My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.

Incidentally, the Savior is presently seated "at the right hand of God," which symbolizes His strength and having the Father's favor (Mark 16:19, Luke 22:69, Acts 2:33, 5:31, 7:55-56, Romans 8:34, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 10:12, 12:2, 1 Peter 3:22).

Revelation 1:16 - ...out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword...

The word of God is a "sharp two-edged sword":

Hebrews 4:12 - 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.
Ephesians 6:13, 17 - Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

God's word has the power to kill in judgment:

Hosea 6:5 - Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and your judgments are like light that goes forth.

Jesus is the personified word of God:

John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Revelation 19:13, 15 - ...His name is called The Word of God.... Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

And Jesus, being God's manifest word, will slay His enemies by the word of His mouth at the end of the Tribulation:

Isaiah 11:1, 4 - There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.... He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.

Revelation 1:16 - ...and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

The Lord's visible appearance shone like the sun. The parallel passage in Daniel 10:6 says that "His face [was] like the appearance of lightning." The apostle John saw the Lord appear in the same fashion at the transfiguration, where Jesus gave him, Peter, and James a glimpse of His kingdom and glory:

Matthew 17:2 - ...and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
Luke 9:29 - And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.

Ezekiel describes the "glory of the Lord" as follows:

Ezekiel 1:27-28 - Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.

Only the righteous can withstand the brightness of the physical manifestation of the "glory of the Lord." God's enemies cannot behold His glory, just as one cannot look at the sun:

Psalms 89:15 - Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.
2 Corinthians 3:7-8, 12-13, 18 - But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?.... Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech - unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.... But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 - And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

Christ pre-incarnate had the same countenance as He does now in His glorified body:

Judges 13:5-6 - "For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." So the woman came and told her husband, saying, "A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome; but I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not tell me His name."

Likewise, angels show the same bright countenance as the Lord because they stand in His presence as Moses did:

Exodus 34:29 - Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses' hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.
Luke 2:8-9 - Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Matthew 28:2-3 - And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

Revelation 1:17-18

Revelation 1:17 - And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.

Other prophets had a similar experience as John when they saw Jesus in His glory:

Ezekiel 1:28 - Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.
Ezekiel 3:23 - So I arose and went out into the plain, and behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face.
Ezekiel 43:2-3 - 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. It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw-like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face.
Ezekiel 44:4 - Also He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; so I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD; and I fell on my face.
Daniel 8:15-18 - Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end." Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.
Daniel 10:7-9 - And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.

The response of falling on one's face is due to human sin that is self-evident before the Holy God:

Isaiah 6:5-7 - So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged."

Revelation 1:17 - But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid..."

The Lord lays His right hand on John. Recall from Revelation 1:16, the right hand signifies favor, strength, protection, and salvation. All these things provided by the Savior should give comfort instead of fear. But in the sinful state, fear is the natural emotion felt by those who experience the glory of God.

Scripture shows that people are to have "reverent fear" of the Lord, which is also one of the seven attributes of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 1:4):

Psalms 19:9 - The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Psalms 111:10 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.
Proverbs 8:13 - The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
Proverbs 22:4 - By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.

However, God's enemies do not know this reverent fear; to them He will be their "Holy Terror":

Proverbs 1:7, 27-29 - The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.... When your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD."
Jeremiah 5:22-25, 29 - 'Do you not fear Me?' says the LORD. 'Will you not tremble at My presence, who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it. But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart; they have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, "Let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest." Your iniquities have turned these things away, and your sins have withheld good from you.... 'Shall I not punish them for these things?' says the LORD. 'Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?'

Believers are not to have a cowering fear before the Lord like an unsaved person, because He has taken away their iniquity and purged their sin (Isaiah 6:7, Hebrews 1:3). It is for this reason, that the Lord says "do not be afraid" (Genesis 15:1, 26:24, 46:3, Joshua 1:9, Judges 6:21-23, Lamentations 3:56-58, Daniel 10:12, Matthew 17:5-7, 28:9-10, Luke 5:4-10).

In the next four sections, Jesus expands on the reasons not to fear:

    1. He is the First and the Last
    2. He lives, though He was dead
    3. He is alive forevermore
    4. He has the keys of Hades and of Death

Revelation 1:17 - ...I am the First and the Last.

As discussed in Revelation 1:11, the title the "First and the Last" describes the Lord's eternal nature, being omnipresent or paramount of everything finite. The Lord is also the firstborn of the dead and is the prototype of the believer's resurrection. As discussed in the next section, when Jesus rose from the dead He defeated death, so believers should not have fear.

Revelation 1:18 - I am He who lives, and was dead...

Jesus, who is the "express image" of the Godhead (Hebrews 1:3) became human and lived and died like the rest of humanity:

Philippians 2:5-8 - Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Through His death, Jesus claimed victory over death, and over Satan, who once had the power over death, so believers should not fear:

Hebrews 2:14 - Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Revelation 1:18 - ...and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.

The word "behold" (Revelation 1:7) punctuates the importance of Christ's eternal life. Just as Christ's death was necessary to win victory over death, it is equally important that He conquered death, and raised from the dead into an eternal body - the believer's future resurrection depends on it:

1 Corinthians 15:16-22 - For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
Romans 6:5-10 - For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

Revelation 1:18 - And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Through His death, Jesus gained the power to "release those" who were "subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15). The bondage of death is the wages for sin:

Romans 6:20-23 - For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The place of the dead is known as "Hades" in Greek, or "Sheol" in Hebrew. Hades is a holding place for souls in the center of the earth, which is where Jesus went after He died:

Matthew 12:40 - For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Psalms 16:10 - For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

Jesus was in Hades during the three days and nights between His death and resurrection, preaching to the spirits held in bondage there:

1 Peter 3:18-19 - For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.
Ephesians 4:8-10 - Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended" - what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.")

The Lord personifies "Death." The following passages suggests that such a named entity exists:

Revelation 6:8 - So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.
Job 28:22 - Destruction and Death say, 'We have heard a report about it with our ears.'
Psalms 49:14 - Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.
Isaiah 38:18 - For Sheol cannot thank You, death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.

Jesus paid the ransom and penalty for sin and death through His own death. When Jesus rose again, He had the power over "Death" to release the souls of the righteous from Hades and raise them from the dead:

Hosea 13:14 - "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes."
Matthew 27:52-53 - And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Today, the souls of believers immediately go into the Lord's presence at death instead of Hades, as was the case before the cross:

2 Corinthians 5:8 - We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Hades has "gates":

Matthew 16:18 - And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Job 17:16 - "Will they go down to the gates of Sheol? Shall we have rest together in the dust?"
Isaiah 38:10 - I said, "In the prime of my life I shall go to the gates of Sheol; I am deprived of the remainder of my years."

Therefore, Jesus' possession of "the keys of Death and Hades" represents His power and authority to release those imprisoned behind these "gates." So, believers should not have fear of the Lord, but take comfort that He is sovereign over everything, including death and Hades.

Revelation 1:19-20

Revelation 1:19 - Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

In this verse, John gives us the "table of contents" for the rest of Revelation:

  • Chapter 1: Things which you [John] have seen
  • Chapters 2-3: Things which are [counsel to the churches]
  • Chapters 4-22: Things which will take place after this [in the future]

Revelation 1:20 - The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands...

Recall from Revelation 1:1 that "revelation" means to uncover, disclose, unveil, bring to light, or reveal something not known or hidden. God reveals mysteries through the Spirit:

1 Corinthians 2:7, 10-12 - But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory.... But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

The Spirit revealed to John that the seven stars are angels of the seven churches, and the lamp stands are the seven churches introduced in Revelation 1:11.

As a side note, the number seven appears exhaustively throughout Revelation. In Scripture, the number seven denotes complete perfection, as demonstrated in the following passages:

Leviticus 23:15 - And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
Esther 1:5 - And when these days were completed, the king made a feast lasting seven days for all the people who were present in Shushan the citadel, from great to small, in the court of the garden of the king's palace.
Revelation 15:1, 8 - Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.... The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

In addition, God took seven days to complete creation, which was "very good" (Genesis 1:31). For more on prophetic numbers check out the following study: "Prophetic Patterns in Numbers."

Revelation 1:20 - The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches...

As mentioned earlier, the word translated "angel" simply means "messenger." The context of the passage shows whether the angel is supernatural or human. In this case, it is not clear. Opinions differ on who these angels are.

Some believe these angels are of the heavenly host, or angels both holy and fallen, because they are the "stars" in the following passages:

Job 38:4, 7 - "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth... when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Daniel 8:9-11 - And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great.... And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host....
Amos 5:26 - You also carried Sikkuth your king and Chiun, your idols, the star of your gods, which you made for yourselves.
Revelation 9:1 - Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit.

There are some who look to Matthew 18:10 and Psalm 91:11, which show that people have guardian angels. Some have gone a step further to suggest that churches might also have guardian angels. While interesting, this idea is purely speculative.

On the other hand, the same Greek word "aggelos" translated "angel," or "messenger" can also describe men delegated to bring a message, as shown in the passages below:

Matthew 11:7, 10 - As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John.... For this is he of whom it is written: Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.
Luke 7:24 - When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?"
Luke 9:51-53 - Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.
Galatians 4:14 - And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
James 2:25 - Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

Some believe the text in Revelation 2-3 indicates that the Lord holds the angels of the churches accountable along with the congregations of the churches. This would support the belief that the "stars" are men. However, the message might simply be for the angel, or messenger to pass on with no personal accountability on their part, which would support the messengers being heavenly angels. Either way, it is not clear.

If the Lord holds these messengers accountable as many believe, then it would make sense that they would have been the overseers or leaders of each church, who then passed on the message to their congregation. Church leaders, or elders are to shepherd or take care of and teach the flock through the message of the word of the Lord:

1 Peter 5:1-4 - The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Incidentally, the heavenly host in Joseph's dream represented the patriarchs:

Genesis 37:9-10 - Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me." So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?"

The perceived height of physical stars can allude to higher stature or self-exaltation:

Job 22:12 - "Is not God in the height of heaven? And see the highest stars, how lofty they are!"
Isaiah 14:13 - For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north.'
Obadiah 1:4 - "Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down," says the LORD.

Moreover, Jesus, who is the "Chief Shepherd" is also a "Star":

1 Peter 5:4 - ...and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
Numbers 24:17 - "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult."

In short, a star can depict a supernatural being, but it can also represent someone of prestige or nobility. While not dogmatic, I believe the stars being human make the most sense, both as guardians and respected leaders over the flock, and logistically in delivering the messages. Also, since John got the message from an angel (Revelation 1:1), it seems odd that John would then share the message with seven other angels to share with the churches.

Revelation 1:20 - ...and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

In the next two chapters, Jesus addresses the seven churches listed in Revelation 1:11. While these were literal churches with unique issues, it is clear the Lord intended His instruction for the Church body at large. Revelation 1:1 shows that Revelation is for Christ's servants, or followers. Furthermore, each church was not to receive only their part of the letter addressed to them, but also the entire Revelation.

As we continue our study it is important to remember the "golden rule" of interpretation:

    "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context , studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise." - Dr David L Cooper

First, we will look at the literal churches and the issues that they had. Then we will see how this is applicable to the Church body. Last, we will look at a possible spiritual interpretation held by many prophecy teachers; in that the letters to the churches encompass the entire Church history, divided into seven different time periods. On that note, while the spiritual interpretation is interesting, and appears to fit historically, it is speculative and should not overshadow the clear literal meaning directed toward the churches and the Church body at large.

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