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Christ Has Hair Like Wool, Eyes Like Fire, Belly of Ivory, Feet of Brass, a Sword in His Mouth
The Voice of the Trumpet is the Voice of God
John heard the voice of the trumpet and turned to see what it was. It was as the voice of God, specifically in this instance, as Christ speaks from the midst of the Church. St. John saw 7 golden candlesticks and in the middle of the 7 candlesticks, one like unto the Son of Man. From studies of the Tabernacle in the books of Exodus and Leviticus we know that in the outer holy place on the South side, adjacent to the Table of Showbread, there was the Candlestick. Actually it was a stand made of gold and was more of a lamp as we think of it. There was an oil reservoir which supplied the wick with fuel. Then there were 6 additional candlesticks (or lamps) that came out of the central candlestick and were arranged in a circle around it (not every expositor agrees about the “circle”). This is what we see here. The purpose of the Candlestick in the Tabernacle was to give light.
The New Priesthood of the New Testament
This was to show that in God’s work the only light comes from Christ, the Head of the Church and from the Holy Ghost as He works in and through the Church. The outer Holy Place represents, for one thing, the era of the Church in this world (there are other analogies that we will not go into here). The Holy Place is a fitting picture of the Church with its temporary light that will go out when the eternal day dawns and we see God face to face.
The Oil of the Spirit
The wicks were supplied with oil which fed through the piping from the central candle stick and reservoir in which the oil was stored. Christ is the central Candle Stick. The Light of the World is Jesus. The oil is the Holy Ghost from which the Church gets its light.
The Heavenly Tabernacle
Many Bible teachers who study the tabernacle have said that the prophetic witness of the Old Testament Candlestick – the light of the world – would never be complete until Christ takes His place in the midst of His people in the New Tabernacle. With this we heartily agree and hasten to point out that is exactly what we have here in this Book of Revelation: “In the midst of the candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man.” Christ is not entered into holy places made with men’s hands which are only figures of the true, but into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24)
The Melchisedec Priesthood
Christ is made a high priest of good things to come by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building (Heb. 9:11). The earthly tabernacle only served as an example and shadow of heavenly things. But now Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much He is the mediator of a better covenant established upon better promises (Heb. 8:5,6). If it was a tabernacle built by men, on this earth, Christ could not be a priest because He was not from the tribe of Levi (Heb. 8:4, 7:12-17). But the scene which we see here, while it pertains to the Church and the present dispensation, is not an earthly one. It is a heavenly one. Christ, the great High Priest, adorned in the High Priestly garments, is in the middle of the candle sticks, supporting them, supplying them and involved in the work with them.
6 + 1 = 7
There are 6 candlesticks in the circle and there is a 7th in the middle. 6 is the number of man. 1 is the number of deity. The Church united together with the deity of Christ becomes 7: The Perfect work of God; the finished work of Christ; the complete working of the Holy Ghost; the work of the Church in this world. This symbolism develops and fills in as this chapter progresses.
Clothed With A garment Down To The Foot
First, it is Christ in the midst of the Church. Then, it is Christ the righteous and the Holy Man who has personally won the favor, the blessing, and the office from God – He was clothed completely with the garment of personal righteousness (Heb. 1:8,9). This was a seamless robe of pure white linen. Over the righteous garment was the Ephod that consisted of an upper, vest-like design and a long, flowing robe. It was not a habergeon with a hole in the top by which it was slipped over the head, but was made in two pieces as a front and a back. It was put on and laced at the sides. Thus, if the seamless white robe represented His eternal righteousness, the Ephod represented His earthly accomplishments by which He learned to be and earned the right to be our High Priest (Heb. 5:6-10). There were two squares attached to the shoulders of the Ephod worn by the High Priest. On each shoulder of the Ephod there was a socket of gold in which a diamond was set. On each of the diamonds was etched the names of 6 of the tribes of the Children of Israel. The Bible says that the High Priest was to bare the children before God in memorial. The term “memorial” is used in the Old Testament Scriptures to indicate something that would cause God to remember and accept them on the bases of one of His mighty acts on their behalf in the past. When the children crossed out of Egypt through the Red Sea, stones were set up for memorial and again when they crossed out of the wilderness through the Jordan and into the Promised Land. It was written that whenever the children of God in coming generations would ask, “What are these stones?” they would be told that they were for a memorial of the time when they, by the mighty hand of God, were brought out of bondage or out of the wilderness and into the good land flowing with milk and honey. All of these things were types of the Cross, the redemption, the atonement, and God’s grace extended to His people because of Christ. The Cross is the memorial that God remembers and because of which we are accepted in His presence
Judgment and Memorial
The diamond was the exemplification of purity. It was Christ, the Stone from heaven, not cut out by hands. The gold was His deity and divinity. The Children came before God by grace with the purity, the flawlessness, the righteousness, and the divine nature which was necessary in order for them to stand before God and not be destroyed. This was not a passive judgment. Christ, our great High Priest, was judged by God for the sins of the people. It was only His personal divinity, deity, and flawless attributes that made it possible for Him and us to survive the wrath of God.
Where He Ever Lives to Make Intercession for Us
Christ still ministers in the presence of God for us, and we still need this intercession. Not one of us would last a day in the presence of God without the memorial that God sees and is reminded of in His Son and His great accomplishments on our behalf. The fact of justification and the finished and determined nature of salvation notwithstanding, the Church would be dead in the water without the present, day-by-day, intercessory work of Christ.
The Love of Christ – The Tie That Binds
On the front of the Ephod was the Breast Plate. It was a square plate made of gold and covered over with blue, purple, and scarlet cloth. This Breast Plate was bound to the Ephod in two ways. First, on each of the corners there were rings and golden chains. The chains bound the Breast Plate to the shoulders of the priest by fastening to the two shoulder plates where the diamonds were. Secondly, behind the Breast Plate (on the back side of it) were rings made in the blue and scarlet and purple cloth. Strings of fine twined linen, woven in colors of blue, gold, purple and scarlet, tied the Breast Plate from the back side to the front of the Ephod which was over the white linen robe.
Always Upon His Heart
On the front of this Breast Plate there were twelve stones set as three rows of four. On each of these stones (which were all different) one of the names of the children of Israel was written or engraved as the signet. These were set in sockets of gold and they were bound to the priest by the same chains and woven strings that held the Breast Plate.
Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God
The priest carried the children of God on His shoulders before God in judgment. But he also carried them before the presence of God in love, with a memorial to remind God of His grace. That is what the Breast Plate was for. Each of the children had a separate stone upon which his name was written. It represented the diversity of personality, the difference of gifts, and the individuality and personal nature of fellowship with God. The gold represented divinity, the white was righteousness, the blue was the beauty of holiness, the red represented the Cross, the purple was His royalty or his Kingly office. The Breast Plate (by which the children of God were inseparably bound to the priest by His deity and the beauty of His holiness) is Christ’s priestly intercession, His kingly office and by the accomplishments of His Cross. The Breast Plate could not become separated from that priest. And then it was bound to the shoulders of the Ephod by chains of gold and that represented Christ’s own personal deity and divinity. The High Priest’s shoulders symbolize Christ’s strength and the work of the Cross.
The nature, the purity, the work, and the office of Christ hold the people of God fast as He takes us before God in judgment, and the work of the Cross binds us fast to His shoulders. We see Him here in the middle of the Church. He is sharing in the work as the light of the Church and the Faithful Witness. He is also in His office as the Great High Priest with His righteous garment and the Golden Girdle on His heart and His breast, taking us before God as judgment is meted out to the people of God in this era when judgment has begun at the house of God and God is purging and purifying His people. What a frightening experience! But we are bound to the Priest by all of those provisions that God has made through the person and the work of Christ to assure us (and Himself) that we will not be separated from Him. Remember that it is God who reconciled us to Himself (Rom. 5:7,8), according to the pleasure of His grace and good pleasure (Ephesians 1:4-11), through the death of His Son (Romans 8:32), when we were enemies of God and not seeking Him (Eph. 2:11-19). God is much more interested in and committed to keeping you and me in His household than we are in staying in it. Nothing is more indicative of the ugly self-righteousness and arrogance in man than the misguided notion that we are more interested in God than He is in us. If that were the case, no mortal would know God.
Chapter One is a Key to Understanding the Book
This is not detached, diversionary, or superfluous information. It is very specifically and definitely related to what the Book of Revelation is all about. One of the things that is going on in this world is that justice is being carried out, grace not withstanding. Sanctification is, in a sense, the redemption of mortality. Grace does not remove the curse of mortality. It makes sense out of it and gives us an opportunity to turn these sufferings into something eternal by sacrificing our lives in Christian service. We are going through the trials because they are necessary purging and purifying and achieving experiences. To assure that they result in something immortal and eternal, Christ is interceding and ministering in the presence of God for the Church as the High Priest. Because this work is based upon His deity, His character, and His achievements, it will be utterly successful. That is the picture that is drawn here.
But what exactly is going on, and why and what does it mean to us? What is our part in it? How is it working out now, and how is it all going to wind up? That is exactly what Revelation was given to the Son, by the Father, to tell us.
More about Christ As We See Him Here
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow;
Many times white represents purity. In this instance however, it represents the honor and wisdom that is associated with the hoary head.
And his eyes were as a flame of fire;
The Bible says that God’s eyelids try the children of men. All things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. There is no creature that is hidden from Him or whose actions are not laid bare before Him. He looks upon us with that vision that pierces into us, that has all wisdom to see and know exactly how it is with us and with that refining fire of judgment and of the Spirit. This is part of the work as High Priest, Prince of the Kings of the earth, and Head of the Church.
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace;
For the most part in Biblical symbolism, and here in Revelation, brass represents judgment. Christ is in the midst of the Church and His feet are on the earth. He is standing in the fires with us, if you please. His head may be in the heavens, but His feet are upon the earth.
And his voice as the sound of many waters.
This represents the awesome, ever-present voice of Christ. It is like being out in the woods and hearing a distant waterfall. It is a hushed, almost soft, and quiet sound, and yet it is an awesome roar which is everywhere, and you cannot go anywhere to get away from it. We get used to the sound of birds, the snap of pine needles, and the chatter of chipmunks, and we almost forget that it is there. But it is there, and it is majestic and powerful when you stop to listen and consider. Christ with His church is not a harasser; He is not a brow beater; He is not always yelling at you or hissing in your ear, but His voice is always there. There is no place where it is not heard. It is a quiet voice, and yet mighty. It fills the whole land, and it is heard everywhere. As the Church goes on its mission in this world, God gives us room to live and move and have our being. Even so, we are never away from the sound of His voice.
And he had in his right hand seven stars:
The Seven Candles
The seven candles are the Church, individual and united with Christ. The number seven represents the complete and perfect working of the Church, which is the light of the world. The candle stick is for the purpose of giving light. Jesus said that. It is not to be put under a bushel. In this case the light being shed is the truth of God and His Kingdom, and His Son Jesus Christ. This truth is manifested through the message of the little book which is the written Word of God, eaten, digested and taken into the life of the Church and shown to the world through obedience to Christ Who is Her Living Head.
And out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword:
The sword is the Word of God, but it is not the Word of God in the same sense of the sound of His voice, which is like many waters. It is the weapon with which Christ makes war with the dragon and the enemies of righteousness. It is the power, the light, the grace, the salvation, and the judgment of Christ and His Kingdom. It is the Law of God and the commandments of God. It is the means of God’s communication of His mind and thinking to man. This sword has two edges – it cuts both ways. As an offensive weapon, it slays the enemies of God. This is in the spiritual sense (not necessarily devoid of the physical) in which Christ goes out to make war and to conquer.
But it is also a sword which inflicts wounds upon those who have it in their hands if they handle it carelessly. You can take a sword with two edges, and you can wage a fight with it, but you can also cut – even kill – yourself if you are not careful. The sons of Aaron – Nadab and Abihu – found that out. So did the young prophet in Numbers, as did King David when he ignored the Word of God in attempting to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. And that is not unique to the Old Testament. Ananias and Sapphira met the same unhappy fate. The Bible warns about those who handle the Word of God deceitfully and wrest it to their own destruction. This is the meaning of the two edges: the work of the Word of God in this world to bring conviction upon the ungodly but also the work of the Word of God to judge and to purge and to purify the Church.
And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Billions of people in this world go around every day without looking directly at the sun. If they did, for any appreciable time, they would suffer eye damage, maybe even blindness. But it is omnipresent and we are aware of it constantly and always. So brilliant is the sun which rules the day that our whole lives are tied up with its heat and illumination. This illustrates the brilliance of Christ not only in the Church but also in the world. This is brilliance in every sense: His Creatorship, His wisdom, His purity, His holiness, His presence, His Laws, His power, His judgment, His goodness, His grace and patience, and on and on. We may not all have had St. John’s vision, but anyone who cannot sense the light and the heat of Christ’s presence is out of touch with reality.
The Sword and the Spirit
This is the picture that the Holy Spirit revealed to St. John by the voice of the trumpet, as the Apostle turned to see who was talking to him.
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