Revelation 1:12-17a, “One Like the Son of Man”

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.  And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.

As we get into this description, we have to remember that, to a great degree, Revelation is a book that uses symbols.  Someone has said that there are 65 such symbols throughout the book.  For the most part, they are explained in other verses or are pretty much self-explanatory.  This means that the book describes things that are real.  We have to take them as such and not look for some “deeper meaning” lying below the surface.

For example, the verses before us describe a real person that John saw.  He saw the glorified Lord Jesus.  Cf. His transfiguration as described in Matthew 17:2.  As we get a little further in the book, we’ll see that, in dealing with His churches, the Lord will use one part of this description with each church.

What kind of “Jesus” do we have to deal with in this age?

In the 60s I mentioned in the last post, He was viewed by some as a hippie, a “revolutionary.”  To a large part of professing Christendom today, for all practical purposes, He is dead, because they portray Him as still on the Cross.  To an even larger portion of professing Christendom, He is largely irrelevant, because we have developed enormous denominational structures and organizational hierarchies which wield that authority which is His only or which He gave to the local church.  The local church itself has become largely irrelevant, except maybe as a source of income for all the “para-church” organizations which have developed.  These organizations may be well-meaning, but our Lord intended the local church to be the source of evangelism and education and edification, not some far-off seminary, mission board, or religious association.  Yes, it might argued, but how can the local church accomplish all this?  The early church in Acts had no problem.

In short, we have built a religion and a picture of Christ based on our own image and wisdom.

This isn’t the image John described.

1. His clothing, v. 13, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.  A similar description is given of the clothing of the seven angels who dispense God’s final judgments on this earth, Revelation 15:6.  It’s also reminiscent of the clothing of the High Priest.  Among other things, the High Priest was responsible to see that everything in the Tabernacle or, later, the Temple, was according to pattern, Exodus 25:9.

2. His head and hair, v. 14, His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow.  This same description is used of the One called The Ancient of Days and seated on the throne of heaven, Daniel 7:9.  This description is used of no other beings in the universe, only the Father and the Son.

3. His eyes, v. 14, like a flame of fire, to search out and destroy all that is opposed to God.  It’s significant that Paul describes our Lord’s return to the earth as one in which He will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord when He comes on that Day, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.  See also Revelation 19:12.
This is not the “Jesus” of way too much of modern, “contemporary” Christianity, to say nothing of all the other religions floating around this world.  It’s true that He is not now executing judgment on His enemies.  This is indeed a time of grace and salvation, but it’s a great mistake to believe that He will never execute such judgment.  One of these days, this world will run headlong into the end of God’s patience, and then, as Peter put it, If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? 1 Peter 4:18.

4. His feet, v. 15, like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace.  This goes along with His description in Revelation 19:13 as being clothed in a robe dipped in blood, a verse which describes the result of Isaiah 63:1-4, which says,
Who is this who comes from Edom (cf. Isaiah 34:5, 6), with dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? –
“I who speak in righteousness, might to save.”
Why is Your garment red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
“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….”

Revelation 14:20 describes this slaughter as being so great that blood will be up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs,  or nearly 200 miles.  I used to imagine rivers of blood that deep, but probably arterial spray would account for it.  He will indeed strike the nations which gather against His people, Zechariah 14:2, 3.  Many people will recoil at the idea of God doing this, but it’s what He says He will do, regardless of what men think about it.  Man will not forever be able to thumb his nose at God.

5. His voice, v. 15, as the sound of many waters.  Psalm 93:4 says, The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, than the mighty waves of the sea.  We’ve all seen what flood waters can do.  We’ve seen what the mighty waves of the sea are able to accomplish as they crash against a rocky shore line or when stormy seas break through man-made barriers.  This will be nothing compared to the might of our Lord when He returns.

6. His right hand, v. 16, holds seven stars, which will be identified later on as the angels of the seven churches, v. 20.  We’ll have more to say about them then.

7. His mouth,v. 16, out of which is pictured a sharp two-edged sword.  Scripture says that He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, Isaiah 11:4.  Revelation 19:15 echoes this description:  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.  It will be no “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” who returns to this earth.
This “sword” is not just some little decorative item.  The Greek word refers to a long, heavy sword, almost as tall as a man and requiring two hands to wield.  It’s the same word used in the Septuagint of Goliath’s sword, that same sword which David used to cut off Goliath’s head.  The assembled armies of the world will be no match for our Lord.
Scripture says that Jesus will rule in the midst of His enemies, Psalm 110:2.  Worship and serving the Lord will not be optional.  Zechariah 14:16-19 describes this time:

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth which do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.  If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague  with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.  This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

I think Ezekiel 40-48 will come into play at this time, as well.  A time is coming in which the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea,  Isaiah 11:9.  Jesus will recognized and glorified for who He is.  He will not be  mentioned with religious figures of this world, like Buddha or Gandhi or the prophet, but will have sole place of worship and authority.  It will unmistakeably and forcibly be seen once and for all that there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved, Acts 2:12.

8.  His appearance, like the sun shining in its strength.  The Greek word speaks more of His general appearance than of His face.  His whole demeanor was one of incredible strength, glory and majesty.  This is what Saul saw on the road to Damascus, Acts 26:13.

John’s reaction?

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.

I wish we could get this vision of our Lord.  Isaiah saw it in his day, Isaiah 6:1-5; John 12:41.  It would go a long way toward curing the ills in our churches and our culture.


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