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John Sees The Voice



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. (Revelation 1:12–13a)


The Lampstands Signify the Church


Immediately upon hearing the loud voice, the trumpet sound that signified the presence of God, John turns to see this unexpected Visitor. The last words from the voice were the names of the seven churches; as soon as John turned the first thing he saw was seven golden lampstands, or as the King James Version calls them, seven golden candlesticks. It is significant that he saw lampstands because the lampstands are symbols that represent the seven churches. The symbol is defined in verse 20, “the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.”

You will recall we learned that a quality or nature of a symbol must in some way relate to the quality or nature of the thing which it represents. The lampstand John saw resembled a menorah, the lampstand that was in the Holy Place of the temple. Adam Clarke quite understands the relationship of the menorah to the church:


This is a reference to the temple at Jerusalem, where there was a candlestick or chandelier of seven branches; or rather six branches; three springing out on either side, and one in the center. This reference to the temple seems to intimate that the temple of Jerusalem was a type of the whole Christian Church.


Let us examine how the characteristics of the menorah relate to the characteristics of the church. God gave precise instructions to Moses on the construction of the menorah, or lampstand.


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. (Exodus 25:31–32).


The first quality is that it must be pure. The Hebrew word taw-hore, meaning pure in a physical, chemical, ceremonial or moral sense. Purity is an essential attribute of Christ’s church. “I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.” (2 Corinthians 11:2’ RSV) To be a pure bride for the Glorified Christ, the Church must be free from sin. “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” (1 Corinthians 1:30’ New Living Translation). It is the blood of Christ, our espoused husband that purifies us from sin. “According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22).  “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).

The purpose and nature of the lampstand, the menorah, is to broadcast light into the darkness to dispel that very darkness. “You shall make seven lamps for it, and they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.” (Exodus 25:37).  In the same sense, the church answers the symbolism of the menorah—Christ’s purpose for the church is to give light. “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.” (Matthew 5:14–15).  Jesus made this statement in the Sermon on the Mount. He had just given the Beatitudes, which He addressed to the true people of God, those who are in the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom light, the truth of salvation from sin, must be placed on a lampstand to give forth its light. That lampstand is the church. Adam Clarke enlightens us on the connection between the light of the lampstand and the church:


Ye are the light of the world—That is, the instruments which God chooses to make use of to illuminate the minds of men; as he uses the sun (to which probably he pointed) to enlighten the world. Light of the world was a title applied to the most eminent rabbins. Christ transfers the title from these, and gives it to his own disciples, who, by the doctrines that he taught them, were to be the means of diffusing the light of life throughout the universe.


Jesus takes that which was familiar in the worship of the Israelites and transfers it to the disciples who were to be part of the foundation of the church. The light given them to shine forth into the world is the truth of the gospel—particularly, that through Christ, God has made atonement for the sin of the world and all who will repent of their sins and put their faith in Him will be forgiven and made a new creation in Christ. Matthew Henry makes an excellent and prolonged discussion of what Jesus said about the light of the world and its relationship to the church. As the lights of the world, they are intended to illuminate and give light to others, and therefore:


They shall be set up as lights. The churches are the candlesticks, the golden candlesticks, in which these lights are placed, that the light may be diffused; and the gospel is so strong a light, and carries with it so much of its own evidence, that, like a city on a hill, it cannot be hid, it cannot but appear to be from God, to all those who do not wilfully shut their eyes against it.

They must shine as lights. By their good preaching. The knowledge they have, they must communicate for the good of others; not put it under a bushel, but spread it. By their good living. They must be burning and shining; must evidence, in their whole conversation, that they are indeed followers of Christ. They must be to others for instruction, direction, quickening, and comfort.

See here, First, How our light must shine—by doing such good works as men may see, and may approve of; such works as are of good report among them that are without, and as will therefore give them cause to think well of Christianity. We must do good works that may be seen to the edification of others, but not that they may be seen to our own ostentation; we are bid to pray in secret, and what lies between God and our souls, must be kept to ourselves; but that which is of itself open and obvious to the sight of men, we must study to make congruous to our profession, and praiseworthy, Philippians 4:8. Those about us must not only hear our good words, but see our good works; that they may be convinced that religion is more than a bare name, and that we do not only make a profession of it, but abide under the power of it.

Secondly, For what end our light must shine—“That those who see your good works may be brought, not to glorify you (which was the things the Pharisees aimed at, and it spoiled all their performances), but to glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Note, The glory of God is the great thing we must aim at in every thing we do in religion. In this centre the lines of all our actions must meet. We must not only endeavor to glorify God ourselves, but we must do all we can to bring others to glorify him. The sight of our good works will do this, by furnishing them, With matter for praise. “Let them see your good works, that they may see the power of God’s grace in you, and may thank him for it, and give him the glory of it, who has given such power unto men.” With motives of piety. “Let them see your good works, that they may be convinced of the truth and excellency of the Christian religion, may be provoked by a holy emulation to imitate your good works, and so may glorify God.” Note, The holy, regular, and exemplary conversation of the saints, may do much towards the conversion of sinners; those who are unacquainted with religion, may hereby be brought to know what it is. Examples teach. And those who are prejudiced against it, may hereby by brought in love with it, and thus there is a winning virtue in a godly conversation.


The Son of Man


When John heard the voice, he turned and immediately saw the seven golden lampstands, but when his vision focused he saw One like the Son of Man in the middle of the lampstands. Here we see the menorah having morphed into the Son of Man, Christ. Christ is inseparable from His church as the church is in fact His body. “The church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything.” (Ephesians 1:23, CEV).

The keen student of Bible Prophecy will immediately recognize this vision of the Son of Man as the same vision seen by Daniel in 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.” Adam Clarke draws the connection between the Son of Man and Christ:


This most certainly points out the Lord Jesus, ‏the Son of miserable man; who took our nature upon him that he might redeem us unto himself. To prove himself to be the Messiah he applies, before the high priests, these words of the Prophet Daniel to himself, Matthew 24:30, Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.


What Jesus says of Himself here certainly foreshadows how He appears to John and to His church in the Book of Revelation. The prophecy in chapter seven of the Book of Daniel had to do with the four beasts, the four empires leading up to the coming of Messiah from the time of the Babylonian captivity. You may recall from our study of Daniel’s prophecies that the coming of Messiah put an end to the rule and dominion of those empires over the people of God. With the advent of Christ, the kingdom of God was ushered in. This kingdom was unlike political kingdoms in that it will never pass away. “Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:14).

The voice John heard was none other than the Glorified Christ, One like the Son of Man. The Gospel of Matthew records the expression Son of Man 31 times. As we explore a few of these expressions we will learn some very important facts about this unique person, the Incarnate Christ.

Matthew 9:6, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins—then He said to the paralytic, Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” As the Son of Man He has the power to forgive sins on earth. That means any and all people that repent and put their faith in His redeeming work. Because He can forgive sins, He is God and because He is God He can heal diseases.

Matthew 12:8, “For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” God instituted the Sabbath on Mount Sinai as part of the Ten Commandments. Adam Clarke comments on what is said here: “The change of the Jewish into the Christian Sabbath, called the Lord's day, Revelation 1:10, shows that Christ is not only the Lord, but also the truth and completion of it. For it seems to have been by an especial providence that this change has been made and acknowledged all over the Christian world.” The Son of Man, Christ bringing salvation, redefines the Sabbath from just one day of the week to a state of grace.

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.” As the Son of Man, He died to make atonement for the sins of all mankind. He was really dead and buried and then raised from the dead on the third day.

Matthew 16:13, “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” In this passage we learn that He is the Son of God. As the Son of God and the Son of Man, He is truly God incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. As we learn from verse 16 following, this truth is the foundation of the church.

Matthew 16:27–28, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Christ will return in His role as the Son of Man. In this capacity, He is the only Person that can judge mankind because He has been a real man and experienced real human life. The fact that He did no sin as a Man, His life proves that humans can resist temptation and live in obedience to the will of God.

Matthew 18:11, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” The Son of Man is the redeemer of mankind. He came to this earth and lived as a man. As such, He understands and has experienced the human life. His purpose was to rescue lost humanity from the ravages of sin.

Matthew 19:28, “So Jesus said to them, Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Here Jesus speaks in terms that are suggestive of the Book of Revelation. We see Christ taking His throne in Revelation chapter 6.




As Jesus appears to John, He presents Himself as the I AM God, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. His voice was as startling as the blast from a trumpet, arousing John from his reverie on this particular Lord’s Day. As John turns to see the voice he catches a glimpse of Jesus he had never before seen. He sees the Glorified Christ standing there fully identified with His church, and it is His will that the Revelation be recorded and sent in the form of a book to His church—not just the church in a limited area; it is to go to His church as it exists throughout the remainder of time.