LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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The Glorified Christ

 

 

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. (Revelation 1:12–16).

 

When John turned to see the voice that spoke to Him he initially saw a vision of a menorah, which in turn appeared to morph into a vision of Christ. This suggests to us that if people are to see Christ, they must first see Him in His church and that the church is to faithfully represent the Glorified Christ to the world. This is consistent with the last command Christ gave His church before He ascended to heaven.

 

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18–20).

 

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15).

 

The gospel is Christ; it is the message He brought to us from our loving creator God. It is the message that God has now made everything possible to free mankind from the necessity to sin, to cleanse away the guilt of past sins and to bring people into a right relationship with God. At His first advent, Christ established the Kingdom of God on earth. Mark 1:14–15 Records the early days of Christ’s ministry in which He announced the presence of the Kingdom.

 

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

 

Jesus built His church upon the revelation that He is God incarnate, the promised Messiah and the Savior of the world. Christ standing in the midst of the menorah, the seven golden candlesticks, shows us that Christ works through His church to bring the message of the gospel to the world. That vision must always remind us of our high calling and responsibility to God and mankind to faithfully teach and live the gospel. The forthcoming visions in the Revelation reveal the challenges facing the Kingdom of God and the hindrances brought about by the demonic powers against Christ’s church to distract and keep us from fulfilling our God-given mission. Recognizing the weakness of men, Christ now reveals Himself in the glory of His deity so that we will be encouraged to keep our eyes on Him and be faithful to the work to which He has called us until He returns the second time in final judgment.

 

CHRIST’S GARMENT

 

As we consider the appearance of the Glorified Christ, the first thing we notice is that He is “clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.” This garment signifies two things: first Christ’s priestly office and second His kingly office. The long robe and golden band appear in the vision of Christ seen by the prophet Daniel and recorded in Daniel 10:4–6.

Now on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, that is, the Tigris, 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.

 

You will also notice similarities in other attributes of Christ as seen in this passage of Daniel and the first chapter of Revelation.

The long garment worn by Christ is first described in Exodus 28:4 where God gives Moses instructions for the making of the garments of the high priest. After seeing Christ identified with His church, John sees Christ ministering to mankind as the Divine High Priest.

 

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 3:1).

 

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14–16).

 

Christ is a High Priest more efficient and beneficial to mankind than the high priest under the Law of Moses. That high priest presided over ceremonies and the results of his ministrations brought only ceremonial atonement but no practical atonement for sin.

 

But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. (Hebrews 10:3–4).

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11–12).

 

The atonement in Christ is real resulting in redemption for all that will repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in what Jesus did for them on the cross of Calvary. The golden band around His chest is also indicative of His high priestly dignity. Albert Barnes briefly describes this golden band: “Either wholly made of gold, or more probably richly ornamented with gold. This would naturally suggest the idea of one of rank—probably one of princely rank.”

While Christ is our High Priest, He also holds a dual office as King in the Kingdom of God. Both the long garment and the golden band are part of the formal vestments of a king. Barnes continues his description:

 

The raiment here assumed was not that of a priest, but that of a king. It was very far from being that in which the Redeemer appeared when he dwelt upon the earth, and was rather designed to denote his royal state as he is exalted in heaven. He is not indeed represented with a crown and sceptre here, and perhaps the leading idea is that of one of exalted rank; of unusual dignity; of one fitted to inspire awe and respect.

 

Johann Bengel, a Lutheran Pietist clergyman and Greek scholar living from 1687 to 1752 adds a little more to our understanding of the appearance of Christ here in Revelation: “A King is more exalted than a priest. Hence Scripture speaks much oftener of the kingdom than of the priesthood of Christ”.

While Christ is our High Priest—and we must never forget that—His appearance to John is intended not so much to present Him in that exalted office but rather to reflect the importance of things to be revealed in the following visions as we see Him leading His kingdom.

 

SEVEN ATTRIBUTES OF CHRIST ARE SEEN

 

After noting the garment and the golden band, John then takes notice of seven specific attributes of the Glorified Christ. These attributes are presented entirely in symbolic language and none of what is seen is to be taken literally; therefore, what is seen portrays only the moral likeness of the glorified Christ, not His physical likeness.

The gospels contain no descriptions of the person of Jesus; the only things we know about His physical person is that He was male and Jewish. It is unusual, given the love and devotion the writers of the gospels had for Christ that they did not write a single line dealing with His personal appearance. It would have been normal to give a description of Jesus except for the fact that the writings were divinely controlled and inspired. God saw to it that there should be no depiction of His appearance when He took on the form of a servant and was found in fashion as a man. However, now at the beginning of the Revelation, we are given a description of the glorified Christ, which, in its completeness, describes the seven-fold nature of His character.

The order in which these features are presented is significant. They are arranged in pairs grouped about the Voice, which has the central place as the central stem of the seven-branched menorah. The Voice is the central and main attribute as its significance is seen in that the Voice was the first thing John saw when the vision began. The order in which they are presented is:

1.      Head and Hairs white like wool, white as snow

2.      Eyes as a flame of fire

3.      Feet like fine copper glowing in a furnace

4.      Voice as the sound of many waters

5.      Right Hand holding seven stars

6.      Mouth from which issues a sharp sword

7.      Countenance as the sun, shining in full strength.

Adjacent to the Voice we have on either side; The Feet and the Right Hand; Next on either side of these we have the Eyes from which issued a fame of fire and the Mouth from which issued a sharp sword; Next on either side of these are the Head and Hairs that are brilliant white and the Countenance shining as the sun in the fullness of its strength.

 

EXAMINATION OF THE SEVEN ATTRIBUTES

 

The Head and Hairs white like wool, white as snow. This symbolizes the eternal Being of God. The same symbol is used of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9, “And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool”. The color white is a distinct symbol that appears 16 times in the Revelation and signifies the glory of God as related to Christ or to His people. John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was”. As the glory of the Father was in Christ, so is it in the people indwelt with the presence of Christ.

The Eyes like a flame of fire. This is an indication of Christ’s Deity and His omniscience. Nothing is hidden from Christ. Revelation 2:23, “I am He who searches the minds and hearts. Jeremiah 17:10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings”.

Feet like fine copper (brass, copper, bronze) glowing in the furnace. Copper (brass, bronze) is associated with the judgment of God. In Revelation 19:15 we see Christ treading “the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God”. Isaiah 63:3, “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”.  We find in the tabernacle/temple the brazen altar that stood in judgment on the sins of the people and was the only place were sacrifices could be made to reconcile people to God. In the visions of Ezekiel, the four living creatures of chapter one had feet that “sparkled like the color of burnished bronze”. At the end of that chapter, Ezekiel, much in the same fashion as the Apostle John, “heard the voice of One speaking” and fell on his face.

The Voice as the sound of many waters. This identifies the Glorified Christ as the God of Israel. 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”.

The Right Hand holding the seven stars. The right hand always signifies strength and skill. This is seen in God’s miraculously saving the Israelites from the Egyptian army at the Red Sea. Exodus 15:6, “Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces”. The Right Hand of God signifies God’s love for mankind and the work He does to save them. Psalm 17:7, “Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You From those who rise up against them”. It is also emblematic of the power of Christ to keep His people. John 10:28, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”. Understanding the seven stars to represent the angels of the seven churches, we see that His church throughout all time is under His protecting care as well as His absolute power and that He will both preserve and govern His church.

The Mouth from which issues a sharp sword. This refers to Isaiah 49:1–2, “The LORD has called Me from the womb; From the matrix of My mother He has made mention of My name. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword”. Christ makes an obvious reference to this passage in His message to Pergamos, Revelation 2:16, “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth”. The Word of God is called “The sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17 and in Hebrews 4:12 it is said that “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”. John 6:63 tells us “the words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life”; but to those who reject it John 12:48 says, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day”.

His Countenance as the sun, shining in full strength. As the sun is the supreme light-giver to the physical world, so Christ is the supreme Light giver to the spiritual world. In the Holy City mentioned in Revelation 21:23 it is said “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light”. John 1:9 tells us that Christ is “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world”. He is the Light that shines in the heart of everyone that repents and believes the gospel.

 

A DIVINE PORTRAIT

 

This description of the Glorified Christ is incomprehensible to the unenlightened soul. No mere man could have comprehended Christ in His Deity and glorified moral likeness. What we see in the Revelation is the Holy Spirit’s portrait of Him who is the brightness of (the Father’s) glory and the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3).

Certain aspects of this portrait of Christ appear in different connections throughout the Book of Revelation; it is only in Chapter 1 that they appear together.

In reality, there are no words in our language that can adequately describe the glories and beauties of our risen Redeemer. There is nothing in human knowledge and experience to which the Glorified Christ can be compared. As asked by the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 40:18, “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? “

We have been presented with this amazing group of symbols so that they may speak to us of the ineffable glories that will be revealed on that day when we will be transformed into His own likeness and “we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

In drawing the covers over this glorious vision of Christ we look forward to the day “when Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).