[b]The Risen Lord[/b]
[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
In Revelation 1:12-13, when John turned around to see who was
speaking, he saw Jesus. But he saw Him in the midst of the churches.
It is through the local church that the Lord seeks to reveal Himself
and to speak to others. The first dwelling-place of God mentioned in
the Bible is the burning bush that Moses saw in the wilderness (Deut.33:16).
Like John at Patmos, Moses also turned aside at that time to see that
marvelous sight. And that's when God spoke to him (Exod.3:3).
Today the church is God's dwelling place. God desires every church
to be aflame with His Spirit like that burning bush was. When people
look at a local church, they should be able to see the life of Christ
revealed through the members of that church. Then God
can speak to people through the church.
John then goes on to describe the Lord Jesus as he saw Him.
Even though the Lord is risen, He is still called the "Son of man,"
emphasising the fact of His identification with humanity permanently.
His long robe (undoubtedly white in colour) reaching to His feet,
points to His High-Priestly ministry of intercession for us - for this
was how the Jewish High-Priest was dressed when He went into the Most
Holy Place of the tabernacle, on the day of atonement every year (Rev. 1:13).
The Lord was wearing a golden girdle (belt) across His breast (Rev. 1:13).
Gold symbolises what is Divine. The girdle symbolises righteousness
and faithfulness (according to Isaiah 11:5). This emphasises the
perfect righteousness of God that was seen in Jesus' earthly life
and the perfect faithfulness with which He keeps His promises to us.
His head and His hair were white like wool (Rev. 1:14). Daniel 7:9 uses
this very same symbolism to refer to God's eternity (His endless age).
The white hair also speaks of wisdom. So this emphasises the fact
that Jesus, although the Son of Man, is nevertheless also the Eternal God, perfect in wisdom.
His eyes were like a flame of fire (Rev. 1:14). That means that "all
things are open and laid bare" to Him (Heb.4:13). His eyes penetrate
through all religious veneer, and can see through the flowery and
pious language and the "form of godliness" of the religious hypocrite.
It also sees beyond the broken, stuttering words of the God-fearing
soul into the sincerity of his heart. As a result, His evaluations are
totally different from man's. His feet were like burnished bronze
(Rev. 1:15). Bronze was the material with which the altar of sacrifice
was made (in the outer court of the tabernacle), where the sin-
offering was slain. Bronze, therefore, symbolises God's judgment of
man's sin at Calvary. While crushing the serpent's head, Jesus' feet
had to be pierced on the cross (Gen.3:15). His voice was like the
sound of many waters (Rev. 1:15). The rivers of living water symbolise
the Holy Spirit (Jn.7:37-39). The speech of Jesus was always full of
the gentleness and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
He held seven stars in His right hand (Rev. 1:16). The seven stars are
the seven messengers of the churches (Rev. 1:20). God has ordained
that the New Testament church be led by a plurality of elders
(Acts 14:23; Tit.1:5; Acts 20:17). But God usually equips one among the
elders with the gift of proclaiming the Word in the church, as His
messenger. This one is referred to here as "the messenger of the
church." (The word translated as "angel" is a Greek word which
actually means "one who brings news" or "a messenger"). These
messengers are held by Christ in His hand. That is why we are
commanded to give double honour to the elders "who work hard at
preaching and teaching" (1 Tim.5:17). It is necessary, however, to
mention that many elders of churches and many who preach God's Word
today are NOT held by Christ in His hand, for they are self-appointed
and not appointed by Him. A messenger appointed by the Lord will be a
man of God, who inspires your confidence, and through whose life and
ministry you will be fed, led and blessed. Such a man should be
respected - for he is held by the Lord in His hand. There are few men
like that in the world today - but praise God there are a few.
God's servants are special targets of Satan. Therefore they are
specially kept by the Lord in His hand. As long as they remain there
in humility, Satan cannot touch them. But when they are puffed up,
or if they sin and do not repent, then God allows Satan to inflict them
in various ways so that they can come to repentance. It is a
tremendous privilege to be held by the Lord as His messenger in His
hand. But it has awesome responsibilities as well.
Out of Jesus' mouth came a sharp two-edged sword (Rev. 1:16). This
refers to the Word of God that He speaks (Heb.4:12). We noticed in
Revelation 1:15 that His voice was like the sound of many waters.
These two verses put together indicate that Jesus always speaks God's
Word in the power of the Holy Spirit. He speaks with great gentleness,
but He also rebukes firmly, where necessary. His face was like the
sun shining in its strength (Rev. 1:16). This is how Peter, James and
John saw Him on the mount of transfiguration as well (Mt.17:2).
This symbolises the "unapproachable light" in which God dwells (1 Tim.6:16).
The holiness of God is compared here to the noonday sun, which
we cannot look at directly. The sun is a ball of fire in which no germs
or bacteria can dwell. No sin can dwell in the presence of God either (Isa.33:14).
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon