“One Like Unto the Son of Man”
December 21, 2003:
· Bro. Dave Noble (North Industry, Ohio)
· Here in Revelation 1, we have the initial vision that John records. It is that image of the one like "unto the Son of Man" standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. It is an image that echoes the image Daniel saw of "the Man of the One" as recorded in Daniel 10. We will reflect on these images as we contemplate our relationship to them and the hope we have in being a part of the Multitudinous Bride of Christ.
· Daniel was given the vision of the Man of the One in order to encourage him, and as it says in the first verse of Daniel 10, "he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision." Well, our understanding of this vision in Revelation 1, can bring us encouragement and strengthen us in the last days. It should also provide us with a means to motivate us so that we might continue in patience, seeking glory and honor and immortality! Because of Daniel's faith, he was "well beloved" of God. We need to be developing a faith like Daniel's, so that when we stand before the Lord, we might be found worthy to be counted among those who are well beloved, and like Daniel, be granted to "stand in our lot at the end of the days" and to receive the rest promised in the Kingdom.
· The vision of the Son of Man really begins in verse 10 and goes to the end of Revelation 1. John hears a voice "as a trumpet" that causes him to look behind him. There he observes "one like unto the Son of Man." The vision is so striking that it overcomes John, causing him to fall down in a faint, as if dead. He is restored by the voice and by being touched by the right hand of the image. Thus, like Daniel, he enacts his own death and resurrection. The vision therefore, symbolizes the future glory of the elect, raised from the dead, and made one with Christ.
· The image is seen by John to be in the "midst of the seven candlesticks (v. 13)." The word here should be rendered "lampstands," and is representative of the 7-branched lampstand found in the Tabernacle. If we recall, the lampstand was fed with a special oil supplied by the Israelites (Ex. 27:20-21). It is representative of the Truth, while the gold symbolizes a tried faith (Lam. 4:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:7; Rev. 3:18). As given in the testimony of verse 20 of this chapter, the seven golden lampstands represent the Ecclesias of God manifesting faith and light (cp. Matt. 5:15-16). It is the duty of every individual member to play his or her part in providing the gold and the oil, so that an ecclesia may thus be manifested. The very heart and purpose of the formation of Ecclesias is to develop the multitudinous Christ, a people for the name of Yahweh (Acts 15:14).
· Now the vision was of "One like unto the Son of Man." The vision was not of Christ himself, although Christ was part of it. Likewise, Daniel saw "one like the similitude of the sons of men (Dan. 10:16)" after he had been raised from his figurative death. What the prophet and apostle saw were symbolic representations of the multitudinous Christ, of whom the Lord Jesus is the head (Eph. 4:13). Each member of the glorious, multitudinous Body will be "like him," which is of itself a wonderful promise given that we just read a couple of days earlier. If we turn back a few pages to 1 John 3, we can see this. Beginning in verse 1 we read:
Analysis of Image:
· In analyzing the figure, we see it is first described as being "clothed with a garment down to the foot." Nakedness is symbolic of a state of sin. This was impressed upon Adam and Eve after they had sinned. God stripped them of their own covering of fig leaves, and covered them with the skin of a slain lamb. This pointed forward to the offering of Christ. It teaches that we must be figuratively covered with the "garment of salvation (Is. 61:10)," that we "put on" at baptism (Gal. 3:27). Israel was taught the need of a covering by the institution of the Day of Atonement, when sin was covered over, or hidden from view, by being forgiven.
· Our covering by which our sins are forgiven is found in Christ…as represented in these emblems. We must keep the Christ-robe unspotted if we desire to wear it eternally in the Age to come. At that time it will become a robe of righteousness and of immortality. It is a garment that covers the entire body, down to the foot, and it points to a day when the flesh will be covered entirely, with the glorious garment of immortality and given divine status.
· The second attribute described is the golden girdle. As I indicated earlier, gold is the symbol of a tried faith, a faith without which "no man can please God." Faith binds and completes the robe of righteousness. It binds it firmly around the wearer's heart. In the resurrection, those who are not suitably clothed will be rejected. The Levitical priests were also so girded about the breast, though not of gold. The girdle was used not only to strengthen the individual for the priestly service of judgment, and administering words of reproof and warning, but also to contain mercy.
· Next we have the description in verse 14, "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow." Christ is the head of the multitudinous body, and every member of that body should be motivated by His thinking. As it says in Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Ultimately every member of the Body must appear as he is, and be united as one to the head, who is Christ. For it is the head, "for which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God (Col. 2:19)."
· The description of "white like wool, as white as snow" can also be found in Isaiah 1. If we turn there we see this description given in the initial vision of Isaiah to the nation of Judah. It says down in verse 18 of Isaiah 1:
· "Come now, and let let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
· The reference to snow is significant. It is used to describe the refreshing effect of God's word (Is. 55:10), purity (Ps. 51:7; Lam. 4:7), and divine glory (Dan. 7:9; Matt. 28:3). Snow is the source of the purest water. Interestingly, every snowflake is a six-pointed crystal, no two being the same in design. Thus, snow represents flesh purified, emphasizing the diversity of characters that shall be found clothed upon with glory in the age to come.
· The next phrase is "his eyes were as a flame of fire." The eyes are the means of perception and discernment. When we consider the history of the nation of Israel, the angels have acted as the eyes of God, supervising the development and destiny of men and nations for the ultimate benefit of the elect. In the future age, the saints will occupy that position. The cherubim of Ezekiel's vision are "full of eyes round about," so as to be fully aware of all that is happening on every side. In the image before us, the symbol of "a flame of fire," represents the eyes of the multitudinous Christ as flashing with anger and judgment. The wickedness of the world will induce this reaction so that the "people of the name" will go forth and execute the judgments written against the nations.
· The image has "feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace (v. 15)." The feet are those of the multitudinous Christ, or the saints in glory, marching forth to execute the judgments written. Various duties will be allocated to the elect in that day. Some will act as the eyes of God investigating conditions. Others will act as feet marching forth to discipline the rebellious. Some will be the hands ruling the nations and shaping their development.
· We see the illusion to brass, a fine brass. It is the symbol of flesh purified by fire, as if burned in a furnace. In the book of Numbers, it describes that all metal that remained after going through the fire was considered to be cleansed. This brings to mind the incident when the 250 Levites rebelled against the authority of Moses and Aaron and were consumed by the fire of God. It consumed them, but it left their brass censers, which were then incorporated into the brazen altar as a symbol of flesh purified by fire.
· In the image here in Revelation, this brass is shown on the feet of the image, equipping it to tread down the wicked. In those days, animals were shod with plates of metal for the purpose of treading out the corn. This is used as an illustration of the future conquests of the saints. As another example of this, let's turn to the prophecy of Micah. In Micah 4, we will take a look at the verses beginning with verse 11:
· "Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth."
· A similar version is given in Malachi 4 where it describes the time in which the "Sun of Righteousness" will arise with healing in his wings, and "ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts (Mal. 4:2-3)." Thus the symbol before us represents flesh purified by fire, and then going forth to discipline the nations, bringing them into subjection to Christ.
· Verse 15 of Revelation 1 concludes with the note that "his voice as the sound of many waters." It is a further image of the multitudinous characteristic of the image. It describes the sound of a multitude. If we turn over to Revelation 17:1, we see a similar description given to the "judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters (17:1)." In verse 15 of Revelation 17 it says:
· "He saith unto me, the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."
· Even though the voice will be a sound of a multitude, they will be conveying one voice, the voice of God. The saints will speak forth words of wisdom, instruction and reproof to the entire world.
· In the right hand of the image were seven stars. In Daniel 12, it describes how the saints will "shine as the brightness of the firmament" and be "as the stars for ever and ever (Dan. 12:3)." These stars are represented as being in "the right hand" of the Spirit for that is the position of privilege and power. They are those controlled by the Spirit, and those born of the Spirit.
· Out of the mouth of the image "went a sharp two-edged sword." In Hebrews 4, and verse 12¸we have commentary supplied as to what this is. Reading from that verse we have:
· "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
· In the Kingdom, the saints will have the mind of Christ, and will have the Word of God written on their hearts. It is through the Word that the saints will teach and minister. By its means, the saints will be able to read the hearts and discern the motives of all before them, and so restrain sin. By this means, satan will truly be bound.
· Finally, the last attribute relates to the overall countenance of the image of the Son of Man. It says in verse 16, "his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." The whole appearance of the multitudinous Christ is referred to, and not merely the face. This vision glowed with light, as did the Lord on the Mt. of Transfiguration when the divine glory was manifested through him. The relating of the glory to the Sun (in the sky), is representative in scripture at times of God, of Christ, and of the saints in glory. So, it is a fitting description applied to the multitudinous Christ, manifesting the glory of God. The glory will shine forth dispelling all darkness and its associated wickedness from the earth.
· That is a wonderful image for us brethren and sisters. It embodies our hope of being a part in the culmination of God's divine plan! The image was given as a means of encouraging Daniel, and it is given here at the end of John's life to encourage him. But it goes beyond that. John was told by the image to "write the things which thou has seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter (v. 19)." The entire Revelation was given by God to Christ "to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass (v. 1)." We are God's servants brethren and sisters, and as such, we too can draw strength from the image. But we must also draw warning from the image as well.
· We must not forget that each member of that composite body has labored to reveal those glorious attributes in their lives during the days of their probation. Today we are members of Christ's body, and we need to be performing our individual tasks for the common good of the Ecclesia of God, so that we might be fitly joined together. The perfection portrayed in the vision is to be striven for now. We need to be clothed with Christ, developing a tried faith, seeking the spirit word to guide us, with arms and feet acting in conformity with the will of God, and finally, speaking forth the clear, wholesome words of life. If these qualities be found in us, however limited, there is then a basis for their perfection when our Lord appears, and the image of the Son of Man is then formed to stand upon this earth. If not, we stand no chance to be granted a part in that image.
Warning for Us:
· When the image appeared to John, it was in the midst of the 7 lampstands that represented the 7 Ecclesias of Revelation 2 and 3. John is commanded in verse 11 of Revelation 1, "what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven ecclesias which are in Asia."
· If we recall the purpose of those letters, we remember they were given as a means to bring those Ecclesias back into conformity with the will of God. They were given commendations for what they individually were doing well, but they were also given condemnation for where they were falling short. They were warned in order that they might repent and turn from their ways, so that Christ might not remove their lampstand. The sad testimony of history is that they did not survive! Not one of those Ecclesias lasted very long. Today, the entire area of Asia Minor is Moslem. Each of the seven cities is but a pile or ruin today, where they were once great metropolises.
· These 7 Ecclesias represent to us the "complete" brotherhood, the entire body of Christ. The warnings made to them are applicable to us, if we desire to be a part of the multitudinous Christ. We will face suffering and trials as the day of the Lord approaches. We will face greater and greater temptations from the world around us that we need to overcome to be found worthy.
· As we contemplate the emblems before us this morning, and meditate upon our Lord, we need to be mindful of our responsibilities. Later in the book of Revelation, in chapter 16, the warning is given, "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame (Rev. 16:15)." We do not want to be made naked at the judgment seat of Christ because we failed to keep our garments unspotted.
· In closing, let us turn over to the book of Titus. In his letter Paul gives a strong exhortation to Titus. In Titus 2:1, he tells Titus to "speak thou the things which become sound doctrine." He goes on to list in this chapter examples of what things "become sound doctrine." Then looking down in verse 11 we have, "for the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."
· This salvation brethren and sisters, the grace of God that appeared to all men, is our Lord Jesus Christ. These emblems before us represent that grace. That grace, as Paul continues with Titus, teaches us that:
· "Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
· Today, let us make that message our own brethren and sisters. Let us pledge to God to labor individually, within our families, and for our Ecclesias, so that we might live worthy of our calling, shaping ourselves so that we might find a place somewhere in that image.
· Our covering was put on at our baptisms, and we need to work so that it is not taken away. Have an ear and hear what the Spirit said unto the Ecclesias, and labor to enter into the rest. Let us rejoice in the image of the Son of Man, and take joy in the atoning work of our Lord, but let us keep our faith, relying on the power of God through faith, so that in the words of Peter:
· "The trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls (1 Pet. 1:7-9)."
Dave Noble, North Industry, Ohio
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