The Son of Man
The voice that John heard on the Lord’s day told him to write a book to the seven churches, telling them what he saw. However, before John began to record this message, he observed his surroundings and turned to see who was speaking to him.
The Voice from the Temple
Revelation 1:12, 13 says,
12 And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands. 13 and in the middle of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His breast with a golden girdle.
This, then, was a vision of the temple in heaven with the voice of God speaking out of the temple—the heavenly sanctuary. Of this we read in Heb. 9:11,
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation.
The risen, glorified Christ was not speaking from the Most Holy Place as one might expect, but from the midst of the lampstands in the Holy Place. Obviously, these seven lampstands were meant to represent the seven churches. John speaks of the lampstands seven times in the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:12, 13, 20 (twice); Rev. 2:1, 5; 11:4), as if to emphasize the seven churches.
Since the Spirit had been given to the church on the day of Pentecost, we find Christ positioned in the midst of the church. The church, then, is seen fulfilling the role of the priesthood, for only priests were allowed to enter the Holy Place. It suggests that all true believers are supposed to be priests, not merely to have priests over them.
Christ is described as appearing in the form “like a son of man,” that is, in human form, clothed as the great High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek. Of course, the term, “son of man,” had great prophetic significance, as this is the term used to describe the One coming to the Ancient of Days in Dan. 7:13 to receive dominion over the earth. He could rule in heaven as the Son of God, but because man was given dominion over the earth in Gen. 1:26-28, He had to become a son of man in order to rule the earth. He had to be the last Adam, fully in the image and likeness of God, a perfect image and reflection of the Father, to receive the right of dominion.
Hebrews 8:1, 2 says,
1 Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.
John himself (through his mother) was from a family of priests, as I explained in Dr. Luke: Healing the Breaches, Book 8, chapter 9. Hence, Caiaphas knew John personally (John 18:15), and at Jesus’ trial, John was able to talk to the doorkeeper in order to allow Peter access to the courtyard where the trial was being held. Toward the end of the second century, Polycrates wrote,
“Again there is John, who leant back on the Lord’s breast, and who became a priest wearing a mitre [petalon], a martyr and a teacher; he too sleeps in Ephesus.” [quoted by Eusebius in Eccl. Hist., III, 31]
John’s connection to the Aaronic priests seems to have given him a priestly persona even in the church at Ephesus and perhaps all of the churches in Asia.
The Robe and Sash
The robe of Aaron, the first high priest of the old order, was blue (Exodus 28:31). John does not tell us the color of Christ’s robe in the tabernacle of heaven, but we may presume that it too was blue, representing the law, heaven, and the realm of spirit. Recall that Paul said in Rom. 7:14, “the law is spiritual.” Hence, it is represented by the “cord of blue” (Num. 15:38), which was to remind people of “all the commandments of the Lord” (Num. 15:39). The high priest was to be the embodiment of the complete and exact intent of the law of God.
Aaron’s sash was described in Exodus 39:29,
29 and the sash of fine twisted linen, and blue and purple and scarlet material, the work of the weaver, just as the Lord had commanded Moses [in Exodus 28:39].
The sash (belt, girdle) was multicolored, having linen (“righteous acts of saints,” Rev. 19:8), blue (spiritual law), purple (dominion), and scarlet (redemption). Unusual emphasis is placed upon the fact that it had to be done by a “weaver” in order to integrate all of the colors and unite them as one.
Nonetheless, in Rev. 1:13 we find Christ “girded across His breast with a golden girdle.” Gold represents the divine nature. In the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, which was made of wood overlaid with gold, the prophetic picture is of human nature overlaid with the divine nature. It was a picture of Christ as Son of Man and Son of God.
The old high priest wore a woven sash having many colors, but Christ wears a golden sash. His divine nature trumps all of the other colors, for it was because of His divine nature—given through the virgin birth—that the purpose and prophecies of the other colors found their fulfillment.
The White Hair
Revelation 1:14 says,
14 And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.
Christ is here described in terms similar to the Ancient of Days in Dan. 7:9, “His vesture was like white snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool.” The physical description has spiritual meaning and purpose, for the law says in Lev. 19:32,
32 You shall rise up before the grayheaded [Seybah, hoary, old age], and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.
This law prophesied that men will rise from the dead when the Ancient of Days comes. So in Daniel 7 we see the dead rising to stand before the Ancient of Days at the final judgment. Dan. 7:13 tells us that the Son of Man “came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.” He tells us also that the Ancient of Days had white hair, but he gives no physical description of the Son of Man.
It remains for John to tell us that the Son of Man also had white hair. The same respect that was accorded to the Ancient of Days is thus paid also to the Son of Man. It also identifies Christ as the Judge of the earth, as Jesus said in John 5:26, 27,
26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself, 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.
Jesus then spoke of the resurrection in John 5:28, 29,
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
It is also important to note that the resurrection, rising up before the One with white hair, was not a request or a suggestion. Under the Old Covenant, the commandments are mere commands to be obeyed by the will of man. Under the New Covenant, God exercises His sovereign right as Creator. Hence, the laws are prophecies and promises that are performed or enforced by the will of God alone.
Hence, the Old Covenant demands that men rise at the presence of an old man—and men may or may not obey. However, the New Covenant does not place the decision in the hands of men, but only in the hands of God. For this reason, when the dead are raised, it is not by their choice. They are summoned, arrested, and brought forcibly to the Great White Throne for judgment.
More than this, the law says they were to “honor the aged, and you shall revere your God.” While this was a command under the Old Covenant, which men might obey or disobey, it was a statement of fact (a promise) under the New Covenant. In other words, this law tells us not what men may do, but what all men WILL DO at the Great White Throne judgment. This is consistent with Isaiah 45:23, 24,
23 I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 They will say of Me, “Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength…”
We see, then, that at the Great White Throne, all men, including those who had lived and died in unbelief, will “swear allegiance” to Christ and will “honor” and “revere” Him as the law says. Of course, they must still undergo the discipline of the baptism of fire in order to grow to spiritual maturity. Yet in the end, at the Creation Jubilee, they will all come fully into their inheritance in Christ when God becomes “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).
Eyes Like a Flame of Fire
At the end of Rev. 1:14, John says of the Speaker that “His eyes were like a flame of fire.” This is repeated at the end of the book in Rev. 19:12, where we see the glorified Christ again described in such a manner. The windows of the soul allow us to peek into His very being. Deut. 4:24 says,
24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
As we will see shortly in Rev. 1:16, “out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword.” Hebrew idiom likens the tongue (and the word) to a sword. In fact, the Hebrew word labbah means both a flame and the tip (point) of a weapon, such as a sword or spear.
Heb. 1:7 says also that God “makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” The word of God is in His angels, and is reflected in the name of the angel. Hence, an angel is pictured as a flame, or tip of the sword, which is the word of God that comes out of the mouth of Christ.
The eyes of Christ are mentioned in Zech. 4:10, “the eyes of the Lord which range to and fro throughout the earth.” This comes in the context of the “stone” set before Joshua (Yeshua) in Zech. 3:9. On this stone are “seven eyes,” which also appear to be the same as the seven lamps on the lampstand in the temple (Zech. 4:2).
It is complex, but it is likely that this “stone” is the same as the Stone Kingdom arising in Daniel 2:35, which is destined to fill the whole earth. If the seven lampstands represent the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, then it is apparent that the church is supposed to have the seven lights (“eyes”) to carry out its responsibility under God. The church fell far short, of course, but the overcomers within the church have not failed. By being in agreement with Christ and the divine plan, the overcomers see the world through His eyes. As they absorb the angels that determine their callings, they become the living word by manifesting in their lives the word that is in their angels.
The eyes of the glorified Christ, then, are a flame of fire, depicting the angels who are sent forth from Him into the earth with the word of God. Those angels become the eyes of God in the earth. Seven are assigned specifically to the seven churches, whose overcomers become the living word, thus bringing heaven to earth. Being in Christ, they are the Stone Kingdom cut out of the mountain without hands, which eventually fills the whole earth.
The Hebrew concept of eyes is based, in part, on the sixteenth letter of their alphabet, ayin, which was originally written in the shape of an eye. The ayin carries a numeric value of 70. Seven eyes picture 7 x 70, or 490, which is a highly charged prophetic number seen in the revelation of Daniel’s seventy weeks. When applied to time cycles, the seven eyes (7 x 70) is the same as ten Jubilee cycles (49 x 10).
For this reason, it seems that one of the purposes of the seven eyes in roaming the earth is to oversee the divine plan and to ensure that events occur at the appointed times according to the will of God. We must also keep in mind the fact that the ayin is the sixteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, because sixteen is the biblical number of Love. Love forms the background for the entire plan and will of God, and all judgment proceeds out of His heart of Love. This is why divine judgment, while often severe, is corrective in the end and is designed for the ultimate good of the sinner.
His Bronze Feet
Revelation 1:15 continues,
15 and His feet were like burning bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
David wrote in Psalm 8:6, “Thou hast put all things under his feet.” He wrote this psalm after killing Goliath. This is quoted in the New Testament, applying it to Christ in Heb. 2:8, 1 Cor. 15:27, and Eph. 1:22. It is plain that Christ subdues His enemies (portrayed by Goliath) through judgment. This is why His feet are pictured as molten bronze, for bronze is the metal of divine judgment in Scripture. The brazen altar in the courtyard of the tabernacle and temple is the place where sin is judged by sacrifice.
At the same time, we must balance this with the fact that God also subdues His enemies by the power of love, which is demonstrated by His willingness to die for His enemies (Rom. 5:6-10). Therefore, all the animals that were types and shadows of Christ were offered to God to pay for the sins of the people. It pictures divine judgment as fiery bronze that is motivated by love, which is His nature. In other words, divine judgment was not designed to destroy permanently, but to put all things under His feet, so that God can be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).
Under the Old Covenant, which Paul calls “the ministry of death” in 2 Cor. 3:7, men died by the physical sword. By the physical sword also was Canaan conquered. But under the New Covenant, which is “the ministry of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:8), believers have been given “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17). This weapon is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). This spiritual sword is the word of God itself, which has the power to divide soul and spirit and to “judge [cut apart, separate] the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
It is important to understand that the judgments of God under the New Covenant are not administered to destroy the bulk of mankind, but to find a way to include them in the Kingdom of God. They are to be put under the feet of Christ—that is, under His authority. He accomplished this by His death on the cross, pictured in the sacrifices on the brazen altar. Although the sin of the world was massive, His life and blood was worth far more than all the debt of mankind throughout history. So He had the means to pay the penalty Himself for the sin of the world, and He loved His creation enough to pay with His life.
The Seven Stars
Revelation 1:16 ends John’s description of the One speaking:
16 And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
The explanation for the seven stars is given later in verse 20: “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” The seven stars are the Pleiades, pictured in the heavens as the Seven Sisters, who are also the seven churches in the book of Revelation.
In Prof. E. Raymond Capt’s book, The Glory of the Stars, he writes on page 101,
“In the neck of Taurus is another cluster of stars called the ‘Pleiades’ (the Seven Sisters). The word means ‘the congregation of the judges’ or ‘rulers’. The brightest star in this group is ‘Al Cyone’ (Arabic), which means ‘the center’. Some leading astronomers believe it is the center of the universe. Apparently that is what was implied when Job is asked of God, ‘Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades?’ (Job 38:31).”
Identifying the Seven Churches with the Pleiades, as John does, shows us that the Church is called as “the congregation of the judges,” that is, a jury. The Church is the “congregation,” rather than an organizational structure. The Old Testament word kahal, is translated in the New Testament Greek as ecclesia (Heb. 2:12) which is translated into English as “Church.” The Church in the wilderness under Moses (Acts 7:38) was not the organization or the tabernacle; it was the congregation. The Church is the congregation that goes to the building, not the building where the people gather.
The Pleiades are thought by some astronomers to be located at the center of the universe. The Pleiades were also thought to be the throne of God. It is interesting, then, that the Church—that is, the congregation—is called to rule in His throne, which is the center of all things. Rev. 2:1 says the Seven Stars are “in His right hand,” even as Paul says in Eph. 1:20 that Christ was raised up to sit at the right hand of the Father.
The “right hand” signifies power, authority, rulership. In this case, it has a dual meaning. First, Christ has power over the Seven Churches, for He is the Head and has pre-eminence over all. Second, the Church itself is given authority in view of their position in Him and under Him. Their authority is simply an extension of Christ’s own power.
In his description, John saved the best for last. “His face was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev. 1:16).
The face of Christ is said to be shining like the noon day sun. Here John sees Christ fully unveiled, manifesting the glory of the Father as seen by the three disciples in His transfiguration on the mount. That story is found in Matt. 17:2, where it says,
2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light.
This manifestation was in turn a New Testament parallel to the transfiguration of Moses when he too was “in the mount.” We read of that in Exodus 34.
The Transfiguration of Moses
Moses went up the mount, where, on his sixth ascent, God gave him the Ten Commandments in stone. While there, however, the people had built a golden calf to worship. When Moses returned after forty days and saw what the people had done, he broke the tablets of the law (Exodus 32:19).
He then ascended on his seventh trip to intercede for the people (Exodus 32:21). God told him that He would no longer lead Israel personally but that an angel would lead them. Afterward, Moses made his eighth and final ascent into the mount, as recorded in Exodus 34:4. God then made another covenant with Moses and Israel in verse 10,
10 Then God said, Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles, which have not been produced in all the earth, nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you.
This covenant was foreshadowed in the light that shone from the face of Moses when he returned from the mount with the new tables of the law. Moses’ transfiguration was the beginning of this covenant of miracles. This, I believe, provided the basis for the celebration of Israel’s final feast, the Feast of Tabernacles—specifically the eighth day of Tabernacles. It is the day of receiving the fullness of the Spirit and the glorified body.
Moses was the first to set the pattern, commemorating it as a feast day. Later, the same pattern was repeated in Christ, for He was the prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:18; Acts 3:22). The final fulfillment will be seen in the body of Christ on the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles in some year.
Neither Moses’ nor Christ’s transfigurations are specifically dated, for God has hidden much of His plan in types and shadows. We know from the story in Exodus that this occurred some time in the autumn of the year. But the fact that Moses was returning from his eighth trip up the mount gives us our first clue. Secondly, he was carrying the second law, the first having been broken, which is a picture of the New Covenant, by which the law will be kept (Heb. 8:8-12).
It was, by the way, the same law (Exodus 34:1) that God had given Moses in the first tablets. The only difference was that the second law was not broken, for it is an abiding covenant, based upon what God will fulfill in us, not how well man can fulfill it for God.
The difference between these two transfigurations is that Moses found it necessary to veil his face, while Christ appeared to John unveiled in His full glory “like the sun.” Paul explains in 2 Cor. 3:14 that the Old Covenant is the veil. This veil, he says, is removed in Christ (2 Cor. 3:16). When it is removed, then Psalm 80:3, 7, 19 will be fulfilled: “Cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.”
So also we must understand the feet of the unveiled Christ as part of a New Covenant manifestation of Christ. The New Covenant is based on the promises of God, whereas the Old Covenant is based on the promises of man. The promises of man cannot be kept perfectly, and so it leads to death. Only the promises of God will be kept fully, and when Christ comes as the Mediator of the New Covenant, it is certain that those promises will be kept. In other words, all things will be put under His feet.