Among the Lampstands

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Published:
January 11, 2019

This week’s lesson is brought to us by GoodWord from Walla Walla. To listen to the audio conversation, please visit the GoodWord website.

Host: Brant Berglin

Guests: David Thomas and Alden Thompson

Opening Question

Have you ever had a dream that was so meaningful to you that you wrote it down and shared it with others later?

Introduction

We’re told throughout the New Testament that the Spirit of God works in the Body of Christ—the Church—and that Christ loves His church and leads it. Revelation 1:9–3:21 shows just how intimately Jesus is involved in keeping the light of the church burning in the world as a witness for Him, for that is what the imagery of the Lampstands seeks to show us.

The Text:

Revelation 1:10

The commentary affirms Saturday as the “Lord’s day” John was referring to. Without question, Jesus is the “Lord of the Sabbath.” The book of Revelation’s overarching theme from the Old Testament prophets, however, suggests that John’s visionary experience is a fulfillment of or climax to the “Day of the Lord,” the prophetic time of judgement, vindication, and redemption for God’s people and destruction of their enemies. (see Isaiah 13:6-9Ezekiel 30:3Joel 1-3Amos 5:18-20Obadiah 1:15Zephaniah 1:2-18, and Malachi 4:5for specific use of the term)

In what ways does Revelation parallel the specific prophecies of the Day of the Lord given in the passages above?

Revelation 1:11

Revelation was originally sent to seven literal congregations in once-thriving cities of Asia minor, with specific instructions and information about their spiritual condition, appropriate for their 1st century context. Christ’s command to John here is to write “what you see” (visions), but as we’ll see later, he records what he hears (auditions), as well as some of his own actions.

If Revelation was originally written to literal congregations, to what degree would their first-century understanding of Revelation be an aid in interpreting the book? How might it be a hindrance?

Revelation 1:12-18

The risen Christ is characterized several ways in these verses, some from Daniel 7, and each is repeated in one of the seven churches. This suggests that certain aspects of character or figure are more important to those churches and their specific situation. The lesson well points out that Christ is able to meet each church where it is. Jesus is also sufficient for each church.

One important result of this application of the character of Christ to individual congregations is that we also today find aspects of God or His son that mean more to us, or make more sense than others. At various times, God may present himself to me more like a loving or disciplining father; at others, as a comforting friend; at other times He’s a teacher or guide, or even as a judge.

Of the various pictures of Jesus in ch. 1, is there one that means more to you than the others?

The clothing imagery of the “one like a son of man” is that of a daily-ministering priest, wearing a robe with a golden sash, probably a blue robe symbolizing the law of God (rather than white like as we typically picture, probably), and the candlesticks among which he walks is the first “introductory sanctuary vision” before a series of seven, in this case the seven churches. Christ is doing the work of a priest walking among candlesticks making sure the light of the church continues to burn. The daily work of the priest was to trim the wicks (like John’s pruning analogy from John 15), fill the lamps with oil (perhaps the Holy Spirit; see the 10 virgins in Matthew 25), and keep the sanctuary lighted.

This passage also reveals the close tie between heaven and earth; as Jesus walks among candlesticks in the heavenly Sanctuary (on the “south” side, not coincidentally), He is also on earth walking among the candlestick-churches who are now to be the “light of the world.” (Matt 5:14)

If keeping the church’s testimony lit and burning in the world is the work of Christ, what is my role in cooperating with his priestly ministry?

Closing Comments

The introductory vision of Christ sets the stage for the rest of the book. Images of Christ here will appear later in Revelation. Chapter 1 concludes in vs. 19 with John again being commanded to write what he has seen (the vision of Christ), the things that are (the messages to the churches), and the events that happen after the churches are reproved and encouraged. What a prophetic adventure it will be for both John and us!

Photo by Zbysiu Rodak on Unsplash

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