Seven Golden Lampstands
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9. Seven Golden Lampstands
Revelation 1.12-16

"I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing water. In his right hand, he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance." (Revelation 1.12-16)✞

See The Voice

LampstandsThe Apostle John turns to "see the voice" and sees instead "seven golden lampstands." He must have been somewhat surprised to see not a person but lampstands instead. The Tabernacle or the Temple lampstands are called "Menorah" and are of solid gold and have seven branches, three on one side, three on the other, and one in the center. Exodus 25.31-37 describes these lampstands as giving light to the Holy Tent or Tabernacle. The instructions for making the Temple furnishings read, "Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds, and blossoms of one piece with them. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand - three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. There are four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms on the lampstand. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair - six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold."

Solomon's Great Temple

Golden Lampstands"The golden lampstands" are also pictured in Solomon's Great Temple. According to Zechariah 4.2, there is "a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps." Revelation's seven golden lampstands refer to the seven churches on the road to Ephesus addressed in Revelation 1.11. The seven churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Each church is to bring the light of the Gospel to their area and the world.

Son of Man

Son of ManJesus, the Son of Man, stands among the Revelation golden lampstands in a long white robe down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. In the first chapter of Revelation, we meet one "like a Son of Man," amid seven golden lampstands. The prophet Daniel reveals that the kingdom, power, and authority given by the Ancient of Days are for the "Son of Man." Daniel 7.13 also writes, "In my vision at night, I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven." The "Son of Man" is an Aramaic phrase "bar enash," which merely means "human being." The name "son of man" is retained because of its New Testament use as a title by Jesus, probably based mostly on this verse. The Son of Man approached the Ancient of Days and led into his presence.

Jesus' Title

Interestingly, the "Son of Man" is the title that Jesus adopts for himself during his earthly ministry. In Mark 8.31, we read, "Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and after three days rise again." Again Mark 8.38, says, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Using the title "Son of Man," John of Patmos clarifies that the revelation comes from the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Jesus walked and talked with John in Galilee many years before. The "Son of Man" is the title he used exclusively for himself during his time on earth, referring to his humanity and earthly ministry. He takes a seemingly vague phrase, meaning simply "a human being" from the Old Testament and injects it with new meaning. Even in the heavenly places, Jesus is still carrying on his High Priestly work, opening the way for all peoples to come into Almighty God's presence.✞

Long White Robe

Priest in TempleThe Son of Man wears a "robe reaching down to his feet." The same Greek word describes the High Priest's robe in the Tabernacle and the Temple in Exodus 28.4. "These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so that they may serve me as priests." In all his glory in Heaven, the high priest Jesus begins his priestly work dressed in a long white robe with a golden sash around his chest. Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD), also known as "Josephus," was a Roman Jew who was very gifted as a historian and scholar. He was born in Jerusalem of a priestly family and described in detail in "The Antiquities of the Jews 3.7.2,4" the High Priest's clothing in the Jerusalem Temple before its destruction in 70 AD. He writes, "This High Priestly vestment reaches down to the feet, sits close to the body and has sleeves tied fast to the arms. It is girded to the breast a little above the elbows, by a girdle often going round, four fingers broad, but so loosely woven, that you would think it was the skin of a serpent."

The Girdle

Son of ManJosephus also describes the girdle as "embroidered with flowers of scarlet, purple, blue, and fine twined linen, but the warp was nothing but fine linen. Its wrapping began at the breast, and when it had gone round often, it was tied. The white robe hung loosely down to the ankles." Imagine Jesus robed in such beautiful clothes! Jesus is the High Priest "par excellence."

Gold Sash Around

Jesus ascendingThe long white robe reaches down to his feet, and a golden sash holds it around his chest. "Long white robes are reaching down to the feet." A high girdle or "a golden sash around his chest" is the attire of priests, princes, and kings in New and Old Testament times. Important people, particularly the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem, wear such robes. Interestingly, King Saul's clothing is described in this way too in 1 Samuel 24.5 and 11, and that of Jonathan is similar. Jesus' robe as the risen 'Son of Man" at the Ascension is also a "royal" garment. No longer is Jesus viewed as a criminal on a cross. He is now elegantly dressed like a victorious king and the pre-eminent High Priest.✞

Daniel's Vision

Warrior ChristOther Bible passages describe the long white robe worn by Jesus in Heaven. Daniel's vision of Daniel 10.5 tells him the divine figure comes in fine linen, "I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist." If this is a pre-incarnation appearance of Jesus, the very dress of the risen Lord indicates his three-fold ministry on earth as a king, a priest, and a prophet. "Uphaz," by the way, is probably another name for the gold producing center in "Ophir" mentioned in Jeremiah 10.9. "Hammered silver brought from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz. What the craftsman and goldsmith have made is then dressed in blue and purple — all made by skilled workers." As a king, Jesus is the one to whom God gives power and authority forever. As a priest, Jesus himself is the way into the presence of God. As a prophet, Jesus is the one who brings the truth of God to human beings.

Snowy White Hair

White HairThe appearance of Jesus' hair in Revelation is described as "white like wool as white as snow." This description is like that of Almighty God himself in Daniel 7.9, "As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool." "White hair" is deemed a mark of a person of superior wisdom and pure motives. Revelation also explains that Jesus' "eyes were like blazing fire," which indicates his fierce all-knowing nature. The term "Ancient of Days" is a Biblical title for Almighty God.✞

Rushing Water Sound

Coin of Gold and SilverThe voice of Christ the King in Revelation booms like a rushing water sound. In this passage, Christ speaks with divine authority, and his voice sounds to John of Patmos, "like the sound of rushing water." What springs to mind is the roar of a magnificent waterfall or a roaring river? Like the mighty roar of the waters going over Niagara's edge, these would have been some of the most deafening noises in Jesus' day, similar to a jet plane roaring overhead today. The loudest sound made by any animal is the whale, but an even greater one was generated in 1883 when the Krakatoa volcano erupted. It ejected 25 cubic kilometers of rock, ash, and pumice with a 180 decibels explosion into the air, carried as far away as Perth in Australia! The Krakatoa eruption was so loud it ruptured the eardrums of sailors 40 miles away! A Saturn 5 rocket at takeoff at 185 decibels is so intense that the noise it generates melts concrete! Compare that to a thunderstorm at 125 decibels, but Jesus' voice here is no doubt louder!

Soldiers' Bronze Shoes

Glowing FurnaceThis passage in Revelation not only tells us of Jesus' voice but also that his feet are like "bronze glowing in a furnace." This idea may seem strange at first, but it explains the color and glow of the precious metal called electrum, a combination of silver and gold. The molten metal in a furnace glows in the same manner. The phrase "his feet were like bronze glowing" may have been a deliberate reference to bronze soldier's shoes, which were the latest technology in the ancient Roman world of the first century AD. They protected a soldier's feet in battle and when on the march. Here is a description of Roman soldiers' shoes, "they were not like other shoes of the time, but out of bronze or brass, usually brass and leather." The Romans commonly use bronze for coins, ornaments, and even toiletry items like nail cleaners, tweezers, and toothpicks! Bronze Roman soldier's shoes comprise two parts, the upper part begins at the top of the foot and extends upwards across the shin to just below the knee and the shoe itself. Crafted of finely tooled brass and formed to the soldier's calf, it caused the shoe to look like a boot. The shoe itself is two pieces of metal on the top and the bottom. Thin pieces of brass cover the foot. The sides are held together by multiple pieces of leather. On the bottom, the shoes have dangerous spikes sometimes up to three inches in length." These spikes were a deadly weapon in close combat.

Roman Gladius Sword

This passage also describes Jesus' appearance. "His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance." The brightness of his face indicates his divine majesty and a side reference from the Apostle John for his glowing look at the Transfiguration. The mention of a sharp double-edged sword in Jesus' mouth intends us to realize that his message contains power and judgment. It may also refer to the very effective double-edged sword called a "gladius," which was the primary weapon used by Roman foot soldiers in close combat in battle.

"Seven Golden Lampstands"
by Ron Meacock © 2020

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