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#4 The Vision of Christ Part II

August 12, 2008

We continue this morning with the heavenly vision of Jesus Christ which He gave to John. and today we will see a magnificent description of our glorified Savior. In this description we will see many aspects of our Lord and how He deals with His creation: specifically His church.

 

When we last left John he was worshiping at the throne of Grace when, well let’s let John tell it. Our text is found in (Rev 1:10-20) where we read these words: 10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, I hope you remember the wonderful Psalm 29 where we saw the majesty of Christ and His almighty power displayed. Remember from Hebrews that Jesus Christ upholds all things by the word of His Power.

 

Remember too the incredible scene at Mount Sinai where the mountain shook and the people trembled as they heard the very voice of God declaring to them His Ten Commandments. John, exiled on Patmos suddenly had his quiet time of worship shattered by the awesome presence of God Almighty. And in verse 11 He was saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

 

Now John must turn! He must see! I am speculating here but I believe that he must have recognized The Voice, booming as it was. He must have known that his Beloved Jesus had come to him in his exile. John had spent so much time with Him that, certainly, the sound of His voice was familiar.

 

But nothing that John had known, nothing he had experienced, not even that unveiled glimpse of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration could have prepared him for what he was about to see! The Risen Lord in all of His majestic glory had come! This day was a day of divine visitation. Our God and Savior Jesus Christ had rent the heavens and come down!

 

Our text is found in (Rev 1:12-16). Follow John as he beholds his Beloved. 12Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lamp-stands; 13and in the middle of the lamp-stands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 

14His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16In 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.

 

We must turn aside now and behold this great sight to examine all that these images have to say about our Savior. The first thing that John sees is Seven Golden Lamp-stands which in verse (20) are representative of the seven Churches to whom John is to write.  

 

Notice where Jesus Christ is! He is walking among His Churches, among His children. He is intimately acquainted with His people. The Lord knows those who are His! This is an important point. Remember that though there are many local churches: distinct bodies located in various locales, though we can see them represented in the various denominations located here and there, this is only part of the whole.

 

There is the visible church, that which you can see with your eyes. There are many church buildings into which many “believers” enter. But in this mass of humanity that attends worship there are both sheep and goats. There are many who claim to be followers of Christ, who claim to love Him but whose lives tell a very different story.

 

Then there are those who indeed have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, who indeed love Him and serve Him and long to be with Him. And so in this ‘visible church’ you have the invisible church! Now remember the parable of the tares. The false converts look much like the real thing just as the darnel seed as it is growing up looks very much like wheat. But it is when it is fully grown that its true identity becomes plain.

 

Someone once said that what comes out of you when you are squeezed is a great indicator of who and what you really are. Many people say “Lord, Lord” but they do not do the things that Jesus said! Their claim of faith is demonstrated as a mere farce: their actions or inaction as it were, being the deciding factor. When trials come they demonstrate that they had no faith to begin with, that they had no root or that the cares of this world had choked them.

 

They run away from the “faith” they had as quickly as they had embraced it. And in going out from us they proved that they were never truly part of us!

You have no doubt heard the words of Christ: MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN! Many people attend worship services on the Lords Day and many there are that hear the gospel call. But it is few who have that message driven into their very being by the Holy Spirit of God.

 

They have heard the general call but not the effectual call. They may be sincere. They may be faithful to attend church. They may have been convinced by the pastor of that church that they are saved because they walked an aisle, prayed the sinners’ prayer and were baptized. They did the right stuff so Jesus has to save them.

 

But here is the reality: if Jesus Christ hasn’t called them, if instead they responded to the mere emotionalism of the moment and performed an act which is usually the taking of some specific steps outlined by the Pastor (if you do this, this and this you will be saved) but Jesus has not called them, then they have built on a foundation of sand and their building is doomed to destruction.

 

And so the visible church is made up of true believers the religious goats. And when we look on the outward appearance we are much like Samuel who thought Eliab was God’s anointed simply because of his outward appearance. But it is God who looks at the heart and as we read in (2Ti 2:19) God’s solid foundation still stands, however, with this double inscription: The Lord knows those who belong to him, and Let every true Christian have no dealings with evil.

 

The invisible church is made up of those who the Lord knows intimately. In our text we see Jesus Christ walking among His people, His Church. And He knows those who are His.

 

Our text tells us that He was clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, John Gill says that some understand this to be the robe of the righteousness of Christ. It is called a garment, a wedding garment: the best or first robe, the robe of righteousness.  It is this robe of righteousness which has been placed upon us. 

 

Gill says that the Robe of Christ’s Righteousness covers our persons, keeps us warm and comfortable, and beautifies and adorns us. It is a very beautiful, pure, and spotless robe; and reaches to the feet; that is, it covers all the members of Christ’s mystical body, the meanest and lowest, as well as the more excellent; the weakest believer as well, and as much, as the strongest. Others, he says, think that this long garment is a sign of gravity and wisdom, the kind usually reserved for men of power and authority, and learning, as the Jewish Sanhedrin.

The Scribes and Pharisees used to wear long garments. In Gills opinion it seems rather to represent a priestly robe; the robe of the ephod worn by the high priest. He believes that Christ now appears in this vision in the habit of a priest and that he is described in his priestly office.

 

But I think all three are encompassed here. Christ is our Prophet knowing all things, our Great High Priest ministering and interceding for us before His Father and He is our King overruling our lives. He is our Lord and we are His subjects. He is our Shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture.

 

Concerning His priestly office we read “and He was girded across His chest with a golden sash. This recalls the robe of the high priest whose garment was a picture of the heavenly one. Josephus in his description of the attire of the Levitical priests says that they were bound about the chest with what the KJV calls “the curious girdle. But while the high priest’s girdle was only interwoven with gold, notice that Christ’s is all of gold; the reality exceeds the shadow.

 

Next we see that 14His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; White signifies purity, righteousness and Holiness which are the characteristics of the pure spotless Lamb of God! The scriptures describe one with white hair (a hoary head) as one who is wise. Now who is wiser than the One who invented wisdom? Here is the all wise, all knowing God. Recall Him at 12 years of age, astounding the Religious leaders with His wisdom as He spoke to them.

 

During His earthly ministry He continually astonished these “learned men”. He thwarted all attempts to stump Him. The intellectual battles (if you could call them battles for the Religious leaders had lost before they had even begun) reminded me of the “battles” between God and the Philistines. The Philistines would come with a large army and God would wipe them out. They would bring a giant and a youth would kill him. They would capture the Ark of God and would pay a heavy toll for their insolence.

 

The point is that God knows the end from the beginning: indeed He has declared the end from the beginning. He has created all that we know (and the things that we don’t know) out of nothing. He spoke the world into existence. Ponder if you will these words from (Proverbs 8:22-30) Speaking of wisdom we read “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. 23 “From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. 24 “When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.

25 “Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was brought forth; 26 while He had not yet made the earth and the fields, nor the first dust of the world. 27 “When He established the heavens, I was there, when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when He made firm the skies above, when the springs of the deep became fixed, 29 when He set for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth; 30 then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, Almighty God, the creator of wisdom: the Ruler of mankind, the revealer of mysteries. There is nothing hidden from the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. 

 

Look with me to (Psa 139:1-18) and see with me just a glimpse of the scope of the knowledge of our Great High Priest, our Great Savior, our Great Lord. The Psalmist says “O Lord, You have searched me and known me.2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14  I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written: the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You.”

 

And then we come to the eyes. John says, “and His eyes were like a flame of fire. Consider these passages that speak of the all seeing eyes of God! God asks this question through His prophet Jeremiah. We read; (Jer 23:24) “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?” declares the LORD.

“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD. From (Pr 5:21) we have this truth: “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths.”

And finally from (Pr 15:3) “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” Those piercing eyes look deep within the soul of man. He knows the origin of all of our actions. He has ordained every one of our days and knows beforehand exactly how we will act and react to those things that He brings across our paths. 

 

More importantly He sees His true children and those who are merely pretenders, hypocrites who wear the mask of Christianity but inwardly are ravenous wolves. He knows His children intimately and He looks on the heart. David in (Psalm 1:6) said For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

 

Consider another aspect of this verse. In Pilgrims Progress Christian arrived at the Interpreters house were he was shown many great and marvelous things: one of which I would like us to consider. We read “So he (the interpreter) took CHRISTIAN by the hand again, and led him into a chamber where there was a man rising out of bed; and as he put on his raiment, he shook and trembled. Then said CHRISTIAN, “Why does this man thus tremble?”

 

The INTERPRETER then told the man to explain to CHRISTIAN the reason for his trembling. So he said, “This night, as I was asleep, I dreamed: and behold, the heavens grew exceedingly black; also it thundered and there was lightening in most fearful manner so that it put me into an agony.  As I looked up in my dream, I saw the clouds flying by at an unusual rate. Suddenly I heard a great sound of a trumpet, and saw also a Man sit upon a cloud, attended with the thousands of heaven; they were all in flaming fire, the heavens also were on a burning flame.

 

I heard then a voice, saying, ‘Arise, ye dead, and come to Judgment!’ and with that the rocks rent, the graves opened, and the dead that were therein came forth some of them were exceeding glad, and looked upward; while some sought to hide themselves under the mountains. Then I saw the Man that sat upon the cloud open the book and commanded the world to draw near.

 

Yet there was by reason of a fierce flame that issued out and came before him, a convenient distance between He and they, like that between the judge and the prisoners at the bar. I heard it also proclaimed to them that attended the Man that sat on the cloud, ‘Gather together the tares, the chaff and stubble.

Cast them into the burning lake: and with that the bottomless pit opened just about where I stood; out of the mouth of which there came, in an abundant manner, smoke, coals of fire, and hideous noises. It was also said to the same persons, ‘Gather my wheat into the garner’. 

 

And with that I saw many caught up and carried away into the clouds but I was left behind. I also sought to hide myself, but I could not, for the Man that sat upon the cloud still kept his eye upon me: my sins also came into my mind, and my conscience accused me on every side. Upon this I awoke from my sleep.”  Christian asked: “But what was it that made you so afraid of this sight?” 

 

Unready answered: “Why, I thought that the Day of Judgment was come, and that I was not ready for it. But this is what frightened me most: the angels gathered up several, and left me behind, the pit of hell opened her mouth just where I stood. My conscience, too, afflicted me; and, as I thought, the Judge had always his eye upon me, showing indignation in his countenance.”

 

Consider too that the eyes of the Holy One are always upon us. They see, they know, they weigh the thoughts and the intentions of our hearts. His gaze is all-searching and penetrating like fire. The Lord is of purer eyes than to behold, that is to countenance, to condone evil and so His fiery gaze speaks of His consuming indignation against sin. When He returns He will be (2Th 1:8) “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” This is truly an awe-inspiring image!

 

But there’s more. We read in verse 15His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, a brilliant sight! Again from John Gill I share this: the imagery of His feet symbolizes His great strength for action, his stability and firmness, and the glory of His power in trampling His enemies, and subduing them. It is especially displayed in the redemption of His people, when His own arm wrought salvation for them; when He came in the greatness of His strength, and trod the winepress of His father’s wrath alone; when He set His feet on the necks of His enemies and got an entire victory over sin, Satan, and the world, under whose feet they are, and ever will be subject.”

 

We read further: “and His voice was like the sound of many waters.  It was thunderous! Remember again the visitation at Sinai! The voice of God was deafening, greater than any crash of thunder you have ever heard! The greatest waterfall you have ever heard pales into insignificance before the sound of God’s Voice!

And 16In His right hand He held seven stars, representative of the seven angels or the seven messengers, or the seven pastors of these seven churches. These are His messengers. He called them, sent them, holds them and sustains them by His own omnipotent power.

 

Then we read: “and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword;” The writer of Hebrews tells us (Heb 4:12) “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” And in (Rev 19:21) we read of the destruction of the wicked. It says “And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

 

The word of God is called the sword of the Spirit. With it God raises dead sinners to life and with it He will judge the nations and sentence the unrepentant to eternal death.

 

Finally we read “and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.” Here is the face of Christ in full unveiled splendor. To His children the countenance of the Lord is a wonderful thing; to His enemies it is terrifying. I am reminded of the great benediction which God declared to Moses in (Num 6:24-26) “The LORD bless you, and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; 26  The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.’

 

This is an overpowering vision even in print! But then consider who is being spoken of here. It is the Great God Almighty who is Holy, Holy, Holy! He is awesome and overwhelming in His presence. Remember even when He was veiled in flesh the men in the garden fell to the ground when He merely spoke His Name! He is God, the great I Am. He is the Everlasting One who encompasses all of His Creation. He is the One who is and who was and who is to come: The Almighty! The whole earth is filled with His glory! 

 

He it is who upholds all things by the word of His power. He it is who restrains evil! He it is who will one day return and on that day all that we know will be burned with fire: it will melt with fervent heat. He spoke the world into existence and on the appointed day He will speak it out of existence. And in Heaven all will say “GLORY!” Bow with me before This Great God who has saved us and has called us with a holy calling. Bow in reverence to He who loved us and called us out of darkness and into His Marvelous Light.

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