<< Revelation 1: The Lord Appears to John >>
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. 4John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. 9I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 20The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
That this Revelation is from the Lord alone, and that it is received by those who will be in His New Church, which is the New Jerusalem, and acknowledge the Lord as the God of heaven and earth; the Lord is also described as to the Word.
1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”
Predictions from the Lord concerning Himself and His Church, what the latter will be in its end, and what it will be afterwards “Which God gave unto Him to show unto His servants,” For those who are in faith from charity. “Things which must shortly come to pass,” They will certainly be, lest the Church perish. “And He signified, sending by His angel, to His servant John,” The things which are revealed by the Lord through heaven to those who are in the good of life from charity and its faith.
2 “Who testified the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,”
Who from the heart and thus in the light receive Divine truth from the Word, and acknowledge the Lord’s Human to be Divine. “Whatsoever he saw,” Their enlightenment in all the things which are in this Revelation.
3 “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things written therein,”
The communion of those with the angels of heaven, who live according to the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem.
” For the time is near,”
The state of the Church is such that it can no longer continue so as to have conjunction with the Lord.
4 “John to the seven churches,”
To all who are in the Christian world, where the Word is, and by it the Lord is known, and who draw near to the Church. “Which are in Asia,” To those who are in the light of truth from the Word. “Grace be unto you, and peace,” The Divine salutation. “From Him who is, and who was, and who is to come,” From the Lord, who is eternal and infinite, and Jehovah. “And from the seven spirits who are before His throne,” From the whole heaven, where the Lord is in His Divine truth.
5 “From Jesus Christ,”
The Divine Human.
“The faithful witness,”
That He is the Divine truth itself.
“The first-born from the dead,”
That He is also the Divine good itself.
“And the Prince of the earth,”
From whom is all truth from good in the church.
“That loveth us, and washeth us from our sins,”
Who from love and mercy reforms and regenerates men by His Divine truths from the Word.
6 “And He maketh us kings and priests,”
Who gives to those who are born of Him, that is, regenerated, to be in wisdom from Divine truths and in love from Divine goods.
“Unto God and His Father,”
And thus images of His Divine wisdom and His Divine love.
“To Him be glory and might into the ages of ages,”
Who alone has Divine majesty and Divine omnipotence to eternity.
The Divine confirmation from truth, thus from Himself.
7 “And He cometh with the clouds of heaven,”
The Lord will reveal Himself in the literal sense of the Word, and will open its spiritual sense, at the end of the church.
“And every eye shall see Him,”
All will acknowledge Him, who, from affection, are in the understanding of Divine truth.
“And they who pierced Him,”
That they also will see, who are in falsities in the church.
“And all the tribes of the earth shall wail,”
This will be when there are no longer any goods and truths in the church.
“Even so, Amen,”
The Divine confirmation that thus it will be.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,”
Who is the Self-existing and the Only from firsts to ultimates, from Whom all things are; thus who is Love Itself and the Only Love, Wisdom Itself and the Only Wisdom, and Life Itself and the Only Life in Himself, and thus the Creator Himself and the only Creator, Saviour, and Enlightener from Himself, and thence the All in all of heaven and the church.
“Saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come,”
Who is eternal and infinite, and Jehovah.
Who is, lives, and has power, from Himself, and who governs all things from firsts by ultimates.
9 “I, John, who am your brother and companion,”
Those who are in the good of charity and thence in the truths of faith.
“In affliction, and in the kingdom, and the patient expectation of Jesus Christ,”
Who in the church are infested by evils and falsities, but these are to be removed by the Lord, when He comes.
“I was in the island called Patmos,”
A state and place in which he could be enlightened.
“For the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,”
In order that the Divine truth from the Word may be received from the heart and thus in the light, and that the Lord’s Human may be acknowledged to be Divine.
10 “I became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,”
A spiritual state at that time from Divine influx.
“And I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet,”
The manifest perception of Divine truth revealed from heaven.
11 “Saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,”
Who is the Self-existing and the Only from firsts to ultimates, from whom all things are; and more as above.
“What thou seest write in a book”
That they might be revealed to posterity.
“And send unto the churches that are in Asia,”
For those in the Christian world who are in the light of truth from the Word.
“Unto Ephesus and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia and unto Laodicea,”
In particular according to the state of each one’s reception.
12 “And I turned to see the voice which was speaking with me,”
The inversion of the state of those who are in the good of life as to the perception of truth in the Word, when they turn themselves to the Lord.
“And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,”
The New Church which will be in enlightenment from the Lord out of the Word.
13 “And in the midst of the seven lampstands One like unto the Son of Man,”
The Lord as to the Word, from whom is that church.
“Clothed with a garment down to the foot,”
The proceeding Divine, which is the Divine truth.
“And girded at the paps with a golden girdle,”
The proceeding and at the same time conjoining Divine, which is the Divine good.
14 “And His head and hairs were white as wool, like snow,”
The Divine love of the Divine wisdom in firsts and in ultimates.
“And His eyes as a flame of fire,”
The Divine wisdom of the Divine love.
15 “And His feet like unto fine brass, as if glowing in a furnace,”
The Divine good natural.
“And His voice as the voice of many waters,”
The Divine truth natural.
16 “And having in His right hand seven stars,”
All the knowledges of good and truth in the Word from Him.
“And out of His mouth a sharp two-edged sword going forth,”
The dispersion of falsities by the Lord through the Word and through doctrine therefrom.
“And His face was as the sun shining in power,”
The Divine love and the Divine wisdom, which are Himself, and proceed from Him.
17 “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead,”
The failing of his own life from such presence of the Lord.
“And He laid His right hand upon me,”
Life then inspired from Him.
“Saying unto me, Fear not,”
Resuscitation, and adoration then from the deepest humiliation.
“I am the First and the Last,”
He is Eternal and Infinite, and thus the Only God.
18 “And am He that is living,”
Who alone is life, and from whom alone life is.
“And was dead,”
He was neglected in the church, and His Divine Human not acknowledged.
“And behold, I am alive for ages of ages,”
That He is life eternal.
The Divine confirmation that it is the truth
“And I have the keys of Hell and of death,”
He alone can save.
19 “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter,”
In order that all the things which are now revealed may be for posterity.
22 “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands,”
Arcana in the visions concerning the New Heaven and the New Church.
“The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches,”
The New Church in the heavens, which is the New Heaven.
“And the seven lampstands which thou sawest are the seven churches,”
The New Church on earth, which is the New Jerusalem descending from the Lord out of the New Heaven.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg (Apocalypse Revealed)
THE SON OF MAN IN THE MIDST OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS.
And, in the midst of the seven candlesticks, one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breast with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; And His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. Rev. i. 13-16
THIS Divine Book stands out especially and peculiarly as the Prophetic Book of the New Testament. In the Old Testament you are aware there are many Prophets, large and small; but in the New Testament this book is the prophetic one ushered to us when the voice is described as addressing John, and telling him that he was called upon to view scenes foreshadowing the states of the Church that should be hereafter, and to write them in a book. In this respect this portion of Hallowed Writ is worthy of our best attention, for it unfolds to us the progress of the workings of Divine Providence, until the great aim of the whole Word should be accomplished.
This Book is also peculiar in a point of view that has often been overlooked; it is the disclosure anew in the sacred volume, after it had become almost forgotten, that the spiritual and eternal world is not far off, that it is an inner sphere permeating this world; and whenever the Divine mercy should permit the spiritual powers of an individual to be awakened, he would then perceive that world as near to this as the soul of man is to his body. For the revelations that are made here, and in the whole Book, form a series of magnificent scenes which were exhibited to the inner sight of St. John, when his spiritual eye was opened, revealing all that would pass in the Church, and has now been realized. We can look back now and trace every one of the phases that are unfolded in this Book, and know that it has happened. We can scan the dark picture, and then read the sad degeneracy of the dark ages, and say it has been really so. Every development of selfishness, every prostitution of religion. The bewilderment, the anguish, and the misery that are described, can all now be seen written by the finger of the Divine providence on the pages of history. And, happily, we can now know as certainly as we know ourselves that the Lord is bringing about that which the angels were heard declaring would come to pass, when the seventh angel sounded, and the great chorus was heard in heaven: The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He–not they–and He who is Lord and Christ–He shall reign for ever and ever.
We have said that this Book is peculiar in the respect that it brought again to the knowledge of man the fact that the eternal world was not far off. John says he was in the island of Patmos–a small island well-known in, the AEgean part of the Mediterranean sea, now called Palamos. There he was banished for a time, and there he beheld every one of these scenes. How strange that this should have been written in the Word of God, and handed down from that age to this, and yet that men should be found still imagining that the kingdom of heaven was to be found beyond the region of the stars, nobody knows where. Of course, if these fancies had been at all correct, John should have been taken up to incalculable distances to see what he beheld. He describes what he saw in heaven, under heaven, and in the various parts of the spiritual world.
He was in the island of Patmos, and all that happened to him was that his spiritual eyes and ears were opened. I was in the spirit, he says, on the Lords Day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet…. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw, and the first thing that he beheld was a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the midst of seven golden candlesticks. It was not the Lord himself that was seen, it was a likeness of the Lord–one like unto the Son of Man.
The Lord Jesus Christ personally is in the Sun of heaven, the light which the Apostle says, no man can approach unto. Here, and in the other scenes, when he is described as the Lamb slain, with Seven eyes, Seven horns, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and so on, it is not the Lord Himself, but a likeness. These representations having spiritual meanings, portray His majesty, His character, His Divine Humanity and its perfections; combined with various lessons of heavenly wisdom as they are presented in the grand scenes of the eternal world. One of the habitual usages of that world is this: When the Lord deigns to teach, or when angels speak; representations appear before the eye, giving an exact and significant picture of what is intended to be conveyed. That is a thought world, and thought can thus portray itself. Amongst the many improvements how introduced into education is this mode of teaching by objects. You know a good teacher who is skillful uses his pencil freely to endeavor to show to young people precisely what he means. He not only talks to them about it, but he draws a sketch of it. And this is a sort of adaptation in this world of one of the great laws of perfection in the inner world, only that an angel can there throw out, as it were, the picture, and present it in an exact form. In a thought-world, a life-world, thought can make itself visible, and consequently disclose most perfectly what is intended to be conveyed. Now it was in that way that these scenes were presented before the spiritual eye of St. John. He describes them so that we can see as it were stage after stage all these sublime circumstances, and learn to understand them, and thus gather the lessons which they teach.
The first thing which John beheld was the Divine majesty of the glorified Savior as the source and center of all spiritual blessings in heaven and on earth, for this is what is represented by his standing in the midst of the Seven golden candlesticks. Here let us dwell a little, while I endeavor to point out the grand lesson we can learn by studying this sublime and marvelous scene.
It was one of the unhappy circumstances attending the changes of human thought, that, very early in the history of the Church, the circulation of the Word was much curtailed. The lust of power led the dignitaries of the church to clasp the Bible gradually from the people, and only to retail as much as would make their own positions or dignity and grandeur as the lords of the Divine heritage secure. The people knew little of the Bible, and especially of the New Testament, until the time of the Reformation.
The result was that instead of taking all the lessons of the holy counsel of God, as we can do now, a very small portion of Holy Writ was handed down, and made the instrument of ruling over the minds of the people. Hence, one large class got so far as to admit that the Lord became a baby, and thus was incarnate amongst the human race, but stopped there. From previous goddess-worship they made more of His mother than of Himself. They transferred the worship of the Queen of Heaven in Babylon, Diana at Ephesus, and Astarte in Spain, to the Virgin Mary; the Savior being regarded only as a baby. It is true the Lord entered the world as a Divine babe. Unto us a Child was born, unto us a Son was given. This was the beginning of the Incarnation, but there it was not to stop. You will find that even at the present day, in a very large portion of Europe, wherever there is a representation of the Lord, too frequently it is a representation of a little baby in the hands of His mother; and is the thought of the people it remains so, as if they were unable to progress beyond this beginning of the Divine life in the world. Since the time of the Reformation, many carry on their thoughts through the life of the Lord to the death on the Cross, and there they stop. The representation which they make in their minds is the Lord on the cross. Jesus on the Cross they believe paid their debt of punishment to another God. Their God is not the Lord Jesus Christ, but an exceedingly vindictive awful being, swift to mark, and terrible to publish, who, because one of His creatures disobeyed, and took an apple, was determined to destroy the whole human race by the most awful and eternal fires. He would roast them for ever and ever. The Lord Jesus Christ suffered Him to pour His wrath upon Himself, and, therefore, we are saved. These get to the crucifixion, and there they stop. Whenever they think of the Lord, it is of a bleeding Savior.
My God, through Jesus pacified,
My God thyself declare,
Oh draw me to His bleeding side,
And plunge the sinner there.
This is a common idea. But it is not the scriptural idea. The Divine Word indeed tells us that when no other way of winning man from wickedness, and delivering him from the thraldom of hell, could take place, that then the lord of heaven and earth condescended to come into the world to live through all the stages of human life, and make humanity in Him Divine. Though apparently a babe in the world, He was inwardly the mighty God, the Everlasting Father. He exercised His Divine power in vanquishing our spiritual foes, and setting man for ever free; and by retaining His Manhood, thus guarding the universe, and preserving man from hell.
His work is represented in this chapter, when he says: I am He that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore; and have the keys of hell and of death. He was a Divine Babe, because it was in this way alone he could enter into the world to save and bless the world. He grew up, and became a Divine Youth, a Divine Man–God manifest in the flesh. He went through all the processes of trial, of temptation, of troubles and struggles, conquered all the infernal powers by His own Almighty spirit of love and goodness, and then perfected His human nature, and rose God-Man, the conqueror of hell and death–perfect in all respects–no longer a wounded bleeding Savior, but a victorious Conqueror. In His Divine Majesty He disclosed Himself in a flood of glory to John; and through John He manifests to the whole Church, what is nowHis glorious perfection, His Divine beauty, His Infallible Majesty, as God over all blessed for ever.
He was in the center of the Seven golden candlesticks, because these were probably the definite societies of that time. They were also the symbols of what the churches on earth, and the societies in heaven are. Christian societies are receivers of light, and therefore called candlesticks or lampholders, in order that they may diffuse the light amongst the weak, the wayward, and the ignorant; diffuse it over all the ways of this valley of the shadow of death. They receive from the Savior heavenly wisdom and intelligence, and then hold it up so that all around may enjoy the light, and so they are called candlesticks or lampholders. Such is the real object and the nature of a church. We assemble together and form a society, that we may be glorious lampholders, receiving the light, and then giving light to all around, just as the Lord himself says, Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Every; single soul ought to be in his individual character a sacred lampholder. A one of old said, The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord. Every society, in a still larger way, ought to be a sacred lampholder. The whole church is represented here by the Seven golden lampholders–because Seven in the Word means what is entire, complete, and perfect. Hence, in so many instances when you find excellent things described, you will find the number seven employed. In Hebrew the same word means seven and perfect.
But these are golden lampholders because gold also, and all the metals, are symbolic objects. Gold, the best of the metals, that which is most capable of expansion, that upon which acids will not act, is, in the Divine Word, the symbol of the highest and holiest affection.
That is love to the Lord. That is the golden love, the golden affection. Where that love exists in fullness, as I have said, acid tempers wont act upon it. The sour spirit of unkindness–of fault finding–of bitter scorn, which tries to act upon heavenly love, is futile to corrode, as ordinary acids when testing pure earthly gold. When the Lord Jesus was about to come into the world the Prophet says (as you will read in Isaiah lx. 17), For brass I will bring gold, and for iron silver. He is just describing that the Lord would become a Savior, and excite their highest love; bring gold for brass. The highest good which the Israelites had been able to attain was the love of the neighbor; for this he would bring gold, a higher, a holier affection, the love of the Lord.
This affection, celestial love, refers to the essence of heaven, the region of celestial gold. Gold, you know, can be made almost as fine as a feather. It can stretch to become the finest wire, it can fit to all niceties and sinuosities; it can float upon the air. When we are truly heavenly, the sacred spirit of celestial love permeates, inspires, and blesses us: it makes us altogether of a golden quality. All the candlesticks were to be of gold. They were to hold up the sacred light, first getting it from Him who is in the center–the true light, as the evangelist St. John says, The true light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world. The Lord Jesus, therefore, when he was thus in His glorified humanity, Man-God: and God-Man in one glorious person, was the center of all light, the beaming forth of all wisdom, the essence of all happiness, purity, and peace. Thus he was represented in the midst of the Seven golden candlesticks.
And then it is said he was clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the breast with a golden girdle. The garment down to the feet represents the Lords divine truths, manifesting His sacred character. Truth covers goodness just as a garment clothes the body, and hence we read in scripture of the garments of salvation, of the robes of righteousness, and here the Lords garment is said to go down to the feet, meaning that he provides heavenly wisdom for every class of being highest for those that are represented by the head, lower for those that are represented by the breast, and simple truth for those that are represented by the feet. His divine garments go down to the feet. The Divine Truth does not only give high and grand things, but moderate and plaid things. His heavenly wisdom not only is such as the highest angels can enjoy, but it comes down so that little children may learn of the Lord.
He clothes himself with light as with a garment, down to the feet. It is on that account that all these sweet stories of the Bible exist, which persons in the very simplest state of mind, even children, can learn and love to read.
The text proceeds: Girt about the breast with a golden girdle. You will already have perceived the signification of gold. This golden girdle round the breasts represents the sphere of love which goes forth from the Lord to embrace all the world with sympathy, to encircle them with His loving kindness and tender mercy. There is the outflowing of the highest love from the Head of the Lord, but there is also the outflowing of the middle affection of charity. The breast is the symbol of that kindness that feels for others, which sympathizes with and desires to impart whatever it has to bless others. He was girt round with a golden girdle, for He is the source of all the circling sympathies which unites angel to angel, and man to man.
It is said His head and His hair were white like wool. The Divine head is a symbol of the Divine Wisdom. It is said so be white because it is so pure, so resplendent–from perfect purity, white like wool, because it is so soft and kind. But, it is added also, as white as snow. There are souls who can only receive truth coldly at first, as science. To them it is not denied. It is given pure, though cold, white as snow. His eyes were as a flame of fire. His eyes mean the Divine foresight. The Lord foresees from ardent love all that His creatures will need. He foresaw and provided for the redemption of the world. He foresees and provides for all our needs. There is not a sorrow but has its remedy; not a want but there is a provision; not a wound but a power of healing has been secured. Nothing escapes the supervision of Divine intelligence, or the care of all providing love. His eyes are as a flame of fire. His feet, like as fine brass, are as if their burned in a furnace. The Divine Feet represent the lower creative powers. Earth is said to be the Lords footstool, and His feet represent the laws of nature, all tending to good, and all glowing with love, as if they burned in a furnace.
The Divine attributes which govern the world are the Lords feet. When injury is inflicted anywhere, how soon nature flows in to heal. How soothing is sleep, how gentle is night, how restoring is rest. The calmness of nature softens the perturbed spirit, and induces peace. All these restoring influences are from the Lords feet, and are filled with the highest love, as if they burned in a furnace.
And then it is said: His voice was as the sound of many waters. His voice is a grand and majestic voice, but it also consists of Divine truths in infinite fullness. It is the voice of many waters. Waters in the Scripture symbolize truths, and because the divine voice is full of majestic truths in infinite plenitude it is the voice–a sound of many waters.
And then we are told, He had in his right hand Seven stars. Here we have the number seven again, representing that which is sacred, complete, and perfect. In further portions of this Divine Book we shall often have the number seven: the seven angels, the seven trumpets, the seven eyes, the seven lamps, the seven Spirits of God, the seven thunders, the seven vials.
Stars are the symbols of heavenly knowledge. Each bright truth when it goes into the mind is like a little star. All these bright thoughts come from the Lord. He has them all in his right hand, and he opens it just as we are prepared to receive. The Apostle Peter speaks of stars of this kind when he says, We have also a sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts. (2 Peter i. 19.) These saving heavenly lights come into the heart just like the panorama that takes place when evening sets in, and first one bright star appears and then another, until the whole sky is lighted up. When the soul is receiving heavenly intelligence from the Lord, it has its milky way. He is the Morning Star. All lights come from Him, Who is the Light of heaven, and the Light of the world.
Out of His mouth went a two-edged sword. The two-edged sword represents the divine truth combating against errors and evils of every kind. The Lords truth is a two-edged sword ever defending all who are pure and good. It is said to be two-edged, because there are two great comprehensive classifications of wrong–sins which flow from the lusts of a bad heart, and errors which mislead. The divine sword condemns these, and breaks their power, and hence the Lord says: I came not to send peace, but a sword. The same sword came out of his mouth here, a sword that strikes down all that tends to perpetuate wretchedness and wrong. Well is it for us when we seek the defense of this sacred sword. The sword of the spirit is the Word of God. It is not only a sword against evil, but a sword also against false thought for false views lead to evil.
Amongst the ancient Egyptians whose hieroglyphics were but the symbols of the wisdom of the ancient church, they used to represent selfishness and its evils by a great serpent, and false views by a great water animal, whose tail ended in a serpents head, shewing that false notions in the long run end in evil. The divine defense is two-edged, and seeks to combat against all the fetters that would chain the mind, to strike down all the snares of spiritual fowlers, to break, through all the cobwebs of wrong, and thus prevent the souls of men from being in bondage; on the other hand freely giving to man energy to reject all that is against the divine commands, and live the glorious life of doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with his God. If a man will thus suffer the two-edged sword to defend him he will never be overcome. Such is the glorified Savior. Look up. His countenance is as the sun shining in his strength.
The Lord Jesus seeks to save His people from their sins. He lifted up a standard against hell, to overcome all the powers of darkness, and by glorifying His Humanity, He immediately from Himself holds those powers down, so that now not all hell together can fetter or destroy one single human soul. I have the keys of hell and of death. Let no man be afraid; omnipotence is in His hands, Who is mercy itself.
I have the keys of hell and of death, as if He said, when a soul seeks help from Me, I open the influences of heaven and give mine angels charge over him to keep him in all his ways. ( I open and no man shuts. When the tempted one passing through the valley of the shadow of death feels faint, and in despair looks up to the Savior God, and says, Help Lord, or I perish, the Divine hand shuts off the tempting influences. The poorest lamb of His flock is taken into the protecting care of the Savior; the glorious Shepherd brings this bruised one home rejoicing. Not the feeblest of His flock can perish, My sheep are in My hand, He says, and no man can pluck them out of My hand. Other sheep have I that are not of this fold, them also must I bring. This divine power of the Savior God in His glorified humanity, protecting and defending all, is here represented by His saying, in the next verse, I am the First and the Last. I am He that liveth and was dead. I have gone through all that you can go through; I know your sorrows, I know your difficulties, I know your temptations, I have the command of heaven, earth, and hell, and you may safely rely upon my victorious arm. He is not now the man of sorrows; but in His glorified Humanity, with His face like the sun, His garments white as light, all power belonging to Him in heaven and, on earth, He Himself is Almighty to save.
I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. That is the Beginning and the end of all Divine love, the beginning and the end of all Divine wisdom, the first and the last of all Divine power. He is the Omnipotent God, who was Jehovah from eternity, and Who is to come the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, in Whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. This, then, was the Glorified Jesus, the center of the Christian Church, the Lord our Savior.
How foreign to this is the picture of Him, as a dying, bleeding man, much less as a mere babe. All angels adore Him All the blessed who enter heaven find Him ruling there. He is the One God from eternity, Who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or, as it is here expressed, Who is and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty.
This doctrine of the Lord is the grand touchstone of the soul, the test of true thought. It is a sublime truth that the acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus Christ in His real and perfect grandeur is intended to be the Christians foundation. Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. The truth respecting the Lord is the foundation of all that is true and good, sublime, the tried stone, the precious corner-stone.
In Matt. xxii. 42, the Lord Himself points out this, His character–we read: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. And whosoever shall fall against this stone shall be broken. The Head-truth, the real glorious character of the Savior God is the sublime test-stone–the magnificent touchstone of doctrine, of thought, of justice, of good. When you have this one great truth laid as a firm foundation, all descriptions of God which would make Him unmerciful fall away. The Savior God is mercy itself.
All descriptions of God that would make Him unjust fall away. The Savior is Justice itself and He is the only God. All descriptions of God derived from old barbarous ideas that would make you terrified vanish, and pour inmost thought is, Jesus, my God and Savior, is my friend, and Jesus is the only God, Jesus is the First and the Last, every attribute of a false God flies away from Him.
The Apostle Paul says in 1 Cor. iii. 11: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Everything that is inconsistent with this will sooner or later fall. The soul can build upon this Divine foundation, and then it will never be in terror or in haste. It will rest in Him. Come unto Me, He says, All ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. The Christian will remain quietly and lovingly carrying out the will of this great God, our Savior, in life; and rest assured that all will be right in death, certain of a blessed reception in heaven. The angels hail Him as their God and Savior, Whom they know as the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. May this be our loving, our gracious foundation, for ever and ever.
And, now, my beloved hearers, let us learn two or three practical lessons from the divine description before us. Do you think of our Savior as St. John describes Him? When you pray how do you think of the Lord Jesus? When you say Our Father Who art in the heavens, do you represent the Lord Jesus before your mind as being our Father to you?
You have been told God is a being without body, parts, or passions, do you then gaze at emptiness, and speak to nothing?
Reflect upon this. Meditate upon it. Wrestle with this subject until you have determined whether you are to attempt to worship a vast formless incomprehensibility, or the Glorious Divine Man Whom John describes. In the meantime, remember His blessed words, Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with Me.
Why should you go elsewhere? Say to Him as the disciples said, Lord, shew us the Father and it sufficeth us. And your glad hearts will hear a reply like that which Philip heard. Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father. How sayest thou then, shew us the Father? John xiv. 9. Look up, and you will see His face shining as the sun shineth in its strength.
Do you ask, What atonement Lord shall I make for my past sins? for my nature so rebellious in Thy sight? Hear His answer. I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Isaiah xliii. 25. Do you not know that I have taken your nature, and sanctified and reconciled it in Myself, so that Humanity and Divinity are reconciled, are at one in Me.
I have broken down the wall of partition, by destroying the enmity in Myself, and made of the two one New Man. Eph. ii. 14-16. Rest assured God in Christ hath forgiven you. Eph. iv. 32. I have sanctified Myself that you may be sanctified by the truth. John xvii. 19.
And now, dear child, follow after truth, know the truth, understand the truth, love the truth, do the truth; shun by repentance whatever truth teaches you to shun; devote yourself to carry out whatever truth teaches you to perform; and the truth shall make you tree, free to live, free to die, free to enter heaven.
Let us learn also that the Church of the Lord Jesus is a Church of light, not a Church of superstition, mummery, or mystery. Its aim is to make us men of light, men of love, men of virtue, a heaven upon earth. Let thine eye be single, and thy whole body shall be full of light.
But, above all things, let love hold up the light. Be a golden candlestick. Let charity rule in all things. Let patience induce you to deal gently with others though strictly with yourself, and the peaceful happiness which will then flow into you from the Lord, the Prince of Peace, will enable you to say with the Apostle John, We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. I John iii. 14.
Author: JONATHAN BAYLEY—– THE MAGNIFICENT SCENES IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION (1878)