Gems in Revelation - Part 125

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Gems in the book of Revelation
Part 125 - Revelation 1:9-20 A Portrait of Jesus
We do not know what Jesus looked like. Paintings, by Westerners, show him as a tall Nordic type, broad shouldered, blond and blue eyed. All of which is very unlikely. If we may guess what he looked like he was probably fairly small by modern standards, dark skinned, with black hair and dark brown eyes. It will have been his personality rather than his size that enabled him to walk through a crowd intent on lynching him (Luke 4: 30). I hope by now you are saying to yourself something like ‘so what, does it matter’. Of course, it doesn’t.
So when John wants to tell us what Jesus was like he says something quite different:

“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. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 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 1:13-16).

It is an impossible picture if taken literally but it isn’t meant to be taken literally; it is a word picture. The different parts of the image are copies of Old Testament images. The ‘son of man’ is described in Daniel 7: 13 and is a figure of a human being but also stands for all the people of God. It was also the way that Jesus referred to himself. He did not say ’I’ or ‘myself’; he talked about himself as the ‘son of man’. The ‘robe and the golden sash’, the blazing eyes’ and the ‘glowing bronze feet’ are all reminiscent of the divine messenger in Daniel 10: 5, 6, who is described as a man but might be an angel or even Jesus or God himself. ‘White hair’ is like that of the God figure in the vision of Daniel in his 7: 9. The ‘sound of rushing waters‘ uses the image of the approach of God’s glory in Ezekiel 43: 2. His ‘face like the sun shining in all its brilliance’ resembles the ‘likeness of the glory of the Lord’ in Ezekiel 1: 27, 28. You will note that I have deliberately left out the image of the ‘sharp double edged sword’ reserving that as the next great gem for next week.
The whole picture is not a gem but more like a necklace of gems strung together to glorify our Lord. This is Jesus - beyond ordinary words to describe and therefore described with images drawn from Old Testament visions, with which it has much in common. Images like these have to be employed to try and give some impression of his glory.
The description goes on as he touches the worshipping John. He describes himself as the first and the last, which is the same as being Alpha and Omega (the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet, so the A and the Z in English), the resurrected one, who will be alive for ever and ever. Therefore he is of the same status as the ‘Alpha and the Omega, the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty’, all descriptions of God in the very recent verse 8. Thus we see something more than a hint of the Trinity in his self-description.
But in the end, it is no good me explaining the image or you reading about it - it is meant to be thought about and meditated upon. Do just that.
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