"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 breasts with a golden belt. 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 shines in his strength." —Revelation 1:13-16.
There stand the seven golden lamps in their heavenly brightness! There stand the seven Churches of the Gentiles as represented by these lamps!
But they do not stand alone. One is seen in the midst of them whom the apostle recognized. He is 'like unto the Son of man,' that is, He is the very Son of man Himself. It is He who said, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them' (Matthew 28:29); and again, 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world' (or 'age'; Matthew 28:20). He 'walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (ch. 2:1). He is 'the Son of man'—He whom Daniel knew by that name (Daniel 7:13, 10:5, 16); and whom John also knew by it (John 1:51, 3:13). True son of man, in His connection with the Churches; for it is as the Son of man that He walks in the midst of these golden lamps.
I. His CLOTHING. He is clothed with the long robe, and He girt round the bosom with a belt of gold (Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 10:2; Daniel 10:5). The ROBE reaching to the feet was the robe of kings and priests—and this Son of man is both. It is the Melchizedek dress, the priestly-royal robe; for glory, and for beauty, and for majesty. His BELT is not that of the waist or loins, like warriors, or the servant's. It is for adorning—it is the symbol of dignity—it belongs to priest and prince—it suits the crown and the throne on which the Son of man is seated in regal glory, yet as a ministering Priest in the Holy Place, attending to the service there, caring for the vessels of ministry, and especially trimming the lamps, or keeping their fine gold ever bright and shining.
II. His HEAD and HAIR. His head as a whole, with its hair, was 'white like white wool (this is the literal rendering), like snow.' Or it may be simply 'the hair of His head were WHITE.' Here is purity, intense purity, and magnificent majesty, the same figure used concerning the 'Ancient of days' (Daniel 7:9), as if here also, as in other replaces (verses 4 and 8), the designation and description of Father and Son were interchangeable; absolute and divine perfection being ascribed equally to both. It is by wool and snow that the sinner's cleansing is described (Isaiah 1:18), as if to show how complete that cleansing is, and how complete the transformation is from scarlet to snow, from crimson to wool; scarlet and crimson representing the extremity of human defilement and guilt, snow and wool the perfection of divine purity.
We are 'made perfect through the loveliness which He puts upon us' (Ezekiel 16:14). In the Song of Solomon we read, 'His head is as the most fine gold; His locks are bushy and black as a raven,' as if describing the perfection of earthly beauty—in our text they are said to be 'white as wool and snow,' as if describing the perfection of heavenly purity and glory.
III. His EYES. They were as a flame of fire; piercing, burning, searching. They are like the eyes mentioned in Ezekiel, as connected with divine glory (1:18). 'The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good' (Proverbs 15:3). 'The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth' (2 Chronicles 16:9). 'All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom they have to do' (Hebrews 4:13). He 'searches the heart and tries the thoughts.' All-penetrating and all-searching eyes are those here ascribed to Christ—eyes which not only look at us, but look through us—eyes of heavenly flame! When He comes to judge and make war, it is said, 'His eyes are as a flame of fire' (Ch. 14:12). Such are the eyes which wept at the grave of Lazarus; which wept over Jerusalem; which were turned on Peter when he went out and wept bitterly.
IV. His FEET. They were 'like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace.' In Ezekiel (10:1-3) the person seen had an 'appearance like the appearance of brass.' Molten brass is said to be especially bright and lustrous. His feet are like the rest of His body, altogether pure and perfect; brilliant to the eye, and repellent of all stain or evil; like glowing brass when the fire has burned out all its dross and brought out all its beauty. Even when He treads the wine-press, and tramples the wicked in His wrath, His feet take on no spot; and as He walks among the seven golden candlesticks, this purity and splendor shine out all around, rebuking sin, showing the true standard of divine perfection, and saying, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'
V. His VOICE. 'As the sound of many waters.' These may be the waters of the sea (the waves of which were now dashing at the apostle's feet), or of the cataract, or of the rolling river—loud and overawing, heard afar off above the din of the world. When He speaks, the world shall hear. The trumpet, the thunder, the noise of many waters—these are the symbols made use of to describe His heavenly voice—that same voice which said, 'Come unto me, and I will give you rest.' The voice which uttered here the gracious words of loving invitation, that voice will, in the day of His appearing and His kingdom, say, 'Come, you blessed ones,' and 'depart, you cursed ones.'
VI. His RIGHT HAND. This is the hand that grasps the sword and scepter; it is the place of POWER and AUTHORITY. It is often made mention of in the Psalms as such—'Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand' (Psalm 89:13). There, in that almighty hand, are you seven stars, or seven angels; for 'He makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.'
VII. His MOUTH. This is the place of utterance the place from which goes forth the voice which is as the sound of many waters. From this comes the voice of mercy; from this comes also the voice of judgment—'Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword,' the sword with which He executes righteous judgment; for as He spoke, and all things were made, so He speaks, and the stroke of judgment falls. Thus we read in Hosea (6:5)—'Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth.'
VIII. His COUNTENANCE. That is, His whole face—His visage. It is said that on the holy mount 'His face did shine as the sun' (Matthew 17:2); and we read that 'His face was as the appearance of lighting' (Daniel 10:6). So here 'His countenance was as the sun shines in his strength.' Infinite brightness, divine glory, irradiating, penetrating, revealing, is in His face—that face which once was covered with blood on the cross, and pale in death.
Such is the excellence of the Lord Jesus Christ. All divine and all human perfections are in Him. 'In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.' In Him are the unsearchable riches. He is 'the king in His beauty!' He is 'fairer than the children of men!'
Thus excellent is the Church's Head, and He is Head over all things to the Church. He is, moreover, 'Prince of the kings of the earth;' and all allegiance from earth as well as heaven, from nations as well as Churches, from kings as well as saints—is due to Him! All crowns are His, all scepters, all thrones! Heaven is now full of His glory, and before long earth shall be the same!