Images From Revelations

David Rawley  Otterbein United Brethren in Christ Church     


The final (ending) word of the Bible is the “revelation” given to St. John while he was imprisoned on an island fortress for preaching and speaking about Christ.  He tells us that he “heard” and “saw” this vision (Revelation 1:10-12).  The speaker was one “like a son of man”, that very phrase being a self description often used by Jesus.  This person who John saw had eyes as bright as fire and feet as bright as bronze.  The eyes speak of the intensity and purpose of Christ, not the meek lamb going to the slaughter but the risen Lord who possesses all authority.  The feet speak of the dual nature and purpose of Christ, a union of God and man.  Bronze, a union of copper and iron, is malleable but rigid, representing both the strength of God and the vulnerability of man.

     This figure who spoke to St. John stood among seven lamp-stands and held in his hands seven stars.  He explained that the stars were angels (or messengers) while the lamp-stands were the churches to which the words of advice and challenge were directed.  What a picture!  A bit weird to our modern logical thinking, but very powerful in their analogy.  Christ was standing “among” the lamp-stands.  He is standing among the community of his people, standing with us in our challenges, standing beside us in our trials, standing with us in our confusion, standing near us in our sorrows.  When Christians are persecuted, the power of Christ is available to them.  When churches squabble, the peace of Christ is available to them.  When believers struggle, the patience of Christ is available for them.  When Christians pray, the presence of Christ is available to them.  When children of God fail, the forgiveness of Christ is available to them.  We cannot see his form, but Christ walks about among the lamp-stands.  He guides and guards his church.  He pays attention.  He cares.  He is among us.

     A lamp-stand gives off no light.  It is simply the receptacle.  The lamp-stand referred to is the type used as the Jewish menorah.  It is filled with oil.  The light is from the flame of the burning oil.  Likewise, the “church” is simply the platform for God’s burning presence.  We have no light, but we give the light a place to reside and shine.  The flame of God rests upon us.  The oil of God’s presence is within us.  Close besides us, standing among and between us is the attending presence of our Savior.  Our churches represent a wide variety of perspectives and experiences.  We often rehearse our differences.  But like a parent standing among their children has no favorites, God stands within the community of his churches.  No favorites.  Together, they are his church.  He is within, beside, and among.  They belong to Him.