The Exalted Lord, Gracious and Just

Wim Malgo (1922-1992)

An interpretation of the last book of the Bible. Part 12. Revelation 1:12-16.

It is striking that John displays a certain reluctance to describe the exalted Christ. But it’s exactly this reserve that underscores the exalted Lord’s majesty. “…Like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle” (Rev 1:13). This is no longer the Son of Man in lowliness—no, because he is girdled with a golden belt around his chest. The long robe indicates His high priestly dignity, and the golden belt His royal dignity.

John sees the returning High Priest and King, or the Messiah of Israel, at the deepest level. The church that surrounds Him (the seven candlesticks) is His glory. He is the Redeemer and Ruler of His kingdom. And then John sees the Lord’s head: “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire” (v. 14).

It is no longer the head on which the crown of thorns lies, covered with blood and wounds, disfigured by disgrace and torture. Rather, John describes the highest glory with the simplest expressions. The Holy Spirit always does. For example, through the prophet Daniel, the Holy Spirit uses the image of a stone being “cut out of the mountain without hands.” This stone fills the whole world and crushes the image of the nations, a description of the glory of the Son of God (Dan 2).

John sees His head and hair shimmering white as snow. He’s saying in this way that the indescribable splendor of heavenly glory is resting on Him. The crown of thorns has become a crown of honor. John no longer sees Jesus’ eyes filled with tears, as when Jesus wept over Jerusalem, but now like blazing flashes of fire. We find the same eyes in Revelation 19:12: “His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns.”

This is the all-pervading gaze of His just and holy love. Even now, these eyes are watching us from His glory. They cause a man to break down, like Peter when Jesus turned and looked at Him.

John no longer sees the feet of the Son of God pierced, but “like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace” (v. 15). Eyes like flames of fire, and feet as if they were glowing in a furnace—these show Jesus as judge. He isn’t just a king and priest. We also see Him as a judge in Revelation 2:18: “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.”

The fact that He is actually appearing here as a judge for the nations and as a reconciler and High Priest for Israel, is demonstrated by how He also speaks of judgment and mercy to Thyatira: “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds” (Rev 2:22). That’s judgment. Yet He adds, “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (verses 24-26). That’s grace!

The voice that John hears is no longer the gentle voice of a good shepherd that fell silent, like a sheep before its shearer, when it was spit upon and reviled, and finally nailed to the cross. Now the voice is so powerful that John has to use the word “roar”—“ like the roar of many waters” (v. 15, ESV). Isn’t that the voice of God’s judgment that we hear so many times in the Bible? Jeremiah also heard it. He compared it to the roaring of a lion (Jer 25:30-38). Joel also describes this voice of judgment: “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16).

It’s also clear from this text that His voice means judgment upon the nations and grace upon Israel. Amos also heard this voice of the Lord: “And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither” (Amos 1:2). Likewise, Hosea: “They shall walk after the Lord: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west” (Hos 11:10).

Now John is showing us the face of the exalted Lord in Revelation 1:16. But before he describes His face, he talks about His right hand. It’s no longer the hand into which the Roman soldiers pressed a reed on the way to Golgotha to mock His dignity. No, now He is holding the seven stars in His right hand: “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand...The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches” (Rev 1:20). So, he holds the seven ones accountable for the seven churches, in the very hand that had been pierced through. We’re looking at Jesus’ return in great strength and glory, with the glorified church!

Then John also speaks of the Lord’s mouth. He doesn’t see the mouth of the Lord that had been struck by a soldier. No, he sees how a sharp, double-edged sword emerges from His mouth (v. 16). It’s the incarnate Word of God. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). “With the spirit of his mouth,” says Paul, He will kill the wicked (2 Thess 2:8).

Midnight Call - 07/2020

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