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The Glorified Christ as High Priest

10 Feb
High Priest

from Google Images

John tells us that he saw a human figure in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (G3087; Revelation 1:12).[1] This same Greek word is used for the candelabra that was found in the Holy Place of the Temple (Hebrews 9:2), and is, indeed, the same candelabra described in the Septuagint at Exodus 25:31-35 and other places in the Old Testament. The single candelabra with its seven branches represented Israel, but the seven individual lampstands, which may also be candelabras themselves, represent the seven churches in Asia, to whom John writes (cf. Revelation 1:20).[2] Jesus said the candle or lamp (G3087) was to be placed in an area in the house where its light would benefit all (Matthew 5:15; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16).

The implication is that the seven churches in Asia were placed along the trade route for the benefit of all who would come under the influence of the light of each lampstand. This infers that, if God is Light (1John 1:5), and he is held up for all to see (cf. Matthew 5:15), then he would affect men in such a way that he would (through those who hold him up) draw men to himself (John 12:32; cf. Acts 19:10).

The Jews failed to continue to represent God to the world. In fact they tried to snuff out the Light of Jesus, but they failed because of his Resurrection. At the coming of Jesus on the Day of the Lord, Jesus would establish his church as his only true representative by judging the Jewish nation who rejected him. In that day the church, which the Jews persecuted and tried to destroy, would remain despite its imperfections, because they continued to hold him up for the world to see (Matthew 16:18).[3]

Notice that Jesus was wearing a robe that clothed him down to his feet (Revelation 1:13), which is the same type of robe (G4158) Aaron wore when he judged Israel (see the Septuagint at Exodus 28:30-31). The Hebrew also describes the “little coat”, which Samuel’s mother, Hannah, made for him from year to year and brought to him at Jerusalem (1Samuel 2:19; cf. Exodus 28:4) It was the garment that the Man wore, whom Ezekiel tells us went into the city of Jerusalem, as the glory of God was leaving the Temple, This Man entered Jerusalem to mark those who mourned over the sins of Israel in order to spare them from the judgments that would come upon the nation (Ezekiel 9:2-3, 11).

Finally, it is used of the robe that clothed Joshua, the high priest, who returned from the captivity (Zechariah 3:4). The scene that John describes seems to present Jesus as the Judge, ready to judge between the church that holds him up for the world to see and the Jewish nation who rejected him and sought to extinguish the light of the church through persecution.

About his chest, Jesus wore a golden girdle or belt. This golden girdle was always associated with the ephod, which the high priest wore (Exodus 28:8, 27; 39:5, 20). It was called the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:25-29), and it was worn for the purpose of finding out the will of God (1Samuel 23:9; 30:7).[4] In the context of Jesus standing in the midst of the seven lampstands clothed in the garment of judgment and wearing the breastplate of judgment, one is reminded of the fact that Israel would dwell a long time without knowing the will of God (i.e. without an ephod)—without a king or a prince, without a sacrifice (implying the Temple would not be in Jerusalem) and without a pillar (i.e. a witness; see Hosea 3:5; cf. Isaiah 19:19-20).

Once more we see the context is the Day of the Lord (Revelation 1:10), when Jesus would come and judge his people, the Jews, because they not only rejected him as the Messiah, while he ministered to them during the days of his humanity (Mark 15:9-15; cf. 14:60-65), but refused to repent afterward and even persecuted those he sent to them (cf. Matthew 23:34-35).

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[1] See my earlier study The Great Voice of the Glorified Christ.

[2] An interesting archaeological detail that may shed some light upon why John mentions Jesus in the midst of seven lampstands or candelabras concerns the “capital stone” found in Jerusalem  which itself was at one time placed on top of a pillar (perhaps to the Temple?). It is part of the valuable finds displayed in the Sibenberg House at Jerusalem. I am grateful to Patricia Watkins for informing me about this archaeological discovery.

[3] See my earlier blogpost: The Parables of Light and the Eye, a study on Luke 11:24-28.

[4] Josephus tells us that the high priest wore a girdle interwoven with gold (Antiquities of the Jews 3.7.2 & 4).

 

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Posted by on February 10, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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