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Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, - Revelation 1:12

John wrote, "Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me."

We didn't comment on the Greek word for voice in verse 10, but we should do so now. It is phone, meaning "sound" or "voice." The word has come into our language in many forms, all having to do with sound. Words like microphone, phonetics, and telephone are very common, and it appears the word will be prominent in the future as well, because of the importance of "smart phones."

The great voice of the Jesus the Creator was like a trumpet in verse 10. Here it is like a human voice, and in the next sentence it will be described as the sound of many waters. The supernatural and futuristic aspects of the Revelation would require any human author to use similes like these and other symbolic language. Properly understood, the nearly endless symbolic expressions in the book will shake us free from our limited ways of thinking.

John identified the first thing that he noticed at this point: "I saw seven golden lampstands."

This vision is not of the seven-branched lampstand in the Temple, but of seven individual stands, suitable for holding the oil lamps that were used for light by nearly everyone in those days. They were more practical than candles, which would burn out too soon. They could be carried by a person to light his way, or placed on a safe lampstand in the home.

The lampstands were gold, showing that they were not ordinary furnishings of a home, but costly, ornate fixtures in a public place.

What did these lampstands symbolize? Here is an example of the fact that we mentioned earlier, that many of the symbols in Revelation are explained in the book itself. Revelation 1:20 equates the seven lampstands to the seven churches that were about to receive important messages from the Lord.

Jesus told His followers, who comprise His Church, that they are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). But that light is a reflected light, because He also boldly claimed that He is the light of the world (John 8:12). Light is a most amazing spiritual picture of truth and salvation. We will study more about it in this book. And, since Christ indwells true Christians (Galatians 2:20), they should allow His light to emanate from them. Together, as a church (Greek ekklesia - "called-out", "an assembly") they are to be a light to the dark world around them.

Gold is often symbolic of deity, as in some of the articles in the Temple. So the light that comes from the Church is from God.

Next: Revelation 1:13a


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