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THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST

Previous: Revelation 1:13a

... clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; - Revelation 1:13b-14

John wrote that in his vision of Jesus, he was no longer an "ordinary" person, but one who was totally majestic and awesome. After the resurrection, Jesus was already changed. He was in perfect condition, even though He had been crucified just three days earlier. He could conceal His identity or reveal it as he did to Mary, and later to the disciples on the Emmaus Road (John 20:15-16; Luke 24:30-31). He could walk through the walls of the Upper Room to appear to the Disciples (John 20:26), and could rise into the heavens without a spacecraft (Acts 1:9-10), Paul explained that after the resurrection there would be a glorified, incorruptible body.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. - 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

This glorified Jesus was "clothed with a garment down to the feet." In the First Century people normally wore robes. But the robes of certain dignitaries were distinctive. They might be colored or embroidered. Kings, judges, priests and Pharisees were recognized by their special attire. On the other extreme, prophets would often have robes that were plain and coarse, befitting their messages of warning.

Jesus would be entitled to wear any of these uniforms. He is prophet, priest, and king! However, His role as judge may be the most significant in this vision. He is portrayed in so many ways in this book, but here He is seen most definitely as the Judge- first of His Church in the next two chapters, and then of the world in its end-time condition. As the Righteous Judge, He commends and rewards those who do what is right, but condemns and punishes those who practice evil.

John commented on the belt or sash of this particular robe. Jesus was "girded about the chest with a golden band." The Greek word for "band" was zonen - "belt." But it was very wide, extending upward to his chest. This description causes some commentators to prefer the image of a priest, since the priestly attire often had this kind of girdle. Wide belts of this sort could hold money or other personal items, and might even be referred to as one's purse (Mark 6:8). It was gold, which could symbolize royalty, so that some commentators view this as a kingly vision. But gold is used in many places throughout the Scriptures to symbolize God (as in the Tabernacle and the Temple). And it is God who has the right and responsibility to judge the Church and the world.

Next John recorded that "His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow." White like wool would be an appropriate description of the grey-white hair of an elderly, wise person. The pictures we see of English and Early-American magistrates and legislators usually show them in their white wigs. For many, it was just the fashion of the day, but it was understood that it made them look older and wiser.

However, there was no such fashion in the First Century. Jewish and Christian readers would undoubtedly have thought about an earlier end-times vision by Daniel that was strikingly similar to this one.

"I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool.

His throne was a fiery flame,
Its wheels a burning fire; - Daniel 7:9

That vision was of "The Ancient of Days," a description of God Himself as the Eternal One. As we have already seen in this first chapter of Revelation, the attributes of God are freely ascribed to Jesus as well, because He is God the Son.

In Daniel's vision the robe was "white as snow," while in John's vision the hair was also described this way. This is a description in the Bible of purity and holiness (Psalm 51:7; Isaiah 1:18).

The Son also appears in Daniel 7 as separate from the Ancient of Days:

13 "I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed. - Daniel 7:13-14

As a sidelight here, we will often find the most interesting and significant connections between the Old Testament book of Daniel and this Revelation of Jesus Christ. Daniel is often called "The Apocalypse of the Old Testament." John was certainly aware of the contents of Daniel before he ever received this vision. But he was not reciting the words of Daniel or even commenting on them. This was a fresh, separate "unveiling" of the same truths revealed to Daniel hundreds of years earlier, and it makes both of the books that much more credible.

When two people have virtually the same vision, it behooves them to ask themselves if there is some spiritual message there of special importance. I have not had much personal experience with such dreams, but I will share one that I knew must be from the Lord. In high school, soon after I had met Barbara, my wife to be, but before we had ever even dated, we both had the same dream one night. I was president of the Youth for Christ club that had a weekly meeting after school on Wednesdays. I dreamed that we were having a "backwards meeting." It was my responsibility to plan themes for each week's meetings to keep it interesting. So it could just have been a random idea.

I mentioned it to my sister, Joan, before we both went to school the next day. While a number of club members were setting up for the meeting, my sister came to me with surprising news. Evidentially, Barbara had dreamed the same thing! Joan got us together. I told the first half of my dream, and Barbara told the second half! We all thought it was amazing, but didn't know what it meant. Maybe someday we would plan a "backwards meeting" for the group.

In those days we had a special speaker each week, provided by the YFC leadership in the area. I had not met him before, but, as usual, I found out who he was, then introduced him to the group. To our complete surprise, the first thing he said was, "Let's do something different today. Let's all turn our chairs around, and I will speak to you from the back of the room - just for fun!"

Barbara, Joan, and I all looked at each other in disbelief. We never did understand why the speaker did it, except to get focused attention. But we did sense that the Lord wanted Barbara and me to pay attention to each other. We recently celebrated our 52nd anniversary.

So, back to the important stuff, we will often consider the Book of Daniel as we proceed through the Book of Revelation. Here is another section of Daniel that is very similar to this verse in Revelation

5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. - Daniel 10:5-6

Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come." - Daniel 10:14

The next thing John noticed was Jesus' eyes. He wrote "and His eyes like a flame of fire." This is definitely a picture of judgment. This expression is found here; again in chapter 2, verse18 where Jesus corrects the corrupt church at Thyatira; and also in chapter 19, verse 12 when He returns to fight the Battle of Armageddon.

Sometimes people describe the look of anger this way. As the righteous judge Jesus has "righteous indignation" against those who have rebelled against His loving and gracious gift.

The concept of His burning eyes is reminiscent of Paul's teaching that Jesus will judge the works of believers, and only what is good will remain. Whatever is useless: wood, hay and stubble will be consumed by the fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Throughout the Bible, God is depicted as fire in various ways. Some of these are: The burning bush (Exodus 3:2-4), The Pillar of Fire in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21); A consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29), and Tongues of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2:3).


Next: Revelation 1:15-16


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