“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone ‘like a son of man,’ but dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance” (Revelation 1:12-16, NIV).
The Christians of the first century knew (or knew of) Jesus as a 30-year old man who was unjustly executed by the Roman government with the complicity of the Jewish religious leadership. Perhaps it was quite out of the ordinary for John and other first-century Christians to imagine Jesus, whom they had known as a compassionate human being, as the God of the Old Testament wielding divine judgment over His Creation.
The language describing the Son of Man figure in John’s vision in the first chapter of Revelation is suggestive of the Ancient of Days figure in one of Daniel’s visions described in Daniel 7, who confers divine authority, power and glory upon “one like a son of man” (Daniel 7:13). Daniel’s vision is considered to be a messianic prophecy in which the “Ancient of Days” represents God the Father and the “one like a Son of Man” represents God the Son, the Messiah Jesus Christ.
Daniel provides us with some insight into John’s vision. Daniel introduces and describes the Ancient of Days as He appears in his vision: “As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of His head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before Him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9-10, NIV)
A few verses later Daniel interjects another figure into his Ancient of Days vision: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, NIV).
The scene in Daniel is closely paralleled in the Book of Revelation, which is introduced in Chapter 1 and described in more detail in Chapters 4-5 and progressing through the rest of the book of Revelation.
In John’s vision the figure he saw standing among seven golden lampstands is understood to be Jesus, but represented more as the God of the Old Testament–the Ancient of Days. The robe He wore was like the robe worn by the high priest of the Jewish Temple. His aged appearance (white hair) suggested wisdom and dignity. His blazing eyes represented penetrating insight. The sword coming from His mouth symbolized divine judgement.
The figure in John’s vision explained that the lampstands were symbolic of the seven churches of Asia Minor listed in vs. 11–Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea–that this vision was addressed to.
What’s notable is that we see Jesus as the Ancient of Days standing among the churches!
As we shall discover, these seven churches of Asia Minor are symbolic for all churches throughout the Church age. God’s divine presence, His Spirit, is imminent and inhabits His churches not only in Asia Minor at the end of the first century but Christian churches today!
The One who is the First and the Last, was dead and now is alive forever and holds the keys of death (vs. 17-18) is continually present among the fellowship of the people who serve and worship Him!
Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3, NIV)