Text: Rev 1:4-20
OT Text: Daniel 7
Featured Verse: Rev 1:5b-6 To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Main Idea: The OT background of Rev 1 shows that Jesus fulfills prophecy by receiving a kingdom that will never end. The kingdom is established at his resurrection, runs throughout the church age and finds completion at his return.
Welcome to day #2 of our Revelation reading project. Today will be a more standard entry, compared to yesterday - a post full or introductory material. We will continue to look at chapter one and consider important background information which shapes our understanding of this important vision. In verses 12-20 John tells us about a vision in which he saw "seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man..." (v.12)
Please read Daniel 7 if you have not done so already.
Alright. If reading Revelation feels a little crazy, then reading Daniel 7 may convince you that other parts of the Bible are similarly difficult. We won't try to explain all of Daniel 7 today, but there are several really important things to take note of.
(1.) Notice how a similar style of prophecy is found in both places. The use of symbolic images to describe God's intervention in human events is remarkably similar between the two books.
- Remember the way Daniel describes the world kingdoms as "beasts with horns" which devour. (Dan 7:1-8) The language of "beasts" will be very important later in Revelation. Just remember, it didn't appear out of thin air.
- Notice the way in which Daniel describes the appearance of God - the ancient of days. God appears in humanlike form, though Daniel does not give specifics of his features. He has white hair, like "wool" and fire comes from him. (Dan 7:9-10) When John sees Jesus in this opening vision it bears a striking resemblance to the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7. Jesus also has hair that is "like white wool, like snow and his eyes were like a flame of fire." It is as if John looks at Jesus and says, "here is divinity!"
- Notice also the similar refrain of God establishing an eternal kingdom (Rev 1:6 and Dan 7:14, 18,27.)
(2.) Notice also that in Daniel a second figure shows up. Viewed through a Trinitarian lens, we can see that God the Son and God the Father are able to interact. In Daniel's vision, "one like a son of man" shows up "with the clouds of heaven." (It would be strange for anyone other than a divine figure to appear "riding the clouds" given the way that terminology is used in Psalm 104:3 and Isaiah 19:1.) Think about how this vision forms a backdrop of Revelation 1.
- In Revelation 1:7, Jesus is described as riding on the clouds of heaven.
- Jesus is also described as "one like a son of man." (1:12) This was his favorite term for self-description in the gospels. (Though it was not a clear messianic term at the beginning of the first century, the connection with Daniel 7 and clear use of the term by Jesus solidified this connection.)
- Jesus has a "dominion that is everlasting" (Dan 7:14), also called "dominion forever and ever" (Rev 1:6.)
- Through his sacrificial ministry, Jesus brings believers into his kingdom (1:5-6) which fulfills Daniels vision where "the saints of the most high receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever and ever" (Dan 7:18.)
Conclusion and Application
I took time to draw out these comparisons, because it is important to underscore the connection between the imagery of Revelation and other parts of the Bible, particularly OT prophecy. Seeing the parallels helps us to understand how the symbols are being used and can make them feel less random.
Seeing these connections also underscore the interpretive meaning. Daniel 7 is a passage about world-wide conflict in which God's agent (the son of man) will receive authority and establish an everlasting kingdom which overcomes the oppressive power of the worldly (beastly) kingdoms. Let's connect that to the idea that was discussed in the first blog post. John shows us that the son of man is standing in the midst of the lampstands holding the stars in his hand. As we saw, that means that Jesus is present with his church, representatively* holding the Christians in his right hand. Combined with the background of Daniel 7 our reading of the vision is given added depth. We now see that Jesus is able to care for his church because he has received power and authority from the Ancient of Days. The very purpose of this power (dominion) is to establish his kingdom and uphold it forever. In the face of "beastly" opposition from world powers, we have confidence that Jesus can hold us fast.
* Jesus spoke of the stars as the "angels of the seven churches" (Rev 1:20.) It is not clear exactly what is meant by an "angel." Because the term means "messenger" it could be a human messenger (ie. a human leader) or a divine being that has special connection to a particular congregation. Either way, that figure has a representative relationship with the church as a whole, such that when we see Jesus holding the stars in his hands, we know that same care is extended to everyone in the church.