Thursday, 27 August 2020
His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; Revelation 1:15
John continues with his description of the Lord in all of His glorious splendor. Here he notes that “His feet were like fine brass.” He uses a word found only here and in verse 2:18, chalkolibanon. It is derived from chalkos, meaning “copper” or “bronze,” and libanos, signifying “frankincense.” That is then derived from the Hebrew word leboonah, also meaning “frankincense,” but signifying “white” based on its root, the verb laben, or “to make white.” That, in turn, comes from the word lebanah, or “brick.” The reason for this is that bricks whiten as they are dried or fired in a kiln.
This may seem like an unnecessary rabbit trail into the etymology of an obscure word, but it is not. In understanding the typology from the Old Testament, what is stated about Christ’s feet here will make complete sense when the second and last use of chalkolibanon is given in Chapter 2. A hint of the reason for this is that bricks in the Old Testament signify works, particularly man’s works which are insufficient before God. For example, when the people built the Tower of Babel, they made bricks in order to erect a tower to heaven.
In this, there was a picture of human effort in order to reach God – works based salvation. God rejected that. Therefore, this special word – found only these two times, both of which point to the color of Christ’s feet – are referring to judgment on works. The reason for this is that brass (bronze/copper) in the Bible has its own signification.
In the Bible, it mainly symbolizes judgment, but also endurance. This judgment can be positive or negative. If positive, it results in purification and justification. If negative, it results in punishment or even death.
However, there is the truth that in order for there to be positive judgment for a sinful person, then there must be the death of an innocent in his place. Therefore, the positive judgment still carries with it a negative aspect.
This description of Christ’s feet in Revelation reflects the same picture that is carried forward from instances in the Old Testament. In Daniel 10:6, it says –
“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.”
Another time in the Ezra 8:27, two bronze vessels being carried to Jerusalem with the returning exiles are considered as “precious as gold” –
“…twenty gold basins worth a thousand drachmas, and two vessels of fine polished bronze, precious as gold.”
Taking this into consideration, Thayer’s Lexicon says it seems “to have been in the writer’s thought” to “compel us to understand some metal like gold, if not more precious.” This special brass with its unique and magnificent color represents – most especially – judgment on works, and also endurance.
Further, feet are what are used to propel a person, keeping on the right or wrong path depending on where the person directs them. They are the part of the body that picks up defilement while walking, and thus need to be washed as it is picked up. Christ’s, however, are presented as instruments of judgment. They are further presented as enduring through all trials and having come through without any defilement.
That is seen in the words, “as if refined in a furnace.” The word translated as “refined” signifies “to burn.” Being refined in a furnace explains the color derived from the word “white.” The heat causes things to whiten in a furnace, burning off all impurity and allowing the metal to be formed or shaped accordingly. In Christ’s feet, there is pure judgment, no defilement, and absolute perfection.
John next says of Him, “and His voice as the sound of many waters.” This looks to the same verse from Daniel 10 cited above, which said, “the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.” However, the direct citation that John is using comes from Ezekiel –
“And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.” Ezekiel 43:2.
Both descriptions speak of a voice that resonates with a multitude of wavelengths coming forth at the same time. What cannot be denied here is that, in Ezekiel, the voice is attributed to “the God of Israel.” Therefore, a direct connection is made between Christ Jesus here, and Yehovah – the God of Israel – in Ezekiel. One cannot deny the deity of Christ without first dismissing the very words that reveal who He is.
Concerning this voice, it is necessary to understand the etymology of the word yam, or “west” from the Old Testament. For example, in Genesis 12:8, it notes the directions “west” and “east.” The word for “west” is yam, the same as the word for “sea.” The reason for this is that the Mediterranean, or “Great,” Sea is to the west of Canaan. The land itself forms typological pictures. The word yam comes from an unused root meaning “to roar.” Thus, it is “the roaring.”
Understanding this, the concept of man returning to God is from east to west. Man was cast east of the Garden of Eden. In the tabernacle/temple, the Most Holy Place is in the west. It is the place where the Lord God of Israel resided.
The picture is that of man returning to God from His place of exile, heading once again toward Him where He is residing in the west. This description of “many waters,” gives the sense of the roaring of the sea, crashing and terrifying. It is, again, a confirmation that Christ is the Lord, Yehovah, who occupies the Most Holy Place and whose voice issues forth from there.
His voice goes forth in judgment upon the peoples, or it goes forth as a beckoning call to those who will come to Him.
Life application: “How beautiful upon the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who proclaims peace,
Who brings glad tidings of good things,
Who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion,
‘Your God reigns!’” Isaiah 52:7.
The feet of Christ carry the message of God’s judgment. For the saved, it is a judgment of salvation leading to rewards and losses. For the unsaved, it is one of condemnation. The message of Christ issues forth on a voice that roars as of many waters. It calls out for wisdom and discernment to be applied by the people of the world. Christ has come! Respond to the call!
There can be no mistaking that John intends for his readers to understand Jesus as the incarnation of “Yehovah” of Israel’s past. He is the Mediator and Advocate for believers between God and man, and He is the image of the invisible God in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He is Jesus. Let us be prepared for our time of judgment by responding to the call of the Lord. May today be that day for those who are wise and discerning.
It is glorious to contemplate Your majesty as described within the pages of Scripture, O Lord. Surely Your glory is above all of creation. It extends beyond the height of heaven and beyond time itself. How wonderful to think that someday we will stand in Your presence and behold Your glory with our own eyes, ever hailing the splendor of the King of kings! Amen.