Friday, 28 August 2020
He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Revelation 1:16
Again, John continues with his description of Christ, revealing His glory to us. In this verse, he begins with, “He had in His right hand seven stars.” In verse 20, he will explain that these seven stars are the “seven angels of the seven churches.” That will be reviewed then. For now, the “right hand” is used to denote the position of power.
The hand is the place where activity occurs, and tasks are accomplished. Thus, the symbolism is that these seven stars are within His powerful grasp, and that His purposes are being accomplished through them. Nothing is said of the order in which they are presented to John’s eyes, nor how they were displayed. But John clearly saw that there were seven of them, and they were in Christ’s powerful right hand.
Next, he says that “out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.” The order of the words in Greek is precise, saying, “sword, two-mouthed, sharp.” The word translated as “two-edged” is distomos. It signifies “two mouthed.” The idea of the edge of the sword being described as a mouth permeates Scripture.
In this, the sword is considered a devouring instrument, consuming that which it comes in contact with. Being a mouth, it is then likened to a drinker of blood – meaning it has the ability to take life because the “life is in the blood.” Being two-mouthed, it is a consumer of blood at all times. No matter which side is presented, its effect remains the same.
Proceeding from the mouth of Christ, who is the embodiment of truth, it gives the sense that Christ will cut out all that is false and all that is contrary to the truth that is found in Him. The sword is used to describe destruction throughout the Old Testament, and even into the New. Jesus uses the terminology of the sword to describe the fate of the Hebrew people in Luke 22 –
“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Luke 21:24
The presentation of Christ is one that should be terrifying to those who reject Him and His word. To see this sword in action, one can turn ahead to Revelation 19:15-21. In that passage, Christ will dispatch the armies gathered together to make war against Him.
John next says, “and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” The word translated as “countenance,” opsis, is rare, being used only by John. It is found in John 7:24, John 11:44, and here. It signifies sight, meaning the act of sight. It is an external appearance. John says that this sight of Christ is like the sun. But more specifically, like the sun shining “in its strength.” This would indicate midday. The sun at midday, and particularly in an arid region like the Mideast, is what is being referred to here – a dazzling brightness.
The terminology reaches all the way back to Judges 5 –
“Thus let all Your enemies perish, O Lord!
But let those who love Him be like the sun
When it comes out in full strength.” Judges 5:31
The comparison of the sun to the Lord is found elsewhere as well, such as in 2 Samuel 23:4, Psalm 19:5, and Malachi 4:2. If the face of Christ – His appearance – is as the sun, then it means that what it shines upon is fully illuminated. There is nothing that He will not see. All that is dark or hidden will be brought to light. Jesus spoke of this idea in regard to a lamp. If this is so, how much truer is it with the light of the sun shining forth –
“Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.” Mark 4:21, 22
With the awesome presentation of Christ now fully seen by John, he will explain his reaction to it in the coming verse.
Life application: Elsewhere in Scripture, the sword is noted as the power of the Spirit of God and also as the word of God, the Bible. These descriptions point to an instrument which is authoritative, powerful, and able to consume anything that comes against it. It is effective in both directions (two-edged) as it can be used 1) internally in the church for judgment –
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” 1 Peter 4:17
2) It can also be used externally for destruction of the enemies of God –
“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.” Revelation 19:15
Concerning the sun, when the Lord appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, His radiant glory blinded him. Human eyes can’t perceive the fullness of the glory of God, and this is what Jesus is, the unveiled and infinitely glorious revelation of the unseen God. He is the One who created the universe, the One who sustains the universe, and therefore the One who is more glorious than anything in His creation. He is Jesus.
Lord God, how glorious You are. The descriptions of You in Scripture reveal majestic splendor. But how can words fully describe an infinite? And so, we can only imagine You and Your glory in a limited way. Knowing this, how truly glorious You are! You are worthy of infinite praise. May our hearts never be arrogant towards You, but may we humbly walk in the radiant light of Your glory, ever boasting in You alone. Amen.