Until now, John had seen nothing unusual on this occasion. He had heard the voice of an angel (a special servant of God), but the voice came from behind him. So, John turned round in order to see who had spoken.
The angel had just mentioned 7 churches; then, John saw 7 gold lampstands. John did not immediately understand the meaning; however, Christ later explained that the 7 lampstands meant the 7 churches (1:20).
A lampstand is an object to hold a lamp. At that time, people burned oil in a lamp to give light. Lamps and lampstands were common objects (Mark 4:21). Even poor people would light a lamp to burn by night.
However, there was nothing common, of course, about a gold lampstand. Gold was then the most expensive metal, so a gold lampstand was rare, precious and beautiful. A splendid gold lampstand stood in the holy place of the temple (Godís house) in Jerusalem (Exodus 37:17-24; Hebrews 9:2).
John does not explain why a lampstand is like the church. However, it does not seem a difficult word-picture to explain. In the Bible, light is the usual word-picture for Godís glory (the splendid beauty of his wonderful character). As a lamp would burn in every house by night, so God must be present in the life of every Christian. In the same way, God must be present at every church meeting. See Matthew 5:14-16.
As the lampstands were gold, so Godís people are precious to him. As gold is a pure metal, so Godís people must be holy. In other words, they must give themselves wholly to him. The gold of the lampstands would reflect Christ, who was standing among them. In the same way, Paul writes that a Christian should reflect the glory of God (2 Corinthians 3:18). In other words, when another person meets a Christian, that Christian should show some of Godís character in his own life. For example, perhaps Godís love will show in some of the things that the Christian does (John 13:34-35).
Next part: John sees Christ (Revelation 1:13)
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© 2016, Keith Simons.