1.6 – “The Son of Man”

Home Learning Hub Reflections in Revelations 1.6 – “The Son of Man”

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” (Rev 1:12-16)

This is a similar vision to one Ezekiel had, where God was seen in his glory prior to the judgement of Babylon upon Jerusalem.

(Ezekiel 1) We see his glory here prior to his judgement coming through Rome. This Roman judgement was the culmination of the judgements the Prophets spoke about, that would bring about the final destruction of ancient Jerusalem (e.g., Isaiah 66).

This isn’t an actual vision of what God looks like. It isn’t a vision of how we will see God “when we get to heaven,” as we sometimes think of these accounts. There are several visions like this in Revelation. None of them are showing what heaven would be like when we “get there.” They are symbolic visions of what heaven is saying about the world. In this case, the vision is symbolic of the judgement that is coming through Rome.

The wool like hair may speak of purity. The fire in the eyes, the bronze feet and the sword in the mouth are symbols of judgement.

So is the voice that sounds like the roar of many waters. It depicts the tumult that is coming. The seven stars were the leading elders of the seven churches. The word “angel” was used in the Gospels also for human messengers (e.g., Mt 11:10; Lk 7:24, 9:52). We could say, that though God was bringing judgement to the world, his plan was the world’s renewal through his churches. But he is also judging his churches. In fact, the vision starts with the judgement of his churches (Revelation 2- 3).

A second aspect of this vision of Christ which John had, is that the vision clearly identifies Christ with God himself. In Ezekiel it was God who appeared in this way, and in John’s vision it is Christ who bares the glory and the offices of alpha and omega. This brings into view the possibility of a complex theory on the trinity, but to the Hebrew mind of the first century, it wasn’t as complex. God, who appeared to creation, in word, spirit and light, in the Torah, in his shekinah in the temple, had also appeared in the tent of human flesh, becoming a son of man, to redeem the world. (John 1)