Monday, June 26, 2017

Stumbling Through Revelation 1:12, A Layman's Commentary

I’m trying to visualize this. John “was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day”, but apparently, he was not sitting down because he heard this voice behind him, and according to verse 17 (which we’ll get to eventually), once he got a load of who was talking, he “fell at his feet as dead”. I have a hard time picturing John spinning around on his knees, too. I guess it could have happened that way, but I doubt it. John was about 92 years old.
It seems, at this point, that being in the Spirit does not necessarily mean that you are not walking around.
    These were not candlesticks. At least not the way we think of candlesticks. When you think of candles, you think of something that involves some sort of wax. That’s not what we have here. These would be more accurately called lamp stands. The fuel used wasn’t wax. It was olive oil. A description of the candlestick/lampstand (menôrâh) that was in the Tabernacle can be found in Exodus 25:31-37 -  And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.

  Now the question becomes: what on earth is a “knop”? It’s a decorative knob. A ball built into shafts of the candlestick..
There was one of these candlesticks/lampstands in the Tabernacle. There were 10 of them in Solomon’s Temple. They all went to Babylon when King Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and hauled everybody off to Babylon for 70 years.  When they rebuilt the Temple after their exile to Babylon, they went back to having just one.
The Romans got that one, and were so proud of it that there is a picture of the soldiers hauling it off, carved in relief on the Arch of Titus in Rome.
    Here in Revelation, John uses the Greek word luchnia. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, it means candlestick, lamp stand, or my favorite: candelabrum.
    The Book of Revelation is a very Jewish book. The symbols and actions are all referring back to the Old Testament. What keeps me busy is the fact that the Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew, but the Book of Revelation was written in Greek. This keeps me checking back and forth, trying make sure that the English word we get is actually referring to the same thing in both languages.
    These candlesticks make for a good example. I’ve read commentaries that indicate that these candlesticks are single shaft light poles. That the seven lamp menorah had been symbolically broken up into single lamp stands to represent the independence of the churches from the Temple in Jerusalem. I have a lot of problems with this interpretation. One problem I have is the idea a lot of commentaries put forth that the main shaft represents Christ. If that is true, and the lampstands are now single lamp poles, I would expect that there would only be six of them - with Jesus Christ standing in the center. But it did make me wonder whether we are talking about seven-lamp menorahs like they had in the Temple, or just seven posts with lights on the top of them.
             I went digging through Strong's concordance and found most of the time, luchnia referred to the regular lampstands that people used to light their houses, but in the Book of Hebrews, the word referred to the menorah in the Temple. Hebrews 9:2 - For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
          Just for fun, I also looked at menorah to see if it was ever used to refer to anything besides the seven lamp stand in the Temple. Of the forty times that word was used, it did turn up once as a regular light in 2Kings 4:10 - Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.
         That little excursion didn't help a whole lot. But, since the text says golden candlesticks, I’m going to figure we’re talking about the seven-lamp menorah. Seven of those would mean 49 flames. This actually reflects a change in the way I’d always pictured it before.
          Every time I begin to wonder about the usefulness of this blog, something like this happens and I realize that if nobody reads my work, at least I am learning stuff.
So, on I plow.
I need to point out  couple of things here:
I cut and pasted all the scriptures that I used directly from the Blue Letter Bible.
I am now a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. I am required by Amazon to say that, but since I’m on the subject, I highly recommend the DVD of Matthew. Not only is it a word for word rendition of the book of Matthew (NIV), it portrays Jesus as a happy, personable guy (as opposed to the serious, somber “Man of Sorrows” that you usually get in movies).
Last but not least:
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Thanks for reading.

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