Old Testament Allusions and The Apocalypse of John (Revelation) 1:13-16

As we move away from John’s intro on the person and work of Christ, we now enter in to a glorious vision of the glorified and exalted Lord of lords. Due to the purpose of showing Old Testament allusion, I will often breeze through passages that do not have such allusions. Such is the case with Revelation 1:9-12. Before getting to the allusions in 1:13-16, it is important to note a couple things in 1:9-12 to properly understand the following vision. First, John records that he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (1:10). This does have OT undertones of a prophetic ministry where one is taken up into the presence of the Lord for the sake of bringing covenant lawsuits and further prophetic statements to the people of God on behalf of God (see Ezekiel 3:12; Acts 10-11). Second, when John says he is “your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…” I will argue that this statement along with the whole structure of the book (7 different sections representing 7 different angles of the same event, which is the cross to the Second Coming of Jesus) puts a deathly blow in our brothers and sisters who hold a Dispensational Premillennial Pretribulation position. This was a major shift for me about 10 years ago but I find it to take some incredible and supernatural hermeneutical gymnastics to believe in a rapture, a 7-year tribulation, and a 1,000 year millennial kingdom. This ought not stop anyone who agrees with me from true and loving fellowship with others who hold to those things, but we should again and again come back to the Scriptures to make sure they form our views and conviction of these things.

OT ALLUSIONS IN REVELATION 1:13-16

The illusions we come across in this great and glorious vision of our exalted Savior are from Daniel 7, which we will come back to a lot. John says in 1:13-16, “…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 a sun shining in full strength.”

This little section is so packed with allusions. With the point of this blog being to help the average person grasp these illusions in a way that helps them understand Revelation, I will not belabor each one but try to ignite a spark for your own further looking. The one thing that is helpful and encouraging is the absolute clarity that John is using Daniel 7 for most of the vision, as well as Daniel 10. Before I list a visually easier way to connect these visions, let me remind you of two things: 1) John’s goal is to comfort a suffering group of churches with the reality that Jesus is the Sovereign Ruler and has won the victory over all evil. 2) Daniel 7 is an amazing narrative and vision where God the Father (The Ancient of Days) is handing over the Kingdom to his victorious Son (the son of man). Here is my attempt to help see the connections between Daniel and John:

one like a son of man” (Daniel 7:13)          ——->              “one like a son of man” (1:13)

and the hair of his head like pure wool” (Dan. 7:9)    ——->     “The hairs of his head were     white, like white wool.” (Rev. 1:14)

clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest” (Rev. 1:13/See Exodus 28:4; Leviticus 16:4)

I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a manclothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches,his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words likethe sound of a multitude.” (Dan. 10:5-6) ———> “His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 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. 1:14b-16)

As you can see, John is taking liberally from the Old Testament and applying these texts to the exalted God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We also ought to be very aware that reading these texts about Jesus apart from John’s OT allusions puts us in a very dire situation where we risk interpreting these things about God without their full and proper meaning.

WHY THIS MATTERS?

The reason all of this matters is because suffering and struggle can present itself as far more tremendous than it really is. I don’t mean that to minimize our suffering, but to show us something, or Someone, bigger. John’s use of these OT allusions is to comfort suffering Christians with the comfort of their Savior. As Richard Phillips shows in his tremendous work on Revelation, John is highlighting Jesus as The Savior as Priest, King, and Prophet (Phillips, Reformed Expository Commentary: Revelation, 64-65).

Jesus is the High Priest that was the atoning sacrifice for our sin, prays for us and grants us access into his presence (Hebrews 5-10). What a comfort to those who feel like they have nowhere to go when they suffer because everything around them seems grim? As Maclaren once wrote, “The heart that beats beneath the golden sash is the same that melted pity and overflowed with love at the cross” (Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 17:147).

Jesus is the King whose face shines in splendor through the darkness of the evil kingdoms of this world. He is the King of kings that judges all nations with his double-edged sword. What a great encouragement to those oppressed by evil rulers and wanting nothing more than to see their Savior?

Jesus is the Prophet who is the full and final Word from God (Hebrews 1:1-3). In a world where words spew out liberally, often without depth or purpose, Jesus is the Word that speaks blessing and triumph to his people, while promising justice towards evil. Wha great news for those surrounded by words of evil and oppression?

 

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