KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
FROM THE CANDLESTICK TO THE THRONE
ONE LIKE UNTO A SON OF MAN
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet…and as the sound of many waters…" (Rev. 1:10,15).
What is that voice which is as the sound of many waters? "The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters" (Ps. 29:3). Water is one of the primary elements. Every part of our being is composed of elements which come out of the seven days of creation. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:1-2). We first meet the voice out of the waters early in the book of Genesis. The voice of the water actually exists within it. Many of us have had the experience of sitting by the seashore, or a great waterfall, in a meditative moment, listening to the sound of the waters. In that time of reflection it seems the waters speak to us! Tranquillity is ministered to our soul and peace to our mind. Answers and solutions to difficult problems and the stresses of life form within our consciousness as we contemplate in the stillness the voice of the waters. Inspiration and revelation arise from within!
Water is representative of life. The voice of many waters is the voice of the fullness of life! What can man do without water? Nothing! Without water we will die within a few days because our very bodies are composed of 65% water. We were formed in water in the womb. In that long ago beginning the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and there it was that God spoke! "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said…" His voice was first heard upon the waters! Creation began out of the waters by the word of the Lord! The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Face speaks of personality, as though there is a person trying to appear through the waters. The face is the expression of the intelligence of the mind. It speaks of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The Spirit of God brooded over the face, over the personality of the waters. And then God spoke! He spoke out of the waters!
From the dawn of creation there comes to us the sound of the voice of many waters. It is HIS voice. It is the voice of the Lord! Darkness was upon the face of the deep, the very great deep of the waters. And there it was that the almighty God spoke and said, "Let there be light!" And the light shined out of the darkness of the waters. God speaks in the darkness within ourselves, out of the very great deep of our being, and light dawns upon the face of our waters, understanding springs forth in our mind and heart. The voice of the Lord that quickens us, the word of the Lord that awakens within the revelation of who we are and who He is, that brings salvation and the day of the Lord, is upon the face of the deep and is the voice of many waters.
"And I heard a voice from heaven as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps" (Rev. 14:2). This is naught but the voice of the 144,000 sons of God standing on mount Zion! Just before John heard this voice of many waters he saw a Lamb that "stood on mount Zion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads." Then he heard the voice of many waters! The forehead is that part of the face the bespeaks of the mind. Out of that mind the voice speaks. Just as the Spirit of God in the beginning spoke His creative word out of the deep of the waters, and upon the face of the waters, so the Spirit of God now speaks out of the face of the deep in us, out of the mind of Christ in the sons of God!
The word of the sons of God is the voice of many waters! It is the voice of One in the midst of the candlesticks! Water is life. Water saves, water refreshes, water cleanses, water rejuvenates, water creates, water births. Ah, methinks I hear the voice of the Lord as the sound of many waters! Why many waters? Because there is no longer the only begotten Son of God — that was Jesus of Nazareth — there are now many sons coming to His glory! These many sons are the many waters! The foreheads upon which the Father’s name is written, the minds in which are formed the mind of Christ, the personalities in which are formed the nature of the Father, are the face of the very great deep over which the Spirit of God now moves and out of which He speaks. It is the voice of the Son in the sons. It is the voice of love and restoration, the word of salvation and release, the power of redemption and resurrection that shall bring deliverance to creation from the bondage of corruption.
How can I be so certain that the voice of many waters is the voice of the sons of God? The apostle John gives this remarkable description of the vision he saw. "Then I looked and lo, the Lamb stood on Mount Zion, and with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had His name and His Father’s name inscribed on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven (out of the realm of the Spirit) like the sound of great waters and like the rumbling of mighty thunder; the voice I heard seemed like the music of harpists accompanying themselves on their harps. And they sing a new song before the throne of God…no one could learn to sing that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth (realm)…" (Rev. 14:1-3, Amplified). There is no doubt that the voice of many waters is the very same voice which was the music of the harpists and also the voice that sings the new song which no man can learn but the 144,000 who are the sons of God. It is clear that the voice, the harp music, and the song are but different descriptions of the same reality. A new song is a new message! A new message is a fresh word, a living word out of the realm of the Spirit!
When in chapter seventeen of the Revelation John was caught away into another astounding vision it was explained to him by the angel which showed him these things that waters mean peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues (Rev. 17:15). Can we not see by this that in the symbology of the book of Revelation many waters means many people. This is a many-membered body of Christ! There are many sons coming to glory! So he’s not talking about "waters" speaking, rather it is "many people" speaking. It is many people but yet only one Voice. When John heard the voice of the Son of God through many members it wasn’t the clamor of six hundred and sixty-six different denominations proclaiming six hundred and sixty-six different doctrines. The babble of so many diverse messages would not have sounded like the beautiful harmony of harpists harping and would have been unintelligible to his understanding. He heard a multitude of redeemed men and women out of every people and tongue and nation speaking the same word! They were in agreement, from their mouths proceeded the living words of God without discrepancy. They were speaking in the Spirit and by the Spirit. They had come from numerous backgrounds, diverse cultures, various races and nationalities, different dealings and processings of God, yet there was one word and revelation of God pouring out of their spirits! They did not belong to the same church order, they had not attended the same Bible school, they had not sat under the same ministries, they had not been in the same revivals, they had not read the same writers, they had not shared the same experiences, but they had been brought by the Spirit to the same word and reality in Christ! If you could read the letters we receive from around the world, from Europe, Asia, South America, the nations of Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and many other areas of the world, you would see just how true and powerful this is. We regularly receive letters from brethren in little villages in far-away places with strange sounding names, who were not in the Latter Rain move of 1948, nor in any of the other revivals we have experienced here in America, and when they share the revelation of the Christ, the purposes of God in this day of the Lord, the truths of reconciliation, sonship, the kingdom, and the processings of God in their lives, it is abundantly evident that we don’t have one thing over them in any way! And they were not taught it by man! This phenomenon is not the result of any concerted effort, or any organized venture by any group to raise up a "sonship" movement in the earth. Oh, no! It is the result of the sovereign moving of God in the earth! It is the Lord Himself calling out and forming His elect! You can sit in a great auditorium with five thousand people and if everyone is chattering away about their own things it is a confusion of tongues. But should all speak in unison, reciting, for example, the Lord's Prayer, you can understand every word though it is spoken by five thousand voices. John heard a multitude of people speaking the same thing by the Spirit — the living word of God!
SEVEN STARS IN HIS RIGHT HAND
"And He had in His right hand seven stars…" (Rev. 1:16). "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches…" (Rev. 1:20).
Caught up in Spirit John saw a divine revelation. In the right hand of Christ were seven stars, which are the seven angels of the seven churches. The seven angels reside in His right hand because the right hand is the hand of authority, power, dominion, and blessing! Throughout history, there have been those anointed of God who have seen some connection between the stars and the messengers of God. This connection can easily be made because both stars and the ministering spirits are called "the host of heaven" in the Bible. There are several beautiful passages that provide the indisputable link between the two, of which I will cite only one. "Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the HEAVENS: praise ye Him in the heights. Praise ye Him, all His ANGELS: praise ye Him, all His HOSTS. Praise ye Him, SUN and MOON: praise ye Him, all ye STARS OF LIGHT. Praise ye Him, all ye HEAVENS OF HEAVENS" (Ps. 148:1-4).
The natural sun is the brightest luminary in the natural heavens. And to help us in correctly interpreting the meaning of the spiritual sun, Genesis 1:16 informs us that God made "the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night." Here we first have the idea expressed of both the sun and the moon being rulers. Then we find that God, the supreme Ruler, is called in the Word a "Sun." "For the Lord thy God is a SUN and a shield" (Ps. 84:11). Also, our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, is called "the Sun of Righteousness" (Mal. 4:2). He rules! In Matthew 14:33 we find, concerning saints who are to be kings and priests and rule with Christ, that they are compared to the sun. "Then shall the righteous SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father."
Here in the book of Revelation we have seven stars which are the seven angels of the seven churches. Now let us face some facts. We have listened to fairy tales much too long. In the first place we discover that the word "angel," instead of being a translation, is but an evasion, being the English form of the Greek word aggelos, which to the average person means nothing at all. The Greek word aggelos means nothing more than "messenger." And in every occurrence of the word "angel" in our Bibles, that is the word that should have been given. The word aggelos is simply a pure Greek word without any particular meaning except what we choose to give it, and people oftentimes have the notion that it means a man with wings, whereas, if a man did have wings, he has no muscles to move them — a most ridiculous thing!
Get the thought, now, that an angel is a messenger and read the word "angels" always with its proper translation, "messengers." The Greek word aggelos has just the direct meaning "messenger," one sent with a message, the personal representative of the Sender. What the person or being looks like or where he is from is completely irrelevant to his being a messenger. Whether he be a man, a spirit, or any other kind of creature makes no difference whatsoever! Anyone sent with a message is a messenger — an angel. If there would have been Western Union messengers in Bible times they would have been called "Western Union Angels," for angel means messenger. It may mean a messenger from hell, or a messenger from heaven, or a messenger from some man on earth; any messenger sent by a king, or any other person, is in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, an angel of that person. Even a homing pigeon would be an angel! It is simply one commissioned to bear a message. Yet that is not the end of the matter!
Let it be known with truth and assurance that there is a correspondency between all the sevens in the book of Revelation. How clearly we first see this in chapter one where the Lord Jesus reveals the mystery of the seven stars. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. Then further on there are the seven lamps of fire which burn before the throne which are the seven spirits of God. And there are seven horns and seven eyes of the Lamb which are also said to be the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. It is my deep conviction that all of these "sevens" are but different aspects or facets of the same reality — the seven-fold Spirit of God, the absolute completeness and fullness of the Holy Spirit! The fullness of God in Jesus Christ is the seven spirits of God! The fullness of Christ in you is the seven spirits of God! The seven "angels" of the seven churches are the seven spirits of God — the fullness of the Word of God as Christ in us!
It will greatly aid our understanding to realize that in the Revelation where the word "angel" is again and again employed as a symbol the meaning is not the angel or messenger himself, but what the angel or messenger stands for — the message! The message bespeaks of a word — there is a spiritual activity in the heavens of God’s Spirit by which a word is communicated, the mind and voice of God reveal a truth, an activity, a purpose in the unfolding plan of God. Therefore, when we see the word angel in the book of Revelation let us think of a message, a revelation, or a word from the Lord! This is the power and authority of the Christ by the Spirit in His word sent to the churches. His word is not humanistic prattle. The seven stars are that spirit-ministry to the church that proclaims the living word of God!
Just as these seven stars are "in" the right hand of God’s Christ, they also ARE His right hand! This meaning is often expressed in common speech, "He is my right hand man," meaning, the one who carries out my instructions, and accomplishes all my will. The seven angels are the seven-fold SPIRIT of God, and the seven stars are the seven-fold WORD of God which issues out of the Spirit, that word which never returns unto Him void, but accomplishes that whereunto it is sent. Each of the seven angels is a SPIRIT and each of the seven stars is a WORD. Each angel or star, each spirit or word, reproduces Christ in the members of His body!
As the revelation John saw progresses, we see a theme unfold before our wondering eyes that discloses to us a deep mystery. A lamb appears in the midst of the throne! This is very meaningful, for the lamb in the book of Revelation is not the lamb of mount Calvary. The lamb in the book of Revelation is the lamb in the throne, not the lamb on the cross. The lamb in the book of Revelation is the lamb standing on the heavenly mount Zion, not the lamb hanging between two thieves on Golgotha’s hill. The lamb in the book of Revelation is in the throne in the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, not outside the gate of the Old Jerusalem in the land of Israel. He is the lamb of the throne! He is the lamb of a people! He is slain — that is, He is pouring out His Life, but not as the man of two thousand years ago, but as the Living Lamb of God in the midst of His government of sons!
Now notice, in the midst of the throne there stood a lamb, as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth (Rev. 5:6). Then we find that "out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God" (Rev. 4:5). Take note that the horns and eyes are in the lamb that is in the throne. The seven spirits of God originate from the lamb in the throne! But they are "sent forth into all the earth" (Rev. 5:6). Thus there is an emanation out of the throne of the seven-fold spirit of the Lord, that radiates out until it penetrates and fills all the earth and every dimension of creation. The seven lamps of fire which burn before the throne are the first aspect of that emanation! These correspond to the seven golden candlesticks, which are the seven churches, which are made up of all those individuals whose spirits, as the candle of the Lord, have been lighted by the Spirit of God, and that is the light of the seven churches! The horns and the eyes of the lamb are in the throne. The seven spirits of God issue out of the very nature and authority of God in the lamb! But the light of the seven lamps or candlesticks burn before the throne. There has now been a movement, for both that which is in the throne and that which is before the throne are the seven spirits of God — which eventually are sent forth into all the earth! As the seven spirits of God radiate out from the throne, the church is therefore the first expression of that emanation! The light is the illumination of the Spirit of God!
In consideration of these beautiful truths it will be instructive to look at another significant scene in chapter eight of the Revelation. "And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets" (Rev. 8:2). Before God! Before the throne! Can we not see that the position of the seven angels is identical with the position of the seven lamps of fire, which are the seven churches. The great truth is that these are the seven angels of the seven churches! Consider this, my beloved. The seven horns and the seven eyes are in the throne. Seven lamps of fire are burning before the throne. And now there are seven angels, and they are standing before the throne, that is, in the seven churches. Furthermore, the seven angels have seven trumpets — a seven-fold message. They are sounding forth a word! As you study chapter eight you will see that these trumpet sounds go forth into three dimensions — the sea, the earth, and the heavens. These are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth! Can you see that the seven angels are the seven spirits? And the trumpets they blow are the seven-fold word of God which issues forth out of the spirit. Oh, how wonderful are these things! As you follow these seven angels all the way through the book of Revelation , you will find that their relationship is to everything that happens to the three realms men live in upon earth. They sound the trumpets that affect the earth-realm. These same angels pour out the vials that affect the earth-realm. Follow these seven angels and you will see how they are identified with every activity of God that affects the earth-realm!
The seven spirits are the seven angels. When they are in the throne, they are eyes and they are horns. When they are before the throne they are seven lamps and seven angels. But when they are sent forth into all the earth they are seven trumpets! It is all the seven spirits of God in different administrations. Yet, when you stand in the earth-realm, viewing this vision from an earthly perspective, the seven spirits appear as seven stars! John was standing on the isle of Patmos as a prisoner, banished to those rocky shores as a criminal, suffering the pains of trial and tribulation, standing in his isolation perhaps in discouragement, but most certainly in a state of lack, shut in, hedged up, surrounded about, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed; and from that vantage point he beheld a vision of the Lord of glory in the midst of His people, and in the right hand of this glorious One he saw seven stars. If you are in the throne you will see the seven spirits of God as the horns and eyes of the lamb. If you are before the throne you will see the seven spirits of God as burning lamps and seven angels. As you move away from the throne you will see the seven spirits of God as seven trumpets blasting forth. But if you stand in the confinement of Patmos and in the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death, you will see the seven spirits of God simply as seven twinkling stars up in the heavens of God’s Spirit!
The deep mystery is that we are looking at the same things from different vantage points. Not only are the seven spirits, the seven angels, the seven horns, the seven eyes, and the seven lamps of fire all the same reality in differing applications, but the seven stars are also the same! To further indicate the influence of the seven-fold Spirit and the seven-fold Word upon the churches, the Lord is pictured as holding both the seven spirits and the seven stars in His right hand. "These things sayeth He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand" (Rev. 2:1). "These are the words of Him who holds in His hand the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars" (Rev. 3:1, Phillips). Several other translations bear out the fact that Jesus not only has the seven spirits, as the King James Bible says, but that He holds the seven spirits and the seven stars, or it could be said that He holds the seven spirits of God, even the seven stars.
Many say — and I once taught it myself as a hangover from the traditional teachings of the church systems of men — that the seven stars or seven angels are the pastors or ministries of the churches. Through my lifetime I have read two or three hundred books on the book of Revelation. I have listened to scores of tapes on the book of Revelation. And I have heard quite a few sermons on the book of Revelation. Ninety-nine percent of the time they told me that the seven stars and the seven angels were the pastors of the seven churches! Well, first of all, in the days of the early church they didn’t have pastors! They had elders and other ministries, but there was no position called "the pastor." Look "pastor" up in your Bible Concordance and see how many churches had a man called "the pastor." Not one! See how many times, when Paul and the other apostles wrote to the churches, they addressed "the pastor." Not once! Paul commanded Timothy to ordain elders (plural) in every city, and when the apostles addressed the ministry of the churches, or met with the ministry of the churches, they spoke with and met with the elders, not "the pastor." The position of "the pastor" didn’t exist in Bible days. It just isn’t in the Book! It is an invention of the carnal, man-made, Babylonish church system. So we do know that "the angel" of the church was definitely not "the pastor" of the church!
I am convinced by the Spirit of God that these symbols bear a deeper spiritual meaning beyond that traditional teaching. The truth is that we are dealing with inward spiritual realities and powers — not external forms, structures, and systems. The stars or angels are heavenly dimensions of the body of Christ, not outward or earthly aspects. This inner power or spiritual essence of a thing is seen all through the book of Revelation! As John saw things in the Spirit and by the Spirit, every person, every thing, had its angel. God proclaims and executes His will by angels (Rev. 7:2; 14:6,8,9; 15:1,6). He addresses His Christ by an angel (Rev. 14:15). Christ acts and reveals His truth by an angel (Rev. 1:1; 20:1; 22:6). The waters have an angel (Rev. 16:5). Fire has an angel (Rev. 14:18). The winds have an angel (Rev. 7:1). The abyss has an angel (Rev. 9:11). In all these instances the "angel" appears when the persons or things spoken of are represented as coming out of themselves and as taking their part in speech or action. Can we not see by this that the seven stars or the seven angels of the seven churches are representations of the seven-fold anointing of the Spirit of God within the church — the Spirit of Truth!
There are seven spirits of God, and each of these seven spirits has an "angel," that is, an "anointing," a "message," or a "word." The seven stars are the seven-fold fullness of the word, the revelation, and the authority of God which comes forth out of the seven spirits of God. If we now know the Lord in greater fullness and maturity, we will realize that He has ministered to us in the power and glory of each of these seven spirits and by each of these seven stars or seven angels, or the seven-fold fullness of His word! And just as our Father has ministered each of these seven spirits and the fullness of His seven-fold word to us throughout our spiritual experience, so also will we receive, experience, and manifest all the fullness of these seven spirits and the seven-fold fullness of His word, revelation, and authority at the appointed hour. Then we shall know Him and reveal Him in all the glorious fullness that He is! That will be the manifestation of the sons of God, which will set creation free!
The elect, to whom has been imparted the seven stars, the seven-fold fullness of the word of the Lord, are protected from being oppressed and confused by the voices of "strangers." They receive their word directly by the impartation of the living Christ, they now hear within themselves the voice of Christ and follow Him, and are then secure in His mighty hand. The pathway before all the elect may differ in some small details, but the predominant principle remains and is active within each one — THEY HEAR THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD WITHIN THEMSELVES AND BY THAT VOICE THEY LIVE. This is the "angel" of Christ, and the angels of the churches! This is the anointing, the revelation, the message, the word, and the authority of Christ for us! The pathway to life abundant, to the glory of our full redemption and transformation, is one of following the Lord alone. As we are made partakers of the fullness of His word by the seven stars, we follow Him who alone is able to lead us to the fullness of His life.
Some man may come by promising sonship if you follow him, sit at his feet, give yourself exclusively to his ministry and movement, but the elect will not be taken in by the carnal, self-exalting promotions of such false prophets, for they have the seven stars and the seven angels and hear the clear voice of the inner Son. Christ and only Christ will lead us to the fullness of sonship — to the Christ-life necessary to break the fetters of sin, limitation, and death and release creation from its bondage to corruption. Because of the indwelling "angel" of the Christ, the elect need not that any man teach them. Oh, yes, we encourage one another, confirm the dealings of God to one another, and exhort one another, but the Teacher is within! The Prophet and High Priest are within! The Messenger is within! The Witness is within! He will faithfully lead each one of us to our appointed destiny in God. Men will draw us away and lead us astray. Men will lead us into the ditch. The only purpose in our writing to the elect of God is to encourage every man to know the Lord for himself, to point every man to the living Christ, not to draw men to ourselves or our ministry in any way.
The wonderful truth of the indwelling Christ, who is the Word, is that we need not convince anyone of the truth of our message. Those with whom you must plead, beg, coddle, coax, explain and explain, debate, and argue in order to get them to "see" the truth are not apprehended to sonship! Those who are predestinated to the adoption of sons and receive the seven spirits of God are made of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord! (Isa. 11:2-3). There is an immediate inward response to the truth! Every time God has sent a word to me, I found that I was ready to receive it. It was as though I knew it all along, but did not understand it. When the word came my heart leaped for joy, for I knew inwardly the voice of the Son of God! There is an Eastern proverb that says, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." If you are trying to "teach" someone deeper things and they just can’t "get it," then the student is not ready! They are not apprehended at this time. This is not their hour. When we proclaim the revelation of the Lord all the apprehended elect of God respond with joy and thanksgiving! Christ is speaking within His elect, and when He speaks, He declares the same message, the same word, thus confirming His truth to each one. If someone does not receive the same truth, it is because of the dealings of Christ within, maintaining the order of His kingdom so that no one invades a realm in God that is beyond their calling. The Christ within is "the witness of God." The same John who received the seven spirits of God on Patmos also wrote, "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. He that is believing into the Son of God hath the witness in himself" (I Jn. 5:9-10). Indeed, the witness of God is within, and He is leading us to the fullness of our inheritance, the Christ Life.
The elect are in this hour hearing the voice of the Son of God, the voice of the witness within them. And in hearing His voice, these chosen ones are forsaking every vestige of the world, the flesh, and the carnal church orders, and are entering into the life of Christ. Those who hear, and continue to hear, are being changed and transformed into His image! The transition from death to life is progressive, taking place line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. However, as we look back on our pathway of spiritual transformation and growth, we are able to see amazing progress! And one day, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall burst forth into a full manifestation with such splendor and speed that will amaze us.
The following words from the writings of Paul Mueller are so very confirming and profitable for each of us. "To all who read these lines, regardless of your place in God, or the depth or height of your walk with Him, you will benefit from these blessed truths. To have the understanding that Christ is within you, speaking to you from within, guiding you hourly and daily in your walk with Him, revealing His truths as you progress spiritually, and conquering all within you that is of the realm of corruption, little by little, is the understanding that you too are progressing unto that realm of His life and perfection. Christ is within you to bring to naught things that are of this corruptible realm. Therefore, your todays and tomorrows will be more successfully lived, for they are being lived in the light of the indwelling Christ. O the wonder of the Christ within! He is the light that has shined into our hearts, revealing the knowledge of the glory of God, a light and glory that shall eventually inhabit our entire being, spirit, mind and body, so that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. If it were possible for us to attain to the perfection of His life, without the Lord’s help, we would then take the glory. But, it is impossible for us to receive that life apart from Him! Therefore, He will receive all the glory when we are finished, fully perfected, and in His image and likeness" — end quote.
A SWORD OUT OF HIS MOUTH
"And out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword" (Rev. 1:16).
The sword that goes from the mouth of Christ is without doubt the sharp two-edged sword of the Word of God. His name is called THE WORD OF GOD. He is the LOGOS. "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made" (Ps. 33:6). This is He who was in the beginning. "In the beginning was the Word" (Jn. 1:1). This is the Word that was God. "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn. 1:1). In Him was life and the life was the light of men. This is He of whom it is written, "He sent His Word, and healed them." This is the Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. In this vision the One like a son of man is represented as being armed with a sword, two-edged and sharp, passing out of His mouth, indicating that His chief force lies in the action of His lips uttering words. His force is truth — truth expressed by His mouth in words. He goes forth to battle wielding only the weapon of Truth. Christ does not come to avenge blood or slay in battle as other conquerors have done. His words smite all who hear them! As someone has said, it will smite them with conviction and bless them with conversion.
The apostle Paul says, "Take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17). When the legionnaires of Caesar girded on their belts and fastened their breastplates in position and took upon themselves their helmets and picked up their shields and swords, they were going forth conquering as a conqueror, to travel across the face of Europe for Imperial Rome, and to conquer all that came before them. How does the Christ conquer? By His WORD!
When I speak, or write, I manifest spiritual influences; and the force of these influences is proportionate to the inner power, and their effect is proportionate to the state of reception of my hearers. Words are thus seen to be the representatives of spiritual forces. The action of spirit on spirit is appreciable by the senses; but could we look behind the veil of nature when a crowd or a congregation is swayed hither and thither by the speech of one man, we should see that the influence exerted was as real and actual as muscular force. From this we learn that words are not mere sounds, but are the sheaths or cases of spiritual life, and on this ground we at once see the force of the Lord’s declaration, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (Jn. 6:63).
The Lord’s speech is the manifestation and influence of His inner life poured forth upon those to whom He speaks. An incident in the life of Jesus, recorded in Luke, chapter seven, provides a picture in which may be discerned the POWER OF THE WORDS OF GOD. As He approached the gate of Nain there met Him a funeral procession, a widow’s only son carried out to burial. Moved with compassion for the sorrowing woman He bade her dry her tears. The astounded crowd heard Him address the figure upon the bier: "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise!" The power of the speech of the Prince of Life pierced the realm of the dead! The lad sat up and began to speak. The tender Christ delivered him to his mother, and made effective His command, "Weep not!" Her son was not only brought back from the gates of the tomb, but was restored to her as a gift from the Lord BY THE POWER OF HIS WORD.
On another occasion Jesus had come up to Jerusalem to attend the feast. As He reached the city He came to the Pool of Bethesda and He looked into the pool. There were five porches around that pool. He passed through the porches, and at last came to a poor man, sick for thirty-eight years, who had been pushed away from the sacred spring. The man was startled as he heard the Voice. "Wilt thou be made whole?" He looked up into the face of a Man who was looking down at him, asking that strange question, "Wilt thou be made whole?" There went right down into his heart a strange sensation, his whole being vibrated like a harp when every string is touched by a master hand. "Wilt thou be made whole?" Gently he explained that he had no man to help him into the pool, but that others, when he was coming, step down before him. Then he waited with his eyes fixed upon the Man who had so strangely appealed to his will. He got ready, for the very next moment he heard the voice of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life say, "Rise, take up thy bed and walk!" And in a moment there came into his body with that Word, power; and he rose, took up that bed, rolled it up and walked home, set free from the bonds of Satan who had bound him for thirty-eight years. Oh! The power of the flaming sword of the Word of God that proceeds out of His mouth!
As the Christ of God is a many-membered body, so is the sword that goes out of His mouth. The word of God is spoken in the world today by the body of Christ on earth, and that word flows forth as the sound of many waters. There are not to be two swords — one out of the mouth of the Lord, and the other out of the mouths of His ministers. There is one sword, and it is HIS. Our quotation of scripture, our knowledge of the Bible, and our understanding of truth is not the sword of the Lord! The sword of the Lord is that word which proceedeth only out of His mouth, and out of ours as we are made one in Him. The sword of the Lord bespeaks of a purified people, holding forth the word of Life in the power of the Holy Spirit, and how we praise God for this company!
The Spirit of God is forming and fashioning a people, a glorious company, from whose lips flash forth that clear word of the Lord which shall cause the traditions and unrighteousness of man to utterly come to naught. It was said of our Lord and Elder Brother, "Never man spake like this man" (Jn. 7:46). "What thing is this, what new doctrine is this? FOR WITH AUTHORITY commandeth HE even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him!" (Mk. 1:27). "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!" (Mat. 8:27). That which was manifest in Jesus Christ shall also be seen in His many-membered-brethren-company. There are preview glimpses of this even in God’s servants in the Old Testament. With what boldness did Elijah the prophet pronounce unto Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word" (I Kings 17:1). God’s elect has at this time received the "firstfruits" of the Spirit, the "pledge" and "down payment" of that fullness revealed in the firstborn Son of God. We have witnessed the movings and miracles of God on a certain level as the sick have been healed and wonders done in the name of Jesus. Oh, yes! I have seen these things with my own eyes, and miracles have on occasion been wrought through even my word, and the laying on of hands. But all we have experienced up to this time is but a taste, an appetizer, a small sample of the glory that is coming! When our hearts are fully prepared for it, the pure and powerful word of God shall cause His servants to ride victoriously. Naught shall be able to stand before God’s army of sons bearing the two-edged sword of HIS WORD! Not demons, not sickness, not sorrow, not limitation, not death, not the elements, not nature, not religion, not rulers, not governments, not anything! How glorious shall be the advance of this mighty company!
Fear not. Have hope. Believe in hope! It is God’s good pleasure to yet renew the face of the earth. Surely all these things shall come to an end. All the inhabitants of the world shall learn righteousness! Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more! The government of God shall be established over all the kingdoms of men! All the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ! They shall not hurt nor destroy in all His holy mountain! They shall all be without spot and blemish, loving one another, even as Jesus loved us! Sin, sickness, and death shall be swallowed up in all mankind! You, my beloved, are called to be a part of the firstfruits, even if the total harvest has not yet come. You are to wield the mighty sword of the Spirit. You are to ride forth in majesty as the expression of God’s kingdom on earth. You are to utter His burning word of authority, redemptively smiting the earth with the sword of His mouth!
When man was banished from his Edenic realm of life, glory, and dominion, the record states, "So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep (guard) the way of the tree of life" (Gen. 3:24). Man must be excluded from the tree of life until a provision should be made by which he can approach and partake of it. Nor is Adam merely driven out of Paradise; but a guard is assigned to the place to make any approach to it impossible, just as watches are stationed in the vicinity of fortresses, army camps, and many other highly sensitive buildings and restricted locations. The Cherubim were placed to "keep the way of the tree of life," and it is interesting to note that the word here for "keep" is in the Hebrew shamar, meaning "to guard, to protect, to defend, to hedge about as with thorns." I have heard brethren say that the Cherubim were to "keep" the way of the tree of life in the sense of keeping the way open, maintaining accessibility, but this is not the meaning of the text. The statement following makes this plain, for the Lord explained, "Lest he (Adam) put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…" (Gen. 3:22). The flaming sword was a prohibition. The illustration is clear; if you would keep your neighbor’s cows out of your garden you must fence it with a good thorny hedge or a few strands of barbed wire! Thus, life was denied to mankind by God, and so death came upon every man, even those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression.
Moreover, those Cherubim at the gate of Eden did not have a metal sword to ward off such as would approach, but the Hebrew denotes a movable sword, that is, a flash or a flame, such as of lightning, which is unsteady and blinds the eyes. This flame or lightning is depicted as having the form of a sword that is in continuous motion, moving to and fro. Because of the cutting, searing, flaming sword of the Cherubim, no human being made his way across that dread portal! The tree of life, yea, all that Eden represents, was guarded by the power of death, it became untouchable, divinely unapproachable. From that day Adam’s life before the gate became a continuous denial of the realm from which he was excluded. It was a flight and a search upon the cursed ground of the carnal realm to find what he had lost, and then a repeated, desperate rage against the power with the flaming sword; he continually ran against it, it always stood in his way, and the sword was formidable, preventing his circumventing it. Nothing is plainer in the whole Word of God than the fact that the Cherubim with the flaming sword were not stationed at Eden’s gate to point, direct, or guide men back into life, for, in that event, man surely would have entered back in! They were placed there for the express purpose of SHUTTING MAN OUT FROM LIFE!
The cherubim bespeak of a realm of dominion by a flaming word. The word that proceeds from the Cherubim is typified in the flaming sword. The word "sword" is found in the Bible over 400 times. That indicates the tremendous importance the Spirit of God attaches to it. There are both the positive and the negative connotations. The apostle Paul, speaking of the whole armor of God, admonishes the saints to "put on…the sword of the Spirit, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD" (Eph. 6:17). Then the writer to the Hebrews declares that the sword of God’s word is "QUICK." Quick means living and active — LIFE-GIVING! "For the word of God that speaks is alive and full of power — making it active, operative, energizing and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb. 4:12, Amplified). Ah, yes, here is the sword that conquers the death in us and GIVES LIFE! As it is written, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing…for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life!" (Jn. 6:63; II Cor. 3:6). The sword of the Spirit is the quickening, energizing, life-giving WORD OF GOD!
I shall not hesitate to explain to you, dear ones, that there are two aspects of the word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word — the Logos — THE LIVING, CREATIVE WORD! But there is also that word which Paul calls "the letter." The letter is the outer hull, the record and history, the laws and commandments, the rules and regulations, the types, shadows and figures, the external ordinances, rituals, ceremonies, and feasts; the visible form of the word which tells us, in terms understandable by the natural mind, many things about the Living Word, Jesus Christ. As I meditated upon the Cherubim and the flaming sword in Genesis, the Spirit spoke within me, saying, "The flaming sword is a word!" Then in a sudden burst of divine illumination the truth of it dawned powerfully upon me. Christ is the Word, the Living Word, and IN HIM IS LIFE! But the flaming sword at the portal of Eden is a word, not the Word, not the living Word, but the form of the Word, that is, A WORD about THE WORD!
It should be clear to any thinking mind that the law given by Moses was a word from God. Many, many scriptures confirm that it was the very Lord Himself who spoke to Moses giving him the laws, commandments, judgments, and ordinances. Therefore it is called "the law of the Lord." Yet Paul, in speaking of this word from God, calls it "the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones." Then he further designates it "the ministration of condemnation." You, see, the law could only condemn! The only way the law could give life was if one perfectly kept it, but for every broken law there was a penalty. And no one was ever able to keep it! "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Therefore the law with all of its commandments, ceremonies, rituals, sacrifices, and observances is a dead word, it is form without essence, law without life, shadow without substance, chaff without kernel, it is the letter that killeth! It is "a word" about "The Word" and therefore shuts men up unto the dominion of death. It should not be difficult to understand that as Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God, the sword of the Spirit that quickens, so is the Letter of the Word a deadly sword, killing rather than quickening. Ah, two words and two swords! The flaming sword of the Cherubim is the word of the law which is a ministration of condemnation and death. It keeps men out of Eden, away from the tree of life! But the sword out of the mouth of God’s Christ is a living sword that excelleth in glory as the ministration of Life! Under the anointing a brother said, "The creative power will be invested in the sons of God and we will step out of infinity with eternity to work with the creative word in our mouths."
The old Saracen warriors were famous for the swords they carried. A few of these old swords still exist, among them the famous Damascus blades. These blades are said to be made of finely woven steel wires fused together in a secret process by a charcoal of fire. The amazing thing about these swords is that they were so pliable the sword tip could be doubled back to the hilt without breaking. They were so strong that they could pierce any medieval armor. Their two edges were so sharp that they could halve a silk handkerchief in mid-air. The sword of the Spirit, which is the living Word of God, is fused of many threads of truth and reality. By the secret processes of spiritual power, these threads are being gathered into one mighty weapon of truth — the many-membered Christ of God! This is a sword that never wears out! Its edge is never blunted! On its blade no rust ever yet has gathered! It cuts to heal! It smites to save! It kills to make alive! It is the sword of the Spirit. Now is the time when it calls for the strong hands and brave hearts of God’s sons to wield it!
It reminds me of a little story I once heard about some Quaker boys who were going on a picnic. They were going up a mountain with their basket filled with apples and other good things. Some mean boys were harassing them, but they quietly went on their way until they had passed them; then they threw their apples down at them. At first the boys thought they were stones. When they saw the red apples they changed their minds, picked them up and ate them. That is the way of the sons of God! The sons of God will win because their weapons are so good! It is the bread of Life! While we go forth fighting sin, flesh, sickness, sorrow and death, we will give the world something to eat, something to live on, something to change them from corruptible to incorruptible. Hallelujah!
To be continued…
J. PRESTON EBY
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