We read in the Hebrew Scriptures that God commissioned Moses to design a sanctuary, a tabernacle, for Yahweh to dwell in:
"The LORD said to Moses, Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you." Exodus 25:1-5, 7-9
Yahwehs command that Moses was to fashion the tabernacle and its furnishings in accord with the pattern shown to him is a rather significant statement. This can either mean that Moses saw in a vision what the tabernacle was supposed to look like or was actually shown the heavenly temple, being the exemplar upon which the earthly sanctuary would be based. There is some evidence supporting the latter interpretation since there are O[ld]T[estament] passages that depict Yahweh dwelling in a heavenly temple and being attended by the heavenly host, i.e. angels and other spirit beings. We will be looking at some of these texts a little later in our analysis.
What makes the design of the tabernacle rather fascinating is that some of its aspects serve as signs pointing to Gods Trinitarian nature, being hints that the God who dwells in the sanctuary is a Triune Being.
In this article we will focus on three specific components of the tabernacle and proceed from there to examine these features in light of the N[ew]T[estament] revelation to see how they serve as indications of the Trinity.
The Ark of the Covenant
God commanded Moses to fashion an ark, which would be placed within the sanctuary, since this would serve as the place where the Presence of Yahweh would visibly appear to meet with Moses:
"Have them make a chest of acacia woodtwo and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Make an atonement cover of pure goldtwo and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites." Exodus 25:10-22
"Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the tent of meeting. Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent." Exodus 33:7-11
"Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set outuntil the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels." Exodus 40:34-38
The ark therefore became synonymous with Yahwehs abiding Presence so that when the ark rested Israel took this as Yahweh resting, and when it moved from one place to another Israel saw this as Yahwehs Presence going from place to place:
"After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent. Nathan replied to the king, Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the LORD is with you. That night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying: Go and tell my servant David, "This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, Why have you not built me a house of cedar? The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever."" 2 Samuel 7:1-7, 11b-16
"O LORD, remember David and all the hardships he endured. He swore an oath to the LORD and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: I will not enter my house or go to my bed- I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob. We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool - arise, O LORD, and come to your resting place, you and THE ARK of your might. May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy. For the LORD has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling: This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it." Psalm 132:1-9, 13-14
Moses was further told to make a table to place bread on and a lampstand.
The Bread of the Presence
"Make a table of acacia woodtwo cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold and make a gold molding around it. Also make around it a rim a handbreadth wide and put a gold molding on the rim. Make four gold rings for the table and fasten them to the four corners, where the four legs are. The rings are to be close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying the table. Make the poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold and carry the table with them. And make its plates and dishes of pure gold, as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings. Put the bread of the Presence/Face on this table to be before me at all times." Exodus 25:23-30
The Golden Lampstand and the Seven Lamps
"olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstandthree on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pairsix branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold. Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." Exodus 25:6, 31-40
It is interesting that this one lampstand consists of seven lamps which points to a plurality-within-unity structure, a rather significant design as we shall see a little later on.
Here are some additional instructions concerning the setup of the Bread and Lamp:
"The LORD said to Moses, Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the LORD from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD must be tended continually. Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. Set them in two rows, six in each row, on the table of pure gold before the LORD. Along each row put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be an offering made to the LORD by fire. This bread is to be set out before the LORD regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a holy place, because it is a most holy part of their regular share of the offerings made to the LORD by fire." Leviticus 24:1-10
"As for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the LORD are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the LORD. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the LORD our God. But you have forsaken him." 2 Chronicles 13:10-11
The twelve loaves of bread represents the twelve tribes of Israel, signifying that Yahweh is the One who provides sustenance for his covenant community since bread is a main staple of life. The lamps being burned continually represent the light of Gods presence to guide his people out of darkness:
"You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light." Psalm 18:28
"The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
"For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light." Psalm 36:9
"Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan- The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:1-2
"Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light." Micah 7:8
God illuminated the way for Israel and showed them the path that they should walk in by giving them his Law, his revealed Word, which would teach them to distinguish between right and wrong (and which ultimately pointed to the Messiah the true Light [cf. John 1:4, 9; 5:39-40; 8:12; 9:4-5; 12:35-36, 46; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6]):
"The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes." Psalm 19:7-8
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105
"For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life," Proverbs 6:23
Moreover, the Hebrew Scriptures teach that it is the function of the Holy Spirit to enable Israel to walk in Gods Law, to faithfully carry out his statutes:
"The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins, declares the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD. My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever, says the LORD." Isaiah 59:20-21
"For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God." Ezekiel 36:24-28
The Holy Spirits role in guiding and empowering Gods covenant community is important in understanding the design of the Lamp, as we shall see shortly.
The New Testament Revelation of the Trinitarian implications of the Tabernacles Design
The inspired Christian Greek Scriptures inform us that the earthly sanctuary was a shadow, a mere copy, of Gods heavenly tabernacle and that the Lord Jesus ascended there after his glorious physical, bodily resurrection, entering into the Most Holy Place where Gods ark or mercy seat is situated:
"The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man. Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises." Hebrews 8:1-6
"When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Hebrews 9:11-12, 23-28
Lest the NT writers be accused of misunderstanding what Yahweh told Moses since there is no heavenly temple notice what the following OT references say:
"Micaiah continued, Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, "Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?" One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, "I will entice him." "By what means?" the LORD asked. "I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets," he said. "You will succeed in enticing him," said the LORD. "Go and do it." So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you." 1 Kings 22:19-23
The prophet received a vision where he saw Yahweh in heaven seated on a throne surrounded by his heavenly host. Isaiah was another prophet who saw Yahweh sitting on his throne:
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory. At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. Woe to me! I cried. I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty. Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:1-8
It seems pretty certain that this is a vision of heaven, and if so then this supports the fact that there is a heavenly temple where Yahwehs throne is located.
The following Psalm also seems to substantiate this point:
"The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them." Psalm 11:4
Yahweh is in his holy temple seated on his heavenly throne, which again suggests that this temple is in heaven itself.
And now the final text:
"Hear, O peoples, all of you, listen, O earth and all who are in it, that the Sovereign LORD may witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple. Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads the high places of the earth." Micah 1:2-3
Here, Yahweh comes down from his holy temple, his dwelling place, to the earth. The fact that Yahweh is said to be coming down to the earth strongly indicates that this temple is in heaven.
The NT provides further details concerning this heavenly sanctuary which clearly reveals Gods Trinitarian nature.
The Ark as Gods Throne
For instance, the Evangelist John was enabled by Gods Spirit to enter into this tabernacle in order to communicate some of its mysteries to the Churches of the Lord Jesus. Once there he saw Gods throne and four living creatures encircling the throne:
"After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." Revelation 4:1-4, 6-11
According to the OT the four creatures that John saw were the cherubim which surround and guard the throne of the Almighty:
"I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the northan immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body." Ezekiel 1:4-10
"I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of sapphire above the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim. The LORD said to the man clothed in linen, Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city. And as I watched, he went in. Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the LORD rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD. The sound of the wings of the cherubim could be heard as far away as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks. When the LORD commanded the man in linen, Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim, the man went in and stood beside a wheel. Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took up some of it and put it into the hands of the man in linen, who took it and went out. (Under the wings of the cherubim could be seen what looked like the hands of a man.) I looked, and I saw beside the cherubim four wheels, one beside each of the cherubim; the wheels sparkled like chrysolite. As for their appearance, the four of them looked alike; each was like a wheel intersecting a wheel. As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced; the wheels did not turn about as the cherubim went. The cherubim went in whatever direction the head faced, without turning as they went. Their entire bodies, including their backs, their hands and their wings, were completely full of eyes, as were their four wheels. I heard the wheels being called the whirling wheels. Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle." Ezekiel 10:1-14
Interestingly, Ezekiels vision here of Yahweh sitting enthroned above the cherubim further substantiates the view that Moses designed the tabernacle in accord with the heavenly one.
With the foregoing in perspective it is clear that, according to Johns vision, the Ark of the Covenant which Moses designed symbolized Gods heavenly throne.
Jesus The Bread of Life
John further saw the glorified and resurrected Lord Jesus standing there in the midst of Gods throne:
"Then one of the elders said to me, Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals. Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth. Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever! The four living creatures said, Amen, and the elders fell down and worshiped." Revelation 5:5-14
Johns depiction of Jesus as a slain lamb portrays Christ as the new Passover Lamb, the One whose blood delivers Gods people from death:
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, AND to the Lamb. All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen! Then one of the elders asked me, These in white robeswho are they, and where did they come from? I answered, Sir, you know. And he said, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:9-17
"Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeastas you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth." 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Christs seven horns and eyes point to his being omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing).
The number seven often represents completion or perfection. This is an inference that is based on the first two chapters of Genesis where God finished creating the universe on the seventh day and saw that it was very good:
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morningthe sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Genesis 1:31, 2:1-3
God rested on the seventh day since he had completed his work and there was nothing left for him to create. Thus, seven = completion = perfection.
John himself provides the meaning of horns:
"The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast." Revelation 17:12
A horn is a king and a king is one who has power and authority. Again, horn = king = power and authority.
John has already told us that the seven eyes represent Gods seven Spirits who survey and permeate creation, implying that nothing escapes Gods sight.
Thus, Jesus seven horns symbolize his authority as King, that he has total and complete power which enables him to subject everyone and everything to his rule:
"They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kingsand with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." Revelation 17:14
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." Philippians 3:20-21
Christs seven eyes point to his having perfect knowledge of everything:
"To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." Revelation 2:18-19, 23
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." Revelation 22:12, 20
John, in his Gospel, also presents the Lord Jesus as the living Bread who came down from heaven to give life to the world:
"I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Jesus said to them, I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." John 6:48-58
Christ explains the way that we are to feed on him, namely, by believing in him and obeying his commands:
"Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. Then they asked him, What must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent. Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." John 6:27-29, 35-40, 63
John further identifies Christ as the Word who stands in the very Presence of God in loving communion, the One who is always dwelling and basking in the infinite love of the Father:
"He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God." Revelation 19:13
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with (pros) God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with (pros) God And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who IS in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." John 1:1-2, 14, 18 NASB
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touchedthis we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with (pros) the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:1-3
The preposition pros is short for prosopon pros prosopon ("face to face"). When it is used in connection with a subject and an object, as we find in the above citations, the preposition implies personal, intimate fellowship between two entities. John is therefore indicating that Christ in his prehuman existence enjoyed personal communion with God the Father before creation.
It is rather obvious when we piece all of these texts together that John is presenting Christ as the Bread of the Presence/Face, the One who came forth from and currently dwells in the very Divine Presence to give sustenance to the world.
The Holy Spirit The Lamp Before the Throne
John, while in heaven, saw seven lamps which he identifies as Gods seven Spirits:
"From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God." Revelation 4:5
As we already noted the number seven refers to perfection/completion. The reference to seven Spirits is Johns way of describing the Holy Spirit in all his perfection, an indication that the operations and workings of Gods Spirit are complete and lack nothing.
Furthermore, much like there was one lampstand that had seven lamps, a type of plurality-within-unity, the Holy Spirits depiction as seven Spirits also points to diversity-within-unity, e.g. Gods one eternal Spirit carries out a multiplicity of functions such as pervading the entire creation with the Divine Presence.
Moreover, we earlier read that Jesus has seven eyes that are the seven Spirits of God (cf. Rev. 5:6). We also read that Jesus holds the seven Spirits in his hand:
"To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead." Revelation 3:1
What this basically means is that Christ can dispense the Spirit to whomever he pleases, that Jesus has the Divine authority to pour out Gods Spirit upon anyone, a point reiterated in other passages of Scripture:
"And this was his message: After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Mark 1:7-8
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, "A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me." I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel. Then John gave this testimony: I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, "The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit." I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." John 1:29-34
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:16-17, 26
"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning." John 15:26-27
"But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7
"But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear." Acts 2:30-33
John also identifies the seven lampstands as the seven churches of Asia which Jesus presides over and supervises:
"I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." Revelation 1:9-13, 20
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:" Revelation 2:1
It makes perfect sense for John to say that the seven lampstands symbolize the seven churches when we realize that the Church represents the body of believers who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. In fact, the true followers of Jesus are said to be the very Temple of God:
"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
"Do you not know that you are Gods temple and that Gods Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys Gods temple, God will destroy him. For Gods temple is holy, and you are that temple." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
"For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." Ephesians 2:18-22
The NT further teaches that the Holy Spirit settled upon the first believers as tongues of fire for a visible sign, a confirming miracle from God that these are his people:
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Acts 2:1-4
True Christians are also said to be the light of the world:
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16
With these points in mind it should not come as a surprise that the churches of Asia are likened to the seven golden lampstands seeing that all true Christians are Gods very own Temple on earth, having the Holy Spirit shining through them and illuminating their minds to be able to both understand and obey Gods Word:
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligationbut it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Romans 8:5-16
"However, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:9-14
"Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenantnot of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:1-3, 6, 17-18
What makes this all the more beautiful and exciting is that the time will come when Gods heavenly tabernacle will be on earth and the Triune God comes down to dwell with believers in a restored and perfected creation:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Now the dwelling (he skene, lit. tabernacle/tent) of God is with men, and he will live (skenosei, lit. tabernacle) with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." Revelation 21:1-4, 22-27
"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." Revelation 22:1-5
The water of life that flows from the throne of God and the Lamb represents the Holy Spirit as he gives immortal life to the people of God all throughout eternity:
"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." John 7:37-39
As if this werent amazing enough the Apocalypse records an invocation of blessing, a prayer beseeching the three Divine Persons of the Godhead to grant grace and peace to all believers:
"John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Fatherto him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:4-6
It then ends the book with a prayer to Jesus to do the same!
"He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen." Revelation 22:20-21
Amen, indeed! Come Lord Jesus, come and dwell with your people so that they may bask and delight themselves in the radiant glory and infinite love of the Triune God for ever and ever. Amen.
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page