Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Since nearly everything in the book of Revelation is based upon the Old Testament, most of the items mentioned in this book are not new. Most of what this book reveals can be traced back to the Old Testament. Nevertheless, all the items found in Revelation have a new significance. For example, the city of Jerusalem, a city with twelve gates, is found in Ezekiel 48, but at the end of Revelation we see the city of Jerusalem in a new way. Because Revelation is a book of conclusion, the fulfillment of the things in the Bible, nearly everything contained in it is presented in a new way. This is true of the lampstands in chapter one. The lampstand is mentioned in Exodus 25 and Zechariah 4, but in Revelation it is mentioned in a new way. In this message we must consider the seven lampstands in Revelation 1.
The lampstands are the symbols of the local churches. Although we have seen that the local churches are the testimony of Jesus, it may be somewhat difficult for many to grasp the meaning of this. What does it mean to say that the local churches are the testimony of Jesus? It means that the churches are the lampstands.
Throughout the centuries, few Christians have touched the depths of the significance of the lampstand. In this message we must probe into the depths of this matter of the lampstands. Biblical symbols are difficult to comprehend, for we cannot understand a symbol like the lampstand according to our natural concept. According to our natural concept, a lampstand is simply an object holding a lamp that shines in the darkness. The lampstand in Exodus 25 is pure gold, and the lampstands in Zechariah 4 and Revelation also are golden. Substantially, the lampstand is golden. With the lampstand we see three important things: the gold, the stand, and the lamps. The lampstand implies the significance of the Triune God. Gold is the substance with which the lampstand is made, the stand is the embodiment of the gold, and the lamps are the expression of the stand. The gold signifies the Father as the substance, the stand signifies the Son as the embodiment of the Father, and the lamps signify the Spirit as the expression of the Father in the Son. Thus, the significance of the Triune God is implied in the lampstand.
On the walls of Jewish synagogues there is a symbol of the lampstand. Although the Jews have used this symbol for centuries, they do not know its real significance—the significance of the Triune God. Have you ever realized that the lampstand implies the significance of the Triune God?
Substantially, the lampstand is one, but expressively, it is seven because it is one lampstand with seven lamps. At the bottom, the lampstand is one; at the top, it is seven. Should we argue about whether it is one or seven? In substance, the lampstand is one piece of gold, but it holds seven lamps. This mysteriously indicates that substantially the Triune God is one. In substance, He is one, but in expression, He is the seven Spirits. The Father as the substance is embodied in the Son as the form, and the Son is expressed as the seven Spirits.
How can we prove that the seven lamps are the Spirit expressing Christ? The seven lamps are first mentioned in Exodus. If we only had the record in Exodus, however, it would be difficult to realize that these seven lamps are the Spirit. But as we proceed from Exodus to Zechariah, we see that the seven lamps are the seven eyes of Christ and the seven eyes of God (Zech. 3:9; 4:10). As we continue on to Revelation, we see that the seven eyes of the Lamb are the seven eyes which are the intensified Spirit of God. Hence, we have a strong basis for saying that the seven lamps are the sevenfold intensified Spirit as the expression of Christ.
We have seen that the lampstand implies the significance of the Triune God; it symbolizes the Triune God embodied and expressed. God the Father as the divine gold is embodied in Christ the Son and then is fully expressed through the Spirit. The expression differs from the embodiment. The embodiment must be uniquely one because our God is uniquely one. Thus, the embodiment must be one stand. The expression, however, must be complete, and complete in God’s move. Recall that seven is the number for completion in God’s move. Throughout the centuries, God has been expressed in His move. This is the reason that the seven lamps signify the intensified Spirit as the expression of Christ in God’s complete move. This is the practical understanding of the Trinity. The Trinity is for the dispensing of God into humanity. God, the divine Being, is firstly embodied in Christ and then expressed through the sevenfold intensified Spirit. Now we not only have the Triune God; in the lampstand we have the Triune God substantially and solidly embodied and expressed. The gold has been formed into the solid stand. It once was just gold, but now it is the stand. The gold has been formed into a stand for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Without the stand, there is no way for God’s purpose to be fulfilled. As we have seen, this stand, which is a type of Christ, is expressed through the seven lamps signifying the seven Spirits of God. The seven Spirits of God are not separate from God; they are the seven eyes of God and of the Lamb, the Redeemer. As we shall see, they are also the seven eyes of the building stone. Hence, they are the seven eyes with the redemption of Christ for God’s building. Whenever these eyes look at people, they are redeemed and built into God’s house. This is the Trinity.
In Exodus 25 the emphasis is upon the stand, in Zechariah 4 the emphasis is upon the lamps, and in Revelation 1 the emphasis is upon the reproduction. In both Exodus and Zechariah, the lampstand is one, but in Revelation it has been reproduced and has become seven. Firstly, in Exodus the emphasis is on the stand—on Christ. Secondly, in Zechariah the emphasis is on the lamps—on the Spirit. Eventually, in Revelation both the stand and the lamps, that is, both Christ and the Spirit, are reproduced as the churches. In Exodus and Zechariah there are just seven lamps, but here in Revelation there are forty-nine lamps, for every lampstand has seven lamps. Hence, the one lampstand has become seven and the seven lamps have become forty-nine. The lampstands with their lamps in Revelation are the reproduction of Christ and the Spirit. When Christ is realized, He is the Spirit, and when the Spirit is realized, we have the churches as the reproduction.
The church is not only universally one but also expressed locally in many cities. In the whole universe there is only one Christ, one Spirit, and one church. Why then are there the seven churches? Because of the need for an expression. For existence, one is sufficient, but for expression, many are needed. If we would know the church, we must know its substance, existence, and expression. Substantially, the church, and even all the churches, are one. In expression, the many churches are the many lampstands. What is the church? The church is the expression of the Triune God, and this expression is seen in many localities on the earth. The church is signified not by just one lampstand—but by seven lampstands. In Revelation 1 there are seven lampstands with forty-nine lamps shining in the universe. This is the testimony of Jesus. The church is the testimony of Jesus. This means that the church is the expression of the Triune God substantially and expressively. Substantially, it is of one substance in the whole universe; expressively, it is many lampstands with the lamps shining in the darkness to express the Triune God. The Father as the substance is embodied in the Son, the Son as the embodiment is expressed through the Spirit, the Spirit is fully realized and reproduced as the churches, and the churches are the testimony of Jesus. If we see this vision, it will govern us and we shall never be divisive. This vision will hold us, guard us, and keep us in the testimony of Jesus.
We have seen that the lampstand is the divine gold embodied into a substantial form to fulfill God’s purpose in His move. The expression of the stand is in the shining of the light. As the expression shines, the shining fulfills God’s eternal purpose. Thus, the lampstand not only signifies the Triune God, but also the move of the Triune God in His embodiment and expression. We also have seen that the local churches are the reproduction of the embodiment and expression of the Triune God. This is not a small thing. We should not be satisfied with saying that the local churches are the lampstands shining in the dark night. Although this is correct, it is rather shallow. We must see that the local churches are the reproduction of the embodiment and expression of the Triune God.
In the Bible, the lampstand is always related to God’s building. The first time it was mentioned was in Exodus 25:31-40 when the tabernacle was built. The second instance was in the building of the temple in 1 Kings 7:49. The third instance had very much to do with the rebuilding of God’s temple in Zechariah 4:2-10. Here in Revelation it is related to the building of the churches. In Exodus 25 the emphasis is on Christ being the lampstand as the divine light, shining as the seven lamps with the Spirit (the oil). In Zechariah 4 the emphasis is on the Spirit (v. 6) shining as the seven lamps which are the seven eyes of God (vv. 2, 10). The seven eyes of God are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 5:6) for God’s intensified move. This indicates that the lampstand in Zechariah is the reality of the lampstand in Exodus, and the lampstands in Revelation are the reproduction of the lampstand in Zechariah, Christ is realized as the Spirit, and the Spirit is expressed as the churches. The shining Spirit is the reality of the shining Christ, and the shining churches are the reproduction and the expression of the shining Spirit to accomplish God’s eternal purpose that the New Jerusalem as the shining city may be consummated. Christ, the Spirit, and the churches are all of the same divine nature.
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