In Cycle 1, Christ is a glorified Adam (Genesis). In Cycle 2, Christ is a human Tabernacle (Exodus). We should not be surprised that Cycle 3 is “Levitical.” Indeed, not only is John a Levite, a “firstborn” whose death is borne by a substitute (Numbers 3:10-12), the focus of the Cycle is the High Priestly task of “keeping” the testimony of the lampstand.
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The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to bring you pure olive oil for an eternal flame in the lampstand of pure gold which stands outside the veil that secludes the Holy of Holies. Each morning and evening Aaron shall supply it with fresh oil and trim the wicks. It will be an eternal flame before the Lord from generation to generation.” (Leviticus 24:1-4, TLB)
Although we know that wick trimmers were used (Exodus 25:38), the Hebrew in Leviticus 24 simply says “arrange,” which some translations render as “tend.” The idea combines the act of laying something out in order or in a row (like dinnerware on a table) and the job of keeping it in good order. It is also used to describe soldiers who are not only lined up in military array, but also with weapons prepared for battle. Thus the “order” describes the condition of each lamp as well as the relationship of each lamp to all the others.
As we have seen, the description of Jesus as a human Tabernacle covered two stanzas, but James Jordan notes that His attributes are not only sevenfold, they are the entire prophecy in miniature. He writes:
Jesus appears in Revelation 1:12-20. He is the Standard by which the churches are measured, and by which Babylon and the Beast will be measured also. He is described as having seven characteristics in 1:14-16, and if we list these, we see that they form a chiasm. These seven characteristics will be used to measure the seven churches, and also provide an outline of the book of Revelation as a whole:TRANSCENDENCE
Head — Rev. 1, JesusHIERARCHY
Eyes — Rev. 2-3, evaluate churchesETHICS
Feet — Rev. 4-5, are fit to go to the ThroneVoice — Rev. 6-7, the BookHand — Rev. 8-15, upholds the Church in tribulationOATH/SANCTIONS
Mouth — Rev. 16-19, judges enemies (19:15)SUCCESSION
Face-sun — Rev. 20-22, glorification of Church1James B. Jordan, The Vindication of Jesus Christ, 32. Please note that I have added the five “Covenant” headings to Jordan’s chiasm.
The Temple and its sacrifices were being destroyed not merely because they were obsolete; after Pentecost, they had become, like all religions, a means of hiding from the face of God in Jesus Christ, a vehicle for rebellion against the Gospel.
Since there are only a few verses between the description of Jesus and the seven letters, it might seem that Cycle 2 has not been analysed correctly. After attempting to rearrange the analysis to accommodate these verses at the end of Cycle 2 (for example, sometimes Conquest has two stanzas, one for the Priesthood/Head and one for the People/Body, etc.), I am quite confident that this is not the case. This means that although the seven letters form a complete, self-contained, heptamerous unit, it seems that they are in fact a fractalline expansion of one of the steps of Cycle 3, the Trumpets stanza. This corresponds with what has been observed concerning the structure of Revelation as a whole and how this relates to the shape of Psalm 1.2See The Blessed Man. If this is indeed the arrangement here, Cycle 3 can be diagrammed like this:
Cycle 3 Summary
But what does this fractalline “bloom” of Cycle 3:stanza 5 actually mean? In terms of this particular Cycle, the seven letters as an expanded Maturity stanza are a kind of “Deuteronomy,” that is, the Law repeated to a new Israel before the Conquest of the Land. So although the meaning of the seven lampstands is “opened” in the Testing stanza,3Ethics 1 is Law Given; Ethics 2 is Law opened; Ethics 3 is Law received. the seven churches are then purified of the sins which condemned the Old Covenant people that they might be immune to the imminent judgments. At Trumpets, the purpose of the “trimming” of the lamps is revealed as a military one. Their testimony of light would encircle and bring down the walls of Jerusalem.
Creation – Initiation (Ark of the Testimony)
- Jesus Himself is the “Day 1” light which John sees.
- John’s fall occurs in step 2, like many others. It is the deep sleep of Adam and Abraham, symbolic of a cutting of flesh. God’s man must be slain (Division) before he can be lifted up (Ascension) and given a mission. Of course, this sanctification of John is not for the purpose of establishing the circumcision but transcending it.
- Jesus’ feet and hand appear in the same positions as they do in Jordan’s chiasm above. So far, only His right hand has been mentioned. The reason for this will become clear in a later cycle.
- John’s actual “death” occurs at Pentecost. Like Israel at Sinai, he is slain under curses of the Law. In the Seals section, this is the fourth horseman, John’s Gospel, the Levitical sword coming in judgment upon the worshipers of the Aaronic beast.
- The feet are not “upon” John because he is not a serpent. But the right hand is upon him. This is a reversal of the priest leaning upon the sacrifice. The touch of the Aaronic priest was a transmission of death. The touch of Jesus is a sharing of life.
Division – Delegation (Veil)
- The transcendent imperative is now the opposite of the response to the Laws of Sinai, since Christ is the end of the Law for all those who believe (Romans 10:4). Indeed, the telos of the Law is the purpose of the Revelation: it was given to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).
- Line 1 might allude to Adam’s desire to hide, and line 2 sees another allusion to Cain as the firstborn and the coming vengeance for all the prophets. The firstborn from the dead was the last of the Messianic line.
- At Ascension/Firstfruits, Christ was the true Isaac, but is now the enthroned Covenant Head.
- Jesus’ death is also situated at Pentecost, allowing Him to send His Spirit, that 3000 might be saved instead of 3000 slain at Sinai. The fire of God’s jealousy was now the indwelling Christ.
- I would have expected the last two lines to be in reversed order, Sanctions and then Succession. Since they are not, Conquest must refer to the fact that Jesus is an eternal High Priest (Hebrews 6:20), and Glorification to His right not only to judge the unrepentant, but to free the believers of all ages from the condemnation and fear of death (Hebrews 2:15), which aligns it symmetrically with line 1.
- Adam was given two trees as keys to life and death — with the second tree being the right to judge once he was qualified.4See the Testing stanza in Covenant Structure in Genesis 2. Those trees became Priesthood and Kingdom, bread and wine. The keys of death and the grave, however, are the keys held by the Prophet.
Ascension – Elevation (Bronze Altar)
- At Ascension, Adam was lifted up to the mountain of God and given a mission to fulfill. At Ascension, Moses ascended Sinai and was given the Law. The fact that John himself is to write these things aligns him with the prophets of Israel. In general terms, Moses heard and spoke (Priesthood – Law given), David and Solomon copied, meditated and composed (Kingdom – Law opened), but the prophets wrote their own works, and usually to kings (Law received).
Ascension – Presentation (Table & Scroll)
- Just the dry land and its fruit bearers were lifted up on Day 3 in Genesis 1, and just as the mountain of God with its four rivers became a Sanctuary for Adam (the firstfruits) in step 3 of Genesis 2, so there is fruit at this Ascension. Joseph and Daniel were exalted that they might open mysteries before the throne, and Jesus is about to do exactly that in the structure of the Revelation. The mystery here is related to that one. It is the fact that Gentiles are now sons of Abraham by faith, as numerous as the stars of heaven. Not only that, but they also have Tabernacle access as royal priests. Once again, they are in Jesus’ right hand, yet the “Table” step is about Priesthood. Aaronic priests were bloodied down the right side, the kingly side. Picturing the divide between Jew and Gentile, they were “half men,” like the animals cut in half in Genesis 15. Under this new Melchizedekian order, a priesthood of all nations, Jew and Gentile were now united in one new Adam by the cross (Ephesians 2:15).
Testing – Purification (Lampstand)
- The seven stars are now in line 1 as Transcendent lights.
- The Revelation describes the “retirement” of the angels as Covenant administrators and the investiture of a human government in heaven (the first resurrection), a new administration. Since Pentecost, believers are now God’s ministers of fire.5See “Better Angels” in Sweet Counsel: Essays to Brighten the Eyes.
- In this stanza, the pastors of the churches are the “heads” and the churches are the “bodies.”
- The third horseman carries a pair of scales, comparing the “weight” or “glory” of the Old Covenant bread with the New Covenant’s oil and wine. This is an allusion to the “weighing” of Belshazzar in Daniel 5, the previous “kingly” Babylon. That measuring was done in the light of a lampstand plundered from Solomon’s Temple (Daniel 5:5). Just so, these human lampstands were about to be trimmed and brightened that the “fingers of a man’s hand” might spell out the doom of the “prophetic” Babylon in Jerusalem.6For more discussion, see “Weighed and Found Wanting” in Inquiétude: Essays for a People Without Eyes.
- Whereas Hierarchy once concerned the circumcision, it now concerns those with circumcised hearts.
- Testing concerns the Lampstand, but the Lampstand pictured the sun, moon, and five planets, the seven moving lights which were visible to the naked eye. These Gentile saints are presented as lights which would come to govern the day and the night. Similar meaning is contained in Joseph’s dreams, related to Day 3 (Firstfruits) and Day 4 (Pentecost).
Maturity – Transformation (Incense Altar)
- The letters to the seven churches are an expansion of Cycle 2:stanza 5:line 5. Jesus stands “in the midst of the lampstands” and “tends” them. In the overall structure of the book, this section is a “Passing Over.” In the structure of this Cycle, He is inspecting the mustered troops. A closer analysis of the letters will follow in Part Two, but for now, see Living Menora.
- Thinking visually, we can see the risen Jesus in the Garden Sanctuary, an Eden made out of people spread across Asia. The Lampstand was made in the image of an almond or “watcher” tree (hence its seven eyes). Instead of covering Himself and His bride with leaves to hide their nakedness, Jesus is clothed with glory and concerned with the glory, the pure testimony, of His Bride.
- In Zechariah, the new Israel was a Lampstand with multiplied branches, but here the menora is not only multiplied but decentralised. The Old Covenant was Adamic, but the New Covenant is “Evian,” able to procreate, which is the message of the Altar of Incense: the fragrant testimony of the Bride, awesome as an army with banners (Song of Solomon 6:4, 6:10).
- Even more disturbing to Jewish ears is the fact that these “branches” are Gentile ones grafted into their own Abrahamic “tree of righteousness,” the promised Seed.7For a discussion on the stipulations concerning circumcised and uncircumcised trees, see “Seed, Flesh and Skin” in God’s Kitchen: Theology You Can Eat & Drink.
Conquest – Vindication (Mediators: Laver, Sacrifices, High Priest)
- John’s work in the Holy Place on earth is finished, and he is now invited into the glory cloud, the “original” Tabernacle which inspired the earthly model.
- John can enter through the Veil safely because the High Priest has gone before him. This prefigures the imminent ascension of all the Old Covenant saints and the apostolic martyrs. The head of the sacrifice ascends first, then the body. Jesus said there would be some still living when the kingdom of God came with power. At His Ascension, He said He would come “in like manner” for them (Acts 1:6-11). Just so, the High Priest made two approaches to the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, surrounded by clouds of incense: the first for the Priesthood and the last for the Land. This time, the old Land would be cut off, and all the innocent blood avenged.
Glorification – Representation (Shekinah)
- Just as John “died” in the first stanza, so now he ascends. Jesus in heaven represents John on earth, and John on earth represents Jesus to the churches. Once again, we see the significance of the Levitical order in this “architectural” fulfillment.
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. (Romans 11:13-16)
For more discussion of these insights and many more, get a copy of James B. Jordan’s lectures on the Revelation from Wordmp3 (USA) or if in Australia, contact me via the menu link at top right.
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References [ + ]
|1.||↑||James B. Jordan, The Vindication of Jesus Christ, 32. Please note that I have added the five “Covenant” headings to Jordan’s chiasm.|
|2.||↑||See The Blessed Man.|
|3.||↑||Ethics 1 is Law Given; Ethics 2 is Law opened; Ethics 3 is Law received.|
|4.||↑||See the Testing stanza in Covenant Structure in Genesis 2.|
|5.||↑||See “Better Angels” in Sweet Counsel: Essays to Brighten the Eyes.|
|6.||↑||For more discussion, see “Weighed and Found Wanting” in Inquiétude: Essays for a People Without Eyes.|
|7.||↑||For a discussion on the stipulations concerning circumcised and uncircumcised trees, see “Seed, Flesh and Skin” in God’s Kitchen: Theology You Can Eat & Drink.|