Sunday, December 2, 2012

Reveling in Revelation ~ The ‘Seven’ Spirit is in Position for the ‘Seven’ Church

4 ”Grace to you and peace… from the seven spirits who are before his throne” (Revelation 1 ~ ESV)

          The phrase, “the seven spirits” is parallel to the expression, “the seven churches”.[1] Looking at the Holy Spirit as seven expressions matches the symbolic picture of the one body of Christ represented by seven local churches. As the completeness of the one body of Christ is spread throughout the world in many congregations, we are to see the fullness of the Holy Spirit relating to every one of those churches wherever they are, wherever they live, in whatever they are enduring for the sake of Christ.

          What stood out to me today was the description of where the Holy Spirit fits into the picture, at least as we first enter the Revelation Museum. He is positioned “before his throne”. The “his” is “him who is and who was and who is to come”,[2] referring to God the Father. We are to picture the Holy Spirit before the throne of the eternal Father who is always present to help his people.[3]

          This means that the Holy Spirit is between the heavenly Father on the throne, and the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ who will experience the things described in the book of Revelation. How does this addition to the picture build our faith in the grace and peace the Holy Spirit gives to his people?

          Essentially, this shows the Holy Spirit before the throne, ready to do the Father’s will in the seven churches (the fullness of the Church through the fullness of time), and ready to express the needs of every church to the Father where the sovereign goodness of God addresses everything according to his will.

          Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come to the church and both teach and remind the church of the things Jesus has spoken[4]. He expresses himself from before the Father’s throne, both coming to us and continuing in the Father’s presence, bringing all that the Father wants to teach his people, and anything God’s forgetful children need to remember about the things they face.

          We also learn that, when the Holy Spirit comes from before the Father’s throne, he is at work to bear witness about Jesus.[5] The body of Christ receives ministry from our head through the witness of the Spirit who comes to help us in all the ways Jesus is working to help us.

          Jesus clarified that the Holy Spirit would not speak on his own authority, but would give the church what he hears.[6] As we go through Revelation we are to see the Holy Spirit before the throne, hearing what the Father is telling him, and then coming and teaching those things to the church. We see in the letters to the seven churches[7] that he tells each congregation what God has to say about them.

          The dual-direction of the Spirit’s work stands out when Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to us from the Father, but then he teaches us to cry out, “Abba! Father!”[8] The Holy Spirit “bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”, and then teaches us and encourages us to cry out to the God who has adopted us in everlasting love. He is before the Father’s throne to bear witness to us about our adoptive Father, and to help us cry out to the Father as his beloved children.[9]

          The Apostle Paul tells us that the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God,”[10]so we are to see him before the throne constantly doing this very thing. But then he adds that we are given the Holy Spirit from God “that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”[11] The Spirit both searches the depths of God, and then expresses himself to the churches throughout the world, enabling us to understand the things that come to us from the depths of God’s love. The gracious work of the Spirit to help churches know the good things God has given us is especially important as all the enemies of God we see in Revelation conspire to tell us the exact opposite.

          A familiar Scripture of encouragement adds more to the picture of why we must see the Holy Spirit positioned before the throne of our heavenly Father. Paul wrote about times that we do not know how to pray. He assures us that the Spirit helps us in our weakness, and he joins us in our weak and confused praying by interceding for us “with groanings too deep for words”.[12]

          Now, keep in mind that the Holy Spirit searches even the depths of God. Paul also says that “he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit.”[13] This is a beautiful picture: the Holy Spirit is before the throne searching the depths of God so he can tell his churches all the good things we have in Jesus Christ, and then he intercedes for the church to the one who searches the Spirit’s mind for all his interests and concerns for the church. While the church faces the troubles revealed in Revelation, the Spirit comes to every gathering of God’s people and ministers to us about our hope in Christ, and intercedes to the Father for every church no matter which part of the Revelation we are experiencing.

          Going through the Revelation Museum is not going to fill us with adult-minded interpretations that keep us arguing about words. Our journey will make us more and more like little children who look at this picture of the sevenfold Spirit of God who is before the throne of the one who is and who was and who is to come and simply know that if they are the ones expressing grace and peace to us, we can certainly “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”[14]
© 2012 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, Canada, V1K 1B8 ~

[1] Revelation 1:4
[2] Revelation 1:4
[3] Psalm 46
[4] John 14:26
[5] John 15:26
[6] John 16:13
[7] Revelation 2-3
[8] Romans 8:15-16
[9] Ephesians 5:1
[10] I Corinthians 2:10
[11] I Corinthians 2:12
[12] Romans 8:26
[13] Romans 8:27
[14] Hebrews 4:16

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