Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Extinguishing the light

As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches (Rev 1:20). 
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent (Rev 2:5).

Recently, as I was sitting in church, I was occasionally gazing at the out of doors through the window beside, another window facing me on the other side of the transept, yet another window in the apse. It was one of those mildly breezy, partly cloudy days where the trees are in motion and the ambient light alternately brightens and darkens.

It occurred to me that compared to many sanctuaries, this church had an usual number of windows. Clear glass windows. There are modern churches where the sanctuary has no windows at all. They are entirely illuminated by electrical lighting.

The difference is that I was seated in a Colonial church, built before the advent of electrical lighting. As such, the only source of illumination the sanctuary originally had was sunlight in the daytime and candlelight or lamplight for evensong. Hence, the abundance of windows. 

If, at night, you were to extinguish the lamplight or candlelight, it would plunge the sanctuary into darkness–unless there was a full moon.

The imagery about lampstands in Revelation trades on that picture. Removing the lampstand plunges the errant churches into darkness. A reversion the heathen darkness. 

The light motif is one of the themes that John's Gospel shares in common with Revelation. The "Light of the World" is a title for Christ in John's Gospel (Jn 8:12; 9:5). That harkens back to his role as the Creator of light in Jn 1:1-4. Light was God's first creation (Gen 1:3). In Revelation, Christ is again the light of the world, only Revelation uses a concrete metaphor to illustrate the title. 

When I was a boy, we'd attend the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. Near the end of the service, the electrical lights were switched off. Each parishioner had a candle. The pastor had one lit candle.  He used his candle to light the candle of someone sitting in the first row. And so it went, row by row. The spreading light. The sanctuary gradually filling with light. Light swallows up darkness. But if the candle is quenched, darkness swallows up the light. 


  1. Isaiah writes in chapter ten about the remnant returning. The poetic part fits in my view with what you are pointing to with the lighting of the candles so the sanctuary increases light. He writes that DESTRUCTION HAS BEEN DECREED " overflowing with RIGHTEOUSNESS "!!!

    What destroys the darkness of my soul, mine, yours, everyone's soul who have been called to His eternal glory in Christ? His Righteousness!

  2. If Jesus removes the lampstand from your soul you are not saved anymore!!!

  3. Jesus already gave us the meaning of the lamp stand imagery - it's the church. So when he warned the church at Ephesus that if they did not repent, their lamp stand would be removed, He was saying that He would remove that church. Of what use is a church that is not reflecting the light of Jesus?