This reminds us of Daniel’s description of the Ancient of Days: “Whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire” (Dan. 7: 9). There Daniel spoke of the purity and splendor of God the Father. Here John reveals the Divinity of Christ. Once before he saw the Lord’s glory, when he and Peter and James stood on the Mount of Transfiguration. Then the fashion of Christ’s countenance was altered, His raiment was white and glistering (Luke 9: 29); and He revealed to His disciples the glory which He had with the Father before the world was (John 17: 5). Now, having ascended to heaven, His Divine glory is again manifested to John.
The whiteness of wool implies purity and cleanness. It signifies that Christ is without sin–that of all men, the Redeemer alone is holy and pure. We too will one day be partakers of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1: 4). At the marriage supper of the Lamb, the saints shall be arrayed in white–that is, shall be cleansed from all sin. While on earth, we are sprinkled with the blood of Christ, that we may attain that heavenly whiteness; that when Christ comes, the church may be presented to Him without spot or blemish (Eph. 5: 27).
“His eyes were as a flame of fire.”–This may denote the judicial scrutiny with which the Lord beholds things on earth. David writes: “The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men” (Psalm 11: 4). The imagery is parallel to that of Daniel 10: 6.
(1: 15) “And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.”
Once again, this description is similar to that furnished by Daniel. Both Daniel and John were chosen to receive visions of transcendent glory. In Daniel 10: 6, we have the key to unlocking John’s vision. Speaking of the man clothed in linen, Daniel writes: “His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words likle the voice of a multitude.”
Daniel’s vision was preparatory to his being told things that must befall his people in the latter days. John is vouchsafed a similar vision, preparatory to his being told things that are at hand.
The Apocalyptic judgments were at hand when John wrote. But because of the increase of faith and proliferation of the Gospel among all nations, judgment was put off to a later time, and that through the mercy and grace of God (see Genesis 18: 23-32). The wickedness of the world, so prevalent during the days of Domitian, was countebalanced by the power and spread of the gospel. This has resulted in a gracious postponement of Divine judgments which will only take place when the world has sunk into conditions similar to those which brought on the desolations of the old world, and of Sodom and Gomorrha (Luke 17: 26-30).
As we understand it, the predictions made to Daniel contain one of the great keys to interpreting the Apocalypse, for both Daniel and John write of the same events. There is one difference, however, in their repective visions. While both concern the destiny of Israel, John prophesies in light of the knowledge that the church has been grafted into Israel. From what we can tell, Daniel was not aware of this. John’s understanding will of course come into play as we advance further into the book.
“His voice as the sound of many waters.”–This is parallel to Ezekiel’s vision of Messiah’s glorious advent. “And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and His voice was like the noise of many waters: and the earth shined with His glory” (Ezekiel 43: 2). Ezekiel prophesied the coming of Christ to take up His abode in the temple he had described (Ezek. 40-43). His prediction will be found to bear correspondence with the Apocalyptic visions, in which Christ brings the New Jerusalem down from heaven. Like the prophecies of Daniel 7, Ezekiel’s coming of the Son of Man is understood to be Jesus Christ’s rule and reign over all the kingdoms of the world.
(1: 16) “And He had in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance as the sun shineth in his strength.”
The seven stars will be interpreted in v. 20. The mention of a two-edged sword proceeding from the Savior’s mouth is a reference to Isaiah 49: 2: “And He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He hid me.” The Son of Man has been hidden in the Divine quiver; that is, Christ’s office as Judge of all mankind has not yet been manifested. In the present dispensation of grace, judgment is deferred and mercy held out to all. The Lord is not judging; He is saving (John 12: 47).
But the divine economy will be changed when He returns. The He shall rule all nations with a rod of iron (see Psalm 2: 8-9). The two edged-sword denotes the precepts and commandments of Jesus Christ, in their capacity to convict and condemn transgressors. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12: 48). Those who obey not the Gospel will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thess. 1: 8), even as Antichrist will be destroyed with the Spirit of His mouth and with the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2: 8).
“And His countenance as the sun shineth in his strength.” –This brings to mind the inspired predictions of the prophet Malachi: “But unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Mal. 4: 2)– a verse understood by Tertullian as pointing to the resurrection of the just. See De Resurrectione Carnis, xxxi. The same sun which burns up the wicked (Mal. 4: 1) shall restore the righteous to life.
Christ is also likened to the sun, for He brings a new dispensation down to men, even the “seventh day,” or perfect Sabbath. The perfection of that day was frustrated by the sin of the First Adam. As sin entered on the sixth day, so Christ was crucified on Friday to take away the sins of the world. Now during this remainer of the sixth day, He stands in the holy place making reconciliation for the sins of His people. This sixth day/age is compared to an evening which is far spent (Romans 13: 12; 1 John 2: 8). It will be succeeded by the perfect day, or antitypical Sabbath. This is the Millennium, otherwise known as the “Day of the Lord,” in contradistinction to “man’s day,” which is rapidly drawing to a close.