“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which 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 which you saw are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1.19-20, NKJV)
When our children were younger I used to play a game with them. Showing them a quarter I would drop it into one of my hands and make them guess which one. It was a mystery to them (I made it look like the quarter was in one hand when it was in the other). Jesus has a mystery in His right hand, namely seven stars. What are these?
When the Bible speaks of a mystery it is something that God knows, that we need to know, and that we can only know if God reveals it to us. Jesus reveals the mystery of the seven stars by telling us that they are the angels of the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia (Asia Minor) to whom the seven letters in chapters 2 and 3 are written. The Greek word for angel is angelos, which simply means “messenger.” It can either refer to a supernatural or human messenger. (The same word is used for John the Baptist in Matt 11.10.) The mystery for us is who is in the right hand of Jesus? Are they supernatural or human messengers?
Initially, it seems more likely to me that they are human messengers (i.e. the pastors, bishops or overseers of the churches). It seems unlikely to me that Jesus would instruct John to write letters to supernatural beings. (What address would he send them to?) We do know, for example, that Polycarp was the bishop of the church of Smyrna at this time. He was eventually burned at the stake for his faith in Jesus Christ. It is reasonable that Jesus sent the Smyrna letter (Rev 2.8-11) to Polycarp since it deals with being faithful through persecution even to the point of death. I like this interpretation because as a pastor it bring me great comfort to know that Jesus is holding me in His hand. (I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!) But it also brings with it great responsibility, for Jesus holds the messenger responsible for what goes on in the church.
On the other hand, it is possible that Jesus was addressing angelic beings. Consider the following passages dealing with the role of angels and humans:
“For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12, NKJV)
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18.10, NKJV)
“Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1.14, NKJV)
It all makes me wonder just how much these angels are involved in helping us. Do we each have a specific guardian angel? It certainly is possible. If so, I don’t think my angel is like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life. But it is possible that he does bear some of the responsibility along with me for overseeing the flock entrusted to our care. Now apply this to yourself and the people for whom you are responsible. Someday I look forward to meeting this angel…or troop of angels, as the case may be. I’m sure he (they) will have stories to tell!
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