Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Right Hand

In the Apocalypse (or the Revelation), John sees a vision of our Lord in His glory. He notes there that "in his right hand he held seven stars," (Rev. 1:16). We are told the meaning of this in verse 20: "As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand... the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches."

It is commonly thought that the angels referred to are the bishops of the respective churches. So this brings an interesting thought. He holds the bishops in his right hand. The right hand is the hand of favor. Is this a way of showing God's favor to the bishops? It is a comforting thought, and an intriguing one at the same time. Certainly not all bishops live up to their calling. Some fall into openly scandalous situations. Are they still in the place of favor with God? But there is something else that is interesting about this repeated reference to the right hand in John's vision.

John notes that when he saw the Lord in his glory he fell at his feet as one dead (v. 17). Then he emphasizes that the Lord laid his right hand upon him to lift him up. With this, Jesus encourages John. In the same way, we may see ourselves with John in awe of our Lord in his power and glory. When our natural inclination is to fall, or to flee, Jesus is lifting us up with his right hand as well.

Now how is it that the Lord can hold on to the bishops and also raise us up with his right hand? Well, he is the Lord after all, and nothing is impossible to him. I really don't know if all this was intended by the use of this simple phrase. But then again it is too emphatic to think it is there by accident. Surely the Holy Spirit is wishing to convey something to us through this, and while I cannot be sure I've seen the full picture, I think the truth he desires to reveal certainly lies in this same direction.

Know that today,whether bishop or layman, you are a participant by the Grace of God in the right hand of our Lord. It is not because you deserve it, or that your demeanor warrants it, but simply because he has chosen you. In the words of John earlier in the chapter, "(He) loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen," (Rev. 1:6).

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