Who is this Man the prophets of old saw in vision?
Isaiah saw this One upon a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. (Isa. 6:1). Seeing Him caused Isaiah to cry out, “Woe is me, for I am undone… for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Who did Isaiah see? John says Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These things said Isaiah when he saw His glory, and spake of Him (Jn. 12.41).
Daniel saw this One (Dan. 10.1-6) whose face was as the appearance of lightning and His eyes as lamps of fire… and His Voice as the voice of a multitude– the voice of many waters, as John described it when He saw this same Man (Rev. 1:15). Upon seeing this One, Daniel said, “there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” Upon hearing His words Daniel was “in a deep sleep on [his] face, with [his] face toward the ground.”
Ezekiel saw Him enthroned on the chariot of the cherubim– whom Ezekiel struggled to describe, speaking of them in the plural, “the living creatures,” but then at times in the singular. (What kind of astonishing harmony was that?) Ezekiel too fell on His face; the Man He had seen he called “the glory of the LORD.” (Ezek. 1.1-28).
And remember– this is so encouraging to remember– these of old saw this One not in times of great spiritual prosperity and ease, but in times of great apostasy and insecurity among the people of God. Isaiah’s prophecy came upon the death of their great king Uzziah under whose reign they had known a lot of security and prosperity. Now he was gone; who knows what would be next? It was a very insecure time. And Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied in days of great apostasy, the days of the captivity in Babylon.
This is meaningful for us in this day of great insecurity and apostasy; it is appalling, heart rending, what has taken place in our society over the course of one generation. But that is not the apostasy I am speaking of; what is heart rending is what has happened in Christianity. Our churches are so weak; church as we know it has failed to stem the tide of iniquity that has come in… to say nothing of the abominations that have come into many churches. Scarcely a day goes by without an evil report of some kind; and the media, of course, are filled with glee because of it. If you’re like me you find yourself dwelling on all this, and it can be so discouraging.
But let us not dwell on it. For, in the midst of it all, we have a great hope. Christ is still on the throne, and is working faithfully to bring into being the desire of God’s own heart– the fulfillment of what the prophets saw, and recorded in Scripture.
And the Scripture must be fulfilled. Church as we know it may be failing; her light may be waning. But a Greater Light is about to shine; there shall yet be manifested in the earth One who is even now growing in the earth– a many-membered Man whom to see is to see the Christ, the glory of the Lord. They are one with Him as He is one with the Father. He was not the Father. But to see Him was to see the Father. In like manner these are not the Christ. But to see them is to see the Christ. For, they are one with Him as a bride is one with her husband. They are His glory. They are one Spirit with Him, and one body.
And they shall yet display a unity so perfect and so fearsome that it will cause principalities in heavenly places to tremble… and the world to believe. For, they shall not speak the discordant babel of a Christianity splintered by countless denominations and divisions, but shall speak as one Man– as the voice of many waters. This is what is before us. It is going to take very powerful operations of the Spirit to bring it into being—and great shakings. And it shall cause even greater shakings. But this is what is before us.
This is the whole burden of the New Testament– the revelation of this One Man.
Who is this Man?
Saul the persecutor saw this One, whose glory was brighter than the noonday sun. He was so one with His own that He challenged, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” Saul fell to the ground, struck blind, till a lowly brother named Ananias was sent to restore his sight. He had been blind, and had not known it! And the burden of the rest of his days was that all men might see Whom he had seen. It is this Man who is forever in the back of Paul’s mind as he writes his epistles concerning the ministrations of the Spirit in the body of Christ. Whatever he writes, it is to this end, it is ever this revelation of the glory of God—this Man—that Paul sees before him. Paul utterly spent himself upon this Vision, spent his life equipping the saints unto their work of the ministry unto the edifying of the body of Christ till all would come unto the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God unto this perfect, full-grown Man… “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Note that Paul has not said, “unto perfect men,” but rather of all coming together “unto a perfect Man.”
In another place he said:
We all with unveiled face mirroring the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory… (2 Cor. 3:18).
We all? The same image? The glory of the Lord? This is an encounter with God for you and me no less than that of Ezekiel or Isaiah or Daniel… or Paul on the Damascus Road.
And how does this take place? It takes place as an operation of the Spirit of God in the members of the body of Christ as the different ones see aspects of the glory of the Lord and shine forth that glory, that power, that character, that beauty… and Christ Himself is revealed in our gatherings– yes, the same One the prophets of old saw. Let us anticipate this… yes, in our little gatherings. Like Ezekiel and Daniel of old, we too shall be on our faces when aspects of the glory of the Lord are revealed in and through the members of the body of Christ in the local churches of God.
The apostle John, too, saw this One on Patmos. He had seen Him earlier in a vision on the Mount of Transfiguration. On Patmos he saw Him again ministering among the seven golden lampstands. Do we wish we could have the same experience John had, and see the Christ, the Alpha and the Omega– this One who is in such union with the Ancient of Days that to see Him is to see the Ancient of Days? Hair white like wool, as snow, eyes as a flame of fire, face shining as the sun in its strength… Upon seeing this One, John fell at His feet as dead.
But John saw Him… where? In the midst of the seven golden lampstands– the churches. Do we wish we could have the same experience, and see the same One John on Patmos saw?
Beloved in Christ, we are very part of it–members of this Man, this New Man, this New Creation Man, the Man in whom God and man are one, the same Man the prophets of old saw in vision.
And so we rejoice in the revelation. But… unless this “great vision” impacts you and me the way it impacted Daniel and Ezekiel and Isaiah and Paul and John… unless this causes us to fall on our face… unless we too are undone… unless this causes all our comeliness, not only in ourselves but in our churches, to turn to corruption in our eyes… until we can no longer settle for less than this Reality in ourselves and in our churches… we do well to question if we have really seen this.
(Part Three next time.)