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The Mystery of the Seven Stars and the Seven Candlesticks
John gave us “the revelation of Jesus Christ” as God the Holy Spirit gave it to him. In his first vision of that revelation we learn that there is an intimate connection between “the revelation of Jesus Christ” and the stars in the Savior’s right hand and the seven golden candlesticks in the midst of which the Son of God continually walks, an intimate connection between “the revelation of Jesus Christ” and the pastors and churches of Christ. That makes God’s pastors and God’s churches immensely important. That importance is the mystery of the seven stars and seven golden candlesticks unveiled.
The seven churches and their pastors in Revelation 1 are symbolic and representative of all true gospel churches and all true gospel preachers. Historically, the seven churches of Asia Minor mentioned in this chapter did exist during the days of the Apostle John; but they represent us. The stars, the pastors of the churches, represent me and all my brethren in the gospel ministry. The churches represent this local church and all other local churches where Christ is worshipped.
The greatest blessing God can ever bestow upon any community is to establish in her midst a local church where men and women gather in the name of Christ to worship him. A local church, in the New Testament sense of that term, is a congregation of saved sinners, united in the name of Christ to worship him and to serve the interests of his gospel and his glory in this world.
The greatest blessing the Lord God can or will bestow upon any local church is to give that church a pastor after his own heart, a faithful gospel preacher, who will feed his people with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15).
Pastors are the ascension gifts of Christ to His church, for the teaching, edification, and steadfastness of His saints (Ephesians 4:8-16). They are to be known, loved, and highly esteemed for their works’ sake (I Thessalonians 5:12-13). And pastors are to be obeyed, as those who watch for your souls (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
The single most important aspect of every believer’s life is the assembly of God’s saints for public worship (Hebrews 10:24-27) for the hearing of the Word, the worship of Christ, for communion with and revelations of Christ (Matthew 18:20), and for the fellowship of God’s saints. You cannot worship and serve God if you willingly neglect the divinely established ordinances of worship, and isolate yourself from his people.
God’s Servants, God’s People
Those who despise God’s servants despise God (1 Samuel 8:7; 2 Kings 2:23-25); and those who seek to divide God’s church bring upon themselves the judgment of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
The Son of God places such high value upon his servants that he considers anything done to them, either bad or good, as being done to himself; and he places such high value upon his people that he considers anything done to them, either bad or good, as being done to him. That means that pastors must be very careful in their treatment of God’s people; and churches must be very careful in their treatment of God’s pastors.
Angels and Stars
Each of the seven churches has its own angel, its own messenger from God. I am told that seven is the number of grace, the number of holiness, completion, and perfection. If that is so, we must assume that the churches of Christ are represented as seven to show us that there are always as many local churches in this world as are needed to fulfill our Lord’s purpose, just as many, and no more.
“The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” — John Gill rightly states, “The seven stars which John saw in Christ’s right hand, represent the angels, or pastors and ministers of the churches in all periods of time until Christ’s second coming.”
All true Gospel preachers are in Christ’s right hand (v. 16), placed by him where they are to serve him, protected by him, and provided for by him. Gospel preachers are under the authority and direction of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, instruments in his hands!
Faithful pastors are here compared to stars. Stars, like preachers, are made by God. Stars, like preachers, give out light in the midst of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). True gospel preachers, like stars, are men on fire, burning with zeal for the glory of God and burning with a word from God that must be delivered (Jeremiah 20:9).
Every faithful gospel preacher, every true pastor is an angel of God to the church to which he is sent. They are ministers, servants of Christ. They are sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of salvation. There are no more angels than churches, and no more churches than angels.
Every true local church is a candlestick, a holder of light, a center from which light is dispelled. — “Ye are the light of the world!” The only reason for the existence of local churches is to hold forth the Light of Life in this world of darkness and death. We are not the inventors of light, but the holders of light. We get the light from Christ, who is the Light. A candlestick has no more light than is put into it. Even so, we have no light but Christ.
Each local church is called a “golden candlestick,” to express its great, indescribable value, both in God’s eyes and in the eyes of saved sinners. And all true gospel churches are united in Christ, who is in the midst of them.
“I love Thy kingdom, Lord, the house of Thine abode,
The church our blessed Redeemer saved with His own precious blood.
I love Thy church, O God. Her walls before Thee stand,
Dear as the apple of Thine eye, and written on Thy hand.”