Revelations 1:9-16

Linda Dion
October 24, 2021

I've been thinking of writing this post for quite a while now in order to make a link between dreams and some of the texts in the bible that aren't necessarily dream related but which are written in language that is very symbolic.

Back in 1987 at the end of the school year, my homeroom students - the 7B Bullets! - gave me a very precious gift: a Bible.  It was the year I had given my life to the Lord and I had spoken a lot about the things of heaven with my students.  So they pooled their resources and bought me a Bible...a very special Bible.  They were definitely led by the Holy Spirit because they purchased a translation that really meshed with who I am, a translation called The New Jerusalem Bible.  It's a little more poetic in its language and that suits me just fine.  But what makes it extra special are the notes.  They are really great and I've learned so much just reading those notes!  I've never used any other bible really and as you can see, it's being held together with duct tape!  It's become one of my most precious belongings.

I've chosen a passage out of the Book of Revelation to show that the symbols God uses in visions to speak to His people, He also uses in dreams.

In this particular passage, John has been exiled on the island of Patmos.  It is the Lord's Day and he is in ecstasy.  All of a sudden, he hears a loud voice behind him like the sound of a trumpet, instructing him to write down all that he sees.  He turns around to find out who was talking to him and this is what he sees:

I saw seven golden lamp-stands and, in the middle of them, one like a Son of man* dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a belt of gold.  His head and his hair were white with the whiteness of wool, like snow, his eyes like a burning flame, his feet like burnished bronze when it has been refined in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of the ocean. In his right hand he was holding seven stars, out of his mouth came a sharp sword, double-edged, and his face was like the sun shining with all its force.

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As you can see, the language used is very symbolic.  For example, did our Lord Jesus ever have a sword coming out of his mouth when he walked the earth?  Of course not!  But He does here when He appears to John.  Did He ever hold stars in His hands while spending time with his disciples?  Again, no.  But He does so here.  It becomes very clear then that all the elements of this apparition are meant to convey a symbolic message to John.

The men who researched the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic texts and wrote the notes in my New Jerusalem Bible, were learned and educated priests, theologians and laypersons who understood the symbolic nature of this passage and they interpreted the symbols in the following manner:

 * The Messiah as Judge (cf. Dan. 7:13, also 10:6).  The long robe symbolizes his priesthood (see Ex. 28:4; 29:5; Zc. 3:4); the golden cord round the waist his royalty, (see 1 M 10:89); the white hair his eternity (see Dn 7:9); the burning eyes (to probe minds and 'hearts', see Rv 2:23), his divine knowledge; the feet of bronze (see Dn 2:31-45) his permanence; the brightness of his legs and face, and the strength of his voice symbolize the fear inspired by his majesty.  In his power (his 'right hand') he holds the seven churches (the 'stars'see v. 20); he is prepared to sentence faithless Christians to death (the 'double-edged sword'), see 2:16; 19:15, and Is 49:2; Ep 6:17; Heb 4:12.  

The point of all this is to show that if we were to have a dream with some of the elements found in the vision above, we could use this passage to help us interpret the symbols; symbols that have already been interpreted accurately by 'men of the Church'.  For example:

If you were to be dressed in a long white robeit might be the Lord calling you to play a priestly role in your community, church or family.  It would be a call to lay down your life for your fellow men, standing in the virtue of purity and righteousness (white can also refer to purity) to uphold you in your mission.

If you were wearing a golden cord or belt, it might mean that you were called to move in your kingly/queenly calling (as we are called to share in Christ's priestly, kingly and prophetic offices according to the Catechism #901-908).  The colour gold most often refers to the glory of God so it would mean that the glory of God would be upholding you and girding you up (at the waist).

If you had white hair then it could mean that you are promised a share in Christ's eternal life.  White hair will also very often refer to wisdom; the wisdom of God, so you would be promised a share in the Lord's wisdom in order to fulfill your mission, your calling or even your job.

If you were to hold a double-edged sword it might mean that you were called to speak out the word of God in order to bring His justice in a situation by cutting through to the heart of the matter.  If you were holding this sword in your right hand, then it would be the Lord promising you the power needed to execute His will in that particular situation.  It would symbolize the faith that you would need in order to move in that power and anointing.

If you were ever to hold stars in your hand or to see a star appear in your dreamscape, it could refer to a particular church - depending on the context - or to the people of God (see Dan. 12:3).  The Lord would be calling you to perhaps pastor or shepherd His people.

I hope this post can be of help to you as you seek to decipher your dreams and the message God is sending you.  The notes on the rest of the Book of Revelation are a veritable goldmine of information on the meaning of the symbols in all of John's visions and I'm eternally grateful to those precious students of mine who were led by God to purchase that particular translation for me.