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July 18, 2021 | Chris Baselice
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“Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”—Revelation 4:5 (NKJV)
Previously, we saw that the 24 elders encircle God’s throne. Now, we’re also told that seven fiery lamps burn before the throne, but they’re actually “the seven Spirits of God.” What does that mean?
First, the word used for lamps here shouldn’t fill our imaginations with bedside lamps or candelabras. The literal Greek rendering is torch, and if you’ve ever seen a torch used in the dark you know that the flame it holds is the real focus. So John is seeing seven torches or flames before God’s throne.
Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit’s presence is often represented as a flame in Scripture. We graphically see this on the Day of Pentecost as the Holy Spirit came upon the early Church to empower it (Acts 2:3–4). So, the imagery of these seven flames reflects the Spirit’s depiction in God’s Word.
The next consideration is that these flames are called “the seven Spirits of God.” Right now you may be thinking, Wait a second . . . does that mean there are seven separate spiritual beings here? No. It actually means something (or rather Someone) is being presented as perfect and complete.
When you look at Scripture panoramically, especially the Book of Revelation, you see the number seven commonly used to symbolically represent the perfection or fullness of something. Whenever you see seven of something in the Bible, it’s usually an exclamation point marking that thing as perfect, which the Holy Spirit certainly is. So, these seven flames match the Holy Spirit symbolically as well.
But our consideration would be incomplete without referring to a prophecy from Isaiah, which foretells of the moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ at His baptism (Matthew 3:16). Pay attention to how the Spirit is described: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2 NKJV).
Do you see the “Spirit” represented seven times? It isn’t saying seven separate spiritual beings rested upon Christ. We know it was the Holy Spirit alone who descended and anointed Him. Instead, it’s describing the Holy Spirit in His fullness and perfection, which is also how His presence is presented to us as seven flames burning before God’s heavenly throne.
DIG: What are the seven Spirits of God?
DISCOVER: How can we be sure of this conclusion? What’s the significance of the Spirit’s presence before the throne.
DISPLAY: Reflect today on the seven Spirits of God and what is said about Jesus in Isaiah—if you’re not sure what it says, search on the Internet for Messianic passages in Isaiah.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.