Ezekiel 31 – In the spring of 587, Ezekiel is addressed by God to say to Pharaoh that Egypt can be compared to a cedar of Lebanon “with noble branches, thick-set needles and lofty trunk. Its top pierces the clouds. The waters have made it grow, the deep has made it tall, pouring its rivers round the place where it is planted, sending its streams to all the other trees” (31:3-4).
“[I]n its shade every kind of people sat . . . It was the envy of every tree in Eden, in the garden of God” (31:9).
But the greatness of the land has tempted them to arrogance, and now the “prince of the nations” (31:11), Nebuchadnezzar, will bring it down. We should learn from what has happened to Egypt. “In future let no tree rise in pride beside the waters, none push its top through the clouds, no well-watered tree stretch its whole height towards them” (31:14).
Revelation 1 – “This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that he could tell his servants about the things which are now to take place very soon; he sent his angel to make it known to his servant John, and John has written down everything he saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they treasure all that it says, because the Time is close” (1:1-3).
John writes to the seven churches of Asia [Asia Minor] from the seven spirits who reside before his throne. Christ is the “faithful witness, the first-born from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth” (1:5). “He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father; to him, then, be glory and power for ever and ever” (1:5-6).
“’I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (1:8).
John says his is on the island called Patmos “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (1:9). His vision is this: “I saw seven golden lamp-stands and surrounded by them, a figure like a Son of man, dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a gold girdle. His head and his hair were white as white wool or as snow, this 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” (1:12-15). He holds “seven stars in his hand and out of his mouth came a sharp sword, double-edged, and his face was like the sun shining with all its force” (1:15-16). The seven lamp-stands are the seven churches.
The Jerusalem Bible note on pg. 431 is good – it explains the symbolism of the vision John has. The long robe is symbolic of his priesthood, the golden girdle – his royalty, his white hair – his eternity, his burning eyes – his ability to probe minds and hearts, his feet of bronze – his permanence, the brightness of his legs and face and the strength of his void – the fear inspired by his majesty, the stars – the seven churches and the double-edge sword – His judgment. “One or other of his attributes as Judge is used at the beginning of each of the seven letters, to suggest the situation of the particular church addressed” (431).