Jesus is, as we know, a great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:20) and one of the duties of a High Priest is to pray and intercede, which He does constantly and without ceasing, as Hebrews 7:25 says:
“Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost those who come unto God by Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.”
Yes, Jesus is forever, and lives forever, to make intercession for His own. This is a powerful and wonderful part of His ministry which we are all so pleased to hear about.
Much teaching and preaching is carried out on the intercession of Jesus, and on His equally important role of intervention. Jesus intercedes, and He also intervenes.
1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Now of course the opposite is also true; if we do not confess our sin, we will not be forgiven and we will not be cleansed from unrighteousness. The trouble is, most Christians appear to be blissfully unaware of this corollary.
However, the Apostle John of Patmos was fully aware of the disastrous effects of unconfessed and unrepented sin on the lives of Christians, such that he wrote in 1 John 2:1 to his flock saying: “My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
There is no hint of condemnation in this message; instead it is steeped in love, mercy and compassion. Jesus is our advocate and our high priest and if we sin and we go to Him and confess it and repent of it, and as 1 John 1:9 above says, we will be forgiven and cleansed from unrighteousness. This is the message of love from the Word of God: that if we confess, we will be forgiven. There are the twin ministries of Jesus, intercession and intervention, of which we are all so familiar.
However, there is another less well known ministry of Jesus which, together with Intercession and Interception comprises a trilogy of ministries; and that is Inspection. Jesus sits on the throne at the right hand of God the Father, but is not idle. He is also in full time ministry Inspection of His Church.
This ministry of inspection is certainly less publicised and taught in the Church than the other two; perhaps because we all baulk at the idea of being under constant inspection. But remember, when Jesus inspects us, as the Body of Christ, He is inspecting justly and honestly in truth and in fact, for He is not just judging our actions, He is judging our hearts too. It is not just a case of what we do, but why we do, or why we do not, do things. The right actions for the wrong reasons, do not fool Jesus.
Where is the biblical evidence for His constant inspection of His church and of the body of the Church? It is spelt out in Revelation 1:13 which reads:
“And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands. And in the midst of the seven lampstands I saw One like the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and tied around the breast with a golden band.”
The “golden lampstands,” are the Church and the man in the midst of them is Jesus. How can I be sure that these golden lampstands represent the Church? Because later on in the same chapter, Revelation 1:20 says so: “…the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” The “angels” here, mean the “messengers” of the seven churches – or perhaps the pastors and leaders. Thus it is clear to see that Jesus was inspecting the seven Churches. How can we be sure? Because in the following verses, Jesus goes on to commend, or commend and condemn, the seven churches. He has inspected them and in most cases, has found them wanting, even though they may have, of have had, some good qualities.
As you continue to read on into Revelation 1:14-18 you begin to get a sense of what the inspecting Jesus is all about:
“His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And His eyes were like a flame of fire. And His feet were like burnished brass having been fired in a furnace. And His voice was like the sound of many waters. And He had seven stars in His right hand, and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. And His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.
And He laid His right hand upon me, saying to me, Do not fear, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One, and I became dead, and behold, I am alive forever and ever, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and of death.”
This is not the Jesus which the modern seeker friendly churches preach these days. This is a Jesus at whose appearance, we, like John, would fall down flat on our faces and tremble in fear. This is a Jesus with eyes of fire, with feet like red-hot burnished brass and a deafening voice who mouth spoke the Word of God “piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” Hebrews 4:10). This is not the Jesus before whom we would dance around claiming “I’m a friend of Jesus…” No, this is the Jesus whom the Book of Revelations is saying, is presently inspecting His Church.
The golden lampstands which Jesus was walking among, represent 7 Churches, each of which represents a period of Church history. Exodus 25 describes there the beautiful golden lampstands for the Lord’s Tabernacle, which were designed by the Lord God Himself and beaten from solid gold by a workman born for just that job. The lamps atop the lampstands in almond-like cups represent the Holy Spirit, while the golden lampstands themselves represent Christ, His Glory and His Deity. The Lord Jesus Christ sent His Holy Spirit into this world as he returned to Heaven. The lampstand hold up the lamps, and the lamps reveal the beauty and glory of the lampstand.
In the days of the Old Testament Temple of the Lord, the lampstands were ministered to, and maintained by, the high priests. They, the high priests checked the lamp oil, they filled and maintained the lamps with new oil, they emptied the lamps to change oil, they trimmed the lamp wicks to ensure clean burning and lots of light, they snuffed out the lamps which did not shed good light, they re-lit new wicks.
Brothers and sisters in Christs, Revelation 1:13 is all about just that, Jesus as our High Priest is going through His Church and inspecting it, maintaining it, doing all these things which the Levitical priests did in the Holy Tabernacle. Yes, Jesus is in the business of pouring out new oil, but He is also in the business of trimming wicks, and of snuffing out non-performers. Yes, the oil which is poured out today is the Holy Spirit, but it is Jesus who decided where and when to pour out that new oil. Jesus is the keeper of the lampstands and the lights on top of them. Jesus is the head of His Church and the Holy Spirit follows His lead and instruction.
The whole point of the lamps is to light Jesus. If the Church is not lighting Jesus, or not doing it well enough, it is of no use to Jesus and it is just a matter of time before the church or the church leader will be snuffed out, or left with no oil. We Christians have no light or our own. If we think differently, we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. We can only reflect the light of the Holy Spirit. When others see a light around us or from us, it is the Holy Spirit they see.
But when we begin to walk away from the Lord and the light we reflet becomes dull, then perhaps Jesus will simply snuff out our lamp. This is what John means in 1 John 5:16 when he says:
“If anyone sees his brother sin a sin not to death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life for those that do not sin to death. There is a sin to death, I do not say that he shall pray for it.”
Brothers and sisters, we too can be set aside and have our lamp light snuffed out. It is part of the job of the High Priest, it is part of the job of Jesus, as he maintains His lampstands. Jesus wants us to produce His light and reflect His light, but if we need to be snuffed out for the glory of His kingdom because we are not performing as He requires of us, then he will do so in His perfect timing. Look around at those Christians who used to carry a bright torch light for the Lord, and who have now fallen from grace; those in ministry whose ministries closed down in disgrace, as Jesus put them aside and snuffed out their lights.
Yes, there is a sin unto death and the snuffing of one’s lamp light is a sign thereto and thereof. As Matthew 10:28 warns…
“… do not fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”