Greetings! This is our fifth post in our study of Revelation chapters 4 and 5. In our last post, we examined the reasons why Jesus is the only person qualified to open the seven seals. In this post, we’re going to look at the mysterious phrase “seven spirits of God.” Most people do not understand what the seven spirits are. If you don’t know, you’ll be surprised. Keep reading.
Fifth in a Seven-Part Series
by Karen Thompson
The Seven Spirits of God
Let’s look at the last half of Revelation 5:6: “…and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Here we see the slain Lamb, which is Jesus, having seven horns and seven eyes, which we are told are the seven Spirits of God that are sent forth into all the earth. Bible scholars agree that the symbolism in the phrase “seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits” represents the Holy Spirit of God. So far, this is the fourth and last time in the book of Revelation that we have seen the Holy Spirit referred to as “seven spirits.” Let’s review all four scriptures together.
Number one:The first time we see this phraseology of “seven spirits” is in the first chapter of Revelation in the greeting from the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is presented to us as “the seven Spirits which are before his throne.” “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness…” (Rev. 1:4–5).
Number two:The second time we see the Holy Spirit represented as seven spirits is in Revelation chapter three. But this is the first time where we see Jesus having the seven spirits. “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; these things saith he [Jesus] that hath the seven Spirits of God…” (Rev. 3:1).
Number three: Next in Revelation chapter four, we see in this portion of scripture where John is describing the throne room of God, and the Holy Spirit is again represented as the seven spirits. And this time, we see the seven spirits referred to as the “seven lamps of fire burning”: “…seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (Rev. 4:5).
Number four: In Revelation 5:6, we see the last verse referring to the Holy Spirit as “seven spirits.” And this is the second time where we see Jesus, the slain Lamb, having the seven spirits. But this time, we see something different, something unusual. This time we see the seven spirits being described as “seven horns and seven eyes”: “…and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”
We don’t typically relate to the Holy Spirit as being the “seven Spirits of God.” Nowhere in the New Testament other than the book of Revelation is the Holy Spirit referred to as the seven Spirits of God. But like the book of Revelation, the Holy Spirit is symbolized in the Old Testament in type and shadow as the seven spirits. And just like Revelation 5:6, the Old Testament also uses the phraseology of the “seven eyes” and “seven lamps” in connection with the Holy Spirit. And like in Revelation, we also see Jesus, as Messiah, in the Old Testament having those seven eyes.
In Exodus, the Holy Spirit Is Symbolized as Seven Lights
Let’s first look at a type and shadow of the Holy Spirit in the book of Exodus. In Exodus chapter 25, the Lord told Moses to speak to the Israelites and tell them to bring free-will offerings for the purpose of making a sanctuary for Him to dwell in. Then He instructed Moses to make the sanctuary and all it contained exactly how He told him to make it: “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Exo. 25:9).
The book of Hebrews chapter eight says the tabernacle served as a “shadow of heavenly things,” and it reiterates the fact that God told Moses to build the tabernacle and all the things that go into the tabernacle exactly as God directed (Heb. 8:5).
The tabernacle Moses was to build was a type, or shadow, of the heavenly tabernacle that is in heaven, the throne room of God. One of the items that went into the tabernacle was a candlestick made of pure gold (Exo. 25:31). Verse 32 says this single candlestick was to have six branches on either side of it: “…three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side.” The golden candlestick would have seven lamps; it had the main stem and then three stems on either side of the main stem, making seven lights. The golden candlestick with its seven lights is a type of the seven spirits of God. And just like Revelation 4:5, we see in Exodus the Holy Spirit being symbolized as a candlestick with seven lights on it—or seven lamps of fire, or seven eyes.
Holy Spirit Symbolized as Seven Lights or Seven Eyes in Zechariah
The book of Zechariah further confirms to us that the symbolism of the candlestick is, indeed, the Holy Spirit. Zechariah wrote the book of Zechariah after the exiles were released from Babylon and allowed to go back to Jerusalem. The returning Jews had a difficult time rebuilding and restoring the temple. The city’s leaders, Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest, were discouraged about the lack of progress. God gave Zechariah a vision, and its message was to remind and encourage Zerubbabel that his strength comes from the Holy Spirit.
Zechariah saw a vision of a candlestick. An angel of the Lord asked Zechariah what he saw, and Zechariah said he saw “a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon…” (Zec. 4:2). He asked the angel, “What are these, my lord?” If you don’t know that the lampstand with seven lights on it represents the Holy Spirit, then you might think the angel didn’t really answer Zechariah’s question. The angel answered Zechariah’s question by saying, “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (v. 6).
The way the angel answered Zechariah’s question makes you think he assumed Zechariah already knew the candlestick with seven lights on it symbolized the Holy Spirit. The angel told Zechariah that it was not by human strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit that the temple would be built. Clearly, the candlestick with seven lights is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
Caveat: Don’t get confused by the symbolism describing the Holy Spirit. When Revelation talks about “seven spirits before God’s throne,” it doesn’t mean there are seven Holy Spirits. Make no mistake, Ephesians 4:4 says there is only “one” Holy Spirit. Exodus and Zechariah both symbolize the Holy Spirit as a single candlestick but having seven lamps, meaning seven eyes.
The Seven Spirits Are Also Called the Seven Eyes
The angel continued the message for Zerubbabel in verses 8–10, but I want you to look closely at verse 10. Here we see phrasing that is very similar to Revelation 5:6 where it talks about the eyes of the Lord sent forth into all the earth: “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zec. 4:8–10).
Notice specifically the phrase: “Zerubbabel with those seven.” “Those seven” is a reference to the seven lights on the candlestick. Then following it, it says those seven “are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Here we see Zerubbabel with the seven eyes (meaning the seven lights on the candlestick) that run to and fro through the whole earth. In Revelation 5:6 we read that the Lamb, who is Jesus, also has the seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. Both depictions of Zerubbabel and Jesus with the seven eyes are symbolic to mean they are anointed with the Holy Spirit of God.
These passages describing the Holy Spirit as having seven eyes brings more understanding to the well-known scripture in 2 Chronicles 16:9: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.”
Jesus Symbolized as a Stone Having Seven Eyes
Now let’s look at an Old Testament scripture that refers to Jesus as both the Branch and the Stone having the seven eyes in Zechariah chapter three: “…behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes…” (Zec. 3:8–9).
The symbolism in these verses refer to the two-fold calling of Jesus as both high priest and king. The word Branch is a title referring to Messiah’s calling as king, and the word Stone is a title referring to Messiah’s calling as high priest. (See also Jer. 23:5; Isa. 11:1; Eph. 2:20; Matt. 21:42; Ps. 118:22, Isa. 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6.) Let’s focus on verse nine: “For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes….” The Stone with seven eyes standing before Joshua was the preincarnate Christ. So when we see in Revelation the Lamb having the seven eyes and in Zechariah the Stone having the seven eyes, we are being told Jesus, the Messiah, is anointed with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit Is…
In conclusion, if we look again at the phrase in Revelation 5:6, we’ll see something special in the symbolism: “…having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” The number seven is a perfect number that symbolizes completeness, fullness. The seven horns are a symbol of power and authority. The seven eyes are a symbol of all knowing and wisdom. The phrase “sent forth into all the earth” is an expression of being present everywhere. This small verse of scripture is a reflection of the famous Christian adage that says:
God is omnipotent (meaning God is all powerful—horns).
God is omniscient (meaning God is all knowing—eyes).
God is omnipresent (meaning God is present everywhere—spirits sent forth into all the earth).
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