Slow-Moving JudgmentMarch 15, 2017
And his feet like unto fine brass [bronze]…
— Revelation 1:15
In our TV room, we have a large coffee table that sits in the middle of the room. It is covered with large coffee-table-sized books, and right on top of them is a rather large-sized bronze statue of a Russian bear, which, of course, is the symbol of Russia. Often when we are watching television, Denise will ask, “Rick, will you move that bear so I can see the TV screen?” I’m happy to move it, but moving it is a task because it’s bronze — and that means it’s very heavy. Moving an item made of bronze doesn’t happen quickly because of the weight of the object. It takes all my strength to pick it up and move it.
When Denise asks me to move that bronze bear, it often makes me think of Jesus, because Revelation 1:15 says that Jesus’ feet are “like unto fine brass” — actually it’s the Greek word chalkolibanos — a strange word for “bronze.” We’ll look at why it’s a strange word in just a minute. But moving that bronze bear in our TV room, and how much energy and strength it takes to move it, always makes me think how slowly Jesus moves when He takes actions toward judgment.
Bronze in Scripture represents judgment. This image of Jesus with feet “like unto fine brass [bronze]” tells us that those who resist Jesus’ commands will discover that He will ultimately trample down every plan and purpose of man that stands against the character of God.
However, bronze is heavy, and it is difficult to quickly move an object made of this metal. The fact that Jesus’ feet were like bronze sends the message that when Christ does move to bring judgment, He does so slowly. Even in Revelation 2:21, where Christ is threatening judgment to a woman named Jezebel, He moves slowly because he wants to give her “space to repent.” Christ always prefers repentance to judgment. But if repentance does not occur, He moves in the direction of the offender to bring correction and judgment where it is needed — yet He moves slowly with the hope that repentance will occur before He has to apply his bronze feet of judgment. This is why the symbolism of bronze feet is so important in this vision.
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But when John wrote about Jesus’ feet, he further noted that they looked “as if they burned in a furnace.” This tells us the metal had not yet set; in other words, the decision-making process was still being “forged in the crucible.” The metal had been heated and poured forth, but because it still glowed brightly, we know that the hardening process was not yet complete. Lifting one foot at a time, Jesus was moving slowly enough to give each person an opportunity to avoid judgment by repenting before suffering the consequences of continued error or sin.
Let’s consider why chalkolibanos is such a strange word for “bronze.” The first part of the word chalkos means bronze. But it’s the second part of the word that is so unusual, for it is the word libanos — the word for frankincense. It tells us that Christ’s feet carry the golden hue of frankincense because He lives in the atmosphere of prayer, where He intercedes as the Great High Priest for every person He has ever washed in His blood. Although He is poised with potential correction and judgment if necessary, Jesus is, has been, and always will be interceding for the Church — pleading for His people to hear Him and repent before He arrives with judgment.
Just think for a moment of Christians you know who lived wrong for a long time before correction was brought into their lives. Christ did not rush to judge them; rather, He gave them a lot of time to repent and self-correct before He had to do something more radical about it. Jesus always prefers repentance to judgment. That’s why His feet are like bronze — slow-moving. That’s also the reason they are covered in frankincense, because He has prayed for every person to respond to His pleadings so He doesn’t have to bring a stricter form of correction.
Are you a witness to the longsuffering of God in your own life?
If you know someone who is a Christian but is deliberately living in sin, pray for that person to respond to Jesus’ tender mercies that are giving him or her time to self-correct and repent. The fact that Jesus’ bronze feet are covered with the hue of intercessory prayer means He doesn’t want to carry out stronger action. He is therefore moving slowly enough to give him or her time to self-correct before He arrives to apply stronger action. If you know believers who are in this situation, join in prayer for them to hear and repent before stronger action is needed to bring them back to where they ought to be in their walk with God.
That’s what I think of every time Denise asks me to pick up the bronze bear and move it from the top of our coffee-table books. It is a reminder of the tender patience of Jesus — but it is also a stern reminder that a day eventually comes when He arrives to deal with the issues that we haven’t dealt with on our own initiative!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I am deeply moved by what I have read today, and I know that it is the truth. I know that what I have read today is absolutely the way You deal with those whom You love. Today I pray for my Christian friends who are living wrong and just assume that You don’t notice. Now I understand that in Your mercy, You are giving them time to self-correct. Please speak to their hearts and bring them to a place of self-correction and repentance before they must be dealt with in another way. I pray this for myself as well today.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am quick to respond when the Holy Spirit corrects me. I serve God faithfully. I do those things that please Him. When I am inwardly made to know that I am doing something wrong — or if I have intentionally or unintentionally done something that requires correction — I am quick to admit it and to repent. If I must repent to someone else for some- thing I have done wrong to them, I am also quick to do that. The Holy Spirit makes me sensitive to sin and gives me the desire to live a life of holiness.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of any Christians who lived in flagrant sin for a long time, and it seemed like it took forever before God arrived on the scene to deal with it? Do you now understand that Christ prefers repentance to judgment and that He was giving them time to self-correct so that a strong form of discipline wouldn’t have to be used?
- What examples can you think of in the Old or New Testament where God gave someone time to repent before He had to deal with him or her more strongly?
- Have you been a recipient of God’s longsuffering as He waited for you to make a change in your life? Are you in that situation right now? What is God giving you time to change before He has to take stronger measures to help you? Why are you waiting to make the change He requires of you?