IV. THE MODEL OF CHRIST CHERISHING THE CHURCHES AND NOURISHING THE CHURCHES IN TAKING CARE OF THE CHURCHES
Christ is the best model of cherishing and nourishing as seen in Revelation 1. In verses 12 and 13 John said, "I turned to see the voice that spoke with me; and when I turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, and girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle." This shows that Christ is taking care of the lampstands by being the Son of Man with a long garment. This garment is the priestly robe (Exo. 28:33-35), which shows that Christ is our great High Priest.
He is also girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle. This girdle is a long piece of gold. The girdle and the gold are not two separate things. The girdle is the gold. The golden girdle is one piece of gold to become a belt. The Son of Man is in His humanity, and the golden girdle signifies His divinity. This golden girdle is on His breasts, and the breasts are a sign of love.
The priests in the Old Testament were girded at the loins for their ministry (Exo. 28:4). In Daniel 10:5 Christ also is girded at His loins, with fine gold. To be girded at the loins is to be strengthened for the work. Christ has finished His divine work in producing the churches. Now by His love He is caring for the churches which He has produced. This is why He is girded at the breasts. Today Christ is our High Priest taking care of His churches established by His labor. But now He takes care of the churches with the girdle not on His loins but on His breasts, signifying love. I hope we all could realize that in these days even among us, Christ is wearing a golden girdle on His breasts.
The golden girdle is a sign, signifying Christ’s divinity becoming His energy. Christ’s energy is totally His divinity. A piece of gold is now a girdle. The totality of Christ in His divinity has become a girdle. The golden girdle signifies Christ’s divinity becoming His energy, and the breasts signify that this golden energy is exercised and motivated by His love. His divine energy is exercised by and with His love to nourish the churches.
A. Taking Care of the Churches in His Humanity
Christ takes care of the churches as the lampstands in His humanity as "the Son of Man" to cherish them (Rev. 1:13a). Christ as our High Priest takes care of the churches He has established first in His humanity to cherish the churches, to make the churches happy, pleasant, and comfortable.
1. By Dressing the Lamps
He does this by dressing the lamps of the lampstand. The high priest in the Old Testament dressed the lamps of the lampstands every morning (Exo. 30:7). To dress the lamps is to make them proper.
2. By Trimming the Wicks
Christ cares for the lampstands by trimming the wicks of the lamps of the lampstand, just as the priest did according to the type in the Old Testament (Exo. 25:38). When the wick was burned out it became charred and black, so the priest had to come to cut off the black part of the wick. This is what it means to snuff the wick so that the lamp may shine better. The charred part of the wick, the snuff, signifies things that are not according to God’s purpose which need to be cut off, such as our flesh, our natural man, our self, and our old creation. All the lampstands are organic. They are living lampstands. Since each church is a living lampstand, each church has much feeling. A church with charred wicks will not feel comfortable.
About eight years ago, there was no feeling of happiness or pleasantness with the church in Anaheim. This was because of the black, burned out, charred wicks. But one day Christ as our High Priest came to dress the lamps of the lampstand, the church in Anaheim, by trimming the wicks to cut off all the black, charred wicks. This was a cherishing, to make the church in Anaheim happy, pleasant, and comfortable. There is no comparison between the way the church in Anaheim was eight years ago and the way it is today. Eight years ago it was full of burned, black wicks, with no shining. The saints felt unhappy, unpleasant, and uncomfortable. But one day the Lord Jesus as the High Priest in His humanity came to snuff all the negative things. Then we became happy, pleasant, and comfortable. This is Christ’s taking care of the church in His humanity to dress the lamps of the church.
I thank the Lord that today in His recovery He is the High Priest in His humanity. Hebrews 4 says that we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all respects like us, yet without sin (v. 15). Our Christ is the same as we are. He has been tempted in everything like us, so He can easily be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses. This means that He always sympathizes with our weaknesses in His humanity. He is the High Priest in His humanity taking care of us by cherishing us all the time.
(The Vital Groups, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)