November 19, 2009 on 11:55 am | In REVELATION FOR BEGINNERS | Comments Off on WHY BRASS FEET? (Ch. 1:15A)

First of all, it doesn’t actually say His feet were brass, but that they were “like” fine brass. But the question remains, why this symbolism? Why are feet even mentioned? And what do they have to do with Revelation and the last days? Fair questions—I would suggest that they fit in very well with the theme we have been exploring regarding the blending of justice and mercy in Christ. But let’s check it out—do feet have any symbolic value in the Bible? For most of us, feet are what we stand on, run with, kick with, or we have “stinky feet” that need washing.

To start with, read 1 Corinthians 15:24-26: “Then comes the end when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” This expresses the idea that feet represent triumph over enemies. It brings to mind the picture of the safari hunter showing off his trophy kill by standing with his foot on a dead lion, demonstrating his conquest of the “enemy.” Psalm 91, especially written for God’s people under affliction, promises in verse 13: “You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.” Again, the idea of conquest over enemies, especially the devil and his forces, is portrayed. In Romans 16:20 it promises: “And the God of peace shall crush Satan under your feet shortly,” suggesting the ultimate conquest of Satan was coming. All this supports the justice perspective—but what about the mercy side? Can that be involved with feet also?

The quick answer is yes. Isaiah 52:7 proclaims: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” So feet can also represent carrying the message of salvation to all people.

Does this make the Bible contradictory? No, it simply points out that there are two sides to the coin—justice and mercy are blended in one person. And it is similar in some respects to a court trial. The judge may clear a defendant, for example, but that means the decision goes against the plaintiff—or vice versa. A decision for one (like mercy) automatically is against the other (like justice).

But there is one more issue raised in the phrase we are studying—it speaks of the “brass feet” as if “refined in a furnace.” What does that mean? I remember many years ago working in a foundry where printing plates were made. Molten lead was used in the process to back the printing plates. One of my jobs was to sweep the floor to gather up the shavings from routers which had eliminated the unnecessary metal in the plates. Then I put them into the lead pot, which of course contaminated the lead with floor dust, etc. By stirring in certain chemicals, the impurities could then be skimmed off the top, leaving a mirror-like surface. The lead had to be kept at about 700 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain its molten state.

As we walk the Christian pathway, we, too, pick up certain contaminants and need purifying so we come to reflect the character of Jesus more fully. But what about Jesus? Wasn’t He already perfect? Why would He need refining?

Now we know that Jesus did no sin (see 1 Peter 2:22), so it can’t be He was impure. Yet Hebrews 2:10 states: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” This doesn’t mean Jesus was somehow flawed. Perfect here means in the sense of completeness, maturity. He must develop character, which can only come through trials. You don’t know how strong something is till it is tested. Hebrews 5:8, 9 says: “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” 1 Peter 4:12, 13 remind us that we shouldn’t be surprised when we go through similar trials: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” James 1:2-4 encourages us to even find joy in trials: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Jesus embodies all these concepts. He is both just and merciful. He has endured suffering and developed a character as a human being. He personifies the gospel and encourages its proclamation around the world. He has also defeated the devil personally and will ultimately destroy Him (Hebrews 2:14). Thus He is presented this way to us at the beginning of Revelation to let us know He can take care of all that is to come which is portrayed in the book.

Revelation outlines some rough times ahead of planet earth. But Jesus promises to never leave or forsake His people (Hebrews 13:5). Revelation shows us that Jesus has been through many trials Himself and He knows how to take care of us. Hebrews 2:18 reminds us that since “He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Matthew 28:20 encourages us that He is with us even to the end of the world. While Jesus didn’t save the three Hebrews from going into the fiery furnace or Daniel from going into the lion’s den, Jesus was there with them and saved them from the dire consequences. So it will be with God’s people in the end of the world.

If we sneak a peak at the end of this fascinating book, we can see the final wonderful outcome: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4. Better days are certainly coming!

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