Three Inscriptions with One Meaning
Revelation 22:3-4
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:…

(with Exodus 28:36; Zechariah 14:20): — These three widely separated texts all speak of inscriptions, and they are all obviously connected with each other. Three things, then — the priest's mitre, the horses' bells, the foreheads of the perfected saints — three aspects of the Christian thought of holiness.

I. THE PRIEST'S MITRE. The high priest was the official representative of the nation. He stood before God as the embodied and personified Israel. For the purposes of worship Israel was the high priest, and the high priest was Israel. And so, on his forehead, not to distinguish him from the rest of the people, but to include all the people in his consecration, shone a golden plate with the motto, "Holiness to the Lord." So, at the beginning, there stands a protest against all notions that make "saint" the designation of any abnormal or exceptional sanctity, and confine the name to the members of any selected aristocracy of devoutness and of goodness. All Christian men, ex officio, by the very fact of their Christianity, are saints, in the true sense of the word. It is a very unfortunate thing — indicating superficiality of thought — that the modern popular notion of "holiness" identifies it with purity, righteousness, moral perfection. Now that is in it, but that is not the whole of it. The root-meaning is "separated, set apart," and the word expresses primarily, not moral character, but relation to God. How can a man be separated and laid aside? Well, there is only one way, and that is by self-surrender. "Holiness to the Lord" is self-surrender of will, and heart, and mind, and everything. And that surrender is of the very essence of Christianity. What is a saint? Some man or woman that has practised unheard-of austerities? Somebody that has lived an isolated and self-regarding life in convent or monastery or desert? No! a man or woman in the world who, moved by the mercies of God, yields self to God as a living sacrifice.

II. THE HORSES' BELLS. Zechariah has a vision of the ideal Messianic times, and of course, as must necessarily be the case, his picture is painted with colours laid upon his palette by his experience, and he depicts that distant future in the guise suggested to him by what he saw around him. So we have to disentangle from his words the sentiment which he expresses, and to recognise the symbolic way in which he puts it. On the whole, the prophet's teaching is that, in the ideal state of man upon earth, there would be an entire abolition of the distinction between "sacred" and "secular"; a distinction that has wrought infinite mischief in the world, and in the lives of Christian people. Let me transfer these words of our prophet into English equivalents. Every cup and tumbler in a poor man's kitchen shall be as sacred as the Communion chalice that passes from lip to lip with the "blood of Jesus Christ" in it. Every common piece of service that we do, down among the vulgarities and the secularities and the meannesses of daily life, may be lifted up to stand upon precisely the same level as the sacredest office that we undertake. The bells of the horses shall jingle to the same tune as the trumpets of the priests within the shrine, and on all, great and small, shall be written, "Holiness to the Lord." Hallow thyself, and all things are clean unto thee.

III. THE PERFECTED SAINTS' FOREHEADS. It is only the name that is written in the perfected saints' forehead. Not the "Holiness unto the Lord," but just the bare name. What does that mean? Well, it means the same as your writing your name in one of your books does, or as when a man puts his initials on the back of his oxen, or as the old practice of branding the master's mark upon the slave did. It means absolute ownership. But it means something more. The name is the manifested personality, the revealed God, the character, as we say in an abstract way, the character of God. That name is to be in the foreheads of His perfected people. How does it come to be there? Read the clause before. "His servants shall see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads." That is to say, the perfected condition is not reached by surrender only, but by assimilation; and that assimilation comes by contemplation. The faces that are turned to Him, and behold Him, are smitten with the light and shine, and those that look upon them see, "as it had been, the face of an angel," as the Sanhedrin saw that of Stephen when he beheld the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God. Alas! alas! it is so hard for us to live out our best selves, and to show to the world what is in us. Cowardice, sheepishness, and a hundred other reasons prevent it. In this poor imperfect state no emotion ever takes shape and visibility without losing more or less of its beauty. But yonder the obstructions to self-manifestation will be done away; and when He shall be manifested "we also shall be manifested with Him in glory."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

WEB: There will be no curse any more. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants serve him.

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