Last week, we looked at what happened when the seals were removed from the Scroll and God’s judgment began to be executed.
It was bad.
In today’s Bible reading, angels blow trumpets and more calamity is hurled at the earth. Without the context of the rest of the Bible, these actions sound cruel, both to mankind and to the rest of creation (sun, moon, etc.)
We tend to think that Adam’s choice in a garden so long ago wasn’t that big of a deal. It was just a “missing the mark” moment. A mistake.
But when taken in the context of the rest of Scripture, much more happened that day in the garden. So much more!
When taken in the context of a representative — THE representative head — of creation choosing Creation over Creator, the enormity of the offense comes to light.
When Adam bit into the forbidden fruit, he snubbed The Cosmic Benefactor.
When Adam bit into the forbidden fruit, Adam raised his middle finger at God.
And the book of Revelation records the Cosmic, cataclysmic effects of that seemingly innocuous act of satisfying a hunger. The hunger Adam was trying to satisfy was more than an empty stomach. Adam was trying to fill Adam with Adam. And Adam was created with a hunger for His Creator.
Sin is in our DNA.
Each of us inherited sin from our first father. Each of us inherited lostness. Each of us inherited alienation. Each of us inherited an inclination to tell God where He could go with His plans for an eternal relationship.
And there, but for the grace of God go all of us.
All of us.
All. Of. Us.
Praise God for His grace! Praise God for His mercy! Praise God for His patience. For His second chances. For His 8,000th chances.
If you haven’t turned from your sin and turned to Him, please do it today! Don’t wait, because once The End begins, there are no 8,000th chances.
There are no second chances. And eternity is a long time.
So turn from your sin and turn to God. Stop trusting yourself and your plans. Trust God and His plans. Come to know Him. Spend time getting to know Him better. And fall in love with Him.
In today’s Bible reading, John describes a dilemma. The One sitting on the throne holds a sealed scroll. An angel calls out, asking for someone who is worthy to open the scroll and break the seals. John says he was grieved because no one was worthy to read it or to even look in it. John wept. (Revelation 5:4)
But then, someone resembling a slaughtered lamb steps forward. And heaven erupts in praise: The slaughtered Lamb is worthy!
Don’t miss this. Don’t be distracted with the creatures. Don’t be distracted with the description of the creatures. Don’t be distracted by any of it because the main idea behind what’s going on is that Jesus is worthy to read God’s scroll. He is worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:12) John can’t count how many angels cried out in praise. He only says “countless thousands plus thousands of thousands”. (Revelation 5:11)
If you want to go to heaven, but don’t like the idea of worshiping God, you’re going to be miserable in heaven.
When the Lamb opens the scroll, the angels sing a new song. (Revelation 5:9) Imagine an eternity of new songs.
I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say, Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever! Revelation 5:13 (CSB)
Imagine the sound of every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them praising God. Simultaneously. Awesome!
Then worship begets worship as the four living creatures approve with a hearty, “Amen” and the twenty-four elders bow in worship. (Revelation 5:14)
I’m sure that John was not just a little overwhelmed. He compares what he sees with what’s familiar to him. He constantly describes what he sees as “It was like ….” and “It had the appearance of ….”
I’m grateful for John’s descriptions. But it’s difficult to imagine creatures that John describes in today’s Bible reading. I’ve never seen creatures that look like that. Ever. I guess the closest I’ve seen is the characters portrayed in the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings. Of course, those characters are fictional.
But just because I’ve never seen the creatures John describes, or just because I can’t imagine them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’m sure there are lots of creatures that exist that I’ve never seen before. Occasionally, we’ll see pictures in the news of a newly-discovered creature found in some remote jungle or ocean trench.
Today’s reading is another reminder that God is immensely creative. And I’m not.
Whereas we (I) tend to get caught up with trying to visualize John’s description, John just gives the description and says that the creature worshipped its Creator. Regardless of what a creature looks like, a day will come when that creature — every creature — will bow to worship its Creator.
Every one of us will bow before our Creator. We can choose to bow and worship Him now — and get to know Him and enjoy Him now! — or we will bow reluctantly later. But we will all bow before Him and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10–11)
We’re rounding third base in our Bible Reading Plan. Today we begin reading the last book in the Bible: Revelation. Not Revelations, but Revelation. John, the Beloved Disciple received one revelation of Jesus Christ and recorded it for us. John’s purpose was not to give a timetable for Jesus’ return. Neither was his purpose to hide the timing of Jesus’ return in a code for us to figure out.
Yes, some of the book is in a code of sorts. The nature of the book’s genre means that there will be a lot of picturesque language. There will be lots of symbolism. And when we read it, we need to be very careful to not force meanings onto what we read based on what we’ve previously heard they’re supposed to mean. Trust me, there’s plenty for us to see; we should just let the text speak for itself.
The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:1–3 (CSB)
John says the reason for this book is to give us a heads-up of what will happen “soon”. Note: God’s “soon” isn’t necessarily what we consider to be “soon”. (2 Peter 3:9) John adds that those who read and keep what’s written in it will be blessed. One commentator said, that the content of The Revelation isn’t merely prediction; moral counsel and religious instruction are the primary burdens of its pages.”
As you read through this book, don’t focus on trying to “figure it out”. Instead, ask God to show you what the chapter says about God. And what does it say about God’s people?
Take comfort as you read. Nothing should cause fear. Instead, as you read, ask God to give you a fresh sense of awe for Him, His ways, and His works.
Practicing what I preached on Sunday. I’m not going to say, “Happy Thanksgiving”. Instead, I’ll say, “Be thankful”. We have so many things to be thankful for: God and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus alone, God’s Word, the air we breathe, the food we eat, our friends and family, our church community, our health, jobs, and the greatest country on the planet.
Be thankful, everyone! Be very thankful.