Saturday, December 21, 2019

Year 9, Day 355: Revelation 10-11

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Revelation 10 is an odd little chapter.  This chapter interrupts the seven trumpets.  In the chapter, we hear that a great message is given but the message mustn’t be recorded.  We also hear that John must eat a scroll that is both sweet and bitter.

Focus on the scroll.   I think that the core message of this chapter is here.  Walking with God has its bitter and sweet moments.  It is sweet to know truth, yet at the same time it is bitter to live in a world that doesn’t care about truth.  It is sweet to be in relationship with God, but the necessary daily sacrifice of our human flesh can be a bitter process.  Even our salvation is bittersweet.  It is sweet to know that we are saved by grace, but it is bitter to realize that Jesus had to die for us to know relationship with God.  Life is often bittersweet because of our humanity.

This segues into Revelation 11 fairly well.  Life is bittersweet because of our rebellion.  Chapter 11 reminds us about the testimony of the witnesses.  They can consume those who oppress them until the beast rises to make final war against them.  In spite of the beast and his apparent victory, the witnesses live again.  We end this chapter on a final note of victory.  God wins.  This is the message of the seventh trumpet.  God wins.  His is the kingdom.  His witnesses can be killed, but not separated from God.

This message is a message of triumph.  As bittersweet as life may be, we cannot be separated from God.  His witnesses may be ignored, mocked, or even consumed by the world.  Yet, His witnesses cannot be separated from Him.  No matter what the world throws at the Lord’s witnesses, in the end they will rise and participate in the worship of God.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Year 9, Day 354: Revelation 9

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Today’s chapter gives two of the remaining three trumpet judgments.  These trumpet blasts bring the brunt of God’s wrath.  With each blast, people die in torment.  It is clear that God’s judgment is not against the earth and His creation but it is focused on the pinnacle of creation: humanity.  God has come to judge what we have done to His creation.  He has come to demonstrate that He truly is the master of His creation.

Notice the shift in tone of the judgments.  The first four judgments are natural.  These two judgments are supernatural.  Things crawl out of a bottomless pit.  They look like locusts with tails like scorpions.  The four angels are released with a conquering horde to kill with a plague.  Smoke and sulfur come out of their mouths and their tales are like snakes.  Judgment comes in a most unnatural form.

At tis point, though, we are given a sad note.  The people who remain do not repent.  They do not see the error of their ways.  Perhaps they see their inferiority but are too proud to admit it.  God’s judgment comes and it is horrific.  Like the Pharaoh of Egypt who faced similar judgment, the heart of the people is unmoved.  There is no repentance.

God is free to act in full and bring the full plan to fruition.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Year 9, Day 353: Revelation 8

Theological Commentary: Click Here

In Revelation 8, true judgment comes.  We move from an analogy to the history of the world to a look at God’s response.  Angels are brought forth with judgments to dispense.  The tone turns darker.

Before the judgments come, though, the last of the seals is opened.  God has a surprise for us.  The last seal brings silence.  There is a time before judgment comes for reckoning.  This is that moment when you’ve done something wrong and you’ve been caught.  It’s the moment where you decide to continue the lie or to fess up to the truth.  There is a moment of silence before, quite literally, all hell breaks loose.

When the trumpets blast, God unleashes natural fury.  A third of practically everything is destroyed.  Nothing is outside of God’s grasp. People frequently note how these trumpet blasts are reminiscent of the plagues in Egypt.  Note that those plagues were also judgment!

What is going on here?  God is making the same point here that He made in the Exodus story.  He is in charge.  Nature is on His side.  His judgments are a warning of a greater impending danger.  He uses the judgments to allow us a moment to give Him our attention.

In the end, we are greeted with a woe.  Woe to those who remain on the earth.  Things were bad, but they are about to get worse.  The judgment is about to go from warning to grave danger.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Year 9, Day 352: Revelation 7

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Revelation 7 is a great chapter, but it has a deep and very subtle point.  What makes it so great?  First, we hear about a specific amount of Hebrew people who are to be saved.  The number is exceptionally specific, being the square of 12 times ten cubed.  In other words, a big number.

Why is this important?  There are a great number of Hebrew people who are numbered for God.  But there is an ability to count them.  In other words, the number comes to an end.  While I may not believe that the number is meant to be literally accurate, I do believe that the fact that the number is finite tells us something.  The number can be counted, meaning it comes to an end.  I believe this recounts the transition from Abraham to Christ.  Abraham, the people of the covenant, was a finite time.  With the coming of Christ comes the end to the old covenant.

The group of followers that comes next are innumerable!  They come from every tribe tongue, and nationality.  They come from all over!  They aren’t defined by biology of lineage.  They are defined by a salvation that comes through the Lamb.

It is important to understand the point of this passage.  These people are those who come through the tribulation.  Tribulation is a fancy word for time of trial or time of temptation.  They are washed in the blood of the Lamb.

In other words, these are people who in the midst of the temptation of the world find their identity in Christ.  They are people who follow God instead of following the sinful passions within their own heart.  These are the people that believe when all hope is lost.  There are the people who follow when everyone else turns away.  That’s sounds great, right?

Don’t forget, the multitude is unable to be counted.  It is innumerable.  Ever have a pity day when it feels like no more faithful people exist?  The multitude is innumerable. Ever have a day where you swear the world has all gone astray?  The number is innumerable.

I am reminded of a story when the prophet Elijah swore every other prophet had abandoned God.  God replied and told him that there were literally thousands of prophets left.  We tend to be doomsday tellers.  Humans can focus on the negative, not the positive.  We tend to assume we are alone.  The reality though, is that there is a great cloud of witnesses around us and they are innumerable.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Year 9, Day 351: Revelation 6

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Revelation 6 is an incredibly famous chapter.  This is the chapter about which everyone thinks when they hear the phrase “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”  Here we get our greatest biblical perspective on the figure of Death.  Here we see the martyrs in heaven waiting for justice to be done.  This chapter is filled with classic images.

I love the sequence of the seals.  The conquering horse and rider are first.  The horse and rider who remove peace are second.  Next comes the horse that speaks to economic interests.  The next horse to come is Death and Hades with famine and pestilence in tow.  The fifth horse is the martyrs under the altar.  The last seal in this chapter – the second to last in general – is a seal that brings geological catastrophe.

What is so great about the sequence of the seals?  It speaks to the pattern of human existence.  Human beings often seek to control what is in their vicinity.  In order to control it, we are often willing to take violent means – everything from asserting a physical presence to outright warfare.  Once we have gained control, we quest for economic dominance as we try to focus on pleasure commodities at the expense of basic needs.  Along the way, those who follow this pattern unchecked make martyrs of the people around them.  At some point, though, in spite of our dominance we always come against natural forces that we cannot destroy and ultimately display dominance over us.

In other words, the human existence is about control.  We quest and search for dominance.  We take names, make enemies, and make martyrs along the way until we come upon an immovable force that cannot be controlled.  Only at that moment are we open to learning humility.  Humility is not a natural skill within humankind.  It is only learned through judgment and outside influences acting upon us.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Year 9, Day 350: Revelation 4-5

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Revelation 4 & 5 give us an insight into the presence of God.  Some might say it gives an insight into heaven.  That might be accurate in some manners of thinking, but it shouldn’t be taken far enough so that we think this is an impression of the afterlife.  This simply gives us an ability to see what being in the presence of God is like.

Revelation 4 focus on the Father.  First and foremost, God is worshipped.  He is the central figure.  Whatever else dwelling in the presence of God may involve, it is about worshipping the core figure of the universe.  He is the worthy one.  He is the source of power and might.  He is the one who allows things to exist.  Everything that is good and full of life comes from His throne.

Revelation 5 shifts the focus the Jesus.  He is the Lamb Who Was Slain.  He is the reason that we can be in the presence of God.  He is the only one who is worthy to open the way for us to get to the throne of God in the first place.  He, being God, is the only one worthy of receiving honor and glory as God receives.

This book is not a treatise on heaven or the afterlife because, quite honestly, heaven and the afterlife isn’t the focus and shouldn’t be!  God should be our focus.  We should think on His glory, His honor, His power, and His might.  Our focus should be on Him.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Year 9, Day 349: Revelation 3

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Revelation 3 teaches about the other 3 churches that weren’t met in chapter 2.  The pattern continues.  The churches all face some kind of threat.  The people of Philadelphia have little power against an external threat, but they continue to endure.  The people of Sardis face an internal threat of being dead inside.  The people of Laodicea face an internal threat of living a lie and choosing to believe it.  The threat to our faith and even our livelihood always continues to be real.

God is always using the world around us to teach us, test us, cause us to grow, and bring about His will.  That is the next level that can be learned from these churches.  In each situation, God encourages the churches to persevere.  Through perseverance, they will gain something.  The people in Sardis, who risk being spiritually dead, will gain purity if they persevere in the Lord.  The people of Laodicea, who live a lie, will find that faithfulness leads to discipline and discipline leads to the opportunity receive things from God that truly matter – even the opportunity to dwell with the Lord!  The people in Philadelphia, who are largely powerless against the trials around them, will find that the testing of the Lord will cause them to be strong enough for God to build His temple around us.

Life can be hard.  Life can be filled with surprises and temptations, both of which can readily cause us to stumble.  Perseverance, though, has its benefits.  Through perseverance we draw closer to God and His ways.  Through perseverance we understand that God can even use the hard moments in life to teach us and make us better.  While perseverance seldom comes through times that are fun and exciting, it is an important part of the walk of the faithful.