Thursday, December 27, 2012

Revelation 4-8

Daily Reading
Revelation 4-8

Daily Thought

Jesus Christ had letters delivered by the apostle John to cheer and challenge seven churches of Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, each small next to Rome. Lest the churches feel overwhelmed by the might of man, John is led next through a door and discovers a throne cascading "flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God" (Revelation 4:5). Upon the throne sits God, holding a scroll "sealed with seven seals" (Revelation 5:1), unfolding a certain future, "what must take place after this" (Revelation 4:1). Only Jesus, at the same time the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God, is able to open the scroll and usher forward what is to come. 

"Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:9-10).

Come they will, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the white horse of righteousness before the bright red of bloodshed, the black of famine, and the pale horse of death. The white horse leads, and this is Christ, who "came out conquering, and to conquer" (Revelation 6:2). The imagery is wild and wonderful, promising redemption and wrath; and redemption arrives first to 144,000, twelve thousand each from the twelve tribes of Israel. This is God's way of proclaiming that "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages" will stand before the throne, clothed in white, and cry out, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:9-10). 

Nevertheless, when mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy, and although we chuckle at this, there is a proper wrath from an angry God upon a rebellious humanity. Seven angels blow seven trumpets of destruction, and before anyone might accuse God of offense, we are reminded that we have been forewarned, "Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets" (Revelation 8:13). The Latin is Praemonitus praemunitus, "forewarned is to be forearmed," and to be armed is to put on the grace and mercy of "him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13). 

Daily Prayer

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. ~Jude 24-25


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