Tuesday July 18
If you had a chance to look into the future and see what was going to happen, would you want to? If you had a chance to get a peek at God’s throne room in Heaven, would you want to? John is given that chance. While he’s physically in exile on the Island of Patmos in the middle of the Mediterranean sea around 90 A.D. during a time of great persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire, he is given a vision of the throne room of God Almighty. He is able to see God seated upon His throne, surrounded by angels. He sees seven scrolls that have been sealed by God. The question is, who is worthy to unseal the scrolls and reveal their contents? The answer is: the Lamb that was slain. Jesus is the only one worthy to unseal the royal scrolls and reveal their contents. The scrolls reveal what is about to happen.
Notices that there are 7 scrolls just as there were 7 churches. In the Bible, 7 is the number of completion. It took God 7 days to finish creating the earth (including a Sabbath rest). The number 7 will keep occurring through the book of Revelation. It’s completion, God is finishing the new creation, bringing this creation to an end. 7 scrolls reveal God’s plan to bring this world with it’s evil to a close.
As the scrolls are opened they reveal war, famine, earthquakes and other disasters resulting in wide scale death. God is beginning to bring His judgment upon the earth, and He is vindicating his people who have died as martyrs at the hands of the evil empire. (it sounds a little bit like Star Wars- Empires and those who suffer at the hands of the empire).
Imagine that you are a Christian living in this time and you want to be faithful to God, but it’s hard when you see a powerful empire destroying your fellow Christians by the sword, or burning in the fire, or throwing them to the lions or the gladiators in the arena. It might be tempting at times to give up and give in to the seemingly overwhelming force of the empire. But then you are permitted to look into the future and see that, eventually, the empire is destroyed, and those who died the death of the martyr are brought back to life and end up the true victors. That is what is happening here. The Christians are given a boost of confidence by seeing the ultimate victory of God and his people.
The trials and temptations that you and I face today may be different from those of 1st century Christians in the Roman empire. We may be tempted to turn away from our faith in order to be popular among our peers at school, or to fit in at the university. We may be tempted to abandon our morals in order to have fun. We might be tempted to cut corners in our jobs to get ahead. We might be tempted to abandon our allegiance to Jesus Christ for any number of reasons. But what if we could see into the future, what if the curtain that separates us in time and space were peeled back enough for us to see a glimpse of God, of Jesus, of the future… how everything ends, and realize that God is victorious and those who oppose God will be defeated, and that the rewards to following God and being faithful to Jesus Christ are great. Would that help during times when we are tempted to turn away and abandon our faith? I think they would. And that’s the value of Revelation. It helps us to see beyond the here and now and base our decisions not on what’s happening today, but to see the BIG picture…. the grand and glorious victory of God over evil. Whose side do you want to be on?
(Photo Credit: https://www.versaday.com/Months/05/0516.aspx)