26 August 2013Revelation 15:2-4
“And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.” (v. 2)
A sea of glass mixed with fire and a crowd playing harps and bursting into song - it could almost be the finale of a musical on ice with the whole cast joining in the last glorious chorus, while the audience roars its approval.
The book of Revelation continually throws these images at us and leaves the scene wide open for interpretation. In this case it is a fairly straightforward picture.
Gathered around this strange sea are the people who have beaten the beast of evil and are rejoicing in the power of God. There is a mention of the number of the beast - nowadays frequently used in horror stories and films. But on this occasion there is no fear of that number for these people are confident enough to sing the song of their famous ancestor, Moses, who was renowned for trusting in God's righteous justice. So the crowd breaks into a song of praise, joy and trust that one day all nations will bow before God. It is an imagined preview of the end time when God alone will rule.
That is one reason why Revelation, though often puzzling in its imagery, still has some relevance to our life of faith today. Books like this have been used for centuries to encourage and sustain Christians who may feel they are losing the battle of faith in their current circumstances. Although the words may seem out-dated and the visions appear difficult to interpret, there is still reassurance to be gained from the message that God is ever-present and that evil can be defeated.
But one thing makes me a little anxious. You see, I love singing, but I'm not sure that others appreciate my efforts. On my own I am hesitant; my voice falters and is unreliable. Ask me to sing a tune and it comes out in a whisper. According to Revelation there appears to be a great deal of singing in heaven. How will I manage? Certainly not without the support of that heavenly choir.
- What kind of imagery do you find most helpful in your own faith journey?
- How do you feel about these images from Revelation being turned into horror stories?
- What help can you find here for those times when you are discouraged?