Friday 16 June 2017

Bible Book:

and by your will they existed and were created.” (v. 11)

Revelation 4:1-11 Friday 16 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 150


Revelation is the most amazingly complex and mind-boggling bookin the New Testament. It is a series of visions and mysticalexperiences given to a Christian disciple called John, exiled onthe island of Patmos because of the way he was testifying aboutJesus the Messiah. This was probably not the same John who was anapostle of Jesus. Scholars disagree on whether the Gospel of John,Letters of John, and Revelation to John were written by the sameperson. However, the identity of the author is insignificant whenwe consider the powerful images and experiences recorded. He was afollower of Jesus and a servant of God. Surely that's all thatmatters!

Chapters 1-3 give an introduction, where therisen Jesus appears to John and dictates seven letters for him totake back to the churches in and around (present-day) Turkey. In chapter 4, John is taken through a door intoheaven. But it's not heaven as we might imagine it; the finalresting place of God's people. That would be something for thefuture. Rather he is given a behind-the-scenes pass into the verythrone room of God; the control centre of the Almighty! Later, theauthor receives visions of things to come in pictorial andmetaphoric language. But chapters 4 and 5 can be understood as thepresent reality of heaven, usually hidden to mortal eyes. In modernscience fiction we might say he was transported to a paralleldimension, but that doesn't really do it justice. In theologicallanguage we could say he went 'through the veil' that presentlyseparates earth and heaven (although the two are often closer thatwe think, and are brought together in the person of Jesus). It is adistinction that will be abolished altogether at the coming of theNew Jerusalem, as John sees in the final part of this book (Revelation 21).

As we read John's description of the heavenly throne room, wemight conclude that heaven is in fact very difficult to describe!There are images which take us to other parts of the biblicalrevelation of God: the rainbow, for example, in verse 3, reminds usof the promise of God in the story of Noah (Genesis 9), and also of the prophet Ezekiel whohad a very similar experience (Ezekiel 1). There are the mysterious 24 elders,sitting on their thrones - who most likely represent the TwelveTribes of Israel and the Twelve Apostles, forming a unitedgovernment. (In which case, John the Apostle would surely be one ofthem!) There is thunder and lightning, which suggests thatpresently heaven is not 'peaceful' but rather a place of power andholy wrath, engaged in a dramatic battle. But most striking of allis the worship... First the song of the four living creatures(representing the worship of the animal kingdom) and then theworship of the elders themselves. Imagine the sound of thatchoir!

To Ponder

  • The worship of the 'living creatures' is emphatic andunqualified: God is just to be worshipped! The worship of theelders, however, adds reason: "For..." / "Because...". Howimportant is it, as human beings, to understand why God is to beworshipped and glorified? Why?
  • Today's passage is hard to appreciate in a detached or academicway. As with all the readings this week, we are 'invited in' toGod's presence and purposes. Spend some time meditating and prayingthrough the images of the throne room of God. Let yourself betransported into worship.
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