Through the door…
This study is the twenty-ninth in a series of studies on the books of the New Testament
(Revelation: chapters 4 – 22, read in 35 minutes)
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1 (NKJV)
What do you do with Revelation? Where does imagery end and reality start? Does it tell a story within the confines of our time and space, or, confusingly, is relayed from within the timeless nature of the heavenly realm? Then, look at it from John’s point of view. He has witnessed a frightening array of graphic tableaux filled with destruction and the confrontation of evil. He has been instructed to write them down and is told, in Revelation 22:6, that the fulfilment of all of this ‘…must shortly take place.’ He would have emerged from this experience looking for evidence in the world around him of the fulfilling of these predictions. Events he witnessed day to day would have been interpreted in the light of the prophecies. We might do the same today – looking at the conflict in Gaza or Ukraine, the strident and harmful voices inhabiting social media, or catastrophic natural disasters like the earthquake in Turkiye – and find in them some fulfilment of John’s account.
Revelation is a story with violence and anger; destruction and pain; fear and death. The maths is complicated with the numbering of lamps, ‘living creatures’, seals, angels, bowls, trumpets, elders, all adding up to an unremitting story of the earthly realm being brought to the point where it accepts the rulership of Jesus Christ – the one who sits on the throne (Revelation 5:13). It is the bringing together of earth and heaven – a fulfilment of the prayer that Christ told his disciples to pray (Matthew 6:10). But throughout the seeming chaos there are continued and repeated threads of compassion and hope: images of a future worth hanging on for. There are prayers and songs praising God, as in Revelation 15:3: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!”
And then there is a conclusion that opens out into a broad place of peace and beauty where Christ promises, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5). And He goes on to say, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End… ” (v.6). This is an echo of what Christ said as he died on the cross, “It is finished!” From that moment, when Satan was defeated, the outcome of all the battles and conflicts recorded in Revelation was secure.
We cannot deny that there is evil in the world we live in. There is cruelty, hatred, greed – and the message of Revelation is that there will be an end to all that. The creation recorded in Genesis was described as ‘very good’ and God has not turned his back on that creation.
Even so come Lord Jesus. Amen.
Study by Maggie Mitchell
About the writer:
Maggie Mitchell attends the Market Harborough congregation of Grace Communion International
GCI Market Harborough
9 The Point
Sunday 11.00 am
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