The Glory of God

Today’s reading is Revelation 15.

When the Babylonians took Solomon’s temple apart, the glory of God was gone. When Zerubbabel and Joshua rebuilt the temple, however, there was no visible manifestation of the Lord’s glory. When Herod refurbished the temple, there was no manifestation of the Lord’s glory in the temple. However, under Jesus Christ, the sanctuary not made with hands in the heavens is full of the glory of the Lord. Here is the picture of victory. In fact, it is the same picture that demonstrated victory in Exodus. We often think the crossing of the Red Sea is the climax of Exodus. Not so. The climax is when the glory of the Lord enters the tabernacle. God had sent the plagues on the enemies, He had delivered Israel through the Red Sea, He had brought them to Mt. Sinai. But the climax is when God shows His abiding presence by entering the tabernacle. That is exactly what is going on here. God has sent plagues of judgment and will continue to do so in the next chapter. But the real glory is that He is in the midst of His people. He takes residence in the sanctuary, which is His church. The promises of restoration are fulfilled not in a temple rebuilt on earth, but in the heavenly temple of God’s house. Praise the Lord! He dwells with His people.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 16.

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The 144,000

Today’s reading is Revelation 14.

In contrast to the monsters of the previous two readings, our Hero stands on the mountain. But as a Lamb. Picture that, a Lamb walking to battle against a dragon and two beasts. However, He does have 144,000 with Him. This is interesting because if we removed the chapter break, we would see this 144,000 right after we hear about those the beasts had sealed with the number 666. If we didn’t have the chapter break, we might remember that the 144,000 are the group of people God had His angels seal showing that He knows exactly who belongs to Him. We spend so much time getting bent out of shape trying to figure out who 666 represents and what kind of seal that is that we miss the obvious. There are two groups of sealed people. Not only does God know who belongs to Him, the dragon knows who belongs to him. God also knows who belongs to the dragon. The question is not whether we are sealed, the question is whose seal do we wear. If we are God’s, He knows. If we are not, He knows. To whom do you belong?

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 15.

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The Monster

Today’s reading is Revelation 13.

We’ve all read or heard stories like this before. The Hero has to defeat a monster to save the kingdom or deliver the damsel in distress. Beowulf delivered Heorot from the monster, Grendel, and also from Grendel’s mother. Perseus saved Andromeda from Cetus. Our Hero must defeat His own set of monsters as well. We met the dragon in our previous reading. Today we meet the sea beast and the land beast. No doubt, we may find representative meanings for this triumvirate of monsters, but for the most part, we should see how this trinity of monsters mirrors and distorts the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit. Further, at this point, we see the repeated cycle that it looks like the monsters are winning. The sea beast was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. The land beast is permitted so slay those who refuse to worship the beast. And that is where this reading ends. Sometimes it looks like our Hero is losing. But hang on. Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 14.

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Friends of the Groom

Today’s reading is Revelation 11.

Every hero has friends. Remember Fezzik and Inigo in “The Princess Bride”? In modern weddings, we carry on this idea with the best man and the groomsmen. These are the men who were supposed to support the groom and fight off any who would challenge the groom for his bride. Our Hero, the groom of the church is no different. He has two friends, the descriptions of whom remind us of Moses and Elijah. Then we see the same story cycle repeated over and over in Revelation. At first, these friends are unstoppable. If any would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes the enemy. However, the seemingly unstoppable get stopped; the beast makes war on them and kills them. The people celebrate the death of the Hero’s friends. It looks like the Hero is going to lose. However, then the unimaginable happens. Just when the enemy believes it has won, the Hero’s friends are resurrected (just like the Hero) and are called to the Father’s throne. Judgment rains down on the enemies. God is glorified. Praise the Lord, Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 12.

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I Don’t Get to Know Everything

Today’s reading is Revelation 10.

How frustrating! Is God taunting us? Here are seven thunders that said something, but He doesn’t let us know what. Why even make us aware that the seven thunders sounded? Perhaps because we need to understand 1) God knows what we don’t and 2) we don’t get to know everything. However, do you catch what happens next? The angel announces that in the seventh trumpet the mystery of God would be fulfilled just as he announced to His prophets. That is, the mysteries that benefit us, that help us, that we need to know, we get to know. He reveals those to us. Let’s face it. Whether we like it or not, our human minds cannot handle all that God knows. But our God is a good God and reveals all we need to know. The question isn’t whether we should get to know what was in the thunders, the question is whether we will listen to what God has revealed. What about today? Will you spend more time worrying about what God hasn’t revealed, or more time living by what He has?

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 11.

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Plagues

Today’s reading is Revelation 9.

What is up with locusts and wild horses? There is no need to look beyond what the text says to figure out what John is seeing. In Revelation 9:18, John calls these strange events plagues. In other words, we don’t have to wonder if he is talking about some strange war that might happen off in the future. Rather, he is calling to mind something that happened in the past. He is calling to mind, as he will do several times throughout this vision, the plagues that God sent against Pharaoh and Egypt. The description here is much more intense. It is grander and greater and more destructive. But it is still supposed to remind us of those plagues. Why? Because the outcome is the same. No matter what God sends to teach the enemies about His greatness and how they should surrender to Him, they won’t. They don’t repent. They continue to rebel against Him instead of surrendering to Him as King. In other words, the King went out conquering and to conquer, but instead of the enemies recognizing His superiority and surrendering, they will keep fighting. God will extend patience. Instead of just immediately wiping them out, He will send only partial judgment intended to give many the opportunity to repent and give allegiance to Him. But they won’t. Of course, this means many faithful will get caught up in the crossfire. Remember, however, the Lord knows those who are His. Even if His faithful die as the enemy reacts, they will still be delivered. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 10.

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The Prayers of the Saints

Today’s reading is Revelation 8.

When the seventh seal is opened, we are reminded of the fifth seal. There we saw the saints beneath the altar praying for God to take vengeance on the enemies who had slaughtered them. When this seventh seal is opened, this image is called to mind again and seven trumpets are given to seven angels. As those trumpets were being handed out, an angel offered incense on the altar alongside and mingled with the prayers of the saints. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth. As the angels blow their trumpets, we see the prayers of the saints being granted in part as God allows partial judgment to come upon the earth. Of course, all of this is telling of a time long past. However, what we can learn from this is that even in our extreme suffering and pain, God does listen to our requests. He may not respond in our timetable or with exactly what we have asked for or want. However, He always does what is right. He always does what will most benefit us and most glorify Him. In these partial judgments, He is giving response to the prayers of the saints and yet, at the same time, seeking the salvation of others. What a glory that will be for Him if those who were persecutors become saints. Keep praying. God is listening. He is responding in the best way possible even if we can’t tell it right now. And He is seeking the salvation of as many as will come just as He patiently sought your salvation. Praise God!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 9.

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