Babylon

Today’s reading is Revelation 17.

A great contrast starts in this chapter. We finally meet the immoral woman. The seductress who competes with the Bride to steal the love of the Hero, or at least keep the proper marriage from happening. Think Ursula in the Disney version of “The Little Mermaid.” Or the step-sisters in the stories of Cinderella. She has been mentioned earlier in the book (think Jezebel in the letter to Thyatira). John sees her as a woman on a seven-headed dragon. She is named Babylon and is described as a city. Doesn’t that also fit the hero stories we’ve read in the past. This is the enemy city that needs to be defeated for the Hero to win the day. The one key I hope we notice in all this is a statement that is often overlooked. The ten horns are ten kings. We often get so distracted by trying to figure out who the ten kings are that we actually miss the important part. These ten kings will receive authority. They will make war on the Lamb. However, that authority is only for one hour. Doesn’t that highlight what we’ve noticed about everything in this book. Yes, at times it looks like the enemy is winning. Babylon is drunk with the blood of the saints. Her supporting kings have authority with the beast who in earlier chapters made war on the saints and even conquered them (Revelation 12:7). But this authority last for only one hour. That’s it. Just one hour. Then the Lamb conquers them. Obviously, this is not a literal amount of time. It is, however, demonstrating that the time is small, so hang on. Yes, the immoral city arises and conspires with the kings of the earth in great immorality and attack on Christ and His Bride. But their victory is short lived. So hang on. Jesus always wins! Judgment is coming on the seductress, the immoral woman, the sinful city. Don’t join her, avoid her. Which, by the way, was the heart of the warning to Thyatira.

Monday’s reading is Revelation 18.

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Repent and Give God the Glory

Today’s reading is Revelation 16.

Of course, there are some differences, but don’t these bowls of wrath sound familiar? Painful sores, darkness, water turned to blood, hail. Obviously, the Holy Spirit is again calling to mind the plagues of God on Egypt. Further, He is calling to mind Pharaoh’s own hardness of heart that refused to repent and give glory to God. However, notice right in the middle of this the interjection, “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” Does that sound familiar to you? It should. It is a mixture of what Jesus said to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:2-3 and to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:18. Smack in the middle of all this judgment coming on the Bride’s enemies, there is a reminder that these messages are for us, the Bride, the church, as well. This is not simply an issue of insiders and outsiders. This is not just an issue of having gone through some entrance requirements, having our name on the role, paying our weekly dues, and now it doesn’t matter how we live. We who make up the Bride are to stand against the enemy as much as God is to judge the enemy. How often do Christians end up turning their back on the Lord because of hardship instead of repenting and giving glory to God. Remember, no matter what, God is the Savior. He is the Lord. He is the deliverer. Even when it looks like He is going to lose, even when we can’t understand why He is behaving as He is, He deserves glory. Whether you are in the church or without, let God’s disciplines accomplish their goal. Do not curse God and die, rather surrender to God and give Him the glory. I promise you, in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 17.

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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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