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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Worship

Today’s reading is Revelation 4.

I find it interesting and a little bit challenging, when I search my photo stock using the word “worship,” especially connected with images of “Christian worship,” I am inundated with pictures of people standing up, eyes closed, faces to heaven, arms upstretched. However, when I look through the Bible at pictures of worship, what I find (Old and New Testaments) is people falling down, laying on the ground, bowing, casting off crowns. Don’t get me wrong, I know men are to lift holy hands in prayer. I know through Jesus Christ we are forgiven and undefiled, therefore we have confident access to God’s presence, and we don’t have to come into it with self-flagellation, scraping on the floor, and begging for entrance. Therefore, I don’t want to establish some bodily posture rule about worship. Nor do I want to paint with such a broad brush as to say every prostrate worshiper has the right mindset and every upright worshiper does not. But I wonder if this stark contrast in the majority of “pictures” between modern Google and ancient Bible demonstrates some kind of shift in our view of worship. Obviously, each of us must examine our own heart regarding what we are doing in worship. Here is what I do know. No matter how we are sitting, standing, laying prostrate, raising hands, worship is the casting down of our own selves and our own worthiness before the Lord who is the only worthy One. Whether our bodies lie prostrate or not, worship is the prostration of our hearts and minds before a holy God who was and is and is to come, who is worthy to receive glory and honor and power because He is creator and we are creation. And whether we are actively involved in a worship action or not, this must be the state of our heart before God at all times. He is worthy. Praise God!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 5

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The Bride

Today’s reading is Revelation 2.

As confusing as Revelation can be, I have found it simplifying to see it as a story. It is actually a very common story. It is the story of the Hero saves the Girl. I know it is out of vogue to have a damsel in distress saved by a knight in shining armor, but that is exactly what this story is. And, in fact, I would it is one of the reasons we shouldn’t be so quick to abandon that story. In this and in our next reading, we meet the girl–or rather, in Revelation, the Bride. We already know from Ephesians 5 that all brides are to represent Christ’s church. In Revelation, we see that played out literally. The Bride is the church. That will become completely clear in Revelation 21:9. However, please note, while the damsel is in distress, she is not exactly presented as utterly helpless and just waiting around for the Hero to save her. She is embattled, but as the Hero is fighting to save her, she must fight to be true to the Hero. She must fight against enemies that would destroy her. She must especially fight against Jezebel, the Harlot, the seducing woman who would encourage the bride to fall from her virtue, purity, and devotion to the hero. Will the Bride stay true to her first love? Will she be faithful even if it means her own death? Will she only eat at her coming Groom’s banquet table, or will she eat at the table of false idols? Keep reading. And as you do, remember that we Christians make up that Bride. These are really questions for us today. 

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 3.

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The Monster

Today’s reading is Revelation 12.

You’ve seen the movie or heard the stories. The Hero wants to marry the would-be bride, but first he must rescue her from the monster. That is our story now. We’ve met the Hero. We’ve met the Bride. Now meet the Monster. The dragon, the serpent of old, the devil himself. The dragon would have the Bride sacrificed on his altar, a meal for his supper. The Monster has lost one battle already, being cast from heaven. But he stands on the shore of the sea and wages war on the Bride. Will the Monster win? Will the Hero arrive in time to save the day? In this chapter we are left merely at the point of battle. If it were a movie on TV, it is time for a commercial break. What will happen next? Of course, you already know my answer. And if you’ve read ahead you can see. But appreciate for now the terror of facing the dragon, the Monster that wages war. Yes, victory is coming, but don’t be deterred by the battle; it is exactly what God said would come. Hang on, though, because Jesus always wins!

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 13.

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Worth It All

Today’s reading is Matthew 13.

The kingdom of heaven is a grand treasure. It is worth more than anything we have. I promise you between the choice of Christ’s kingdom and anything else you are tempted to hang on to, Christ’s kingdom really is better. We won’t truly realize that until the end, but it is true. There will come a day when if we choose to hang on to something that keeps us separate from the kingdom of Christ, we will regret it. Whether it is a relationship, treasure, social position, safety, family, friends, fame, fortune, a poor attitude, a desire for vengeance, a grudge, whatever we decide we won’t sell in order to have the kingdom, in the end, will be empty compared to the kingdom. Don’t be deceived. Christ’s kingdom really is worth it all. Why not give it all up in order to have His kingdom today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 14.

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