Saturday, May 14
Reader: “We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty,”
Response: “the one who is and who always was.”
Scripture: Daniel 7:27-28 and Revelation 11:16-19
Then the sovereignty, power, and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will last forever, and all rulers will serve and obey him.”
That was the end of the vision. I, Daniel, was terrified by my thoughts and my face was pale with fear, but I kept these things to myself.
The twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones before God fell with their faces to the ground and worshiped him. And they said,
We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty,
the one who is and who always was,
for now you have assumed your great power
and have begun to reign.
The nations were filled with wrath,
but now the time of your wrath has come.
It is time to judge the dead
and reward your servants the prophets,
as well as your holy people,
and all who fear your name,
from the least to the greatest.
It is time to destroy
all who have caused destruction on the earth.”
Then, in heaven, the Temple of God was opened and the Ark of his covenant could be seen inside the Temple. Lightning flashed, thunder crashed and roared, and there was an earthquake and a terrible hailstorm.
We continue in both Daniel and Revelation today from yesterday’s pericope. Daniel’s prophecy was some 700 years prior to John’s revelation yet Daniel describes what John is seeing and their message is the same. Let’s look a little deeper into the Revelation passage. In keeping with apocalyptic literature understanding, the twenty-four elders are thought by some commentators to represent the people of God. Other commentators have connected them with the twenty-four divisions of the Levitical priesthood, still others have connected them with the twelve tribes of the Old Covenant and the twelve apostles of the New Covenant, and still others have espoused them to be some angelic order representing all people! If the twenty-four elders are not the people of God, they certainly represent all the children of God. The bottom line is they fall on their faces in worshiping God. What I want us to see is what they sang.
We are familiar with the phrase concerning God as the one “who was, and is, and is to come.” Did you notice one of these tripart phrases is missing? There is no “is to come!” Though the substance of this song is yet to occur, it is so certain that it is celebrated as having already taken place. In this scene John is describing eternity which has begun and God has begun to reign. The “is to come” came and is underway!
In Psalm 2 we read where the nations rage against the Lord and the Messiah battling to break free from God. Now, God’s wrath and judgment finally come against the rebellious nations bringing their destruction and the prophecy of Psalm 2 is fulfilled. The dead are judged and destroyed and the prophets and the faithful are rewarded. Chapters twenty and twenty-one of Revelation expand the understanding of these verses.
The last two sentences of our passage today close the first half of the book of Revelation as the Temple of God and the Ark of the Covenant are symbols of God’s presence. For in the First Testament those two places were where his presence dwelt among the people. When God gave Moses the plans for building the Ark and the Tabernacle and when he gave King David the plans for Solomon to build the Temple, both men were told these were a copy of what was in heaven. The Ark is a reminder of God’s intimate fellowship with his people, the way opened by the sacrifice of his Son on the cross. The heavenly pyrotechnics described are evidence that the end of the world and God’s judgment have come.
How might we think about all of this? Rest assured, all the atrocities of war, true injustice, and evil will be dealt with in full by the wrath of God. Think of God’s wrath as his passionate love of good and hatred of sin. God poured out his wrath on his Son as he bore the sin of the world, not because he hated his Son, but because he hated sin and evil. We can be grateful that God is not indifferent to sin. The cross proves that. His wrath grows out of his love as strange as that may seem. Our God is to be feared and not taken lightly, as the passage of Scripture today underscores.
Music: “Is Not His Word Like A Fire” from “Elijah” Will Liverman (Terrific!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOrTsfn_YsA Jer 23:29; Psalm 7:11-12
Father in heaven, thank you for the assurance this passage gives knowing that evil does not get away with it. Satan and his evil work will be dealt with in full. Thank you also for your great love in your Son Jesus, that you would pour out your wrath on the sin he bore in my place and the sins he bore for the whole world. Knowing the anguish it caused both you and him is way beyond our understanding or ability to comprehend. But thank you. I pray, Lord, that the atrocities going on in our world would stop. May those who do such evil repent and willingly bow before you now for eventually they will do so. Lord have mercy on our world. We are an arrogant and willful people. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. Amen.