“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…” – Revelation 1:9
Yesterday we watched a growing parade of worshippers: first the four living creatures, then the twenty-four elders, then the voice of many angels – numbering myriad of myriads and thousands of thousands. Today, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, appear. Their voices complement the din: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to God forever and ever! Amen.”
We also saw a scroll, with seven seals – six of which were opened. The four horsemen, the altar with the souls of the slain, the day of wrath. Today the seventh seal is opened, and “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” Then an angel steps toward the altar, offering incense “with the prayers of the saints.” Suddenly he takes fire from the altar and throws it on the earth… six angels blow their trumpets in succession, trailed by hail and fire, a great mountain thrown into the sea, a star falling from heaven, the opening of the bottomless pit, locusts, the four angels who are bound in the great river Euphrates… Everything and everyone cut down by one-third…
And finally, when still “the rest of mankind, who were not killed by the plagues,” refused to “give up the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood…” nor “of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts,” the angel “swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as He announced to his servants the prophets… The kingdom of the world” would become “the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever…”
This reading is intense. Pay attention to your emotions before, after, and in the midst of it. As when we read the prophets, we acknowledge that there is a purpose not only to the message but also – perhaps significantly – to the mode of delivery. What is John – is Jesus – trying to stir in the original readers? What is it stirring in you?
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 15:11: For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Revelation 7 through 11. Now let’s read it!
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’