I’m not sure I have met anyone who enjoys waking up to the sound of an alarm clock. If you are old enough to have had one of the “old school” bell ringing alarm clocks, you will recall that they have only one volume, and that is LOUD. Today most of us have digital alarm clocks on our bedside tables and alarms set on our digital devices to wake us up or remind us of an important task. No matter what you use the alarm for, it is a wakeup call, a reminder of something important.
The book of Revelation is much like an alarm clock, it is a “loud and dramatic” wakeup call, a reminder of the reality of how great and powerful our God is. It is a wakeup call to the church to hear, understand and respond to the truth and message of the gospel. God’s message through John to the seven churches is quite clear as you read through the first three chapters of Revelation. “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die… But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” John is revealing the words of Christ to us, the church, proclaiming a future judgement over all the earth. There is a profound sense of hopelessness and despair when we read John’s revelation the churches.
Where can we find hope in such a fallen world? Through Christ. In Christ. He who stands before us calling each and every one of us to him. There is a promise of victory in the future for those who open their hearts and lives to him. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (3:20) “Consider how far you have fallen, repent and do the things you did at first.” (2:5) The church, the believers then and now exist in a world filled with sin, hurt, pain and suffering. Christ is calling us back to a restored relationship with him. He made the ultimate sacrifice and provided a way for all of us to overcome sin and judgement when he returns. The book of Revelation brings us a picture of future blessings, given by a God who is just in all his ways, who is true to his word and a God who is the final judge in life and death. The alarm is ringing, wake-up, open the door and let God be by your side.
I am not much of a car guy when it comes to mechanics but I do appreciate seeing a classic car restored to its original condition. I know a few guys who have poured countless hours into the restoration of a car. Often they will have a picture of the original car hanging nearby for inspiration as they painstakingly remove and repair the rust and dents of the “old beater”. Restoring a car is not for everyone, you must have a ton of patience, an eye for detail, and a passion for cars if you want the job done right. Each dent, scratch, and driven mile has a story to tell, a story that has a beginning from factory floor to its newly restored beauty.
From beginning to end, the world we live in has a rich history and makes for an incredible story. It tells a tale that has yet to be completed and according to scripture has a hope and promise of a beautiful restoration. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse into what John calls a new heaven and a new earth, he describes the Holy City, the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. Before the fall of man, prior to sin entering this world, God was pleased with his creation, it was “very good”. I don’t have to describe what has happened since that time, but if you haven’t noticed things are a far cry from very good anymore. This new heaven and earth is described like this: “There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain… It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal…The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone… The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.” WOW, can you imagine it?
John continues to write about the beauty of this anticipated restoration for those who believe and live in obedience to God’s will. Until then, we are called to be good stewards and care takers of this earth. God’s charge to Adam in the beginning was to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” That charge follows through to us today; we have been given a great responsibility until the time comes when Jesus comes back to begin his great restoration project.
There are so many things in life that we wait for. Kids and parents alike often can’t wait for Christmas to come; kids more than parents can’t wait for their next birthday. We wait expectantly for a child to be born and we often wait with mixed emotions about our mortality. Many wait in anticipation for their wedding day and some wait patiently for “the one” to come into their life. We wait in line at banks, grocery stores, doctors’ offices and for our turn to get on a plane for that well-deserved holiday. What is it in life that you wait for?
When you take the time to think about the incredibly powerful visions and imagery found in the book of Revelation that John records for us, you can’t help wonder or be curious about what God has planned for us. There is one particular passage in John’s writing that has stuck with me this past week, one that made me curious, excited and wanting while waiting. Found in Revelation 22:1-5, subtitled “Eden Restored” we get an glimpse into heaven. John describes what the angel showed him, “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb… on each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Can you imagine the beauty these words portray? Do you believe that one day this will be a reality? I do. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
There is something else, something even greater than the crystal-clear rivers, trees and bountiful harvest of fruit that I find in this passage. Verse 4 of chapter 22 talks about you and I, it says, “They will see his face.” (read that quote again) To see His face means we will one day walk with God, our creator, just as Adam and Eve did. This incredible promise is a picture of restoration, a renewal of the intimate relationship our Heavenly Father intended to have with us. With his own breath, He created us so we could walk with Him and talk with Him, to be one with Him. If you are not on the edge of your seat in anticipation of this incredible promise, WAKE UP. God wants you to know that this is His greatest desire, a desire that I have put all my hope and trust in today. Through His Son, through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will one day meet him face to face. So, will you wait with me? We have so much to look forward to.
What do you see when you look at this image? Some people will look and see five random black geometric shapes, others will look at the white spaces in-between the black and see four letters that spell the word LIFT (If you can’t see the letters, squint your eyes at the screen, it might help). Our complex minds are wired to interpret what our eyes see. Our unique perspectives, our experiences and environments can influence our “view” on many things.
The book of Revelations is much like the image above; we can look at the text and read one thing today and then something different the next day. Recently, after spending some time reflecting on the opening words in the seven letters to the seven churches, I “discovered” some new insights into how God reveals himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. The words of the letters by way of introduction identify Christ as the “first and the last”, “holy and true”, “the faithful and true witness”, the one “who died and came to life again”, “the Son of God whose eyes are like burning fire” and “the one who will rule over all”. I have not discovered anything new here, these things are written many times before in the other books of the bible. What I saw today through these words was the incredible connection between the Father and the Son. I was reminded about the incredible power and authority given to Jesus by His father to rule over all of creation.
Earlier in his Gospel letter, John writes the following words to portray the relationship between the Father and Son, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2) Christ, (the Word) from the beginning, was with His Father. The book of Revelation is a “revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show his servants what must soon take place” (Rev 1:1) Through the detailed imagery of Revelation I find a message of hope, hope for the complete ruin of evil & sin (taken on by Jesus Christ) and the promise of everlasting life for all God’s people. The opening words of Revelation encourage us to “read aloud the words of this prophecy”. Take some time to read through this incredible message, listen to the words that God has given to us through His Son Jesus Christ, be blessed as you take to heart what is written in it. (Rev 1:3)