This is the resolution of all time and history. Heaven and earth are going to be joined together. We should long for that day. If your life is hard, be encouraged. If it’s too comfortable, be challenged.
A glorious city
The glory will never diminish. Every great city has its glory. The building or the walls or the streets aren’t the glory. There’s no temple and no sun or moon. The glory of the city is God himself. He will be the centre of everything. Everyone will be consumed by the glory and majesty of God.
An intimate bride
We often only think about it from the bride’s point of view, instead of God’s. Jesus has been waiting since the fall of man. God is longing to dwell with his people. God will establish a household with his bride. One day Jesus will wipe your tears from your eyes. This hope gives you strength to endure.
A restorative land
He is making everything new. When heaven and earth are joined together everything will be restored. Sea stands for chaos and is the place where corruption is grown. All sin is done away with. Our hearts will be transformed. Give up the lie that you can build a secure life for yourself in your own strength. Look to this future city. Jesus is the spring of the water of life.
There is still a problem on earth that needs to be dealt with. The solution is the way that we overcome – by taking up an invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
We need to break up
If we’re going to join the party in heaven, we need to break up with Babylon. In Revelation 17 we meet the great prostitute. Babylon represents human society without God. This happens in all nations on earth and in every heart. Babylon is where God’s will is opposed. All human sin is like adultery. It doesn’t just break the law but it breaks God’s heart. At its root sin is loving anything more than God. It’s possible to look to Jesus but not truly love him. God is king but he’s also our groom.
We need to make up
The way that you break up with Babylon is by making up with the Lamb. The clothes are in contrast to what Babylon was wearing. She was holding a golden cup filled with blood. Take off the clothes she gives us and put on the clothes Jesus gives us. When we do that, we become righteous.
We need to take up
If us as a church is the bride, the members are invited. To be blessed means to receive God’s favour. Before this wedding, there’s complete and utter destruction as Babylon is destroyed. When Babylon falls there’s nothing but eerie silence. The invitation is open. It’s his words. The thing that will really change your heart is worship. Give God your worship. He’ll become the one you love supremely.
The measuring exercise shows God is building on earth somewhere where his presence will live. It’ll be surrounded by opponents. Revelation often uses two different descriptions for the same reality. God is sending witnesses into the world to prophesy. They have power like Moses and Elijah. The story ends with worship of God happening even from those who hated him. All churches at all times are the witnesses. You’re part of the temple God is building on earth.
1,260 days: our mission is short
3.5 years is half of 7. This period of time isn’t a full era. We live in a small window of time. It should give us a sense of urgency. We don’t know how long others have.
Two olive trees: our message is mighty
You are sent to witness with a constant supply of the Holy Spirit. We have a mighty testimony that can’t be opposed. The two olive trees make our witness bold. You’re not called to have all the answers.
3.5 days: our weakness is God’s victory
The reality is that their testimony will get them killed. Part of being a witness is that it will seem like a failure. The one that we testify to seemed to die a failure. God turns weakness into victory. Jesus’ death was a victory. God’s witnesses get to take part in that victory.
If you could see the picture of where everything is headed it’ll give you the assurance that you need to face the struggles and speak for Jesus.
Earth is not home
When heaven looks at earth it sees a planet on the brink. It sees us in a momentary window before God wraps everything up. Why is he delaying? This is the time where he is sealing. Numbers convey a meaning. 12 stands for completeness. 12x12x1000 is the largest complete number. God knows who belongs to him. No matter how bad things look, God is at work and he’s saving and he’s sealing.
Earth is where you are
Being sealed isn’t the same as being removed. In the midst of the great tribulation you probably won’t feel sealed. You are going to experience it but if you’re sealed you’re safe.
Heaven is yours
John has heard the number but now he gets to see the reality. A multitude that you can’t get your head around. Every tribe, every nation. Those who are sealed are found standing in pure white robes and singing praises. Although you don’t feel pure, you’re already sealed. One day you will see it.
We respond to tragedies with songs. Heaven is a realm that’s parallel to this one. God is worshipped completely. Every church is being asked to overcome, to be victorious. It’s being asked of our church. How are we going to do it? Look through the door. Through that door is a throne. The one thing John wants to gaze upon he can’t. It’s too bright, too glorious. The Holy Spirit is in front of the throne. The scene is also calm.
If you met one of these four creatures or 24 elders you’d be tempted to worship them. The focus isn’t on them. All the focus is on the one who is seated on the throne. He has complete sovereignty over all of time and history. He holds in his hands the scroll. God’s plan for the rest of history just happens. If God is that powerful, why isn’t he doing something about our suffering? John feels that tension like we do. He weeps.
The one who is seated on the throne shares it with Jesus. John is told that a powerful lion has triumphed. He sees a Lamb. The way the lion triumphed was not through strength but weakness. All throughout the OT new songs show up. This new song is about God’s redemption. It shows us that it’s not enough to sing just any song. These lyrics were written in heaven. When Jesus died on the cross he defeated death. When you sing his song, you become a priest. You’re becoming as glorious and as holy as he is. When you worship him he places you into his kingdom.
The four creatures give God all of their time. The elders give God everything. Jesus becomes the priority. Worship him with everything.
Sometimes John is looking through the door into heaven, sometimes looking at earth from heaven’s perspective. How is it that events on earth can have any effect on what’s going on in heaven?
The God ‘who is’ in heaven
The seven letters say good things and say something to put right. For the church that has a reputation for being alive, does it matter what Jesus thinks of it? For a church that has good Bible teaching, does it matter what Jesus thinks of it? We’re only going to respond if we care about what Jesus thinks. When you see God as he is, you will see that what God thinks is the be all and end all. He was, he is, he is to come. This letter is from the be all and end all. It matters what he thinks of us.
The God ‘who was’ in history
God has freed us and loved us that he sent us a Lamb. We get the privilege of drawing close to God in worship. We have unique access to God like never before. These verses take us back into the tabernacle. If we are priests, when we serve and worship God we are copying the heavenly reality here on earth.
The God ‘who is to come’
Is this a wake up call? When he comes, everything you’ve given your life to will be a waste of time unless you’ve trusted in him. Recognise him as the be all and end all. We get to worship him as we rely on Jesus’ death. Bring heaven to earth. Sing to him.
God shows John this unseen spiritual reality. There would be tension without these two chapters. If you grasp the truths of this book you can have the endurance for tension you face.
We see a city, a bride and a lamb. There are so many images and truths in these chapters. The broken world that we live in is gone. This new world is described as a city.
The city that we want
Most people haven’t read these two chapters but still feel the same tensions in this world. There’s no more war in this city. Even our work is a result of feeling this tension and trying to resolve it. The world we all say that we want is real. In your heart you are longing for that city. There’s a tension to be known and to be loved.
The city we get
It’s a place where people dwell. A city can be a place of glory. It can also be a place of evil. Why is there a city? Density marks out a city. People live in close proximity. The city can be a necessary evil. We can fear being found out of who we really are. We will all be fully known and fully loved by other people and by God. People don’t run and hide. It’s a place where God dwells. The heavenly city is glorious. The place where God’s presence dwells is a cube. By the virtue of God’s presence all tensions are resolved. All that’s left is perfect love.
It’s a place of pure, brilliant light. Jesus is the great light who entered our world. We deserve to remain in darkness. We’re loved anyway. That’s why Jesus entered into the darkness. When you accept Jesus, this future city is breaking into your life.
How to enter the city
Ask Jesus into your life. It’s that simple. Once you take it in it nourishes you and gives you life.
This text is pure encouragement. The original readers needed something to put their hope in. If you grasp the truths of this book, you can face any tension and have the hope you need to endure it.
We live in an age where God’s wrath is unpopular. The quote from Taken shows there’s something about mighty, powerful wrath that is just, that we crave. We want to see justice in our world. We have to see the bad guy taken care of. We want to see the triumph of good over evil.
God is in control
The trumpets showed the world is at war with God. The bowls show the same events from a different angle. Evil is at work. When we look back behind the curtain, we see that what happens affects our world now. God is in charge but he’s pouring out wrath by handing people over to their own desires. The terrible things that we see in the world are signs that God is pouring out his wrath. The world doesn’t belong to Satan. The world isn’t spiralling out of control.
God is just
The bowls are a reason to praise God. Heaven rings out with endorsements. God’s wrath is showing his justice on behalf of people who have suffered in a world that is at war with God. The bowls give us confidence to endure. We have a comfort that God is just.
God is speaking, so listen
There are people who are under God’s wrath but instead of dealing with it, they don’t listen, they refuse to repent, and they curse God. The plagues are similar to the ones in Exodus. There are two chances given to people to repent. God uses a megaphone to call people to repent (CS Lewis). Jesus says to watch out that we don’t get deaf to the megaphone. Don’t assume that you don’t need to keep repenting when you see God’s wrath. Be wise in how you live. Be alert, be awake.
God is saving, so trust in him
When Jesus returns wrath will be revealed to the greatest extent. Anyone of us can avoid God’s wrath by trusting that Jesus is our substitute Lamb. He felt the full force of the wrath of God. When Christ returns, we can savour the words ‘it is done’.
The seven signs tell us briefly about the period of time we’re in now.
Past – Satan conquered and frustrated (12:1-17). He is at work on earth.
Signs 2 & 3 – Satan’s two beasts (13:1-10 & 11-18). The goal is to turn believers away from worshipping Jesus so they worship something else. The faithful 144,000 and heralds of the gospel and of judgement.
The final two signs are the final judgement (14:14-20) and the victorious faithful around the throne and the plagues of God’s wrath (15:1-8).
Christians need to know that this is what’s going on behind the scenes. Let’s not read these signs as fantasy. There are people in our church who have experienced persecution or disowned by their families for worshipping God. When the options are to give in or suffer, the call for Christians is to endure.
The lies that the beast tells are being worked out here. You’re being offered a lie. Lies to get us to worship comfort or happiness. When we draw the curtain back, we see each time you join in with the office gossip, the beast is behind you. You’re listening to the whispers of the second beast. The little sins are the victory of the beast. We are exposed to deceptions. We need to be wise to stop them.
Do you belong to the beast or to the Lamb? Do you love Jesus or follow yourself? We need to see the wider picture. We aren’t stuck between two beasts. There is a Lamb stood on a mountain. The Lamb has won and the Lamb will win. Satan’s accusations carry no weight anymore.
Scene 1: Six trumpets
A trumpet blows and something charges. People in this world are at war with God. They are losing. The world is broken and destroyed. God’s angels blow their trumpets and they prove we are lost in a world where people have made God an enemy. The trouble in the world is a warning. At the sound of one of the trumpets, evil spiritual forces are released onto the earth. It’s not just that people make bad choices, there actually is evil at work in the world. All of us need to get used to living in a world where people do evil things. We all reject God and buy into the lies of the evil forces at work in the world.
Scene 2: An angel
God isn’t a dictator. John sees a mighty angel (10:1) and has a loud voice everyone can hear. Rainbows in the Bible accompany God promising to save. God isn’t just in the business of fighting. If we are at war with God, what hope is there? In Jesus, the mystery is revealed. Our role is to eat God’s words. We do have access to special words. We need to communicate those words. There is evil but there is also world-changing hope. There is always something useful to do.
Scene 3: Two people
Two witnesses use powerful words and they’re killed. People celebrate but God brings them back to life. Churches may disappear but the community that has eaten God’s words always springs back to life. The whole point of the Christian faith is that resurrections follow deaths.
Scene 4: The seventh trumpet
God’s role will come here. His kingdom will come. The invasion continues and one day the kingdom of this world will become God’s. Can he be trusted? Do you trust the person in the room? John sees the person in the room. This peek into the other world is there to welcome you, to eat his words, before the seventh trumpet blows.