When I was at school there was one subject I really hated… History
As a young kid I could not see the connection between events that happened 200, 300 or even 2000 years ago and what was happening today…
The older and wiser I have got and the more my mind has been shaped by my faith the more I have come to realize there is connection..
History is not just fact and figures but stories of how those who have gone before us looked at and dealt with the issues of the world…
In Revelation history is given new meaning even more os as in this peek behind the scenes of our reality we saw God writing HIS STORY on top of our history
Revelation is not just about events in 90 AD, or events that will happen in the future
It offers a view of history that is like an arrow that moves towards a target.
That target being the Day of the Lord, SLIDE
The time in human history where Christ returns,
the day when our story and His story meet.
Because of that everything has meaning, while we may not feel as though we can understand what is happening in our own little worlds
– it allows us to see the strings that connect the fabric of this world with eternity.
Through seeing the bigger picture then we can live in confidence that not only is God on his throne, but my life has significance.
In the middle of this book of holy confusion we as the Church can receive confounding hope
If we let it speak to our imaginations it gives the ability to look at any situation from a different point of view, God’s point of View…
This morning we have in our reading been carried up once more in John’s vision to see sights that probably seem very confusing…
And hard to understand
The reality is though if we let these images speak to us – they can and will inspire us.
Revelation points us towards the day of the Lord…
In Amos 5 it says that the Day of the LORD
18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the LORD!
Why do you long for the day of the LORD ?
That day will be darkness, not light.
You have to wonder then if that’s where history is going should we not be running the opposite way?
If it’s going to be that scary then hide us in the hills…
The reality is though for God’s Kingdom to come on Earth as in heaven, then this world will need to be judged…
There is so much in this world that is out of kilter with God’s plan that for the vision of a new heaven and a new earth to be completed then Judgment will need to happen…
So while on one hand the day the Lord returns is an exciting prospect the reality is that on that day – all will be judged, and some will fail…
At the cross that Judgment began – the Bowls and the scroll of God judgment in revelation began to be poured out…
John was well aware of this, he longed for Christ’s return and could see it coming closer daily, the events, persecution trials and tribulations his Church faced were and are signs of the end of the age.
For God’s Kingdom to be established in its fullness – then the kingdom’s of the world need to be judged.
We shouldn’t be surprised then that in these judgments they hit back.
The Gospel is Good News, but it’s also offensive
It’s says you can’t just do what you want – everything has a consequence
It’s says you can’t take what is not yours
It stands in judgment…
Number in revaltion are not literal number but symbols
2 – witness…Disciples sent out 2x2 in the gospels
4 – signifies the whole world – 4 points ot the compass
6 – man;s number- on the 6th day God created man, but it also represents falling short of God’s glory
7 – fullness or completion – the Sabbath –
10 – again completeness
12 God’s work in the world through man – 12 tribes 12 disciples
1260, 42 months or 3 ½ years – persecution or protection during a time of tribulation and oppostion
In verse one John is called to measure the temple of God.
From where is stand that sounds like a very odd request,
The first thing to realize is that these visions are taking on a fresh reality.
John is no longer just staring into heaven describing what he sees, now he is involved…
Last week he ate a scroll
This week he is measuring the temple.
The actions he is undertaking reflect the actions he must undertake in his own reality..
Eating a scroll, symbolizes the message of the gospel that he has lived by a bitter sweet experience..
Telling people of what Jesus has done. Sweet
Ending up in exile for it…bitter
The actions he is taking are symbolic action – Like Isaiah when he walked around naked and bare foot as a symbol to the Egyptians that they were about to be taken captive, Symbolic actions…
The action he is undertaking echoes those of Ezekiel in chapter 40- 42 where he is also called to measure the temple. Not because god wants to know how big it is but to show how it will be preserved.
It’s the same thing here… in the tribulations that are too follow, the temple will not fall over
The question is what does this mean?
How you answer that can greatly influence how you understand the events that are happening before John’s eyes.
Now Revelation was written about 90 Ad, and we know from history that the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed about 70 AD
Seems pretty odd then for John to be prophesying about a temple that is already rubble… If that’s the case he probably needs taking out the back and stoning – because that is what the OT says to do with false prophets.
Another way of looking at it is in terms of a future building of the temple.
There are many that believe that the events that spell the coming of the Lord will be sparked by amongst other things a rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.
But I don’t think that is what John is on about here either,
At the end of the chapter in verse 19 it’s says that God’s temple in heaven was opened… this is the same temple that John is asked to measure in our reading.
It’s not an earthly temple..
But a heavenly temple with earthly connections
The temple is the Christian community – the people of God… SLIDE
Like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that if God’s Spirit lives in you then you are God’s temple.
Through measuring it, it’s saying that what ever God’s people face they will not be overcome, they will be preserved.
Thought physically they have, and will and will continue to face attack – God will preserve them spiritually…
If the Spirit is in them, we are linked with heaven.
What we have here is a similar thought to John’s vision of the 144,000 in chapter 7
They are sealed by God, so they can stand not only on the day of the Lord, but on every day that lead up to it.
– If God’s Spirit is in you then you have been sealed
– If God’s Spirit is in you then you are his temple.
– If you are faithful then you will be measured – preserved
So who will be able to stand in the face of God’s judgment on this world?
– The Church will…
That’s you and me….
Who will be able to stand in the face of opposition?
– The Church will…
That’s you and me again
Look at yourself… you may think that just standing in my work place is hard enough.. How on earth can I stand when all hell breaks loose?
Somehow God will seal in you that little mustard seed of faith and you will make it through.
I guess this is a reminder that we are in Christ because of the grace of God..
Not by anything we have done…
We can stand not because we are superhuman..
But because God props us up…
And this is something we can only do because Christ is working in and through us….
You see this time and time again, I have heard 100’s of testimonies of this reality – that when times are hard God picks us up…
He has sealed his Church
He has gave us his Spirit which makes us his temple
We can overcome….
As we move into verse 4 there are more images
Lamp stands….we have heard that before… chapter 2:1 SLIDE
But these lamp stands spew fire…
These lamp stands have the ability to shut up the heavens like Elijah
To turn water to blood like Moses….
and they will be put to death in a city that is Jerusalem, Sodom and Egypt… places where God’s work was opposed…
So WHO are the witnesses… well I think the identity lies in the lamp stands...
In chapters 2+3 seven churches are identified...
7 churches who light is burning for Jesus...
Only some of them have burnt out.
Some are in danger of being snuffed out and only two remain faithful…
Smyrna and Philadelphia…
They are faithful in spite of their circumstances.
And even though they face death at the hands of the world.
They will continue to remain faithful
And there faithfulness when it is put into God’s hands has an amazing effect
Not only does their faithfulness ensure that God’s Spirit dwells within them
Not only does God’s Spirit preserve them,
Not only does God’s Spirit Seal them
But it also ensure the words they speak in God’s name blaze from their mouths
Their prayers are answered,
The Blind see, the lame walk, the Kingdom of God is present in their actions
They act in God’s name…and they wind up dead on the streets...
Faithfulness does not deliver us from death or persecution – because if the cross shows us anything it is that in defeat, God triumphs.
But if the events of that Easter weekend show us anything, you can’t keep the God man down
And you can’t keep God’s people down
So God breathes life back into them
Because they are faithful…nothing can hold them down – not even death
In the Lion witch and the wardrobe a deeper magic brought Aslan back to life after the ice queen killed him.
In our world a deeper magic will revive the Church that is ultimately faithful to God’s message...
Revelation is ultimately a letter from a pastor to a church… SLIDE
He has heard stories of who they are in trouble.
How Ceasar has tried to kill them off.
How the Jew have driven them out of Jerusalem in an attempt to preserve themselves from persecution
He has heard how times are tough and it seem like all hope is gone…
There story seems to be drawing to a close.. they appear defeated
But this same Pastor is given a glimpse of a new reality God’s reality
In seeing the world through God’s throne room, he is encouraged to stand fast – to remain faithful, to carry on.
For us it’s the same, there are many days when the things we face may make us feel like giving up.
When the pressure is on it may look like we have lost- that we are defeated
But as we glimpse into heaven, we can see that God is still on his throne.
And so we can stand fast also.
In a moment we will gather round the table and in doing so we peak behind the curtain into a small upper room where Jesus gathered with his friends for one last time before heading to the cross.
It reminds us that in the cross judgment has begun.
That sin is being overcome
But also communion helps us peak into the future it gives us a foretaste of the reality to come,
when Christ shall reign,
Wars will end,
Famines will no longer exist
And God’s Kingdom will have come...
My prayer for you is that as we gather this new reality will begin to break in and that what ever you face in the week ahead you will be the grace of God be able to stand…firm
The Christian hope is that some day soon...
The kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah and he will reign forever and ever...
Maranatha..- come Lord Jesus
Currently as a church we are focusing more on those we support in Mission. For me these people are a great image of faithfulness, not only in there dependence on God, but in how they try to remain true in all circumstances.
Bronwyn is going to tell us some of the story of one family