“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me.”
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the Temple.”
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those that are with us are more than those that are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes that he might see.”
2 Kings 6:15-17a
As Christians we are called to live by faith and not by sight. As human beings, living in this world we often find ourselves giving into the temptation to live as our world does, by sight rather than by faith. It is here that the Book of Revelation is so helpful to us. It causes us to focus upon the way that this mysterious book opens up our understanding of the way in which the Gospel is being proclaimed in our world. Darrell Johnson in his book Discipleship on the Edge gives us an insight into this when he writes; “apocalyptic literature seeks to open that up more. And to do so in such a way that we then see, hear, feel and react to our present circumstances differently. Paul Spilsbury puts it in even bolder terms: (In The Throne, The Lamb, The Dragon (Intervarsity Press, 2002 p. 33)) “Revelation wants to take its world to be even more real than the one we commonly refer to as ‘the real world.’ In fact, Revelation is out to undermine our confidence in the evidence of our own eyes.” “(Johnson p. 35)
What Johnson is reminding us of here is that things in our world are never as they seem. God is at work in His own mysterious way accomplishing His purposes which He has told us about in advance so that we will glorify Him when they happen. What is needed is a consistent and prayerful mediation upon the Word of God so that we will be able to really see and understand what is happening around us.
In the book of Revelation John has been exiled to Patmos on account of his faith, the Church is facing a crisis under the violent persecution begun under the Roman Emperor Domitian. Things do not look very good, and, to be sure, many believers were reacting with fear and panic. It is in this crisis that the Apostle John receives the visions of Revelation which he is to write down and to send to the Churches. That this comes from God and is in fact His Word is testified to that it provided great comfort to those distressed believers then, and that it has been comforting persecuted believers ever since.
I just want to focus on one point for today. This is that this vision comes to a Christian Apostle who is worshipping, seeking that wisdom which comes from above. What John is given is a compelling vision of just who the Lord Jesus Christ is. He is the Lord God become Incarnate, now walking in the middle of His Churches. He is present with us in all of the crisis situations we are currently facing. The believer’s response to the trial of today is to go to God in worship asking for a renewed vision of the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. We do this because, to quote Johnson again. “Things are not as they seem.” (Johnson p. 19)