If you read the passage above silently, go back and read it again out loud, blessing yourself and anyone else in hearing distance (Yes, I am going to mention that every week! – Revelation 1:3).
Reaching this part of Revelation feels to me like Sam and Frodo finally reaching the entrance to Mount Doom in “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”. It has been a dark road, full of unanswered questions, pain, horrors, and much suffering. But finally they have arrived. And yet, even at this tail end of the story things are not going to happen quite as the reader imagines they will.
The last few chapters of Revelation have been hard. John has looked at all that is wrong with the world and suggested that God is allowing it to all be fully exposed, to do its worst, before he eternally puts it right. We’ve been encouraged that we will make it through this darkness, but probably not without the cost of our lives. And most recently John has wrestled with what exactly has the power to change the hearts at the source of this wickedness and suffering that exists, and so far found no answers.
But we are here, we have arrived at the moment where God’s rescue begins. His scroll from chapter five that represents God’s plan to faithfully rescue the world is now laying open, there is nothing more to stand in the way of it being put into action. The angel who is holding the scroll himself declares, “There will be no more delay!”
There is a moment towards the end of the film “Unbroken” where the POWs are being led down to the water’s edge. Everything about the moment suggest that they will be put to death as everyone is aware of the Allied Forces closing in on the Japanese camp. But then, some planes fly over and drop supplies to the POWs and the soldiers themselves acknowledge and realise that it is finally over. Although there is not an Allied soldier in sight, the prisoners dance and shout for joy at their rescue.
We too should dance, shout, and celebrate at the rescue Revelation has finally reached and is promising us to come!
There is more here to learn than just that however, let’s dig in.
It all opens with an angel practically screaming from the pages that he carries with him the message of the Messiah, the One anointed to judge and redeem the world. He’s clothed in a robe of cloud which reminds us of the cloud that covered the tent of meeting as Jesus met with Moses in Exodus 33. There is a rainbow above his head just like over Jesus’ throne back in Revelation 4. His face was like the sun like Jesus’ in Matthew 17 and Revelation 1. His feet were like pillars of fire reminding us of the way Jesus led the Israelites in the desert. He even roars like a lion reminding us that Jesus is the Lion of Judah and the Lamb that was slain from Revelation 5. He stands on land and sea, showing the sovereignty of God over all creation. If it wasn’t for the oath he swears to God, I’d be saying this was Jesus himself!
This angel carrying the authority of Jesus declares that the wait is over and the rescue has begun! The mystery of God’s rescue proclaimed for generations through prophet after prophet is finally being revealed. It won’t be finished until the seventh trumpet is blown in chapter 11, but we are about to have our eyes opened to the way in which God is going to rescue his world.
So what is the very first thing that happens after God declares that the world can now be put right?
He gives his scroll to John to eat.
I love how Revelation never does what I would expect, and that the reality of what it does do is far beyond my wildest imaginations!
God’s rescue plan, his Gospel, is given to John to consume and share. It is sweet to the taste – highlighting the sheer privilege and honour it is to be the bearer of God’s good news! We are not bystanders in this rescue plan, but have a role to play right at the heart of it. John gets tasked to proclaim this message to peoples, nations, languages and kings. However, before he can proclaim it, he must embody it. As he digests the word, as it becomes a part of him, he realises that with this message comes an incredible burden. Not just a burden about needing to share, but a burden because of what this message means for the people he must share it with.
We have to wait for chapter 11 to discover this burden, but for now John leaves us celebrating the privilege!
Who was the last person you told of what Jesus did for them? Maybe this week you could ask God for an opportunity to live out this great honour and privilege, to help you not delay, to participate in his rescue and truly “become the righteousness of God” to those still living enslaved to sin and share that through Jesus’ death and resurrection God’s rescue, of them, has already been set in motion.
This is a continuation of our series on Revelation at Birchfield Church. So if you want to listen to my talks (and others as we go along), please feel free to visit our website here and do that. Also, Tom Wright’s book, “Revelation for Everyone”, has been a big help in understanding this book; so go and buy it now and then read it.
Grace and peace to you all.