I don't know about you, but I am often troubled by watching the news. When I scroll through social media and read the headlines, I sometimes feel downright queasy. Whether I read about disturbing political events in our nation and around the world, or shocking stories from within the church, I am left overwhelmed. It often feels like the earth is shifting under my feet. Everything seems uncertain, topsy-turvey, and inside-out.
It's hard not to feel confused. Angry. Frightened. Unsafe. In days like these it's important to look away from what's happening around us and beyond to see the bigger picture.
In John's day, Christian's faced persecution from the Roman Empire. The church seemed small and weak in comparison. And the persecution would only get worse. He wrote the book of Revelation to show them the world as it really is and to give them the big picture of our conquering King and the glory to come.
"After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind...and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4).
When all we see is sin and darkness all around us, we need a fresh reminder of the holiness of God. We need to remember the One who sits enthroned above all other rule and authority, who rules and reigns over the universe. This One determines the course of history and turns the hearts of kings like water. Our thrice holy God has always been and will always be.
For the early church, and for us as well, we need to remember our King, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Lamb who was slain:
"And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth... And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb...And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5)
When it seems like evil is winning and the church is fractured and everything is upside down, we need a reminder like John gave those early Christians. We need to remember our Savior rules from on high, that he conquered sin and death, and that he will come to judge the earth and make all things new.
The book of Revelation is important to turn to in days like these. It remind us of what's really going on and gives us hope that all is not lost. Evil has not won. The church, though weak and small at times, will never be destroyed. Because there is One who is worthy: Jesus Christ. He is the Messiah who came to fulfill all God's purposes and plans. He is both a mighty lion and a sacrificial lamb. He won the battle and reigns in triumph. And he is moving redemptive history forward to its culmination when all things will be made right, when sin and sorrow are no more.
It's no wonder all of heaven bursts into song:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
So when the latest news gives you pause or even makes you want to run for the hills, open the Word and remember our thrice holy God who sits upon the throne of the universe. Let your heart rejoice and sing, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”