A Great Rescue
The book of Revelation is described as a bit like a Russian nesting doll. You take it apart, only to find a smaller one inside. You open that, and there is still another doll inside – and so on. As we have worked our way through the second of the seven cycles of visions in Revelation (chapters 4-7), we have seen Christ open six seals on the scroll, telling what he has in store for us. His opening of the seals indicates that he reigns supremely. Then, when Christ opens the seventh seal (chapter 8), we find seven trumpets. With the blowing of the seven trumpets comes the outpouring of the seven bowls of wrath. The book of Revelation is constantly unfolding itself.
But chapter 7 offers a welcome interlude or parenthesis between the opening of the first six seals and the seventh seal. This is an appreciated pause because it answers a very pertinent question that is raised at the end of chapter 6: ‘The great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’ (v17). Certainly not the impenitent unbelievers of the world: ‘the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment’ (Psa. 1:5). But what about the people of God? What will happen to those who belong to Jesus Christ as God’s wrath is poured out on our world?
Revelation 7 provides the answer to the security of the church. Chapter 7 is divided into two larger sections showing that our God redeems abundantly. In the opening eight verses John describes the church militant, in the midst of tribulation, in the thick of things that John has seen coming upon this world. But then John sees the church triumphant, the church that has come out of tribulation and out of harm’s way.
In the final verses of chapter 7, John describes the God who loves lavishly. Immediately before the opening of the seventh seal John is given one of the most awe-inspiring and inviting pictures of life in heaven for the people of God (7:15-17). Upon reading these words, it is no wonder, then, that we are told that ‘When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour’ (8:1).
Over the next two weeks we consider Revelation 7. This Sunday we will reflect on the church’s mission in the midst of this world through tribulation. The next Lord’s Day we will look at the whole of the chapter as we focus on those who will stand. We will answer questions such as: Who are the 144,000? Who are the ‘great multitude that no one could number’? What is ‘the seal of the living God’?
This Sunday we are delighted to hear from Richy concerning his recent mission trip to the state of Washington working with the Yakama tribe who live in the Yakima Reservation. During our time together this Sunday morning, Richy will share some highlights of his mission experience and then let us know how we can become involved in this work. Pray for Richy as he presents this Kingdom work.
You will be gladdened to learn of what our good God is doing through the Yakama tribe and thankful for your involvement. Join me in praying for the Spirit’s work this Lord’s Day. Let me encourage you to bring a friend and introduce them to Reformed (or: Biblical) worship. See you Sunday.
Grace upon Grace,