By Not Known
From our view, a new year is full of unknowns. Think back over 2005. Did you expect the significant events that happend in your life? Many of us find that some significant events happened as we expected, but that there were more surprises than certainties. And even as our year closes we can be surprised by pain as life takes another unwanted twist.
These unknowns may unsettle us. Perhaps we think that one one is in charge and history is like a driverless car careering down a hill doing random damage. Or perhaps we think that there is a mad man or a bad man behind the wheel – that’s truly frightening. Or perhaps we think that there is a God and that he means well, but that he is relatively powerless.
It may have seemed like that to the first readers of Revelation. They know the gospel message about Christ’s Cross and resurrection and his preaching of the now reality of God’s kingdom (e.g. Mk 1: 15). But the evidence before their eyes was different. In their era (probably about 96AD) the Roman emperor decided that he was god. He wanted everyone to worship him and those who didn’t would face the power of Rome. This was a terrifying combination of mad man and bad man.
The result was chaos as Christians divided around responses of flight, fright and fight. Many of those who chose fight became martyrs. Many were discouraged and doubted God – was he absent or just powerless?
Revelation encourages God’s people to persevere in faith in the face of life’s unknown, chaotic and apparently evil appearance. It does this by repeatedly interwoven glimpses of the heavenly reality behind the earthly appearance. Christ the lamb was slain and is raised. God rules all things even now – and when God is good and ready, Christ will come again to consummate his kingdom. This is immensely pastoral and encouraging!
All this is on view in Rev 14. The chapter ends with an announcement of the beginning of the end as the time came for judgement (vs 14- 20). (Although it is another few chapters in Revelation before we get to the end of the end!) But look what comes before this. God’s gospel is loudly proclaimed to the whole human creation (v 6). And we are all summoned to the appropriate response of fearing God and giving him the glory – for he is the only one to be worshipped (v7).
We don’t know what 2006 holds. But, in God we know the one who knows, because it is his year. Let’s be sure that we live this year as people who know the one who knows and who gives him the glory.