Revelation: A Vision of Tomorrow that Matters Today

Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei, c. 1635

Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei, c. 1635

I had the privilege to preach this last Sunday on chapter five from the book of Revelation. In it Jesus Christ, the lamb of God, steps up as the only one worthy to open the scroll of God. I thought I’d share the cliff notes version of the sermon, as I didn’t write too much on the book for last week.

One concern of mine in regards to this book is that we see it as just an extended forecast–something that shows us the future, but has no real bearing for how we live today. Revelation does show us what is to come, but I believe it also reveals a vision that breaks into our life in the here and now. Here is a summary of three takeaways for how we should live today.

  • Worship and Praise

    Revelation pulls back the curtain to give us a glimpse of one so worthy, so glorious that he deserves our praise now and through eternity.

  • Perseverance and Hope

    Revelation pulls back the curtain and shows us the truth that although this world appears to be in chaos, God has a plan, a plan that Christ accomplishes, and it is a plan for his victory, so let us persevere with hope.

  • Royal Priesthood

    Revelation pulls back the curtain and reminds us that the God who reigns has called us into that family business. We reign with Christ and live as a part of his kingdom, serving right now, as a royal priesthood in this world.

Prophecy Fulfilled Against Assyria in Isaiah 37

There were a number of prophecies against Assyria and their fall and in Isaiah 37 we see those prophecies fulfilled. In chapter 31 we read:

And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man;
and a sword, not of man, shall devour him…

In chapter 37, after Sennacherib, the leader of the Assyrians, mocks the God of Israel in his dealings with Hezekiah he leaves to attend to an uprising in the south by the king of Egypt.

Sennacherib from palace in Nineveh

Sennacherib from palace in Nineveh

Sennacherib has been very successful in his rule, as he notes to Hezekiah. Assyria has been used by God to bring his judgment on the land and Sennacherib says, “Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed…?”

Hezekiah must be in great fear, for himself, his people, and Jerusalem. But he knows that those other gods were no gods at all. He goes to the temple and prays for God’s deliverance, and does so with the purpose that the kingdoms of earth may know that Israel’s God is truly God.

As I said, the prophecy is fulfilled and Hezekiah’s prayers are answered. In going to fight off the Egyptians, Sennacherib is dealt a grew blow, loses thousands of men, and retreats back to the capital of Ninevah.

There is an interesting comparison between these two leaders. Hezekiah goes to the temple and is heard by God and is spared. Later, after backing down following the loss of so many of his men at the hand of God’s angels, Sennacherib goes to his temple. There he is not delivered, rather he finds his end as his own sons kill him in order to seize power for themselves.

Also-in reading about this passage I found two accounts of how the 185,000 of Sennacherib’s camp were put to death. One is an account of some pesky mice that came out in the night to gnaw away at the bows and the straps of Assyrian shields, leaving that army weakened. The other is not as exciting, and records disease as the tool used to bring about their destruction.

Christ in Psalm 118

We talked about this psalm briefly in one of the Reading Groups as a member brought our attention to it. It is hard not to see a picture of Jesus Christ in these words, words which are quoted in reference to him in the New Testament.

I love to see the way in which the whole of Scripture points us to Jesus. The Old points us ahead and the New Testament draws our attention back to him. As we celebrate Christmas it is also good to see such connections and remember that Jesus was no backup plan. Before the world was even created, the plan has been to save the world through him. Like we read in the beginning of John, Jesus may have entered the scene in one way when he was born to Mary, but Jesus has always been on the scene since the very beginning. Christmas is the beginning of a big reveal, but the suspense had been building for a long time.

Psalm 118

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.