The Book of Revelation is one of the most complicated books in the Bible. It is in ‘picture language’ and is sometimes difficult to understand. Nevertheless, when we probe a little we find a great deal to help us understand what God has planned for his people. Last month we began our readings in Revelation. This month we complete those readings.
Friday 1st June
Having considered an overview of this chapter yesterday, we now look at it in more detail. John describes how he was given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple of God and the altar and to count the worshippers. He is not to measure the outer court of the temple because that has been given to the Gentiles. These Gentiles are to ‘trample’ on the holy city for forty two months. The ‘measuring’ is a sign that the Church is ‘marked off’ as it were, for God. God is staking his claim. John then speaks of the distinction between the sanctuary and the outer court of the Gentiles. To readers who knew the temple in Jerusalem this would conjure up a division between the Lord’s people and the rest. These Gentiles are to ‘trample’ the holy city. They are not allowed to destroy the Church but for a time they are permitted to oppress it. In other words, the activities of those who oppress the Church are to be limited and curtailed by the sovereignty of God. John is promising that the sufferings of the church will not go on for ever.
Pray for Bob Matheson and the Open Doors team. The summer is a time when many people come through the doors. Pray for opportunities to share Christ.
Saturday 2nd June
Then two witnesses appear. William Hendriksen writes, ‘These symbolise the Church militant bearing testimony throughout the present dispensation’. They will trample for 1260 days (42 months). Hendriken believes this to represent the whole period from the ascension of Christ until his return. ‘The period of affliction: the present Gospel age.’ Who are these two witnesses, referred to in verse 4 as the two olive trees and two lampstands? There is a clue in Zechariah 4 where this same imagery is used to speak of Zerubbabel. Some suggest that, just as God blessed Israel through Zerubbabel and Joshua, so he will bless the Church by the preaching of the Word. Then the Beast (representing the Antichrist, the forces of evil) wages war against these faithful witnesses, who become martyrs. These words probably have reference to every persecution the Church has ever suffered, though especially in the last days. The coming of the Beast in verse 10 signifies evil triumphant and on an unprecedented scale. Then in verse 11, those who had been killed by the Beast come alive again! History has often seen the Church on the verge of extinction through persecution but it always survives.
Pray for the Highland Gospel Male Voice Choir as they sing to God’s praise this evening.
Sunday 3rd June
With the seventh trumpet we again expect the final judgment but this does not happen. Instead, just as after the seventh seal, there is silence in heaven. Suddenly, there is a chorus of heavenly voices praising God. The seven trumpets lead into the next series of visions. Once again John has brought us to the verge of final judgment then breaks off to unfold further teaching in a new series of visions. Then the great statement of verse 15, which is familiar to us from Handel’s Messiah: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever’. This is followed by worship: ‘And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign”’. Once again, the reign of God is the theme. No power can stand against him.
Pray for the Minister taking both services in church today and Iain Macdonald taking the Raigmore service.
Monday 4th June
In Revelation chapters 1-11 we have seen the troubles of the Church but now in chapters 12-22 we see more clearly the cause of these troubles. John is going to show us that there is a war going on between the Christ and the Devil, and that the persecution of the Church is a part of this. In verses 1-6, there are three main characters: the woman, the dragon and the child. The woman represents the Church: both Israel in the Old Testament and the Christian Church in the New Testament. The dragon represents evil. To those versed in the Scriptures the idea of a ‘dragon’ would conjure up ‘evil being’. The child is the son of the woman. The woman gives birth to a male son, but the dragon does not kill him. The child is caught up to heaven. God is all-sovereign. It would seem that John is here referring to the birth of Christ and the Ascension of Christ and saying something like this: Satan tried hard to destroy Christ but didn’t succeed; Christ came right through to the ascension.
Pray for the Rev Mike Parker, working for SIM (Serving in Mission). Mike directs the work of SIM in the Middle East and spoke briefly in our church recently.
Tuesday 5th June
This little vision reminds believers that we are caught up in a wider conflict than the one we see. Our struggles are part of the great conflict between good and evil. Michael appears as leader of the heavenly hosts. In Jude 9, he is described as an ‘archangel’. In Daniel 10:13 he is described as ‘one of the chief princes’. The result of the battle was the defeat of the dragon and his party. Their defeat was complete, so the great dragon was expelled. Notice the names used for the dragon in verse 9: ‘that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.’ The dragon or Satan was cast out of heaven. Jesus says something similar in Luke 10:17-18. Then John heard a loud voice which proclaimed triumphantly the victory song, signalling the defeat of Satan. John speaks of martyrs and the key to their victory is spelled out: the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. These are our weapons too.
Pray for the women who gather each Tuesday morning for Bible study. Ask that it might be a blessing to those who come, as they go deeper into God’s Word.
Wednesday 6th June
The persistent hostility between Satan and the people of God is developed. The man-child having been delivered, Satan turns his attention to the woman and the rest of her children. The woman escapes but is pursued. The dragon continues his war. From this we can see that Satan is engaged in a war against us only because he failed to destroy Christ. We have the promise that he will equally fail against us and that God will protect us. It is encouraging to know that the victory belongs to God. It is also helpful to know that when we are tempted and attacked by the evil one, we will gain the victory. There may be many trials and difficulties before that final victory but we live in anticipation of it.
Pray for the World Reformed Fellowship, of which the Minister is Vice Chairman. Ask that the WRF would have a global impact for good.
Thursday 7th June
In Revelation 12 we were given a description of the dragon, representing the Devil. In chapter 13 we have a description of the helpers of the dragon. Firstly, the Beast out of the Sea. It is generally accepted in the New Testament that in the last days there will be a special outbreak of the powers of evil. This is sometimes associated with an individual. For example, see 1 John 2:18-27 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. In today’s passage, this individual is the Beast. He is pictured as coming out of the sea which, for the ancient world, was often a source of evil. The description of him, ‘ten horns and seven heads’ is the same as the description we have of the dragon himself in 12:3. This led Leon Morris to say that this Beast is ‘something like an incarnation of the evil one’. He is made in the image of the Devil. The description given portrays him as a monster of indescribable horror. John makes use of a variety of the features of the animals mentioned in Daniel 7:2-7. The most frightening thing is that people worshipped him (verse 4). Can we not see in our sinful world that people are actually worshipping evil?
Pray for Jack Macdonald in his work as pastoral assistant to the Rev Colin Sinclair, at Palmerston Place Church, in Edinburgh.
Friday 8th June
John goes on to describe what this beast does. Notice verse 5: ‘He was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies’. In verses 5-8 we learn about this Beast. We are told that he is a blasphemer, he wages war against the saints, he has world dominion and he is worshipped by all except Christians. What are Christians to do in the face of such an enemy. Well, in the midst of these horrors, Christians are called upon to patiently endure and to be faithful. Many of the Christians in John’s day suffered indescribable horrors at the hands of evil men and especially evil rulers but they remained faithful. In some parts of the world today, believers face similar persecutions and evil. We must pray that God will give us the courage and the faith to stand firm.
Pray for Fraser and Dawn Jackson working in South Africa. Pray for their safety and security after their house was recently burgled.
Saturday 9th June
This first Beast is not alone. There is a second Beast, his henchman. The notable thing about this second Beast is that he ‘made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast’ (verse 12). In other words, he is a religious man. In fact, it may well be that this second Beast represents a priesthood. In verse 13 we are told that he performed miraculous signs, another sign of a religious group. All in all, if we take the evidence available in these verses we would have to say that the Beast represents a counterfeit religion which encourages people to worship the state or this antichrist, this beast, this world ruler. We see the parody of true religion in some of the expressions used: ‘like a lamb’, also in the use of miraculous signs. We should not be surprised. Scripture tells us that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). We are also told to ‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves’ (Matthew 7:15).
Pray for the Sunday School picnic today, asking that the children will have an enjoyable time.
Sunday 10th June
We must pause to think briefly about the last verse of the chapter. When we come to this last verse of the chapter we find the number 666. All kinds of fanciful and speculative suggestions have been made including some ideas which are so way-out and speculative that they don’t even deserve to be considered. As I’ve said before, the Bible is a playground for all the misguided: the heretics, the sectarians and those with vivid imaginations but no grasp of Biblical doctrine. Could it be that one of the very simple answers suggested by Hendriksen is correct? In the Book of Revelation John takes 7 as the perfect number – a common belief in his day. Could it not be that 666 represents a constant failure to reach that perfection? Thus 666 would mean ‘failure upon failure upon failure’. That surely is the mark of the Beast who can never triumph.
Pray for the Sunday School Prize-giving at the morning service today. Pray too for the Gaelic Service and the Raigmore Service.
Monday 11th June
From the forces of evil which we saw described in chapter 13, John now turns to describe the forces of good. As Leon Morris puts it, ‘He sees in a vision the triumph of the followers of the Lamb’. As we read in verse 1: ‘Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.’ The 144,000 are all there. Remember 12,000 x 12 representing the people of God in the Old and New Testaments. In Revelation 7:4 they were on earth, surrounded by enemies, in 14:1 they are in heaven, having been kept by the power of God. In verses 2-3, John describes the sound he heard from heaven: the redeemed were singing a new song. Only the redeemed could sing the song. We are told several things about the 144,000. They are pure, they follow the Lamb, they were purchased and they are blameless. This is a good spiritual description of what is means to be a Christian.
Pray for the meeting of Rutherford House trustees in Edinburgh today, especially the new chairman the Rev Gordon Kennedy.
Tuesday 12th June
Having seen a vision of the Redeemed in heaven we are now back to earth and the events immediately before the second coming are described. John then turns, in verses 9-11, to speak of the terrible fate which awaits sinners under God’s judgment. Notice, the torment is eternal (verse 11). Over against all this stands the confident encouragement and assurance of verse 13: ‘Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.”’ This is our glorious hope. As Leon Morris says, ‘This is a vivid way of speaking about the end of the world and would have come home with great force in an age when men were more familiar with agricultural processes than they are now. The harvest is the climax.’ In many ways this could be called a judgment sermon, vindicating the people of God and destroying their enemies.
Pray for the Presbytery Business Committee this evening, which will receive the Minister’s letter of intention to retire.
Wednesday 13th June
Revelation chapters 15 and 16
A long reading today but for a purpose. Given that we have been reading the book of Revelation for six weeks now, we probably need a brief overview before we move on. In chapters 1-3 of the Book of Revelation we saw the seven Churches with their strengths and weaknesses, and their calling to be light-bearers in a dark world. Then in chapters 4-7, we saw that the people of God are persecuted by the world again and again. In chapters 8-11 we learned that God judges these persecutors and seeks to bring them to repentance. Chapters 12-14 showed us that this conflict between Church and world points to a deeper, more fundamental conflict between Christ and Satan. Now in chapters 15 and 16, we are given the answer to a further question: what happens when the trumpets, the initial plagues and so on fail to bring repentance and conversion? Does God permit such people to remain unpunished until the Day of Judgment, or is there some punishment now? The answer seems to be that, even before death, the judgment of God can be executed.
Pray for the Minister as he takes a school assembly at Raigmore this morning.
Thursday 14th June
The plagues in these verses are called the ‘seven last plagues’ but clearly they do not refer to the last judgment. They refer to God’s judgement in the here and now. Before John tells us about the seven angels with their bowls of wrath, he shows us the Christ triumphant after the last day (verses 1-4). They are singing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb (see Exodus 15). The ‘redemption’ of Israel from Egypt was a type or forerunner of salvation and redemption in Christ. Just as Israel ascribed victory to God after the Exodus, so this victorious company ascribes glory in heaven to God. Then the vision changes (verses 5-8) and John sees the opening of the sanctuary which contains the Ark of the Covenant, which in turn contains the ‘testimony’. This is probably meant to signify that the seven last plagues are part of God’s wrath. They proceed from his sanctuary. No intercession was possible until the seven plagues were finished. God had, in anger, shut up his tender mercies. The plagues resemble the plagues in Exodus 7-10, as did a previous section of this Book. Throughout history God uses everything at his disposal to punish the wicked.
Pray for the Highland Theological College and for the Principal, Hector Morrison. Pray especially for the new campus of HTC in Paisley.
Friday 15th June
In chapter 16 we have a description of the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath. The First Bowl is described in verse 2. At times God has worked in this way. The illness and death of Herod led others to think more seriously. For him it meant death for others it was a warning. The Second Bowl is described in verse 3. Sometimes the sea is the instrument of destruction. In each case, the act of God is designed both to warn the wicked and cast the unrepentant into Hell. The Third Bowl is described in verses 4-7. God brings curses upon rivers and fountains turning them into blood. This is righteous retribution. The Fourth Bowl is described in verses 8-9. The Lord causes the sun to scorch the wicked but no repentance was forthcoming, instead they cursed God. This is surely a true description of all who have persecuted Christ and his Church. The Fifth Bowl is described in verses 10-11. This was poured out on the throne of the Beast, which is the centre of anti-Christian government. They ‘refused to repent’. The Sixth Bowl is described in verses 12-16. These verses give a picture of the forces of evil amassing for the last, great battle. The evil spirits are described in a way that makes them seem slightly ridiculous (see verse 13). It is the ‘Day of God Almighty’. Jesus interjects with a word of warning to be ready. Then the Seventh Bowl is described in verses 17-21. This speaks of utter destruction. The great city of Babylon, which always represents the evil forces opposed to God, is destroyed. How does it end? With people cursing God instead of repenting. Such is the way of sinners and the way of the world from the beginning.
Pray for James Wells and the work of EMMS. Pray for all that they will be doing over the summer in various countries.
Saturday 16th June
In our passage today, we have a description of someone who is called ‘the great prostitute’. What follows makes it clear that she is evil, and totally opposed to the people of God. The figure of the prostitute describes a world power. The description that we have of this woman in verses 1-6 stands in marked contrast to the woman in Revelation 12:1-6 and 13ff., who represented the Church of God from whom, in due course, came the Christ. Here in Revelation 17:1-6 is described an abominable and inherently evil creature. To understand this imagery, we must notice verse 9: ‘This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.’ Now Rome is a city which sits on seven hills and it becomes clear that John is speaking of the Roman Empire, in its hatred and persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Pray for the wedding of Christopher McGowan and Katie Bell taking place in our church this afternoon. Pray God’s blessing upon them.
Sunday 17th June
This passage is very complicated and difficult to understand. In verses 7-14, we find that the significance of the woman and the beast is explained although it is difficult to understand all of this. In verse 8 we learn that evil may seem to disappear but it always returns. Verse 9 clearly refers to Rome but when verse 10 speaks about the seven keys, what does that mean? It could refer to seven emperors of Rome: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero and so on, or it could refer to Empires (Hendriksen): Babylonia, Medes, Persian, Greek, Rome etc. Yet, what does verse 11 mean? Could it refer to Nero or Domitian? Nevertheless, he will go to destruction. Verses 12-14 teach that many anti-Christian nations will have their hour (short reign) but they will all be overcome by the Lamb. Finally, verses 15-18 teach us that the forces of evil are disunited. There will be jealousy, hatred and enmity among them. The basic reason for their disunity and downfall is given as ‘the will of God’. God is Sovereign. In all of this, although it relates to nations there may be something for individuals too. Many people become infatuated with the pleasures and riches of the world and harden themselves against God.
Pray for the Minister as he takes the morning service and the Raigmore service (Ark Prize-giving) and for Alex Stephen as he takes the evening service.
Monday 18th June
Yesterday, in chapter 17, we read of Babylon, which we understood to represent antichristian governments who persecute the Church of God. Today, however, in chapter 18, we read of the collapse of all antichristian forces and the ultimate triumph of God. As the chapter opens John sees another angel coming down out of heaven. In verse 1 of our chapter, we are told two things about this angel: ‘He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendour.’ Authority and light, which in Scripture are both characteristics of God’s presence. Babylon’s fall is announced as if it had already occurred so certain is its fall. In verse 3 of our passage, we are given the reason or the justification for this fall. Nations and kings and merchants allowed themselves to become infatuated with Babylon’s pleasures and treasures. This represents all who have set their hearts on the things of the world. They have forsaken the true God and set up idols, they have drawn many into this spiritual adultery and they have focussed on wealth and luxury. God commands his people to leave Babylon, which represents everything that is contrary to God and the ways of the world but what does it mean to depart from Babylon or from the world? It means not to have fellowship with her sins and not to be snared by her enticements. Those who set their hearts on the world will receive their due.
Pray for the Minister attending a meeting of the Council of Assembly today in Edinburgh.
Tuesday 19th June
The message then turns to condemn those who profited from Babylon’s wealth and shared in her sin, the kings, the merchants and the by those who shared her sin: Kings, merchants and sailors. They had gained by her wealth and trade. Now they cry out in horror at what is happening because they have lost everything. The cause of their mourning is not their sin but their punishment. The spirit of antichrist is a worldly spirit and their sorrow a worldly sorrow. There is no repentance here. The kings yielded up to the temptation of Babylon and enjoyed her luxuries. The merchants set their hearts on the goods and luxuries of this world. Their property and goods have suddenly become worthless. It is important to consider the ultimate, eternal value of things and revise our assessments of what is important. The sailors gained their living by the sea. They can hardly believe what has happened. They remember Babylon in all her glory. The whole of this section speaks a clear message. Just as all these people were ruined when Babylon collapsed, so will the wicked be when God enacts his judgment. All who base their hope on the luxuries and pleasures of this world will perish with it.
Pray for the work of Latin Link, reaching out to men and women all over South America. Pray for the new leadership of the organisation.
Wednesday 20th June
We read the whole of chapter 18 again today to reflect on the message for our own lives. Are we like those kings, merchants and sailors? What things fill our minds? What worldly things take our attention? There are surely many whose entire lives are centered upon this world and its treasures. There is a quotation from Professor William Hendriksen which sums up the teaching of this chapter: ‘The main point for us to observe, however, is this, that the pleasure-mad, arrogant world, with all its seductive luxuries and pleasures, with its antichristian philosophy and culture, with its teeming multitudes that have forsaken God and have lived according to the lusts of the flesh and the desires of the mind, shall perish. The wicked suffer eternal despair. This doom will not be complete until the day of the final judgement’. Such is the fate of those who stand against God and go their own ways.
Pray for the work of Gideons and ask that, as they begin to go round schools and colleges this autumn, they will be well received and that the Gospels which are distributed will be read and will make a difference.
Thursday 21st June
This chapter begins with rejoicing in Heaven. In the first five verses we have a thanksgiving for the judgement on Babylon. The note of praise is most significant. The word ‘Halleluiah’ (Praise God) is found in verses 1, 3, 4 and 6. This is the only place in the Bible where the word appears, except in translated form in the Psalms. Salvation, glory and power are ascribed to God. For he has brought down the great city. His judgements are timely and right and he has avenged the blood of his servants. Those closest to God, the twenty four elders, representing the whole Church of God, join in the praise. They cry two words: Amen and Halleluiah. In verse 5 we hear a voice from the throne calling on all God’s people to join in the chorus of praise. Then in verse 6, all the hosts of heaven, angels and human beings, join in the ‘Halleluiah Chorus’. What a glorious hymn of praise to God.
Pray for the Gathering this morning. Those who come enjoy the time of friendship and fellowship over tea and coffee. Pray for June McGowan and the team who run the morning.
Friday 22nd June
In these verses, the triumph of the servants of God is now brought out with the imagery of a heavenly marriage. The Church is pictured as the Bride of Christ and the great multitude cry out: ‘our Lord God Almighty reigns’. Here we have an affirmation of the reign of God, following the overthrow of Babylon. The rejoicing is over the wedding of the Lamb. There is an obvious parallel here between the unfaithfulness and sin of the great prostitute in chapters 17 and 18, over against the Church as the pure and faithful Bride of Christ in this chapter. This imagery is used throughout Scripture. For example: 2 Corinthians 11:2: ‘I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him’. Also, Ephesians 5:25-27: ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.’ In verse 8 of our passage, the song concludes with the information that the Bride was given: ‘Fine linen bright and clean’ to wear. This corresponds to believers being clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
Pray for the Kirk Session meeting tonight and also for the Communion Preparatory Service.
Saturday 23rd June
In verses 11-16 we come to teaching about one called the Word of God. John sees a rider on a white horse. The rider is called ‘Faithful and True’. As we see from verse 12, he has eyes like a flame of fire and nothing can be hidden from him. Also, he has many crowns on his head, representing authority. In verse 13 we learn that ‘He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God’. The blood represents Calvary. Notice, he is called ‘The Word of God’ (compare John 1:1). This is the only place in Scripture where the full expression ‘The Word of God’ is applied to Christ. In verse 16, he is called ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’. This is another reference to the name of Christ and denotes his position as supreme ruler. The last few verses of the chapter (verses 17-21) describe the antichristian forces gathering against Christ and his army but it is not a protracted struggle. The beast and the false prophet are taken. They represent antichristian persecution and antichristian religion and philosophy. They are thrown into the lake of fire. Christ completely triumphs. Only Satan is left and his ruin will be described in the final chapters of the book.
Pray that God will bless our Communion week-end and will prepare our hearts as we come to the Table tomorrow.
Sunday 24th June
In Revelation 19, we saw the Fall of Babylon and the destruction of the Beast and the false prophet. Today, in chapter 20, we come to Satan himself the master of the Beast. In his vision, John sees Satan seized by an angel. This comes in verses 1-2: ‘And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.’ Indeed, every verse from verse 2 to verse 7 speaks of this 1000 year period. It has been understood in a variety of ways but emphasises that Satan is bound until the Day of Judgement. He has been defeated by Christ at Calvary but he is still given some leeway, until that final day. Meantime he still seeks to attack the church of Christ but cannot ultimately succeed.
Pray for the Communion service this morning, for the Raigmore Communion this afternoon and for the Thanksgiving service this evening.
Monday 25th June
Here in verses 7-10, we have a description of the final conflict. It is worth comparing Mark 13:20 and Revelation 11:11. Here is a final tribulation and the last battle. There is a great revival followed by great persecution. This is the same battle as described in 16:12f and 19:19 (Armageddon). And so Satan is thrown into Hell forever. Then in verses 11-15 we read of the great white throne. Now Christ returns and judgment takes place. The dead are judged by their works: Matthew 25:31f; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; and James 2:24. Of course, these are the works produced by faith, since without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The critical message comes right at the end, in verse 15: ‘If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.’ If our names are not in the Lamb’s Book of Life, we are without hope.
Pray for those in the congregation who are sick at home or in hospital, for the housebound and for those in Care Homes.
Tuesday 26th June
After all the darkness of some of the recent chapters in this Book of Revelation, now we come to John’s great vision of the last days and all that it holds for the people of God. John presents a magnificent vision of the final state of things. The holy city, the New Jerusalem represents the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He speaks of a ‘new heaven and a new earth’. This teaching began in the Old Testament (see Isaiah 65:17-19 and 66:22). We also see this teaching in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 3:10-13. It is here that we see clearly a comparison between the first few chapters of Genesis and the last few chapters of Revelation. In Genesis we have a description of how God created heaven and earth. In Revelation we are told of the new heaven and earth. In Genesis, paradise is lost. In Revelation, paradise is restored. Notice in verses 3-4 the closeness of the relationship between God and his redeemed people. There are several points of comparison here with Genesis. God makes his dwelling again with human beings, as in Genesis. Human beings become fully the people of God, as in Genesis. There will be no more death and suffering, as in Genesis.
Pray for the Word at One service this lunchtime and for the Inverness Presbytery meeting this evening.
Wednesday 27th June
In verse 6 we hear about the water of life: ‘He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.’ The water of life is offered freely and represents the gift of eternal life. Then in verse 7, we read this: ‘He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son’. The father-son relationship is restored because sin has been dealt with and there is no longer a barrier between God and human beings. This is the covenant promise which runs throughout Scripture.
Pray for the Scottish Bible Society and for its Director, Elaine Duncan. Pray that many will read the Bibles it produces and distributes and so find Christ.
Thursday 28th June
These verses give us John’s vision of the New Jerusalem. In verses 2 and 10 it is described as ‘coming down out of heaven from God’. This is astonishing: Heaven, so to speak, will come down to earth! There is a great deal that we could say about this New Jerusalem but note the following: First, it is built on the foundation of the 12 tribes and the 12 Apostles (verses 12-14). The New Jerusalem, then, is the Church of God in both Old and New Testament. It is old Israel and New Israel. Second, it is a magnificent and priceless structure (verses 15-21). There are gates of pearl and streets of gold. Obviously, this is a vision and we must not imagine that John is giving a literal picture. Third, there is no temple in the city (verses 22-27). It will not be necessary for the inhabitants to go to a temple or a tabernacle, to have fellowship with God. God’s majesty and pretence fills the entire city. The good, righteous and pure will enter the city and nothing or on-one else. Again, those important words: ‘those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life’. We might sum up this chapter by going to something Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10: ‘as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit’.
Pray for the Deacons’ Court meeting tonight. Pray especially for wisdom regarding the major repairs required to the church roof.
Friday 29th June
Today’s passage begins by speaking about the tree of life in verses 1-5. John also speaks of the water of life. Now we know from Jesus that the ‘water of life’ means salvation (Remember his words to the Samaritan woman in John 4:14). We saw this already in Revelation 21:6: ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.’ God provides eternal life! Then we come to the tree of life. To understand this properly we have to go back, as we did yesterday, to Genesis. The first reference to the tree of life comes in Genesis 2:9: ‘And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. No doubt, if our first parents had obeyed the command of God not to eat from the forbidden tree, then they would have been invited to eat of the tree of life, symbolising the gift of eternal life. However, that was not to be, as we read in Genesis 3:22-24. Human beings cannot eat of the tree of life because of sin but, as we read in Revelation 2:7: ‘To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God’. Now in chapter 22, that promise is fulfilled. Those who belong to the Lord can now take of the tree of life, eat and live.
Pray for all the young people from our church who have gone away for work or college or university. Pray that God would keep them from harm and danger and that they would serve Christ wherever they are.
Saturday 30th June
Verses 6-21 are the conclusion of the whole book and, unlike much of the book, are fairly straightforward. Not much comment is needed but we should notice a few things. First, the angel witnesses to the genuine character of the book and its divine origin. The words of John can be trusted (verses 6-7). Second, in verses 18-19, there is a solemn warning to anyone who would change the book: ‘I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book’. Third, there is the promise of the return of Christ in verse 7. Fourth, in verse 14 we have this statement: ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.’ This refers to those who turn to the cleansing blood of Christ. God has brought victory out of defeat. He has reversed the course of history which began with the Fall. He has redeemed his people by the blood of Christ. He will give us a place in heavenly glory.
Pray for the Macdonalds in Zambia and for the Raes with OMF in the Philippines. Pray that God will bless their work and give them encouragement. Pray particularly for Christine Macdonald’s health and her need for surgery.