That a Laodicean Christian concerned by the sombre message of Revelation 3, would be told by an elder, “relax, it’s actually a coded message to a future church,” lies beyond my imagination’s reach. While I believe that much can, and should, be drawn from the book sent to the seven churches, I cannot wrest it from their hands and squeeze it into my backpack. It was written to them but the Holy Spirit preserved it for me. Reading Revelation is eavesdropping, it is peering over the Philadelphian and Laodicean’s shoulders as they read a letter revealing Jesus to their persecuted eyes.
Today, we sit with Revelation in one hand and a newspaper in the other, drawing lines between every verse and headline. That is why prophecy is about to be fulfilled every time the Americans choose a president. In my lifetime, Bush, Clinton, Bush again and Obama were all tipped to stamp the Mark of the Beast on every barcode and credit card. In recent times, talk of Illuminati and Jesuits is injected by every church’s resident prophecy guru into every Sabbath discussion. Thus, most of the eschatologically woke find their lives punctuated by short bursts of frenzied end time holiness – steamed cauliflower instead of pizza, Revelation Seminar instead of Game of Thrones and house music displaced by slow choral hymns on memory cards – all brought on by startling prophetically significant headlines.
This holding of Revelation in one hand and a newspaper in the other, has led to a split personality of sorts. It has created an arrogant coward, puffing his chest out in Bible studies, brash in his knowledge of the future, but quivering in the stillness of the night, uncertain if he is ready to face the future. He never trusts Christ with his future and so seeks to know it for himself. Mistaking Jesus for the beasts and God’s majestic thunder for hostility and reluctance to save, he arms himself with good deeds to bargain for his salvation. No longer a Revelation from and of Christ, his distracted study of the book leads him to see it as the “Revelation of Me and How I Can Dodge the Beasts and Get to Heaven”.
Nowhere in Revelation is humanity shown as possessing the key to dispelling evil. Only Jesus holds the key to restoring order and marshalls his servants to participate in this. The restoration of order in Heaven and on Earth is Christ’s mission and not ours but He invites us to join it as His followers and not independent contractors. To read Revelation and walk away from it trembling with trepidation is to misunderstand it for it begins with the injunction to never abandon fear. Having been locked out of God’s immediate presence in Eden, we are invited, with John and the seven churches to enter through the veil torn by Jesus at Calvary into the control centre of the universe and witness God handing the future to Jesus. Jesus is the hero. Period.
This message was to encourage and strengthen, as 1 Corinthians 14:3 states the work of prophecy is, the believers who read it, showing them that no surge of evil could sweep God off His throne for the Lamb has conquered. The Devil lost the decisive battle and for all his fury, is a defeated foe. The battle is for the human mind for that is the only place where indecision about the worthiness of Jesus and the Father to rule can be found. Heaven reverberates with hymns extolling the worthiness of the Lamb to rule, will you not let it reverberate in your heart too? It is the work of the Spirit and God’s people to invite all to the celebration that the Lamb is preparing for us with faithfulness. Hostility on earth is not a reflection of God but the rebellion of devils. Jesus is in control and is eager to sit at the wedding feast with us. This is the Revelation of Jesus. Let go of the newspaper and hold it in both hands.