April 28, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”(Revelation 4.1)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
So, what must take place “after this”? I suppose we should consider, or reconsider, what “after this” really was or is or is about to be first. Right? So what preceded this revelation John was invited to become a part of that was happening in Heaven. Was it not the warnings given to the seven faith communities individually and to them all collectively that was established as the precursor of “what comes next”? First there were affirmations of what was being represented correctly, but only in part and not fully. Then came the warnings of what was promised to come in response to what was wrong or only partially correct (which made it nearly as bad as being wrong). This was followed by affirmations of what would happen to those who pursued righteousness even when it was a tribulation to do so within the world. That was the summation of the “word” given to the Seven Churches. And while they may not match up directly to the “seven deadly sins” [pride, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath, and sloth] which can be overcome with the seven corresponding virtues [humility, charity, chastity, gratitude, temperance, patience, and diligence], one does lend itself to the other to create an earthly accountability system for those who live in the world. All of that is what precedes “what’s next” as is indicated by the invitation to “Come and see what must happen after this.”
Many find the book of Revelation too difficult to understand. I will grant you that it is not easy. Of course, try reading, literally reading, all the works of the prophets beginning with Isaiah and concluding with Malachi. You may say “that’s too much to read” but are such excuses any lamer than “it’s too hard to be good.” Of course, it is challenging but “anything of value is going to require time, effort, consistency and determination.” There is a price to pay for such due diligence. Fortunately for the mighty ones of God, the greatest price has already been paid by the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ who put His full trust in God His Heavenly Father. Remember, He too said “Father, this is a very hard thing to do. Can you find it in Your Will to make it easier and let this cup pass from Me?” The storyteller in me hears that “still small voice” of God speaking “Sure, My Son, this cup can be passed on to anyone who is capable and worthy of bearing it themself to the level of humility, charity, chastity, gratitude, temperance, patience, and diligence which is required. Take a look around You. Quickly search the whole world over. If you can find someone better than You then I will release You from Your accepted purpose. Not sure where that would leave You (but, of course God knew exactly where that would be and so did Jesus), but so be it.” And when Jesus looked around what did He see? Let’s take a quick inventory, shall we:
- Three of His closest friends in faith and in life whom He trusted with the revealing of His own glory…sleeping because they could not tarry even one hour for their Lord. Too drunk with wine and whining, they lulled in the burden of anticipation delayed and fear of failure.
- Then there were the eight other disciples who made it to the Garden of Gethsemane. They were asleep just a little further away. They were not out of sight of Jesus and the Three but out of hearing range. They were just close enough to know something was going on and just far enough away to have no clue what was going on. Such distance breeds lethargy. Their slumber was not much different from “the Three” but compounded by the reality of “just different enough.”
- There was the twelfth disciple, Judas of Kerioth. He who was of the clan of plotters and schemers seeking ultimate revenge for their family who in the history of Israel were literally “just south” of normal. In modern terminology “just south” leaned toward “left out.” Judas would not be left out any longer. The burden of that past had nurtured him into the man of the hour. His hour had come. Jesus affirmed it by saying “What you are about to do, go now and do it quickly!” Jesus knew that if Judas stayed with the Eleven, he would fall asleep as well and the moment of revelation would fall into the hands of…. Who would have made it possible for Jesus to be arrested, carried to trial and led to crucifixion? The lot had been cast even if Judas had cast it himself. There was no other. There was no one else to bring the moment of truth to light? When Judas looked around all he saw was a lot of “talkers.” Sure, they said a good game such as Peter who declared “Let us go with Him that we might die, too!” or “Surely, not I, Lord, I will never fall away!” Right up to the youngest of them all who wrapped his cloak about him like a baby does a blanket. If he were startled by reality, he would flee half-naked into the night. Who else but Judas was left to get the job done?
- And beyond them all were half-believers, tradition graspers, false teachers, impugned leaders and “gentile” rulers. They were like leaves scattered before the wind going only where the “whirlwind” would carry them.
Yes, it was down to Judas and Jesus to get the will of God done so that you and I might have life and have it abundantly. But, as in all things, a choice is demanded. I spoke yesterday of coming full circle with the reflections on the full armor of God and the word given to the Seven Churches. It started with Ephesus and their forsaking their first love of being saved by Christ and came around with Laodicea who was choosing to be lukewarm in their faith. One was certainly leading to the other. Which came first? Forsaking or foundering? Just as in the letter to the Ephesians Paul started with the belt of truth and came round to prayer. Putting on the belt of truth and pulling it through the buckle until it fastened tightly had to be accompanied by prayer knowing what such action would indicate. Again, which came first? Preparing to be clothed or praying about what was to be done which required such an attire? Does it matter? Aren’t all the elements of attire and the words to the churches equally important and impactful? All of them point to “what comes next”! And that, my friends, is the journey yet to come. I pray you are up to it and will be girded for the spirit and the truth we are all called to if we seriously profess ourselves to be “His disciples.”
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
You are our God and we shall be Your people in spirit and in truth. Continue to dwell among us and clothe us with what is fitting and good that Your will be done and our will be Your will done on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ name we live, serve and pray…AMEN.