May 21, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8.5)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
Let’s capture this timeline of Revelation, chapter 8 thus far. First, the Lamb who was slain but raised to life and seated at the right hand of God opens the seventh seal and unfurls the scroll completely. Second, in response to the unsealing there is total and absolute silence for thirty minutes. Just for the sake of consideration, if we took the scripture rendering of “a thousand years is like a twinkling of an eye (and we interpreted that twinkling to the equivalent of one second), then twenty-four hours would be 86,400,000 years and thirty minutes would be 1,800,000 years. Have we considered the amount of calm and control those who are in heaven must have to be obedient for what would seem like an eternity? Conversely, when Revelation will speak of a “one thousand year reign,” let us consider that such reign would only be for one second. In that second, there would be enough peace to demonstrate the power, will and purpose of God to redeem His people from the one whose intent was to steal, kill and destroy. It would be one second spent in torment for that enemy to contemplate how to repay God for what he would call “unfair and unjust treatment.” In that moment of rage, and it only takes a moment of rage for any of us as a “first responder” to an offense against us, the enemy lashes out with such ferocity that mortal humanity would be easily consumed. They would be if not for the truth of God’s Word which is and who is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Now whether it is a second, a minute, an hour, one thousand years or 86 million plus years, the point of such consideration remains “being under and staying under control” for the glory of God and for the sake of bringing authentic peace to the entire existence defined by whatever measure is chosen. How many of us would crave one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one week, one month, one year, one lifetime of peace right now? How many of us have run out of resources, options, opportunities or hope for such a culture and climate of peace that exists in that “silence of the Lamb” for thirty minutes? And if we were given such a blessing as that, what would we do with it? Would we embrace the true calling of Sabbath and honor it, keep it holy and consecrate ourselves to receive the blessing in order to be the blessing? And if you think I am spending “too much time” on this singular moment, then I challenge you to consider the pace of your thinking and your expectation for “what comes next.” It has been a theme put forth now for three chapters. Yet, it would seem for some to be a lifetime and at such slow pace that its meaning is lost on us. What if we dared to abide in such a holding on to the concept of Sabbath? I admit that I don’t, so I am just as guilty but also as accountable to present this truth to all who are reading. If we dare to wonder how far we have wandered into the world without God that embracing thirty minutes of silence to focus solely, and soully, on God is difficult, then we might understand why the world is as it is today. I would also propose that, according to the pattern of understanding The Revelation so far, that in these thirty minutes of silence, we are not reflecting on what God has done and give thanks for the measure of mercy and grace extended, the blessing of healing and provision provided, as well as the hope and love established in the midst of us as the best use of the opportunity given to us. Rather, we focus on the great unknown of what is yet to come. In light of all that God has done, has said and has promised, there is still that mystery of what will God do next. He who did not spare the life of His only begotten Son from the burden and misery of the cross is about to act again for and against a power and a people who believe they have it all figured out. How can we spend an agenda-less thirty minutes and empty ourselves of our self and allow God to be God in a silence against which that “still small voice as small as a true whisper” would be as loud as a cacophony of all sounds blended together. We would have to admit, we would be so uncomfortable to the point of unreasonable. Yet, the reasonableness of the truth should press us forward toward repentance and honoring the gift of salvation which is made ours in Jesus Christ the Lord.
Mighty ones of God, how is it that we are filling our time so that we can make time pass by more pleasantly? How we abhor the silence because our nature is that we fill it with activity, stuff and more stuff in order to do all we can to fill the vacuum of silence. The question is not one of “nothingness” when it comes to the silent vacuum but the “something” we choose to allow to fill it. For God, the vacuum is not nothing but something. And in that vacuum which the broken nature believes is empty is the very something which ordered it previously and brought forth life. And in verse five, we are given witness that there was something in that nothing which was being brought together. Before the eyes of all in Heaven, it was about to be exposed to those on earth in such intensity that “our world” is going to be literally rocked! I pray that you will practice and promote such readiness for the “parenthetical emptiness to be emptied out. Teach one another what is meant for good and to lay aside that which cannot and dare not satisfy the vacuum and emptiness we feel in our broken world. It is our true service of worship which can happen in the twinkling of an eye as easily as a thousand years.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
You are our God and we shall be Your people in spirit and in truth. Continue to dwell among us. Let the revelation by Your Holy Spirit inspire us to greater service in a more refined identity. We do not live as ourselves for ourselves. Rather, we live in Christ as He lives in us. We declare it with all the elders and angels in Heaven, saying “Holy, holy, holy is He who was and is and is to come.” In Jesus’ name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.