Congratulations! You will, by this Sunday, have made it to the end of the book of Revelation as we consider the final chapter of the book, chapter 22.
September 10th, when we started this series on Revelation seems a long time ago and we’ve covered a lot of ground since then as we have journeyed with John to hear what he heard and see what he saw.
What has stood out for you?
I wonder what has stood out for you? Is there one big thing / important thing that God has spoken to you about or impressed upon you over these past weeks?
It is easy to forget amid images of dazzling thrones and terrifying beasts that Revelation was written to seven small churches encouraging them to live as faithful witnesses to the Lamb who is victorious. For some of these churches, the encouragement took the form of comforting words, for others correction or rebuke. The letter to these churches did not end in chapter 3, as the whole book is a letter to the churches.
Formation not merely Information.
It is a letter which seeks a response in the form of a question, “How then shall we live?” Having been immersed in this apocalypse, this unveiling and revealing of the deeper reality of the structure and ways and means of the cosmos, the Christians of the seven churches cannot, should not, just carry on with life as before. They must respond in word, deed, and thought to the question, “How then shall we live?”
How then shall we live?
We too have been immersed in John’s apocalyptic vision, we have seen what John saw, and we have heard what John heard. Like those early Christians, we are both comforted and challenged as we understand more of the nature of Babylon, of her power which promises life and comfort but leads only to destruction. We have learned more of the way of the Lamb, that to overcome and be victorious is defined and achieved not according to the ways of Babylon but the way of the Lamb. We too, just like our ancient brothers and sisters are left with the same question, “How then shall we live?”
A Summary Answer
John summarises the answer the vision elicits with a simple and short phrase:
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
To cry “Come, Lord Jesus” is to express a holy dissatisfaction with the way life and this world currently is, it is to resolve to live differently because he is coming. It is to express that we see too much of the power and works of the dragon and the beasts in our world. It is to cry not just for their destruction to stop, but having seen what the world can be under the rule of the Lamb, a world in which all things are made new so God dwells among us, we prophetically live as if that world has already come.
To cry “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” is to express that we love the Lamb and his ways, it is to cry for radical change, the renewal of all things, which is not in some distant future but is “coming soon” in its fulness and is indeed already at work among us.
Longing for the future, living life now!
Christ has of course already come, that is what as we enter this Christmas period we celebrate in holy wonder.
In remembering that Christ has already come as God-in-flesh we are reminded that the Lamb saves and heals, restores and renews, overcomes and is victorious, not by means of worldly power or machinations but through a love which is coterminous with the very character of God. And that makes all the difference.
Christ’s victory is already won, his promises are yes and amen. This means that even in the destructiveness of living in Babylon we know the Spirit at work in our lives and circumstances saving and healing, restoring and renewing, overcoming in victory. We await the fulness of all of this, and so cry “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”.
Active Advent Waiting
Our waiting for the fulness of all God has promised is not inactive – Paul gave the Thessalonians into trouble for inactive waiting. Rather, our waiting is participatory. God invites us to participate in the renewing and redeeming work the Spirit is currently doing (read Chapters 2 and 3 again and note how often it speaks of their works or deeds).
So, let us this Advent respond to the message of Revelation, participate in the work of the Spirit, and cry in response to Christ’s words “I am coming soon” with a fulsome “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”.