Monday, August 27, 2012
Day 88: More Worship, More Warnings, No Repentance
Again, John sees visions of the saints (the 144,000) worshipping around the throne of the Lamb. I love the detail about the name of the Lamb and his father written on their foreheads. They sing a "new song" in front to the throne and (here's something I'm going to remember, too) no one can learn the song except the 144,00). It's not that I'm eager to exclude people who can't learn the song, it's just that lately I've become so aware of the power of music, and how God uses music to imprint the truth of his love on our hearts.
Three angels bring warnings to the earth about the coming judgment. They warn people to worship God, to turn from following "The Beast", to watch out for Babylon.
(and do you notice this line? "Favored are the dead who died int he Lord from now on." "Yes, says the Spirit, so they can rest from their labors, because their deeds follow them." -- this is where we get our hymn, "For all the saints, who from their labors rest.")
Then there is the judgment, the two harvests. The Human one has a sharp sickle in his hand, for the harvest is ready. there is another angel as well, also reaping a harvest, but this is a harvest of judgment. The image is clusters of grapes, "cutting the vineyard of the earth" -- again, here's a song with which you may be familiar, "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord/he is trampling out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored". This hymn was written during the civil war, a bloody conflict that must have seemed like the end of the world to those who were fighting. Both sides felt that God was on their side, and that truth was on their side. But this hymn was written by an abolitionist, and she used words from the Revelation to express God's judgment on the country for the sin of slavery.
After this there are seven bowls with plagues that will come over the earth. To me, what I notice most in these chapters is not just the plagues, but the fact that it seems that no matter what plagues are unleashed on the earth, people do not repent. (This reminds me of the story of the Pharaoh and the people of Israel in Egypt. God sends many plagues, and yet Pharoah does not repent. It also reminds me that the book of Revelation was written during a time of great persecution, and was written for a people who were being persecuted.)
We are nearing the end of the book of Revelation. How much destruction is left? What more can be said?