Meditate on the Beauty of Jesus
LHC: Message Thirty-Five (980802PM)
Week 35: Meditate on the Beauty of Jesus
As the end of days approaches, you can find hope as you meditate on the beauty of Jesus!
SUNDAY: Slowing Down to See Jesus Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! —Psalm 46:10, emphasis added To worship Him who is worthy of all worship and praise is our duty and purpose of existence. The Father seeks only one thing: worship. True worship is to ascribe to Christ the honor, praise, glory, and majesty that He is worthy of—His true “worthship.” Let us now peer through the door of heaven into the chambers of the Most High. In Revelation 15, John, the heir of the apostolic band, tried to capture with his pen that which, when Paul saw it, was inexpressible. Through the eyes of that faithful and true disciple of love who alone remained, we get to listen to the choirs of angels in numberless circles about the glassy sea and its throne as they sing His worthy praise. We get to listen to those eternal creatures chant “Holy, holy, holy.” And by faith’s eye we get to see with John that band which no man could number—and listen to their songs of adoration and praise. In Revelation 15 you will discover: Jesus Christ is patient (v. 1); Jesus Christ’s saints are triumphant (vv. 2–4); Jesus Christ is victorious (vv. 5–7); and Jesus Christ is wrathful (v. 8). Do you know this Christ the Lord who merits such praise as “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”? I exhort you to meditate on the beauty of Jesus: worship Him in the splendor of His redeeming love through His perfect patience, perfect holiness, perfect redemption, perfect justice (which has no mercy), and perfect wrath. But to prepare each of our hearts for meditation truly worthy of the Lamb, we need to first slow down and reflect on the paradox of our time in history. For example, We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get
too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space; we’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice; we write more, but learn less; we plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals; we have more food, but less appeasement; we build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; we’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of relative world peace, but increased domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition. These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring the universe to our screens but the God of the Universe can’t bring us to our knees.1 So what is the personal solution to all this? Begin by asking the Lord to help you slow down so that you can truly meditate on the beauty of Jesus as we go through chapter 15 this week. My Prayer for You This Week: Oh Father, please reveal areas in my own life where I need to slow down the pace and establish Your priorities instead of my own! As we look into this very special portion of your Word, I ask for Your illuminating power to open our eyes that we might behold wonderful things from Your Word! You have forever settled Your Word in heaven, and this chapter is but a glimpse of the beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank You for each facet of His beauty and for every word that by Your Spirit You inspired Your servants to write. Your Word is so profitable and meant to guide us in the way of Christlikeness as we, Your servants, seek to follow You wherever You go and serve You all our days. May this chapter encourage us to that end as we bow before You now. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
MONDAY: Jesus Christ Is Patient Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. —Revelation 15:1, emphasis added Learning how to slow down the pace of your life to establish God’s priorities instead of your own is what patience is all about. Revelation 15 is a wonderful portion of God’s Word to teach us about the patience we can have in Christ. If you recall, the sixth seal commenced the Day of the Lord: “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17). If you know anything about the Bible, you know that the Lord is dragging the final judgment out for as long as He can because of His patience and mercy. He has been withholding the final blow when He will melt all His enemies: The LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths (Zechariah 14:12). God’s patience goes way back, for Jesus has been patient for a very long time. Look at Jude 14–15: Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, [for] their ungodly deeds . . . against Him.” The Lord has been waiting since the time of Enoch to execute His judgment, but His patience will come to an end in Revelation 15:8. Do you have genuine patience? Patience is the absence of personal irritation at the actions of others. Amazingly, Jesus never evidences personal irritations at ignominy and wickedness during the Tribulation hour. Instead, He patiently waits while sending wave after wave of witnesses and wave after wave of good news to the earth. Patience is the “bearing long” with people that Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 13. Patience is also one of the supreme attributes of God. Revelation 15:1 is so critical because it talks about how Jesus is waiting. He is waiting with the plagues, and His wrath is going to be complete. But He has waited since Enoch, since Noah, since He came and walked this earth and was rejected; He has waited through all of the trumpets and the seals, and now He is waiting before He pours out those bowls—the final outflow of His wrath. It is Christ’s character to be gracious and longsuffering, and we should try to be like Him. Since Jesus can wait through all these terrible responses of humanity and keep pouring out His mercy on the earth, we ought to work on being patient in our own lives. The supreme characteristic of God is His patience: “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6). Although God is patient, He does not forget unless we come and plead beneath the shadow of the blood of Christ: “The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty” (Numbers 14:18). Remember: through the pleadings of Abraham, God withheld the destruction of Sodom until a few people were rescued; God withheld the death angel’s hand when
David sacrificed and stopped the plague of God; and when Moses and Aaron interceded, and ran out with the censers, it stopped the plague that was going through Israel. God is so patient that He withholds His wrath in response. God is patient, so He gives patience: Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus. (Romans 15:5). To get along with fellow Christians pray: “God of patience and comfort, make me patient! I need Your comfort so that I will not respond adversely to frustrating situations.” Do you know how powerful a church is when its members are patient with one another? One of the great marks of maturity is patience. Throughout the Tribulation, Jesus Christ patiently offers His salvation: The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, . . . but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Ask yourself: Am I more patient than I was three months ago, or less? Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Are you letting the Holy Spirit bear that fruit in your life? Or are you spraying the fruit killer of impatience on it? If we are not increasing in patience, it is because we are not yielding and submitting to the Holy Spirit. William Barclay has this to say about the meaning of patience, as used in 2 Peter 1:6: “The word never means the spirit which sits with folded hands and simply bears things. It is victorious endurance, masculine constancy under trial. It is Christian steadfastness, the brave and courageous acceptance of everything life can do to us, and the transmuting of even the worst into another step on the upward way. It is the courageous and triumphant ability to bear things, which enables a man to pass the breaking point and not to break, and always to greet the unseen with a cheer.”2 Patience is a learned art, and sometimes we need to learn a lot in certain situations. We have to learn to allow the Spirit of God to bring this forth in our lives. The opposite of patience can be seen in the signs of anger: irritability, impatience, glaring eyes, raised voice, hurtful words, explosive actions, silent treatment, argumentative words, clenched teeth, and heavy breathing. This is not what God wants in us. How can you stop impatient anger? Note these steps to resolving anger: Accept responsibility for anger and its symptoms. See your anger through the eyes of others. View anger as an alarm for unresolved guilt. Act quickly to resolve past guilt, offenses, failures, and bless the one making you impatient. Acknowledge the anger of forefathers. Regain the ground of past anger. Fully forgive the offender. Learn to see the benefits in tragedy. Exchange all personal rights to God. Establish daily accountability.
A word of caution: holding on to your anger overnight gives place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). The tormentors are the destructive emotions of fear, guilt, depression, anger, and anxiety. The way out is to confess specific sins (1 John 1:9); claim the blood of Christ (Revelation 12:11; Colossians 2:14–15); and ask God to restore the place surrendered to Satan. God promises that you can tear down Satan’s strongholds with His truth (2 Corinthians 10:4–5). The patience of Jesus is amazing—He waits so long. If it were up to us, we might have resorted to dealing with the world’s rebellion with a few H-bombs! But Jesus just waits on the prayers of the saints, and then He waits still further for more prayers of the saints. Next, He allows the devil to start a shuttle service to heaven by killing so many people in the Tribulation that the martyrs will pile up in heaven. But that is really the beauty of this chapter as Jesus continues to shows us His patience. The lesson: We should act quickly to resolve our impatience and be wrapped in the beauty of Jesus!
TUESDAY: Jesus Christ’s Saints Are Triumphant And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. —Revelation 15:2, emphasis added Now I want to show you the triumph that the patience of Christ produces. “I saw something like a sea of glass” is not an actual sea of glass; it is like a sea of glass. I don’t know what it is, and we shouldn’t try to figure it out. But it is crystal clear, which is indicative of the holiness of God—nothing is hidden. “Mingled with fire” (also seen in the river of fire flowing out from the throne) speaks of the fire of persecution and refinement through which these saints have gone. They “have the victory over the beast” and are now “standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.” From a human perspective, all the people standing on the sea were simply killed, and that is the end of them. But Jesus said in Mark 8:35: “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Satan will lose because these people will gain the triumph for Christ through martyrdom. Look at how many people Revelation 7:9–12 says are here: I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number . . . standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels . . . and the elders and the four living creatures . . . fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” This is the same group that we see in chapter 15—the martyrs of the Tribulation. Someone once asked me, “If a person takes the mark of the beast, can they go to heaven?” No, they cannot. But there will be a vast amount who will not take that mark. Do you know what the triumph of God is? Through the darkest hour of the earth, there
will be the greatest revival the planet has ever known! An innumerable number of people will be saved in a very short period of time. Why? Jesus is patient. And when Jesus is patient, the saints will be triumphant as He conquers through them. These martyrs will sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the glorious song of the Lamb (Revelation 15:3a). Don’t you think it fascinating that the first song mentioned in the Bible is in Exodus 15— and the final song of the Scriptures is in Revelation 15? Those two songs come together in this chapter because Exodus gives us “the song of Moses” and Revelation gives us “the song of the Lamb.” These two songs converge in Revelation 15:3–4. The first song is a song of deliverance after the safe crossing of the Red Sea. Moses, through his sister Miriam, marvelously leads the nation of Israel in singing this song of triumph. Let’s look at some of its verses from Exodus 15:1–21 to see how greatly this song glorifies the Lord: Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying: “I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him” (vv. 1–2). Note that the Israelites gave the Lord alone the glory for the triumph over their enemies. The strength that leads to ultimate victory is in God, and not in ourselves: “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (v. 11). In verse 21 we see Miriam then leading the women to echo what the men sang in verse 1: And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!” Songs of worship are to be about the Lord. The song of Moses and the song in Revelation 15 do not point at all to the singers. This is a good principle of what God expects in our worship. Today, many of our contemporary songs draw attention to the singers and to everything else but the Lord. I believe that points to one reason why the church is so weak globally—our worship is focused inwardly instead of outwardly on the Lord. This song of Moses was stamped upon the memory of the Jews. It was sung at every Sabbath evening service in the synagogue. At every Jewish service the recital of the Shema, the creed of Israel, was (and still is) followed by two prayers, and one of these prayers refers to this song: “True it is that thou art Jehovah our God, and the God of our fathers, our King, and the King of our fathers, our Savior, and the Savior of our fathers, our Creator, the Rock of our Salvation, our Help and our Deliverer. Thy name is from everlasting, and there is no God beside thee. A new song did they that were delivered sing to thy name by the seashore; together did all praise and own thee King, and say, Jehovah shall reign, World without end! Blessed be the LORD who saveth Israel.”3 I find it noteworthy that the lives of Moses and Christ parallel in these areas:
Both were delivered in infancy from great danger. Both were named by God.
Both were able to meet with God on the mountain—Moses on Mount Sinai and Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. Both of them gave out the Word of God. Both were prophets to the people of God. Both were rejected by God’s people. Moses brought redemption from a temporary oppression in Egypt; Jesus brings redemption from the eternal penalty of sin. It is no wonder then that the song in Revelation 15:3b-4, which is a lovely picture of Christ’s beautiful attributes, is very similar to the song of Moses. (We will go over this song in depth in tomorrow’s devotional.) There is always a majestic backdrop to remind us of God’s unfailing purpose! What do I mean? There are eleven songs in Revelation that make up the background music to the story. They are songs of worship and triumph:
Revelation Worship Theme Worshipers
4:8 Holy, Holy, Holy Living creatures 4:11 Worthy is the Creator 24 elders 5:8–10 Worthy is the Redeemer Living creatures, 24 elders 5:11–12 Worthy is the Lamb Creatures, elders, angels 5:13 Blessing and honor to the One on the throne Every created being 7:9–10 Salvation belongs to God A great multitude 7:11–12 Amen! Blessing and glory to our God forever Angels 11:15 World’s kingdoms are now the Lord’s kingdoms Loud voices 11:16–18 Thanksgiving to God Elders 15:2–4 Great and marvelous God Victors over the beast 19:1–8 Alleluias (4) for the marriage of the Lamb! Great multitude, 24 elders, living creatures, great voices The majestic declarations of God’s glory and greatness in praise by the angels, Creation, the redeemed, and all of these together, show the constant backdrop for the shifting scenes in Revelation 15—worship. Behind the shifting scenes of man’s changing world of human history, portrayed by the symbols of Revelation, is an unchanging and vivid reality. In God’s eternal world: God’s purposes don’t fail; God’s plan doesn’t change; God’s Christ is always victorious!
WEDNESDAY: The Song of Jesus “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and
glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.” —Revelation 15:3b-4, emphasis added Revelation 15 contains the final song of the Scriptures. Both the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, which are very similar in content, capture well the beauty of Jesus. Although these victorious martyrs will sing two songs, the song of the Lamb is a song which only they could learn: They sang as it were a new song . . . ; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth (Revelation 14:3). These 144,000 who are with Christ will probably also know this song, will go out and share this message, and then their converts will sing it as well. We don’t know what it is, but through the eyes of John we see them singing this song and then breaking forth into this beautifully combined song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. So here they are, these converts of the 144,000 Jewish missionaries, blessing the Lord! The song of Moses commemorated the greatest deliverance in the history of God’s people, Israel; and the victorious martyrs, brought through the sea of persecution to the promised land of heaven, will sing that song of Moses. But the martyrs will also have their own special song. Their song is drawn from the Old Testament. Note the lines of the song and the Old Testament foundations: “Great and marvelous are Your works” (from Psalm 92, 111, 98 and 139). “Just and true are Your ways” (from Psalm 145:17). “Who shall not fear . . . and glorify Your name” (from Psalm 86:9). “You alone are holy” (from 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 99:3; and Psalm 111:9). “All nations shall come and worship before You” (from Psalm 86:9). “For Your judgments have been manifested”—“The Lord has made known His salvation [victory]”—(from Psalm 98). Do you see how this song is a complete recital of the Old Testament? Let us go through this special song of the Lamb and learn something that can affect our praise to God. “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty!” This very unique title of God is only used in Revelation, and it appears five times. Because saints praise God’s works, we are to worship His power, for God is omnipotent! “Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!” Because saints praise God’s ways, we are to worship His plan, and the way that plan unfolds. That is why we should be so thankful in our lives even for the unchangeable features: the family God put us in, the body He put us in, and the place in life He gave us. We should not chafe against that. Are you following God’s plan? Look at Revelation 14:4: These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. That includes the plan of God—they will follow
God’s plan; they will go the way God tells them to go. That is part of our worship; we are to worship God for His great hand leading us in our lives. “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy.” Because saints praise God’s wonders, we are to worship His perfections. God is perfect, but we are not. We should thus say to Him: “God, You are perfect in Your knowledge, perfect in Your ways, perfect in Your Word that You have revealed to us—and I worship You!” We can cultivate our worship as we look at the power of God, the ways of God, and the wonders of His plan. You will never be disappointed if you wait for God’s perfect plan. God wants you to know His will more than you want to know it. It takes a long time to know His will because God is patient, and we are not. So God lets us chafe, fight, and struggle. Then when we don’t know where to turn, we turn to Him and He shows us His plan as we let His Word dwell in us. “For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” Because saints praise God, we are to worship not only His plan but also His purposes. We are not going to be on earth when all this happens, but God is letting us know ahead of time what will occur. Why? So that we can marvel at how wonderful God is, and how He planned all this—and then tell others!
THURSDAY: Jesus Christ Is Victorious I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. —Revelation 15:5–7, emphasis added This passage in Revelation 15 speaks of Jesus Christ’s coming triumph. What does “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony” in verse 5 signify? The Old Testament states seven elements of the tabernacle. Element One—The Way to the Presence of God: This is seen in the shekinah—God’s sign of His glorious presence from Eden onward. (It is mentioned 100 times in Revelation.) Every time God came, there was the glory cloud: in the burning bush when Moses saw Him; in the flaming cherubim as they kept Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden; over the completed tabernacle; over the completed temple; and leaving the temple in Ezekiel after the apostasy of Israel. That cloud is the sign of God’s presence. The way into God’s presence is through the tabernacle of the testimony. Jesus is our Emmanuel, God with us: “The virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us’ ” (Matthew 1:23). Element Two—The Way of Access to God: The purpose is to not just get into His presence, for God spoke in the tabernacle. Do you remember that in the Old Testament there would be a voice over the mercy seat speaking? God was accessible to the high priest and Moses: Moses took his tent and pitched it . . . far from the camp,
and called it the tabernacle of meeting. . . . Everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting, which was outside the camp (Exodus 33:7). Jesus is the image of the invisible God: No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18). Jesus declares God. When the tabernacle of the testimony is open it is a testimony of God’s presence and His accessibility. Element Three—The Way of Forgiveness with God: “And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing” (Leviticus 5:5). Jesus is our cleansing: But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The tabernacle is open. Do you understand what is going on? We are at the high point of the Tribulation in Revelation 15—ready for the sickle to cut the grapes down and squash them. What does God do just before He does that? He opens the tabernacle and says, “I am accessible; My presence is open; My forgiveness is available.” What a God of mercy we have! Element Four—The Way of Guidance by God: Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys (Exodus 40:34–38). Jesus wants to guide us: The tabernacle of the testimony opens in heaven and God is saying, “This is the way! Do you want out of this mess? Look up! Follow Me!” Of course, people won’t, even though He continues to offer: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Element Five—The Way of Protection from God: Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. . . . They brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people . . . arose . . . , there was Dagon, fallen on its face . . . before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And . . . the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face . . . before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it (1 Samuel 5:1–4). The Philistines got the message that God’s ark was the sign of God’s protection of His people because He started smiting the Philistines wherever they took the ark. Jesus promised us His care: “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28). That is why we need to tell people how to get God’s mark—the seal of the Holy Spirit—so that they are not eternally separated from God’s presence. Element Six—The Way of Cleansing with God: “And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD. . . . The priest shall make atonement for him with the
ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin. . . . And the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 19:21–22). Jesus has opened the way for us: Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:22). Element Seven—The Way of Blessings from God: “Delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father” (Isaiah 58:14). Jesus alone offers the overflowing life: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). God says, “As long as you will come and worship Me at My tabernacle, I will rain My blessings on you—for I came to give you an abundant life. If you won’t come, however, I will withhold those blessings” (see Zechariah 14:17). The next verse, Revelation 15:6, can be summarized in three words—Jesus is holy: And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. These angels are dressed like Old Testament priests, symbolizing the holiness of Jesus. The final verse of this passage, Revelation 15:7, can also be summarized in just three words—Jesus is eternal: Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. Jesus is God the Son—and He is eternal. Do you know this holy, eternal Jesus? Are you worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness?
FRIDAY: Jesus Christ is Wrathful The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. —Revelation 15:8, emphasis added This is one of the saddest points in Scripture! At the end of Revelation 15, Christ has run out of patience. Thus, there is something new in verse 8. There has always been a glory cloud, but never smoke. Smoke showed up on Mount Sinai because the law speaks of judgment, but never in the tabernacle or temple—except here, because God’s mercy has ended. The smoke indicates that the way to the presence of God is now closed: the way of forgiveness, guidance, cleansing, and blessing is over, and no one henceforth can enter. Some day soon it will be too late, just as it was in the days of Noah: Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth . . . and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created . . . , both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them” (Genesis 6:5–7). The smoke in Revelation 15:8 portrays God’s judgment. He is basically saying, as He did in Luke 12:20: “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose
will those things be which you have provided?” I pray that you will not be among those who hear Christ exclaim: “Fool!”—and face eternal separation from the One who created you, died for you, and yearns for you to be with Him forever! For Christians, the greatest day of our lives will be the day when we stand alone in front of Jesus Christ and look up at Him, the One who will forever bear in His body the marks of the price of our redemption, and have Him assess our life publicly. Then we will await what we long for—His looking at us and saying: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Martin Luther, the great reformer, made a statement that I just can’t get out of my mind: “I have but two dates on my calendar: today and the day of the judgment seat of Christ!” He said that was what kept him going on translating the Bible into the vernacular and the language of his people. And that is what inspired him to continue as he stood all alone against the whole religious world. Oh, how God has used him to actually alter the course of history from a human perspective. And all because he had just two dates on his calendar! Is your life any more complicated than that? Do you want to accomplish something? Do you want to have a life like Martin Luther’s that is still powerful after many years? Then live the simple life of two dates on your calendar: today, living for Jesus because you have a second date on your calendar—the day you are going to stand in front of Him. Are you getting ready to appear at Christ’s throne? When we take pilgrims to Greece, the most moving spot of all is in the city of ancient Corinth. I have seen travelers who were just “tourists” for the whole trip until they reached that spot. But there beneath the raised stone platform, called in Greek the bema, suddenly the awesomeness of the moment overtakes them and they see themselves at a future day standing before Christ’s throne. Often tears, even deep silence, and always reverence, fill each one as the scene unfolds before their eyes. Jesus said: “Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). The real victory is not to prudently preserve our life as long as possible. Rather, as martyred Jim Elliott once said, we ought to “give what we cannot keep, to gain what we cannot lose.”
SATURDAY: Resting in the Beauty of Jesus For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. —Philippians 3:3, emphasis added To worship is to change. Because heaven is the worship center of the universe, to get ready to appear before Christ’s throne you need to learn to worship Jesus as He deserves. For worship and praise are our duty and purpose of existence. The Father therefore seeks that we ascribe to Christ the honor, praise, glory, and majesty of which He is worthy—His true “worthship.” Just as worship begins in holy expectancy, true worship ends in holy obedience. If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change.
Understanding the nature of worship leads to very practical applications in our lives. For example, resentments cannot be held with the same tenacity when we enter into Christ’s gracious light. As Jesus says, we need to leave our gift at the altar and go set the matter straight (Matthew 5:23–24). In worship an increased power steals its way into the heart sanctuary and an increased compassion grows in the soul. Holy obedience saves worship from becoming an opiate, an escape from the pressing needs of modern life. Worship enables us to hear the call to serve clearly so that we respond, “Here am I! Send me” (see Isaiah 6:1–8). Make a choice to live in hope: As you meditate on the beauty of Jesus—the splendor of His redeeming love shown through His perfect patience, holiness, redemption, justice, and wrath—you will find living hope that spills over into the worship that He longs for! In doing so, you can rest in His beauty that will fill your soul to overflowing and transform you by His power so that earth’s dark shadows flee as you steadily gaze on Jesus, the brightness of the Father’s glory! I exhort you to meditate on the wonderful words of this old song, and then sing it worshipfully to your Lord! Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting Jesus, I am resting, resting In the joy of what Thou art; I am finding out the greatness Of Thy loving heart. Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee, And Thy beauty fills my soul, For by Thy transforming power Thou hast made me whole. Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus, I behold Thee as Thou art, And Thy love, so pure, so changeless, Satisfies my heart— Satisfies its deepest longings, Meets, supplies its every need, And surrounds me with its blessings: Thine is love indeed! Ever lift Thy face upon me As I work and wait for Thee; Resting ‘neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus, Earth’s dark shadows flee. Brightness of my Father’s glory, Sunshine of my Father’s face, Keep me ever trusting, resting, Fill me with Thy grace. —Jean Sophia Pigott (1845–1882) 1 Bob Moorehead, “The Paradox of Our Age,” Words Aptly Spoken (Kirkland, WA: Overlake Christian Bookstore, 1995).
2 William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters of James and Peter (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), in loc.
3 Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life (Montville, NJ: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), electronic edition, chapter 17.