17 January 2020

This is the last week of the 2019 blog series. The new 2020 blog series will start on Monday 20 January.

Revelation 22

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

John and the angel

The angel said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.’

‘Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.’

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!’

10 Then he told me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.’

Epilogue: invitation and warning

12 ‘Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

14 ‘Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practise magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practises falsehood.

16 ‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.’

17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

20 He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

‘Amen’ is a good ending. It’s the last word at the end of our printed Bibles.

We’ve had three endings this week in the blog. Jonah ended at Nineveh with God’s question to the angry prophet. Malachi in Jerusalem ended with a hanging threat. Revelation ends at Patmos island with the hope of seeing the triumph of Jesus. That’s much better. Except that we’re still waiting.

Strange isn’t it that you can read a vision? Or open Google Earth and fly to Nineveh (Mosul, Iraq) and scope the ruin mound, fly to Jerusalem and notice how it’s grown, fly to Patmos and drop down at the Cave of the Apocalypse, or book a holiday. They still write and speak Greek there!

You’ve probably also noticed that Isis planted their black flag at Mosul, but lost that battle. That Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans in 70AD, and is now a place of tense conflict with no end in sight, and that the Roman empire, that evil ‘Babylon’ of  Revelation, has vanished too. Pope Francis from South America lives in Rome now and has written a book called The Joy of the Gospel.

Malachi didn’t foresee ‘Elijah’, aka John the Baptist, standing in the Jordan river with the Son of God. Nor did John the Baptiser foresee the ending of the dance at Herod’s party that included his freshly severed head carried in on a platter. We can’t foresee the end of January, or the new decade, and whether we’ll be there. 

Like the prophets Jonah, Malachi and John the visionary, we can’t see around the corners in our own lives. 

There’s something else we can’t see in advance. I’m not talking about a solution to Eskom, racism, corruption and unemployment in South Africa. This ‘not seen’ that sums up the Apocalypse of John and much more, is a good one and goes like this:

 No eye has seen, no ear has heard

and no mind has imagined

what God has prepared

for those who love him!

(1 Corinthians 2:9)

Let’s say an “Amen!” to that, and give thanks.