the purpose of judgment

SCRIPTURE: Revelation 6

The scroll represents the unfolding plan of God from the ascension of Jesus to His throne, to His final return in glory. In the context of brutal, difficult times for Jesus-followers, John sees that all things are working out according to the master plan, and it is Jesus (the lamb) who is in charge of these things. Sin is the cause of all suffering – not God. But now that sin and suffering is a reality in this world, God through His appointed Agent is directing the power of evil to accomplish His purpose. The experience of crises and disasters in this period of time are the temporal judgment of God, prompting us to repent before the final judgment of God. This will continue until the number of those who do repent is complete. Then the end will come.

Every experience of evil, in my own life or anywhere else in the world, is a call to repent. The horrific 9/11 event was also a time to bring us to our knees and submit to the Lord. He did not randomly cause this tragedy – it is the natural consequence of evil in the world – but He did allow it for a reason, to wake us all up. Death, tragedy, crisis, hardship, misery, pain, sickness, poverty, etc, these are all the symptoms of life without God, and the Lord allows us to experience them to impress on us our need for Him. He will continue to allow this until the final day, when people will either ultimately repent before or reject God.

If anyone says ‘why me’, when they struggle, there is no easy answer. But part of the reason is rooted in the mercy of Jesus, for us and for so many others we may or may not know. Am I prepared to have the Lord use my life (whether good or bad) for the purpose of saving others? Whatever happens, the answer seems to be the same – repent [Luke 13:1-5]!

Lord, I have seen may examples of suffering and evil, though I myself have been spared for now. Help me not to wait until something happens to me, help me to truly, sincerely repent and submit to You!


5 Responses

  1. Christ is with His people throughout time. He is with us always, even to the end of the world. Yet the peoples of the land do not serve Him. They are bent on killing one another, wise in their own eyes, spiritually dead. The calamities are judgements of God and they go at His commands and are in His power. There are those who died standing up for Jesus, but it was Christ’s blood which saved them.

    In light of all the happenings of the storms, where is God in this? Do I see His presence? Do the people acknowledge Him? The tradegy we see is the result of life without Christ, the giver of life, the Bread of life. I pray that the world may see Jesus and serve Him. Help me also Lord on this day to see Your majesty and power. Help me to serve You each day as You speak to me, leading me on my way. Help Your people be a living witness to all the oppressed, the suffering and the dieing.

    Out of tribulation, death and Satan’s hand,
    They have been translated at the Lord’s command.
    In their hands they’re holding palms of victory;
    Hark! the jubilant chorus shouts triumphantly:

  2. Much of the writing in the book of Revelation is symbolic. It has to be. The question then, is, how do you know what things are symbolic and what are not? Chapters 5 – 7 mentions people, angels, a lamb, horse adn riders, and creatures that don’t look like any we have here on earth. Are the creatures real, or are thay symbolic? How were we to know this?

  3. Are the creatures real, or are they symbolic?
    Good question!
    I would say that they are both real and symbolic (does that help?)
    The symbols and creatures represent something very real, but using word pictures/images.
    Think of an icon on a computer. It is a figurative attempt to convey something more. The trash can on my desktop is a real symbol, representing something very real (a place where deleted files go). But obviously it is only a symbol, one that resembles the thing it represents.
    How were we to know this?
    One thing, this was a known genre of literature at the time, so people would know it was ‘apocalyptic’, i.e. a dramatic and symbolic description of the end of the world.
    John makes it very clear in the beginning that this is a vision, and usually in the Bible dreams and visions are loaded with symbolism (dreams like Jacob’s ladder, Joseph’s sheaves and stars, Pharoah’s bread and wine, Nebuchadnezzar’s statue).
    For us, it takes time, but eventually as we read it we get the sense of it. How does a person with English as a second language know that the phrase ‘laughing my head off’ is not literal, but a figure of speech? At first it might catch them off guard, but soon they figure it out.

    The whole book is loaded with figurative language, but it points to something very real. Jesus is the lion of Judah (king of the beasts) but is seen as a lamb. Both symbols convey a powerful idea. The humble (lamblike) king (lionlike).
    Assume that most of what this book communicates are lessons through symbols. As we imagine through the symbols, we can eventually see their deeper meaning.

    One more thing, some people try to read the whole Bible as figurative language. For example, Jesus did not really turn water into wine, its just a symbol for how He changes us. Jesus did not really raise from the dead, its just a symbol of how He lives on in our hearts and minds. The problem with this is that is not how the books are written. They are historical accounts, biographies. Whereas the book of revelation is obviously symbolic, the stories of Jesus are obviously historic. Just a plain reading of the books will make that evident.
    If I am looking at a political cartoon of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as well as a realistic portrait, it will be obvious to the looker which one was intended to look like him, and which one was intended to symbolically portray (and mock) him. Its just common sense.

  4. William Barclay, world-renowned Scottish New Testament interpreter and Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism states in his commentary on Revelation that the apostle John is not likely the author of Revelation. Barclay gives several very convincing reasons to support his theory. Aside from the fact that this does not change the message in Revelation I am curious to know why the apostle John is more readily accepted as the author. Any thoughts?

  5. I did some quick research, and discovered that, as Barclay points out, there are convincing reasons to question John the Apostles’ authorship. The use of Greek in the gospel of John is very different from the use of Greek in Revelation. Many of the church fathers accepted it as his work (Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen), but some (Eusebius and Dionysius) rejected it. I think this is why the apostle John is more readily accepted as the author – he has the big guns behind his name. Some have suggested that it was (church) politically motivated, with the Greek Christians (Eusebius and Dionysius) rejecting it and the Roman Christians (Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen).

    What do we make of this? For sure I can say that it was written by John, but which John is uncertain. Like you say, it matters not. The book itself does not identify which John.

    Its safest to say that John wrote it, but beyond that we cannot be to dogmatic.

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