December 22, 2011

Friday after the Fourth Sunday in Advent

Lectionary

Morning - Ps.147, 1 Sam 2:1-10, Lk. 1:57-66
Evening - Ps.148, 150, Jer. 23:5-8, Rev. 22:10-21

Tonight's reading takes us to the end of the book of Revelation, the "final chapter" in more ways than one. It shows the completion of the great story of redemption. In Revelation we have seen the Church go from terrible persecution to unspeakable joy. We have seen her enemies judged and punished, and we have seen the complete victory of God. His purpose was not defeated in Eden. Rebellion in the house of Israel could not prevent His victory. The crucifixion of His own Son did not defeat Him. The empires of the world, though they appear to us as powerful and terrible in their relentless tribulation of the Church, are as easily brushed aside by God as a speck of dust. Jerusalem is given over to the Gentiles. Rome is crushed as though it were nothing. God has marched through history, extending His Kingdom and vanquishing His foes until all enemies are put under His feet and Christ rules the restored creation in perfect peace and righteousness. Even the devil could not prevent God from fulfilling His purpose for His creation and His people. God used Satan as it pleased Him, and destroyed him when it suited His purpose. At the end of the battle, then, God reigns supreme. His enemies are destroyed, His people are saved, and His Kingdom is established forever. This is one of the most important messages of the book of Revelation.

A second, and nearly equally important message is stated several times in Revelation, one of which is found in this chapter; "blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (Rev. 22:7). To "keep the sayings" is to remain faithful unto Christ throughout the trials and tribulations of life. It is to overcome, as Christ said to the churches in the first three chapters. We overcome our enemies and oppressors by being faithful to God at any cost. It is those who overcome in this way who will eat of the tree of life (2:7) not be hurt of the second death (2:11) and feed on Christ by faith, the hidden manna (2:17). Therefore, let us stand fast in the faith. Let us never retreat; never bow to any "beast;" never give up the faith. Then shall we reign with Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. Amen.