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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Think of heaven (Rev. 14:1-5)

In chapter 13, John had described the activities of the two beasts which represented the political and religious powers ranged against the church of Christ. This combination shows itself in different ways. In the days of John, the political authority was Rome and the religious activities that were engaged in supported the authority in Caesar. Indeed, it was common for the authorities to require people to say that Caesar is Lord and the refusal of Christians to do so led to martyrdoms and other problems.

Chapter 13 also stated that the devil was behind the beasts who were attempting to destroy the church, and he still uses the same tactics today, as he has done throughout history. There are many places today where the combination of the political and the religious brings trouble for the church of Jesus.

The next activity of Jesus, from whom this vision came to John, was to give to his suffering church a picture of heaven. No doubt, this vision was sent to encourage believers as they faced troubles and trials. They were given a foretaste of the end to encourage them in the present. More details are going to be given about the activities of the beasts, but before they are given Jesus draws attention to the victory that his people will experience.

This brief vision is like the other interludes in the Book of Revelation in which readers were given a respite from reading the horrific descriptions of what was happening in the world. It is good for us to take such interludes often because we are engaged in spiritual conflict. How much thought have we given to heaven this week? After all, Jesus in John 14 before he told his disciples that they would have trouble in the world informed them about what he would be doing for them in the many rooms of the Father’s house, a wonderful picture of heaven.

We know that idea of the sealed 144,000 has been used already in this book. The difference between the previous reference in chapter 7 and this latest reference is that in chapter 7 they are viewed before the troubles and persecution whereas in chapter 14 they are described as after the period of trouble is over. In chapter 7, they were sealed before the troubles with divine names on their foreheads, a sign that God would protect his servants. Now they have arrived in Mount Zion, indicating to John’s readers that God will keep his people.

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