Saturday, December 1, 2012

Reveling in Revelation ~ A Revealing Psalm of Grace and Peace

          I will say this many times going through the book of Revelation, that it is the grand crescendo of God’s word that gathers into itself all the themes and expressions of Scripture that come before. We cannot journey through the Revelation Museum without seeing all the other Scriptures that have formed the path we must follow, and hearing the songs of former generations of God’s people of faith.

          Today I found an amazing connection between Revelation 1:4 and Psalm 46. Revelation 1:4 says, “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come…” The grace and peace of God are like a garland placed around our necks as we begin our journey through the book. What we must consider now is the significance of the particular description of God in relation to the gift of grace and peace. Let’s break this down and see how each set of words chosen by God help our faith in the grace and peace he is giving us in Christ.

          “from him who is”

          As believers go through the trials and troubles described in the book of Revelation, we have a Father who is the “I AM”,[1] the always existing one who always exists in what we think of as the “present”. He is outside of time, space and matter, and so is not governed by the things that happen by matter doing things in space over seasons of time. He “is”. Every time we see any of the things the book of Revelation describes, God IS. He is not just was and will be; but he is, and always is. He is present. He is with us. We are to see him as watching over us right in line with all that he has planned to unfold.

          Notice how this is expressed in Psalm 46:

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46)

          Apply this to all the troubles God warns us about in Revelation. He gives grace and peace as the God who is our refuge and strength, the God who is our very present help in trouble. We are not to see our trials as overcoming God and his people. We are to see that God is giving us grace to go through those things[2], even to rejoice in them[3], and he is present to give us that grace and peace.

          The writer of Hebrews adds a New Testament affirmation of this picture: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”[4] We can go to the throne of grace with confidence at any time because God is very present to help us, and when we confidently go to this throne of grace, we will get his present expression of grace and mercy, or grace and peace, to help us through our troubles.

          Jesus referred to the Father’s watch-care over his people on the night he was arrested. In his prayer he prayed: I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”[5] Revelation makes it clear that the church will not be taken out of the world in order to be spared persecution and troubles of all kinds. Instead, God himself will keep his people from the evil one since he is very present to do so.

          The next part of Psalm 46 continues to affirm the picture of the very present God helping his people through whatever we presently face.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46)

          All of this emphasizes how we are to see God as very present with his people to help us in our time of need. just as Revelation declares.

          “from him who was”

          The garland of grace and peace are from the God who has already existed and ruled over all the history we have ever heard of. I find it fascinating that Psalm 46 tells us what to expect of God in the present, and bases this on what we have already seen in the past. Because God is the God who was, in everything we are going to face we can recall what God has already done. The people of faith got through their trials because God was already faithful to them. The great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 11 tells us about the God who was, and how he worked in the past. Psalm 46 does the same:

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. (Psalm 46)

          We are to remember the things God has already done so we will trust him with the things we are facing at the moment. We are to behold the works of the LORD that are already evident. He “has” brought desolations on the earth already. He has judged nations already. He has delivered his people already. He has brought his people out of Egypt and led them into the promised land. That is what he will do again. He has brought Jesus’ disciples out of the Egypt of sin and into the promised land of salvation. He will one day take us out of the Egypt of this world and bring us into the promised land of our heavenly home. What he did in the past tells us what he will do about all the future things the church will face, even as we face them in one present experience after another.

          “from him who is to come”

          Again, Psalm 46 is amazing:

10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46)

          We can be still in the present, and we can know in the present moment that Jesus Christ is God, because no matter how far time stretches into the future, and no matter what we see the nations do to suppress and destroy the word of God, the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, WILL be exalted among the nations. He WILL be exalted in the earth.

          This is the message of the book of Revelation. Memorize the pictures in the book and watch out for anything that looks the way the pictures portray. No matter in what ways you see the beasts of man-centeredness rise up against the Church, Jesus Christ will be exalted over those people. No matter how you see the Babylon of the world rise up to destroy the Church, Jesus Christ will be exalted over the world. No matter how we see the church turn into a prostitute with the world, the true Church will rise up and follow Jesus Christ who will be exalted over all false religions, over every idol, over even the strongest and most militant religions, and over the false Christianity that is growing throughout the world.

          The point is that we can be still now because God will be exalted then. We can rest now because God will be victorious. We can even rest from our attempts to turn the book of Revelation into manmade theories that go beyond what is written[6] because our faith is not in our understanding of world events, or our ability to pinpoint the timeframe of Christ’s coming. Our hope is in the fact that God is with us, and he is the one who will be exalted over every nation, over every enemy of the church, and even over the red dragon himself[7].

          The testimony that grace and peace come to God’s children from their Father who is, who was, and who is to come, resonates with the music of Psalm 46 which gladly sings that God is our refuge and strength, our very present help in every trouble the book of Revelation speaks about. Those who refuse Christ have no such hope; but the disciples of Jesus Christ have the certain confidence that God is present to help us now as he prepares the time for Christ to come and take us out of this sin-cursed world and into the delights of his eternal presence.[8]

© 2012 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, Canada, V1K 1B8 ~

[1] Exodus 3:14
[2] Revelation 1:1
[3] James 1:3
[4] Hebrews 4:16
[5] John 17:15
[6] I Corinthians 4:6
[7] Revelation 12 shows the red dragon; the rest of revelation shows God’s victory over him
[8] Psalm 16:11

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