Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pastoral Pings ~ The Richness of the Word that Enriches the Heart

          “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

1.  There is something called, “the word of Christ”.

    Application: Do not stop at the words of man, but find this word that surpasses all other words.

2. This word can “dwell” in people.

     Application: Do not settle for this word of Christ living outside your life, or blessing the lives of others; experience it making its home in your own heart.

3. This word can dwell in people “richly”.

    Application: Do not settle for a weak or impoverished experience of this word, but seek the richest possible experience of the words of God.

4. This word is the spring from which we teach one another.

    Application: Make this the spring from which we drink the deepest, longest, most often, and make it the source of what we seek to enrich the lives of others.

5. In teaching one another this word, we have the necessity and means of admonishing one another to live by this word.

    Application: Do not miss the rich treasure of both urging righteous responses to the teaching of this word, and warning against unrighteous responses to the teaching of the words of Christ.

6. It is only through the word of Christ that we can teach and admonish “in all wisdom”.

    Application: Do not rely on the wisdom of the world for teaching and admonishing, but on the wisdom found in the words of our Savior.

7. The richness of the word of Christ in us causes us to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”

    Application: Do not settle for the music of the world, the flesh, and the devil, when the rich, inner, experience of the words of Christ produces the music of the heavenly kingdom for the edification of the body-of-Christ-choir, the Church.

8. The word of Christ dwelling in the church richly causes thankfulness in our hearts to God.

    Application: Let us seek this unified, corporate experience of the words of Christ dwelling in the Church so richly that it stirs up constant thanksgiving in heart and expression, for the further building up of the body of Christ.

          The fact that we are speaking of the “word of Christ”, the personal word of the very personal Shepherd of the flock of God, means we should have a daily time with God, prayerfully meditating upon these words, until our experience rises up to the meaning of the words “dwell in you richly”. Because such a thing is possible, and because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ,”[1] we must simply make the most of what God has given to us.
          We can be quite sure that God is speaking to us through his word. It is up to us to “let” this word of Christ reach its ultimate fulfillment in our lives. Not only will that give God glory for the powerful working of his word, but it will do us the greatest good that any words could ever do.

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 10:17

Monday, May 26, 2014

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ Six Seals. 144,000. A Great Multitude.

          Revelation is full of numbers. They make great conversation starters. They also make for terrible fights. They ought to quiet our souls before God in humility that he has deliberately, and beautifully, revealed his mind about the last hour without giving us anything that would enable us to know the times or seasons he has set by his own authority.[1] By denying us access to what is his, he encourages the child-hearted to settle down and pay attention to what is ours.
          The Church’s work is to be filled with the Spirit and go into the world as Jesus’ witnesses.[2] Revelation is given, at least in part, to assure us that God is looking after the times and seasons he has fixed by his own authority, just as promised, no peeking allowed, so stop worrying about those things,[3] seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and trust him for daily provision now, and eternal provision later.
          As I turned to the seventh chapter of Revelation, I was confronted with the fact that God does not immediately describe the seventh seal. After presenting the first six seals in consecutive order,[4] leaving us hanging with the imagery of God shaking out his divine diorama so that his enemies are terrified by the day of wrath, the Revelation Symphony then leads us to an interlude between movements.
          I have come to appreciate greatly the way John introduces new scenes. In this case he says, After this I saw…”[5] followed by, “After this I looked…”[6] It is important to note that John is describing the order in which he saw and heard things. This does not tell us the order in which they occur in history (as though God was really telling us the times and seasons he has set by his own authority after all), but the order in which the divine revelation presents these things to create the effect God has purposed for this book.
          So, after showing us the cataclysmic things that will take place at the coming of Christ, and the horrified response of the Worldlings who have refused to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Creator and Redeemer, it is time to show us something else. There are thoughts God wants in our minds as we transition from the sixth seal to the seventh seal.
          The next two pictures show us that a symbolic number of 144,000 “servants” of God, “from every tribe of the sons of Israel,” are sealed; and, “a great multitude that no one could number,” made up of people who have come “out of the great tribulation,” are standing before the throne, joining with angels, elders, and living creatures in worship of their God and the Lamb.
          Last week, I began my consideration of the sixth seal by wondering if the catastrophic description was figurative, to get John’s focus on the reaction of the world to the coming of Christ, or literal, meaning that something was going to happen to the creation at the time of Jesus coming. By the end of the week it was clear that the coming of Christ will include these terrible changes to the present creation. To whatever extent the description is real or symbolic doesn’t change the fact that it will be a terrible time for the unsaved, and the real-time events will fit the description perfectly.
          This week I begin my consideration of this interlude with lots of questions about the 144,000, and the great multitude no one could number.[7] While there is a whole week to ponder these things in prayer, I already see that the first group pictures God sealing those who are his before further disaster plays out on the divine stage, and the second group pictures the glorious presence of God for those who have already gone through tribulation.
          Since the focus of the first group is that they are sealed by God before he releases his angels to wreak havoc on earth, there is an assurance that God’s people are identified so clearly to God that, when his angels come to “gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,”[8] they will have no difficulty knowing who belongs to God.  
          And, since the focus of the second group is to show how glorious their eternal joy in heaven will be after whatever tribulation they go through, we can welcome the assurance that this affirms Paul’s example of, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”[9]
          Those who are sealed by God before the clock strikes midnight, are welcomed into God’s presence “after the tribulation of those days.”[10]God stops everything to show his children that they are sealed, and therefore safe from the coming judgment. And, God rolls the clock ahead to show the wonderful experience of his presence that comes after whatever tribulation his church goes through, so that we can endure all things in the assurance that we are sealed now, and safe then.
          It is kind of like what Paul said as the conclusion to his glorious expression of praise for all our “spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”[11] He wrote, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”[12]

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Acts 1:7
[2] Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2; Ephesians 5:18; Revelation 6:9
[3] Matthew 6:25-34; vs 33
[4] Revelation 6
[5] Revelation 7:1
[6] Revelation 7:9
[7] Revelation 7
[8] Matthew 24:31
[9] Romans 8:18
[10] Matthew 24:29
[11] Ephesians 1:3
[12] Ephesians 1:13-14

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dear Pastor ~ The Profitableness of Scripture Directs the Preaching of the Pastor

It is Sunday morning. Before me is the sixth seal of Revelation, demanding that I preach the word of God with authority, teaching what accords with sound doctrine, without going beyond what is written. As security-shaking as that is, here is a picture of the way a couple of Scriptures ministered to my heart this morning.

Now that I have this picture in my mind, and heart, I can trust God to help me by his Spirit so that my preaching is worthy of Scripture's profitableness. Here is my text:

12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6)

I trust that God is not only preparing me for my preaching in our home church this morning, but will also use our time together as his church to prepare us to join God's work throughout the day in the distinctive way of the Spirit that is worthy of our high calling in the Lord Jesus Christ.

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ Three Thoughts From the Sixth Seal

          Jesus opening the sixth seal results in a terrible scene that seems to encompass all of creation.[1] Other seals involve distinct elements of history, with limited effect on humanity. This sixth seal speaks of turmoil that covers every element of the universe, while leaving the nations in terror at the coming of Jesus Christ. Here are some further lessons.

God alone can do what the sixth seal describes

          One of the Scriptures that keeps coming to mind is this: The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”[2] Even though the red dragon is “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience,”[3]the earth, and the rest of the universe, still belongs to God. The devastation described in this seal, whether literal or symbolic, refers things that only God could do.
          God’s children will never be at the mercy of some world-ending disaster brought on by man or demon. God created the heavens and the earth, and he will renew the heavens and the earth at the end of time.[4] The sixth seal calls us to attention with things that God will do to usher in the day of his wrath.
Apart from Jesus Christ, there is nowhere in the universe that is safe

          People keep talking about finding other planets to live on. Some want to travel to Mars and try living there. Others imagine finding distant civilizations, or even parallel universes. Although God has revealed himself to us so clearly, they want to find some other explanation for life.
          What we see in this passage in Revelation 6, is that there is nowhere that is safe for God-denying and God-defying man. Even the most boisterous of God’s enemies will be utterly humbled because there is nowhere they can go to get away from the God they despised.
          While the world delights to think it can distance itself from God, the Psalm-writer set us an example of quite a different way. He wrote,
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.[5]
          God invites us to experience his presence as our constant hope so that we will avoid the terror felt when the world discovers that God is everywhere after all, and is now coming to execute his wrath as promised.

The second coming of Jesus Christ will be both Mount Sinai and Calvary

          What we have at Mount Sinai is the fearful dread of judgment based on law. What we have on Calvary is the amazing gift of salvation based on grace. In both places, judgment is at the forefront. Sinai shows us the Judge with only the law to keep us in line. Calvary shows us the Judge taking his own judgment on himself, giving us the means of living without guilt, shame, or fear.
          When Jesus comes again, there will be the terrible judgment of Sinai, where the people who chose death meet their doom; and there will be the glorious salvation of Calvary, where all those who belong to Jesus Christ receive their full inheritance of eternal life.
          In other words, the sixth seal does not describe the terror felt by God’s children at the coming of their Lord and Savior. It describes the horror experienced by the world when Jesus returns. Jesus explained this already:
 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”[6]
          Jesus made clear that two things will happen at his return. The “tribes of the earth will mourn,” pictured in the sixth seal as the people calling the rocks and hills to cover them. However, to clarify that this does not include God’s children he adds that the angels will, at the same time, “gather his elect” to himself. The nations will mourn because they will experience God’s full judgment against their sin. The elect will be gathered in such a way that the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.[7]
          I believe that there is at least a significant part of this sixth seal aimed at moving the heart of the church to so love the world that we will give ourselves for their salvation, even as our Savior loved us, and gave himself up for us. Only Jesus does the redemptive work, but now we do the evangelizing work to bring people out of the darkness that leads to death, and into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 6:12-17
[2] Psalm 24:1-2
[3] Ephesians 2:2
[4] II Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1
[5] Psalm 139:11-12
[6] Matthew 24:29-31
[7] I Thessalonians 4:16-17

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Revelation Videos - Study 48 ~ "Opening the Second Seal"

In the second seal we contemplate what is meant by a rider on a red horse taking peace from the earth so that people go around killing each other. While all these seals leave much more opportunity for consideration than we can give here, this message addresses some of the things the church needs to think about as we face the ticking clock of this last hour.

Pastoral Pings (Plus) ~ A Secure Church in a Shaken Creation

A Secure Church in a Shaken Creation
          According to the description of the sixth seal,[1] history will one day act out a script that calls for a great earthquake, the sun turning black, the moon turning red, the stars falling to earth, the sky vanishing, and mountains and islands removed from the stage. That will not be a good day to be on the side of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
          In our aim of not going beyond what is written,[2]we must be careful to seek a thoroughly scriptural explanation of these signs and wonders. At the same time, we must accept that it will not always be clear how much these seals are described symbolically versus literally. Thankfully, this is secondary to the meaning the symbols communicate, so I first want to know what God wants me to believe, think, and do as a result of what he has revealed.
          Because this is Scripture, the written words breathed out by God,[3] there is a meaning in these words that is true, and is clear, whether these things turn out to be metaphors for events that will take place, or real descriptions of the events themselves. Whatever happens, it will be just like what is described in the Revelation.
          In fact, I suspect there will be a lot of smiles as God’s children discover what God had really meant by all the signs and symbols of his prophetic revelations. But we will all be in wonder at the absolute accuracy of God’s word to describe what is yet to happen, and in such wording as leaves us wondering how our Father will pull it off.
          So, without any certainty about whether the universe-shaking descriptions of the sixth seal are literal or figurative, here are some things that are communicated for our edification.
          The first description of this “great day of their wrath,”[4]is that it will be introduced by “a great earthquake.”[5] This is easy to contextualize. This is what people fear all over the world. We have seen the devastation of earthquakes that reduce cities to rubble. We know that a great earthquake, what coastal North Americans refer to as “the big one”, is hovering somewhere under the horizon.
          Whether this is what will literally happen prior to the coming of the Lord, or at the coming of the Lord, I cannot say.[6] What I know is that an earthquake means destruction. A great earthquake means huge destruction. A worldwide earthquake would shake people up in a way that would capture their absolutely undivided attention . When the earth beneath our feet begins to shake in the great and terrible way described, there will be nothing else on our minds but the inability to feel secure.
          This reminds me of a carnival ride I went on where the machine had us going  around a track on a dangling car that spun around at the same time the whole track traveled along its course.[7] Coming straight down that track so that I could see the ground coming quickly up to meet me, and then reaching the bottom only to have our helpless bodies spun around to start up the other side, it didn’t matter one little bit how white my knuckles were holding on to the bar in front of me. The whole contraption was moving as it willed, and my little seat was going to keep spinning and turning however that machine was designed to spin us around. Holding on tighter only made me aware that holding on didn’t help one little bit!
          That ride was the most insecure physical feeling I have ever gone through, and all to prove to my son that I was brave enough to do such things with him!   When I think of what that ride looked like, it was sitting on the earth, the whole machine quite securely resting on the ground. All the insecurity I felt was in that very short period of time in that very confined space on that one little contraption. The earth itself was still standing secure. While it may have felt like the earth was moving when I first got off the ride, it was only me, and my brain trying to find its equilibrium once again.
          When I think of the earthquake that is coming, and whatever it means whether real or symbolic, it is a picture of the worst insecurity that we could ever feel. It is not the fun, carnival-ride kind of insecurity where people actually enjoy feeling themselves being tossed around in unnatural ways because they trust that the rides are actually secure enough to hold them safely in and give them an enjoyable (or not!) experience with family and friends.
          Rather, it is the insecurity of people feeling that their whole world is shaken. This is the thing, that the whole world will be shaken by the return of Jesus Christ. Everything we stand on, everything we think is secure, will be shaken. Everything the world considers the reference point for life will be shaken.
           The writer of Hebrews gives us a very sobering explanation of this shaking that is on its way.
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.[8]
          The issue here is whether we receive the one who is speaking. The same one is speaking through the book of Revelation. Those who receive him, receive “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Those who reject him face the most terrible shaking they have ever experienced, and only to clear the stage for something even worse.
          It is interesting that the Hebrews’ passage clarifies that the things that are shaken are “things that have been made.” What the sixth seal of Revelation describes is the shaking and removal of the created order. However, this is to replace it with that which cannot be shaken.
          The response of God’s children is to be grateful, and worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is the consuming fire who comes to cleanse his creation of sin, and give us a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”[9]
          And, while we worship our Father for his awesome glory, we watch for any opportunity to lead more people out of the domain of darkness,” and into “the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”[10]
          The Church of the last hour is to be like a rider on a white horse, taking the world by storm, and conquering souls for the kingdom of heaven.[11] The plight of the last at the coming of our great and glorious Savior, Jesus Christ, spurs us on to make him known. Those who have ears to hear, will hear.

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 6:12-17
[2] I Corinthians 4:6
[3] II Timothy 3:16-17; cf Romans 15:4, I Corinthians 9:10
[4] Revelation 6:17
[5] Revelation 6:12
[6] I still expect greater clarity by Sunday morning!
[7] Look up, “Zipper carnival ride” on internet for images
[8] Hebrews 12:25-29
[9] II Peter 3:13
[10] Colossians 1:13,14
[11] Revelation 6:1-2

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pastoral Pings ~ The Symphonic Harmony of the Cross-Reference

          As promised, a new day leads us further in our walk with God, and deeper into his thoughts. This morning left me with the feeling David described as, How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand.”[1]
          What confronted me is that, there are so many cross-references to the description of the sixth seal,[2] it is like layering line upon line of harmony all around the melody of this revelation. The melody line sings for itself; but the parallel Scriptures add thoughts that harmonize so beautifully with this tune that the weight of the stanza falls even heavier upon our hearts.
          Journeying through the Revelation Museum as a Gentile traveler has left me wondering how the Jewish believers of the first century heard what was read aloud. I try to picture an early church congregation listening to what was read, and everyone working together to put into practice what God revealed.[3] I imagine that the Jewish believers would have quickly recognized the connection between passages in Revelation and passages in their previous Scriptures, what we Gentiles call the Old Testament. I wonder what it would have been like to have discussions after church and hear my Jewish brothers explain how what we just heard caused so many other Scriptures to pop into their heads.
          For me, I have to rely on referencing-tools to guide me to applicable passages. Sometimes there are few cross-references; today there were many. I know in my heart that all the notes sounded amazing together, but I will have to listen to this strain of music a while longer to see how to write the musical notation.
          The essence of today’s time with God was that my heavenly Father has much more to say on this passage than yesterday’s introductory meditations revealed. It was like entering the throne room of God, where God’s thoughts are so much higher than our own that we could not possibly expect to ever think them all, and his ways are so much higher than our own that we could never expect to be everywhere he is, joining everything he is doing.[4]
          Rather, there is a symphony of the kingdom of heaven. It is playing in perfect timing to the Conductor of the universe. His baton sweeps his thoughts into music so that his Church, throughout the world, down to the most inconspicuous member of the body of Christ in any location, can hear their part of the score, sing the notes that are set before them, and know that it is creating a sound of harmonies that are, literally, out of this world.
          Tomorrow I will begin exploring the cross-references to the melody of the sixth seal. Today I will enjoy the sound of the God-song as it settles into my soul. I already know it will be some expression of what brother Zephaniah wrote many centuries ago: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”[5]
          The wonder of wonders is that, God invites his children to sing along!

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Psalm 139:17-18
[2] Revelation 6:12-17
[3] Revelation 1:3
[4] Isaiah 55:9
[5] Zephaniah 3:17

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pastoral Ponderings ~ Sharing our Thoughts with Father-God

          There are many times when my journey of meditating on God’s word brings me back to Jesus’ declaration that we must be like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.[1] The children in my life cannot know how often I see something they are doing and realize that God is giving me a living illustration of how to approach him as his beloved child. This morning I found my mind once again wandering through the meadow of childlike thoughts, leaving me with the feeling of peaceful wonder at the things that surround me in my Father’s word, even though I wasn’t exactly sure what he was saying!
          What I want to share today is not some grand insight in my journey through the Revelation Museum. Rather, I want to share how a child-minded adult makes the journey, and receives the blessing of Jesus taking us in his arms, holding us close to his heart,[2] and blessing us for reading aloud the book, listening to what is read, and putting into practice all that is taught.[3]
          When I arrived at the sixth seal,[4] I discovered that the unusual description of John’s vision allowed for two possibilities. Did John see a vision that had only one part, and all the details gave a symbolic description of something that would happen at the time of Jesus’ return? Or, did John see a vision that had two parts, the first part to set the stage in order to get John’s attention, and the second part to present the main act that the sixth seal would play out at the end of time?
          This is very important. If the first part of what John saw is included in what will play out on the stage of history to usher in the return of Christ, then we will expect to see things taking place that fulfill the symbolic description of a great earthquake, the sun turning black, the full moon becoming like blood, the stars falling from the sky, the sky vanishing from sight, and every mountain and island disappearing from its place.[5]
          If, on the other hand, the first part of what John saw was the drum roll to get his (and our) attention on the second part, then we would not expect to see these things appear in some symbolic way in history. We would treat the hiding of the sun, moon, stars, sky, mountains, and islands, as a clearing of the stage to get our attention on the thing that is played out as soon as the stage is clear and we will not be distracted from the main event.
          After wondering if this vision was in two parts, rather than one, I took another look at the previous five seals to see if they followed a pattern. Were they all singular visions of what would happen throughout the last hour, or were they two parts, the first to set the stage, and the second to fulfill the script, so to speak. I decided to do a chart to see if things would become clear.

Setting Stage
Presenting Act


Revelation 6:1-2

One of the living creatures calls out a white horse. It’s rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him.
The rider goes out “conquering, and to conquer.”
The Church goes out under the authority of Jesus Christ to conquer the world by making disciples of all nations.


Revelation 6:3-4
The second living creature calls out a fiery red horse. The rider is given a great sword.
The rider has permission “to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another.”
While the Church goes out conquering, seeking to bring people to have peace with God, we will never bring peace to the world.


Revelation 6:5-6
The third living creature calls out a black horse. The rider “had a pair of scales in his hand.” Attention is drawn to a voice that appeared to come from “in the midst of the four living creatures.”
The voice announces that there will be highly inflated prices on the most basic and essential food supplies.
While the Church goes out conquering, bringing the bread of life to the world, we will see food shortages, and inflated food prices, continue through the last hour.


Revelation 6:7-8
The fourth living creature calls out a pale green horse. The “rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him.”
Death and Hades were given authority to kill a fourth of the earth with sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts.
While the Church goes out conquering, bringing the message of life to the world, the last hour will be characterized by all kinds of deaths through unnatural causes.


Revelation 6:9-11
John saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.”
The souls of the martyrs cry out from under the altar, asking God when justice will be fulfilled. They were given white robes, and told to rest a little longer. There would still be more martyrs until their number was complete.
While the Church goes out conquering, seeking to save people from perishing, the world will respond by putting some of Jesus’ disciples to death. We are assured that all is well with these martyrs so that we will press on no matter how many believers are martyred in the process.


Revelation 6:12-17
John saw, a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”
History will conclude with the scene of people calling to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’”
While the Church goes out conquering, seeking to bring people to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we are moved to earnestly persevere with this reminder of how horrified the lost will be at the return of Jesus Christ to usher in the wrath of God against the sin of the nations.

          As you may suspect, my time with God this morning ended with a suspicion that the symbolic disappearance of the elements may have been more about introducing the scene to John and his readers, rather than telling us anything that will happen in the history of the last hour itself.
          However, I am NOT presenting this to you as a conclusion, or even as a valid interpretation. In fact, I have been hesitant to share this at all in case it makes anyone think that I am open to whatever rogue thoughts that flit through my mind.
          Rather, I believe that there is a place for childlike considerations of God’s thoughts, where we wonder what something means, consider ideas and options, meditate on things with a dependence on the Holy Spirit to teach us what we don’t know, and remind us of how other things help us understand the Scripture at hand, and enjoy the wonder of the scenes even while not being absolutely sure what they mean.
          What I know is that I see children communicating like this all the time. Many a conversation have I had with children wondering how things work. I know what it is like to hold back my many bits of knowledge because I recognize where a child is in his or her discoveries, while, at the same time, enjoying listening to the way he or she is learning things I have known for a long time.
          If nothing else, I think I must look to God like my little friend who has recently understood how adding a 1 to any other number turns it into the next number. While I have the understanding to tell him what happens when you move into the two-plus tables, or learn to subtract instead of add, or begin playing around with multiplication and division, it was not my knowledge that was on center stage. It was a child’s wondering experience of understanding one more thing about numbers, and feeling that childhood joy that made him exclaim, “I love math!”
          If today’s meditation on God’s word is nothing more than learning how the one-plus tables work, then I hope I can stir up your enthusiasm for God’s word with my declaration, “I love the book of Revelation!” If, instead, I just shared with you a bunch of rubbish thoughts that needed to be cleared out of my head so I could settle into what God is really saying, I have seen children learn like that many times as well. Wait for my next post and see what I have learned!
          And, since the earliest I will be preaching on this passage is five days away, I am sure I will really get this passage by Sunday morning. With the Holy Spirit as my teacher, I can hardly wait for the next insights into God’s word, no matter whether the Spirit’s focus is teaching, reproving, correcting, or training.[6] I know that what is waiting for me is the peaceful feeling of wonder that fills the heart of those who are willing to become like little children in order to get to know their heavenly Father better than they have ever known him before.

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Matthew 18:3; Mark 10:5; Luke 18:17
[2] Mark 10:13-16; Isaiah 40:11
[3] Revelation 1:3
[4] Revelation 6:12-17
[5] Revelation 6:12-14
[6] II Timothy 3:16-17