Monday, November 13, 2006

Revelation 18:15-24

As we read today’s passage we ride through the climactic scenes of Revelation. Soon we will reach the new heaven and earth where God has designed and constructed a glorious city for his beloved people to inhabit. In this holy city, the new Jerusalem, we will enjoy the plenitude of God’s shalom – a wondrous peace seeded and flowered by the death and resurrection of the Lamb, Jesus himself. Yet now, today, in this passage we must ride through great conflict and ordeal before we come to dwell in the new heaven and earth.

What generates this conflict and ordeal? Rebellion against God. This is what spews out strife and suffering for all people, and especially for those who give their lives to love and serve God. The portrait of such rebellion comes in the forms of a lavishly dressed woman, a strange and hideous beast, and a city decked out in all the trappings of material wealth and worldly power. Styled as Babylon the Great, that city opposes God’s purposes, God’s people, and God’s city. Like all claimants to power in this world who ignore, reject, or even war against the true ruler of the cosmos, that city believes itself to be supreme, invincible, and unending.

How ironic then is the repetition of the phrase “in one hour.” Namely, “in one hour” that city’s doom will come upon it! What took long years of human history and empire-building to amass – impressive physical structures, intricate systems, and stockpiles of money and goods – will be judged and swept away by God “in one hour.” However attractive and strong rebellion against God may appear, it eventually corrodes and crumbles before true glory and power.

It is vital that we grasp and take this to heart. That which the world, apart from God, passes off as valuable and durable will pass away. That which God makes valuable and durable will last. We must not give ourselves to the transient, and especially we must not give ourselves to false claims of glory and power in the world around us. Only God’s new heaven and earth are truly and fully good, lovely, and enduring. For the time being, we sojourn here among the transient and false. In God’s good time, we will abide and abound in his new city. Let us now, then, begin to live in heart, mind, and body in ways that fit us for that glorious citizenship.

Gregory Strong

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