In the middle of suffering, pain and trails be it in our own lives or in the lives of the world around us we are often tempted to question God, complain to God and even curse God. But the words flowing from our lips should always be to greater trust, deeper repentance, and bolder proclamation.
Revelation 10 details the vision that John not only had but is now caught up and in the middle of it. This section begins an interlude between the 6th and 7th trumpet which highlights the role of John and the church in the midst of God’s judgment. Even after all the pain and destruction that has occurred, John is reminded by the mighty angel who comes with Christ’s authority that there is still more to come though the end is near and there will no longer be a delay! And John’s task is not to sit back and wait, nor to question and complain, but to take and eat the scroll and to prophesy. That is to say, John is to embody the words of God and to speak them to the ends of the earth! That even in the midst of God’s judgment, there is hope and salvation.
Revelation 11 describes the ministry of the 2 witnesses of God, which is symbolic for the authentic church, and their task in prophesying to the suffering and watching world. John identifies them as the 2 olive trees and the 2 lampstands (11:4) which from Revelation 1:20 and Zechariah 4:1-6 together symbolise the Spirit empowered church. The picture of two witnesses is symbolic the added authenticity and validity of their prophesy and the description of what happens when people try to harm them (11:5) in their work of prophesying is reminiscent of the Old Testament Prophets. Fire from the mouth points back to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 5:14). Shutting the sky points to Elijah (1 Kings 17-18, 2 Kings 1:10). Turning water to blood and bringing plagues points back to Moses (Exodus 7:17-21) All of this is to say, the church as those indwelt by the Spirit, have the protection, the power and the presence of God in their God ordained purposes of prophesying to this world.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the church will escape suffering, pain, temptation, and trials. For Revelation 11 shows how even the 2 witnesses are killed, humiliated and mocked. Not coming to harm is to say that even in death – though their bodies, their worldly honour, their earthly lives have come to harm – their eternal life has not for a second come close to harm nor has the unfolding plans and purposes of God. For even in the death of these 2 witnesses when all hope seemed lost, God resurrected them for all to see and then saved many on that day – all to the glory of God.
If we know how we are to live in the final days when all hell breaks loose, how should we live in these last days?
My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be the lampstand powered by the Spirit shining forth the light of Jesus into this dark world to the glory of God.
Youth Pastor Boon Guo
Last Sunday we covered the opening of the seventh seal. There was a silence of half an hour in heaven followed by God acting. The first six of the seven trumpets (second sets of judgements) were then sounded. In this we learn about prayers, judgements and existence of evil.
After the vision in chapter 7 of the 144,000 of the tribes of Israel (church militant) and the great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language praising and worshipping Jesus and God (church triumphant) in heaven, there was a half hour silence.
Hour represents climatic events and half hour indicates a delay or interruption towards that event. Silence in the Old Testament is associated with divine judgements. In that time the prayers of all God’s people went up before God. God heard and he acted with the angel hurling fire from the altar onto the earth with peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. God hears our prayers!
The sounding of the first four trumpets resulted in cataclysmic (earth shattering) judgements of hail and fire hurled down upon the earth (8:7), like high mountain ablaze thrown into the sea (8:8-9), great blazing star falling from the sky (8:10-11), and cosmic heaven struck with one third of sun, moon and stars turned dark (8:12).The first century Christians of John’s time would understand this due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 97 that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. Judgement of God is real!
The sounding of the fifth trumpet released demonic locusts from the Abyss (place of the dead and where evil spirits are confined) who were allowed to torment but not kill people (9:1-11).
The sixth trumpet released a 200 million strong demonic cavalry who was given power to kill a third of mankind (9:13-19). The power of the demonic cavalry was in the horses’ “mouths” which can be interpreted to include destruction via false speech, propaganda and misinformation. There is evil in the world!
The tragic thing is that mankind still did not repent when the judgements were over (9:20) just like Pharaoh who hardened his heart when there was relief from the plagues (Exodus 8:15). As we reflect on Revelation chapters 8 and 9, we need to ask ourselves some hard questions.
First, how is our individual, family and church prayer life? Second, how should we live when the end of the age and judgements of God are certainties? Last, who will protect us from evil? Revelation 9:4 tells us that the demonic locusts are only allowed to harm those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 1 John 3:8 reminds us that the “reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Hallelujah and God bless!
Pastor Boo Teong
Last Sunday we recapped:
Rev 7 now gives us a vision of the saints in heaven so that we can live faithfully even in very trying times.
Rev 7:1-7 gives us a picture of the 144,000 Israelites who were sealed from all the 12 tribes of Israel which is reminiscent of the Israelites in battle formation as they travelled from Egypt into the Promised Land. This is a picture of the church militant on earth whereas Rev 7:9-17 is a vision of countless multitude of the saints in white robes from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before Jesus and the throne of God praising and worshipping God. This multitude has chosen to live faithfully and come out of the great tribulation (Rev 7:14). Thus we have the enigma of tribulation and celebration which are two sides of the same coin. God’s ways are higher than our ways.
We thus learn from the first seven verses that God’s people are sealed first before trials, troubles and tribulations come. We know today this is the sealing of the Holy Spirit as we ask Jesus into our lives to be our Lord and Saviour (2 Corinthians 12:2; Ephesians 1:13).
The next eight verses tells us that, like the first century Christians who were persecuted by the Caesar cult (emperor worshippers), heretics and the class whose commercial interests were threatened by the radical lifestyle of Christians, we today should expect to face trials, troubles, temptations and tribulations, even of an extreme nature.
In all of this we need to live faithfully. Here are some thoughts on living faithfully at home, church, school and work. At home we need to at least have family prayer and devotion time. At church, let us at least come to worship each Sunday, tithe, participate in a home group, and serve in a ministry. At school and university, work hard to complete your courses successfully, do not plagiarise, help your friends and introduce them to Jesus. At work, work as if working for Jesus and if you are an employer, treat your employees well.
Let us all practise lifestyle evangelism (living faithfully and joyfully). Hallelujah and God bless!
Pastor Boo Teong
My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be unapologetic, unashamed, unwavering in our message to this world. Jesus is Risen!
In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Paul tries to show the church in Corinth the consequences of Jesus not rising from the dead. If there is no such thing as resurrection as some of them say, then not even Jesus was raised from the dead, and if this is true then we are all in a world of pain.
Paul argues that:
1. his preaching and all preaching is useless,
2. their faith is futile,
3. they are still in their sins,
4. the dead are lost, and
5. of all people Christians are to be most pitied.
The Christian life is literally a dead means to a dead end if Jesus remained dead. The preaching of Jesus crucified is not good news if he remained dead – at best it would be bitter sweet seeing how virtuous and nobly he went to die, at worst it would be horrible seeing your proclaimed Lord and Saviour die. But there is a resurrection, he rose from the dead, he is alive, even to this day!! It is good news indeed!!
Preaching is powerful because it declares the life and works of Jesus – both his death and his resurrection. Faith is powerful because it trusts in Jesus, the one who has power even over death. Sins become powerless because they have been forgiven and accounted for in Jesus. Death becomes powerless because it has been overcome by Jesus who is the first of all his people to be raised from the dead. The dead will live and never die again!! And the Christian has pity not on themselves but on the world that doesn't know true life after death.
Who do you have pity on? What will you do?
Youth Pastor Boon Guo