Our Young Adults are in the home stretch of a year-long look at the New Testament. Since January 1, 2008, all our young adult groups have been reading a chapter a day, five days a week, out of the New Testament. On Sunday, we teach through the 5 chapters the group read the previous week. 

We've got two weeks left in the trek before we're done. We didn't necessarily go in order, but we are ending with the book of Revelation. Why? Because nothing says "Christmas" like hail mixed with blood falling from the sky. 

Actually, Revelation is a great book to study around Christmas time. When the whole world is focused on the first coming, we're focused on the second coming. When the whole world is focused on a new year, we'll be focused on a new heavens and new earth. That's not bad. 

One of the most interesting things to me about the book of Revelation is the contrast between heaven and earth. The most poignant is between chapters 2 and 3, and chapter 4. 

Chapters 2 and 3 describe seven churches at various states of fulfilling their role on earth. Some churches, like the church of Philadelphia (not Pennsylvania) were worn out but holding fast (Revelation 3:7-13). Others, like the church at Sardis had a great reputation for being alive, but were dead and needed a wake-up call (Revelation 3:1-2).  Chapter 3 ends with the church at Laodicea, who was lukewarm - like bad coffee. Coffee is sold iced, and sold hot, but lukewarm coffee is thrown down the drain. 

Chapter 4 changes scenes entirely from the situation on earth to the situation in heaven, where the entire scene is about worshipping at the throne of God. Every creature and person around the throne is constantly "giving glory, honor, and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever" (Revelation 4:9). 

At first glance you might think chapters 2 and 3 have nothing to do with chapter 4, but to do so is to miss one of the great themes of the whole book. 

The book is written to reveal Jesus (Revelation 1:1). And when Jesus is revealed, worship occurs. The problem for many of the churches listed in chapter 2 and 3 was that Jesus had been revealed to them, but they had stopped worshipping. The church at Ephesus had left its first love (Revelation 2:4). The churches in Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis were actually worshipping - just worshipping the wrong things. 

I think the contrast in chapter 4 is stark on purpose. We see what's going on on earth, and then immediately what's going on in heaven. The question should be obvious, and it's implied throughout the book of Revelation: Which does your life more closely reflect? The obstinate people who refuse to worship despite revelation of Jesus, or the people who never stop giving Him praise, honor, and glory, forever?


DrRick said...

Thanks for the blog. It was brought to my attention by a Google Alert. Whenever I see someone speaking of the church of the last days, I am excited that we may have a lack passion and feel compelled to introduce them to my most recent book, called The Yawning Church. This is not intended to be spam, just a man trying to get the word out to people of like mind. God bless and if you get a chance check out or You can reach me at Dr Rick