Summary: An overview of the Book of Revelation that underlines the fact that God will triumph in the end. If our life in linked to God's then we too shall win.
Some years ago, on a two-hour flight from Winnipeg to Calgary I ended up seated next to a young woman in her late twenties. As we made our way over the seemingly endless grain fields I asked the inevitable question:
So, what do you do for a living?
I'm a palm reader; a fortuneteller was her reply. Well, I've never sat this close to a palm reader - I've never talked to a palm reader. So, I'm really scrambling for something more to say. Finally, she broke the silence and said,
You're an optimist.
Oh really, how can you tell?
You've got wide fingernails.
Well, I said, I don't know about the wide fingernails but I am an optimist and it’s because my life is linked with God's. The Bible says that if God before us who can be against us. It declares that someday in spite of the sin and selfishness and injustice in our world
God will triumph.
In fact, someday, all the kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord and He shall reign forever and ever. And since my life is linked with God's by faith this same Bible tells me that I am a co-heir with Christ and I shall share in his victory. I too will win. You're right I'm an optimist!
You understand I didn't speak quite this loudly on the plane but I felt this loudly.
You see friends, as I read this Holy Book especially the final chapters - The Book of Revelation. I get this sense of optimism; this sense of winning. The Book of Revelation is about the ultimate triumph of our God.
When we read the book of Revelation we realize that so much of what we see on TV and read online is fake news. It is the ultimate fake news. Evil will not triumph. Humankind is not scheduled for annihilation. War, racism, poverty and injustice are not going to win. In the End God wins. That is the truth. We live in a post-Christian culture. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the truth.
God has placed all things under his feet and appointed Jesus to be Head over everything. Handel was right to let this final book of the Bible inspire him.
The Lord God omnipotent reigns.
And of His Kingdom there shall be no end.
I. God wins over Injustice
It says in verse 9
I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Patmos is a tiny island – about 16 kilometers long and 10 wide – a bare, rocky volcanic speak of dust off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea.
Bible scholars have debated what John was doing on Patmos. There are four main suggestions:
1. He was on a holiday.
2. He was preaching the Gospel to the natives
3. He was imprisoned there or
4. He was sent there by God to receive this vision.
I think we can safely scratch the holiday idea. We’re talking about a man in his 90’s. We’re talking about a poor preacher in his 90’s. I picked up a brochure on a Mediterranean Curse. One of them stopped at Patmos long enough for you to climb up to the cave of the Apocalypse. All this for only $2600. Mediterranean Curses have never been cheap so I think we can rule out the idea of John being on a Patmos holiday.
I think we can also scratch the idea that John was over there preaching the Gospel. The pattern of New Testament evangelism was to reach the big cities. Even as late as the fourth century when Constantine became a Christian the rural areas of the Empire were still pagan. It is not very likely that John would come to the obscure Island of Patmos to preach the Gospel.
We can also rule out the idea that God ordered John to Patmos so that He could give him this Revelation. If that had been the case John would have told us.
No, John was there because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. He was there as a companion in the suffering. He was there because he had been exiled by the Roman authorities. He was there as part of an unjust, cruel, and bazaar persecution of the Church that was sweeping the Empire.
This was no Mediterranean holiday. This was no preaching mission. This was no prophecy conference. John was in great pain. Separated from his beloved friends and Ephesians; deprived of the simply necessities of life; an old man under constant threat of death.
Yet, it was on Patmos that God opened up Paradise. It was in this despicable situation that God revealed his glory. So often God reveals Himself to us in pain. Normally, we learn far more about life, about ourselves, about other people, about God when we are in pain. God is not defeated by injustice and cruelty. Look at the Cross. In the End God wins.