Summary: What happens when we pray?
THE LION, THE SCROLL AND THE BOWLS
Some historians divide human history into ten great segments. At the end of each section there is an event so momentous that all subsequent history moves in a different direction.
For example, on January 10, 49 BC. Julius Caesar, with 5,000 loyal men crossed the Rubicon River, marched on Rome, and changed the course of history.
Another historic turning point took place on October 10, 732 AD, when Charles Martell, the Frankish Christian leader of Western Europe defeated the invading Muslims at the Battle of Tours. The course of the Western World and Christianity was forever changed.
Another turning point is found in Revelation 5:7. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
This event is so profound, so far-reaching, so momentous, that nothing in all the universe is ever the same. Every man, woman and child, every angel, every demon, from the smallest particle on earth to the farthest galaxy: nothing is ever the same.
I will explain this in more detail in just a moment or two but first let me address the elephant in the room. I’m preaching from the book of Revelation.
When I turn to the book of Revelation, I think of what G. K. Chesterton once said: even though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators.
If you want to go on a wild ride type into Google “The meaning of the book of Revelation”. If I announce to an Evangelical church that I am going to have a Bible study in the book of Revelation, I will attract every eccentric within 100 kilometers. If I announce to an Anglican Church that I am going have a Bible study in the book of Revelation hardly anyone will show up because Anglicans generally have given up on the Book of Revelation. Since we are an Evangelical Anglican Church, I’m not sure what will happen this morning.
Let me get to the point: I settled in my mind years ago
• That most of the book of Revelation happened in the late first Century AD during the time of the awful waves of Roman persecution, except for the last two or three chapters.
• That the book of Revelation has an application for every generation of Christians. I have no doubt that many believers in the Ukraine find great comfort in the Revelation right now.
• That the book of Revelation is written in metaphoric language because the ways of God are beyond rational explanation most of the time.
• And that the bottom line of the book of Revelation is ‘In the End God wins.’
With that out of the way let me go to, the Lion, the Scroll, and the Golden Bowls.
1 THE SCROLL
When the Revelation was written the main way to preserve writing was on a parchment that was rolled up. If you wanted to get to a certain passage you had to unroll the whole thing.
Then in about 250 AD someone invented this new technology – the book. You could flip to any place in the story you wanted to; you could add and subtract pages, without destroying the whole book. It was wonderful.
The difference between a scroll and a book was about the same as the difference between a typewriter and a word processor. I find that Christians can be very slow to adopt new technology but in the case of the book Christians were quick to embrace it.
Christians really took to the book format whereas the Roman pagans clung to the scroll format. The main reason why Christians loved the book format in the years between 250 AD and 350 AD is because it was during this time frame that the Church was trying to decide what books should be included in or exclude from the New Testament.
It was much easier to add and subtract books to and from the Bible in the book format than it was in the scroll format. So as the Church grew in strength the book format became more and more popular all over the Empire. By the time Rome fell in 395 the scroll was a thing of the past.
But here at the beginning of the second century when John wrote the Revelation, they only had Scrolls. So, John sees a scroll in God’s right hand.
There is a great deal of discussion, debate, as to what was written on this Scroll. The Bible does not tell us. Some think it was the Scriptures. Others suggest it is the Lamb’s book of Life. Whatever it was it must have been very important. God does not deal in trivial things.