- Five Truths from Revelation That Should Unite the Church (Part 1)
- Five Truths From Revelation That Should Unite the Church (Part 2)
Revelation has been dividing the church for centuries, as I wrote in Part 1 of this series. As such, the goal of this series is to examine truths in this most enigmatic book that should unite all orthodox Christians of all times and cultures.
Here is my second group of five teachings, taken from Revelation 8-22:
6. Satan’s is real and we must take him seriously.
Just as with God the Son and God the Father in Revelation, we learn about Satan with a flurry of names, titles and adjectives. In 12:9 we get both his Greek and Hebrew names, “Devil” (meaning “Slanderer” or “Accuser,” see Job 1:6-12) and “Satan” (meaning “Adversary”), respectively. Nearly everything you need to know about how dangerous he is you can find in his names.
In 12:3, 12:9 and also in 13 we see Satan as a “dragon”. He has the power to cause other angels to fall and to deceive the whole world. The passage describes him as having horns and red skin, which is perhaps where the modern Looney Tunes/Ulysses Everett McGill portrayals of the devil come from.
In 12:9 and 20:2 John also calls him a “serpent,” which essentially seals his identity as the one who deceived Eve in Genesis 3. That passage uses no actual name for Satan.
Peter describes him in his first book as a roaring lion, roaming about the earth, seeking people to devour. John in Revelation paints a similar picture of his nature and purpose. He utilizes a variety of descriptors to warn us of the sobering reality of his power. Christians should find unity in how we defend against Satan.
7. God’s wrath is terrifying.
This is from the fifth trumpet judgment in Revelation 9:
They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
Also from Revelation 11:13:
At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
And in chapter 16:
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
And a few verses later:
From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
And later, a prayer for Babylon:
Give her as much torment and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
Fire will consume her,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
And all of this is before you even get to the actual Lake of Fire. If there is anything you learn from the Old Testament in passages like Nahum 2:10-3:4, it is that the execution of God’s wrath is R-rated or worse. Revelation confirms this as well. The unity of Scripture should create the unity of the church.
8. The Lake of Fire is real and is the final destination for Hell, death, Satan and his cohorts and all of the unbelieving.
We can quibble over some details about the final state of the wicked, but the reality of Hell (and technically the Lake of Fire as the ultimate destination) as a place of separation from God should be something we can agree on. It is torment. It is eternal. And no doubt, it is final. Revelation 20:10ff:
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life.The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
And also (Revelation 19:20):
But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
These passages confirm what both Jesus and other New Testament writers taught about Hell. They are in agreement on its essentials and we should be as well.
9. Jesus is a mighty warrior king, who cannot be defeated.
Back in 2002 when I was straight out of college, I taught the millennial views to my new church. At the end of each study, the senior pastor would remind us, “No matter what you believe, or how complicated Revelation gets, never lose focus that Jesus wins. We win.”
His words ring true. Revelation 19:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS.
And also (Revelation 17:14):
They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
This in turn means Christ’s people win (Revelation 12:10-12):
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
Christians should ultimately be able to find hope because we know we win in the end. I can imagine a New England Patriot fan watching the Super Bowl vs. Atlanta now and not sweating the 28-3 deficit. Because they know they win. Christians do get to sweat injustice and suffering, but never without hope. In fact, at least twice in these chapters in Revelation it tells us that hope during the Great Tribulation, “calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.”
10. Corporate, confessional, audible worship is essential to Christianity.
We find groups of God’s people proclaiming his attributes and accomplishments–ascribing him worth, which is what worship literally is–in Revelation 11:15-18, 15:3-4 and 19:1-8. Add these on top of similar scenes in Revelation 4:8-11, 5:9-14 and 7:9-17 and it shows how important God considers them. He desires a variety of beings, and especially his people, exalt and praise him with one unifying voice. He desires their words be true and meaningful.
I do not intend for this article to become another hot take on the frustrations with the coronavirus. Yet one thing I glean from this truth in Revelation is the need for the church to gather to worship with one voice. And to confess what the Bible teaches us about our God. With rich lyrics about God’s attributes and actions. In some ways, it seems there has been a tendency to pit the church’s mission outside the building against its biblical calling to congregate. They both are essential. The building is irrelevant to be sure. But all Christians who have decided to worship, study the Bible corporately and witness online should be longing for the presence of other believers.
There are dozens of other unifying truths in John’s Apocalypse, but these rise to the top for me. May we disagree and debate with humility and integrity. Yet may we also never forget that Jesus prayed for us to be one as he and the Father are one. Revelation absolutely leads us to that end.
- Good (And Bad) Bible Passages To Teach Empathy in Race Relations - June 12, 2020
- Five Truths From Revelation That Should Unite the Church (Part 2) - May 29, 2020
- “Seinfeld” and The Pantheon of Legendary One-Off Characters - May 14, 2020