From my heart the very best for 2017!
I pray God’s richest blessing on all of you and your plans for this year. May every promise in His wonderful Word be the content of your year and future. May you be filled with hope and faith and that every day will be a field of action to build up and not break down. May you find your dwelling place in the tent of testimony…
Images of dreadful distress fill our television screens daily. The anguish and misery of the human and animal world are heartbreaking and depressing. Volunteers and relief workers from world organizations and individual countries are called in and called up to be the Hands of Jesus extended. Pebble pals, we are the church of Christ on earth. We are the answer, whether they accept the message of Jesus or not. Our walk in love and grace is a Jesus-walk. Goodness and love has only one Source.
As I write this piece, the reporting on Aleppo in the Syrian war takes your breath away. Physical relief might be at hand, but the inner wounding of those people will take time to heal and ultimately become their soul scars. Images of their time of suffering might never leave their mind. It is not our own experience? Bad things happen to good people in a broken world of evil and destruction.
How will we know it is Christ’s adversary working? In the words of our Lord Jesus:
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]. (John 10:10)
It is when our peace, joy and fullness of life are “stolen”, destroyed and shattered, that we know it does not come from the One, defined as “abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34)
We walk on through more revelation to come in this 15th chapter of Revelation. The seals have been opened and the trumpets have proclaimed, now the angels hold the bowls of terror and calamity. It is typical of apocalyptic writing, to write in groups of seven and three. The third and last group of terror upon the earth denotes completeness.
The scene in heaven is glass mingled with fire. It reminds of the Red Sea miracle when the Israelites were caught between the Egyptian Army and the Red Sea and God split the sea to let them walk on dry land, while destroying their enemies in the same miracle. God’s presence was in the column of fire. Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12) – it is for our good.
The beast comes out of the sea of chaos, but God brings deliverance by the sea. The sea of chaos is our miracle while destroying our enemy.
The sea of glass depicts God’s majesty and unapproachableness. In His Presence it is an outpouring of reverent worship. The worship will rejoice over the victory of the martyrs (church) and those who overcome.
It is the high function of our worship on earth. It focuses our mind on the power and miracle-working love of God and diminishes our worry and fear of our circumstances.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25)
The two songs of Revelation to be sung – the Song of the Lamb (Revelation 14:3) and the Song of Moses – a song of victory on the greatest deliverance in Israel’s history (Exodus 15). It is symbolic of our rebirth in Christ, repentance which brings us out of the slave pits and baptism through the Red Sea.
…all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
(1 Corinthians 10:2)
The words of the song of Moses are repeated throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah often sings: Who is like you Oh God to reverberate in the heavenlies. The song is entirely composed of quotations from the Psalms and prophets.
(Psalms 92:5, 98:1,145:17, 86:9, 99:3, 111:9, 98:2, 1 Samuel 2:2)
There follows in verses 3 and 4 a lyric outburst to sing about the greatness of God:
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.”
In the chaos of life on earth, this is our song. Our victory is not brought about because of our own achievements.
“In the perfect vision of God self is wholly forgotten.”
Just rejoice in the Song of Miriam, the Song of Hannah and the Song of Mary. It all serves to focus on the God of heaven and earth for Whom nothing is impossible. It is the perfect illustration of role of praise in our life and the seal of our testimony.
The tent of witness, tabernacle of testimony is opened. (Numbers 9:15,17:7 and 18:2)
Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire. (Numbers 9:15)
It is in this atmosphere that the rod of Aaron sprouted, bloomed and blossomed in ONE day.
And Moses placed the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness. Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds. (Numbers 17:7,8 and 18:2)
Just think of this for a moment. Could it be that your outcome will come in one day? Raise the level of your expectation Pebble pal! This is the Word of God for the New Year.
The tabernacle of witness is a symbol of the Presence of the Most High. It is only in His presence that miracles happen. The angels come from God.
They were clothed in pure white linen. White robes are the priestly dress with a golden girdle like the High Priest; royal and heavenly. It is clear that the judgment is from heaven.
One of the living creatures (we don’t know which one of the lion, ox, man or eagle) gave seven golden bowls of judgment to the angel. Nature itself hands the bowl of wrath.
In Isaiah 6:4 the presence of God is described like smoke. It is common in the Old Testament. God is unapproachable as depicted in Exodus 40:34-35.
Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Moses could not enter. The ideas and purposes of God are often clouded and unclear. Because of His holiness we cannot enter in our own right. The Cross is access; always through Jesus. We need to be reminded that our salvation is through Jesus – never on our own righteousness. The cloud will bar us from approaching unworthy.
The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. (Leviticus 16:2)
Smoke went up from His nostrils, and devouring fire from His mouth; Coals were kindled by it. (2 Samuel 22:9)
Smoke is also mentioned in Job and Psalms. Why does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?
We might experience smoke as confusing and negative, but in the Song of Solomon it is associated with beauty and attractiveness.
Who is this coming out of the wilderness Like pillars of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the merchant’s fragrant powders? (Songs of Solomon 3:6)
And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. (Revelation 8:4)
Compare Revelation 15:8 and Isaiah 6 where the presence of God is represented by either cloud or smoke. Both proceed from the throne of God and both are glorified.
[It is] proof of the majestic presence and extraordinary interposition of God in the execution of these judgments: [Benson Commentary]
Often smoke over cities was the sign that they have been judged. It signifies the destructive power of God, which is always bittersweet – blessing and judgment at the same time. Within destruction there is always a miracle of outcome to be found, which is often not reported or proclaimed in the media.
If we trust in the purposes of God, we will not be confused by the smoke, only rest in His Plan.
In the Temple, God’s presence in the Holy of Holies was expressed through the seat of mercy, only seen by the High Priest once a year. God’s plans spring forth from the seat of mercy, never condemnation. Remember, mercy means to hold back the punishment. Jesus took our punishment on the cross (Isaiah 53) so that we can go free. Rejoice in the mercy of God’s judgment.
The plagues in the golden bowls in the next chapter, explain the punishment for sin that should call the people to repent.