“Shock and Awe, simply Shock and Awe!” For most, this phrase entered our vernacular from CNN Reporter, Peter Arnett, describing the stunning exhibition of US airpower from his hotel in Baghdad on March 21, 2003. The second Gulf War had begun. Operation Iraqi Freedom was underway. But the coalition bombardment was nothing compared to the ‘Shock and Awe’ described in Revelation 19 as the world’s final battle that pictures the return of Christ in judgement.
Kings and captains, mighty men, men both free and slave, small and great gather for battle. Summoned by the King of Rebels, the ancient Dragon and his Beast and False Prophet, they have come to resist the will of their rightful King, the Lord Jesus Christ. They trust in everything false and swear allegiance to the King of Lies and Murder. They think this will be their moment – and indeed it is. Just not the moment they expected. ‘Shock and awe’ is coming. Join us this Sunday as we examine Revelation 19:11-21 and the great promise and the great warning of Christ’s return.
Weddings should be joyful affairs. Celebrations of the first order. Whether lavish or simple, no expenditure of joy should be spared. It is a day to gather and celebrate what God said was “very good.” Jesus chose to begin his public ministry, celebrating a wedding at Cana. And at the end of all things, Jesus completes his redemptive work, celebrating the wedding supper of the Lamb.
Revelation 17-19 contrast the Harlot and the Bride. A contrast which emphasizes the distinction between the deadly deceptive charms of the world, pictured as a luxuriant but violent prostitute, and the enduring, life-giving beauty of Christ’s church, pictured as a radiant bride. In a world where Christ promises persecution while conformity to the world promises peace, it is easy to lose sight of this distinction between harlot and bride. But in Revelation 19 the Lord unveils for John, and for us, a picture of The Big Day – the promised wedding supper of the Lamb. Join us this week as we examine Revelation 19 and consider how we are to live expectantly, even in the midst of adversity.
Struggling to make a decision is not necessarily a lack of decisiveness, but more often a function of ‘decision fatigue.’ And for the Christian there is a decision fatigue much more persistent than our covid mitigation strategy. How are we to live in the world, but not be of the world? What is our relationship to culture?
Revelation is a book of unveilings. And in Revelation 18, the Lord unveils the destruction of Babylon, the Harlot, who pictures rebellious, worldly culture. The people of God are commanded to come out of her. And while her lovers mourn her downfall from a distance, those who belong to God give thanks for her destruction. At first glance this seems an ungracious, or even vindictive, portrait of the church. But a deeper examination reveals important insights into the responsibility and the relationship of the church to the world. This week we examine Revelation 18 and consider what this passage says about our calling to be ‘in the world,’ but not ‘of the world.’
The seductive appeal of worldliness to supply meaning, fulfillment and safety, is a deadly ruse. Revelation 17 begins a new division within John’s visions. A division which emphasizes the distinction between the deadly deceptive charms of the world, pictured as a luxuriant but violent prostitute, and the enduring, life-giving beauty of Christ’s church, pictured as a radiant bride.
In a world where Christ promises persecution while conformity to the world promises peace, it is easy to lose sight of this distinction between harlot and bride. But the Lord unveils for John, and for us, a clear revelation of the deadly beast that lies in wait beneath great worldly allure. Join us this week as we examine Revelation 17 and consider the seductive allure of seeking meaning, fulfillment, or safety from the things of this world.
Revelation 16 reminds men of the completeness, the inescapability, the eternality of God’s wrath against unatoned sin. Yet it reveals something even more dreadful. Those hardened against grace, are hardened even more in judgement. As bowls are emptied, men experiencing God’s righteous judgement express no sorrow, no remorse, no repentance. The penitent thief, standing under judgement declared, “do you not fear God since you are under the same sentence of condemnation, and we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward for our deeds.” But men experiencing the bowls of God’s wrath “cursed the name of God, did not repent and give him glory.” They were hardened. Hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hardened because they saw only a God of wrath and fury, not the God of grace and mercy.
What about you? Has disappointment with life, or perhaps with God himself, hardened you? Can you feel yourself growing more and more this way? Is hardening in your mind, attitude, and relationships metastasizing into your spiritual life as well? Is God only a God of wrath and fury to you, or do you know him as a God of grace and mercy? Join us this week as we examine Revelation 16 and consider its warning against “spiritual cirrhosis.”