Sitting here in Fort Worth, Texas in 2009 when I was originally writing this, upstairs in my study, looking out my window and seeing the nice new houses on my block, Revelation seems almost like a work of fantasy or science fiction. If I believe it’s related to Christ’s opening the seals of the New Covenant, which violently judged Israel and destroyed the Old Covenant, the figurative language jars me. But what jars me more is I haven’t had to experience the kind of wars, famine, or death that is so vividly described here. Even now that the housing/credit crisis is upon us, Revelation 6 is a long way off.
If I believe that Revelation 6 is primarily related to things at the end of time, well that’s a long way off. For 2000 years mankind has seen wars, famine, and death, and often on a scale greater than we see today. Again, it is remote from my relatively tranquil existence today.
And that’s the first spiritual fruit I receive today by witnessing the opening of the first 6 seals: I’m reminded of how pleasantly the lines have fallen for me in this life. Every day that I’m not personally surrounded by or a participant in a war, a famine, a plague, or death is a much better day than if I were. When events of that magnitude register in our lives, they have a way of clarifying and prioritizing. An automatic triage ensues, in which you see first things first and that what you thought was really important turned out to be simply a diversion from what was truly important.
And so I’m thankful today, first, because I have lived in a land and time of relative peace and great prosperity. Such blessings are, since the Fall, no longer man’s birthright, which was sold by Adam for a stinking piece of fruit. We should not be surprised when we read or hear about wars, hostilities, famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, plagues, and the like. They are one of the consequences for man following Himself instead of God.
When I consider my life and measure it by the distress and duress of Revelation 6, I re-calibrate my Whininess Scale, and what I thought was a 9 on the scale in terms of distress turns out to be a 3 or 4, and what I thought was a 6 is only a 1 or 2. It’s as if I’ve become hysterical in my anxiety about my life and what I need is a good slap in the face to bring me back to reality. As the man in the Mennen Skin Bracer commercial said, after he had just been slapped in the face: “Thanks, I needed that!”
Just the other day, my youngest son, William came home from playing with some girls, who decided that they wanted to play a girly game. When he came home, he was very downcast and despondent, and when why asked why he was sad, he rattled off a litany of 3 or 4 reasons his life wasn’t any good. I tried to remind him of all of the good things God had given him in his life, but it didn’t seem to help much. I tried to tell him that this was the way I used to be, where I’d have one disappointment, which exerted an immense gravitational pull over previous disappointments I’d conveniently stored up in my heart. By the time this snowball had reached the bottom of the hill, it was nothing less than an Abominable Snowman!
There’s another fruit I take away from today, and both of these fruits will provide adequate food for my soul for a while. The second fruit is that no matter what life looks like today, there will be cosmic, eternal justice. The nation of Israel had committed adultery against the Lord for centuries before He finally judged them in the first century. The enemies of God have been around for thousands of years and may be for thousands more, before God will require them to give an account of their lives.
Do you remember all of the times when you’ve been hurt by someone or something in life, and it just wasn’t fair and you felt helpless to do anything or find any justice? All of those accounts will be settled when Christ comes to judge. Do you remember all the times that you hurt someone, through negligence, anger, malice, greed, or laziness, etc., and it wasn’t fair? All of those accounts will also be settled when Christ returns.
The wicked who scoff at God and His laws will no longer grin and prosper, and the cries of the saints who shout “How long, O Lord?!” will be turned into cries of joy and praise.
Who will be able to hide on that Day from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb? He who has clean hands and a pure heart: He who has in this life accepted the blood of the Lamb to take away his sin and guilt.
Therefore, today, in spite of the trials and tribulations in my own life, I will rest a while longer until the number of the elect is filled and the One who I know is just decides it’s time to make things right.
“You are worthy, O Lord
to receive glory and honor and power
for you created all things,
and by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
to receive power and riches and wisdom,
and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12)
“Blessing and honor and glory and power
be to Him who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
Points for Meditation:
- Use Revelation 6 as a way of readjusting your evaluation of the life God has given you.
- Meditate on the calamaties of Revelation 6 being your birthright, and give thanks for being delivered from them.
- Meditate on God’s justice, as well as His mercy and patience.
Resolution: I resolve to evaluate my life today in terms of the coming of the Lord to judge.
© 2015 Fr. Charles Erlandson