CDPCKL · The Sunset of the Last Day (Revelation 14:14-15:4)

The Sunset of the Last Day (Revelation 14:14-15:4)

Today we are going to jump right back into the war we have been fighting for the last several weeks. 

So, just to set the scene here: 

There is a holy city named Jerusalem, built on the lower slopes of a mountain named Zion. 

Outside the walls of Jerusalem a seven-headed dragon stands on the shore of the outermost sea, directing his forces inward from the edge of the Abyss. 

Obedient to his commands, a great seven-headed beast is continuously rising up out of the sea, up out of the Abyss, filling the valleys around Jerusalem with his great coalition of empires and kingdoms and nations. Over the last 42 symbolic months, the beast from the Abyss has been assaulting the outer walls of the city, breaking through in places only to be thrown back. 

But, wherever he manages to make a temporary break-through, before his forces are thrown back, the beast from the Abyss releases into the streets of the city the more subtle beast that rises up out of the earth. This second beast has two horns like a lamb, but it speaks like a dragon, and its forces operate more like spies: false teachers that seduce and confuse the defenders. These are the agents we are fighting against in the streets of our own neighborhoods, within the walls of our own churches: these temptations to give up, to go out, to descend into the valleys and surrender to the counterfeit trinity of false god, false empire and false religion. 

But we are not alone in our fight. At the top of Mount Zion, in the center of the city, the Ancient of Days is seated on his throne, with his only begotten Son at his right hand. Obedient to his Father’s commands, the Son rules and directs the defense of Mount Zion’s innermost sanctuary, the heavenly temple that has never been defiled. Meanwhile, down here in the outer court, down here in the streets of the city, the Holy Spirit fights alongside us, within us, among us, giving us power to drive back the beast from the Abyss whenever his forces break through, giving us wisdom to see through every deception of the beast from the earth whenever it tries to slip its agents in among us. And the whole reason we are able to preach and pray and endure our tribulations in the streets of this city is because we know that, when death does finally strike us down, we will be transported at once into God’s presence at the top of Mount Zion to wait for our resurrection on the Last Day. 

Now, last week John left us with a huge cliffhanger: we saw the the risen Lamb — the Son of God — suddenly standing on Mount Zion. In other words, he has risen from his throne, the throne he had been seated on ever since Chapter 5. And all around him we also saw the gathered Church, the redeemed Church — all of us! — singing a new song of salvation with a voice like God himself. 

And that is when we realized that John’s vision has transported us forward in time to the end of the war. 

By this point in Chapter 14, the holy city has been completely overrun by the beast from the Abyss. The physical remains of Jesus’ Church lie dead, dishonoured, discredited in the public square below, while every one of our souls have been gathered safely into the sanctuary at the top of Mount Zion. The nations of the earth are celebrating their victory. They have no idea that the Lamb has just risen from his throne on the mountain above, that he has called for his sword, that he has summoned all the hosts of heaven to his side — they have no idea what is about to descend upon them! 

And neither do we. So let’s find out how it all ends! 

[14] I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 

And by this point in the Book of Revelation we already recognize this image of a cloud with one like a son of man seated on it: it comes from deep in the Old Testament, where several prophets talked about a day at the end of time when the great Commander of the Lord’s Armies, the great King over all creation, will descend to earth riding in a war-chariot made of thunderclouds, surrounded by countless armies of angels, to sweep the earth clean. 

Well, here we are: the Lamb has risen from his throne. He has mounted his war chariot, his sword in hand. And, as Zechariah would have said it: the horses are straining to go throughout the earth! So: 

[15] Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 

An angel takes a command from the Father, still seated on his throne within the temple, and carries it out to the Son seated in his chariot, poised on the very edge of battle. 

And the command is: go. Because the harvest of the earth is ripe. 

[16] So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. 

And this is a funny mixture of war-time imagery with harvest-time imagery, isn’t it? We have a war-chariot here, a king with a crown of gold, which is what we would expect — but then his sword is a sickle, a curved blade used by farmers to cut the stalks of plants. And he harvests the earth with it. Instead of loosing an army of warrior angels upon the earth, he has loosed an army of…farmer angels? 

Why is the final battle suddenly being described as a harvest instead of a war? 

…let’s keep reading. Maybe this will make more sense later: 

[17] Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 

So here we have one of the angelic commanders of the Son’s army going out to join his Lord on the battlefield. And he is also armed with a sharp sickle: apparently he is also the commander of an army of farmer angels. 

Then [18] still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe. 

So here again we have an angel taking a command from the Father, still seated on his throne within the temple, out to the army on the edge of the battlefield. 

But this time we are told a bit more about the messenger: he is the angel who had charge of the fire, and he comes from the altar. 

And when we look back through Revelation, we realize we have seen this angel before, back in Chapter 8. This is the angel who went to the altar of incense before God’s throne, filled a golden bowl with burning coals from that altar, and then hurled it on the earth. 

And, if you recall, that altar of incense symbolizes the prayers of all God’s people. So this angel who has charge of the fire is a priestly angel — quite a high-ranking angel — who is actually in charge over the prayers of all God’s people, the souls under the altar back in Chapter 6 who were saying, “How long until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 

And the fact that this high-ranking angel is now sent out on messenger duty just goes to show how very important this command is. 

The basic point is this: just as the prayers of all God’s people triggered the final destruction of the earth by fire back in Chapter 8, so also now the prayers of all God’s people trigger the final harvest of the earth by angelic armies. 

So [19] the angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. [20] They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. 

So this vision is really committed to this mix of war-time and harvest-time imagery! At first we have grapes here, and a winepress outside the city, which is normal enough — but then we have a river of blood that flows two metres deep for almost 300 kilometers? 

Once again: why? 

Well, when we look back through the Old Testament, we find that the final judgement is often described as a harvesting of the earth. Again and again, when the Old Testament prophets write about it, we find they begin with images of God’s armies gathering for war! — and then end with images of harvest… 

Because that is how easy the final battle is going to be. Plants don’t fight back. At most the farm workers get scratched up a bit, maybe they get blisters. But that’s it! 

And that is the point. 

…okay. But still we have some questions, don’t we? 

Like: why are there two harvests? Did the Son miss some of the crop, so the angelic commander had to go out afterward to finish the job properly? And why is the first harvest described so simply, while the second one is so vividly detailed? 

Well, the key, as usual, lies in the Old Testament, specifically in the Book of Joel, because Joel is the only prophet who combines all of these images into a single prophecy. 

This is what the Lord says, through Joel: “During the last days, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink.” 

Later he says: “Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness!…But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.” 

It is clear that John was looking back at Joel’s prophecy when he wrote these verses. Joel prophesied that, at the end of time, God will lure the nations down into the Valley of Jehoshaphat — which is the valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, on the east side of the city — for their final judgement and destruction, while at the same time he gathers his people safely into the holy city. 

And Joel is not the only Old Testament prophet to talk like this, by the way: Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah all agree that the final battle and the final judgement will take place in the lands near Jerusalem. Isaiah in particular talks about how God will trample the nations in the valley as if they are grapes in a winepress, pouring their blood on the ground, staining his garments red from bottom to top. And they all envision a double movement — a double harvest, we could say — where God’s people are harvested out of the nations for eternal life, then the nations are harvested for destruction. The nations have trampled God’s people; they will be trampled in return. 

So when we look back at what John has written here, we realize that when he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, that was the gathering of the firstfruits purchased from among mankind that were mentioned last week: the 144,000 who are already singing on Mount Zion. In other words, this first harvest — this firstfruit harvest — was the moment of the resurrection. 

And the reason John described this first harvest so simply is because he already gave a more detailed description of it back in Chapter 11: how, after three and a half days of lying dead in the public square of the city, the breath of life from God entered the remains of Jesus’ Church, they stood on their feet, and then they went up to heaven in a cloud! — the same cloud that is now descending with Jesus seated on it. 

And John is not the only New Testament apostle to talk like this, by the way: the Apostle Paul agrees that “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and we will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” 

And once we realize that the first harvest is resurrecting the 144,000 — Jesus’ entire Church — and scooping them up to join Jesus’ descending army of angels, well…now we realize why the second phase of the harvest is so vividly detailed: the firstfruits belong to God, they are the grain that Jesus has gathered safely into his barn. But the rest of mankind does not belong to God, they have proven it by showing up here in the Valley of Jehoshaphat thinking they are going to crush the life out of God’s people once and for all! So God crushes the life out of them instead, trampling them in the valley outside the city so that and blood flows as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. 

And as usual in John’s book here, this number 1,600 is very symbolic: 

First of all, this is the approximate length of Palestine from north to south. So this is a way of saying that the whole land was filled with blood. That is a lot of dead bodies! 

Second of all, 1,600 is (4×4)x(10×10). The number 4 symbolizes the whole earth: the four corners of the earth, the four winds of the earth. The number 10 symbolizes a completeness of grasp, a fullness of coverage. So 1,600 is also a way of saying that this judgement is going to fall upon every nation everywhere. 

So this is where we are also supposed to remember that, even though John is describing these events as if they are going to literally take place outside the physical city of Jerusalem as it stands today…these are all symbols, they are all parables. The “holy city” of Jerusalem that is being trampled by the nations during our age right now is us! Jesus’ Church! And Jesus’ Church is not physically centralized. As Christians, we do not have just one holy city on earth, because we are making every city on earth holy! As Christians, we do not go on pilgrimage to just one central point on the earth, because we we are too busy going on pilgrimage to all the four corners of the earth — as our Lord commanded us to. 

And since Jesus’ Church is going to be trampled by every nation on earth in the end, it makes sense that God’s judgement is going to trample every nation on earth in the end. Just as the final war against Jesus’ Church will be a global war, so also the final Judgement will be a global judgement. 

And then, John says, [1] I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. 

And this mention of another sign tells us that John is now drawing the Cycle of the Seven Signs to a close, and getting ready to introduce the next cycle, the Cycle of the Seven Plagues. 

This cycle began in Chapter 12 when John introduced the sign of the woman, followed by the sign of the dragon. And while he has not used the word “sign” all the way through, or numbered them, we can see a general pattern of seven, interrupted by an interlude, just like the Cycle of the Seven Seals and the Cycle of the Seven Trumpets. 

And we can also see that John is using the same transition technique he used before: mentioning the next cycle as sort of a teaser — a preview — while the previous cycle is not yet finished. During the seventh seal, he introduced the seven trumpet angels, then went back to finish up the seventh seal with the destruction of the earth. During the seventh trumpet, he introduced the concept of the nations’ final war against the Church, then went back to finish up the seventh trumpet with the destruction of the earth. 

Here, during the seventh sign, John has just introduced the seven last plagues — and now he goes back to finish up the seventh sign: 

[2] And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God [3] and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. [4] Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” 

Now, if this scene of people playing harps and singing seems familiar, that’s because it is: just last week we saw these same people singing a new song before the throne, celebrating their redemption from the final defeat of Jesus’ Church on earth. 

However, this scene today is slightly different: last week, they were standing on Mount Zion; today they are standing beside the sea, a sea that looks like a sea of glass glowing with fire. 

And if this sea of glass also seems very familiar, that’s because it is: 

We first saw it way back in Chapter 4, when John first arrived in God’s presence and saw in front of the throne what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. 

And even then we realized that this sea was deeply symbolic on a number of levels: 

It symbolized the water basin that used to stand in the outer court of Jerusalem’s temple, where priests would wash before they entered the inner sanctuary. 

It also symbolized creation itself: what looks like the glassy floor of God’s throne room is actually the sky vault over our heads that separates earth from heaven. What looks like an almost infinite universe to us is actually nothing more than a water-feature in God’s temple. 

And so we realized that this sea also symbolized the Abyss, the primordial realm of titanic sea-serpents, all-consuming monsters and crawling things, the universe in which the earth exists. 

And the sea’s glassy stillness in Chapter 4 was meant to remind us of the first moments after creation, when the earth was still formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the Abyss, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters: the whole cosmos poised in a vast listening silence for the words, “Let there be light.” 

And this connection between the sea and the Abyss was greatly strengthened during this last Cycle of the Seven Signs. It was during this cycle that we saw the Satanic dragon, standing on the shore of the sea, summon a beast out of the sea. It was during this cycle that we remembered the connection between these monsters here and Moses’ crossing of the Red Sea in the Old Testament: how the Angel of Death made one last desperate attempt to destroy God’s people by surrounding them with a sea-serpent on one side, the bestial Egyptian empire on the other, and how God cut the Satanic sea-serpent in two when he parted the waters. 

And this last connection between sea-serpents and the crossing of the Red Sea reminds us of something else we first discussed back at the beginning of Chapter 8, when the Lamb opened the seventh seal and there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. We talked about how — according to ancient Jewish traditions — after the Red Sea swallowed the Egyptian army, the waters became as flat and smooth as glass, clear as crystal. As God’s people stood on the shore, looking into the depths, they saw fires glowing there: the judgement of God consuming his enemies. And then they sang the Song of Moses, which we read together today for our Call to Worship. 

What we are seeing here is the true end of the war. The field of battle has been swept clear, from the mountain all the way down to the shores of the sea. At the beginning of Chapter 13 this was the dragon’s territory — now it belongs to Jesus’ resurrected Church. The unholy trinity is gone! 

— gone where? 

Well, this is a sea of glass glowing with fire, so this is our first clue that the fate of the dragon and his beasts will match the fate of Pharaoh and his empire. And I’m sure that, if John wants us to draw that conclusion, he will make it clear during the weeks to come. 

Meanwhile, since this moment does mark the sunset on the Last Day, it makes sense for Jesus’ Church to sing the sunset hymn of Moses, the song that the ancient Jewish people traditionally sang during their weekly afternoon service. Every Sabbath day they would gather in their synagogues to celebrate God’s sovereign rule over all creation, they would sing the Song of Moses and remember their redemption from slavery, how the nations were forced to bow down as still as a stone until God’s people had passed through the sea and the wilderness on their way to the mountain of God. 

Here, God’s people sing the same ancient song for the last time. Except that, this time, the true meaning of Moses’ song has been revealed, because now it is the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb. 3,500 years ago Moses sang a song of victory on the shores of a sea between Egypt and Arabia, and that song was actually pointing forward to Jesus Christ, a preview of this moment that John is describing here — this moment that we have not yet experienced, when the mountain has descended to meet the sea, when all nations will come and worship before the Lord, when every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 


So this brings us to the end of the Cycle of the Seven Signs. Just like the previous two cycles, John brings us right up to the end of the Last Day…and then starts the next cycle, leaving us hanging right here on the edge of the new creation. 

Well, don’t worry, there is only one cycle left to go: the Cycle of the Seven Last Plagues. And I promise you this one will take us all the way into eternity. 

But in the meantime, we are going to ask the question we try to ask every week, in one form or another: what are we supposed to do with this passage? What is our practical application for today? 

And, to be honest, the answer is: there isn’t one. Because everything that John describes in this vision here basically happens to us. We don’t do anything here except get resurrected and then sing, which are things we will not be able to keep ourselves from doing when the time comes! 

So, in our search for a practical application today, we are going to go back and visit another one of the seven churches that Jesus spoke to at the beginning of the book: we are going to visit the church in Philadelphia, because their situation is also much like ours. 

First, a little background: 

Philadelphia was a relatively new city, only 150 years old at the time John wrote Revelation — about the same age KL is now. It had been built as a strong fortress on a plateau — on a mountain — for two reasons: first, to guard the imperial highway that ran from the western coast of Asia to the far eastern borders of the Roman empire; second, to help colonize the local “barbarians” by pushing Greco-Roman language and culture. And it did well! Within two generations, everyone in the area spoke Greek, and by John’s time the city had made a fortune through its control of the road. 

However, that whole part of Roman Asia was very earthquake prone. The city of Philadelphia fell down a lot. As a result, most of the citizens actually preferred to live in the suburbs outside the city walls, while those who did live in the city evacuated at the slightest tremor. 

So, with this background in mind, let’s see what Jesus has to say: 

[7] To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 

The Christians of Philadelphia live in a city dedicated to promoting the Roman empire through cultural propaganda and economic control: carrot and stick, cultural seduction and economic force. So Jesus introduces himself as “him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.” Rome does not control reality; Rome does not control access; only Jesus does. 

[8] I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 

These Christians live in the easternmost of the seven cities of Roman Asia, closest to the frontier, where questions of loyalty to the state are asked more frequently, where the wrong answers can get a person closed out. Unlike the self-confident city of Sardis, about 40 kilometers away to the west — Sardis was the city that got conquered twice when the citizens left the back door unlocked and then went to bed — the citizens of Philadelphia are vigilant and controlling. In the face of all this, the Christians in Philadelphia have little strength, little influence. 

And yet, unlike the self-confident Christians of Sardis — who left their deeds unfinished in the sight of God and soiled their churches with false teachings — the Christians of Philadelphia have kept Jesus’ word and have not denied his name. 

Therefore, Jesus says, [9] I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 

So apparently the Church in Philadelphia is facing some of the same issues as the Church in the city of Smyrna. In Smyrna, certain Jewish synagogues had begun to excommunicate the Christians and then report them to the government as bad citizens who refused to worship the emperor. As a result, Christians in Smyrna were going to prison; some were being executed; and Jesus told them, “you will suffer persecution for ten days, but if you remain faithful I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” But Jesus did not tell them what penalty the false Jews would pay for their betrayal. 

Now, he does: in the end, “I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.” Certain Jewish synagogues in Philadelphia have rejected Jesus as their Messiah, and they have rejected Jesus’ people: they have declared that God does not love them. Just as the city of Philadelphia has seized control over the main highway leading into the empire, so also some Jews of Philadelphia claim that they are the only true doorway into David’s kingdom. This is a lie, as Jesus says, and one day they will be forced to acknowledge the truth: Jesus is the only true doorway, the only true king who died for his people, the only true master over the keys to salvation. 

Jesus is predicting a painful reversal of the ancient prophecies: these false Jews of Philadelphia have been taught that, at sunset on the Last Day, the pagan nations will be forced to bow down as still as a stone while God’s people are lifted up to their inheritance. What they did not realize is that, at sunset on the Last Day, the Jews who rejected Jesus will be counted among the pagan nations and forced to bow down, while the pagans who accepted Jesus will be counted among God’s people and lifted up. 

But Jesus is not done yet: 

[10] Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. 

Now, there has been a lot of debate over this verse — especially over the last century, as newer interpretations of Revelation have become popular, those interpretations that say Christians are not going to suffer tribulation during the final war. Those teachers point to this verse, and they basically say, “There! See? If you are a good Christian, Jesus is going to keep you from the hour of trial, he is going to rapture us out of here before things get really bad. Of course, if you are a bad Christian, then you will be Left Behind and you will suffer terrible persecution. So be good!” 

But this verse does not promise that Christians will not suffer persecution or tribulation. Actually, the opposite: the Philadelphians have kept Jesus’ command to endure patiently — which means they have already been suffering persecution for “ten days”, exactly as Jesus’ promised the Christians of Smyrna, exactly as Jesus has promised all of his churches. 

But, because they have endured patiently, Jesus says he will keep them from “the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” 

Now the “hour of trial” is the same thing as the “hour of judgement”, which actually began 2000 years ago, according to the angel flying in midair that we saw last week: Jesus is promising that those who endure patiently, keep his word, and do not deny his name, will be kept from God’s judgement upon the nations in this life and the next. 

Jesus’ Church is destined to be trampled by the nations right up until the end; but in return, the nations are destined to be trampled by God. Quite obviously, Jesus’ children are not going to be trampled by their Father! 

And then, just to encourage the Christians of Philadelphia in the midst of their suffering, Jesus ends with this: [11] I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 

In other words: do not do what too many have done, and give away the Gospel in exchange for the mark of the beast. 

[12] The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 

Philadelphia was a city that fell down a few times. And when ancient Roman buildings fell down, the roofs would collapse, the walls would crumble away…and often the only things left standing after a severe earthquake were massive stone foundation pillars, like a petrified forest in a field of ruins. And often those pillars were inscribed with the names of leading citizens: men and families that had donated money to the original construction. 

This is what Jesus is promising the Christians of Philadelphia: they have been disavowed by the Jewish synagogues; they have little strength, they are not a wealthy and influential voting bloc in the city, they will never have their names inscribed on the great buildings of the empire for all to see. In fact, they are part of a temple — Jesus’ temple, Jesus’ Church — that is destined to fall, that is destined for disgrace and death in the public squares of the world. The beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them! 

— but the pillars of Jesus’ Church will remain. And from those pillars will grow the new city of God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven. 

This is now the fourth of the seven churches we have visited during the course of Revelation. And we have found that we have had something in common with each one; we have found that Jesus’ commands for them then also apply to us today. So, once again, we discover that we who are Christians in KL are in a similar situation with the Christians of ancient Philadelphia: we also have little strength. We do live surrounded by religions — and sometimes even churches — that have claimed the keys of salvation for themselves, and told us that we are not loved by God. 

But we are here. We are striving to keep Jesus’ word, we have not denied his name: we continue to identify as Christians, we continue to identify as Christ’s people even in the face of discrimination and disgrace. 

And so, in his mercy, knowing how little strength we have, Jesus’ command for us today is simple: Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 

Brothers and sisters, sometimes we are called to speak up boldly, to stand up for the truth in a deceptive world. That is good! But there are times when our strength is gone, and all we can do is hold on. Just hold on. And that is good also. 

Because every time we find ourselves denied a voice in this world, every time we get to practice this kind of silent endurance, we are practicing for the great tribulation at the end of the age. There will come a day when the Church will finish her testimony, when every last child of God has been gathered safely into the sanctuary at the top of Mount Zion. Then the many-headed beast will be revealed, and the end will come like a flood. We will be driven from the world, we will be denied a place and a voice, and our Father will let it happen because our voices will no longer be needed in this world. And so, when those days do come upon us, all that will be required is that we endure, and hold on to what we have, and wait for our resurrection and the day when all things will be made new. 

And that is why we are going to finish here with this benediction from the prophet Isaiah, this will be our Saviour’s final command for us: “Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed on it; the earth will conceal its slain no longer. 

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

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