2003-07-17 - The Time is Near
Rev 1:1-3 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw-that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (NIV)
Things just never seem to slow down. The pace of life seems to race ever higher and higher like an engine accelerating through the world land speed record. Every time a new entry makes its way to the Bonneville Salt Flats, the power and velocity seem to exceed the mind's ability to comprehend. The demands of daily life on mind, body and spirit seem endless.
My right shoulder pops all the time if I reach too high. It doesn't pop out of the socket or anything. It just pops, loud enough for the person next to me to hear it. Without my glasses I am legally blind. Thank God for glasses. I have a knee that is not in the greatest shape. But I have a working shoulder and knee so I am not complaining. They are just reminders that this world is not my home.
John, the beloved Apostle, is a prisoner on a Roman quarry prison island called Patmos. It was a marble quarry. The prisoners were literally expendable labor. They were shackled together in work gangs. The shackles came off when you were either pardoned or you died. Far more often the latter. There were no toilet facilities for the prisoners, no privacy, few medical facilities and no relief. The guards were there to make sure the work quotas were filled. John was also not a young man by this time. If you think your work day is bad, try trading places with John for a day or a week.
Enter this political prisoner into a collection of other political prisoners and worse. This man actually sings while he does his work in this hideous place. I imagine this perplexed a few guards and prisoners alike. John would talk to anyone who would listen. I can't decide if his message of a Savior would have been met with skeptical, weary hearts or gasped immediately by men who had no other hope left. There may have been some of both. But this horrible pit of despair for some became a place of hope with the revelation of a new life reaching beyond this one.
But how does a prisoner get paper and ink to write down this glorious revelation? One thought is that his message did take hold and begin to spread. That the warden of the prison removed John to a nearby cave covering his basic needs for food, water and a few requests like a scroll or two of parchment and a pen and ink well. In this line of thinking John was removed to try to stem the spread of this Gospel of Jesus Christ to the other prisoners and maybe even to the guards. John's message was interfering with the production of marble from the quarry. And rather than get into trouble with Rome, the Warden removed John. Why not just kill him? It may very well be that God was at work in the heart of the Warden as well. If God controls the hearts of Kings, then a Prison Warden should be no problem.
Twenty centuries ago John declared that the realization of the Revelation of Jesus Christ was near. How much closer must it be today. Make no mistake. There are Christians who live in similarly horrific situations today. Their lives are literally on the line every time they speak of their Savior. It is a very sad thought when they bring the answer to the pain and want of this world in search of that very answer. The answer is swept aside as the world tries to unify as Babylon did to solve her problems. But it does not change the fact that the time is now nearer than it was in John's day to the time when Jesus will come to take His bride away.
Rev 19:6-9 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) 9 Then the angel said to me, "Write: `Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" And he added, "These are the true words of God." (NIV)
Grace & Peace,