Reflections: December 18, 2020
Friday of the Third Week of Advent
By Bradley Drew
And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence. (Revelation 6:8b)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When reading Revelation, always keep two things in mind. First, "no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20-21). In other words, let Scripture interpret Scripture. If someone comes out of Revelation with a teaching found nowhere else in the Bible, no matter how popular it may be, it's "someone's own interpretation," not the Bible's. Ignore it.
Second, Revelation, like every other book of the Bible, is all about Jesus. It even opens with, "The revelation of Jesus Christ." Not of some blueprint for the end times, Revelation is one final revealing, one last spectacular showing forth of Jesus for our times, the End Times. And the book says, "Do not be afraid." Jesus is in control.
In the picturesque language known as the four horsemen of the apocalypse, Revelation 6 does tell of the end times. It tells of things like wars and rumors of wars (symbolized by a white horse carrying a bow), of things like the loss of lives and peace among people (symbolized by the bright red horse carrying a great sword), of things like the rise of inflation and starvation (symbolized by the black horse with a pair of scales in his hand), and of things like pestilence and plague (symbolized by the pale horse). In places like Matthew 24, Jesus tells us that not only will such signs always be present, but like birth pangs they will increase as the end nears. Accordingly, while in Revelation 6 only one fourth of mankind is affected, in an ensuing vision in chapter 8 one third will be affected.
The Good News? The hand governing it all is the hand of the Lamb whom God sent to sacrifice for us upon the Cross. God wants you to know that the hand which bears you no ill, no harm, or hatred in anything is the hand steering it all--every place, every time, every power, every circumstance. In fact, it's the same hand that is holding on to you now with the promise of the Cross in His Word, in His water, and at His Supper.
Don't be thrown by all the signs. While the world sees only an angry God behind them, you, by faith, see Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It's all going according to plan. His! Look behind the signs, then, and trust this gentle Lamb. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
With might of ours can naught be done, soon were our loss effected; But for us fights the Valiant One, Whom God Himself elected. Ask ye, Who is this? Jesus Christ it is, of Sabaoth Lord, And there's none other God; He holds the field forever. ("A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" LSB 656, st. 2)
-Rev. Bradley Drew is the pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, LA.
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