The God We Need

September 3, 2023

Heavenly Father, we ask now in confidence to pray as Moses requested, show us Your glory through the hearing of Your Word, the revelation of Your nature, the truth about who you are and who we are as Your children. Show us Your glory, for that is what we need for whatever we’re facing. We pray this prayer boldly in Jesus’ name, knowing that in His name you love to hear us and to give us what we ask. Amen.

I want you to imagine a group of your friends, a group of seven friends. Some of you are saying I have to limit it to seven? Some of you are saying, who has seven friends? Think of it as your group of college friends, past or present, men and women, you were tight. You all professed Christ, all seeking to walk with Him or so it seemed, and now you’re separated by some distance, but you still keep in touch and you’re sort of the hub. You know what’s going on with all of these friends. You know that each one of these friends is struggling, they’re all facing something, struggling in some different way, so you sit down and you want to try to address your friends, help them in their walk. You sit down to write a long e-mail. You’re thinking of each of your friends.

There’s Emily. Emily’s a good person, hardworking, solid. She’s in the Word every day doing her devotions. But you know from talking to her she’s a little listless in her faith, there’s something missing. It doesn’t seem like to you there’s that same spark that used to be there.

Then you think of your friend Sam. Sam’s having a hard time at work, he’s got a boss who’s not a Christian, doesn’t like Christians. And if Sam doesn’t do all the worldly things, put out the kind of propaganda, do the kinds of seminars his boss wants him to, he may lose his job or it may be even worse than that. His boss and some others higher up in the company are threatening they’re going to pummel him on social media and they’re going to out him as this hate-filled bigot.

You have your friend Peter you’re thinking of. Peter’s always been a vibrant Christian. He loves to share his faith, people love to be around him, but you know from his social media feed lately he’s been reading some of this de-constructionist literature, ex-evangelicals, reading their stories of how oppressive their churches were, coming out of this evangelical Christianity, and he seems a little bit attracted to it and he’s starting to wonder if he’s made doctrine too important in his life and if the rules that he grew up living by and his campus group taught him, if those rules aren’t actually really abusive.

Then you think of Thomas. Thomas loves to serve. He’s always been drawn to the underdog, he’s really patient with people and their problems. Even since you’ve known him, he’s got a big heart for the lost, for the struggler. He just gravitates toward them and they to him. But you’ve noticed in the last year as you follow him online, he’s started to post rainbow flags all over the place, on his social media accounts. The stuff he’s writing about now has taken a little turn, and he’s complaining that the church is intolerant and it’s hurtful to the LGBTQ community, and you’re not sure what to say to him.

You have Sarah in your mind. Sarah has always been the most popular one. You know not only went to Sarah, you grew up with Sarah. She was in the youth group, she was always the superstar, the adults always loved her. She was good in Bible study, she went on missions trips, she was up front in the choir, but you know, many people don’t, but they’re starting to find there’s another side to Sarah – she loves to party, to drink, she hooks up with guys, and even worse, she’s not what she seems.

You have your friend Phillip. Phillip comes from a tough background, he’s never had much money. He volunteers in his spare time at a little storefront church downtown. It’s in a rough part of town and recently the city has been trying to shut down that church, and the city says that they don’t meet some technicality of the building code so they need to get out, but really, reading between the lines, everyone can see the city just doesn’t want a Bible-believing church there.

Then finally you have Laura in your mind. Ever since you’ve known Laura, she has been one of the beautiful people. She comes from old money, both sides of her family. They’ve got houses on the beach, they’ve got houses in the mountains, they’ve got houses for their houses. She’s smart, she’s athletic, she’s got a great job, everyone envies her. But you know her high-paying job, her good-looking boyfriend, they’ve become her life and the faith she grew up with has taken a big backseat. She gets to church when it’s convenient. She was one of those, truth be told, she never had COVID but she loved that it went on the livestream and she had a reason not to come and so she still hasn’t come back and she’s just coasting all the while.

You have all of these friends in your mind and you are trying to speak what is needful. It’s going to be a long e-mail. You’re going to copy all of them, they all can read it. What are you going to say to these friends?

So you pray and you think there are so many issues going on and not only a lot of issues, but each one has something different. How do you even start?

Well, if you were the Apostle John writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you would start your long e-mail to your Christian friends by telling them about God. Telling them about who God is and who they are as God’s people.

Look at Revelation chapter 1. I hope you’re there already, because this is how John begins his letter, a letter that would be read, traveled around to the seven cities of Asia Minor, and here’s how he begins in verse 4.

“John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.””

Perhaps you realize what I was up to there. The seven friends, you think, what an imagination our pastor has. Those seven friends are meant to summarize the kinds of problems facing the seven churches. Emily was Ephesus, Sam was Smyrna, Peter Pergamum, Thomas Thyatira, Sarah Sardis, Philip Philadelphia, Laura Laodicea. You can go back and listen to it later or read the transcript and all the lightbulbs will go off because those are the problems that each of those seven churches are facing.

That’s what it’s so striking of everything that John could have said to start this letter, this long e-mail chain, he begins by telling them what they need to know. Three things they need to know.

They need to know the trinity, they need to know their identity, and they need to see their life from the perspective of eternity. Those are the three things, whatever you’re facing, because these seven churches are representative, paradigmatic of the sort of things that every church at all times will face, some more than others. You find yourself in one slot or the next, but they describe the kinds of struggles, weaknesses, temptations, that we will all face. So all of us need to know at the outset of this book, you need to know the trinity, your identity, and have a perspective of eternity.

Let’s look at each of those. We’ll spend most of the time on the first, the trinity. We don’t think of the doctrine of the trinity as a practical doctrine. We know it’s true, we sing it in our songs, it’s there in the Bible, we would want to affirm it, but we don’t think of it as okay, I’m sitting down to counsel my friend. What do they need to know? They need to know that God is three in one.

Yet here’s the Apostle John writing to these churches and the first thing uppermost in his mind is let me tell you about Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He describes first grace and peace. Now that’s on one hand a common greeting, that’s how letters would begin, but it’s also striking, remember the book of Revelation, even when we get into some gruesome parts, some confusing parts, this ultimately is not a letter of doom and despair, it is a letter of grace and peace. It is meant to be a blessing to these churches and to us.

He describes God the Father, Him who is, who was, and who is to come. He is, that is the ever-living creator of the universe, ruling here and now, present, sovereign over every circumstance. He is, He was, eternal, without beginning or end, controlling every mole, ever molecule, every person, every particle. And He is to come, He’s the reigning king on the throne, He’s the ruler of what would be to us unforeseen and to Him always seen, coming in judgment at the end of the age to reward the righteous, condemn the wicked, who is and who was and is to come.

This is a description of the Father who is not a small god, who does not exist to BOOST our self-esteem, though we will come in verse 5 to this wonderful statement that He loves us. This is not a diminished god who fits in like a kind of warm blanket with progressive religion or cultural Christianity. This is the God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush and when Moses said, “Who should I say sent me?” He replied, “I am.” You should tell them “I am” has sent you, I am that I am.

When people are hurting, when they’re confused, when they’re struggling, yes, they need our compassion, yes we need to listen, yes we need to ask good questions, we need to assure them God cares, God hears, God knows, but friends, do not give to one another a small god. You don’t have to be a Christian to be a good listener, to do reflective listening, and I hear you saying, and I hear you saying. Well, sure that’s a helpful life skill, but we have something greater and grander and more glorious as Christians. Do not give to people a small God, shrink Him down to just make Him a God who’s in the mess that we’re in, who hurts as much as we hurt, who’s just a good listener and weeps all the time. Give them this God who is and who was and is to come.

That’s to be the motivation for these churches, to keep fighting the good fight, to keep persevering through affliction. Our comfort is not to hear there’s a God and He really, really loves you but He’s as messed and confused and hurt and suffering as we are, but to take comfort in this covenant-keeping God who is benevolent and strong and sovereign.

He tells them about the Father, next the Spirit. He uses this unusual phrase, “the seven spirits who are before the throne.” He’s referring to the Holy Spirit, but why does he use this phrase “the seven spirits”?

Turn over to chapter 4, verse 5 for a moment. You see there, “From the throne came flashes of lightning and rumblings and peals of thunder and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God.” So the seven lamps or the seven torches are representative of the seven spirits, and then one more chapter over, chapter 5, verse 6, “Between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a lamb standing as though it had been slain with seven horns and with seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

So we have seven lamps, seven eyes for the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit is often represented with these sevens; seven flames of fire, seven eyes. This imagery comes from Zechariah chapter 4. We don’t have time to go there, but in Zechariah 4 there’s a vision of an angel and the angel shows the prophet a vision of a golden lamp with seven branches. Think of the menorah, which you’ve all seen that traditionally Jewish lampstand so it’s got seven branches. That’s why there’s seven lampstands, or seven torches. This is the seven-branched lampstand.

He sees this sevenfold lamp and the angel explains this seven-pronged lamp stands for this: “Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord.” As the vision goes on, it’s very elaborate, and there’s a never-ending supply of olive oil, which is constantly feeding this lamp so that it stays lit. That’s how you would keep the lamp lit, so we might say it’s a tanker truck of God’s power that is hooked into the back of your car, it will never run out of fuel.

So this seven-pronged lampstand in Zechariah is symbolic of God’s power and might, not by power, not by might, but by My Spirit, says the Lord. Seven lampstands, seven lights, symbolic of the seven eyes of the Lord, which are representative of the power of the Spirit.

So John is drawing in Revelation 1 from this imagery in Zechariah 4. A lampstand is representative of the Spirit’s presence. Go back in chapter 1, just look at verse 20: As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Helpful when John just tells us. Maybe you could just give us that glossary throughout the whole book, but there he does. He tells us this is what the stars mean, here’s what the lampstands mean.

Think about what this represents for the church. The church in Revelation is represented with the image of the Spirit’s burning, flaming torch. This is why with the church in Ephesus when the angel threatens to withdraw the lampstand, it’s such a dire warning – I will remove the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit from your midst. The church in Revelation is by definition that place where the Spirit of God is at work.

Going back to chapter 1, verse 4, the seven spirits. So we’ve seen seven torches, seven angels, seven eyes, seven lampstands, here seven spirits. Again, seven, the number of perfection, completion, in keeping with the seven days of the week and creation, but also here it’s because of the prophecy in Isaiah 11 that the Spirit who was to come would be the sevenfold Spirit.

Have you noticed this before? You’ve probably heard, many of you, this messianic prophecy from Isaiah chapter 11, but hear it again: There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, that’s David’s father, and a branch from his root shall bear fruit, the Spirit of the Lord, so that’s one, shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Count it up, it’s a sevenfold spirit. So the expectation for the Messiah is that He would be anointed with the Holy Spirit in such super abundance in keeping with this prophecy from Isaiah 11. A sevenfold outpouring of the Spirit. You can count them up, seven kinds of spirit. It’s not seven spirits, the Holy Spirit isn’t divided into sevens, but the seven spirits before the throne in Revelation are representative of this sevenfold spirit predicted in Isaiah 11 and in Zechariah 4, the sevenfold spirit that would be poured out on the Messiah to save His people. That’s why it’s the seven spirits.

So you have the Father, you have the Spirit, and then verse 5 you have the Son, Jesus Christ. Notice there are three descriptions of the Son, Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness, He is the firstborn of the dead, and He is the ruler of the kings of the earth. He’s the faithful witness. So Jesus came to bear witness to the truth, to the truth about salvation, the truth about His Father, the truth about His person, and His work and He bore witness even at the cost of His own life.

Why does John highlight this? Next week’s sermon, Lord willing, we’ll see more of the glory of this exalted, resurrected Christ, but here why emphasize the faithful witness? Surely it’s to be an encouragement to these churches and to us who are struggling, and in part they’re struggling because they’re weak, because they’re persecuted, because they’re tempted with sickness and opposition more than they think they can handle, and it seems like the cost of being a Christian is too high. Maybe some you feel that because of outward opposition, or maybe even for more of you because of inward struggle, temptations you want to act on, discouragement, fears. And when you’re ready to throw in the towel, Jesus presents Himself as a faithful witness, the One who witnessed to the truth even unto death.

So Jesus is presented to us to tell the churches don’t give up, don’t cave in, don’t succumb. He has spoken the truth about Himself and here’s the encouragement: He will speak the truth about you. That’s one of the recurring themes we’ll see in Revelation. When the world lies about you, because it will, the devil is a liar and he’s an accuser, so the world at various times will accuse you of things you’re not guilty of, will lie about you. What do you do when people believe the accusations and lies of the devil and you can’t seem to do anything to convince them otherwise? One of the things you can do is rest secure and confident that Jesus is a faithful witness, and even if no one else seems to know, Jesus knows who you are, what you stand for, what you’ve done, and He will bear the truth about you on the last day.

He’s the faithful witness, He’s the firstborn from the dead. Doesn’t mean He’s the first created being, but rather His Resurrection is a kind of first fruits, that all of us in Christ will enjoy this resurrection.

Then finally He is the ruler of kings on earth. The imagery of this phrase, actually all three phrases here ascribed to Jesus in verse 5 come from Psalm 89, a messianic psalm, looking forward to the time when the man from David would sit forever on David’s throne. Psalm 89:27 – and I will make Him the firstborn, the highest of kings on the earth. Psalm 89:37 – like the moon it shall be established forever, His throne as long as the sun before me. So Psalm 89 gives John the words and the imagery to describe Jesus Christ as the firstborn from the dead, as the faithful witness, and here as ruler of kings on the earth.

Now you know that if you’re a Christian, you know that to be true. These are not things you’re hearing for the first time, but think about it. The ruler of all the kings of the earth, the one who rules over all of them. Though you may not see it now, He depends on no election, no electoral college, no voting machines, is the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, of course, elections matter. Yes, voting for the best candidate matters. But what does it say on our coins? Amazingly enough, haven’t taken it off yet, what does it say on our coins in this country? In God We Trust. Joe Biden is not our hope. Donald Trump is not a Savior. Jesus Christ is the ruler of kings on the earth. He’s the one who’s written the story, He’s the one who is carrying it out, He’s the one who matters. Yes, all these things under His lordship and we do our part to pray and to plan, but He is the ruler of kings on the earth. They do His bidding, to bless His people and at times to judge His people.

I told you we’d spend the most time on this first point about the trinity. Just step back for a minute and think about this remarkable introduction. Go back to the e-mail for your seven friends. Most of us would not think to write at the beginning of that e-mail, “let me tell you about the trinity.” In fact, if people were reading it, they’d be scroll down, scroll down, tell me how to fix my problems.

Of course, it’s not the only way. Paul doesn’t start every letter like that, but it’s striking. I am convicted, and you probably are, too. It’s amazing how few of us when it comes down to it actually seem comfortable talking about God. We can talk about church… Do you go to church? Where do you go to church? Maybe about faith, maybe religion, maybe spirituality. And here me, those are all good things, those are words in the Bible, those are good things, don’t be embarrassed to talk about those things. But sometimes it seems like we’re scare to talk about God Himself.

As David Wells famously put it in his books, God rests inconsequentially upon our modern world, and not just on the world, but doesn’t he often rest inconsequentially upon the Church?

When you read these stories, when you read so many of the stories of people de-constructing their faith. I understand sometimes they have very real pain, sometimes it may be imagined, sometimes it’s real, sometimes really bad things happened to them, sometimes Christians in their lives did not treat them as Christians should, and everything in between. But almost every story follows the same trajectory and ultimately it’s a story to the inside. It’s a story that finally comes to the inside of a person and the conclusion, which is presented as something so brave and courageous and new, is the utterly predictable conclusion – and I learned to be true to myself, and I learned to follow my heart, and I learned to find the real self deep within.

People say wow, that’s so brave.

It’s predictable. It’s the story that everyone is telling. It’s a journey to the inside.

John, he’s going to talk about their hurts. He’s going to talk about their struggles. He’s going to talk about their pain. But he starts by saying I want you to look out and I want you to look up and I want you to know the God whom you profess to worship, this great and glorious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that’s what John thinks we need to hear. John thinks for struggling, suffering, hurting people, there’s nothing more relevant than that you would know the trinity.

So he reminds them of the God they serve, and then second, these two points more quickly, from trinity to identity. Now that’s a word we use, not a word he would have used, but isn’t that what with seen in verse 5, the second half, and verse 6?

Now we certainly can look at verses 5 and 6 as a doxology, as so often happens in the New Testament, when the apostle starts thinking about Jesus, he can’t help but burst into praise and ascribe to Him glory and speak of His second coming. So it is a doxology, but it’s also anthropology. Every age in the Church has a constellation of issues. Sometimes it’s the doctrine of Scripture, sometimes it’s the doctrine of Christ.

For us, certainly, it’s anthropology, the Doctrine of Man, of people, of men and women, who are we? What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Are we made in the image of God? Are we just molecules and atoms? What does it mean to be made male and female? Are there male and female? What does it mean to be given a body? How do use our bodies? How do with glorify God with our bodies?

Our struggles are out anthropology, who are we? These verses say something about Jesus for sure but they also say something about those who belong to Him. Look at this wonderful threefold description. This, brothers and sisters, this is what is true of you if you are a born-again Christian and you belong to Jesus. It says to Him who loves us.

There’s a particularity to the love of Christ. I suppose it’s true in one sense God loves everyone as His image-bearers, but that’s not the main sense in the New Testament, and that’s certainly not the main sense in Revelation. Here it is a particular love for a particular people, because as we’ll see throughout this book, God is angry with the wicked. He is going to cleanse the earth of its impurities. There is a stark contrast between the overcomers and the compromisers, so the Spirit that blazes like seven torches and the Father who is and was and is to come, and this Jesus, His Son. What a remarkable testimony that He loves you. He loved us, He freed us. When it says He freed us from our sins by His blood, I think it means He set us free both from the penalty of sin and from the power of sin.

You might think of that as the double grace of justification and sanctification. He freed us so that we don’t have to face God’s wrath and He freed us so that we are no longer bound to sin. You can be a different person. Lady Gaga may have been born that way, but she could be born again a different way. So can you.

He loves us, He freed us, He made us, verse 6. Now we might think He made us, creation, but here the focus is not creation, but re-creation. He made us to be a kingdom and to be priests. That’s a way of saying from the language in Exodus 19, He made us to be holy, and He made us for Himself.

That’s why He explodes in praise to God and Father to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever amen. God made you for Himself.

So you need to think who am I? Like these churches facing all sorts of questions, temptations, and do I give up, do I give in, do I capitulate? Who’s God? Who are you as His people? And isn’t that the question of our age? Who am I?

There’s a biological answer that says you are nothing more than what science can observe about you, what can be measured, what can be seen through a microscope, what can be given a label… That’s who you are.

There’s a romantic answer that says you are what you feel. You’re the sum of your desires.

There’s a postmodern answer that says you are whatever you decide you want to be. The master of your own fate. You determine what is real for you.

You can see how all of these false answers. The biological answer, the romantic answer, the postmodern answer.

But they’re not biblical answers. This is why verses 5 and 6 are so precious, Christians. This is where we often need to start. Perhaps we start with the nature of God, but then with need to come to who are we? Because when we’re trying to counsel our friends, we’re trying to disciple our children, or we’re just trying to talk to ourselves in the right way, you can’t simply say don’t do that bad thing, though the Bible has plenty of commands. Or do this good thing, though the Bible tells us that.

But deeper. You need to know who you are, if you belong to God, if you truly belong to Him. This might be what you need to hear, Christian, as you’re contemplating blatant disobedience in your life, or you know that you’ve been living a duplicitous life. One way might to be come at you with warnings, that’s biblical. But here’s another way – to remind you that in Christ you are loved, in Christ you are freed from your sin, from the penalty and from the power, and in Christ you have been made new for God’s glory. Why would you go live like an old person? Why would you live like a dead person when you’re a new person in Christ. That’s who you are.

This letter was not a treatise that fell from the sky. It was an actual letter, bound up or maybe rolled in a scroll and passed around to these churches, real people like you listened as it was read with real problems and of all the things they were facing. It seems that John considered, by the Spirit, these were their two biggest dangers, and perhaps there our two biggest dangers – that you forget who God is and you would forget who you are.

That’s where all good counseling starts. That’s where all good biblical direction starts. Do you know who God is? Do you know who you are?

Trinity, identity, finally, quickly, eternity.

You see in verse 8, the Lord God, some commentators say this is Christ, others think this is God, God the Father speaking, opens His mouth and now speaks for Himself, and He says I am the Alpha and the Omega.

I’ll never have completely absent from my mind the very first Sunday I went to Gordon Conwell up in Boston and went to church. I was homesick, went to school, grew up in the Midwest, and the very first Sunday they have somebody read this text and say “I am the alpher and omager.” Where am I? Ya park ya car in the Harvard yard. You took out those R’s and you put them where they don’t belong.

He says the Alpha and the Omega. You understand that. The A to Z, the A to Zed for our British friends. The first and the last letter in the alphabet. This is the language the Lord used in the Old Testament to assert His uniqueness, His authority.

Isaiah 44 – this is what the Lord says, Israel’s king and redeemer, the Lord God Almighty, I am first and the last, apart from Me there is no God. Who is like Me? Is there any God besides Me? No, there is no other rock I know not one.

Here this God declares Himself to be the One who is, who was, who is to come, the Almighty. In Greek, the pontocrator, the one who has power over pontus, over all things. Nine times in this book God is called the pontocrator, the Almighty.

Here’s what John is saying. You need to know the trinity, you need to know your identity, and you need to get the big picture of eternity.

Look up. Look up. I’ve mentioned this before. John Piper has a famous little essay with a provocative title, something like why there are no windows in adult bookstores, or in the porn shop, back when you had to go somewhere to get that. He said you might think that there’s no windows there because you don’t want anybody to see you. Okay, that’s part of it. There’s also no windows because they, and the devil doesn’t want you to see the world. Doesn’t want you to know that there’s a world beyond these walls, or beyond the darkness of the illuminated computer screen. The devil doesn’t want you to look up. He doesn’t want windows to God’s glory. The devil doesn’t want you to know there’s a heaven or a hell. The devil wants you always staring at yourself, or if you can’t do that, at your phone. He doesn’t want you to think about eternity. He wants you constantly just thinking about yourself, your sin, your circumstances.

Verse 7 is John literally getting us to look up, behold. He’s coming with the clouds, it’s an allusion to Daniel 7, we’ll hear much more about that chapter in the weeks ahead where the Son of Man comes with authority, symbolized by the clouds of heaven. Coming with the clouds refers here to the second coming of the Son of Man. Allows him to quote from Zechariah 12, and every eye will see Him even those who pierced Him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn, will wail, on account of Him.

That prophecy from Zechariah 12 John understands there to be a double fulfillment. Interestingly, John makes a lot of that same prophecy in his gospel account in John chapter 9. So on the one hand that prophecy, they shall pierce Him and those who look upon Him will weep and wail, John understands that was fulfilled at the cross. Not one of His bones will be broken, they will look on the one they have pierced. That’s one fulfillment.

But here, John understands there’s a second further fulfillment. This time the weeping and wailing won’t be with pity for Jesus who died on the cross, it will be the weeping and wailing of regret. The appearance of Jesus come to earth to reign will strike sorrow and terror into the hearts of the wicked and the unbelieving. That’s what John means to say. When He comes, those of you who pierced Him, now we weren’t literally there on Golgotha, but he’s talking about those of you who pierced Him with your indifference, pierced Him with your unbelief, will look upon Him and the whole earth will wail in terror, in regret, to know at that moment it’s too late, we pierced Him with our self-justifying behavior. We pierced Him with our smug, intellectual defenses. We pierced Him by disregarding His lordship and setting aside His offer of clemency. We pierced Him by dropping out of the race and giving up the fight. And it will be on that day too late.

John seems to say there will be many who will mourn their lost opportunity on that day when He returns, so pierce Him no longer, praise Him instead as the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth.

Do you see what John is doing for those churches and for us? Trinity, identity, eternity. He’s saying, brothers and sisters, I know you’re all facing something different, but you need the right perspective.

Because that’s what happens. That’s… Suffering hurts, that’s why it’s suffering. You can’t avoid suffering in this life as a human being, but it can be made worse if you don’t have the right perspective. If your whole world gets shrunk in, gets narrow, gets dark, gets confined, and you don’t know there’s a God who’s Alpha and Omega, who existed before matter existed, a God who doesn’t experience time as we do but for Him it’s not time in sequence but eternity. This God who is and who was and who is to come. There is a God who is not like us. There is a great and glorious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and of all the things that John says that you need to know in the midst of your trials and your difficulties, you need this God and this perspective. There is one who loves you, can free you from your sins by His blood, in Christ, if you will know Him and repent and worship.

Let’s pray. Our great and glorious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with come to You now asking that You would bless us once again, Your inexhaustible mercies toward us. You never grow tired of hearing us petition You for blessing. So as we have feasted on Your Word, now we come to feast on the bread and the cup, and we pray that You would feed us all the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.