The main image of the sickle or scythe that people have is the caricature of death coming to reap (take away) life. Death is called the Grim Reaper. It is a popular image today among gamers. The sickle is an implement with a crescent-shaped blade attached to a short handle, used for cutting grain or tall grass.
In the book of Revelation, it is not Death personified, but an angel of God who wields the sickle. It is in his hand. The hand, in the Old Testament, is that part of the body “that carries out a person’s will” (Richards 324). John shares that perspective. Here, the angel is carrying out the will of God. Frank Cox noted that this angel is in the central part of seven in this part of chapter from verses 6-20 (Cox 90). It is a key section, then. This is an important moment and key action in the book. Continue reading “A sharp sickle in his hand”
“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27 NKJV).
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God” (Revelation 21:9-11).
Most Christians are familiar with John’s vision of the New Jerusalem as recorded in Revelation 21. We frequently long for the time when we will approach the Holy City, New Jerusalem (v. 2), enter through its gates of pearl (v. 21) and walk those glittering streets of gold (v. 21). Even as we imagine those things however we puzzle over many questions: where exactly is heaven? How literal are those gates and streets? What will we do when we are there? On the one hand we are intrigued with the imagery John uses. On the other, we understand that it is a vision, and therefore may not be intended literally. Continue reading “The glory of heaven”
The story of Christianity is the story of victory at great cost.
Hunted, beaten, starved, imprisoned, tortured, and murdered, this was the life for many Christians in the first century. Just as their Savior, they chose temporal suffering for eternal satisfaction.
This contrast between victory and loss is seen in vivid colors in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Following the great worship scene in chapter four, we find an equally awesome display of worship to the Son viewed as a Lion. But that glorious praiseworthy setting is enhanced by the suffering of that Son who became a Lamb slain (Revelation 5:6-8). Continue reading “By the blood”
The first and last times a word is mentioned in the Bible may not be doctrinally significant, but I find them fascinating nevertheless. Indulge my fascination for a moment.
In Revelation 19.13 appears a description of Jesus with the word “blood” — our theme for this month. It is the last occurrence of the word in the Bible.
We usually associate blood with our cleansing from sin, and rightly so. John takes a different tack here. Continue reading “The Rider with the robe dipped in blood”
In times of crises and doubt, the book of Revelation is a wonderful reminder of the sovereignty and salvation of God. The times were far different, the suffering had a human cause, but the book highlights the concern of God, a reminder we urgently need today. Read with me, please, the eighteenth chapter of the book.
God caused the great fall of Babylon, in Revelation 18. The name of the city figuratively represented Rome. As the great capital of Babylonia had fallen, so would the center of the Roman empire, whence came the sufferings and persecutions of the saints to whom the apostle John had written. Continue reading “Mighty is the Lord God who judges”
To see the first and last times that a word occurs in the Bible can often produce interesting observations. This, of course, is pretty much an English exercise for most people. Also, since one will be looking at Hebrew and Greek in the original languages, the exercise doesn’t work so well.
Among the versions there will be variations. (I use the NET Bible.) Still, it’s sometimes a fascinating game, much more so than those that most people play.
This month’s theme and key word is work. In the U.S., at the moment, more people are employed (which we assume means they’re working) than ever before, although the coronavirus may change that. Continue reading “Rest from hard work”
It is altogether fitting that the last word on righteousness comes from the last chapter of the last book of the Bible. The old apostle John, last of his tribe, writes what are probably his last words to a cowed and persecuted church.
As he wraps up the series of apocalyptic visions showing the grand victory of Christ and his followers, he makes what at first glance appears to be a strange statement. Continue reading “The last word on righteousness”
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last'” (Revelation 1:10-11 NKJV).
There are many ways to categorize people. One that I sometimes use has to do with how we schedule our pleasures. Some like to do the best (most enjoyable) things first. That may be eating dessert before the meal, or taking one’s leisure breaks as early as possible. Others prefer saving the best till last. I am among the latter group. I always keep the best piece of chocolate in the box for the final treat.
Reserving special pleasures for later offers several benefits. For example, there is the extended pleasure of anticipation. After all, once a particular dessert is eaten it is finished and cannot be enjoyed again. But while we look forward to it we savor the coming pleasure many times before finally consuming it. Continue reading “First or last”
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book” (Revelation 22:18–19 ESV).
What a stern warning to end this book of prophecy! And what a stern warning to end the collection of books we call the “New Testament.” Continue reading “Don’t tamper with God’s word”
“After these things I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and just. For he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and has avenged the blood of his servants poured out by her own hands!’” (Revelation 19:1-2 NET).
As we mentioned in our previous article, John’s Revelation is not the easiest to understand. There are many explanations and interpretations, but there are also eternal truths in the word-pictures that John used to paint a picture for us. Continue reading “God’s judgments are true and just”