Admittedly, there's some crazy stuff going on in these chapters. And as I said in the sermon on Sunday, some argue that this kind of writing is symbolic. Well, if these are just the symbols, how bad must the reality be? Scary stuff!
I have to say that the one that gets me every time I read it is in Revelation 6. The picture is the martyrs who have died for their loyalty to Jesus under the throne of God. I love that for this reason: though they were martyred in this life, I love the picture of being under God's throne and protection in the next life. Not safe on earth. Absolutely safe in heaven.
I'm also provoked by the picture. Their question is haunting: "How long, Lord, until you avenge us?" I don't know what all the implications are, but it sure appears that they know that their blood has not been avenged. Therefore, they know what's going on - they have some sense of what's happening on earth. They are part of the cloud of witnesses. Somehow that makes me want to be a better man today.
And lastly, I'm challenged. God's reply: "Not until the full number of you has come in." Full number. That means the number isn't full yet. They haven't hit capacity. They're not running at 100%. There are more martyrs to come. That is challenging. I know there are people around the world today giving their lives for their loyalty to Christ. North Korea. India. Nigeria. And on and on. But their number hasn't hit capacity yet. So I'll pray for brothers and sisters around the world and ready myself just in case my life is one of their number.
How about you?