Week 3 January 2023, Devotion Part 1
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. Revelation 21:1
Strange that John would say that. In fact, the sea stared at him. The apostle was banished to Patmos, a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea. The scenery beyond the sparkling waters was magnificent, a nature lover’s dream. The church, however, was gripped by a nightmare. Imperious Rome was enforcing the cult of emperor worship. The devil had a field day. In Pergamum, the city “where Satan lives,” Christ’s faithful servant Antipas was put to death. The church in Smyrna was put on notice, “I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison…and you will suffer persecution…” The “synagogue of Satan” in ancient Philadelphia was comprised of liars, not Jews.
Imperial Rome had turned Patmos into a penal colony for criminals. Was John surprised to find himself lumped in with them? Had he not seen his Lord crucified between two thieves? Who knows what forms of mental escapism those prisoners practiced as they bent their backs to harsh mine work on the desolate island. Did John tell them to bend their knees to the Ruler of the Universe and become His royal priesthood? Did he whisper into their ears tales of a city whose streets were paved with gold? Could those workers have grasped the incomparably precious value of a Stone mined from the quarry of God’s redemptive love? Did he tell those fellow sufferers how Rome had rained blows on His bloodied back and nailed Him to a cross? (Part 1 of 2)
Comment: You don’t have to explain to parents what “selective hearing” means. Kids are expert at it. What about “selective seeing”? Take the Revelator’s statement “and the sea was no more.” Out of the chapter’s 27 verses, one thing stands out: NO SEA. Fishing and water sports have been your passion, and you can’t picture life in heaven as a landlubber. Perhaps you are a country boy and not even the idea of a Heavenly City floats your boat. Crybabies of their sort shouldn’t expect relief from verse 4, “…and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.” John did grab my attention by writing in verse 3 that he heard a “loud voice from the throne.” In his seven letters in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, we read seven times, “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” I used to tell my kids with selective hearing, “Do you want me to use my LOUD voice?” They knew it meant business. So, to shape up before we ship out, we shouldn’t look before we leap. Rather, let the conclusions leap out at us from the final pages of the last Bible book. It was written by the former fisherman whom Jesus had “fished out” of the Sea of Galilee, to draw seekers and strugglers into His sturdy net of eternal salvation and fellowship with our triune God.