Revelation is a vision which should leave us exhausted, and then, by grace, exhilarated. It is a vision of God’s absolute holiness, and a vision which must overwhelm us. In John’s book we face up to pictures of a perfectly wise, perfectly loving and perfectly wrathful God. We cannot turn away unchanged, nor have our views of God unchallenged. He is God, He is holy. That means, He is utterly different from us in His absolute perfection. And, as we’ll discover, His holiness, terrifying as it is to sinful people like ourselves, is in fact our only hope.
After the previous visions of the Woman and the Dragon (12.1-3), here is the third, of the Presence of God Himself. In line with what Moses and Ezekiel saw, John records a dazzling sea of glass (v.2), symbolising God’s dwelling-place. Standing there are God’s servants. They have “been victorious over the Beast”, through their suffering witness, and most likely through their martyrs’ death (v.2). Like no one else, they worship God as they know Him to be, as the Holy One (v.3). Reflect on their song, and sing it yourself. It is a song of a mighty and majestic Lord!
A holy God has dealings not only with those who embrace His covenant-love, but with those who reject it. As John sees the heavenly place of worship, he calls it the Tabernacle of the Testimony, the word “Testimony” reminding us that God has spoken to His people, charging them to be faithful to them. John’s heart is heavy with the fact that the people of the unbelieving generation who heard Jesus’ words and rejected them, were in covenant with God. Now they must meet the covenant judgement of the God they rejected, as all sinners will once day. The bowls of God’s wrath are made ready to be poured out against sin (vv.6-9).
For bowls, think cups. And then think of how one cup brings you to the Holy God. Jesus drained the cup which was prepared for our sin. He took it, and emptied, not pouring it out on others, but drinking it down for them. Love took the punishment which holiness demanded. Jesus drank wrath, that you might drink grace. No one would take wrath for us. Jesus did. We call it the Gospel. It’s from heaven, and it will bring us into heaven.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord, Your love is astounding, just as Your purity is amazing. How I praise You that I am free from the guilt of all of my sins as I see it taken by Jesus. Put in my heart a song of holy praise to my God, for in the Gospel Your righteous acts have been revealed. Amen.