After half a book of build-up – The 7th Angel, the 7th Trumpet - the kingdom of the world has become God’s kingdom. What if Caesar were not in charge? What if God were in charge? That’s the challenge Jesus posed according to our gospels. Ever since Handel, our soundtrack comes from his ‘Messiah’: ‘And he shall reign for ever and ever.’ Now, you’ve got a visual. The image of the celestial court you’ve built over three weeks.
What’s so great about ‘the wrath of God’? Ask the saints and martyrs, already dead, under the celestial altar finally what murdered them, will itself be ended.
Rewards on one hand for the faithful long-suffering who never seemed to win.
Destruction ffor those who destroy the earth.
Ask anybody feeling overwhelmed with environmental destruction, tempted to hopelessness by the floods and fires, the hundreds of species of creatures driven to extinction, the rich denying any connection to our consumption. How long? No longer!
Ask drought and famine refugees in Sudan after the desertification of Africa. Would just deserts look like bad news? The tougher question is not, ‘What’s so great about the ‘wrath of God’? but ‘Why aren’t you cheering? What side of the fence are you on, And who’s there with you?
I don’t know about your vision, But in mine, The martyrs who are rewarded are less likely those who crusaded and killed in God’s name Than those who suffered and died in God’s name
I don’t know about your vision, but in mine, the destruction of what destroys looks a lot like the end of much of my way of life, the affluent consumer society. The text does not enumerate winners and losers, not even as much as I indulged myself to do here.
The text looks back to the celestial scene, its temple opened, its ark revealed. Best described as like thunder, lightning, and heavy hail. The nations rage – but the news, the focal point, is celestial.
Remember that Churchill line, early in the North African campaign 1943, ‘this is not the end this is not even the beginning of the end, it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning?
Welcome to week 4 – Let’s get on with chapter 12 tomorrow!
15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.’
16 Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshipped God,
17singing, ‘We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.
18 The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.