Dear Student of the Word,
Before the year ends, I have one more installment of my Revelation Project edits to post. Thank you for providing the incentive that helps me work on these edits with a view toward publishing the entire commentary next year. This week, we take a look at the partnership that exists between the church, which is seen, and the spiritual realm, which cannot be seen. Here is the commentary I wrote on Revelation 5:11:
5:11 – This is the second instance of John saying he “looked and heard.” When God opens your eyes, He allows you to hear what He is doing with your eyes. In other words, God is not only a God who speaks, but also a God who acts and those around Him act as well. Proverbs 20:12 states, “Ears that hear and eyes that see – the Lord has made them both.” If you are hearing from the Lord, what do you see Him doing in your life or in the lives of those around you?
John looked and saw a host of angels, which is similar to an account found in 2 Kings:
Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O Lord, open his eyes so he may see." Then the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:14-17).
The story in 2 Kings 6 related Elisha’s servant and his concern for their enemies that surrounded them. When his eyes were opened, he saw that their allies, the invisible heavenly host, were more numerous than the enemies he could see. Therefore, the early church would have received the same message. Even though things were difficult and persecution increased, those who were with them, these angels that John could see, were more than the forces of the Roman Empire that were arrayed against them.
Keep in mind that Revelation includes many Old Testament references, symbols, and stories to encourage God’s people that God has always taken care of His people. The vision was given to show God’s people that God was and is victorious over all opponents. The same truth is relevant today. Are you fretting over the situations in the world that seem so godless and hopeless? Then you can stop worrying; the angels are singing in heaven, just as they always have. God isn’t nervous and you should not be either.
Revelation 5:11 provides a powerful description of the church, represented by the elders and living creatures, and heaven, with myriads of angels standing around the throne where the Lamb is worshiped. Nothing can overcome, dim, or mar that picture. The church and heaven have a partnership formed through the blood of Jesus and preserved through the faith of the saints. The truth of Romans 8 has been and is for every generation:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the daily devotional entitled Your Life Matters: Daily Reflections from the Book of Psalms. Thank you and soon I will begin sending you my edited studies from James' epistle. After that, we will only have the book of Revelation to complete before the entire New Testament is on the site where this study is posted.