Scripture Focus: Revelation 6.10-11
10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
Reflection: Consolation and Patience — Joy of Advent
By John Tillman
As Revelation’s seals open, the consequences of sin ride out upon the earth in a predictable sequence. Each apocalyptic rider is a natural, logical next step following the previous judgment.
The prideful rider seeking conquest is followed by war and the bloodshed of the sword. The sword of war does not bring victory or peace, but famine and scarcity. Scarcity and famine are followed by death and “hades.” Destruction, want, and chaos result. The darkness that precedes the light of Christ’s coming falls.
For centuries, scholars have debated whether these “seals” were opened in John’s day or our day, or whether they were to be opened at some point in the future. It is also possible that these prophecies, like many in scripture, have multiple fulfillments. This means that they may refer to something in the author’s or readers’ immediate future or present, while simultaneously referring to events in our time or in centuries to come.
If the greatest minds of Christendom have pondered these texts for two millennia without consensus, then perhaps certainty is not their purpose. So, if Revelation’s purpose is not to give us certainty, what is it to give us? Well, humbly admitting I could be wrong, I think the answer is probably twofold. Revelation intends to keep us watchful. Revelation intends to drive us to God, through the scriptures.
Advent is a rehearsal for Christ’s second Advent. Darkening days (in the Northern Hemisphere) symbolize darkening, increasingly sinful times. We long for light, seeking joy to end our anguish. In John’s vision of Heaven, the long, languishing wait for justice carries over after death. Those “slain because of the Word of God” are comforted, yet still wait, crying for justice.
Like those “under the altar” we are comforted in our waiting and suffering. We seek and receive consolation from God himself. Whether the seals are in our past or future, Jesus is coming soon for us, either at the hour of our death or the hour of his appearing. Christ’s coming will be joyful for some and tragic for others. We should be watchful for him and take every opportunity to share him with others. The very reason for Christ’s delay is that more may be saved. The greater number of people we bring with us, the greater our joy will be.
With whom will you share the joyful news of Christ’s coming?
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; let all flesh bless his holy Name for ever and ever.. — Psalm 145.22
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Chronicles 17 (Listen – 2:48)
Revelation 6 (Listen – 3:12)
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Read more about The Endurance of Hope :: Love of Advent
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.