Word for Today Archive

Pastoral Commentary for Revelation 15
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie

One of the things I love about cycling is being out in God's creation. Before I moved to Texas I lived in Washington State. There was some awesome scenery there including Mt. Rainier, rushing mountain streams, and trees as tall as the sky. One of my favorite rides took me down to Puget Sound to enjoy the smell of the saltwater. But the Texas Hill Country has its own beauty too. There are the evergreen live oaks, the cactus, the hills and valleys around every corner. Being able to ride through God's creation at 15 or 20 miles an hour in the open air on a bike gives you an appreciation of nature that you can't get on the freeway at 75 miles an hour.

I thought of all the beautiful sights I've seen on my bike as I read Revelation 15 this morning. Verses three and four include this song: "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?" My sentiments are the same as those who sang the song of Moses in heaven. "Who will not fear you?" When I see the wonders of creation I cannot help but give glory to God.

Sadly, there are some who do not see it the same way. Their eyes have been blinded and their minds are held captive by Satan. Back in March I wrote about this in my blog and had one person post vile comments on my blog because I believed in creation, not evolution. He declared himself an atheist and proclaimed that anyone who believes in God is a moron and worse. He is not alone. Today there are several vocal atheists with best selling books who stridently condemn anyone who is "foolish" enough to believe in God. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and others refuse to acknowledge the glory of God in his creation, and will not give Him glory.

Those of us who have eyes to see how great and marvelous are the deeds of God in creation should thank God that He has made himself known to us. And those of us who can see how just and true God is in the cross of Jesus Christ should rejoice and give God glory for the salvation He has given us through His Son. In doing so we will join the saints in heaven in praising God and the question will be answered positively which asks, "Who will not fear God?" NOT US! We fear, love, and trust in God who first loved us by creating us and the beautiful world we live in, and by redeeming us through His own Son.

Pray for those who will not fear God. They cannot see the wonders of the Creator even though they are right in front of them. They see only "random accumulations of molecules" and "accidents of nature." Pray that the veil Satan has put over their eyes will be lifted, and they will soon join us in fearing God and glorifying Him.

Pastoral Commentary for Revelation 15
Author: Pastor Zach

I'll never forget my first visit to the first congregation I served at as a pastor. It was a church in a little town outside of Corpus Christi called Portland. I had hit the road early on a Tuesday morning to make a three and a half hour drive from Austin, where I was staying at the time, to Portland, my soon-to-be home. It was a pleasant drive, first down 1-35 from Austin to San Antonio, and then down I-37, headed toward Corpus Christi, until I got about twenty five miles north of the city. All of a sudden, dark and ominous clouds appeared on the horizon. And as I sped closer to my destination, I realized that the weather was about to take a turn for the worse.

And then, it happened.

The lightning flashed, the thunder rolled, the heavens opened up, the floodgates released, and the rain came pouring down. It was one of the most stunning displays of precipitation I had ever witnessed. I could barely see a foot in front of my windshield. Those last few miles took me a full hour to drive. And as I drove them, I thought to myself, "Is this some kind of hurricane? I'm not so sure I want to live here!"

Thankfully, my opinion soon changed. For the next time I returned to Portland, the sky was blue, the weather was pleasant, and as I sped over a picturesque causeway from Corpus Christi to Portland, I was enraptured by the sailboats drifting through the harbor and the maritime birds soaring up above. "This is more like it," I thought to myself. "Now this feels like home!"

In our reading for today from Revelation 15, we see a storm of sorts, described as "the seven last plagues" (verse 1), which are representative of the unfortunate trials and tribulations that accompany the end times. Notably, during these stormy plagues, the temple in heaven is "filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, [so that] no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the sever angels were completed" (verse 8). In other words, much like a blue sky in a thunderstorm, there are portions of God's counsel which remain somewhat shrouded during this spiritual storm.

The writers of Scripture have long noted that, in some sense, God remains hidden from us as we live our lives on earth and in sin. Paul describes it thusly: "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways" (Romans 11:33). "Inscrutable." Now there's a word you don't hear very often. It is the negative form of "scrutinize." Paul us saying that, try as we might, we cannot scrutinize or analyze or standardize the way in which God works. His ways often remain dingily shadowed behind the smoke in Revelation's temple. And yet, it will not always be this way.

Just like the clouds over Corpus Christi eventually broke and the storm eventually cleared, so too will the smoke from the temple one day dissipate and God in his full glory in righteousness will be revealed. Indeed, not only will the smoke from the temple clear, the temple itself will tumble! As John writes concerning the end of time, "I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple" (Revelation 21:22). And then later, "We will see his face" (Revelation 22:4). We will one day see the entirety of God.

In the mean time, however, we're still in the storm of plagues. Indeed, you experience this every time a financial crunch hits, a relationships breaks, or a loved one dies. And it is during these times that we wish we were able to peer into the smoke of God's temple and scrutinize his job performance. But, frustratingly at times, we cannot. But the smoke will indeed dissipate. The temple will indeed tumble. And we will indeed see Jesus face to face. And when we do, we will declare, "Now this feels like home!" I can't wait.

Read Today's Scripture and Commentary on the Concordia website.

2019-11-15 09:57:36