I heard something that sounded like a huge crowd, like rushing water and powerful thunder. They said,
“Hallelujah! The Lord our God, the Almighty,
exercised his royal power!
Let us rejoice and celebrate, and give him the glory,
for the wedding day of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.”
…Then I fell at [the angel’s] feet to worship him. But he said, “Don’t do that! I’m a servant just like you and your brothers and sisters who hold firmly to the witness of Jesus. Worship God! The witness of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy!”
And the scroll was opened.
Then, we spent months wading through horsemen and plagues. We heard cries for justice from the saints sacrificed at the altar. We bounced between worship in heaven and chaos on earth.
Destruction, destruction, destruction.
It didn’t go like we’d planned. It didn’t happen in an instant, a flash. The healing of the earth has taken agonizingly long.
But let’s just imagine that it did happen like we wanted. What if those scrolls popped open, and God gave a heavenly clap, and we arrived at all these “hallelujah”s for this week, if the new Jerusalem came right on down from heaven, adorned like a bride for a husband? Imagine if we had skipped through all of these hard weeks. Think of all we would have missed.
The same temptation to quick and easy fixes lies around every corner in our world. Whatever issue you are passionate about – racial injustice, domestic violence, abuse against immigrants, climate change, political gridlock, broken families – we all know the pain of persistent waiting. We all know the temptation to give up, or to pick an easy solution that we know is incomplete. As our weekly confession says, “Our patient endurance runs out.”
But in fact, all of heaven has also been shaped by the hard work of persisting in faith and endurance. Like Jesus’ resurrected body still has scars, the new Jerusalem will also bears the marks of the pain of the world. This week, when John sees that the agonizing waiting is finally over, he is overcome. He falls down to worship the angel of heaven. But the angel says, No way. “I’m a servant just like you and your brothers and sisters.” Being God’s heavenly messenger is no more than holding firmly to the witness of Jesus through all seasons of hard waiting.
There are no privileged people who get to avoid the struggle of waiting and witnessing in the darkness.
As we witness in struggle and pain, we join with the angels of heaven and the saints of the earth. Thank you Revelation for teaching us again and again that this hard life is blessed beyond measure with God’s infinite, eternal grace. That as we witness to Jesus, we touch and taste heaven on earth. That deserves another hallelujah.