O, God, Our Help!

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps

Revelation 14: 1-2

If worship is not a waste of time for the Lamb, it cannot be for us.

Eugene Peterson

 

 

We’ve had a long look now at the two beasts that John described to the churches in Asia Minor.  We’ve seen them as representations of organized violence – the state – and organized deceit – such as phony religion, government propaganda, fake and biased news and advertising.

These are daunting powers and the two beasts walk the earth in our day, just as they did in the first century.   We resist the power and temptations of these forces through discernment and endurance.  Discernment means looking and listening and evaluating carefully and thereby recognizing who these beasts really are and who is actually behind their schemes (that is Satan, who seeks our enslavement and destruction).

These beasts are in large degree paper tigers.  Here is Peterson:

[John] does not underrate the satanic – we are opposed by great power and deception.  All the same a lot of it is sheer bluff . . . . This is not supernatural power before which we are helpless; it is more like paranatural power that we are not used to.

Reversed Thunder, Harper San Francisco, 1991, at page 128.

But, according to Peterson, the next thing that the Apostle John does is show us visions or pictures of heavenly dynamics that are effective in the battle.  These things not only encourage and internally strengthen the believer in his or her endurance and discernment, they actually clear the ground before us, they change our circumstances; they are effective, in and of themselves.  They are a means of grace:

. . . while we are doing our best to worship God and not the powers of this world, to understand our faith and not be misled by the devil’s religious flimflam, and to cultivate a life of holiness in a weed-filled society, we are being helped to do each task.

Id.

The first such dynamo is worship.  The image of the Lamb and the 144,000 at the start of Chapter 14 is an image of worship.

It is significant that the worship depicted in John’s vision is being led by the Lamb.  That  is, by none other than Christ, himself.    Peterson speaks of the natural human impulse to look at worship as a non-event, as something ineffective, where nothing is achieved; where nothing real happens.  But, Peterson observes, “. . . these nonactions of worship are the very acts that are backed up by the leadership of the Lamb, who is in the thick of history inaugurating the Kingdom in His nativity and consummating His rule in the crucifixion and resurrection. If worship is not a waste of time for the Lamb, it cannot be for us.”  Id at 129

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