Category Archives: Revelation


Ayear0806pc“Looking back to the exodus from Egypt, Isaiah foresaw a future exodus from exile and showed Israel that God’s promise of deliverance entails his summons to separate from all that defiles. . . . The sky-high compost pillar of her sins has not escaped God’s notice, for he has ‘remembered her iniquities’ (Rev. 18:5; cf. 16:19). The new covenant promise that God will ‘remember no more’ the sins of his people assures us of both forgiveness and release from punishment (Jer. 31:34). By contrast, the assurance that God ‘remembers’ Babylon’s sins means that he holds her fully accountable, so that her punishment is inescapable.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, pp. 254–255).

Revelation 18 speaks of the might of the God who judges. That is true. But he is also a God who is mighty to save. Notice how many of the expressions used in describing judgment here in Revelation are used in the Old Testament as part of descriptions of God’s mercy. The sins of Babylon pile up the heavens—but Psalm 103 reminds you of God’s love for his people that is as high as the heavens are above the earth. The double is used in Isaiah 40 to emphasize God’s comforting mercy to his people. Whom does God command to come out? His people, echoing the language of Hosea. How can a God who is holy enough to punish cruel Babylon or Rome be merciful to you, a sinner? He cannot ignore your sin. He cannot simply turn off his holy wrath against it—for his holiness is part of his character. But what he can and did do was to send his Son into this world, so that you might escape from the judgment to come upon it. The wrath of God against your sin was borne by him. The only way to flee from God’s wrath is to flee to him in the person on his Son.

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC

A Mysterious Name and a Battle with the Lamb

Rv1714bPerhaps you say, “Nothing surprises me anymore.” That may be true, but don’t lose the ability to be astonished with John, to be taken aback, not just at the the horrible wickedness of rebellion, but also at the awful punishment which it brings. Stand firm in the face of both temptation to engage in sin and in the pressure to conform to a rebellious world. Live as what you are: a follower of the Lamb!

“Our modern cities, with their wealth, false religions, and sexual exploitation, are modern forms of Babylon. . . . Little babylons also operate in the recesses of our heart. . . .The Beast controls his subjects through fear; the Prostitute seduces people by playing on their lusts with the enticements of illicit pleasures. However subtle the remaining sinful tendencies in the Christian’s heart may be, they also involve fear and lust.” (Vern S. Poythress, The Returning King, p. 161).

“Since the woman in ch. 12 and the bride in chs. 19 and 21 represent the church throughout the ages, so the harlot counterpart represents satanically infused economic-religious institutions throughout history.” (G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, p. 859).

“At its root every pagan world empire is another incarnation of the same satanic spirit that will reach full intensity just before it shatters before the glory of the Lamb and ‘goes to destruction’ (17:8, 11). The final conspiracy is also symbolized in the ten kings (ten horns) who receive authority with the beast ‘for one hour,’ for the sole purpose of putting that authority at the beast’s disposal as it launches its last desperate assault on the Lamb and his ‘called and chosen and faithful followers’ (17:12–14). . . . Jesus’ followers must be prepared for a period of unparalleled, intense persecution at the end, when evil forces now restrained will be released to work their worst against the church. Yet that time of trauma will be brief, and our enemies final conspiracy will end not in the downfall of the church, as they expect, but in their destruction.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, pp. 251–252).

Quotes used in the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

Songs of Joy and Shouts of Judgment

Ps9601a“The Lamb’s army has been ‘purchased’ from the whole human family as ‘first fruits’ (Rev. 14:3–4). The term purchase recalls the earlier doxology to the worthy Lamb, whose blood ‘purchased’ for God persons from every tribe, tongue, people and nation, to become a royal priesthood (5:9–10) Here, however, John sees assembled in heaven just the firstfruits of a much larger harvest, the foretaste in miniature and in promise of a full harvest to come.”
“The lyrics of these celebrants’ songs are secret, known only to them. The purpose of this secrecy is not to keep God’s glory veiled but to symbolize the the astonishing truth that sinful people redeemed by the Lamb are qualified by that experience of salvation to extol him in a way that even the purest, highest angel cannot. Into the mystery of our salvation even angels long to look (1 Peter 1:12).” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, pages 203, 204).


Quotes used in the Reflection (on Revelation 141-13) for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

Beware the Beasts!

thorns_17324c“Because suffering is the church’s inevitable path to glory, the saints must demonstrate enduring faith. . . . Persistence in the word of our testimony to the Lamb is the means of our victory over the dragon who empowers and authorizes the beast.” (Dennis, E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 194).

“When purported Christian teachers take their primary cues from the surrounding culture instead of from God’s word, they corrupt the covenant community spiritually by encouraging it to live by norms and a faith that ultimately oppose the reign of God and Christ.”
“Believers are to beware of compromise, not just with the Roman emperor, but with all the facets of the state in collusion with religious, economic, and social aspects of the idolatrous culture, which all epitomize fallen humanity.”
“Why does John draw so heavily from Daniel in describing the situation of the church in the world of his day? The reason is that John, like Daniel, is criticizing the status quo of apostasy, compromise, and syncretism. The world system in which the Christians of Asia Minor live is a Satanic parody of God’s ordering of the world. The corrupt system is characterized by the blasphemy of rulers who claim deity and by the apostasy of so-called Christians who acquiesce to the compromising demands of emperor worship and of the institutions of pagan society.” (G. K. Beale, Revelation, pages 710, 725, and 729).

Quotes used in Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC.

The Lady, the Dragon, and the Children

red-dragon“The curtain that separates us from the unseen world of spirits is here pulled aside for a moment as we are given a glimpse of a titanic struggle of spirits, a a struggle that goes on all around us, even though we do not see it with our own eyes. What I mean, of course, is the struggle of angels against the spiritual powers in the air.”(Herman Veldkamp, Dreams and Dictators: On the Book of Daniel, p. 215).

“The battle that issues in the dragon’s expulsion from heaven is not the primeval conflict before Adam’s fall, when Satan and other angels who had been created good inexplicably turned against their Creator. Rather, the war in heaven that John sees in symbol was fought on earth, when Jesus suffered and died on a cross outside Jerusalem and then rose from the dead. The dragon’s banishment from heaven to earth marks the coming of God’s kingdom and of his Christ’s authority (Rev. 12:10).” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 184).

“Israel, after the exodus from Egypt, wandered in the desert. This desert gave them relief from the idolatry and oppression of Egypt. But it was also a time of testing, when they were tempted to lose faith and rebel. They were to look forward to rest and satisfaction in the Promised Land. Similarly the church looks forward to final rest in the new heaven and the new earth. But for now, she is subject to testing on earth.” (Vern S. Poythress, The Returning King, p. 136).

Quotes used in the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

A Fallen Star and a Voice from Heaven

Locust-Swarm-Irish-Examiner“As the visions beginning in ch. 9 are unveiled the readers are given am ever expanding definition of the extent of God and the Lamb’s sovereignty. God and the Lamb are in ultimate control of Satan’s realm. And the saints are to remember this when the forces of evil direct their wrath against them or self-destructively against their own allies, the followers of the the Antichrist. There is a grand purpose which God is working through it all, which is a basis for hope and encouragement for beleaguered Christians.” (G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, p. 463).

“As the sixth seal provided a preview of the traumas that will characterize the dissolution of the first heavens and earth, so the sixth trumpet previews an increase of satanic deception that precipitates growing violence, death, and despair. Such a crumbling of law, order, and safety should shake idolaters confidence in ‘the works of their hands’ and cure their desire to ‘worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk’ (Rev. 9:20).” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p. 152).

Quotes used in the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church, OPC.

What do you do in the presence of God?

Rv0411“[T]heologically and biblically speaking the the throne room of God in Revelation 4 represents the heart of the universe, the heart of meaning, the heart of history. Our lives are renewed through worship, through adoring the God who created us and saw fit to redeem us through the blood of the Lamb. Revelation renews us, not so much by telling us about particular future events, as by showing us God, who will bring all events to pass in his own time and his own way.” (Vern S. Poythress, The Returning King, p. 99).

“The Book of Revelation wages war on the reductionism that chokes awe. Among its most pervasive motifs is that those who see only the surface, who explain human history and experience merely in terms of observable (physical, economic, political, societal) forces, are blind to the pattern that explains why things happen as they do. To see that deep pattern is to experience an awe impervious to cynicism because it is to stand in the presence of the God who is worthy of our fear and wonder.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, pp. 96–97).

(Quotes used in the Reflection this week)