Common Thoughts 14

The Throne room/War room

Beginning with Chapter 4 John (and us through him) are like visitors to the situation room where we see God’s final plans in the war of the worlds (so to speak). In Chapter 6 the common phrase is “come and see.” It is a poetic treatment like found in Genesis 1 with the six days of creation ending in “and it was good.” Here we have six seals being opened and we are asked to see what each seal accomplishes. The seventh seal in Chapter 7 finds God holding back the destruction coming until the faithful are sealed with protection. With the seventh seals we now find seven trumpets that further refines the battles. And then a unique thing happens with the sixth trumpet:

I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,  and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.  Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” (Revelation 10: 1-4.)

What John hears and sees he is commanded to internalize it and not share it, so we don’t know what was in that little book. John is told to take the book and open it so he can see what’s inside. Then the same voice said after John took the book and saw, said: “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” What was in the book? What made it sweet and sour? Interesting interlude. Whatever truth John saw it was time to get back to prophesying about the end times.

Now, a third parallel poetic tale after the seven seals and the seven trumpets comes the seven bowels. But before the bowels we are strangely given a background story which is the context for the war of the worlds.

We’ve been watching a movie worthy of Hollywood. Actually more fantastical then Hollywood could come up with. All the creatures we have been looking at are fantastical—“Imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality”—and we really don’t know if this is their real charterer or images conveying battle meaning.

Among all these beings is a more normal looking creature: angels. Like all heavenly beings they are created to worship God, but it appears they also function to carry out God’s will and so we see them as messengers between God and man. David in a praise to God wrote: What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than angels [the word translated as angels is Elohim, also used for God, but sometimes translated as angels], And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,…” (Psalms 8: 4-6 NIV.) In terms of hierarchy angels appear to be above all other beings, next to God in a way others aren’t. That is, until God created man, but for now (after the fall) man is lower than the angels.

Not one of the creatures we find in God’s Kingdom do we find the words “created in our image.” Nor is it said that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” to any being other than man. Why were angels created? Just to sing praises to God? Could God be that egotistical that he must have someone or some “thing” constantly praising him? Sometimes it sounds that way.

Angels are mentioned 196 times in the Bible. Most are incidental, they are not the subject but seen delivering messages from God to various people. Angels, like all the creatures in God’s Kingdom are created. David, in another Psalm, wrote: Let them [the list of “them” is found in verses 1-4, to include angels] praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were created.” (Psalm 148:5 NIV.) Like all the creatures they are sexless and some have suggested they were created en mass, all at once. And it has been suggested that these heavenly creatures do not die, and while not eternal (having always been) are immortal (have a beginning but not an ending). Even the rebellious angels will not be destroyed in the end but locked up eternally. “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Book of Revelation is not the place to build a theology on the Kingdom of Heaven. Its purpose in using very colorful images is to put us smack dab in the middle of the “end times.” It was written in the last breaths of the first century yet filled with drama from our past, present, and future. It is also a clear accounting of morality and immorality from the fall of man to the end times, which hasn’t arrived, yet. So we can’t take the Book of Revelation as defining what Heaven is like, only what it’s like in this war setting.

Now, in the middle of this tremendous battle being waged we are given something very significant about Heaven that also defines our experiences on earth. We learn something in prequel fashion that explains one-half the reason for the war from Heaven on earth and we want to know more about Heaven.

What’s most frustrating from the beginning of our history is that scientifically we cannot locate Heaven. It’s a world filled with awesome creatures, a society in itself, but where is it? Angels especially, and other heavenly beings, come to earth, or appear on earth so where are they coming from? Over a hundred billion humans have lived and if a good portion of us who have died made it to heaven, or even if only half made it, it’s a busy place. In all this vast universe with all who inhabit the Kingdom of God we can’t find it? It’s close enough that heavenly beings come in and out, and now make war, but no one has placed a GPS tracker so we can find where it is. So how can it be real if you can’t find it? If we believe the Bible, and the events of the Bible, and the experiences of those mentioned in the Bible, and other testimonies outside the Bible up to today, God and his Kingdom is Real.

In this prequel moment in this nebulous place called Heaven we learn that one of the created beings, angels, were given some kind of limited autonomy. What this fully means we aren’t told. There appears to be a hierarchy, the leaders known as archangels, like Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, among others to include one angel we now learn of called by several names; Lucifer, Satan, Devil, and the great Dragon. In Chapter12, a little more than half-way into this vision of John, we’re taken back to a time before time and among other important things we see an event in Heaven that adds definition to what it is like and what happened to us (in part):

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12: 7-9 NIV.)

In Ezekiel 28:12 we read this about Lucifer: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” (NKJKV.) Of course, this probably can be said about all the angels, though some apparently gained the title of archangel, or leader, either created to be leaders or somehow earned leadership.

Prior to our creation there was only the Kingdom of God. Did this consist of the universe as we know it, minus the earth that was probably just another round chunk of rock? Whether this might be true or something entirely different there was a Reality consisting of physical beings inhabiting a world created by God. We know nothing about what this world was like, or is like. I would ask, When did God decide to create man and to do so in an entirely different way from heavenly beings? I don’t ask this because God would be dumbfounded by the question “When” since there is no time and that’s a time question. God had all these wonderful beings forever with him and decided to create a creature really like him. Time when this was done doesn’t matter to God.

At the moment I have three cats and two dogs. I love my animals. Before my son and daughter were born we had one cat, Frodo, who I loved very much. But my wonderful cat wasn’t like me and though Frodo showed love we were limited on how we related with one another. So my wife and I created someone truly in our image with whom we could totally relate. I’m presuming God felt the same way. On God’s chalkboard were plans to create human beings to be created in his image. This included the universe whenever it was created as it contained what would become known as earth that human beings (and other creatures) would inhabit.

In this timeline that really isn’t a timeline (though for us it is) what we read in Revelations 12 happens: the rebellion of Lucifer and angels who joined him (or “it” since like all the creatures they can’t procreate because they are sexless). What do we know about this event:

“For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4 NKJV.) God abides nothing imperfect in a perfect world. We are not given the details of this internal battle, just a summary conclusion. Frustrating. Inquiring minds want to know. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a sit-down with God and asked him all the questions we want answers to, but he doesn’t seem to think having those answers are necessary to whether we believe in him or not. We think they are necessary, or at the very least extremely helpful.

To be continued . . .