Then I Saw

Today's devotion from Revelation 4-6.

For me, one of the most eye opening sections of Revelation is found in chapter 5. I was reading these verses, studying and wrestling with my own skepticism, when I was struck by a simple phrase that become profound very, very quickly.

In the prayer of praise offered by the 24 elders, which is sung in verses 9 and 10, we see the breadth of Christ's work. "You purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation." At first, I was not overly impressed by this common enough phrase. Yet the more I considered it, the more powerful it became in my mind. Follow me for just a second.

It was a fairly common consideration in the Old Testament that the Messiah would include various peoples in His Kingdom. However, there was often an undercurrent of military power and strategy involved. Sometimes these words were offered in the same sections that discussed obliterating enemies.

This was a prevalent enough concept that, at the time of Jesus' life on earth, many expected a kingly Messiah. They looked for One who would restore a Davidic type of dynasty. They thought the Messiah would sweep over foreign nations and usher in Israelite wealth and prosperity. In fact, I've even heard some use this idea as the basis for Judas' betrayal of Jesus, a forcing of His hand in a way.

By this time, Jesus has long ascended and the church has settled into its long season of advent awaiting His return, a season in which we remain even today. Therefore, John knew that Jesus was the Messiah and that He had not conquered any lands by military might, but He was still building a kingdom out of every tribe and language and people and nation because of His blood shed on the cross, not blood lost on the battle field.

John did not manufacture another Jewish/Israelite nationalistic rally cry loosely based on Old Testament prophecy. He saw clearly the person and work of Jesus from the vantage of decades past, and perhaps never saw more clearly than when these elders sang this new song.