Author Archives: Reid Ferguson

About Reid Ferguson

Reid serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Evangelical Church of Fairport in Fairport New York. A native of Rochester, N.Y., he has served in various ministry areas during his life, including: a founding member of the former Mark IV Quartet, Youth Pastor at ECF, former board member of the Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (F.I.R.E.), and author of The Little Book of Things You Should Know About Ministry (Christian Focus Publications, 2002). Pastor Reid blogs regularly at Responsive Reiding.

Revelation Ch.9a – A New Dimension

Revelation Part 18 – 9:1-12

A New Dimension


Well now, after reading these 12 verses one has to scratch their heads and ask: ‘What in the world is this all about?’

Rightly so! Locusts as big as horses; with the faces of humans; the hair of women; and tails that sting like scorpions?

Bizarre doesn’t quite cover it.

So once again our practice of majoring on the things we can be certain about, touching on what is reasonable and shying away from what is purely speculative takes on fresh importance.

And Don Carson’s reminder that Revelation is a picture book and not a puzzle book where we to try and fit the pieces together is also useful.

What we want to get at here is lifting out the concepts being communicated by the pictures and not trying to turn the pictures into detailed descriptions of objects, beings etc.

If I were to ask you to think of a baseball diamond you would not try to assign attributes to it like transparency or translucency. You wouldn’t imagine it to be a pure form of carbon, it is just a dirt figure. It doesn’t have multiple facets, can’t be worn as jewelry, won’t admit of various shapes and sizes and isn’t super valuable. We would all be aware we are simply referring to a rough shape.

Just so in many of these pictures. We cannot press each detail beyond its purpose but need to discern what chief or basic concepts are being communicated.

So when John says these things looked like locusts, had crowns etc., we more than likely are not trying to get a grip on huge, monstrous beast/insect hybrids. We’re looking at what those pictures might reasonably represent – especially to the first readers, conversant both with the Jewish Apocalyptic writing style, and especially their Bibles.

So let’s take the things that are really clear, and make some reasonable connections from there. And by God’s grace we can arrive at some practical applications .

What is certain here? And what can we reasonably make of it without going into wild speculation?

1 – John is introducing a new element or dimension in helping us understand God’s plans and purposes and the way our present world works

And remember – we’re using a very loose structure of the 7 seals being the revelation and beginning of the plan unfolded; the 7 trumpets being repeated announcements and warnings of what coming in more detail; and then the 7 bowls being the actual pouring out of final judgment in full.

Last time, we saw the 7 angels given their trumpets, the prayers of the saints as integral to Christ’s Kingdom coming and the 1st 4 trumpets blown.

Up until now, the focus has been on two realms, Heaven – or what goes on in the presence of God, and Earth – starting with the 7 churches.

Now a 3rd dimension gets added. It is referred to in vs. 1 as the “bottomless pit,” or the abyss.

So we’ve now got three areas of action – Heaven with God, His angels and the dead redeemed; Earth with human beings – both believing and unbelieving and some angelic presence as well; and now The Abyss – with what can only be understood as dark forces or fallen angels – the demonic. Which now also enter into the earthly scene.

In other words, while God is bringing both final judgment against His enemies, and final reward for His saints, there is more to the picture than just God/Human relations.

It takes the reader back to the Garden of Eden. That when mankind fell, we did not fall alone. Satan was an actor then. An instigator and influencer. So here, we are being reminded that this is still very much the case. Which will be teased out more in later chapters.

Human affairs and especially this present worldly system with its four pillars of: material wealth versus the Spiritual riches of Christ Himself; Man-made religion versus the Christ-centered redemption of the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross to pay for our sin and reconcile us to the Father through faith; Culturally determined morality versus Biblical holiness through the work of the Spirit; and self-governing belligerence – Personal autonomy versus the perfect rule of God in Jesus Christ – finds its roots in the suggestion and influence of Satan and his minions. There really are dark forces afoot. And this is the darkness they bring to the world. A counter or counterfeit kingdom to that of God and Christ.

Scripture will make the two concepts known this way: Colossians 1:13–14 “He [God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

No, these demonic entities aren’t imps or gremlins out to simply pester us to death – nor are they invincible ghouls. They are as Paul describes them in Ephesians 6:12 “cosmic powers over this present darkness,” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” These are pictured well for us in the verses that follow.

Forces as Christians we are told we “wrestle against.” Just how appears more fully in the nature of the battle.

Satan and his demonic forces are real, and must factor into how we understand God’s redemptive plan working in this world today, and why the world is the way it is today.

2 – Note how the “Star” of vs. 1 is personified. “He” was given the key to the abyss. As we’ve mentioned before, stars in this kind of literature and in the book of Revelation as a whole most often refer to angels. In this case, we don’t know if this angel is good or bad, simply that he is sent with this key and opens the pit.

Again, the first readers would have thought of passages like 2 Peter 2:4 “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;”

And Jude 6 “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—”

In simple terms, as human history draws near to final judgment, not only is mankind judged for sin, but the wicked forces of evil are also exposed as they are nearing their final disposition too. And in that, appear to be given a season of renewed activity.

3 – (2) The immediate result of opening the pit is something like smoke – producing great darkness. This is central and most descriptive.

Drawing back again on 2 Peter and Jude, as well as a motif used throughout Scripture – we simply cannot miss this or overestimate the importance of this: The chief activity of Satan and his allies, is the obscuring of the light of God and His truth. John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Satan’s hatred of God is most manifest in his constant campaign of obscuring the light, the glory of God, both in disinformation about God Himself – think back to the lies told in the Garden that God was petty and did not have the best interest of Adam and Eve at heart –  And then in the defiling and exploitation of humanity as made in God’s image.

4 – (3-4) Out of this darkness came these locust-like creatures who unlike real locusts, are restricted from harming the vegetation, but instead only afflict those who were not sealed or marked out as God’s people in the last chapter.

5 – (5) They had a period of time or a season in which they had permission to afflict unbelievers in some fashion that produces great pain. To a people like John’s 1st readers who were familiar with plagues of locusts devastating crops, this was an apt illustration of a true plague. They would have connected the idea with how God used locusts as one of the 10 plagues used to judge the Egyptians and free the Israelites. And no doubt they would have remembered the book of Joel and the locust invasion he witnessed in Judah, used as a portent of coming judgment on God’s people for their sin. Everyone back then knew that locust season lasted about 5 months. Thus it is a graphic and simple way of saying Satan and his hoard will have their season as part of dismantling this present world system and ushering in the full reign of Christ. How long this season is precisely we do not know.

6 – (6) Those afflicted would desire to die rather than endure the affliction, but do not.

Several commentators take the same track I am convinced of as well – that this “sting” the creatures inflict is not a physical thing, but rather psychological and spiritual.

Let me cite Matthew Henry here, but Greg Beale takes a very similar approach: “The hurt they were to do them was not a bodily, but a spiritual hurt. They should not in a military way destroy all by fire and sword; the trees and the grass should be untouched, and those they hurt should not be slain; it should not be a persecution, but a secret poison and infection in their souls, which should rob them of their purity, and afterwards of their peace. Heresy is a poison in the soul, working slowly and secretly, but will be bitterness in the end.”

Unless we want to posit the idea that some form of immortality is suddenly given to some on earth – a notion the balance of the chapter shows is clearly not the case – the idea here is that in their torment, these who are afflicted would prefer death over their circumstance,  but can’t find it in themselves to commit suicide to escape. We’ll come back to this before we finish.

7 – (7-10) These locust-like beings have some remarkable features which make them quite terrifying. Again, it is what these features communicate which is important.

Attempts to visualize the locusts totally misses the point.

And of all the commentators I’ve read, it is interesting that good old Matthew Henry is among the clearest and sanest. He writes: “These locusts were of a monstrous size and shape…They were equipped for their work like horses prepared to battle…They pretended to great authority, and seemed to be assured of victory: They had crowns like gold on their heads; it was not a true, but a counterfeit authority…They had the show of wisdom and sagacity, the faces of men, though the spirit of devils…They had all the allurements of seeming beauty, to ensnare and defile the minds of men—hair like women…Though they appeared with the tenderness of women, they had the teeth of lions, were really cruel creatures…They had the defense and protection of earthly powers—breastplates of iron…They made a mighty noise in the world; they flew about from one country to another, and the noise of their motion was like that of an army with chariots and horses… Though at first they soothed and flattered men with a fair appearance, there was a sting in their tails; the cup of their abominations contained that which, though luscious at first, would at length bite like a serpent and sting like an adder.”

It is the fierceness and brutality as they attack the minds and souls of the lost that jars you. These demonic spirits who defy Christ will gleefully rip every shred of decency and remainder of the image of God from everyone they can get their hands on – through deception from the truth of Jesus Christ.

No wonder then that Paul warns Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:23–26 “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

8 – (11) The beings are not simply creatures but have a leader who is identified as Abaddon or Apollyon. Abaddon being an Old Testament word for the underworld – the habitation of the wicked dead, and Apollyon being Greek for the Destroyer – or Satan.

9 – (12) This all is once again (in keeping with the nature of the trumpets as serving to announce or proclaim) a powerful pronouncement of “woe” to those living on the earth.

Well now, what are we to do with all of this?

I think there are 4 things most worthy of our attention in it all.

1. Humanity has a very real and utterly ruthless and savage enemy who with his cohorts will stop at nothing to keep people in darkness from the God of the Bible and the salvation He offers to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

False religions and cults are not just some societal phenomenon. They are the result of the machinations of the powers and principalities of darkness. 1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.”

2. This enemy’s chief instrument of war against God and mankind  is deception and the perverting of the truth about God, your origin, your lost condition, your rebellion, your need of redemption from sin, and the only means of that redemption in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

2 Thess. 2:9–12 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

It is Satan’s strategy to keep people: Preoccupied with the pursuit and false promise of security and well-being in material prosperity –

Stupefied with a cross-less, Christ-less religion which cannot address sin –

Perpetually dissatisfied in the pursuit of ultimate sexual satisfaction through every form of immorality –

And Arrogantly self-deified in the self-deception of total, personal autonomy.

And when all of these prove to be empty, what pain!

Think of it for a moment. There is little more painful in all of life than investing your whole being into something, and then after getting it, finding it utterly empty and unfulfilling. It is true with careers, relationships, education, fame, accomplishments – you name it.

But it can be worse. What if you bought into the whole paradigm of material wealth, cultural morality, man-made religion, and personal autonomy, only then to add to it that you are nothing but a cosmic accident, with no ultimate purpose – just existing until you die?

What if the utter futility of life finally came crashing in on you, and because your mind is utterly darkened to the truth of God having created you in His image; of sin having separated you from Him – sin in the very things you’ve  given your life to; darkened to the forgiveness of that sin and the cleansing and reconciliation to the God who made you through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross – blind to all of that so that you have nothing left but the pain of emptiness and meaninglessness? What do you do with THAT pain?

Recently Sarah sent me the lyrics to a 2017 song by the Canadian Indie pop group Arcade Fire. Listen to what “the sting” sounds like.

Some boys hate themselves,  Spend their lives resenting their fathers

Some girls hate their bodies,  Stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback

Saying God, make me famous,  If you can’t just make it painless

Just make it painless

Assisted suicide,  She dreams about dying all the time

She told me she came so close,  Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record

Saying God, make me famous,  If you can’t just make it painless

Just make it painless

It goes on and on, I don’t know what I want

On and on, I don’t know if I want it – On and on, I don’t know what I want

On and on, I don’t know if I want it – (On and on I don’t know what I want)

No wonder our text calls this especially a “woe”. Woe to those who are caught in this wicked deception that keeps from the love and glory of Christ. What pain indeed.

3. That Christians have been translated out of this kingdom of darkness into God’s marvelous light and are kept from these ultimate deceptions.

We are not left without insight, protection in the sealing of God and instruction.

Matthew 24:24 “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

But He has sealed those who are His and we are kept from this hideous darkness that plagues the World.

4. That Christians join the warfare in bringing down the kingdom of darkness through faith in the atoning work of Christ, and the proclamation of the light and truth of God’s Word to this dark world.

We know how to engage in this battle. Not by superstitiously spying out demons behind bushes, wearing crosses or carrying bigger Bibles, but: 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” TRUTH! The Truth as it is in Jesus Christ is our armament.

And so we proclaim the Gospel once more , especially to you here today who have not yet come to Christ for the forgiveness of sins through His substitutionary death on the cross – and reconciliation to the God who made you, through His blood.

This very hour you can be delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. The pain can end now – and you can be born again. Look to Him.




Revelation Ch. 8 – The Power of Prayer

Revelation Part 17 – Revelation 8


As I mentioned last week, Ch. 7 serves as a parallel to what had been revealed earlier.

And in some ways ch. 8 continues that parallel while also moving us on to new pictures and a deeper understanding of how the whole of God’s redemptive plan of final judgment works.

We are getting more and more insight not only on what is coming on the earth – the events and movements among the nations – but what else is involved behind the scenes or in the heavenlies as well.

Vs. 1 – So in vs. 1 we get this opening of the 7th or final seal.

And the immediate result of that is silence. Silence NOT on earth – but in heaven.

Interestingly, what stuns those in heaven at this moment, seems to have no impact upon those on earth at all.

It is a vivid reminder that – as in this case – eternally monumental things can be going on, while the world hardly takes notice at all.

This reality was driven home to me multiple times during my tenure working for Keenan’s Funeral Home.

Each time I got into the hearse to lead a procession to a graveside, I was profoundly aware that for the friends and family of those in the procession – this moment was absolutely life changing and in some ways life transforming. The burying of this loved one was for those involved catastrophic, painful and grievous. And yet for all those passing us in their cars on the way to the cemetery, and for the rest of Rochester or Monroe County, those who never even saw the procession, life was just life as usual. They were completely unaware of what was absolutely consuming and life-altering to others.

It was never more true than on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

At that moment, the whole of the human race stood at the very edge of God’s wrath being poured out to consume all sin and sinners. But the very Son of God interposed Himself. He let that unleashing of God’s fury fall on His own back, that all who put their trust in Him might have absolute forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to the Father – and the rest of mankind would have a reprieve to hear the Gospel and repent in the years before Jesus’ return.

Collectively we stood on the brink of annihilation, and not a one of us knew it! This adds great weight to Jesus’ appeal to the Father: “Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing!”

The perpetrators knew they were murdering an innocent man. But they had no idea they were murdering the Son of God, and that in the process their very lives were being spared by His death; that salvation was being provided for in His atonement; and that reprieve was being enacted so that the Gospel might go out into all the world.

They especially had no idea what this meant to the Father.

So at this moment in the opening of the last seal: The significance is grasped in heaven, so that the heavenly host of the angels and the saints already there hold their breath in stunned silence, while the world below spins ignorantly on – almost wholly unaware of what is unfolding all around them. That the end is in process.

VS. 2 – It is at this point that 7 trumpets are then given to 7 angels. Now what is this?

To John and his 1st readers – to those familiar with the Old Testament this would not have seemed odd the way it does to us.

The use of trumpets for community announcements and especially for use in war – before the modern advent of radio communications – were the norm.

We get a rather full picture of this in Numbers 10:1-10. Once again, Scripture helps serve as its own best interpreter.

Here we see that trumpets were made for ancient Israel under God’s direction to serve a number of purposes.

(1) Summoning the congregation and for breaking camp.
(2) Calling just the chiefs or everyone to meetings.
(3) Alarms for the tribes to set out in order.
(4) At feast times.
(5) But especially when going into battle. Vs. 9.

So we most likely have much of those same things going on here.

The Church is to be warned and called to be part of the fact that we are about to move on. This world as it is, is NOT our final home.

And these trumpets are a call to the Church as a whole, and especially to the leadership to be ready before God.

It is also an announcement that the final feast – the consummation of all things is near at hand.

But most especially it is to call us to war! The program of righteous conquering that God revealed in the 1st seal is underway – and we are called to our part in it. What that looks like we’ll address shortly.

This pattern of “sounding the trumpets” in this regard is not new in Scripture either. Particularly when it comes to God being careful to warn of impending judgment over and over and over.

Think of Noah – who Scripture tells us was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years! God didn’t send the flood overnight – without more than a century of warning – both in Noah’s preaching and in the spectacle of his building the Ark.

And note 2 Chron. 24 how God reminds His people that the coming invasion of Babylon should not take them by surprise, because in His Mercy and lovingkindness He had been warning them over and over and over and calling them to repentance. So we read in 17-19: “Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs. Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention.”

These warnings went on literally for hundreds of years.

So as I mentioned before, we see how the seals as a revelation of the Program, sort of give way to a call, a series of announcements and further details on the program, which in time will give way to the actual pouring out of God’s judgments in the 7 bowls.

These 7 Trumpets are God’s perfect, loud, repeated and sustained call to the World – through His Word, His preachers, the lives of His people and providential world events that His Kingdom is coming, and the Kingdoms of this world will fall and give way to it.

Now just what this call and announcement looks like to Believers gets uniquely unpacked in VSS. 3-5

VS. 3-5 – The picture is really informative. And here is the main idea. In some way, the unfolding program of God in judgment is connected to the prayers of the saints.

For now, just note the picture is of angelic involvement as an angel stands at the altar of God with a censer – a receptacle for burning incense – which the angel then mixes with the prayers of the saints.

And as the smoke of this combination rises before God – something happens on earth: “peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.”

We’ll come back to this in a moment because this is the key concept to be wrestled with in this chapter.

Once this fire from the altar is hurled on the earth – then the sequence of the trumpets begins.

VS. 6-13 “Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.”

7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

With the 1st angel is the announcement that some sort of disaster will strike earth in which a huge portion of the trees and green grass will be destroyed.

8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

The 2nd angel’s announcement reveals another type of disaster all together – with the result of destroying massive numbers of marine life and even the ships in the oceans.

John is at a loss for words here. He says what happens here is something “like” a great mountain is the cause. He does not know precisely what it is and neither do we.

10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.

On the 3rd trumpet blast, another ecological disaster occurs and this time there is much loss of human life as well. The star here, given Ch. 9, may well be an angel. We’ll see that later. i.e. this disaster includes direct angelic involvement.

12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

Then with the 4th trumpet we are introduced to some sort of cosmological disturbance that blocks out sunlight and moonlight alike. Reminiscent of the way darkness covered the land for the 3 hours Jesus was on the cross. How? We don’t how it worked then and John gives us no more details here.

13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

Then at last there are more announcements of warning. WOE to those who dwell on the earth. Things are really ramping up and soon, after the last 3 trumpets, there will be no more warnings – just the actual outpouring of God’s judgments in full.

It is quite a picture isn’t it? Frightening and overwhelming.

And what are we to make of all of this? What practical use would it have been to the believers then – and what to us now?

I do believe there is a very central though which is at the heart of this portion, but let me offer two other ancillary points as well.

1. Note that God does not act without revelation and warning.

God is neither capricious nor knee jerk. He is so gracious and so kind and so patient, that we can in fact take His patience for granted as though He will never act at all. And that is a very grave mistake on our part.

Paul mentions this in Romans 2:3–4 “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”

People can easily conclude in their hearts – God is fine with their sin. There’s no PRESSING need to repent. If He hasn’t judged me yet, He must be OK with what I’m doing.

All the time unaware that God’s patience is itself meant to be a means to call us to repentance. Oh how we can presume on God’s patient lovingkindness.

But we are reminded here how that He is exceedingly forbearing – He has also still fixed a day when He WILL judge. And has been warning us for several thousand years. How much closer we are now to His return – and judgment that will fall without mercy.

How patient He is demonstrated once more today in the fact you are hearing this message and we are studying this book together.

If you don’t know Christ – if you have not yet bowed the knee to Him as Lord, if you have not come to Him for salvation as your sin bearer and redeemer – He sounds the trumpet of the Gospel in your ear one more time today. Come to Him before it is too late.

The judgment is already beginning out in some measure, and you have this moment, this opportunity to confess your sin, to run to Him and to be forgiven and born again that you might face all that is coming on the earth with joy, confidence and His mark upon you as His own.

2. Events on earth are not to be thought of in isolation from God’s eternal plans and purposes.

When we saw the program laid out or revealed in the 7 seals, the activities referred to were from an earthly or horizontal view.

War, famine, etc., are part of earthly experience.

Now, as we see in the trumpets, each is coming from above. So the picture in these things aren’t just happening down here, they have a Heavenly origin or component.

The hail and fire were THROWN down. The great mountain was thrown. The burning star, whatever it is falls from above. It is the sun and the moon that is struck – celestial. What is happening on earth isn’t disconnected from God and His actions.

Natural disasters, plagues, cosmological upsets, all have their earthly causes and effects, but they are not totally disconnected from the plan of God and the judgments He is accomplishing on the earth.

Heaven and earth are not so disconnected that we can sever these things as though they have nothing to do with each other.

Each is a sign of ultimate judgment to come. Each has a spiritual dimension to it as well as the earthly and physical. God’s hand is as visible in all of them as mere nature or even man-made aspects.

I do not know if climate change is a wholly man-made phenomenon, the mere outworking of a natural cycle, or a divine judgment. But if we are understanding God’s Word aright, it is most likely a mixture. But at the very least – not apart from God’s hand.

3. The prayers of the saints are potent and are integral to God’s plans being accomplished.

At the beginning we had a portion from the book of Daniel read. In that portion, the text notes that Daniel had discovered in reading Jeremiah that Israel’s captivity in Babylon was to be 70 years, and that time was nearly up. What was Daniel’s response? He began to order his prayers in concert with what he knew the plan of God to be.

We also had read for us the portion of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus instructs us how to pray. Unfortunately in our day, that prayer has been looked at as either simply be prayed as rote, or virtually ignored for all of our own prayers. I think this is an error on both parts.

Yes, Scripture is clear that we are to bring everything which concerns us to God, and because of the entrance Christ has made for us to the throne, to have confidence in the Father’s wise and loving response to those needs.
But there is certainly more to this – and I think this chapter demonstrates that for us. It has to do both with being in concert with what God is doing, and in arranging our priorities.

Jesus not only delivered this prayer in this sermon, He did again later when His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. And in doing so, He gave a most intimate look into His own heart and mind. For it is as if He said in answer to their question – do you want to know what the greatest burden on MY heart is? What moves ME most in prayer? What are the things which I deem of supreme importance to be pleading with God for?

First that reverence for my Father’s name be restored in the universe.
And secondly – that His Kingdom – MY Kingdom would come in its fullness. That everything that opposes My perfect, all wise, all holy, all just and wondrous rule would be put down and crushed forever – that I might rule and reign in My glory – which is the ultimate good of the universe!

So what is it that is part and parcel of the beginning of judgment being poured out on the earth? It is the prayers of the saints being heard, and those judgments then beginning to be unfolded.

So here is the question beloved – do WE, you and I – do we make it a priority in our prayers that sin and all that goes with it be overthrown on the earth, and Christ’s absolute rule come into full power?

Does it even cross our minds from day to day? For it sure is represented as being an absolutely integral part of the judgments being delivered as we see it in this passage.

Let’s make it even more personal. Do we pray for that overthrow in our own hearts and minds? Do we want our skewed value system destroyed? Our twisted morality forever stamped out? Any religious notion not fully in concert with God’s revelation in Christ and His sovereign government to have absolute authority within us?

Do we plead for the coming of His Kingdom IN us, no matter what the cost, even as we pray for His kingdom to come in this world no matter what the cost?

So that after we see what it takes to destroy the kingdoms of this world and usher His in – we can pray with John at the end of this book – Even so – no matter what it takes – come quickly Lord Jesus.

Part of what is involved in the tearing down of these world systems that surround us is the vital role our prayers play in seeing it accomplished. It will produce the rumblings, thunders and earthquakes of an entirely new world system.

The destruction won’t be pretty. But the end will be glorious.

And so we join with the saints in Heaven and say Father YOUR KINGDOM COME – so that YOUR will is done on this earth – IN this earth, even as it is in Heaven. Overthrow everything in me that might still oppose that, even as I pray for it in the world at large.