Thursday, April 26, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-04-26 [Revelations Reassurances] The final reassurance

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Revelation22:17

We've taken a whistle-stop tour through John's Revelation. We've reminded ourselves that the message of Revelation is not about _the_ end. It is not even that "the end is nigh."

Rather, the message of Revelation is, "when it feels like the end or that the end is nigh - remember this: God is in charge and evil will not have the final say!"

And so this amazing Pastoral Poetic Prophetic Postage from John has been the comfort of the church in the catacombs, the security of the persecuted church in the Reformation, the inspiration of the churches behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains and the solid rock of churches in North Africa.

Its core comfort is that God is aware and active in the midst of the pain and heartache of the world. Its key truth is that evil is a beast that will ultimately be brought to book. One of my New Testament Profs, Pieter de Villiers, wrote a book about Revelation and entitled it "Leviathan on a Leash."

But beyond the comfort of knowing that God is with us and that evil is limited, there is an even more important message in Revelation and it repeated and reiterated in so many ways and pictures throughout the book: "Whoever is thirsty can come!"

Revelation speaks of beasts, dragons, calamities, earthquakes, signs, trumpets, candlestands, churches and angels, but emerging through the chaos in the brightness of His glory is Jesus Christ the Champion riding on the white horse of victory - the Son of God who gave Himself for all and conquered death and sin and Satan.

He is our Champion and He offers us life-giving, thirst-quenching water in the midst of a chaotic and broken world and if we drink we will be satisfied!
And this brings us to the end of our series on Revelation.
Hope you enjoyed it!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-04-25 [Revelations Reassurances] The Acid Test

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" Revelation22:8-9

One can quite easily imagine the scene - John has already seen so much. All the visions he had seen and his experience of New Jerusalem where God is the light and the temple of the city totally overwhelms his senses and he falls down to worship the angelic messenger who has been his tour guide.

We can't blame him.
Sometimes the things of God can be so enormous and overwhelming and we are incredibly grateful when someone comes along and makes them more accessible to us. We read that the angel had a measuring rod and helped John grasp the dimensions of the city. In essence the angel made it more tangible and real to John. He clarified the indescribable and brought it down to some sort of scale that John could comprehend.

And so John fell down and worshipped. And we tend to want to worship those who help us get to know God better. But the angel would have none of it. He passed the acid test.

From the angel's perspective it took character not to grab at the tiny little bit of glory that this one puny little human being offered. It must have been tempting to enjoy basking in the reflected glory of God. But the angel resists the temptation and so must we. It is very tempting to consider ourselves as God's helpers, as God's indispensable partners. It is easy for us to enjoy the praise and compliments that others give us.

And there is a fine line here: There are compliments for work well done and appreciation for effort put in, but we must never allow ourselves to fall into Adam and Eve's trap: trying to be like God, even if it is just in someone else's eyes.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-04-24 [Revelations Reassurances] No Eskom needed

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation21:22-23

John has seen the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God and he has been privileged to do a tour of this amazing city with the angel. It has dimensions that echo that of the Old Testament Temple and the Holy of Holies, it has 12 layers of foundation stones that are of precious stones and gates of pearl and streets of gold.

But for me all of that splendour pales to drab insignificance next to v.22-23. For no matter how beautiful the city, it would be irrelevant if Jesus weren't there.

But God (Father, Son and Spirit) IS there - and His presence is so pervasive and so easily experienced that there is no intermediary needed.

In the Old Testament the temple was a symbol of God's presence to human souls whose hearts were too far away and too dull to recognise God's Omnipresence. But Eternal Life is about sin and death that have been defeated and that we are forgiven and healed. We are able to experience God's presence in the closest and most intimate way and Jesus words to the Samaritan woman reach their ultimate fulfilment: We worship the Father in "Spirit and in Truth."

And Eskom won't be needed either! The awesome, holy and majestic glory of God, that once glowed temporarily on the face of Moses will now fill our existence with light. It will cast no shadows and we will experience freedom from darkness.

The splendour of the city speaks of the majesty of God, the 12 foundation stones speak of the 12 tribes and therefore the inclusion of all humanity. But at the heart of the picture of the Holy City are not the details of gold and precious stones, but this idea that God is there - and if He is there, we need nothing else.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, April 20, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-04-20 [Revelations Reassurances] Order Confused!

4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation21:4

Sometimes we get confused...
We would like this life to be a life of no tears, or death or pain. But it isn't.
This life is the old order...

And as much as we would like this life to be easy, good and pain-free and as much as we would like to stamp our feet and "deemand" this as our right, it is not.

This order is the one that you and I and Adam and Eve usurped. We grabbed at it. We wanted to be self-determined, self-governed and self-sustained. We wanted to be like God. So we created a world-order: the order of the self.

The problem is that what myself wanted was different from what yourself wanted and so Cain slew Abel and chaos has followed ever since. This is our order... (and it's pretty bad news and it's pretty much our fault!)

But there is another order on the way - it is growing like yeast in the dough of the old order and the Day will come when the old order will pass away. We'll move from the self-order to the God-order. And in His order there is love, comfort and healing...

Just as in a bakery you sometimes get a whiff of the yeast working in the dough, we get hints of the fragrance of the coming order in the midst of the old order, but it won't be be fully realised until that Day that Jesus comes in the clouds to pronounce His Kingdom, His Order.

But in the meantime, we weep and mourn and endure, comforted in knowing that the old order WILL PASS AWAY!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, April 19, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-04-19 [Revelations Reassurances] Where's the sea?

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Revelation21:1

Before we finish the series on Revelation's Reassurances, I'd like to spend a few days in ch.21&22. I'll explain why later... (How's that for creating suspense?!?)

I love the sea. I love swimming in it and I love watching it when it roars and thunders. I love the smells and sounds and the salt spray on my face.

So I was surprised and, quite frankly, disappointed when I read that the New Jerusalem has no sea...

But we need to understand the context... The Israelites were not a sea-faring nation. The only seas they were willing to deal with were Galilee and the Dead Sea. (The Galilee sea is not much bigger than the Vaal Dam and the Dead Sea is... well, dead.) As far as the real sea was concerned, they saw it as a place of uncertainty and sea-monsters. In the mindset of the Israelites, the sea was unpredictable, dark, perilous and untameable.

It came to represent evil in all its uncertainty, ferocious and unpredictable. The sea represented their fears of rampant and frightening creatures. (Stories like Jonah's Big Fish would just reinforce this notion!)

So the reassurance that John's vision offers us, is that there will be a time when rampant, unpredictable and ferocious evil that seems way bigger than us will no longer be there - at all!

Today you and I still face this kind of darkness and evil, but it is comforting to know that even if evil seems as big and uncontrollable as the oceans, (think of what a tsunami can do) there will be a time that God will deal with it completely! It just won't be there!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-04-18 [Revelations Reassurances] Closing Triumph

After a long break (longer than intended - my apologies!) EmmDevs are back.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

We've reached the final Act in Revelation. Here's what we've seen so far:
1. The church in the world (with seven letters to seven churches)
2. The suffering of the church (with seven seals opened)
3. Warnings to the world (with seven trumpets blown)
4. The Drama of history (described in seven visions)
5. The punishment of evil (poured out of seven bowls)
6. Evil personified as Babylon (judged in seven words)
7. The Drama behind history (key characters in seven visions)

For anyone familiar with the Old Testament this set of seven sevens should have theirs instincts twitching because 7X7=49 and this heralds the "Year of Jubilee" which was a socio-economic-political concept in the Law which was unfortunately never practised. The idea was that after seven cycles of seven years, the _fiftieth_ year would be a year in which debts were cancelled, slaves set free, land restored to rightful owners, and oppression dealt with.

It was meant to be a cyclical "reset/reboot" button for the economy and society. It was meant to give people a taste of what things would be like with God in charge instead of tyranny-tending-humanity.

It never happened.
God's people simply did not have the courage or the internal generosity to implement it. Our sinful nature rebelled against it.

The Age of the Church culminates in the coming of Christ and when He comes, the debts of those who belong to Him will be cancelled and the world will be restored and suffering will end. This passage is a beautiful image of this.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at