I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.
Revelation 15:1 (NIV)
On a grand scale, the Great Story is about slavery.
I have observed that conversation about slavery in our modern American culture is typically confined to the injustice of American slavery with occasional nods to the slave industry that still exists around the globe. These are all earthbound conversations.
As I mentioned in a post last week, Jesus stated clearly that His mission on this world was about a Kingdom that is not of this world. And that mission was about freeing slaves:
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
John 8:34 (NIV)
On this chapter-a-day journey through John’s Revelation, what has struck me has been the continued parallels to the story of Moses, the Hebrews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt, the giving of the law, the tabernacle, and the journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land.
In today’s chapter, the Lamb (aka Jesus) and Moses stand by a “sea” in heaven and sing a victory song, just as Moses and the Hebrews sang a victory song after the defeat of their slave masters, the Egyptians, who pursued them and drown in the Red Sea. In Revelation it is the “beast” from the sea who pursued God’s people, but they overcame. John then sees a heavenly tabernacle, just like the tabernacle God had Moses construct in the wilderness. Just as the tabernacle of Moses filled with a cloud of God’s presence (Exodus 40:34), so is the heavenly tabernacle. Out of the cloud rises the final set in a trinity of judgments on the earth. We had the seven seals, then the seven trumpets, and now it will be seven bowls.
In the Exodus, ten plagues are sent on a hard-hearted Pharaoh and his people to justly free the Hebrews from their enslavement. In the same way, the plagues of Revelation are presented as a just spiritual reckoning for the Prince of this World (aka Satan), his hard-hearted followers, and the kingdoms of this world that have leveraged humanity’s enslavement to sin for their own pride, power, and pleasure. In Moses’ exodus, it was the “blood of the lamb” that protected the Hebrews from the angel of death. In Revelation, it is the “blood of the Lamb” that saves God’s people from the ultimate and impending “second death.”
In the quiet this morning, I find myself once again looking at the forest and not the trees. Earlier in my spiritual journey, I would read and study Revelation with my mind myopically focused on the earthbound events described within the text and what they might mean in terms of the earthly realities. I was only intent on understanding the smaller picture of what would happen on this earth. This time, my mind is seeing the bigger picture. I’m seeing the events described in the much broader context of where and how they fit in the overarching Great Story.
Slavery is a terrible reality on this earth. Slavery to sin is a terrible reality in the spirit realm.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve sinned and were kicked out of the Garden into an earthbound existence, enslaved to sin, subject to the Prince of this World, and doomed to die a physical death. Revelation is the final just judgment on humanity’s slave masters and the ultimate, once and for all liberation of God’s people from the shackles of sin in order to be led to an eternal Promised Land.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.