Things Are Not What They Seem
As Pastor Drew continues his sermon series Letters from Jesus (Rev. 1-2), I thought I'd share with you a brief excerpt from a commentary on Revelation that I've found to be especially helpful in learning how to better understand and interpret this book correctly.
In his commentary Triumph of the Lamb Dennis Johnson suggests that one of the key themes of Revelation is that "things are not what they seem."
The church is Smyrna appears poor but is rich, and it is opposed by those who claim to be Jews but are Satan's synagogue (Rev. 2:9). Sardis has a reputation for life but is dead (3:1). Laodicea thinks itself rich and self-sufficient, but this church is destitute and naked (3:17). The beast seems invincible, able to conquer the saints by slaying them (11:7; 13:7); their faithfulness even to death, however, proves to be their victory over the dragon that empowered the beast (12:11). What appear to the naked eye, on the plane of human history, to be weak, helpless, hunted, poor, defeated congregations of Jesus' faithful servants prove to be the true overcomers who participate in the triumph of the Lion who conquered as a slain Lamb. What appear to be the invincible forces controlling history—the military-political-religious-economic complex that is Rome and its less lustrous successors—is a system sown with the seeds of its self-destruction, already feeling the first lashes of the wrath of the Lamb. On the plane of visible history things are not what they appear.
Indeed then, part of the blessing promised to those who read aloud and hear the words of this prophecy (Rev. 1:3) is knowing just that—things are not always as they seem!
Whether it's our outward appearance of righteousness only disguising the spiritual condition and reality of our hearts, or some seemingly insurmountable external trial or opposition we face in which God may actually be manifesting his divine power through our human weaknesses (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9-10); in any case, seeing things as they are (rather than as they appear) can be a great blessing!
May the Lord then grant us such eyes of faith to see ourselves, our circumstances, and our Savior more clearly, not as they seem from a worldly perspective, but as they truly are from God's perspective!