With a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I read the final line in Scripture and sighed as the sermon concluded. It’s a bit of a running joke within my small group: for whatever reason, God has wanted me in the book of Revelation.
A year and a half ago, with the help of a study book, I began to slowly go through Revelation one chapter at a time. A handful of weeks after turning the last page, my Bible Study decided to dig deep into that very same letter. Most of the group, based on what they had previously heard, approached Revelation with fear, confusion, and overwhelm. Several months later, each and every one of us went around the circle talking about how somewhere along the way, our overwhelm and fear turned to overwhelming hope.
A month later, as our church came to the end of studying Philippians, our pastor announced we would begin walking through Revelation the following week. Every head in the row spun to look at me as our group held back laughter. “I guess God wants you here a little longer,” a friend whispered.
The sermon series was planned long before a pandemic, but it’s a funny thing to study Revelation in 2020. A year and a half later, though, after hours of studying on my own, with a small group, and every Sunday at church, there are two truths I want you to know:
The Author is good.
One day, the sea will be no more.
In ancient times, expanses of water were tied to darkness and chaos. The sea was believed to be where evil had a foothold. If you read Scripture through that lens, you’ll be amazed at how God’s goodness is woven through.
The Red Sea is split for the Israelites to walk through. Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River. Twice, the disciples, many of whom grew up on the water as fishermen, found themselves in the middle of the Sea of Galilee as a storm raged around them. They knew the Sea of Galilee intimately and they were terrified.
In one storm, Jesus is sleeping — completely at peace as the sea rages. He isn’t concerned, frightened or unsure. When He speaks, the waters still. The waves and the wind know His voice. In another, Jesus comes in the middle of the storm, walking on the swelling waves that threaten to overtake.
At the very beginning of Genesis, the Spirit hovers over the waters. In Revelation, the sea will be no more. And all throughout, God is in control. He is the answer, the Way, the anchor. He parts the waters and He walks upon them. With one word, the waves still. The sound of His voice is enough, for the created knows its Creator.
Friend, the sea has an end date. Chaos will once and for all be calmed because the Prince of Peace gets the final say. A few verses after the beautiful promise in 21:1, Revelation offers this hope:
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. – Revelation 21:5-6
There will still be water, but there will be no reason to fear because like the One who is Living Water (John 4 and John 7), it will not take life or bring chaos — it will give life to those who are thirsty.
As we near the end of 2020, a year marked for many by a global pandemic, great losses, strained relationships and overwhelming fear, I’m all the more grateful for the hope of Advent.
It takes half a second to flip from Malachi to Matthew in the Bible, but 400 years pass between the two. 400 years since the last time the people of God heard Him speak. Similar to the feelings that rose to the surface as we opened Revelation many months ago, I imagine 400 years of silence felt like confusion, doubt, and fear.
But they held onto hope. They continued to believe. They remembered His words, one generation testifying of His faithfulness to the next.
And then the page turned, for the promise-maker in Malachi is the promise-keeper in Matthew.
We get to tell the story in this in-between, on this page marked 2020, confident that the Author is good all the way through.
May we be a people who wait well, who cling to hope when the night is long, who remember and believe that chaos will one day be calmed once and for all.
Take heart! The Word gets the final word. Everything sad will come untrue for Light has come, Love has won, and all is being made new.
One day, the sea will be no more. Hallelujah!