January 10, 2018

It’s Getting Dark in Here!

By: Larry Shaffer

This is my favorite picture taken from my 5 different trips to Africa!

Revelation 13

It’s Dark in Here

This is a dark chapter. The following post is my words dealing with my struggles with this section of scripture. Please read it all. I do reach a conclusion.

Recall that chronologically, we are between the sixth and seventh trumpet. The seals, trumpets and horns are written by John from God’s perspective, i.e., what God is doing during the tribulation. Chapters 12, 13 are written from Satan’s perspective, but only in the sense of what Satan is doing during the tribulation. Thus, it is a dark chapter. I feel like I could live without these chapters in my life but I trust that God put them here for a reason and, as such, I should study them.

I understand that Satan is going to do dark things because that’s who he is. But my high view of the Sovereignty of God often causes me to struggle with the realization that….I don’t fully “get” God and why He allows certain things? Ever felt that way? His ways are not my ways. Sometimes they are not even close, I must say. This is why it is so important for us to read scripture daily, study it, all of it, not just our favorite parts but all of it and deeply reflect on it. It’s the only way for us to see the full scope of God and Who He is. If a man sits alone and reflects on what God must be like and what God would do, no man would come up with up with some of this stuff we see in the Bible. The full scope of God’s truth is not within us and not discoverable by just meditating by ourselves.

It’s a fallacy that all truth is within man. To say, “search for the truth for it is within you” is a fairy tale. The full scope of God’s truth is not intuitive and is outside of us.  However, God has given it to us in His Word, which is what I mean by outside of us. Yes, God has given us new hearts and a new enlightenment through the Spirit when we receive Christ.  But the full scope of God’s truth is not instantly given to us.  It is given in the full scope of the Bible which is rational, intelligent, and consistent. Once again, God has given us the Spirit within us to enlighten us and give us understanding, but the fullness of God is in His Word – the whole counsel of God. It’s a tremendous gift, but we have to find time to read it, reflect on it and allow it teach our hearts the truth. There simply is no substitute for time in the Word.   When we give it time, the Spirit will then use the Bible to reveal the truth of God to our hearts.

But back to Revelation 13; Oh the wrath of God. Who can understand it? And why does He allow evil to flourish? I can’t comprehend. When God does grace, He goes all out. When He allows evil to prosper and wrath to follow, He goes big. Who has a good answer to the skeptic that asks “How can your God allow such evil?” I don’t mean to sound skeptical myself, because I am not at all. I’m not skeptical but that doesn’t mean I fully understand and can fully explain. I don’t and I can’t.

There’s a reason we avoid certain parts of the Bible and are drawn to others. I’ve avoided Revelation for most of my life. Revelation is stripping away my self-centered view of God and my focus on “my” world that I am living. I face the world daily from my perspective of what I want it to be and who I want God to be. It seems reasonable to me that a loving God would bless me daily and would only do good in this world and make us all happy. Revelation tells me that God has a master plan that is allowing the world to suffer immensely but it is all to glorify His greatness, His Rule and His ultimate triumph. It’s all about HIM and HIS plan. The reality is I’m just blessed to have my name written in the book of life. Our lives on earth are a breath…our eternity will be forever and then (and only fully then) will I get it. For now, the righteous shall live by faith! Lord, help me to trust you with all my heart!