Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 20 2013 - Revelation 11:1-19 – The kingdom of our Lord

At this time of year, we generally go to a performance of Handel’s Messiah. I can hear the voices of the chorus ringing in my head as I read the words of Revelation 11:15:

The kingdom of the world has become
   the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
   and he will reign for ever and ever.

These are wonderful words for they indicate how the story of Scripture shall end. God created this world at the beginning that we might govern it on his behalf and for his glory. Men and women together, made in his image, were to image God’s gracious and life-giving rule in their care of one another and of the whole of the created world. But things have gone terribly wrong. We are all too conscious of the greed, inequity, destruction and violence that mark our world. It is written upon the pages of history. It is written in the faces of oppressor and oppressed. It is written into the scars and wounds of our damaged planet. When will it end?

The Scriptures promised a second and last Adam, a new King after God’s own heart who would bring healing and restoration to the whole of creation – one in whom the image of God in humankind would be restored. Jesus, God incarnate, is the promised Messiah. He is the one through whom all things were created and in whom all things will be restored. He is the one in whom all things in heaven and earth shall be brought under one head, under one new and everlasting government of peace. In his death a broken world is brought to death and judgment. Through his resurrection a new creation has begun.

But how shall this kingdom come? It shall come through the faithful witness of the followers of the Messiah. They may and will suffer all manner of opposition, even being put to death; they are called to follow their Lord. But, like their Master, they will be raised to life and will reign with him. Christ will have the last word. The testimony of his servants will not be silenced; rather, through their suffering testimony to the Suffering Messiah his kingdom shall come.

In this chapter, we read of those who gloat over the slaughter of God's servants; they, "celebrate by sending each other gifts" (11:10). We do not have to look far to find the same happening today in many parts of the world. But we are also reminded at this time of year that we have far greater cause to celebrate and send one another gifts; the Saviour of the world has come. No amount of opposition can undo or silence this fact. Christ has come and through his resurrection from the dead he has "begun to reign" (11:17) and his kingdom shall know no end.

His reign will finally be established when he returns in judgment to “destroy those who destroy the earth” (11:18). In that day he will set the world to rights and make all things new.

Meanwhile we are called to faithful testimony, even in the face of opposition, in the confidence that it is through such testimony that this world is judged and the reign of Christ extended.

‘We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
    the One who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
    and have begun to reign.
The nations were angry,
    and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
    and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
    both great and small –
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’

Come, Lord Jesus.

Peter Misselbrook