Is He Worthy – Thursday Music

Today, a song written by a man named Andrew Peterson, sung by Shane and Shane, live with a choir. Scriptures to go along with this song are Revelation 5.1-14, 1 Corinthians 15.54-55, John 14.6, Hebrews 2.17, 2 Corinthians 5.17, and Revelation 21.5.

We start with a call and response,

Do you feel the world is broken?

(We do)

Do you feel the shadows deepen?

(We do)

But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from getting through?

(We do)

Do you wish that you could see it all made new?

(We do)

Is all creation groaning?

(It is)

Is a new creation coming?

(It is)

Is the glory of the Lord to be the light within our midst?

(It is)

Is it good that we remind ourselves of this?

(It is)

On writing the song, Mr. Peterson said,

“I wrote the verses with the call and response sections, and then I had no idea how to write the chorus. I thought about how this album is about the resurrection, and I remembered how in Revelation 5 this wonderful scene unfolds where John is looking around and realizing that nobody can be found worthy to break the seal and open the scroll and to ascend to the Throne. He is weeping loudly because there is nobody worthy to do this thing. He is told, “no behold there is someone Who is worthy.” I love how there also a question and answer section in the Bible, “Is there anyone worthy?” And the angels answer about the power of Jesus, “He is.””

The chorus is a triumphant declaration that Jesus is worthy to open the scroll, to enact God’s will for humanity, to put into play God’s master plan.

Is anyone worthy? Is anyone whole?

Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?

The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave

He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave

From every people and tribe

Every nation and tongue

He has made us a kingdom and priests to God

To reign with the Son

Is He worthy? Is He worthy?

Of all blessing and honor and glory

Is He worthy? Is He worthy?

Is He worthy of this?

He is!

Is He worthy? Is He worthy?

He is!

He is!

It builds in emotion, it’s emotive, it’s poetic, and it describes what Jesus did for us. Our best defence against the forces of evil is to declare the message of songs like this; Jesus is worthy. Jesus is the Lamb of God who died to ransom us, to bring us into right relationship with God, to redeem us from the hold of sin.

Jesus has always been, is now, and always will be the way to God, the One who makes a way for us, the One who is worthy to sit on the throne of His Father and the One who is worthy to open the scroll of Revelation 5.

Revelation 17.15-18 – Be careful what you wish for – pt. 2

Today the angel continues and completes his explanation of what John is seeing with the beast, the horns, the prostitute, and the water. Lots of symbols and lots of imagery…

15 And the angel said to me,

“The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”

First he explains that the waters…are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. The Antichrist will come and join them all in a one-world religion, he demands and accepts worship and will seek to unify people under one global, all-encompassing world religion.

Then, in a turn of events, the ten horns…and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire…So, here is a tyrant using religion to get what he wants, then throwing it away when he has no need for it. The worldly, worldwide, weak willed false religious system that the Antichrist has unified and glorified is then tossed aside when it is no longer required for his purposes, and, in 2 Thessalonians 2.3-4 we read

3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

So, from joining everyone together, this man of lawlessness now exalts himself against everything that could be considered religious or of faith and actually takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Just think on that for a moment…the Antichrist will stop all worship of anything else in the whole entire world and have it all directed to himself as he sits on God’s throne in the temple.

Think about this; for this to happen, people have got to be SO enthralled with who he is, what he is doing, we read of no violent takeover, which means that people are on board with what he is doing. How great a deception is this!

For us, then, do we want to push towards a global, one-world religion?

Do we want to strive to overlook basic, fundamental, contradictory differences in the name of peace, when, in actual fact, what we are hastening is not peace, but this?

Love people, yes.

Spend time outside of your Christian bubble, yes.

Respect other people’s freedom to choose a religion (a forced freedom is not freedom, is it), yes.

But, paper over the cavernous differences in how we see the world, no.

Pretend that my truth is my truth and your truth is your truth but we all have truth, no.

Consider the possibility that there may be another way to eternal life other than Jesus, no.

As the world becomes more and more interconnected, modernised, and global, we need to hold to the timeless truths of the Word of God, including the clear and cogent warnings about what is around the corner, what it will look like, and ultimately, how it will end.

Revelation 17.7-14 – Eight to one

Today, rather kindly, and with a prophetic foresight far beyond our tiny human comprehension, the angel explains to John the mystery of the woman, and of the beast. No doubt this was so John could communicate it to others, remember, Revelation is apocalyptic in nature, which, by very definition means revealing, not hidden.

7 But the angel said to me,

“Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

Verse 8 tells us that the beast is the beast of 13.1 (And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.). Those who do not believe in Jesus marvel at the beast, the Antichrist, because he will be a winner, attractive, seeking to unite people with his universal, international character. He uses religion to achieve his purposes, allying with the prostitute until he gets what he wants.

Verse 9 is as perplexing as there are theories to explain it; the woman is sat on the seven mountains which are the seven heads of the beast. They are not the seven hills of Rome, they could be kings and kingdoms, they could be governments…either way, the Bible does not say explicitly so at best we can have an educated guess. Kings and kingdoms does seem to fit with what the angel goes on to say in verse 10, they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. If we take the major empires of the world at John’s time starting with Egypt, then Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greek, then Rome would be the one that is, and the other that has not yet come would be the ‘New Rome’ of the Antichrist. A ten nation confedration gets together and basically gives their power to the beast (And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast.), who then all club together for a war on the Lamb.

Throughout all this then, throughout all this prophetic planning, throughout the mind-blowing detail and accuracy (of which we have barely scratched the surface here), we see one thing remain constant; the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.

No matter how complex things get, no matter the size of the army raised against Him, no matter how devious and dispicable the enemy, the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of Kings.

This must surely be where we draw strength from whilst we bear the burdens of life; we carry the cross whilst awaiting a crown, and every single thing we read about His coming again should fill us with an inextinguishable hope and confidence.

Jesus fulfilled upwards of 350 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament perfectly.

For every prophecy of His first coming, there are 8 of His second coming and we have no doubt He will fulfil them perfectly, too.

Revelation 16.1-7 – Which road are we on?

Chapter 16 starts with the voice of God Himself starting the beginning of the end, ‘“Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”’ We know it is the voice of God because this voice comes from the temple, and chapter 15 ended with the words no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. So, nobody is allowed in, but a voice comes from within authoritatively announcing the wrath of God is to be poured out. The only logical conclusion is that this is God Himself.

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels,

“Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

2 So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.

5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,

for you brought these judgments.

6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,

and you have given them blood to drink.

It is what they deserve!”

7 And I heard the altar saying,

“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,

true and just are your judgments!”

Ironically, those who worshiped the beast and bore his image are to be marked by God, too, but not in the way those faithful saints have been. We read that those who had taken the mark of the beast now bear harmful and painful sores…not the kind of mark we want, is it.

Two more angels pour out their bowls, into the sea and the rivers respectively and both cause death and destruction. This mirrors the image given to us in chapter 8, verses 8-11; God judging the fallen earth by impacting the sea and the freshwater sources. Before those chastisements were aimed at bringing people to God, to affect repentance. Here, punishment for not doing so before Jesus’ imminent return…and it is imminent (both in this book and in life!).

So, how can this be just and holy? How can bringing judgement on rebellious people be pure?

For God to be so just, holy, pure, and perfect, He cannot accept sin, rebellion, evil. If He did, He wouldn’t be just, holy, pure, and perfect, would He? He created and sustains life on earth and as Sovereign creator is free to tell His creation how things should be done, no? Surely it is not up to us to dictate to our maker how things should be? (Isaiah 45.9).

On a basic level, this all comes down to the choices we make; do we choose God’s path, or do we choose our own? Do we seek my will to be done, or thy will be done? Choices. The people we read of here have made choices to do their own will again, and again, and again…

So, God has to act on this prolonged rebellion against Him and His ways, but, He is patient, He is kind, He is long suffering, He is love, He wishes that none should perish but that everyone call on the name of Jesus and be saved unto eternal life.

And, to be fair, there have been plenty of warnings along the way. Like a road that falls into a cliff up ahead, God has laid out signs, sent workers to warn people, maybe even diverted the road a couple of times, but yet we still find our way back onto the road that disappears.

Friends, let us do our best to stay on God’s road, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us when we cannot see the road, and let us take comfort and encouragement from the fact that Jesus has walked this road before us, removed all the obstacles, and waits at the end of the road for us.

Revelation 15 – The presence of God

Quite a short chapter today, only 8 verses, but some more powerful stuff for us to take in, culminating in the unstoppable power of the presence of God Himself.

1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.

2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire–and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,

O Lord God the Almighty!

Just and true are your ways,

O King of the nations!

4 Who will not fear, O Lord,

and glorify your name?

For you alone are holy.

All nations will come and worship you,

for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

5 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

After the carnage of chapter 14, things settle down for a short time and seven angels appear with seven plagues, which signify that the wrath of God is finished. Chapter 14 gave us Armageddon, the fury of the wrath of God poured out, now we go back and review, quite a common prophetic writing technique…actually, quite a common Biblical technique (think Genesis 1 and 2).

More imagery comes our way with what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire, the sea being a glorious creation of our glorious God, and fire bringing judgement, burning away impurities, and fire is mesmerizing, isn’t it, you can’t help but look at fire. So John sees what appears to be sea and fire, but in reality he saw something glorious and mesmerizing…it’s hard to communicate clearly the incommunicable glories of God…poor guy.

Then, a wonderful hymn to our God, signing of His law and of His love (the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb), and with an absolute focus on God, not ourselves (For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.)

After this a wonderful scene ensues, angels appear carrying representations of God’s pure, just, and holy judgement on a fallen world (seven angels…clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests.), and then God Himself makes His presence seen in the sanctuary; the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.

Wow – the smoke from the glory of God filled the sanctuary and nobody could enter.

One fascinating thing about the book of Revelation is the Old Testament references; more than 500 allusions to it, and around 280 references.

Here we see a strong allusion to Exodus 40

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.



The presence of God has been, and is now, so awesome that nobody can be in it.


That will change in a couple of chapters, but for now, the presence of God is so powerful, amazing, and wonderful that nobody can be in it. Don’t be taken in by false teachers who say the glory cloud rests upon them, rests in their church, follows them around, descended during worship…just read those verses from Exodus 40, and this passage in Revelation 15 and you’ll see that the presence of God has been, and is now, so awesome that nobody can be in it.

It’s unstoppable, inimitable, irreplicable, undeniable, and world-endingly powerful…and the God who IS this kind of power, the God who wields this level of power, this God loves you, wants you, will do all He can for you, and will give you just a taste of this power in your life right now. Seek, knock, ask, taste and see…don’t expect the cloud to to descend, but be prepared!

Revelation 14.14-20 – Harvest time

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.

15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”

16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.

18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle,

“Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.”

19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

This passage finishes on a pretty serious note, doesn’t it; blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia. Blood flowing for around 184 miles is pretty serious business and paints us a picture of absolute carnage, more of that to come in chapters 16 and 19.

Jesus talks about this particular section of text back in Matthew 13.24-30, then explains it in vv.36-43, you can read about it here.

Today, then, there is a separation, believers and unbelievers, those who have put faith and trust in Jesus, and, if we want to really challenge ourselves (and the Word of God does challenge us…think two edged sword, sharp and precise, cutting down to even those thoughts we would never share), we see the separation of believers and church-goers.

The narrative of the Bible calls for us to be the church, not to simply attend church. The Christian life is one of progression, of progressive sanctification, of becoming just a little more like Jesus every day, of living out His teachings and doing our earthly best to emulate His life. The Christian life is not lived for 90 minutes once a week plus a smattering of Bible-related interactions during the week; Bible verses on Instagram, reading a devotional, listening to the message again, even attending a midweek Bible study group.

The Christian life is lived in community; with God’s people, for God’ people, as God’s people.

We are called to BE the church, not just go to church.

Literally the word church means ‘called out ones’. It is a community of those who have been called out of darkness into His glorious light, out of sin and into righteousness, out of death and into life.

We ARE the church, we don’t just go on Friday (or whenever your church assembles).

So, all this to say, we want to be part of Jesus’ harvest, don’t we, he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped, we don’t want to be part of the latter harvest mentioned here, so the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.

The best thing about this is that Jesus wants us to be part of His harvest, He wants us to turn to Him, to surrender our will to His, He wants us.

Do we want Him?

Do we want to assemble as God’s people, as God’s church, do we want to be the church, or just go to church?

Revelation 14.6-13 – Last call

In March of this year Robyn, the boys, and I flew to Dubai to see some old friends who used to live here, but now live in Abu Dhabi. On the way back, we arrived at the airport nice and early (the only sensible way to travel!), allowed ourselves time for something to eat, a look around the shops, to douse ourselves in fragrances we had no intention of buying, and to stroll to our gate. We knew we were departing from the smaller gates as the flight to Bahrain is a short one, so we could walk rather than take the shuttle train. We grossly underestimated what a ‘20 minute walk’ actually was with toddlers and accompanying paraphernalia, and, long story short, ran on to the plane all hot and bothered as the crew were being told to take their seats for departure (almost, anyway). We had never been the ‘last call’ people, and believe me when I say, I never intend to be so again.

Today in Revelation we see a last call of sorts, too.

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

7 And he said with a loud voice,

“Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

8 Another angel, a second, followed, saying,

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”

9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice,

“If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying,

“Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

“Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”  

The last call, then, comes in line with Matthew 24.14 wherein we read And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. The first angel is proclaiming the Gospel to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. Then the last call for grace, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

Basically, worship God and give Him glory, because this is your last chance to do so. The fact that this opportunity is even a thing at all is testament to God’s grace, mercy, longsuffering, patience, kindness, and love. But it really is last chance. As bad as I felt charging on to the plane and being ‘those people’, can you imagine what it will be like if we wait until literally one of the last points in space and time to make a decision for God?

The alternative is not good, is it? The second angel announces that organised rebellion against God has now had its day (“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.”), and the third says that if anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath.

The cup Jesus prayed to pass from Him when He said “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” is this cup, the cup of God’s wrath, the cup of his anger.

How grateful should we be that Jesus took that cup for us, drank the wine of God’s wrath from the cup of His anger.

So, as goes with travelling, as goes here, too. We don’t arrive at the gate seconds before it closes, and, we shouldn’t wait for the last call to call on the name of the Lord to be saved, to acknowledge and accept that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and to humbly and willingly accept the gift of forgiveness, new life, and ultimately, eternal life that He so freely offers.

In the meantime, now we are at the airport waiting for our flight, our work has significance and dignity (for their deeds follow them!”), so let’s do it to the best of our abilities today, for His name’s sake, and for His glory.