Being a Servant

“I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!””
‭Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭8‬-‭9‬ ‭NLT

John was so overcome with his conversation with the angel, that he felt the urge to fall on his knees before him and worship him. What was there about the angel that induced that feeling in John? But John had been there before. We read in Revelation 19:10 about another time when he felt he had to worship an angel. We read, “Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God.…..””.

What is there about angels that can perhaps invite their worship? It may have been a problem in early church days, because the Apostle Paul warned the Colossians church about it. We read in Colossians 2:18, “Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud,”. Angels are created beings, but they are eternal and they have the powers to travel through space and time. They serve God continually, and they have a form that is supernatural and beyond our understanding. Many books have been written about angels, and the Bible is full of references about them. We may even be able to sense the presence of angels, keeping us from danger. But mankind has a tendency to be wowed by something amazing, and that perhaps initiated John’s feelings of a need to worship. 

The angel claimed that he was a “servant of God”, just, as he said, like John and his “brothers the prophets“. But in what way did the angel serve God? In the case before us, God had obviously assigned him the task of showing and explaining all that he did to John. And he did it with patience, gentleness and kindness, threads we see throughout the Book of Revelation. But what about the brothers, the prophets? How do they serve God? Paul gave us insight, in Colossians 2:23-24, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” There is a connection here between living our earthly lives and service to God. Many church people have claimed to do “the Lord’s work”, preaching, teaching, being missionaries and so on, but the reality is that serving God can be a job as mundane as cleaning the toilets or drying the dishes. We read in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticise you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” That’s serving God in the way He expects.

In our societies today, we don’t tend to think of worship as something we do outside a church building. But we pilgrims know what it means to worship God. And we do so continually. We must worship only God, and not one of the false gods that can sometimes wheedle their ways into our lives. We see people worshipping on a golf course, at football matches, polishing a piece of metal in their driveways. The list of false gods is endless. We make something a god when we elevate it higher than the true God. We need to pay attention to who and how we serve, and who or what we worship. Get the priorities right and we won’t go far wrong.

Father God. We need some help here. You know our tendency to get caught up with false gods and how we grumble and complain. Please help us! Amen.

Witnessing Prophecy

“And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.””
Revelation‬ ‭19:9-10‬ ‭NLT

It is almost as though the angel tossed in a throw-away comment. A nugget of gold emerging unexpectedly in John’s vision of the wedding feast. The angel made the statement to John, “For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus”. What was the angel saying here? 

What is prophesy? Many people think that they can foretell the future and call their message a prophecy. Christians can get excited when a brother or sister brings a “prophetic word” in a meeting. “Prophecies” can take the form of pictures or visions, poems or songs. There is a prophetic gift of the Holy Spirit, as we read in Romans 12:6, “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.” But three things must be noted. Firstly, any prophetic message must align with Biblical truth. So a “prophesy” that declares something that conflicts with Scripture, or tries to add something to it, must be viewed with suspicion, and, if necessary, discarded. Secondly, prophecies are for edification. We read in 1 Corinthians  14:3,  “But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them.” Thirdly, as our verse records today, the angel reminded John that prophecies must provide “a clear witness for Jesus”. 

Ultimately, the purpose of a prophetic word must be to point the hearers back to God. It could involve the speaking out of Scripture, God’s Word. It could involve our testimonies of God’s grace and love. It may even connect a Biblical message with someone’s life and future. But in the end, it is all about God.

We must always be on the lookout for prophecies that don’t stack up, and we must beware of false prophets. The Apostle Peter warned about them, as we read in 2 Peter 2:1, “But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves.” Jesus warned His disciples about false prophets, in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves”. 

We pilgrims can be assured that the angel’s words describing to John what was about to happen – the greatest and most devastating war that this planet has ever seen – were true and came directly from God. Prophetic they may have been in John’s vision, but they gave a “clear witness for Jesus”. The marriage feast and Armageddon will both happen one day. Probably sooner than we think.

Dear Lord and Father God, we thank You for Your prophetic words recorded by John. Please never let us despise prophesy. We pray that You will give us the discernment to separate the good from the false. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Worshipping Angels

“And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.””
Revelation‬ ‭19:9-10‬ ‭NLT

In his part of the vision recorded in Revelation 19, John seems to be accompanied by an angel, who is going out of his way to keep John right over what is happening. He told John what to write about the wedding feast and the honour that is there for all those who receive an invitation. And then, for some reason, he emphasised its importance, by saying to John, “These are true words that come from God.” John took careful note of what was said, and so should we. We don’t know what the wedding feast experience will be like, but some things we do know – it will definitely happen one day, because Jesus said so, as recorded in Matthew 22, and because God said so through His servant, the angel in our verses today. And one other thing, it will be the most amazing experience that we have ever encountered. In fact, there are no words that can adequately describe what the event will be like.

John was so overwhelmed by what the angel was saying, that he fell down at the angel’s feet “to worship him”. The journey that John had been on in his vision, the journey through all the seals and plagues, the beasts, the natural disasters, and so on, were all eclipsed by the wonder of what the angel said, and it was all too much for John. He had no response other than feeling a need to worship. And the angel, in his role as God’s servant, became his focus. The angel soon put John right, with his response, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God”. 

We pilgrims will understand John’s response, because there is inbuilt within us a need to worship God. But we often find that difficult because God is beyond our natural focus. Sometimes, we need a finely-tuned and sensitive spirit to detect, and respond to, His presence. The story of Elijah is such an example. In 1 Kings 19:12-13, we read, “And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?””. After a ferocious wind, an earthquake and fire, Elijah’s spirit responded to “the sound of a gentle whisper”. John’s spirit, like Elijah’s, sensed the presence of God. And he was overwhelmed by all that was happening before him. He just had to respond in worship, and the angel, as God’s messenger, became his focus.

The angel encouraged John to “worship only God”, and that is something that Jesus Himself also taught. We read in Matthew 22:37-38, “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” We can easily become distracted by an object of beauty, such as a sunset or a piece of art, and something within us responds in worship. But we must constantly hold before us the thought – who created the sunset, or put within someone the ability to paint beautiful pictures? It is all about God, and Him alone. Only He is worthy of our worship. Stained glass windows and statues of saints won’t work. Natural beauty around us in God’s creation can’t be worshipped either. In God’s presence, as we strain to hear the “gentle whisper” of God’s voice, as we take a step back from our busy lives, it is only then that our worship can focus on God, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Dear Father God. How can we ever be distracted by a counterfeit when You are the only One we can worship? At Your feet today we do just that, worship You. Amen.

Seven Spotless Angels

“The seven angels who were holding the seven plagues came out of the Temple. They were clothed in spotless white linen with gold sashes across their chests. Then one of the four living beings handed each of the seven angels a gold bowl filled with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. The Temple was filled with smoke from God’s glory and power. No one could enter the Temple until the seven angels had completed pouring out the seven plagues.”
Revelation‬ ‭15:6-8‬ ‭NLT

As John’s eyes remained fixed on the Temple vision, he noticed seven angels appear. They were holding the seven plagues. He didn’t elaborate on how this would be possible. How do you hold a plague? But the origins of plagues aren’t visible to human eyes without optical or similar assistance. Viruses and bacteria are incredibly small living organisms, so John, perhaps through his spirit, knew the angels had something terrible to unleash on the earth. As we know, a small glass phial would have been sufficient.

The seven angels “were clothed in spotless white linen with gold sashes across their chests”. In other translations, there is a hint that these angels were clothed in a precious stone, but we get the picture that the clothes represent purity and righteousness. Back in Revelation 1:13, John recorded, “And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest.” Perhaps the gold sashes were a badge of honour for those belonging to Christ.

In John’s vision, one of the “living beings” enters his field of view. This time he appears to be a messenger, carrying seven bowls, one for each of the angels. These bowls contained God’s anger, ready to be poured out on the earth and all those remaining in it. And the scene finishes with the picture of the seven beautifully dressed angels, carrying golden bowls and glass phials containing the plagues, and the Temple full of smoke from God’s glory and power.

Back in Isaiah 6, the earthly Temple was filled with the smoke of God’s presence. Isaiah wrote, referring to the seraphim flying around in God’s presence, “They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.” (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭6:3-4‬ ‭NLT). This wasn’t your ordinary smoke, pouring out of a chimney or from a burning trash can. This was the glory and power of God, so tangible that it appeared to natural eyes as smoke. But surely the original “Holy Smoke”?

The seven bowls contained “the wrath of God“. An angry amalgam of God’s anger, that had been building up for ages, anger with the stubbornness of mankind, who were still unrepentant until, literally, the last minute of time. And before them was the stubbornness of previous generations, who had died in their sins. There was no more opportunity to repent now. The Gospel had been declared. God’s grace and patience had finally ended. The seven plagues were the final judgement, completing the End Times and allowing new beginnings to be established.

To us pilgrims, it is inexplicable that so many people in our families and communities have stubbornly resisted all contact with God. But we keep trying anyhow, with our appeals, our sharing, our love and grace. We never give up sharing the Good News about God, making opportunity of every moment. But just to let these people face the consequences of their reluctance to embrace the One who created them is not in God’s plan. Not yet anyway. As long as we have breath we will share our faith in the One who deserves all the glory, all the honour, all the praise, all the worship.

Dear Father God. We don’t know when the clock will finally click over into the ultimate End of Time. But we do know the Clockmaker. And we praise and worship You today. Amen.

The Sickle

“Then I saw a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was someone like the Son of Man. He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another angel came from the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, “Swing the sickle, for the time of harvest has come; the crop on earth is ripe.” So the one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the whole earth was harvested.”‭‭
Revelation‬ ‭14:14-16 ‭NLT

In this next scene in John’s vision, Jesus appears. The Son of Man, the Son of God. We gaze, together with John, with a feeling that the time has finally arrived. The time for dealing with the peoples of the world and their sin and wickedness. John saw that Jesus was wearing a golden crown. This wasn’t just some ornamental piece of headgear. This was a crown won in battle. The crown worn by the Overcomer, the defeater of the devil and all his minions. We remember poignantly the last time the world saw Jesus. He was wearing a crown of thorns. Cruel spikes piercing the skin around His scalp. At a time when the devil and his helpers thought they had defeated God’s own Son. But they couldn’t have been more wrong. Jesus, and His father, were graciously playing the long game. They could see down the millennia to the time when the harvest was ripe. Sin and wickedness had run its course. There would be no more.

Jesus was seated on a cloud and he was carrying a “sharp sickle” in His hand. This was an implement used before the age of farm machinery, and skilled harvesters used it cut the fields of wheat and other cereal crops, before it was gathered in and threshed and winnowed and ground, to provide a staple diet for peoples everywhere. An ubiquitous tool, but here, in John’s vision, it had a special role, before it was finally discarded. After this harvest there would be no need for such an implement.

Jesus told a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven, and the final harvest. It is recorded in Matthew 13. And to make sure His disciples understood the message, Jesus explained it to them later in the chapter. Jesus’ audience were the people of His day, and they all claimed to be Jews. But Jesus used this parable to explain that His true followers were the good seed, but the weeds were those people belonging to the evil one, the devil. Both were allowed to live together in the nations of the world. One day, on the Day of Judgement, the two would be separated. The implication is that not all who claimed to be Jews were in fact His true followers. And so it is today with our Christian communities. But God sees every heart. He knows what resides inside a person’s mind. He knows who His true followers are. In His explanation of the parable, Jesus said, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:41-42‬ ‭NLT‬‬).

Christian brothers and sisters can be offended, if there is a hint of discrimination between “nominal Christians” and true followers of Christ. I have had a discussion with people who sincerely believe that if they go to church, they will be OK on Judgement Day. They may well be – I am not in a position to judge and it’s not my place – but Jesus was concerned enough to give the story of the Wheat and the Weeds, and also another parable in Matthew 25:31-46 about the Sheep and the Goats. There was even another occasion towards the end of the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus defined who His true disciples were. We read in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” So we pilgrims need to know where we will stand once the sickle starts swinging.

I suppose there is always the question – what about those who died before these grim and scary days in the End Times? The impression I personally get from Scripture is that when we die, we will go to some holding place. As far as I am aware, Jesus is still preparing a place for us (John 14:3). And He said to the thief hanging next to Him at Calvary, “… I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43). So I believe that Christians who die before the end times will end up in a place Jesus called Paradise. It may be Heaven by another name. But there our spirits will reside until the event described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 happens. “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died“. For those who are not Christians, I do not know where their holding place will be, because hell hadn’t been created at this point in the End Times. All sorts of theories abound, and I particular like the fictional account by C S Lewis in his book, the Great Divorce.

But back to the sharp sickle. This marked the final days of all the peoples on Planet Earth. All those dear pilgrims who have faithfully stuck it out to the end, will be rightly rewarded. Let’s make sure we will be counted amongst them.

Dear Father God. The End Times will be hard for those still alive when it happens. So we pray for ourselves and for those still to come, that we will all stand firm to the end. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Seven Trumpets

“Then the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepared to blow their mighty blasts.” 
Revelation 8:6 NLT

Seven angels each had a trumpet. These would not have been any old ordinary trumpets because they were each capable of delivering a mighty blast. And the angels doing the blowing were obviously strong enough to provide the necessary air pressure.

In the Bible, the trumpet was an essential instrument with a two-fold role – to grab people’s attention and to add to the mix in the Jewish praise bands. But what was it like? One thing it wasn’t – it was not like the modern trumpet in all its guises and variations. The trumpets referred to in our verses today would most probably have either been based on the Jewish rams horns, or Shofars, or on the trumpet made of beaten silver that we find in Numbers 10. But whatever they were, they were quite an instrument. It should also be noted that some skill would be required to play them, as anyone who has tried to play a brass instrument knows.

There was one notable occasion in the Old Testament when trumpets or rams horns achieved a remarkable result. Joshua 6 records the details of how the city of Jericho was conquered by the Israelites, and trumpets played a significant role in its demise. We read in Joshua 6:8, “After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the rams’ horns started marching in the presence of the Lord, blowing the horns as they marched. And the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant followed behind them“. Reading on we find that the walls later collapsed, with the trumpets co-ordinating the people’s shouts.  But notice that there were seven priests blowing seven trumpets or rams horns (depending on which Bible version we read). That number seven again, denoting completeness and perfection.

For today’s pilgrim it is easy to feel somewhat detached when reading this verse. It describes something that will happen at some time in the future, too far removed to have any relevance. The expression “blowing your own trumpet” isn’t heard so much in these digital days, but it describes the act of bragging or boasting about exploits, or things we have done, with perhaps some amplification and exaggeration spicing up the story. We read in Proverbs 27:1-2, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring. Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth— a stranger, not your own lips.” And at the end of a detailed list of all the abuse and hardship the Apostle Paul had experienced, he said, “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.” He was not going to be accused of boasting about what he had experienced. However, there is one thing worth blowing a trumpet about – the Lord. We read in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”” Now there’s something worth blowing our trumpets about – our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Father God. We gladly blow our trumpets announcing all that You have done for us. We praise and worship You today with deeply grateful hearts. Amen.

The Four Winds

“Then I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds so they did not blow on the earth or the sea, or even on any tree. And I saw another angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted to those four angels, who had been given power to harm land and sea, “Wait! Don’t harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.” And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God—144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel:”
Revelation‬ ‭7:1-4 NLT

The scene in John’s vision changes. He now sees four angels, each standing at the four corners of the earth. Their task was to hold back the four winds, with the implication that wind-damage was waiting to happen. But before they could get to work, a fifth angel emerged from the East (with the dawn?) carrying “God’s seal”. And he called out to the four angels to wait. He had a job to do first. The vision continued and John discovered that the job of the angel carrying God’s seal was to place a mark on 144,000 people from the tribes of Israel. A mark that would clearly identify them as being servants of God. The number, 144,000, was derived from 12,000 people from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. And if we read on in chapter seven we find that each of the 12 tribes of Israel were listed by their family names derived from being sons and grandsons of Jacob.

We don’t know what the mark of the seal was. In this age of QR and bar codes, I suppose we could speculate about the seal being a digital mark. In John’s day, a seal would have been a blob of hard wax, pressed with an imprint from a ring. At first thought, a tattoo might be the mark, but then for the Jews that was prohibited, as we read in Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord“. But whatever the mark was, it would have been distinctive. And the four angels holding back the winds had to wait before they could unleash them to do harm over the land and sea. 

It is interesting to note that at this point in John’s vision, the mark of God was applied to Jews and not Christians. We may be guilty of thinking that the Jewish nation was sidelined and overlooked by God, perhaps encouraged in this thought by what Jesus, speaking to the Jewish leaders, said in Matthew 21:43, “I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit.” But it was quite clear in John’s vision that the 144,000 were Jews and not Christians of Gentile origins (I suppose they may have been Jewish Christians). It is also clear that those with a mark were not, as some sects have claimed, exclusively made up of their leaders and those members who are worthy of joining them. 

So why were the Jews marked? In John’s vision it was obviously important enough for the four winds to be held back. And they were being marked with God’s seal. It would seem reasonable to think that these Jews became Christians and proceeded to evangelise their fellow Jews, and the Gentile nations, in these difficult times in the Tribulation period.

As an aside, the Bible is clear that the Jews are God’s chosen people. As far back as the time of Abraham, God made a promise that He would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the sands on the sea shore. We read in Genesis 22:17-18, “I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.” God also made it clear that He would retain a remnant of His people throughout the generations, regardless of how they behaved (1 Kings 19:18, Romans 11:4). So we shouldn’t be surprised that God had a mission for His people, the Jews, in these end times. God told Abraham that through his descendants, the Jews, all the nations on earth would be blessed – perhaps this was one of the times when they would be called upon. And with a mark on them that distinguished them as belonging to God, the world’s remaining population would have been aware of who they were.

What sort of mark do we pilgrims carry? Are those around us aware of our faith and belief in God? Is it a positive or negative experience for them? Sadly, in our society here in Scotland, Christianity is considered to be a bit of an irrelevance. Church attendances are dwindling. And some churches and denominations are compromising or ignoring key teaching in the Bible, in a vain attempt to win new members. If our churches become accepting of worldly and unGodly beliefs why should a person, who is not a Christian, want to go there? But for us as individuals, we nevertheless have a mission. And that is to reach those people with our messages of hope, maintaining the purity of the Gospel and our faith. We look out for those who will otherwise be heading for a lost eternity. 

Father God. We too have a mission to our communities and families. Please lead us to the right people. And we pray for the strength and boldness to make our faith shine like a beacon, illuminating the dark corners in our worlds. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Meaning of the Mystery

“Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen. This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Revelation 1:19-20 NLT

Following his encounter with Jesus amongst the lampstands, John received his commission. He was told to start writing. And he was told specifically what to write about – events as they happened, and also those that will happen at some time in the future. In other words, all the events as they unfolded in the vision he received. I’m sure John was only too eager and willing to do what he was asked; after all, I’m sure he would have realised that he was in a special place. And Jesus started by explaining what the seven stars he had in His right hand represented and what the significance was of the seven gold lampstands. 

There was obviously a special interaction, not just between John and Jesus, but also between John and the Holy Spirit. The vision that unfolded before John either took place over quite a long period, enabling him, and giving him time, to go through what would have been a laborious process of writing everything down longhand, or it happened quite quickly, as in a dream, and the Holy Spirit then helped him recall everything he needed to record. Either way, it was some vision. It was so vivid that John must have had difficulty separating his incarceration in exile on Patmos with the events that were unfolding before him. And what a contrast!

Jesus explained the mystery that was appearing in the vision, that the seven stars were the angels appointed to the seven churches, represented by the gold lampstands. Angels. Created but immortal beings residing in heaven with God and on hand to always do His bidding. And here we have seven of them overseeing churches. Does that imply that all of our churches have a spiritual covering from an angel? They may well do, but I’m sure there will be those who disagree. Some might even question the existence of angels, but in John’s vision there were many of them. But in the next chapter of Revelation, we see Jesus delivering messages to the angels of the seven churches. Were these the angels from Heaven? Or was the message being delivered figuratively to the leader or leaders of the churches? Or was the message being delivered corporately to the entire church? Personally, I discount the idea that the angels were getting a bit of a telling off. So I lean more towards the leadership and the church as a whole. Some commentators have worked out that the Greek word for “angel” could also mean “messenger”, who could be a human being. But in the end, the important thing is to listen to the message, however it is delivered, and act accordingly.

As pilgrims, we all need a bit of correction from time to time. Isn’t it strange that humans have a tendency to rationalise their thinking to a place of comfort, and even error. It’s important that we read God’s Word because it is from God Himself. We read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work“. Notice that Jesus delivered a message to the churches, not to individuals, so it is also important that we pilgrims get plugged into a Spirit-filled church somewhere. There are other pilgrims on the same journey as us and together we keep to the right paths through the minefields of life.

Dear Lord. We thank You for Your Word, the Bible. And I pray that as we continue to journey through the Book of Revelation, You lead us and guide us in Your ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


“For he will command his angels concerning you 
to guard you in all your ways; 
they will lift you up in their hands, 
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Psalms‬ ‭91:11-12‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

These were the verses used by the devil during the second temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, soon after He was baptised. Isn’t it strange that so many people shrug off the Bible as irrelevant, but, of the forces behind our universe, One was the author of the Book and the other used it as a reference. But the question remains – were these verses part of a prophetic glimpse of the coming Messiah, or can they apply to us today?

What do you think about angels? They figure frequently in the Bible passages, even being named, liked Michael and Gabriel. And we read in Revelation 12 and other passages about a rebellion in Heaven and as a consequence satan and his angels were evicted. But are angels with us today? Do we have, as many claim, guardian angels? I personally believe that angels exist – the Biblical and other evidence is too strong and clear, in my opinion, for there not to be angels. From verse 9 in this Psalm, we could draw the conclusion that part of the benefit of being a God-dweller is that God will appoint angels to look after us, but when our lives fall apart, as they sometimes do, does that mean we haven’t been living in God’s refuge, under His protection? And if we read verse 16 as part of a Messianic prophecy, does the long life bit apply to Jesus, because He was savagely killed at the age of 33, or thereabouts. So this Psalm perhaps raises more questions than answers. 

However, this Psalm gives me an overwhelming sense of God’s provision. His love and grace, His protection and concern for us, His people, bursts out of the page into my spirit. Yes, we will experience much pain and grief in this life, even when we are close to God, even when we spend much time in His presence. It’s a sinful world and the enemy will do his utmost to cause us hassles. And we can compound our difficulties through making wrong choices at times. But through it all shines this wonderful truth that God is there for us, with His army of angels, waiting to help us in our times of need. Perhaps we won’t really know the full extent of how he has helped us in this life until we reach the life to come. And it is there that we might perhaps meet our “guardian angels”. Any thoughts?