• Christ Church, Willesborough

Advent Fourth Sunday Morning Prayer (19 December 2021) Revelation 21:10-12


When God created the first humans, He did not give any commandments about celebrating festivals. When Cain and Abel offered their yield and harvest, they celebrated ‘thanksgiving’ for the blessings they received from the LORD God. When Noah came out of the ark and offered sacrifice, he gave thanks for his protection. When the LORD God brought the Israelites out of their bondage land, He gave them commandments and laws. At that time, the LORD God asked Israelites to celebrate seven festivals to remember what He had done for them when they were in the wilderness. The Old Testament Israelites celebrated Passover, feast of unleavened bread, harvest, day of Pentecost, memorial of blowing of trumpets, day of atonement and feast of tabernacle. When Jesus came to offer Himself as the one-time sacrifice to redeem every one of us from our sins, He asked the disciples to celebrate His last supper until He came again. There was reformation in the Judaism and the followers of Jesus were called Christians. But these early Christians did not celebrate any festivals. The early Christian churches faced a lot of trouble under the Romans and the people in authority. King Constantine was a pagan worshipper and a strong devotee of sun god. But when he came to know about the power of the Cross and Christ, Cross became the symbol of victory. In his mission to unite pagans and Christians into one peaceable unit within the Roman kingdom, king Constantine introduced many festivals. These festivals and celebrations were accepted by the early Catholic Church in 325AD at the council of Nicaea. Advent came from the Latin word ‘Adventus’ which came from the Greek word ‘Parousia’. Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘the arrival of a notable person or thing’. During the fourth and fifth centuries, in Spain, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the feast of Epiphany in January. This feast celebrated God’s incarnation, Baptism of Jesus in Jordan and the first miracle in Cana. In preparation for the feast of Epiphany, Christians would fast and pray for 40 days. In the sixth century, the Roman Christians tied Advent to the second coming of Christ as judge. In the middle age, people linked Advent with Christmas. Today, we Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ during Advent season. All celebrations will be meaningful if we practice the purpose of the celebration and when the LORD God is pleased.

Today is Advent fourth Sunday, the Sunday before Christmas. While we prepare to celebrate Christmas this Saturday, I would like to meditate based on our New Testament Reading from the book of Revelation, chapter 22, verses 6 to 21. In verses 10–12 we read, “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be”. The angel of the LORD said two important things to John in verse 10: seal not the sayings and the time is at hand.

We know the book of Revelation was written by Apostle John when he was imprisoned in Patmos. The book is about the second advent of Jesus Christ as the King of Kings, LORD of Lords and the ultimate judge. Jesus revealed the end time events to John and it is the last prophetic book in our Holy Bible. We find it difficult to understand the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation because a few things are sealed and are not revealed to us. In Revelation 10, John saw an angel standing with one leg upon the land and another leg upon the sea. When he cried with a loud voice, seven thunders uttered their voices. When John was about to record what the seven thunders said, he heard a voice from heaven that asked John to seal up what the thunders said. In chapter 10, the sound from the thunders were sealed, but in our reading today from chapter 22 the angel asked John not to seal.

Why was John asked to seal up the sound from the seven thunders?

The LORD God revealed the end time events to Daniel also. Daniel had a similar vision about the end days. Daniel chapter 12 tells us why the sound should be sealed. Daniel 12:4 says, “thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased”. The verse asks Daniel to seal the book until the end time when many will run to and fro, and knowledge will increase. Here, knowledge or wisdom refers to the spiritual knowledge or the wisdom that comes from the Lord. Psalm 1:2 says we should delight in the law of God and meditate on it day and night. When we meditate on the law of God day and night, Proverbs 2:6 says “the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” We can gain wisdom and understanding only by meditating on the law of God. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. We must be well-versed with the law and word of God to stand against the devil. When the enemy tempted Jesus with the word of God, Jesus overcame temptations with the same word of God. Only when we meditate on God’s word and are familiar with it, we can overcome temptations and the devil. Daniel was asked to seal the book as God expects us to increase our knowledge by meditating on the Word of God. He expects us to receive wisdom from Him and stand against the devil to overcome temptations.

Why was John asked not to seal the prophecy of the book?

When Jesus began to preach, He said, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This fulfilled the prophetic word “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” We, the church are waiting for the second Advent of Jesus. Romans 13:12 says “The night is far spent, the day is at hand”. We don’t know when Jesus will come to receive the church as His bride and when tribulation will start. The kingdom of heaven or the time is at hand, so the angel of the LORD asked not to seal certain prophecies to prepare us for the second Advent. Verse 11 says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still”. When John wrote to the church in Laodicea, he asked them to be either hot or cold and not lukewarm. Those who are lukewarm have two choices. They can either become hot or pursue righteousness and be on the Lord’s side. Or they can become cold or follow evil and be on the devil’s side. As said in verse 11, it is our choice to choose which side we want to be in.

The whole world will be celebrating the first Advent or Christmas later this week. But for us who know Him as the saviour and the prince of peace, the celebration will be meaningful only if the purpose of the first advent is fulfilled in our lives. As we heard last week, the purpose of the first advent is fulfilled only if we bear fruits. Jesus’s birth and resurrection has real value and meaning only if we are ready for the second advent. The whole world is moving ‘One World’, ‘One Religion’, ‘One Government’ and ‘One Language’ and expecting one leader for the whole world. Antichrist will be the leader and rule the whole world for seven years. Are we ready to meet Jesus as the bride before that? Are we meditating on God’s laws and word to receive wisdom and prepare ourselves to meet the Bridegroom? Are we going to be more just or more unjust? Cleaner or filthier? More righteous or more unrighteous? Holier or unholier? Do we want to be hot in the Spirit for the Lord or go cold? Revelation 22:12 says “I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” On that day when the Lord comes, what will be the reward we receive from Him? What will be our reward during the second advent?

I pray we are blessed as mentioned in Revelation 22 verse 14: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Amen!

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