Letter from David Robertson

Brothers and Sisters,

We have seen that Covid reminds us of our mortality and our need for repentance and humility. The Australian evangelist, Glen Scrivener had an amazing conversation with the historian Tom Holland. Holland, who is clearly seeking (being sought?!) Christ, stated towards the end that he did not want to hear church leaders telling us how to wash our hands, but he wanted to hear them say what the Bible had to say about plague – as he pointed out – there is plenty!

So, this week let’s think about some more Bible verses which speak about plague – all of them from the book of Revelation – the Apocalypse. Remember last year at this time, when we were faced with the dreadful bushfires? I was walking towards Newtown station when the sky was both smoke filled and red – someone remarked, ‘it’s like the apocalypse’! It does seem as though we are living in apocalyptic times. But this is nothing new. The Apostle John received this Revelation when he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos, there was war, famine, plague and severe persecution for the church. He was the last living Apostle; Jesus hadn’t returned, and he was on an island with no water. That is the context of that sometimes most complex of biblical books. Revelation is NOT about the apocalyptic disasters – it is a revelation of the glory, sovereignty and victory of Jesus. In these somewhat lesser apocalyptic times, we need to be reminded that the message, like Jesus, is always the same.

Some simple lessons:

  1. Plague is part of this fallen world.
    Rev. 6:8
    “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”
  2. Plague should lead us to repentance – but human beings will often turn to false idols.
    Rev. 9:20
    “The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk”
  3. God’s purpose in permitting these plagues is to cause us to repent and glorify him. But we often refuse.
    Rev. 16:9
    “They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.”
  4. God’s purpose is to prepare his bride and create the new heavens and new earth – where there are no more plagues. One of the same angels who had a bowl of one of the plagues – was also the one to show John the bride, the wife of the Lamb.
    Rev. 21:9
    “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
  5. We are to take God’s word seriously – and not to add to, or take away from it.
    Rev. 22:18
    “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.”

There is much more in this book, but these will do for now. The point is that we are to look to Christ to deliver us from all our plagues. And he will. He will wipe every tear from our eyes.

This week’s resources:

  • The Scrivener/Holland interview is here.
  • Eugene Peterson has an excellent book on Revelation called Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination. Highly recommended.
  • Your song this week is from my old church St Peters – Saviour of the World is a song of the glory and triumph of Jesus – here

Finally, if you get this in time, feel free to join us at the men’s breakfast (if you are a man!)…this Saturday at 8am in the memorial hall.

Your brother,
David Robertson

PS. As usual, feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or suggestions for outreach and evangelism, or would even just like to meet up.