If you are coming to this post fresh off the internet, you need a brief introduction to that which will follow. I will try to set the context quickly before dropping into prediction and prophecy.
John the Apostle was exiled to an island called Patmos where he received interactive visions which are about to close out. He and an angel have been reviewing the New Heaven and the New Earth. They are standing on a mountaintop of the New Earth overlooking the New Jerusalem the penultimate city of God. Click this link for a bigger picture.
Now, though, the angel is about done with God’s assignment, and some summarization will commence.
6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” (Revelation 22:6–ESV)
The angel tells John something about words. Words are symbols representing something from another’s mind, and in this case, that mind is God’s. The angel came and spoke them for John and the rest of us, and here at the close of the conversation, he pokes in a reminder. They are true, and they are to be trusted.
People make prediction
A prediction is what we do when we look at things around us and proclaim what will happen. If a person is particularly adept at this, they will be called wise and discerning by the generous. The more skeptical will call them lucky or figure the good-guesser has inside knowledge.
At the end of the day, though, people are just predictors, and predictions imply uncertainty. I will give this lesson in the midst of the 2018 collegiate men’s basketball tournament termed March Madness. Sixty-eight teams1 emerge from Selection Sunday for this great national championship dance.
Do you know what immediately happens around water coolers, in break rooms, high schools, and offices across the nation? A mad dash to predict which team will win each of the games, and, yes, often a certain amount of betting happens as people throw their money in the “office pool.” If anyone had an infallible guide to these predictions, they would surely use it. Of course, such a guide would be more like prophecy, but that is the next story.
God gives prophecy
God knows the future and involves himself in it. When the angel declared the words trustworthy and true, he meant that they could be taken to the bank. You can bet on God’s words2. What God says he speaks from knowledge and ability. The angel reminded John that the things which he was told were infallible.
Contrast in your mind the words of God with your March Madness brackets. In 2018 an unpredictable outcome trashed most of the brackets. Think UMBC versus Virginia, that 16 seed versus the 1 seed. No one, on purpose, saw that upset coming, but that Friday night3 when UMBC won they made March Madness history for in this tournament no 16 seed had beaten a 1 seed.
God’s brackets are never busted. Are the things the angel said in place yet? No, for the future is yet to come. People, however, need reminders and so the angel gave one.
Believe the angel4
It is very nice to connect words with Ps in them like prophecy and prediction. Popping them in parallel has a nice ring, a nice cadence. Cadence does not change your life, however. What changes the life, arranging it into a hopeful, helpful experience is peering beyond the rhyme and rhythm to the background.
Consider Abraham for a minute. One time God came to him and told him to do a thing unthinkable: leave your household and go somewhere else. That somewhere else was not defined. God mainly said, “I’ll show you where it is.” Abraham could not vet God’s words; they just had to be believed.
The Bible student will be familiar with this story and more. Abraham went, right? What does the Bible say about that going? That obedience? The Bible makes it clear that this choice on Abraham’s part was a choice of faith, a choice of believing God. That belief was given considerable weight in God’s view, so much so that God credited Abraham with righteousness. God gave Abraham righteousness on credit.
What we absolutely must do now is look beyond John’s words to the speaker. That angel, that God messenger, that non-man, non-devil, God allied created being said these words are correct, accurate and as such they can be trusted. The world will tell us; maybe even fellow Christians will inform us that the book of Revelation is just too confusing. It is not. Parts are obscure, yes, but much has a helpful clarity. It tells some specifics but leaves room for faith. Just like God and Abraham. We, not being Abraham, have a different task before us. Our task: Will we believe the angel? That is between you and God, but God’s track record is a perfect one. It is also one that is still being written. Hook your anchor into his track record, have faith, and press on!