Posted by: New in Every Way | August 13, 2012

Here Comes the (Fair and Merciful) Judge


What comes to mind when you think of the Book of Revelation? God’s throne in front of a crystal sea? A white horse in the sky? Panic on earth? The hardest book of the Bible to understand?

Well, one day, in reading this passage for the kazillionth time, I understood something wonderful:

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. . . .

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. . . . He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.  (Revelation 5:1-3, 6-7)

The Lamb proceeded to open one seal at a time. As these seals were opened, catastrophes occurred on the Earth. These disasters, according to Revelation 11:18 and other passages, were God’s judgments against the wicked.

Here’s what struck me about this passage:  God the Judge is also the “Lamb” who died for our sins so we wouldn’t have to.

God does stop evildoers in their tracks. When that happens, we may see God as angry and vengeful. What we don’t see is all the second chances he gave them–all the ways he reached out to help them. According to statements all through the Bible, God is in no hurry to pass sentence on wrong-doers.

Rend your heart  and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God,  for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love,  and he relents from sending calamity (Joel 2:13).

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with not, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).

These scriptures show me that God is patient. But the picture of the Lamb and the scroll in Revelation 5–that shows me the width and depth of God’s mercy. Think of it–in this picture, the only one qualified to judge the world is the Lamb. The one who will do anything to save and transform us, to love us into becoming good—only he is allowed to decide our eternal destiny. Aren’t you glad?

Making It Personal

  • Do you have to be afraid to approach God with all your faults and sins? Will he write you off–or pull you out of your pit?
  • How do you suppose the Lord feels when we judge people without trying to understand and help them? (Hint: James 2:13 says, “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you” [NLT]).
  • How about accepting God’s mercy then sharing it with others? Now there’s a win-win-win situation! We win, others win, and God wins. 🙂
  • Who do you need to be merciful to?

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