I’ve always been fascinated with magic. As a little kid I remember watching David Copperfield specials in my grandma’s living room enthralled, enraptured by the amazing card tricks, cut-someone-in-half tricks, and the run of the mill make-an-airplane-disappear tricks. To this day, I love watching magicians mesmerize. Mesmerize, that is, through misdirection—guiding our gaze, gathering our attention to actions and elements that mask their true intentions. Misdirection that renders what is right in front of us as the most difficult things to see.
Sure, misdirection is a playful magic technique, but it’s also a sinister satanic technique. Satan routinely convinces Christians that, despite the evidence before us, God doesn’t care; God isn’t here; God can’t be bothered. So don’t try.
But Revelation loudly proclaims: “That’s just a misdirection!” In fact, despite what our eyes suggest, the veil between heaven and earth isn’t as thick as we assume. It’s actually quite thin.
In Revelation 1, John is on the island of Patmos when the resurrected Christ passes through heaven’s veil to be with him (1:9-18). “Sure,” we retort, “but that was then, in the Bible, for John. How does that translate to my world today?” Don’t fall for the misdirection. Look at the text a bit closer, because an oft overlooked detail suggests what happened to John on Patmos still happens today. Every day. Even in this moment of worship right now.
“And I [John] turned to see where the voice speaking to me was coming from, and I saw seven golden lampstands. And in the middle of the lampstands was someone like a Son of Man…” (Rev 1:12-13a)
The power of this scene isn’t found in John’s gaze or in Christ’s voice, but in the answer to the question: “What are the lampstands?” The lampstands: a seemingly throw-away detail, that is, until Jesus decodes it in verse 20: “the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
The seven churches. The congregations of Christians in Asia Minor separated from John by a sea and from Jesus by a veil. A veil separating heaven and earth that we assume is impermeable. Impenetrable. A veil so thick we question if our prayers can pierce its fierce fabric. And yet, here is Christ present in the middle of the lampstands, walking amidst the churches. Among his people who are hurting and questioning. He is present even to the worshippers that fall prey to the misdirection which claims: if you can’t see God like you see the screen in front of you, he isn’t near. He isn’t here. He is distant and separate, unconcerned and uninvolved.
But that’s not true. It’s a misdirection. Immanuel (“God with us”) is present in our pain, present in our pleasure, present in every moment, whether we see him or not. For Revelation reveals that we serve a God who doesn’t hide behind heaven’s veil, but a God who walks amongst the lampstands.
- Revelation 8:1-4
- Daniel 10:1-14
- 2 Kings 6:8-17
- Ephesians 1:15-21
- Isaiah 32:1-8
- Reflection Questions/Exercises
- Take time to reflect on the past three months. Prayerfully ask the Spirit to reveal to you God’s presence in places you didn’t see. What memories come to mind? Now, do the same for six months and then for the past year, worshipfully reflecting on the thinness of the veil between heaven and earth.
- Link to Video
- Direct Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/CJgbtlNPRA8
- Link embedded in my website (sharper): https://www.shanejwood.com/yv-rev-day3/