April 25, 2009 on 6:54 pm | In REVELATION FOR BEGINNERS | Comments Off on JUDGMENT WITH MERCY (Ch. 1:14a)

As we observe the unique portrait of Jesus in Revelation 1, how does it strike you? Does it seem uncomfortable or scary to see in Him both justice and mercy blended? Or does it give you some security to know He is not a doormat for the devil, but will one day make all things right, correct all injustices, etc.? In chapter 19 we see Him destroying all opposing forces at the end of time, seemingly without mercy. But that is still future. In chapter 1 we still see Him exercising both justice and mercy. Judgment is not yet without mercy. Aren’t you thankful for that? His judgments at this time are more like warning shots across the bow to wake us up to eternal realities.

But to come to our current text, Revelation 1:14. How does this description symbolize both justice and mercy? First it says His hair is “white like wool, as white as snow.” To deal with the justice aspect first, and remembering that there are many allusions to the OT in Revelation, we are taken back to a similar description in that other apocalyptic book of Daniel. In chapter 7:9 and following, it portrays a judgment scene being set up in heaven with books being opened and decisions made as a result. It says the garment of “the Ancient of Days” was “white as snow, And the hair of His head like pure wool.” Since Jesus Himself is labeled as the “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6, it would appear that Jesus is beginning to take on the role of judge here in Revelation as He stated in John 5:22, i.e. the Father committed all judgment to His Son.

Fortunately for us, this justice aspect is still mingled with mercy. But how can this symbolism show that part of His character? It seems to me Isaiah helps us here as well. In chapter 1:18 he records a wonderful promise: “Come now, and let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” If we take advantage of His intercessory ministry going on now in heaven, we can receive His mercy still. As it says in Hebrews 7:25 and 4:16, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.” “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” At the same time, He reminds us that He doesn’t play games. In Exodus 34:7 it tells us that He keeps “mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”, still “by no means clearing the guilty.” But, you say, aren’t we all guilty? True, but I believe it is here referring to those who reject His offers of mercy. There is no universal salvation. We all have the power of choice. That is perhaps why at the very close of the book of Revelation there is an invitation to respond: “The Spirit and the bride say come.” The decision is ours. What is yours?

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