Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, December 23, 2023
Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,

Persevere by Seeing the Invisible – Part 4
by David Harwood

I can persevere through hard times by focusing on that which is unseen.

For our trouble, light and momentary, is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, as we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18) 

The throne room experiences of the prophets, their descriptions of unseen heavenly realities, are meant to be imagined. That’s why color, shape, activity, and sound are described.

A great section of Scripture I can use to consider heaven’s realities is the book of Revelation. Revelation offers views of glory to enhearten the believer in times of persecution. After all, that is when it was written. Therein are descriptions of both the current and the coming experience of God’s glory.

As did some of the prophets, John described his throne room experiences. Through his descriptions I can imagine them. Here is the first throne room vision in Revelation:

Immediately I was in the Ruach; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One seated on the throne. And the One who was seated was like jasper and carnelian in appearance, and a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders dressed in white clothes with golden crowns on their heads.

And out from the throne come flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder—and seven torches of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And before the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal.

In the middle of the throne and around it were four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature was like an ox, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes all around and within. They do not rest day or night, chanting, “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot, asher haya v’hoveh v’yavo! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts, who was and who is and who is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the One seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before the One seated on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever. And they throw their crowns down before the throne, chanting, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, For You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created!” (Revelation 4:2–11) 

The reader – or the listener – is intended to imagine what is written. That means, me. I’m supposed to envision this. That’s why these descriptions were given (see also Revelation 5; 7; 8; 11; 14; 16; 19; 20). They are given so that, through their agency, the throne room experiences of the prophets can be imagined.

Revelation gives views of my future hope within the context of its description of heaven. Here is the last vision that mentions God’s throne in Revelation. It reveals both glory and the hope of glory.

Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life—bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s street. On either side of the river was a tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in the city, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. Night shall be no more, and people will have no need for lamplight or sunlight—for Adonai Elohim will shine on them. And they shall reign forever and ever! (Revelation 22:1–5) 

Recalling the immediate reality and coming glory helps the believer persevere through the hardest of times. It can help me, too. These visions are recorded to stir my imagination and help me persevere.

Therefore, my dearly loved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord—because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58) 

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 23-Dec-2023 11th of Tevet, 5784 Parashat Vayigash
Ge 47:11-27 Ez 37:15-28 Ac 3:11-26