Even a brief consideration of what is happening in the world is enough to chill the strongest heart. What do we hear of every day, every week, every month and every year? It is the same ugly story—war, violent crime, terrorism, suicide, famine, deadly diseases, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and fatal accidents. In one sense it is not surprising that people try to escape from reality by drugs, alcohol, orgies and other forms of distracting pleasures. And it should not surprise us when those who are not fully committed followers of Christ look at the world, then listen to us talk about the God who is in control of all things, and then challenge us by saying something like, “If your God is in control, then what in the world is God doing?” Or, “what kind of God would be in charge and allow all this?” Perhaps you even ask such questions yourself.
Part of the answer is that the ruin in this world comes from human sin. God never tempts or impels anyone to sin (James 1:13). If you and I sin, that is our choice. We think it is a superior choice, prefer the pleasure it offers, and so willingly choose it. But human sin is only part of the answer, because obviously the God who is in charge could easily stop all this ruin immediately. Therefore, we must seek from the Bible the answer to this important question!
A problem was announced in heaven (5:1-4). A challenge resounds from God’s throne (5:1-2). What is the scroll? It is the message of God’s eternal plan. It reaches from eternity to eternity, proclaiming God’s purpose to reveal his glory—in judgment to his enemies and in grace to his chosen ones. So then, God issues a challenge to all creation. He asks everyone, who can open up my plans? (Think of a rolled up set of blueprints.) Who can make them known or bring them to fulfillment? Who can show my surpassing significance or worth?
The Holy Spirit tells us of the inability of creation to meet the challenge (5:3-4). A search of everything in creation revealed the complete unworthiness of all creation. No one has the capacity to disclose and develop God’s great plan. You cannot explain reality by starting from yourself. You are a created being. You are too small; you lack power; you are unworthy.
John’s response was to weep and weep. I do not think he was weeping out of frustration of not being able to know the future, but out of a sense of loss of meaning and purpose and destiny. This is the condition of many in our world. People have been smashed by modern and postmodern ideas. Humanity is nothing. There are no morals, no destiny and no hope. Go ahead and manipulate people, or fabricate news stories in the media. You are free to satisfy your cravings for whatever you feel the urge to communicate or to do! If you understand this sad state of affairs, weep. Yes, weep for people who have no ultimate meaning or significance.
However, the living God does not tell us this in order to abandon us to despair. He speaks so that we can understand our insufficiency. Perhaps then we will desire to listen to him, not for entertainment, or not out of religious obligation, but out of desire for his perspective and plans. As you begin a new work week, listen to what God communicates to you.
Grace and peace, David