When the centre doesn’t hold
‘After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.’ Revelation 4:1-2
After the unimaginable slaughter of the First World War and the devastating flu epidemic of 1918, W. B. Yeats wrote a poem entitled ‘The Second Coming’ which contained the famous line, ‘‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.’.
That is certainly the way our world appears to be from our limited perspective. However, in the Apocalypse, God, through his Son the Lord Jesus Christ, gives his servant John a vision to show to his people and the world that there is a centre which holds everything together. At the heart of the universe is a throne. More significantly is the One who rules from that throne. In his triune glory, the majestic Lord holds everything together: from the furthest stars in the outer galaxies, to the smallest sparrow in the garden and, most importantly of all, his tiny, beleaguered people - the Church.
The Book of Revelation refers to God’s throne nearly forty times including twelve times in this chapter which underscores its vital importance to enable us to get to grips with Reality. Furthermore, the whole of creation finds its significance in being rightly oriented towards this throne. Everything in the vision is introduced in relation to the throne: the seven-fold Spirit and the sea of glass are before the throne. A rainbow, twenty-four thrones and the elders are positioned around the throne. The four living creatures are in the midst of the throne. And flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder emanate from the throne.
By faith we are to orientate ourselves towards this throne, knowing that the One who reigns is not only all powerful but all good. He is not only our Creator, but Redeemer. Our significance and security can only be found in our proper relationship to Him. This stands in contrast to the Lie which has dominated the West for decades, that we are better off without God and can flourish in his absence. We are now being reminded, if we did not know before, that such a Lie will be our ruin. Belief is to affirm and delight in the Truth that God is supremely real and deeply personal. He calls us to bow before his throne in adoration, surrendering to his glorious magnificence and grace, turning to him as our shield and defender.
A prayer for today
“Oh God, who knows us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the fragility of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” (Book of Common Prayer)
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