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3rd October, 2006

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Righteous jealousy

We have all heard of “righteous indignation” or “righteous wrath”; most would consider righteous wrath a virtue rather than a vice. We believe God would approve of our blood boiling when we hear blasphemies — as we do constantly on TV sitcoms — or see atrocities. Perhaps we even feel, with David, that there is such a thing as “righteous hatred” (Ps. 139:22). Naturally, a serious Christian would want to understand exactly what David meant by such a statement before he or she even contemplates indulging any kind of “hatred”!

Well, as I was reading chapters four and five of Revelation recently I felt myself stirred with righteous jealousy. I read these verses:

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God (4:4-5).

What lucky ducks. Here are you and I, stuck on planet earth, constantly facing puzzling situations, surrounded by every imaginable evil, unable to see God, except through faith and seeing His works of creation; there they are in the very presence of the infinitely glorious God and bathe in His spectacular brilliance! What lucky beings indeed! And what they have seen over the course of millions of years — the creation of the universe; dinosaurs doing their dino things; asteroids striking earth; they watched Jesus Christ's every movement as He fulfilled God's mission, healing people, raising the dead, comforting the bereaved; they saw the look on Mary Magdalene's face when she realized Jesus had been raised. Oh, what would I give to be in their place.

Yet these twenty-four elders are “only” created angelic beings of some kind. Consider this utterly staggering thought — out ultimate potential is to be exalted above even these supremely fortunate, happy creatures:

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:1-2).

Where are the angels said to be “like Him”? Nowhere. The glorified Jesus — God's “user-friendly interface” between glorified saints and God in all His glory — is much higher than angels. Yet we will, in some real sense, be “like Him”. Unbelievable. The Epistle to the Hebrews gives us a keyhole glimpse into the glory unimaginable that awaits the righteous saints, followers of Jesus Christ:

But to which of the angels has He ever said: "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool"? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Heb. 1:13-14).

Those that minister to the heirs of salvation are not as great as the heirs themselves. And contemplate this simple logic: why would God now, after creating angels long ago, create creatures with lesser potential? It doesn't make sense. No, we are created in the image of God with the promise of being crafted into His very likeness. Note Hebrews 2:10:

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Like Jesus, we are “sons” of God. (Though He is a Son by nature while we are sons by “adoption”.) Jesus is the captain of our salvation. We are heading for glory and an intimate, personal, father-son relationship with God that will make even the twenty-four elders “righteously jealous”. What lucky creatures we are.


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