On Earth As It Is In Heaven
David Peterson / General
Prayer / Revelation 8:1–5
Sermon type: Textual-Topical
Proposition: True prayer is always answered because true prayer involves union with God, the uniting of Heaven and Earth. When Christians engage in true prayer things happen. The world is changed.
1. Thunderstorms, the gods of myths
I. A Call to Wake Up (Revelation 8:5)
1. Physical events point us to that which is beyond these events
2. They point us to the smallness of our lives and our awareness of great things
II. The Tragic Consequences (Revelation 9:3-4)
We see here that serpents and scorpions may have been used to signify doctrinal deception because their bite or sting can cause mental delusion leading to death. Prov. 23:32–33 is adduced to supplement the imagery.
Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: a commentary on the Greek text (p. 516). W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.
Proverbs 23:32-33 NIV1984
32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things.
The Quest for Significance Can Lead to Extremes
In 2021, several psychologists made an in-depth study into what drives people to political and social extremes. This can result in beliefs in a wide range of unsubstantiated and sometimes harmful conspiracy theories. The research paper was titled “Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn.”
According to the study, bout 5% of Americans are considered “chaos-seekers.” They feel marginalized and have “an intense need for social dominance; they’re angry that they’re not on top.” There is a growing sense of anxiety that in a time of rapid change, ideological conflicts, and social unrest, they “feel their prospects in life have tanked. People who believe the system isn’t working for them.” They gravitate toward extremist views and include those on the political Right and Left.
The researchers named the model for extremism a “significance quest.” Many Americans “need to feel they matter and that their lives have purpose. These needs intensify when they feel powerless, as in times of stress and uncertainty or after a serious loss or humiliation. People will do nearly anything to restore meaning in their lives. All too often, meaning comes in extremist packaging.”
Many of the people studied reported being simply bored with their lives. “People who are adrift are likelier to seek exciting, risky pursuits that give them a sense of purpose and meaning. Diehard ideologies fit the bill.” The search for meaning led some to be “more sensation-seeking and more willing to support ideological violence.”
Source: Jena E Pincott, “Chasing Chaos,” Psychology Today (5-3-22)
III. The Answer, the Reign of God in his People
Revelation 8:1 (TNTC Re): It is possible that the silence is connected with the offering of the prayers of the saints (vv. 3–4, so Beasley-Murray) just as in 7:3 certain plagues were held back until the servants of God were sealed. The saints appear insignificant to men at large. But in the sight of God they matter. Even great cataclysms are held back while they pray. And the praises of angels give way to silence so that the saints may be heard.
300 Men Confess Pride
During the Great Awakening, when the Spirit of God revived much of our nation’s early faith, Jonathan Edwards was presiding over a massive prayer meeting. Eight hundred men prayed with him.
Into that meeting a woman sent a message asking the men to pray for her husband. The note described a man who had become unloving, prideful, and difficult.
Edwards read the message in private and then, thinking that perhaps the man described was present, made a bold request. Edwards read the note to the 800 men. Then he asked if the man who had been described would raise his hand, so that the whole assembly could pray for him. Three hundred men raised their hands.
Source: Bryan Chapell, Holiness By Grace, (Crossway, 2001), p. 80. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois
the natural may be temporarily overcome by the unnatural. But in the long run every organization collapses, and the natural endures and prevails by its own inherent strength; for life itself is on the side of the natural.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics
Every prayer and meditation, if it fulfils its meaning, namely, to reunite the creature with its creative ground, is revelatory in this sense. The marks of revelation—mystery, miracle, and ecstasy—are present in every true prayer. Speaking to God and receiving an answer is an ecstatic and miraculous experience; it transcends all ordinary structures of subjective and objective reason. It is the presence of the mystery of being and an actualization of our ultimate concern. If it is brought down to the level of a conversation between two beings, it is blasphemous and ridiculous. If, however, it is understood as the “elevation of the heart,” namely, the center of the personality, to God, it is a revelatory event.
Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology, Volume 1: 001 (p. 127). University of Chicago Press. Kindle Edition.