The aging disciple John recorded the best expression of “destiny” that I have ever known. This, glimmering sliver of hope expresses a word picture of the moment God’s people sync in a marvelous show of faith and triumph:
“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Revelations 15:6).
This status update juts out from a foreboding, prophetic forecast as if to say:
We interrupt this program to bring you this important message: ‘Don’t worry, but get ready.’
As we wade through the stream of destiny, each of us even within our distinctive array of concerns and challenges, bound together in a manmade murk of injustice, climate dysfunction, and financial malpractice, must determine how we’re going to ride this thing out.
This interluding vision, is instructive. On one side of it though, John wrote about a winepress overflowing with blood— symbolic for God’s wrath against the wicked. And on the other side, angels release plagues upon the stubborn wicked, those who’ve made it clear that they have no intention of ever loving or living for the Almighty God. In the middle, however, we see something so strange and wonderful, God’s people standing on a sea of glass. Maybe “sea” here is a metaphor, but we see the word “sea” used before to describe the large pool, set upon brass oxen made for the priests to wash in while serving in Solomon’s Temple. It was actually a body of water. There’s a sea before God’s throne. It could be that John’s record woefully attempts to describe something never seen before—a sea of glass mingled with fire, and people standing on it!
John’s vision reminds us of his time with Jesus. Remember the night in the boat when he witnessed Jesus pad atop the raging waves against the roaring wind, in the early morning hours, (see also John 6:19, Mark 7:49)? Peter, whose earned reputation for impulsivity and impetuousness, risked all. He asked for permission to come to Jesus, and without thinking jumps into miracle dimension, defies gravity, surface tension, the wind and the waves!
I’ve learned that it’s not until you attempt to stand on an unstable surface that you gain balance. It has to be achieved and negotiated in real time, the whole time. Negotiating an unstable surface is said to strengthen the muscles in the eye as you focus on an object in the distance, because the eye’s perception of the periphery shifts with every movement. And, rather than working on autopilot, the brain is constantly working with the body to manage each move as safely as possible. Mind and body cooperate, attuned to the coordination necessary. But, to walk on water, required spiritual focus, balance, and coordination. And, Peter like some of us now, was new to that, and the moment a wave eclipsed his view of Jesus, Peter sunk like a drowning rock.
Those were not metaphorical waves, nor merely a physical moment, but a spiritual one. Peter’s balance and mastery was wholly dependent upon his faith and focus on Jesus. To lose sight of Him, was to just lose. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14), the Bible says, and being spiritually minded, then, “is life and peace,” (Romans 8:6).
Flip back to the people on the sea of glass, and what makes them able to stand. They have the mastery in all things spiritual in particular, in their warfare through the Holy Spirit against Satan. They stand on the sea of glass, victors:
- over the beast ( Satan, the warring, false god and teachings),
- over the image of the beast (any entity, and the central end-time entity associated with the false teachings of a false god)
- over his mark (any bearing or demeanor, or resemblance, or assent to the false god), and
- over his name (the penumbra of fear and reverence around the false god).
“[T]hese are the ones who follow the Lamb [Jesus] wherever He goes . . .” (Revelations 14:4). While the world runs amok in investing schemes, doomsday preparation, violence and distrust, make sure you keep your faith in Jesus in focus. One day, we’ll see each other as we roll, instinctively, upon the imperceptible waves on a sea made of glass and fire.