Listen to this devotional:
Canada, as the host nation for the 2010 Winter Olympics, has set a new record for winning the most gold medals in any Winter Olympic Games. The record fourteenth gold medal was won by the Canadian men's hockey team by a single goal in a thrilling overtime victory in our unofficial national sport.
National celebrations are in order. Undoubtedly Sidney Crosby, arguably the greatest hockey player of his generation, will be hailed, remembered, and honoured as a national hero for scoring the winning goal.
As we celebrate the accomplishments of the athletes, and as Canadians rejoice in our nation's achievements, we will do well to put our physical and temporary successes into the biblical and eternal perspective. John was given a revelation of what is yet to come:
- Revelation 4:1-11 – 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. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and behind. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come."
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honour and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
- "You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being." (NIV)
Gold is chosen for Olympic medals because it is the standard by which wealth is measured in this world. The International Olympic Committee hung the medals around the necks of the victors at the end of the hockey game, and they were rightly received with broad smiles and accompanied by loud cheering.
Yet we are told that gold will also adorn the courts of heaven, and particularly the heads of the twenty-four elders. The difference, though, is that the crowns of the righteous will be laid at the feet of the Lord of glory. He alone is worthy of all glory and honour.
It is right that all people, of each particular nation, rejoice in temporal victories and honours that are honestly, fairly, and rightly won. It is even more right and far more important that we come to rejoice in the victory won, for all who believe, by Jesus Christ, who fought to the very last second in His earthly epic contest against Satan, yielding neither to temptation nor sin. After time ran out and all hope appeared to be lost, He rose up from the grave, conquering death and hell — an overtime victory! Now seated at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven, He will receive all the laurels of all who, as His followers, are also victors in the great conquest.
Prayer: For gold and glory, we give You thanks, O Lord God of heaven and earth. Hasten the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. We shall humbly cast our crowns before You, and give You eternal praise. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.