One curious thing about Revelation is how much “stuff” there is everything. Images are thrown at us like crazy of “things” like seven golden-lampstands, thrones, crowns, animals, harps, trumpets, seas, scrolls, birds, precious gems, and many other “things.” The question is “Why is there so much stuff?” Replying that the stuff only exists because it is a vision, and thus needs the visual aspect for the benefit of the seer is certainly not the answer. God could have provided all the content to the seer without the need for all these images; He could have merely laid the truths on the seer’s heart, revealed it through the inner man. But He chose to use “things.” Why?
What we would probably expect is what I’ve just mentioned. We would expect all the “things” of the world to have passed away in this heavenly life, and for God to move from within us to reveal His will and glory. God is, of course, without form (save the Son who took on the form of a slave). When everything is fulfilled, why would the formless God continue to utilize objects and formed things to reveal Himself?
God certainly does reveal Himself from within. He stirs the hearts of man. The Spirit moves within us and gives us the grace of faith, the grace for our first desire for God. He is constantly working in us to guide us to Truth and Life, and this all happens within the soul of man, so that from the inner man it might radiate to the outer man and thus encapsulate his whole being. God speaks directly to man’s heart. God does this in the here and now, and there is no doubt He will continue to do so in this heavenly place.
God also reveals Himself through Jesus, the God-man, who gives form to the hidden God. For the first time in Jesus we can, quite literally, converse with God. He reveals himself in history, at a particular time and place, in a particular person. We have already spoken about Christ as “Lord of History” and how by Christ we can see how God works in and reveals Himself through history.
But those are not the only ways God reveals Himself. God created all things. Each and every thing that is participates in the Being of God. Thus every person, every tree, every rock, every Toyota Prius, every cat (no dogs) reflects that Being in its own way. God speaks to us through all the “things” of Creation (again, except dogs). From our perspective, this is difficult to see. We see the decay of the world, and think nothing of God. Worse, we see the things in the world not as Created and participators in the life of God, but as things to be dominated and controlled. The reflection of God in the “things” of the world is hidden from us, only clearly accessible to few highly graced minds. But still, God speaks to us through these things. And here in Revelation, we see that this speech which only seemed the faintest whisper to us in this world is now magnified into something so glaringly obvious it is impossible to deny. Everything in heaven reflects God in brilliant radiance.
So why are there so many “things” in Heaven? Because those things are one of the ways God has always chosen to reveal Himself to us. Here they too are fulfilled, and everything reflects God’s glory in its utmost, and it will no longer be possible to deny that every “thing” only exists by Him.
“Now we begin to see what the things in the Apocalypse mean. In the realm of the incarnate Word, in the clarity of redemption, the implicit word of the deus absconditus, the hidden God, awakens, as does the divine word concealed in created things. These become pure and free. Thus all things become luminous, their message audible. That which is only sensed in the ordinary Christian existence—the oneness of the wordless, inner speech of God, his sign-language in all created things, and the Word, Christ, with his clear, spoken Message—here becomes blazingly evident.”
-Romano Guardini ("The Lord")
Every day of Lent, I am writing a reflection piece on two chapters of "The Lord" by Romano Guardini. If you'd like to read or follow along, you can find the full calendar of where we're at below, or Click Here for the main landing page.