It seems rather strange to consider a flying angel holding something that is said to be “everlasting.” It seems a paradox, a contradiction, that the words “flying” and “everlasting” should be used in the same context. Yous see, to read of something flying brings to my mind that which is moving, fleeting, passing. It is the opposite of that which is permanent or everlasting. In fact, the very act of flying suggests changes of altitude, direction and environment. Thus, the angel the Revelator sees and describes is not some sedentary, stationary figure. He is in constant movement – “flying.” Yet, in the hand of this flying angel is something that John says is not moving. It is something that is constant, changeless, permanent, eternal – “the everlasting gospel.”
How can I make sense of such a strange conjunction of complete opposites – that which is always changing with that which never changes? It is simply by understanding this truth – the best test of a thing’s permanence is to see if it changes when the scene that surrounds it changes.
Imagine a place where the wind never blew and the floods never rolled and a bird never flapped its wings. Imagine a place where the foot of man never disturbed the dirt or an animal’s hoof never trod a trail. In such a stable, stationary atmosphere it would not be surprising to find a book that had remained just as it was for many, many years. It wouldn’t be all that exceptional.
If, however, you were to transition to a scene which is constantly changing and that book remained as it had always been amidst blustery winds and rains, and the constant travel and turn of foot and hoof alike, that would be something to see. Why? Because it would be something permanent amidst the fleeting, the changeless in the midst of constant change. It would be an enduring, abiding sight in the middle of a transitioning scene.
That is the everlasting nature of the gospel that John saw and recorded for us. It is also the same scene which can be seen still today. The Buddhist has an ancient religion, but his wingless angels don’t fly and men are all dead in his strange land. In his land there are no winds or waves or even pulses. Everything is as stable and silent as a graveyard. But my Lord walks on the waves in the midst of the storm. He is out amongst the tempest and is not drowned. He wraps Himself in the fire of the furnace and is not harmed. He watches over the hearts of the wayward, wandering and wondering without ever changing Himself.
That’s one reason why I love my Savior so much. You see, I live in a land much like that angel John saw. I live in a place where everything is constantly and continually changing. Scenes are shifting. Fortunes are fleeting. Moments are quickly passing away in the world where I live. That’s why I need Him – for my weakness and weariness, troubles and trials, searching and sighs – for my pains and my problems.
I need Him who never changes for the constant transitions of my life – from Cana to Calvary, Bethlehem to Bethany, Galilee to Gethsemane. I so desperately need Him with me on that path that others can not tread. That’s why I proclaim with Peter, “Command me to come to You on the water!”