Sunday, January 12, 2014
beginning the end
Good evening brothers and sisters,
Today we start our journey into the Book of Revelation, also know as the Revelation of John since the Apostle John is its author. While the book is unique in the Bible for it's scope of detail for the end of the world, it is part of a wider literature called apocalyptic literature. Apocalyptic literature, including Revelation, is very symbolic and visual. Often symbols are used that seem very hard for us to figure out now, but spoke very clearly to their audience about specific contemporary people or events.
As symbolic as it is Revelation will not give us a time table for how the end will be. After all, Jesus clearly tells his disciples in the Gospels that no one, not even Jesus knows when the end will come, so there's no point trying to read between the lines for a date. The important message of Revelation is that God's love and justice will win in the end, no matter how strong the forces of evil and empire seem at the moment. There are some challenges in Revelation for sure, but it is also a beautiful and pastoral vision of God finally putting an end to evil and securing permanent, just peace.
Revelation 1:1-2, 9-18
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw…
9I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11saying, “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
12Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands I saw one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest. 14His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force. 17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.