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Friday, April 10, 2015

The Book of Revelation

            I need to make a confession.  The book of Revelation in the Bible isn’t one of my favorites.  In fact, over the years I’ve pretty much skimmed over it, except for the beginning and the ending.  Part of it is my experiences early in my walk with Jesus and part of it is my personality.
            I was born in 1962.  A lot was happening in the USA and the world around that time.  We were facing huge culture shifts, the world was becoming smaller with TV screens bringing into our front rooms images from wars, revolutions, politics and religion.  With so much change happening, some people thought it would be good to write books about the end of the world and the book of Revelation was the source of some really crazy stuff that was written and said.  G.K. Chesterton is to have said, “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.”  I would have to agree.  What people wrote about did – and still does – seem really off the mark of what the Bible was about.  So I left it alone.
            The other thing about the book of Revelation is it reads like science-fiction.  I’m more of realist who thinks about the now and the immediate future.  I never got into the sci-fi genre of books and movies.  All you sci-fi fans out there, relax.  It’s nothing personal – I just wasn’t into it.
            But Revelation is part of the Bible.  And I think it has an important message.  So, for the last few years I’ve entertained the idea of preaching through the book….and then chickened out.  But now I’ve screwed up my courage and I’m jumping into it.
            Revelation was written during a time when things were going to hell in a hand basket.  To be a follower of Jesus was a costly thing.  The Christians of the time were an increasingly persecuted minority, often just seen as a sect of Judaism.  The Roman ruler of the time, Domitian, thought it a good idea to make himself a god, ordering people to refer to him as “Lord of the earth,” “Invincible,” “Thou Alone.”  And if you didn’t, you got punished.  Or killed.
            It’s easy to live in the here and now if the here and now is relatively peaceful.  But when life starts going sideways, we want to know what the future holds.  We want to have some hope.  And that is where the book of Revelation comes in.  It is ultimately a drama that creatively has reminded followers of Jesus for centuries that, no matter how bad it gets, Jesus wins.  Because Jesus wins and God is going to bring justice to all things, there is hope.
            Do you know anyone who could use some hope?  Invite them along for the ride as we get a glimpse of God’s Kingdom and his promises.  It’s going to be interesting.  And oh - pray for me.  I’m going to need it!
Peace and grace,