May 21, 2012, 4:56 PM

With all that is on my heart, this blog should be over running with Revelation entries!  Perhaps it has just been an overload so that nothing has come out of my "pen"?  Whatever.  For this moment, I want to recap where we've been, in an overview kind of way.  We began by trying to lay some groundwork.  Trying to stay away from the imagination and energy hogs when it comes to this book.  I said to you that there are two extremes that should be avoided:  Seeing the book as a mere political statement against the Roman Empire on the one pole, and on the other, the Left Behind/ "Prophecy Experts" hermeneutic.

Interpreters on the left usually get bogged down, ad nauseum, in the Empire approach.  The Revelation, they pontificate, was just a clever way of sticking the collective finger in the eye of the oppressors.  Everything in the book then becomes a contemporary statement/critique of the poilitics of the day.  I must say, I think that I have arrived at a point in my study of the book where I am throwing all of that stuff in the trash can! It is simply not compelling any longer.  It is irritating, as a pastor, to see the great amount of biblical material that has gone into this last book of the Bible; to see the ways that the themes of the OT have been so purposely woven into the fabric of the book; the way Jesus Christ has been so gloriously revealed in all of Scripture; and the way that the book brings the entire Canon to a logical, definitive and theological conclusion.  No, don't water this book down with politics!

On the other hand, the Left Behind approach doesn't seem to me to do any better in sizing up the terrain.  The left behind approach seems to take isolated verses and throw them together to create a fantastic story that doesn't show any rootedness in The Story.  It doesn't seem to take seriously the task of identifying the genre, and grasping how Scripture fits together.  Building another temple in Jerusalem?  More sacrifices in the Millennial Kingdom?  Jesus failing again after a thousand year literal kingdom on earth is disturbed by one final rebellion?  Glorified and un-glorified humanity co-existing in a future reign of Christ before the big one?  No.  This is not taught in Scripture.  It has been super-imposed on to it by very creative Bible teachers.  (Not questioning salvation here!)

BUT, I must admit, faced with an option of Left Behind or cold liberalism, give me Left Behind.  Rapture practice anyone?

The book of Revelation is a book that speaks to you, here and now.  The book of Revelation ties the whole Bible together.  Without Revelation, you have no ending to the story!  Without Revelation, you have no divinely inspired commentary and exposition (in one place) of the rest of the Bible.  The book speaks to you, now.

I can say that because the letters to the seven churches (Rev. 2-3) make it clear that the Spirit is speaking to the Church, still.  Not saying anything new.  Just reminding and poking and prodding believers to grow deeper and mature up.  What a concept!  Seven churches; seven concrete situations; seven messages representing a message to the entire church of all time.  Great stuff!

Who can forget the Lion & the Lamb (Rev. 4-5).  Wow.  The center of the Faith.  The Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world.  The Lamb of God executing the plan of God.  Bringing to fulfillment all of God's promises.  Enabling the purposes of God to come to fruition -- the New Jerusalem.  The new heavens and the new earth.  The Garden of Eden restored.  All things put aright!

And, of course, the seal judgments (Rev. 6).  How we focus on judgment, missing the point.  All of the bad things; the negativity, etc. etc.  (You say, "weird."  You say, "too violent."  You say, "not my God, no way, mmm, mmm, mmmmm.")

My suggestion to you was to see the judgments as surely from the hand of God -- but judgments that are brought to bear as humanity rejects the goodness of God.  As someone has wisely noted:  There are no punishments; only consequences.

This past Sunday, we looked at the interlude between the 6th and 7th seal judgments (Rev. 7).  What a consolation that God reveals in the midst of history; in the midst of the messiness of life and everything seeming to point to disaster; the protection of God towards those who love him!  We are, indeed, the apple of his eye!

Oh, there is so much more!  This upcoming Sunday, we will be looking at the reality of spiritual warfare (Rev. 12).  The existence of evil in the person of the adversary, the devil.  Satan, as we will see, is the great counterfeiter.  Everything God has done, he, the enemy, tries to duplicate for the purpose of deception.  But, don't worry; this is not a modern day horror movie.  Evil doesn't win!

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