Revelation and Advent

Upon fifth thought, Revelation is an interesting read in the Advent season.  The season is not found in the scriptures, but is a church tradition.  We are of the view that tradition is neither good nor bad of itself. As long as church tradition is voluntary and helpful, let’s go for it.  when it becomes legalistic and routine, we need to move on or modify.

Two passages stand out to us in this season.  They have in common that perspective that the Christmas event is less about sugar plums and more about the conflict of light and darkness in the world.

Revelation  4 and 5 constitute a vision of the throne room of the Almighty.  Chapter 4 affirms the Almighty’s eternity and that he is the creator and sustainer of all things.  Chapter 5 looks to redemption.

Rev. 5:1-7 ESV
    Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. [2] And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” [3] And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, [4] and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. [5] And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
    [6] And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. [7] And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne.

    There in Revelation is the difference in expectations.  Would the Messiah, the descendant of David, be a Lion or a Lamb.  Would he come and rule with a rod of iron?  or would he be smitten and afflicted?    In this chapter the two come together.  The Lion of Judah is the Lamb who was slain.  His worth and victory was by sacrifice rather than be domination.

Now for this apocalyptic view of the birth of the Messiah

Rev. 12:1-6 ESV
    And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. [2] She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. [3] And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. [4] His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. [5] She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, [6] and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

    The child (a figure of the Messiah) born of the woman (a figure of Israel) is to rule despite the opposition of the dragon (a figure of the Satan).  the time frame is not Bethlehem in the time of Caesar, but rather an future or maybe ongoing conflict.

What is interesting is that the Advent is about a powerful restoration of all things. We wonder what Revelation 5 or 12 would look like as a Christmas Card?


Revelation – No Easy Task

We are speaking on Revelation in December!  Well, “advent” refers to the coming of the Lord, and the New Testament speaks of two of those; one past and one present.

Revelation 1:3 offers a blessing on the reader of the book.  I think this is a clue that the book is to be heard.  Read it or have it read to you slowly.  Let the picture form in your mind.  Try to avoid analyzing and identifying all the parts.  That is when Revelation becomes a puzzle.  We think it is supposed to be a word of encouragement to the down and out. 

Try to imagine Revelation 4 and 5.  It is clear that the central actors in this history are the Almighty (ch4) and the Lamb (ch5).  The 4 and 24 and multitude that worship, worship them equally.

The invitation is there to join in.

Fast or Slow?

So, while in the shower (many good ideas come there) Fresh Read concluded that the year 2008 was a rapid read.  We touched upon texts across the Old and New Testament.  It is time now for a slower pace.  The current plan, subject to change due to showering, is to spend some time in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) from January to Easter.  And then to spend time with either the 10 Commandments or more likely the beginning chapters of Proverbs.

The rapid pace of 2008 is good, for it is nice to get the big picture.  However, for us it seems a bit like eating at a buffet restaurant.  The broad reach is nice, but we would really rather at times just have a good soup and some bread.

So the Soup is “The Spiritual Wisdom of Jesus” and the bread is “The Practical Wisdom of Solomon”.