Saturday, 4 September 2010

Revelation 1:9-11

Revelation 1:9-11

Having spoken in exalted terms of the Lord Jesus and his reign it may surprise us to read of 'tribulation' and the need for 'patient endurance'. v. 9.

The kingdoms of this earth, the enemies of God: the devil, death, sin, will not simply roll over and die. They continue to war against the Lord and his Christ, and his Kingdom now established.

We need to learn this again, patient endurance, not deliverance, is the sign of the Spirit at work amongst us. Our Lord and Saviour suffered and endured patiently, if we follow him, how can we expect not to follow him here?

John describes a vision for us, note that he writes 'Write what you see in a book ...' v. 11. Sometimes it is easy to put into words what we see, sometimes it is impossible. How do you use words to describe the range of colours in a sunset? Big clue here! John is going to have to put into words in a book indescribable visions of the glory of God. If we push the words John uses into their literal sense we end up with nonsense. Literalism is not a good way to read the Bible. This is not to say that what John is trying to describe is not real, objectively real. God is real, the Lord Jesus who was slain but now lives for ever is real, but sometimes the language John uses to describe these things pushes our words to the edge of their meaning.

Symbol and story, metaphor and analogy - the tools of the poet and prophet to convey that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and the heart of no human can comprehend. Beward of readings of Revelation that try to nail all the words in this book down too tightly.

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