From our Pastor
At one time, while leading a group studying Revelation in the Disciple Bible Study, I went to the room early and turned up the air conditioner, turned off the lights setting up candles to study by, and then went around the room hanging different Christian symbols. As the group came in, they entered into a cold, dark room lit only be candles and lanterns. I copied this idea from a graduate school professor who told our class that you should ALWAYS study Revelation in the catacombs because that was the people to whom it was written.
Revelation was written to a church that was under some severe persecution, often to the point of death of the believers. As such it was forced into hiding and one of the places they would hide to worship and study together was in the graveyards, or catacombs, of the area. As a general rule these were the poor and slaves of the community who had little to hang hopes on and yet had come to believe and hope in Jesus Christ. That belief was so powerful that they risked life and limb to worship together even if it was in the dark and secretive places of the town. Discouragement and out right fear surely were everyday characteristics of their life. In short it was not the best time of their lives.
In the midst of this darkness comes a vision of what living in the full glory of God would be like. A vision of life in a new world, a new heaven, even a new holy city of Jerusalem in the brilliance of God’s glory. It was a vision of hope and promise that strengthen the Christian church and carried it into the future that opens the door of life and love to us today.
I smile when I read somewhere about the prediction someone has made from the readings in Revelation. They will pick out this scripture or that one and using them as a description of life today to say the end is at hand. The biggest problem I have with that is the fear and heartache those proclamation bring with them. Revelation was never written as a book of fortune telling, it was and was always intended to be a book of hope and vision for the church. At one of the evilest times for the church, its vision helps the church see beyond the present stress of the day to the future victory that God will bring. The prediction in Revelation has less to do with the trials and tribulations we will meet as much as it does in the focus of God’s inevitable victory. Regardless of how rough life might get we live in confident hope the ultimate salvation will be achieved through God’s grace and love.
The church of Revelation staked their entire existence on that hope regardless of how hopeless it must have seemed at times and how thankful we should be that they did. Their witness shines down the centuries to give us hope and confidence even through the issues of today that God’s love will win out in the end and the glory of the victory will be far beyond what we might believe it to be today.
In Christ’s love,