Thursday, March 8, 2012

Revelation


Of all things, I have been drawn of late to study John’s Revelation.  The book has scared me since my early Sunday School days, and every time I’ve read it since—even Peterson’s The Message—it strikes me as bizarre, ungracious and brutal.  This time, I have been reading it with Darrell Johnson’s help (Discipleship on the Edge) and at last the utter Christ-centeredness that you would expect from John shines through.  Darrell has done a fantastic service to believers everywhere.  Note what Jesus says of himself to the seven churches.  Each affirmation is so profoundly personal to each particular struggle of the individual church.  Each is strong, simple, and so much bigger than our Western minds.  Jesus is the center of all creation, always has been and always will be.  One day we will all see it.

“The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands” (2:1).

“The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life” (2:8).

“The One who has the sharp two-edged sword” (2:12).

“The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze” (2:18).

“He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars” (3:1)

“He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens” (3:7).

“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning [arche, source and meaning] of the creation of God” (3:14).

The seven stars represent the whole of creation.  The seven spirits represent the complete anointing of Jesus in the Spirit.  He is the one and only person in Biblical history who received the Holy Spirit as an abiding, immeasurable gift.  The seven lampstands represent the whole church.

Take some time and reflect on what we are being told about Jesus here.  The One who is at the center of the cosmos and the church; the One who is the source and meaning of all things, the One who died and rose again; the One anointed with the Holy Spirit; the One who sees and discerns; the Truth; the Father’s Son; the true witness; the One who opens doors than none can shut; this One is in our midst. There is a reason that again and again John simply says, “Look!”  “Behold!”  No doubt, we, like the individuals and the churches in John’s day, face serious turmoil, especially in our darkness.  John’s answer is to shine the light on Jesus.  He is where the buck stops.  Jesus is where all pretentious arguments cease.  Before Him everyone will know that He knows that we know that He knows.  Jesus has overcome.  His victory is eating its way through the (and our) darkness. Meantime: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  

6 comments:

Joel Frederick said...

Amen and thank you.

Like you, I was "afraid" of Revelation. Years ago, it stopped my "read through the Bible" effort short.

I forced myself through it. Then I started hearing about interpretations that didn't seem contrary to the character of Jesus. Putting on a different set of lenses to read Revelation from really helped.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Baxter.
I really love this look at Revelations, for so long I have heard so many different twisted interpretation that I could not read it without a bias or lens that would not darken out everything the Trinity was trying to say to me. This makes so much sense. I can't wait to read it differntly now. May Jesus clear my vision enough that I may see His Father.
Tim

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking in the last day or two that we need to remember that the Book of Revelations is actually The Revelation OF JESUS CHRIST. I have yet to read it all in this light, but I'm on my way. And I thank you Baxter for the encouragement! KB

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's all about Jesus Christ. Seeing this has also delivered me from the fear of this book of the Bible. At the moment I am just reading 'Compassionate Eschatology', a serious of essays with a strong focus on the book of Revelation. One of the editor also partook in the work of 'Stricken by God?'. Highly recommended! Thanks for sharing your own journey here...

Florian
Germany

Jim said...

The book of Revelation still confuses me no matter how much Christological interpretation is inserted. Is there a cure for my fear of multi-headed beasts?

I read Darrell Johnson’s Discipleship on the Edge a few years ago. This compilation of his public lectures is definitely comprehensive, but I still remain drowning in a beast-filled sea of confusion. Upon finding out that Martin Luther’s wife Katharina von Bora was a brew master my respect for his conclusion regarding this book has risen dramatically. But questions about this book predate the Reformers. Revelation was originally included in the antilegomena. In the fourth century when the canon was finalized, it was one of the last books to be accepted universally. Some, especially in the Eastern Church, rejected it and it was not part the Peshitta.

I wonder why John would write to Gentile Churches in the Jewish apocryphal genre, especially in light of the clarity of John’s other writings. But even more puzzling to me is that in the letters to the seven Churches, some of Christ’s supposed comments to His followers (who presumably have Him living in them) do not seem to line up with Trinitarian grace but more with performance (the harsh warnings i.e. Rev 3:5). Jesus the finisher of our/their faith (Heb 12:2) potentially blotting out their names from the book of life – ouch!

Apologize for spewing my opinion, but I feel much better now.

Frank McClung said...

The book of Revelation is the revealing of Jesus Christ in a people. It's written in all pictures and symbols that tell us how the Father is going to take a remnant people (Christians) from a state of idolatry and adultery all the way into full union with the Father and the Son. If you read this book as Christ being revealed in you, not outside in world events, then you can begin to see the culmination of His plan to bring all men for all time into a complete union with the Trinity.