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Archive for the 'Gems in Revelation' Category

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Gems in the book of Revelation

Part 122 - Revelation 1:1–3

Jesus - when will it all happen?


We have an immediate problem with the question - when is it all going to happen? John starts straight off with “what must soon take place” and “the time is near”. The full quote is “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near”.

But here we are nearly 2000 years later and it still has not happened. If IT is the end of the age as we shall soon see that in John’s thinking it is, it has not happened. And, as you may well know, the idea that the return of Jesus to this world as a conquering king is a common idea throughout the New Testament writings and almost always expected ‘soon’.

On the other hand you will probably also be all too well aware that there are many people prepared to make forecasts of when it will all end. In the 1980s I heard a preacher who confidently predicted that Jesus would return within the next 12 months. Then I heard that our church had booked him to come and speak next year!!! That was all too much of an amusing story but the difficult part was that there was a lad in our church about to go to university who was asking what the point was if Jesus was coming so soon. That is the danger of such things said by irresponsible preachers who have never come to terms with Jesus saying “about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13: 32.

Let me share my own vision of how this can be: as we progress through life we are moving along a long and comparatively narrow tunnel which is this world. Outside it, almost visible through the thin walls of the tunnel is the kingdom of God. In the far distance, showing as only a small blob of light is the end of the tunnel, which is the end of the world in which we are in. but the walls of the tunnel are so thin it is obvious that we could break out, or the kingdom could break in at any moment. Indeed one day we shall break out as we die and go to be with the Lord. Because of the thinness of the tunnel walls it is entirely reasonable to use words like ‘soon’ and ‘near’ for that moment of breakout. We think, but we do not know, that the end is the point of light so far away at the end of the tunnel

I hope that picture will help you.

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Gems in the book of Revelation

Part 121 - Revelation 1:1–3
More steps in the truth.

The settings for these gems.

Did you think we were finished with John’s Gems? No. We may have to cheat slightly by turning to the writings of what is probably another John to get the joys of the book of Revelation - but let us do that. I say a different John because his writing looks and sounds so different from the writings of the John of the Gospel and the 3 letters. The difference is obvious even in the English translation and it is even more obvious in the original Greek. But it is a wonderful book, full of gems, so here goes …..

Before we can get to the gems though we need to look at some of the gold and silver settings first. I will be trying to talk about his gems without getting caught up in any of the many different, and sometimes antagonistic schemes of interpretation that have been developed over the years. Particularly I will avoid like the plague all the many schemes that think the book is a detailed prophecy of what is happening in our day, which tend to make it meaningless for all the years up till very recently. John was writing in a way that was perfectly meaningful for those for whom he was writing. Since he talks about how people, some of the few who could read fluently, were to read the book to those who could not, I will call them his reader/listeners.

The trouble with this book in our very literal scientific age is that people are very slow to realise that it mainly consists of word-pictures. Ordinary pictures don’t make much sense if you try to describe them in words, they need to be seen to give their full value. Much the same is true of word-pictures. Some people try to turn them into ordinary pictures but you end up with some funny things like a figure with a sword coming out of his mouth without having any difficulty speaking!

So - what do these first 3 verses, “The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” say to form a gem? The whole book is given from the Lord God to John, but not directly. It comes to him, first through Jesus, who passes it on to an angel, who in turn passes it on to John. He does not explain quite how. Probably much of it was in the form of a vision, which we might call a succession of dreams. John has taken these, applied his consecrated mind to them, and come up with this long series of visions passing on ideas of how Christians are to live in the largely antagonistic world of the late first century (John probably wrote during the reign of the emperor Domitian who was responsible for the second harsh persecution of Christians).

Your reaction to these statements will depend on where you live and what your society and culture are like. If you live in a Western country you will be likely to view a book based on visions with considerable suspicion. If you live in many other parts of the world you will be inclined to like the idea and accept them as thoroughly valid. I cannot direct your thinking. May the good Lord incline your heart to learn many truths about Jesus from these pages and my scribbling!

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You can now purchase our Partakers books including Roger's latest - The Puzzle of Living - A fresh look at the story of Job!

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