Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1.3)
The British writer, G.K. Chesterton, once said of Revelation that ‘though St John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his commentators.’ The book of Revelation arouses diverse responses. Some are obsessed with it, looking to find a pattern that will offer a chronology of world history in neat, easy steps. Others, choose to ignore it feeling it is irrelevant to present day faith.
I believe Revelation is one of the most relevant biblical texts for our time. The issues it addresses are the perennial issues that face the church: complacency, compromise, and sometimes hostility. This year, for Advent, we have chosen five texts that can speak to our time and our church. We believe they fit with the message of Advent given by the angel of Joseph in Matthew 1.23:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’
John the Revelator’s hope for the future is based not on some hidden discovery of exactly how the end will come, but on what always has been the heart of Christian faith: that we need not fear the final outcome of history, for we have seen its face in Jesus Christ.
Each week during Advent this blog will feature some DID YOU KNOW fast facts as well as some links to works of art and music that give expression to the book’s message.
DID YOU KNOW?
John, the writer of Revelation, was exiled on the Roman penal colony of Patmos, about a six hour boat ride from the mainland.
Revelation includes seven beatitudes (1.3; 14.13; 16.15; 19.9; 20.6; 22.7,14).
The number seven as used in the Bible is often a picture of totality and perfection.
The lampstands in chapter one symbolize the church.
Christ appears dressed in the garments of a high priest.
Revelation has inspired many visual artists, poets, songwriters, and novelists?
HYMNODY: ‘Praise the One who breaks the darkness ‘ StS 1
VISUAL ART: Artist: Jan Massys (Flemish, 1509–d. ca. 1575)
Title: The apocalypse of Saint John the evangelist on the Island of Patmos 1563
Pray: Identify where you are currently experiencing fear or uncertainty. Identify where you see hope. Name those areas to God. Then imagine Jesus standing before you, speaking the words of Rev. 1:17-18 directly to you.