apocalyptic literature

scary monsters

Over a timespan of about fifteen years, I had a recurring dream.  I might even call it a nightmare.  It involved McDonald’s, where I worked when I wasn’t away at college.  In the dream, I would be at various locations.  I might be at home, or maybe I’d be driving my car.  And in the back of my mind was this nagging fear that I should be at work; I should be at McDonald’s.

In the dream, it was always the case that it had been days, even weeks, since I’d showed up for work.  I would have the feeling that I needed to go to the store and check the schedule.  Was I in fact supposed to be there?  But I don’t remember ever making that trip.  Instead, I would wake up and realize, with a great sense of relief, that I was now at seminary, or later on, that I was now pastor of a church.

1 dn

I haven’t had that nightmare for a long time now.  Banu once told me that I was subconsciously expressing my fear of working at McDonald’s for the rest of my life.  I believe there’s something to that!  At a deeper level, though, I think McDonald’s represented my sense of not moving forward.  It was a symbol of my feeling being trapped.

I say that because, after graduating from college, I worked there for over two years before going to seminary.  No doubt reflecting my Pentecostal influences, I was dead set on waiting for God to speak to me, to tell me what to do.  Lord, please give me a sign!  Give me a dream; give me a vision of what I need to do!

Please note, I’m not blaming the Pentecostals for my wrong-headed understanding.  That’s on me!

And of course, all the while, the Lord had implanted within me the calling that I needed to follow.  But I was resistant!

Maybe I would have been satisfied with what we see in the reading in Daniel.  We’re told that Daniel has a dream.

Starting with chapter 7, the last part of the book of Daniel is what’s known as apocalyptic literature.  (The word “apocalyptic” literally means a “revelation” or an “uncovering.”)  The book of Revelation is in that category.  (Surprise!)  Apocalyptic books are like movies with all kinds of weird special effects: dream worlds, cosmic calamities, and yes, scary monsters.

It’s been said, “One could say, calmly and rationally, that the world is a bleak and dangerous place, or one could make the point more fully and dramatically through apocalyptic fantasy.  The latter…will more quickly trouble and terrify us (as they did for Daniel), which is the point.”[1]

Think about it.  Even though the parables of Jesus and apocalyptic images aren’t exactly the same thing, they do serve similar purposes.

For example, Jesus could talk about grace and give us a definition.  He could call it “a free gift” or “an undeserved reward.”  He could do that, or he could tell a story about it—say, a story about a son who asks for his inheritance, shames the family, goes abroad and squanders the money, and after all that foolishness, after all those mistakes, is welcomed home with a lavish banquet.

I ask you, which of those makes a bigger impression?  Which one helps you to better understand grace?

And going back to those delightfully scary images, what would become of horror movies?  A documentary-style warning about the hazards of traveling alone on dark roads in the forest just doesn’t get the juices flowing.

So, even though apocalyptic language can be troubling and terrifying, that’s not the end of the story.  These images of mighty angels and stormy seas really do tell the story of God’s people being delivered from the foul beasts that would keep them down.  And those “foul beasts” are typically of the two-legged variety, the ones who walk around upright.

2 dn

The reading in Daniel has been chopped up.  Verses 4 to 14 have been deleted.  The Old Testament is often dissected to suit the purposes of the church.  It being a text for All Saints’ Day, the lectionary zeroes in on verse 18.  “[T]he holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever—forever and ever.”  Those holy ones are the saints!

Still, we need to pay attention to the dream—or should we say nightmare?  Daniel seems to think so.  Look at the way the chapter ends in verse 28: “I was so frightened that I turned pale, and I kept everything to myself” (Good News Bible).  He was so scared that he looked like he’d seen a ghost (and he probably soiled himself).  And he wasn’t going to tell anyone about it.

He sees four great beasts rising from the sea.  In ancient Hebrew thinking, the sea was a symbol of chaos.  Who knows what’s down there?  This is a symbol that is primordial.  It goes back to the chaos at creation.  This is “darkness [covering] the face of the deep” (Gn 1:2).  So, toss in the tempest, and you really do have some chaos!

There’s some question as to which kingdoms the four beasts symbolize.  People pick among the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans.  The point is, all these empires in one way or another persecuted the Jews, the people of God.  Or in apocalyptic terms, they’re scary monsters that tried to gobble up the holy ones.

John Collins says that “the vision functioned to give hope to the persecuted Jews.  This rather trite statement, however, does scant justice to the power of the vision, which attempts to shape a whole new view of history.”[2]  Daniel’s vision shapes a whole new view of history.

It can be difficult for us to realize how powerful this is.  Imagine the audacity of this powerless group of people.  They’re just one nation among many that have been swept up by the empire.  How dare they show this holy defiance?  How dare they tell their own stories?  They’re supposed to agree with the official version of history, one that lets them know they’re less worthy, one that puts them in their place.

As the church, we have inherited that legacy.  Still, we have to watch ourselves.  We have to be careful about how closely we identify with the qualities of, not Greek or Roman, but American empire.  Believe it or not, we aren’t immune to acting like the rest of the human race.  We too can imitate a beast ready to devour.

We have here the story of that great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1).  It’s the story of the faithful from every walk of life.

It’s the story told in the hymn, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.”  Referring to the saints, the second stanza ends like this: “And one was a soldier, and one was a priest, / And one was slain by a fierce wild beast: / And there’s not any reason, no, not the least, / Why I shouldn’t be one too.”

Yes, that’s right folks.  There’s not any reason why I shouldn’t be slain by a fierce wild beast!

3 dnThis is the story of saints past and present—and we can say, of saints yet to come.  It’s the story of the faithful from every background.  It’s the story of those who have faced all manner of scary monsters.  (Even one symbolized by a fast food restaurant!)

Here are some questions for us.  What are our scary monsters?  Are there any great beasts that fill our dreams with terror?

In a sermon Banu preached one time, she dealt with Goliath the giant.  A quote from her sermon was, “When you focus on your giants, you stumble.  When you focus on God, your giants tumble.”  How does that translate into scary monsters?  How do scary monsters come at us?

Here’s another way of framing it.  Are we trapped by the past?  Do we carry around undeserved guilt?

Chris Gehrz speaks of All Saints’ Day as a call and opportunity “to be a steward of the past.”[3]  We’re called to be stewards of the creation, not only in space, but also in time.  All Saints’ Day “underscores the importance of preserving [the] past against the erosion that comes with the passage of time.”  We are called to remember—and to remember well.

This may come as a shock, but there are those who like to zap us by unfairly reminding us of our past.  They would have us remember, but not remember well.  Still, I fear that at some level, that tendency resides within all of us.  But to the extent we give way to that tendency, we only speak from our own fear, our own insecurity.  We are not speaking—and being—from a place of love and hope.

In Christ, those voices of accusation are silenced.  In the face of the glory of Christ, they have nothing to say.

4 dn

[pixabay.com]

In Christ, the great beasts, the scary monsters, are rendered toothless.  We’re given a whole new view of history.  We are ushered into the communion of saints, the holy ones of the Most High, who we join in receiving the kingdom and possessing the kingdom forever and ever.

 

[1] www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=714

[2] John J. Collins, Daniel (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 324.

[3] www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2016/11/all-saints-day-and-the-stewardship-of-the-past


royal revelation

What do you think of when hear “Revelation”?  And yes, it’s “Revelation,” not “Revelations.”  It’s very easy to know the difference.  Just look at the name in the Bible!

1 rv

As might be expected, many people’s reflections deal with confusion, crazy creatures, future disasters, scenarios of the rapture—a theology, by the way, which is built on a single verse (though not in Revelation) and given an extremely questionable interpretation.  But I say, “as might be expected,” because much of the teaching on the book of Revelation presents horror-movie-like themes, including 666, the number of the beast.  Folks have all kinds of fun with that one!

And then, there are the timelines of the future.  People have taken plenty of tidbits from the book and devised their own interpretation of “what soon must take place,” as it says in verse 1.  I have heard many sermons in which sober reflection has been tossed to the wind.

So having said all that, we need an approach with humility.  “If you’re unwilling to live with any uncertainty, you’re more likely to read into Revelation things that are not there.  Beware of interpreters who appear to have all the answers to even the small questions.  ‘Experts’ who claim absolute knowledge about every detail of Revelation should immediately raise suspicion.”[1]

“Revelation” means “apocalypse.”  And apocalypse: oh, that’s another fun word!  What does our popular culture make of “apocalypse”?  What do we see in movies and on television?  The aftermath of nuclear war?  A global pandemic?  Zombies walking the earth?

2 rvApocalypse refers to a revealing, an uncovering, a showing of what was hidden: indeed, a revelation.  Pablo Richard adds that apocalypse “is not neutral: what the wicked and the oppressors cannot understand is revealed to the upright, to the childlike, to the oppressed.”[2]  It’s a gift to those who love God.

As the book begins in verse 1: “The revelation of 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.”  The revelation, the message, is intended for the servants of the Lord.  It is sent, via angel, to God’s servant, John.

In fact, in Matthew 11 for example, Jesus uses the word “apocalypse.”  “Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants’” (v. 25).  The word has been “revealed” (απεκαλυψας, apekalupsas) not to those who think they know, but to the humble—to those who are as humble as infants.

And these humble ones are blessed.  There are seven beatitudes (“blessed”) in Revelation.  (In the book of Revelation, seven is a number that appears over and over and over.)  Verse 3 says, “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.”

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud.”  This was read to the community as part of worship.  That underlines something about the entire book.  Revelation, as much as anything else, is a book of worship.  Add to that, “blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it.”  Blessed are those who hear.  Blessed are those who, in church, stay awake and set their cell phones on vibrate—or turn them off altogether!

If it wasn’t clear already, “We were not the intended audience of Revelation,” as Eric Barreto says.[3]  It wouldn’t make sense to have a book directed to people in the distant future.  Verse 4 says John sent his message “to the seven churches that are in Asia.”

I think most of us understand that the scriptures were written for the people alive at the time.  Still, they have enduring meaning as the inspired word of God passing down through the ages.  Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying.

The problem with Revelation is the symbolism which would have been familiar to most of John’s audience, now speaks a language we struggle to understand.

Perhaps we weren’t the intended audience of Revelation.  Nonetheless, “This is the word of God for us today.  They are words for us, however, by the means of some of the earliest believers in Christ Jesus…  Thus, these opening verses invite us to read the rest of this text in light of the everyday experiences, struggles, and successes that marked these early Christian communities.”[4]

There’s a whole lot more in this introduction to the book, but I don’t want to spend too much time on it.  I want to consider what today is: Christ the King Sunday (also called the Reign of Christ.)  What is this day all about?  What does it mean to say Christ is king?

The book of Revelation is addressed to Christians near the end of the first century.  Two or three decades before them, the emperor was Nero, a man who insanely persecuted the church, as well as a bunch of other people.  Now, Emperor Domitian picks up where Nero left off.  He takes things even further in how he wants to be addressed.  He demands to be called “our lord and god.”  (Here’s a guy with a real messiah complex!)

3 rv

As you can imagine, Christians are put into an extremely awkward, even deadly, position.  Do you simply go along, do the expected duty of a patriotic citizen, even if your heart isn’t in it?  You could avoid the unwelcome attention of the state.  Of course, there is that little problem of allegiance to Jesus Christ.  How do you reconcile those competing loyalties?

John’s words are meant as both encouragement and expectation.  “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come” (v. 4).  Okay, maybe there’s no problem there—not exactly, anyway.

Then we have this: “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (v. 5).  There’s plenty of stuff there to give someone pause.

How much of this is set in stone, so to speak?  Isn’t there a little wiggle room?  Jesus is called “the faithful witness,” so this really is a message from God.  He’s also called “the firstborn of the dead.”  No one, not even Domitian himself, can legitimately claim to have been resurrected.  Here’s the kicker: “the ruler of the kings of the earth.”

It’s a common thing to hear it said, “Our church doesn’t get involved in politics.  We avoid political issues.”  I can go along that, if what we’re talking about is promoting one candidate over another.  But for the Christians in John’s time, “lord” and “god” and “savior” are not only spiritual terms, they’re also political terms.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is inherently political.  The good news of salvation is intrinsically political.

That’s not a bad thing.  “Politics” is a neutral term.  In fact, it used to be taught in every school!  What is “politics”?  What is “political”?  The way we structure our society—the way we shape our values in our social contract—that is political.  “Politics” becomes a dirty word when we act in bad faith, when we employ manipulation and deception in furthering our own narrow ends.

4 rvMany applaud the idea of a “private faith.”  But don’t you dare live that out in the world!

The choice between Christ and Caesar obviously didn’t begin with the church in the time of Domitian.  In John 18, there is Pontius Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus.  There’s a debate over whether or not Jesus is a king.  He says, “My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here” (v. 36).

Pilate realizes Jesus isn’t scheming to have him overthrown.  Jesus continues, “I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  Pilate replies, “What is truth?” and then he walks out the door (vv. 37-38).  He’s really not interested in getting involved in this religious squabbling among the Jews.

Keep your faith to yourself; don’t bother me with it.

Of course, there is a problem with that if we follow the example of John the Revelator, who was exiled to “the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (v. 9).  He hasn’t kept his faith to himself.  The powers-that-be wanted him to go away.  He made his choice between Christ and Caesar.  For those who confuse the two, consider yourself as having received fair warning!

Bruce Metzger, in his book Breaking the Code, has his own cautionary note.  “Revelation…has a warning for believers down through the years.”  It speaks “of the idolatry that any nation commits when it elevates material abundance, military prowess, technological sophistication, imperial grandeur, racial pride, and any other glorification of the creature over the Creator.”[5]

So again, what does it mean to say and to claim Christ as King?

Do we affirm the inherently political nature of the gospel, the good news, in a way that is holy and ennobling?  Do we take a cynical, unholy approach in a way in which we worship our own tribe?  Of course we will have disagreements, but are we mindful of the one we would serve as King?  Do we celebrate the peace of Christ, or do we celebrate the peace of empire—be it Roman or as empire exists today?  (A lot of questions, to be sure!)

Claiming Christ as King means loyalty to one who redefines the meaning of family: “pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Mt 12:49-50).

5 rv

When we are welcomed into the family of God—the one who is the Alpha and Omega—we receive a royal revelation that we belong to Christ the King.  That is an apocalypse to be celebrated.

 

[1] zondervanacademic.com/blog/how-read-revelation

[2] Pablo Richard, Apocalypse: A People’s Commentary on the Book of Revelation, English tr. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1995), 37.

[3] www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1623

[4] www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1623

[5] Bruce Metzger, Breaking the Code (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), 88.


daylight in the domain of darkness

Christ the King.  This is a rather strange day on the church calendar.  It comes at the end of Christ the King
the long season that we call “Ordinary Time.”  (Side note: It’s called “ordinary,” not because it’s routine or run of the mill or just plain boring.  It got that name because the Sundays are listed with “ordinal” numbers.  The 10th Sunday, the 30th Sunday, and so on.)

This is the final Sunday before Advent, when we commemorate the first and await the second coming (that is, the advent) of the Messiah.  This Sunday seems to be preview of things to come.  This young one will one day become the King of kings.  Walter Brueggemann said we can think of it as “a launching pad for Advent when we await a new king with a new order of reality.”[1]

The reason I call it a “strange day” is because Jesus never claimed the title “king” for himself.  It was always others who called him that, whether in joy or in judgment.  We see that in Luke 23, “The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’  There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews’” (vv. 36-38).  Those are not words of praise!

As for the ones who call Jesus a king as a matter of praise and joy, it looks like we’re in that category.

Maybe you can help me with this.  I’ve seen plenty of churches of various denominations which are called “Christ the King.”  But I don’t recall ever seeing a church called “Christ the Prophet.”  I wonder if we’re more comfortable with kings than with prophets.

Kings speak to our fascination with power.  None of us have been, or ever will be, a king or queen, but I think it’s easier for us to wrap our heads around the idea of monarchy.  In some ways, it represents the American dream of being able, and encouraged, to climb the ladder.

Does anyone remember the show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, hosted by Robin Leach?  They would show swimming pools inside of bedrooms, people with an entire fleet of Maseratis and Lamborghinis, private reserves stocked with animals from all over the globe, taken from their natural habitats.  It was basically Robin Leach drooling over the one-percenters.  Still, that show is hardly the only example of that sort of fawning!

Psalm 49 says with a note of sarcasm, “you are praised when you do well for yourself” (v. 18).

The point is, we can deal with kings easier than we can with prophets.  To the extent that we identify with the powers that be—and with the privileges that come with it—to the same extent we do not identify with those who point out the flaws in that, those who criticize our comfort with power.  We just want to say to them, “Please go away!”

Having said all of that, it should be clear that Jesus is not that kind of king.  His kingdom is not of this world.  His kingdom takes this world and turns it upside down.  In celebrating Christ the King Sunday, we celebrate that new reality, even if we at times have some serious problems with it.  It calls us to account for our lives, to account for the sometimes questionable things in which we find solace.

We can see St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians as providing the biblical and theological underpinning for all of that.

That “new reality” I just mentioned is something the apostle attributes to God, “who has enabled [us] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light” (v. 12).  That’s not an inheritance, as Banu would say, that would get us a Rolex watch, a BMW, and a swimming pool.  The inheritance of the saints in light is something too mind-blowing for that.

image from farm3.staticflickr.com
The problem for us is that we struggle with, we resist, the new reality.  That’s the reality in which God “has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son” (v. 13).  The Revised English Bible calls it “the domain of darkness.”  We resist the new reality, God’s new reality, because we too often love the darkness.  That is, the part of us that is less than truly and fully human, the part that wants to reject redemption and forgiveness.  That is us, loving the darkness!

Why is this a text for Christ the King?  That bit about the kingdom of the beloved Son has something to do with it.

And then there is the paragraph, verses 15 to 20, beginning with, “He is the image of the invisible God.”  Image of the invisible.  Imagine that!  Ponder that one for a while.  There’s something about that only art or music can capture.  In fact, these were the verses of a hymn that the early church sang.

He is the “firstborn of all creation.”  The word for “firstborn” is πρωτότοκος (prōtόtokos), which is where we get our word “prototype.”  So Jesus, not simply the flesh and blood man, but the Christ who fills all things, is the prototype of all creation.  If that doesn’t fit the description of king of all kings, I’m not sure what would!

That passage is an awesome meditation on the glory of Christ.  I really encourage you to go back and read it and just sit with it.  If you can, use a couple of different translations.  Let it sink into your mind and spirit.  It’s okay if you have trouble understanding it.  I certainly don’t claim to get it all.  But see what happens.

There is a problem, however, with claiming Christ as our king.  Subjects of a monarch are expected to do certain things.  They’re supposed to fall in line.  Brueggemann says, “Celebrating ‘Christ the king’ is easy until we try to embody our citizenship.”  It’s easy to do in worship; it’s not so easy when we try to do it physically, out in the world.

Remember though, Christ is not the kind of ruler we’re familiar with.  This is a kingdom, or queendom, that is inside out.  It isn’t based on force, but on love.  This is citizenship which isn’t compulsory, but is a loyalty flowing from joyful obedience.  And in many ways, acting out of love is more difficult than simply following orders.  It asks so much more of us.

I said earlier that we tend to love the darkness.  I’m afraid that in this past year, we’ve seen that infect our citizenship as Americans, and what’s worse, as members of the church of Jesus Christ.

A few days ago, an article was published by Jonathan Martin, who is a pastor at a nondenominational church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[2]  He speaks of the darkness he has seen revealed in our country, and especially the darkness revealed during our presidential election campaign.

He starts by talking about encounters he’s had with people who are afraid of what’s been going on, people who fear the future.

He wonders, “Does it feel like the world has turned upside down and inside out?  Does it feel like people whom you love and know — good people — almost seem like they are under some kind of spell right now?  Saying odd hateful, hurtful things you can’t account for based on your history with them?  Does it feel like we are under some sort of powerful…mass delusion?  Are you shocked, not only at what is being said, but what is not being said by Church leaders whom you have known to have a heart for justice, mercy and truth?”

Crazy pills

To be honest, I also have wondered about that.  Have all of us been taking crazy pills?  2016 has been an insane year.

Martin talks about something I mentioned recently, and that is the idea of the apocalyptic.  In the Bible, “apocalyptic” is defined as “revealing” or “unveiling.”  And it uses some bizarre images.  He says, “This is apocalyptic time…when the hearts of men and women in America are being revealed — deep divisions that have long been present are being exposed.”

This is more than mere political and cultural divisions; something darker, more sinister is at work.

He continues, “Apocalyptic time drives the demons that have been hidden in the darkness into the light.  It is now-there-is-no-place-to-hide time.  It is a time for principalities and powers to be exposed.”  But there is good news which goes with it.  The apostle Paul says that in Christ “all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him” (v. 16).  Those forces which are bent on evil, and on warping us, still must answer to Christ the king.

But again, there’s our tendency to love the darkness.

In the Hebrew of the Old Testament, one meaning of the word “satan” (שטך) is “the accuser.”  Thinking of God, we would say that God is not simply loving; God is love.  In a similar way, Satan doesn’t simply accuse; Satan is accusation itself.  In this apocalyptic time, when principalities and powers are being revealed, Martin says, “In our absurd blame of people who are not like us, people we deem as other, we actually consort with dark spirits.”

We invite those forces which make us look like we have gone crazy.  We can’t explain it rationally.

He doesn’t side with conservatives or liberals, but he does feel compelled to point out some things about our president-elect.  His campaign made it a priority to single out certain groups of people for unwelcome attention, to put it much too lightly.  Scapegoating and accusation, pointing of the finger and blaming are becoming the rule of the day.

The resulting terror this inspires in people is the fruit of those thrones, dominions, rulers, and powers.

But guess what?  In our Lord Christ “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (v. 19).  Pleased to dwell!  Not grudgingly, not reluctantly, not because it’s my job, not “I might as well get this over with,” but pleased to dwell.  This is what I live for!

And guess what again?  Through our Lord Christ “God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (v. 20).  There we go again.  God was pleased to do this.

What can fear do when faced with unrestrained joy?  Daylight dawns in the domain of darkness.

One more note from our friend Jonathan.  “So finally, for the preachers, dreamers, artists and poets; for the pastors, lovers, and would-be truth tellers: in the chaos of so much rage, violence, and racial injustice: you must, must, must, must not cower before the agents of fear, when you are an ambassador of heaven.”

If we are ambassadors of heaven, if Christ is truly our king, Christ must also be recognized as prophet.  A prophet speaks truth.  A prophet speaks truth to society.  A prophet speaks truth to the church.  A prophet speaks truth to us.  But this isn’t the truth of petty accusation, of dividing into us versus them.  That is the truth of Satan.  And Satan’s truth is a lie.

Our king, our prophet is undeterred by our stubborn rejection of the inheritance of the saints in the light and our stubborn rejection of redemption and forgiveness.  That’s fine; there’s no giving up.  Our king, our prophet, speaks the word and will not let us go.

HPIM0860

That is the daylight in the domain of darkness.

 

[1] Walter Brueggemann, “A New King and a New Order,” Christian Century 109:31 (28 Oct 1992): 963.

[2] medium.com/@theboyonthebike/you-want-it-darker-on-race-trump-apocalypse-and-the-need-for-more-prophets-than-priests-48b683d187b#.czj1f8wvw

[The first photo is "Walking from darkness into light" by Andy Teo; the bottom one is from our front porch in November 2009]


Revelation revelations


We’re about to delve into the book of Revelation in our Bible study. It’s probably the book of the Bible that has received the worst treatment. (By the way, it’s the book of Revelation—not Revelations.) We’ll be using as a companion Bruce Metzger’s Breaking the Code.

It’s understandable why this book so often gets mishandled and basically looks like the storyline for a horror movie. Apocalyptic literature has dramatic and vivid imagery. (“Apocalypse” itself means “uncovering,” “unveiling,” or “revelation.”) That’s why it lends itself so easily to misunderstanding and mistreatment.

Isn’t it interesting how a revelation can be so obscure?