That's the Book: Revelation
Recently I had the great joy of spending a day at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. While there we saw all the greats; the beautiful ballerinas of Edgar Degas, Waterlilies by Monet, the bright eyes and cheeks in Renoir. The Homer Winslows reminded me of the bits of the Bible which tell history. Lots of color and detail which help readers - or viewers - to understand a culture and how humanity moved within it. Pretty. And factual.
We wandered through my favorite gallery where the lovely impressionist paintings live. These Van Goghs, Manet, and Monets evoke beauty and move my soul. These remind me of the books of the Bible which are full of songs and worship and poetry. Think the Psalms. Or Isaiah. Pretty Pretty Pretty. More symbols, fewer facts, still truth.
Then we wandered through the abstract art gallery. These paintings are interesting. They make viewers reflect and see things in a new way. They cause questions, challenge assumptions, and are full of symbols. They aren't supposed to be viewed the same way as the realistic paintings and they don't have the same effect as the impressionists. But they are still powerful. Just like the book of Revelations.
The book of Revelation is likely the most misunderstood and confusing books in the entire Bible. It's written by John who was one of the disciples of Jesus. He had a vision about the future and wrote it down for people to have some clue as to how the rest of human history would play out. I have a little hint for you before we dig into the book. Jesus wins.
Some of the themes which sink into my heart when I wrestle with Revelations carry me in hard days. I've got these verses posted about and when life seems too hard I read them out loud. Because the truth screams.
Jesus is the only one able to touch the problem of pain. He's perfect. Lovely. Holy. He stays the same.
And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME". Revelations 4:8
"Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED." Revelations 15:4
Pain and destruction and darkness and death loses. Justice wins. Grace wins. We win.
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelation 20:10
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
God is not done with the church. Even with her flaws and hypocrisy. He loves her. He still calls her, uses her, loves her, restores her.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Revelations 3:15-19
Endurance is a large part of what the Christian faith preaches. Don't quit faithful one.
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10
Revelations is a big, sometimes scary, powerful book with relevant messages to share with believers today. Life can be complicated. God is not simple. So the book of Revelations with all its abstract symbols and grand language gives us a glimpse into the mystery in ways the other books simply can't touch. Abstract is still truth.
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
You'll find this walkthrough especially useful. The team at the Bible Project are the very best. I told you Revelations is complicated - it takes two videos to sum up.
For those of you who are looking for book recommendations here are a few on my current or just finished reading list.
Romance, history and lots of C.S. Lewis quotes? Yes Please! This book won the Christie Book of the Year award and I'm just loving reading all about how C.S. Lewis finally fell in love.
This is the best selling fictional novel about a child who is abandoned in the South Carolina marsh. I'm listening to this one on Audible and am about half way through - so if you're one of the people who have kept this novel on the best seller list for 20 consecutive weeks don't tell me how it ends. But wowsa. Its mesmerizing.
Fantastic negotiation book. I'm going to read this one again.
Classic children's novel - fun, intelligent and clever. This is my daughter's doctor's favorite book so we are reading it for something to talk about next time we see her.
This morning at church our kid's program was a hit. It was a hilarious show, charming and all the cuteness. The plot revolved around a church putting on a Christmas show and crisis hits when the delivery of costumes is all wrong. Shepherds become pirates, Angels show up as cheerleaders and the wise men don pirates costumes. Funny. My daughter was on stage and two nephews and a niece. A whole pile of other kids I call my own. Pride for all of them.
And then Mary and Joseph hit the stage holding the baby Jesus. Joseph looked a little bewildered by all the lights. His head was down and his face was set. I'm sure the original Joseph was the same. Mary had her eyes glued to the baby Jesus. I had an overwheming gratitude for the real baby who came at Christmas. For the one who left the perfect place and joined the mess for the sake of love. I found tears dripping down my cheeks. Truth is I cry every year when I look around at the kids I know telling the story I love.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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