Apr 1, 2016

A New Series for Easter Worship

This coming week we will begin a new worship series on the book of Revelation. The Series Title is: “Revealing Revelation: Easter Worship Series. In a shameless over-simplification, the Bible is a narrative drama with God as the author, producer, director, and main character:

1. Creation—Genesis
2. Covenant—Exodus to Malachi
3. Christ/Messiah—Matthew to John—the Gospels
4. Church—Acts to Jude
5. The Consummation—The Apocalypse of St. John the Divine

God will bring history to a worthy conclusion when the creation which de jure (by right) belongs to God’s realm will de facto (in fact) “become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

The author is John who does not identify himself other than as a servant, a brother:

[1:1] 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, Rev. 1:1

 [9] I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Rev. 1:9

[8] I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me (Rev. 22:8).

The book of Revelation is about both visions and auditions. Revelation was written around A.D. 90-96, while Christians suffered persecution under the Roman emperor Domitian. John addressed the one letter to seven churches: To the churches facing persecution, Revelation was a word of hope to inspire courage. To lukewarm churches, Revelation was a call to return to faithfulness. For all churches, the message was that only faith in Christ would sustain them in persecution.

Revelation contains three literary forms: apocalypse, prophecy, and letter. The message of Revelation is threefold:

1. Jesus Christ gained an ultimate victory over evil.
2. The powers of evil are still active in the world.
3. The faithful must struggle in the face of evil. God is in charge of human history.

In reporting his visionary experiences John frequently uses symbolic language. Sometimes John explains the meaning of the symbols. Other symbols really need no explanation: for example, the number seven (used 57 times in the text). Everyone knows that there are seven days in a week; then another week begins. Thus seven means completion or perfection.

Other symbols in Revelation can be understood in the light of the symbolism used in the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. It is clear that John had studied the Hebrew Scriptures [OT] thoroughly.

For this reason the book of Revelation is a very good summary of the whole of Scripture. Of the 404 verses that comprise the 22 chapters of the book of Revelation, 278 verses contain one or more allusions to an OT passage. John has so meticulously pondered the OT that when it came to recording the import of his visions of God and heaven, he expressed himself by using phrases borrowed from the prophets and writers of Israel. Therefore, in attempting to understand John’s symbolism, we must consider not only the book itself, but also John’s use of the Old Testament.

New Yorker Cartoon:

Man carrying a placard (sign board) that reads:

“Yesterday in this space I predicted that the world would come to an end.  It did not, however.  I regret any inconvenience this may have caused.”

I hope you can get into this most fascinating and for some fearsome book of the Bible as we explore it the next six weeks.



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