Friday, September 11, 2009

Revelation

Revelation 22:6-21 (New American Standard Bible)

6And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.
7"And behold, I am coming quickly Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book."
8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
9But he said to me, "Do not do that I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God."
The Final Message 10And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.
11"Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy."
12"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
13"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
15Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
16"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come " And let the one who hears say, "Come " And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
18I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.
20He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly " Amen Come, Lord Jesus.
21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

God's Word in the Book of Revelation has had a pivotal influence in my life. It is a confusing book for the lay reader. It is full of imagery and symbolism which proves difficult to understand without formal historical and theological training of which I have neither. It can be dangerous to interpret without instruction. On the other hand, it is so wonderfully written. It describes a grand event that leaves me awestruck. Oh, how I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when that angel visited the Apostle John.

The misinterpretation of the book of Revelation was the straw that broke the camel's back in my journey with the Baptist church. I was a Junior in high school and we were studying Revelation in youth group. Our youth pastor was actually naming modern day churches for the seven churches. Surprisingly enough, the Baptists were not on the list while the Catholics were at the top of his list and that seemed really fishy to me. How could a religion that has only been around for 100 years or so trump the religion that has been around for 2000 years? Why did the Catholics make his list and yet the Baptists get a reprieve? Aren't we all just sinners in the sight of God? I asked these questions. And many, many, many other questions. I wanted to see the logic behind his conclusions. And when I was finished with my questions, the youth pastor was finished with me. Things were never the same after that. I think in part it was because I could find no logic or theology to support his ideas and he knew it. I had debated him into a corner. My drift from the Baptist church began at that time. It would be another year before I felt the call to leave. And then another year before God led me to the the Catholic faith.

This past year, I had the pleasure of participating a bible study at my church on the Book of Revelation. The whole experience was a big God moment for me. A lot of it finally made sense and I had yet another confirmation(out of about a million so far) that the Catholic faith is where God wants me to be.

So why am I sharing all this on my blog? Well, I have been privy to some "revelations" conversations lately. Some of my Protestant brothers and sisters have been making references to the Book of Revelation when trying to describe recent current events. I have even heard some say that Obama is the anti-Christ. And all of this talk makes me crazy because they have missed the point! So bear with me while I add my two cents.

The big main idea I got from Revelation is that we will be judged. We will all be judged based on our works- holy, evil and in between. And we will face consequences- either good or bad. And only the individual knows his/her heart. God will know what category we all belong in based on our works (which is why the once saved, always saved theology has some holes). We must live holy lives, offering each day to the Lord, loving our neighbor as ourselves and dying to our humanity so Christ can live in us and through us. The book of Revelation is a description of what will happen to the evil ones and to the holy ones. It is a plea for Christians to be holy so that we may share in God's kingdom. I chose to include the final Epilogue from Revelation in this blog because it really does sum up what were are supposed to do after receiving this prophesy. We are to be holy and live our lives as if each day on earth was our last. And give our lives over to God's work and all our joys will lie in his kingdom. We are not to add to God's Word or take anything away from God's Word. And foremost, we are to worship God.

So, I challenge all my brothers and sisters in Christ, Protestant and Catholic alike to look at your life- not at today's current events. Jesus will come like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Our focus should not be on predicting when he will come- that is not the point of Revelation. It should be on living a holy life, loving others and dying to our humanity. I am just hoping my lifetime will be long enough to reach that goal so I can spend eternity with the Man-God whom I have fallen in love with; who loved me despite myself and then taught me how to love.

4 comments:

debily said...

Matt has spent nearly his whole Christian "life" studying the book of Revelation (and Genesis...apparently he's fascinated by beginnings and endings). And yes, there are definite correlations between what we read in Genesis and what we can see in the world around us today. Unfortunately, that has been true for - oh, say about 2,000 years. *grin* So I agree with you that the book of Revelation does have a "big picture" mentality and that we are to live our lives in a state of constant readiness because we don't know when God's timetable will be up (though I was in a Bible study this spring that has some REALLY fascinating ideas on that).
I do, however, believe in the "once saved, always saved" theology...but that's a discussion for another day. *grin*
Thanks for sharing this!

debily said...

sorry, I meant "what we read in Revelation" sheesh. That's what I get for commenting at 7:30 on Saturday morning.

The Miller Family said...

Thanks for the comment Debbi!

Trisha said...

Great insight, I always love reading your blog :)