Thursday, July 1, 2010

Intro to Revelation

Rev. 1:1-7 (ESV)
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, [2] who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. [3] Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
[4] John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, [5] and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood [6] and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. [7] Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

So we begin Revelation. (By the way, Revelation, not Revelations). This book relegated to antilegomena by the early church has ascended to the height of being the second and final book in the American Evangelical two book canon. That is, it seems this book and James are the sum total of what the average evangelical reads in the New Testament, or it has become the lens through which the rest of the Bible is to be read to find support for fantasies.
I am a bit ambivalent when it comes to Revelation. I have read it not a few times. I am more or less convinced that it was written by St. John the same one who wrote John, and the first letter of John. But I don’t like the way that it is abused today in so many “churches.” I will be relying on Brighton’s commentary on Revelation put out by Concordia, though I also hope to gain some insights from Theodore Kliefoth’s book “Christliche Eschatologie” A book I have been meaning to read for some time now. I will not be advocating the continuance of the Jewish Myths Paul warns Titus about (Titus 1:14). That is the Pre-millennialists the postmillennialists, and any assortment of Chiliast will not find here a friend.
This book as far as I can tell was written to be a book of encouragement and comfort to the seven churches of Asia as they were about to experience an excruciating persecution, one of the first and worst to be recorded in the history of Christianity. It was written in codified and picturesque language his hearers would have understood better than us today. It was not meant to be a book to spread a spirit of fear and trembling.
It certainly starts on a gospel note, praising Christ as the first born of the dead and ruler of the kings on earth. That is even Caesar would finally be accountable to Christ. He has “freed us from our sins by his blood.” That is he has forgiven us. In doing so he made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.” Here again we see the priesthood of all believers. That is all who believe in Jesus Christ are priests, who offer sacrifices of thanks and praise to God, and intercede for our neighbors with our prayers. This though is not the same as holding the office of pastor. In fact the confusion brought on therein is one reason Lutherans don’t usually call their pastors priests. The pastoral office is different than that of priest, though not divorced from it.
Then we are told that our lord is coming, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him. That is not just believers but unbelievers also. On his account all tribes will wail, “even so Amen. “
This is peculiar. John has mixed emotions it seems concerning the coming of Christ. We look forward to it as Christians. But there is an aspect of this day that should bring fear and dread. So many do not know Christ, so many will perish that day. It is somewhat terrible to think about. Yet there will be joy that day, and believers will have a sense of justice being done. The world that persecutes us will in the end receive their just deserts. We will be spared though from our just deserts, and for that we will be extremely grateful.

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