Monday, May 3, 2010

The End

It has been over a year. We had special events some Sundays, so teaching and preaching through the books of the Bible each week has taken us this long. A nearby Bible college professor gave the best quote I’ve heard about the Bible recently:

“I’ve read the end of the book, and we won.”

Everyone is tempted to read the end of a novel to see how it turns out, and in this case it certainly helps to know who the players are and how we got to the end spot, doesn’t it?

There are so many ways people look at the book of Revelation. Some say it is history – this is what happened in the first century and John was writing it down. Others say it is allegory – this is about the eternal struggle between good and evil and it happens every day in different ways.

In his complete rewrite of the New Testament, Thomas Jefferson dropped the entire book of Revelation, considering it "nightly dreams." In August, 2006, the current pope stated: "The seer of Patmos, identified with the apostle, is granted a series of visions meant to reassure the Christians of Asia amid the persecutions and trials of the end of the first century."

A Public Broadcasting System presentation "
Apocalypse!“ sub-titled "The evolution of apocalyptic belief and how it shaped the western world," ascribes the futurist view as “A new mode of interpreting Revelation beginning in the early XIXth century. It grew mostly out of Protestant theology with a strong reforming element, both in Britain and America.”

PBS puts the wide-spread acceptance of this view to the Scofield Reference Bible, ending the presentation “Understanding The Book of Revelation” with: “More than any other ‘future history’ interpretation, this one has had the most impact on current literalist interpretations of Revelation.” I must admit, I do own a Scofield, but did not realize its importance!

A family member once told me she was afraid when she read Revelation during a study at her church. It was “scary” to her, and I certainly can see how it could be. It is, however, the only book of the Bible that promises a blessing when it is read or heard:

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. [Revelation 1:3 KJV]

The history view does not hold up. What John describes has not happened, even if looked upon as an allegory. The view that the book is an allegory would have to also ascribe that view to Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah and Paul’s writings where they speak of end times. There are people who do so.

I accept what John said as his reason for writing.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. [Revelation 1:1-2 KJV]

I believe he wrote what Jesus said.

Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; [Revelation 1:19 KJV]

And, I, too, have read the end of the book.

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. [Revelation 22:20-21 KJV]

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