I do not know where I will go with this as I have put it aside many times as being rather ambitious for a layman and rather pretentious of me to think this book is within my understanding. Be that as it may this rather strange book, a book that is universally viewed as difficult to understand has been popping up on my “write about” list for some time now. Because Revelations has over the years been dismissed as being hard to read and understand, many writers have chosen it as a place to spin their own theories and fit their particular interpretations. This is a nice way of saying it allows their eccentricities a moment of consideration and standing. Martin Luther had a very low opinion of it and placed it with James, Jude, 2 Peter and Hebrews at the end of the list in his New Testament bible.Luther was not the only one, Reformation scholar, Huldreich Zwingli, also had a low opinion of the Revelation. I will not go into their reasons but more than just a few questioned its right to be in the New Testament. I will say that one of the more common reasons for its problem of inclusion was most people were stressed by the number of people who found it confusing and, being unintelligible. But there has always been people who find the book to be a triumph of a literary masterpiece and find St John’s writing even though at times difficult and hard to understand as a piece of pure art in the New Testament.
We can consider this book to be unique in the New Testament as to its content and the way it is constructed but there is a basic fact here that must be considered. It was last yet it was first. Unique it may be in the New Testament but it represents the growth of a type of literature that was common between the Old and New testaments. We know one name applied to the book of Revelation and commonly used is Apocalypse. The real point of interest here is that this apocalyptic literature grew out of Jewish Hope, the indestructible knowledge that they were God’s chosen people’. They believed that the day would come when they were supreme, they longed for their King, who would lead them to greatness.
As I continued to read and research Revelations I will continue to share with you some points of interest that a surface read won’t reveal. The Jews continued to hold close to their hearts that they were the chosen people of God but their history up to this point was one of defeat, bad leadership and a history of disasters which no human person could ever deliver them from. Sometimes when we can’t adjust to the way the world is, we readjust the world to fit our sense of being. This is what the Jews did. They divided time into two ages, the present age and the age to come. They felt the present age was bad, going nowhere good. They longed for and awaited with great certainty the the age to come. They awaited the Day of The Lord, sinners being held accountable, this then would signal the coming of the new age. The sin of the present age, the period of uncertainty that exists between now and the coming of this new age with its blessings, this is the meat of apocalyptic literature. It can contain dreams and visions of the end, the meanings being mysterious or obscure or confusing and most always mystifying. So for now we will read a bit more and try to understand what we have read so far. This is a challenging read and it is acknowledged by many theologians and scholars of apocalyptic literature to be a masterpiece of writing in this medium. We Christians are always on a journey to perfection, to prepare for the Lord’s Day. Can we find that time to come laid out before us in Revelations? When the first become last and the last first. Next week we will turn a few more pages of this Book.
Life is Good
Study Sources: NIB, Webster’s Dictionary, The Writings of William Barclay