GRACE NOTES: Rev­e­la­tion

The Covington News - - Religion -

Have you ever been con­fused by the Bi­ble?

Ever been scared by some­thing you’ve seen or read there? At the be­gin­ning of the year here as we think about im­prov­ing our lives and get­ting into and stay­ing in good habits ( hope­fully they’ve lasted more than three weeks), I pray that many of you have com­mit­ted to read more of your Bi­ble this year. But as you do, are there things that con­fuse you? Are there things that you’re not sure what they mean?

With all that God has given us in His Word, I’m sure that there’s some­thing in there that would fit that de­scrip­tion for each of us, no mat­ter how many times we’ve read that book.

But to­day, I want us to look at a book of the Bi­ble that I think is more feared and more mis­un­der­stood than any other. It’s that book all the way at the end, the last book of the Bi­ble writ­ten, the Rev­e­la­tion of John.

Have you heard of the book? You know, that’s the one that has the Four Horse­men of the Apoc­a­lypse, the bowls of wrath, the dragon and the plagues and the beast, the “ End Times” and all that.

What’s your im­pres­sion of it? It seems to me that for too many of us, our im­pres­sion is wrong. That stuff is scary, and if that’s what we think of when we think of this book, we’re missing the mark.

Read the pur­pose for which Je­sus tells John he gave him this book to write down in Rev­e­la­tion’s first verses: “ Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is writ­ten in it.” He says that we are blessed, happy, bet­ter off when we read this. How about that? Rev­e­la­tion was not writ­ten to scare us, but to com­fort us. It was given to the apos­tle John when he was an old, old man in ex­ile on the is­land of Pat­mos. It was for John to share with the be­liev­ers who were be­ing per­se­cuted by the Ro­man govern­ment at the time ( that’s why John was in ex­ile). Je­sus tells John this vi­sion he sees is ex­plain­ing to him “ what is now and what will take place later” ( Rev. 1: 19).

Je­sus had to show John “ what is now” be­cause so of­ten we don’t see what is re­ally go­ing on. We just see what is vis­i­ble to us. God is much big­ger than that. So Je­sus showed John a se­ries of vi­sions de­scrib­ing the fear­some things that were go­ing on now ( the false teach­ings, Satan’s attacks on the be­liev­ers and on the church, govern­ment per­se­cu­tion and even in­ter­nal strife).

But no­tice that in each of these vi­sions – he also shows the vic­tory that Christ and His Church have over all that junk. And the same thing goes for when he de­scribes what is to come. Yes, it will look like the sin­ful­ness of the earth is get­ting worse, but God is in con­trol and has the fi­nal vic­tory. That’s why there are so many pic­tures of the throne and the praises of an­gels and the vic­tory of the lamb and all the rest.

Of course, there’s no way to cover all of Rev­e­la­tion’s com­fort in this short col­umn, but I want to in­vite you to read it in the way it was in­tended ( as John ex­plains in the first chap­ter) and see it as it re­ally is, a book of com­fort and joy. See in it the vic­tory of Je­sus over our sin and shame and the peace of His eter­nal prom­ises of our heav­enly home.

Come join us for our Bi­ble Study se­ries on this book Sun­days at 9: 15 a. m. May God bless you as you get in His Word this year and see the strength and joy it gives you!

Jonathan Scharf is pas­tor of Abid­ing Grace Lutheran Church in Cov­ing­ton. Full ser­mons and more in­for­ma­tion can be found at www. abid­ing­grace. com.

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