Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Revelation 1

    It is the nature of Apocalyptic literature to weave its narrative through visions and images. In some ways it is like a 80's music video: pounding music with wild and fantastic imagery. The author, John, was the Apostle in the Asia Minor region of the Roman Empire (modern day Turkey). The seven churches that are addressed in chapter one (1:11) are all in this region and are likely congregations for which John had spiritual responsibility before his exile to Patmos. It helps me to remember this because at the heart of this book is the spiritual concern for these congregations from one who was their spiritual leader. This book speaks to the hope and eventual freedom of a harshly oppressed people.
     Chapter One contains one of the passages used in the funeral liturgy: "I am the first and the last, and the Living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever: and I have the keys of Death and of Hades." The seven stars, seven lamp stands and the seven angels are all representational figures for the seven churches. It was believed in Old Testament times that each nation had an angel (the angel for Israel was the Archangel Michael). Thus, the image of an angel watching over a particular spiritual community was a common image in the first century. C.S. Lewis, in his book Out of the Silent Planet carries this image to each planet having an angel watching over it.
     Notice in 16 that Jesus holds the seven stars (Jesus holds the churches in his hand). We know from elsewhere in the Bible that the "Word of God" is a sharp two edged sword (so a sword coming out of Jesus mouth is simply the word of God) and he, being the light of the world, would logically shine like the sun. All of the images for Jesus in 1:12-16 are common images culled from the Old Testament.
     Notice also that when John falls at Jesus feet, Jesus lifts him and tells him "do not be afraid." In some ways the theme of Revelation can be summarized by combining verse 7 "Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him," and verse 17b "Do not be afraid!" Jesus is coming . . . that is the good news!

1 comment:

Rachel Vuaghan said...

I was thinking of Lewis while reading this. I'm glad you mentioned him and the Space Trilogy.