Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nov 20th Revelation 14:1-11

Revelation 14:1-11 (NRSV)

Fear God and give God glory

Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.

Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth - to every nation and tribe and language and people. He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."

Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."

Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, "Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, they will also drink the wine of God's wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name."

I have been challenged to blog about scripture. This is the scripture passage of the day as prepared by the ELCA. I am going to see if I can comment on the passage of the day every day. I am doing this as my own way of familiarizing myself with Scripture and as a way for readers to join in on this journey. If there is anything that Christians need to know is more of the Book of our faith.

As many know, Revelation is not my favorite book of the Bible. But a colleague Suggested that the Book of Revelation for early 2nd century Christians is about like our watching Star Trek—it was a way of working out present-day issues in the future. For the 2nd Century Christians the future would be when Christ came again and would over-turn history. The Second Coming was the time when Christ would be king. This was not a heavenly kingdom—it was an ending of human history.

For the past couple of weeks in church we have been hearing much of the coming wrath of Christ. We are coming to the end of the Church year—the symbolic Parousia, the Second Coming. This Sunday we celebrate the final Sunday of the Church year—Christ the King. It is not surprising that we have words of terror.

But Revelation is not a book of terror as some would have us believe. It is a time of hope—a time when Christ will again be present to us in a palpable way. It is a time when all our history will come to fulfillment—all the work of those who have gone before us. The 144 K is not the number of who will be saved. Any multiple of 12 would mean that the lost tribes of Israel will back together with all their offspring. That is the time when the Messiah was to return.

We need to hear the words of Revelation as those 2nd Century Christians heard John’s vision—that Christ is coming and is already among us. It is not a time for gloom, sadness, guilt or fear. It is a time for us to know more clearly of what Christ’s presence in our lives means.

As we prepare for Advent let us not wallow in guilt—but know the saving love of Jesus Christ who has equipped us for his coming. We need but welcome him into our hearts.

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