I really wanted to tackle Revelation like a hard-hitting journalist. I was going to dig in and get specific. And then I got intimidated, so now I’m going to intimate more like Oprah. I tried to be witty, there, but I’m not making an excuse for my laziness. Anyway, here goes…
I’ve had dreams before that leave a sort of… halo, for lack of a better word, for hours. They might have been disturbing or just too strange to comprehend. Knowing how a brief, vague dream can affect me, I can only imagine how John’s revelation must have made him feel. I’m not sure my sanity could stand up to such a vision. Revelation always frightened me. It’s gory. It’s violent. It’s weird. And I can also sympathize with the skeptics, here. Be honest – what would you make of someone saying these kinds of things today? If Revelation doesn’t frighten you, it’s maybe because you don’t take it seriously or literally or because you’ve learned to read it without emotion. I’m all for objectivity, but I think it can lead to a disconnectedness sometimes. I know I use this coping mechanism and occasionally find myself disturbingly unmoved by… well… something moving.
Anyway, here’s the thing about fear: I’d rather know what I have to fear than have some abstract, dark shadow looming overhead. one of the messages I hear in this book is that while it is true that some of us will live painful lives and die painful deaths, the circumstances of this life will only have power over our next if we let them. Maybe that sounds like that disconnected coping I was talking about earlier, but I’m not trying to minimize anyone’s suffering. In a bad moment, maybe that promise doesn’t feel like comfort. How many of us can really look past this current life to find the comfort promised in the next? I hope I can when I’m facing something terrible. Revelation does end in a beautiful and comforting way, but it’s pretty hard to see past all the long-term pain and suffering and oppression. Still, we live with all of those things now. I’m not sure we’ll recognize these prophecies when we see them. I’m not even going to guess about how they might appear to us. What I don’t doubt is the intensity and importance of Revelation’s call to live righteously. Whether I understand or can reconcile these things and no matter what my fate, I believe that I should live as lovingly, honestly, faithfully as possible.
All that being said, there are some things I struggle with in Revelation. I can accept the truly awful things written about the world, the fantastic, odd things that will come to pass, but some of the things that it seems to say about God are harder for me to accept. “…the great wine press of the wrath of God…” (Revelation 16:19) sounds horrifying. Is all that blood really necessary? Also, in 21:15 we’re told that Christ will rule with a “rod of iron.” My discomfort on this one stems, I suspect, from my feeling that people should not hold that kind of power… that it’s corrupting. But of course, we’re not talking about human nature here. I think it challenges our trust. How willing are we to be ruled? It also challenges us to reconcile obedience and freedom.
Oh, dear, no one is going to be able to follow this wandering-brain post. Ah, well. Read Crystal’s most recent post, instead. It is as cohesive as mine isn’t and very challenging. 😊