revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his
servants what must soon take place; he made it known by
sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to
the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even
to all that he saw.
Blessed is the
one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed
are those who hear and who keep what is written in it;
for the time is near.
John to the
seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you
and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn
of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,
and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and
Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
Look! He is
coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come,
Reflection on Revelation
by John Gibbs, PhD
We live in lake country. Because we live in lake country there
is a good chance that the apocalyptic text for today can make
sense to us. It is the nature of apocalyptic to disclose to
us more than one level of meaning, and to present us with many
images and reflections of reality.
Lakes do the same thing.
Lakes dare wooden-headed literalists to stick stubbornly only
to water, snails, turtles, fish, birds, underwater plants, algae,
Secchi-disk readings, and Trophic State Indexes. However important
all these may be, we who live in lake country can say: "If that's
all you know about lakes, then you do not yet know our lakes."
If all you can do with a lake is take it literally, then you
have never let that lake tell you all it has to tell.
Take Lake Peysensky, for instance, where Nancy and I live.
Our prospect on it is mostly south and southwest. On a quiet
autumn late-afternoon her smooth surface reflects instant miracles
of colorful diversity that exist on lake surface no less than
in the panoplied sky above its setting sun. There's not just
one lake shore filled with lavenders, reds, and yellows, but
two. Our lake gives back to us a whole second sky, and thereby
awakens our imaginations until we begin to behold a heaven here
below. From the lake we get a new meaning for the petition in
the Lord's Prayer: "on earth as in heaven." Any other lake presents
as many images and reflections of reality, for those who have
eyes to see.
The opening chapters of the book of Revelation set before us
two figures: "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness" exalted above;
and here below, the whole Church represented by seven congregations,
the number seven symbolizing "the whole thing." John's letters
to these seven congregations propose and urge that the whole
Church on earth truly reflect the one incomparably faithful
Witness. Here below on the surface of space/time the pattern
of our life together begins to reflect the will of God being
done on earth as in heaven.
The Church cannot live willy-nilly, nor grow like Topsy. There's
a pattern for our life together, and that is the character of
"the faithful and true witness" (3:14). If Jesus Christ is "the
beginning of creation" (3:14), then the Church lives on earth
as a people that is responsible for the environment that God
created. If Jesus Christ is "the first born of the dead," then
the Church lives like wide-awake participants in the new creation,
rather than like dead people who only "have a name of being
alive" (3:1-3). If Jesus Christ, who ruled by being the Servant
of all, is "the ruler of the kings of the earth," then the Church
learns from that faithful Witness how to govern, how to administer
its own affairs, and how to model a management lifestyle that
serves people and does not tyrannize them.