Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Revelation – yes, that Revelation!

Every so often, we used to get oversized postcards emblazoned with fantastical monsters, horrifying creatures that looked like something you’d see in an old Japanese monster movie, but these postcards weren’t about movies – they were announcements for a local seminar on the book of Revelation. Even though there wasn’t a prominent indication of where these cards came from, they were from the Seventh Day Adventist church. That knowledge alone was enough to let me know what I could expect if I attended one of these seminars, but I never went to one, because I don’t happen to believe Revelation is a scary book at all.

My wife is one of the leaders of the youth group at our church, Hopewell United Methodist, in Milledgeville, and our junior high group has decided to start a Wednesday night Bible study. She came home last Wednesday and told me about it and asked, “Guess which book they want to start with?” Without giving me 66 guesses to run through the list of the canon, she answered her own question, “Revelation!” (Thank goodness she’s aware of one of my big pet peeves and did not call it “Revelations” – the title has no “s” at the end.) Not such a bad choice, in my opinion. After all, it is one of the most mysterious books in the Bible, and probably one of the most alluring, even for non-religious people.

We can all recognize some of the terms and images that find their genesis in Revelation – the Anti-Christ, the Mark of the Beast, the number 666, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, to name a few. Historical and contemporary interpretations are loaded with contradictions and extreme speculation, so what is the real message of Revelation? Even the name seems to be deceptive – in the Greek, the title is “apokalypsis”, which means literally “uncovering”, as to uncover something that has until now been covered so it is in plain sight. Many people would argue that nothing in this book is in plain sight.

I’ve been drafted to help my wife out, and while she'll do the presenting and leading of discussions, I'm planning to do my own updated study and put together some notes in as systematic a manner as I can. It has been several years since I led a Bible study on the book of Revelation at the last church I served as pastor, and one of the greatest compliments I received when it was over was by an elderly gentleman who came up to me, shook my hand, and said, “You know, Preacher, I’ve always been scared of the book of Revelation, but I’m not scared anymore.” I’m going to share this fresh journey I’ll be taking through Revelation here at the blog, and I invite you to come along. If you agree, disagree, or plain don’t understand what I’m talking about, feel free to comment or send me an e-mail. At any rate, I hope when it’s done, you won’t be scared anymore.

~ Jim

1 comment:

Megan said...

I really have trouble reading the Bible... I've read the classic stories everyone knows of course- but everything else is a loss for me. I start, get scared, or bored- which, yes I will admit, because it's what Shakespeare should be to me! (Which is ironic, because I understand and LOVE Shakespeare) I read this entry and suddenly got inspired. How strange. I feel excited about it. Please post quotes to go along with the message as well, it will help my poor brain comprehend.

And thank you for making the correction- there is no s. (Reference to Shakespeare again, how people say a Midsummers Night(s) Dream when it is a Midsummer Night's Dream)