Reading: Revelation 9:1-12
Advent Theme: Long-suffering
There was a story about one of my professors in seminary. One day in chapel, he was scheduled to preach. The selected passage for the day was from Leviticus. He came to the front, read the passage to the assembly, closed the Bible, and said, “This is not the Word of the Lord for me.” Then he sat down.
I find myself doing the same thing in part of Revelation. John’s intense and purposefully chaotic metaphors about the locusts and the abyss, with a king called “Destroyer’, only confuse and frustrate me. There is nothing here that reveals Christ to me, stirs the joy of my salvation, or helps me in any of my vocations (wife, mother, sister, friend, daughter, pastor, neighbor, citizen,…). This is not the word of the Lord for me.
The books, movies, and other materials that seek to explain these parts of Revelation in detail exploit people’s fears and capitalize on the same. And when I say capitalize, I mean using fear to make capital, to get rich. This is precisely the kind of behavior that John warns the seven churches against. It is not a biblical interpretation that comes out of love and service; it is an interpretation that is borne out of a desire to get rich. This is not the path of the Lamb, the Way of Christ, the life of discipleship.
To be clear, I am not saying that having money means that a person cannot be a Christian or even a good Christian. What I am saying is that there are several generations of alleged Christian apologists (explainers) who have expounded on the mysteries of Revelation to the great gain of their pocketbooks, but not to the end of actually making the world better by an outpouring of Christ-like behavior. This, to me, is like locusts- swarming on people, stirring up fear, not actually harming them- but making them quite miserable.
Potential Takeaway: When I speak as a Christian, it should be to make a situation better and for the benefit of all concerned. When I am the major beneficiary of what I say or do, I may not be imitating Christ quite as much as His love would compel me to do. And, sometimes, a particular part of the Bible may neither inspire devotion, historical understanding, or literary reflection. For a time it may not be the word the Lord is using in my life. And that’s okay.
Dear God, Your Word is holy and good, but also mysterious. I struggle enough with what I do understand that I should not be anxious about the parts that are not yet clear to me. Guide me to a greater depth of faith and courage to live into what I do understand, following in the way of Jesus the Christ. Amen.