Book Of Hope

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Stay blessed.  The Lord is with you. Stay blessed. The Lord is coming soon.

We are  going  to discuss  something important today. It is about a  book in the Bible, and it is the Book of Hope. Confused where to find it in the Bible?  Do not  worry. It is the  last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. We fondly call it  the Book of Hope, because no other book  expounds the  theme of  hope, better than the Book of Revelation.

We started with  blessing. The Book of Revelation  guarantees a blessing to us: ‘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’ (Rev 1:3). If a book is  accompanied by  such a  great promise, why should we hesitate to call it a  Book of Hope?  The message of   Revelation is that Jesus is on the throne, and that  he is in full control, and that  he is coming  back again to take us  with him. Is it not a message of hope? If you are serious about  getting  a blessing from the Lord, start reading  the Book of  Revelation  today itself, fully trusting the promise of   our  Lord. It will  help us   understand Revelation better.

Why should we  study  Revelation? Some  people  study it  to  quench their   curiosity  about  end times.  Some others want to get more information  about  the prophesied Antichrist and false prophet.  Yet some others  want to know the relevance of   microchips and the number 666. The  Covid outbreak  has prompted  a lot of people to relate it with the  prophecies of  Revelation. Their goals may differ, but all of them,  in one voice  say that  Revelation is  a hard text to understand. 

We do not think so. Because  our purpose in studying the last book of the Bible  is totally different from theirs. Let me explain.

Apart from  the Book of   Revelation John has  written another  four books of the Bible.  They are  a gospel and  three  epistles.  The Gospel was written with a single  purpose: ‘But these are written so that you  may come to believe that Jesus is the  Messiah, the Son of God, and that  through  believing  you may have life in his  name’ (Jn 20:31).  Epistles are written for re-assuring the  faithful that  they  have eternal life reserved for them. ‘I write these things to you  who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life’ (1 Jn 5:13). We observe a  gradual  and systematic progression in the way John edifies the churches.  By the time  we  reach Revelation, we find the narrative taking  a different direction. It is written for  preparing the readers to be  in a state of readiness at all times to welcome the  returning Lord.  Because, ‘the time is near’ ( Rev 1:3).

Yes, the time is near and  this is the relevance of  studying the Book of Revelation. Our  sole purpose in studying the  Revelation is to get ready for the  great event that is  going to happen soon. If you believe that  the  time is near, then listen to what Luke  says about this  time, the time  immediately preceding the consummation of  everything. ‘Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is  drawing near’ (Lk 21:28).  Isn’t it   news of great hope that our redemption is  drawing  nearer and nearer?

The Bible is  the  guide to solve all our questions about life, death and  of course life after death.  The  answers are scattered here and there.  But the answer  key is very much there in the last pages. Once we get to know  the answer key, it is easy to solve the problem. In fact, this  answer key is the core  message of  Revelation; that Jesus Christ reigns, that he is in full control, and  that  he is coming soon to take us home. Once we  know this, Revelation  becomes an easy book to read and understand.

Make no mistake. Revelation is  the book for the end times. You  might have seen some theologians arguing that  Revelation was  written to  strengthen the  Christians during Roman persecution. It is only part of the story.  When we analyse the language, the imagery and   the symbols used in the Book of Revelation,  it will surprise us how   future  things were hidden in the  current template. John didn’t want the  enemies of  Christianity to understand the messages. But at the same time his people should not miss the points too. In this predicament, apocalyptic style of writing came in handy to  edify the   Christians in faith and  encourage them to be  in a state of  constant  readiness.  In this way, the Book of Revelation serves two purposes simultaneously; first strengthening  the faith of those Chrsitians going through severe persecution and  then   preparing them for the  glorious second coming of  our Lord Jesus Christ. 

When we say that we are  living in the end times, do not forget that  the  Christians of the  first century also believed that   Jesus  Christ would return in their  generation.  Difference between them and our generation is that they were living in perpetual readiness to  welcome the  returning  Lord. Are we ready?  Revelation is an invitation to  get ready. Because ‘the time is near’. This readiness is not passive readiness, withdrawing from all  our activities.  Instead it should be active readiness, a state of constant vigil and expectation even while discharging our normal duties and responsibilities. 

With these  few words  as introduction, we are embarking on our  journey through the  Book of  Revelation with infinite  hope in our hearts. God willing, we will study  it  chapter wise and in some cases, subject wise.  We invite our readers to follow us in this spiritual journey, with a prayerful heart. And do not forget  to read the Book of Revelation everyday, as it  will bring us Lord’s  blessings in abundance and also  make it easy to understand the message of  Revelation.

CHAPTER 1

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As for this first day, we  discuss chapter 1. Here the major themes are the source of  revelation and its authenticity, and how it was revealed. It contains a greeting  of grace and peace from the Triune God and is  followed by  a prophecy: ‘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’ (Rev 1:7). The prophecy  tells us that the  second coming of Jesus Christ is an event applicable to every human being on earth. Every tribe and every nation will witness  the second coming  of  Lord Jesus Christ.  The  last generation will surely witness it; believers and  gentiles  alike, those who loved Jesus and  those  who hated him alike. In his first coming  nobody gave him space. His own people  rejected him. But in the second coming nobody can   ignore him, because  he is coming with great glory and power. The earth will tremble when  the Lord places his feet on  the Mount of Olives( Zech 14:4).  

Daniel  also  has recorded the  vision of a person coming with the  clouds: ‘As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being (one like a son of  man) coming with the clouds of  heaven..'( Dan 7:13).  As students of the Bible, we should  always keep in mind  that  for every  New Testament prophecy, there was an Old Testament  parallel. 

After the prophecy about the  Son of Man, comes the description of  God as  the Alpha and the Omega; ‘who is and who was and  who is to come,the Almighty’. These words are simply  an iteration of what  we already  know; that God is eternal.   

Why did Jesus select  John to give the Revelation? I think it was because ofJohn’s  intimacy with  Jesus. Revelations are reserved for those  who maintain an intimate relation with God at all times. Jesus Christ appeared to   John in the image  resembling that of the Son of Man, an obvious reference to   our Saviour. John had no  doubt about the person standing before him and there is no need to suspect the  veracity of  what  John says. As to its authenticity, it was the revelation of Jesus Christ, which he in turn  gave to  his servant John by sending  his angel. The revelation originates from God, transmitted from  Jesus Christ to John through an angel. Authenticity of the message is established   beyond any doubts.

John introduces himself as ‘their  brother in Christ’. He  could have  introduced himself as the beloved Apostle of Jesus, the last  living witness to the passion of our Lord, as an  elder of the Church or  as a person who preached the   gospel to them. No! his wish was to be called ‘brother in  Christ’. Even today, this is  the  best  salutation one can get  from a fellow Christian. 

John was   on an island called  Patmos  at the time of writing  this book.  If you  search for  Patmos today on the net, you will get the  picture of a beautiful Greek island, home to around three thousand people. But in those days, Patmos was an island used  to  exile criminals, and  confessing one’s  faith in Jesus  Christ was  one crime  that  deserved  either death  or deportation. As a prisoner it  was an ideal  location   for  John to meditate on the mysteries of life.  Patmos being  a small island, whichever direction  he turned, John could see  the vast expanses of   water only day in, day out. He might be  fed up with this sight every day. It is  quite natural that  John used the  symbol  of the sea   a number of times  in  the  Book of Revelation.  Finally, he might have enjoyed a sigh of relief when he  got the vision of the New Heaven and New Earth because  ‘the sea was no more’ (Rev.21:1).

When did John receive the Revelation?  As we know revelations  do not  happen every day. It  needs an ideal  time as well. We read: ‘I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a  loud voice like a trumpet  saying, ” Write in a book what you see and send  it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira,  to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” (Rev 1: 10).

Revelations happen to those who  are filled with  the Spirit on  the Lord’s day. Just pause for a moment and  recollect how do we observe   the Lord’s day? If our God sends his angel to us with a message on a Sabbath day, will he find us filled with the Spirit? 

John was   mandated to send the book containing his visions to  seven churches indicating that  those messages were intended for the entire Church and not exclusively  for those  named therein. We know that in the Bible, seven  is the number  representing perfection or fullness. 

Earlier we have seen  a prophecy about  the Son of Man coming with the clouds. But now John  gets  the  vision of the Son of Man himself. John could not withstand the  glory and majesty of the Lord and he fell at Christ’s feet as  though  dead.  But he is consoled with the  assurance that  Christ has the keys of  death and of Hades with him. He was  dead, but  now he is living. And he is alive  forever and ever.  When he says ‘ Do not  be afraid’, why  should we  fear? What  further hope we need, when the person who tells us not to be  afraid of anything, is with us at all times!   With the vision of the Son of Man, we are entering  the core of  Revelation, starting with the letters to seven churches. Jesus Christ appeared as standing  in the midst of seven lampstands and holding seven stars in his right hand. Jesus himself explains to John that the  lampstands  represent  seven churches and  stars represent the  angels  of those churches. What we should learn from this passage is that  we  should never  try to   limit the presence  of Jesus to a particular church. He is  there in the midst of  all churches. He  is coming  armed with a sharp, two- edged sword, that we understand as the Word. Elsewhere  we read that  Jesus  is coming to make war against those  who do not repent, with the sword of  his mouth.  So, be careful with  the Word, because it  will hurt the  preacher and listener alike. 

We hope to  return  soon with  the  next  article in this series for which we need your prayers. Besides, we  welcome your  feedback about this article as well.  We  admit  with all humility that it is beyond human intelligence to  write anything  worthy about the Book of Revelation, for which  we need  the  wisdom from above. May the  Virgin of the Revelation help us  in this  task  through  her intercession. 

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