50 brief reflections (each one in 50 words) on extracts from the Book of Revelation. Not so much an explanation of this difficult book as moments of connection that we can hopefully relate to each day.
An extract from the book
50/50 Apocalypse Now!
1. John starts. Thinks, states his case. This world is not all. Beyond it, behind it, above and beneath there is another dimension. Another reality. And a source. A craftsman. A being beyond beings. The start and the end. The one who was and is and will be. Alpha and Omega.
Revelation 1 vv 6-8 & 1 John 1 v 1-3
‘Give to him everlasting glory!’ ‘The one who existed from the start is the very one we have seen and heard.’
* * *
2. John hears a voice, turns and stares. The figure, gleaming like snow in bright sunlight, dazzling. For a moment he recalls a vision on a mountain, and Jesus transfigured. Not unlike this. The figure speaks and the sound thunders like rushing water. Powerful, cleansing, pure. John drops. He is overwhelmed.
Revelation 1 vv 10-17 & Colossian 1 vv 15-17
‘Suddenly I heard a loud voice, like the sound of a majestic trumpet.’ ‘He is the image of the unseen God, the invisible made visible.’
* * *
3. Letter one. John scribbles fast. Then sits back and studies what he has written. So easy to set truth over love. To follow the quest to be uncontaminated. To remain pure. These Ephesians seem to have done that. To have forgotten love and loving. To have traded compassion for clarity.
Revelation 2 vv 2-5 & Ephesians 4 vv 31-32
‘You don’t love me the way you once did, you don’t love each other much either.’ ‘Trade in your anger and harsh words for kindness, patience and compassion.’
* * *
4. Letter two. The missives come thick and fast, he can barely keep up. Those folks in Smyrna, downtrodden persecuted, mocked. They seem a poor lot. But apparently it’s not so. There are other kinds of riches. Other treasures, and this world so easily overlooks them. Faith, hope, kindness, dedication, endurance.
Revelation 2 vv 9-10 & Galatians 5 vv 22-23
‘I know you feel poor – but really you are rich!’ ‘Love, joy, peace… you are producing the kind of fruit that will never go off.’
* * *
5. Letter three. This one to Pergamum. The folks who live in the shadow of evil. Towering above them, threatening to blot out the light. Temptation on offer like fine wine. Compromise, a honey-trap. The challenge of standing against the culture. Against the flow. In the world, yet not of it.
Revelation 2 vv 13-16 & Romans 12 v 2
‘You live under the shadow of Satan and yet you have remained faithful.’ ‘We fix our gaze, our vision, on Jesus.’
* * *
6. Letter four. How many more? John pauses, flexes his writing hand. This one to Thyatira. To a people of faithfulness, love and service in a city of industry. But a spectre in ‘freedom’s’ clothes stalks the places of work and worship. So-called freedom that leads to shackling despair. False wisdom.
Revelation 3 vv 19-20 & John 8 v 32
‘Hold on tightly, don’t be distracted by those tempting “deeper truths”.’ ‘The truth will be the key that sets you free.’
* * *