Monday, October 04, 2010

The Time is Near

 Revelation 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

3 Μακάριος ὁ ἀναγινώσκων καὶ οἱ ἀκούοντες τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας καὶ τηροῦντες τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ γεγραμμένα, ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς ἐγγύς.

Here we go.  It's time to spend 22 days in Revelation.  Unlike many folks, I've never known quite how to take this book.  I find it intriguing that Calvin never wrote about it.  It is full of apocalyptic imagery.  In fact, a good book on hermeneutics will treat apocalyptic as its own literary genre.  We're going to meet strange beasts and visions.  We're going to see Jesus as the complete opposite of the modern "hippie in a pink dress" as He is often portrayed.  And, I think it's safe to say, I'm going to get a little confused.

Now I suppose that should not be the case given that I go to a soundly Dispensational school.  Some there would tell me that it all fits together quite nicely if I just read Daniel and some other OT prophecies correctly.  But then you have this verse before the book really gets going.  Here John tells us that ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς ἐγγύς.

Anyone who has had even one semester of Greek can tell you what this means.  It means what the ESV translates it to mean.  It could also be read "the time is at hand."  In other words, it seems that John is telling the reader that what he is describing is going to happen very soon.  The typical way a good Dispensationalist reads Revelation is that it speaks of the future when Christ returns in glory.  But I don't know how to deal with this phrase if that is the case.

John could not have been mistaken because He wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Is it possible that these things have happened in some symbolic way?  Can we tie this book to the sacking of Jersualem in 70 AD (c.f. Mat 24)?  Perhaps.  I'm not sure if I'm ready to go that far.

What I do know is that there are still some wonderful devotional gleanings to be had from Revelation.  Tomorrow will be much more edifying to the soul.


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

O gar kairós engýs, is almost the motto of my personal witness, just as the Apokálypsis is a cornerstone of the same.

The Orthodox Church does not read this book in any of its services. Why? Because, I've been told, our worship services draw from it exclusively—they are the book of Revelation in the present moment.

I accept the explanation but know that it's not the whole story.

Neither my church nor I fall into any dispensationalist category. The prophecies in the book are not all fulfilled in the past, that's all we know: they are a kind of matrix of understanding that follows history as it flows from the moment of the vision to the end of human time.

Neither does the Church officially, nor I personally, interpret this book, other than to say that it is to be read aloud and its prophecies heard and kept. Read aloud by whom, since the Church doesn't read it publicly? By the individual believers, I suppose. That's what I do anyway. I love to read it aloud in Greek, when I'm the only listener, and in English when others are present.

John has the honor of having written two gospels that contain the actual words of Jesus: the Gospel according to John, and the Revelation to John. So in an odd sort of parallel to the five books of Moses, we have in fact five gospels, all of them canonical (none of them pseudepigraphal).

I will probably not follow your series with this book, because you will probably be doing some interpretation, which is something I stay away from. But I'm glad you're reading and studying it.

Glory to God.

Jason said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "interpreting it." That's what we all do when we read any text, Bible or not. I'm just trying to take it as it comes.

I have other readers from my seminary and they too should be facing similar challenges as I am. Frankly, you should too. What do you do with the prophecies in this book?