Sunday we'll read Chapter 13 and continue to reflect on the Beast as opposed to the Lamb. What is interesting in Chpt. 13 is that the Beast is directly out of the imagery that Daniel uses in the Old Testament. Daniel 7:2-7 contains four beasts that are then combined in the one Beast from Revelation 13. While we often consider Revelation to be crazy images that serve no purpose, they were actually quite meaningful and recognizable to first century Jews familiar with their scriptures. If you don't remember, Daniel is the same book that contains the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and a fiery furnace, and the story of a lion's den.
As we continue reading Revelation, we need to keep remembering that images and scenes that are foreign to us, were meaningful for the people of the day. Maybe it's like taking a Marvel Comic Movie and sending it back 2,000 years - would they understand the "weird" characters, weapons and political scenarios? Would they even understand the dialogue the same way we do? In a way, reading scripture is a cross-cultural practice. Sometimes so much so that we want to give up and simply deem it too much work to understand. But if we do persevere, we open the possibilities for new insights and realize what crosses time, and what doesn't. It prepares us to engage our context with new insights, and reminds us that although this is a new context, it is not totally unique. And while God my be understood and experienced in different ways today, God is also understood and experienced in many similar ways. Thus, the joy of a fuller and richer faith experience is available to us.
As we continue to read Revelation, may we take a few moments to notice ways this "odd" book is enriching our life. Might be small, might be big, but it is adding to our faith.
Read - This week's supplemental reading is is Daniel 7-9. Do you see any comparisons between Daniel and Revelation? Any comparisons between Babylon, Persia and Rome?
Pray - For the season of Advent, consider praying Mary's Song, Luke 1:46-55
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’