The Book of Revelations : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

The Book of Revelations will be studied throughout our AME Church Schools for the remaining month of May. I find it remarkable that this book is widely neglected in sermonic discourse, Church School lessons and private Bible studies. As a result of our overall Biblical laziness and fears about the book's contents, Revelations is the least read and most misunderstood book in the entire Bible. AMEs who affirm God as Creator, Christ as Redeemer & Holy Ghost as Comforter should not be counted as one of the many timid, casual and spiritually immature Bible readers. Revelations is rich in spiritual imagery and symbols. This great book also teaches us important concepts like: geography, history and theology. Important theological concepts like apocalypse, eschatology and Parousia are developed not just for the clergy but for the lay as well.

As Superintendent of my local Church School, I have admonished all adult members to read the Book of Revelations in its entirety (22 chapters). It is also beneficial to read Daniel 9:20 - 12 in order to gain additional insight about apocalyptic literature. Many of us speculate about whether or not we are living in the "last days". Our witness to the world is weak, confused, ambiguous and unimpressive because we are quite frankly ill-prepared to intelligently discuss apocalyptic topics with any degree of confidence and persuasion. This month represents a good opportunity to shed our literary insecurities about Revelations in order to fortify our own faith and be of meaningful service to others. QED

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2004


Intweresting. We had a similar thread this time of year fur years ago. Greg Stearsman had some interesting contributtions to that thread.

Other passages to consider: Zechariah 12-14, Matthew 24-25.

Curious: what will be the framework of interpretation of this very symbolic book?

-- Anonymous, May 10, 2004


The Lectionary Readings for the Season of Easter – Year C also include passages from The Revelation of John. (Please note that The Revelation and the name of the Book is singular not plural. The Revelation is ONE).

At one of the churches in Atlanta, which I frequently attend, the readings and sermon are always taken from the Lectionary Readings of the Day. So, The Revelation of John is being both read and preached. I also post the Sunday Lectionary Readings on the Sixth Episcopal District Lay website each week along with the Liturgical Colors which accompany them.

Three years ago, before I received my cochlear implant and was unable to hear, the pastor of my church, now retired, allowed me to use my skills as a teacher to deliver the Youth Message each week. The Message which I taught to the Youth each week was taken from the Lectionary Readings of the Day, one of which I would like to share here. It is found in Revelation, Chapter 1 verses 8 & 11 and Chapter 22 verse 13. It appears in the Lectionary Readings for both the Second Sunday of Easter - Year C and the Seventh Sunday of Easter - Year C as well.

When we cut past the eschatological chaff, much of which in modern times (in view of the entire Bible) has been misconstrued and misread, we come to one of the key statements of our Faith.

Once John recovered from being frightened and overcome by the magnificent splendor of all he heard and saw, The Speaker identifies Himself as none other than our crucified, risen and ascended Lord--He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, is alive for evermore.

What He says to John is in perfect Greek, the major language of the Believers at the time in which John lived and wrote. “I AM Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

The significance of this statement, which Believers knew at the time, was that Jesus once and for all times was identifying Himself as God. Not only was this made clear to those who spoke Greek, but to those who spoke in Hebrew as well. Here are some of the things, which bear it out.

1) When Moses is commissioned by God at the Burning Bush, he asked God to identify Himself by name. God’s reply was this: “I AM THAT I AM: Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Note that Jesus again prefaces this statement by saying I AM.

2) This statement not only employs the use of Greek, it is also reminiscent of Hebrew symbol Aleph-Mem-Tav, a symbol sometimes used to identify the unspoken Hebrew word for G-d. Aleph, Mem and Tav are the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. Aleph-Mem- Tav also spells the Hebrew word “Emet” which is translated in English as TRUTH. Because of its special use of the Hebrew Alphabet it is thorough and complete. This also reminds us that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” – Found in the Gospel Reading of the Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday of Easter – Year A.

Finally we should note that John’s Revelation came on the First Day of the Week, the First Day of Creation, The Day of Resurrection, The Lord’s Day. That is to say, Sunday the day in which Christians now comes together to worship God.

-- Anonymous, May 11, 2004

Robert -

Thanks for your editorial comment and correction about the plurality of the term. The last book in the Bible is indeed The Revelation of John. Perhaps if more ministers preached according to the Lectionary outline parishoners would hear more sermons from this great book but the reality is the overwhelming majority of our sermons are not driven by the Lectionary. Maybe I'm wrong but I was always under the impression that the Lectionary was a suggested hermeneutical tool not something mandated by Episcopal orders. While I'm not quick to dismiss the content of the book's futuristic musings as mere "eschatalogical chaff", I do agree with your observation that there is much confusion and misinformation used by those who teach and write on apocalyptic literature. One of the things I find interesting is the lack of reading interests in our mainstream black churches on popular apocalyptic literature. For nearly a decade Tim LaHaye has written a series of books about the end times represented in the "Left Behind" series. At last count, the number of books he has authored or co-authored is twelve. The few churches which do have book clubs will gladly include urbane authors like E. Lynn Harris, Toni Campbell or Nobelist Toni Morrison. Books which deal with eschatological speculation are conspicuously absent from the reading lists. If we would devote as much time towards reading supplemental Biblical references like "Left Behind" as we do to trendy urbane authors it would help in our understanding and articulation of these important issues. However, this should not substitute from carefully reading and studying John's Revelation @ the Island called Patmos. Incidentally, my home church in Washington, DC is named Isle of Patmos Baptist Church. When I last checked, in the early 1990s, it was the only church in the USA named after the location of John's Revelation. QED

-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004

The book is The Revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John. I know you all knew that but you were checking the rest of us out. Jesus is revealed to St. John.

Be Blessed

-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004

Parson Paris -

Thanks for the correction. At some point before Christ's Return I'll get the correct name of this book :-) QED

-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004


There is nothing wrong with our reading books like “Left Behind” as long as we realize that they are FICTION and not the truth. The danger is that those who do not read and study the Bible all too often come to accept such books as “Left Behind” as representing TRUTH

While the Bible teaches us the Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will surly come again---no denomination has ever disagreed or questioned this--we must look more closely at the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles when we consider the occurrence of these events.

A case in point is the Doctrine of “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” which so many modern-day churches preach and teach. When we truly know and understand the word of God, it instantly becomes apparent that “Pre- tribulation Rapture” is not at all what Jesus or even His Apostles taught. A look at a few key passages as the ones below will, I think, make this clear.

In Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus says in this parable that both the Wheat and the Tares shall both remain until the Final Harvest when He comes again.At which time He will give His angels charge to first gather the tare and cast them in eternal fire. The they will gather the wheat, the ones who in the parable aer "Left Behind.

Scripture says He will flash like lightening from east to west. Every eye shall see him (Matthew 24:27). No one will have to guess nor ask what is happening. Saint Paul also gives us the timing of this event. He says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMPET—a nanosecond as modern science has labeled it. You wont even have time to say WHEW I‘M GONE! (I Corinthians 15:52).

Additionally in the Revelation, John is asked by one of the Elders to identify a group he observes. His answer to the Elder is, “Sir, you know”. To which the Elder relies: "These are they which came out of GREAT TRIBULATION, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14). So much for escaping tribulation, this passage suggests that we will not.

Let us also consider the term “Antichrist” of which we hear so much today. The Bible only uses this time four times in its entire text and all are found in the First Epistle of John not the Revelation. John suggests that the spirit of antichrists went out from the church at the time he wrote the letter two thousand years ago. John also suggests that because they went out from the church they also know how to deceive the members of it. In the Revelation he states that even the Elect were in danger of being deceived.

Not only did John witness the spirit of the antichrist when he wrote the letter two thousand years ago, but it is also apparent to us today, sometime even in the church. What is often interpreted in the Revelation to mean the antichrist is perhaps the mention of the beast. But the beast seems more to represent the Devil himself the epitome of all that is evil in our world. The Revelation tells us that at the Coming of Christ, Evil will once and forever be destroyed. This is the Good New Jesus send to His Church.

Finally ther3 is the point of the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Some modern science now tell us with the invention of electronic, computerized telescopes (Like Hubble) they have now observed what appears to be the end of the universe. What they also now seem to see is possibly what John witnessed in the Revelation 20 centuries ago. This is none other than gravitational collapse and the whole universe, as we know it being sucked into a giant Black Hole. John witnessed this as being rolled back like a scroll, the stars falling from their obits, no more sea, sun, moon or stars, for the new creation will be lighted by the Light of God.

-- Anonymous, May 12, 2004

Robert -

Are you implying that because the "Left Behind" series represent a collection of novels about the apocalypse they are of limited theological value? You appear to use the term fiction in a pejorative way. There are numerous great works of fiction which creatively teach eternal values of truth, beauty, honor, friendship, etc. Even our sacred literature represented in the Bible contians elements of fiction. The parables of Jesus are nothing more than fiction. Many leading theologians consider the 1st 11 chapters of Genesis as allegory. Tim LaHaye has studied and written on Biblical prophecy for nearly 50 years. Deciphering the symbols (Thousand Years, New Jerusalem, Cosmic Epic Wars, etc.) in this Biblical book requires a trained and disciplined mind in history and theology. As you know much of apocalyptic writings project an urgency for the world to end because the sufferers (i.e. early Christians) lived under cruel and difficult conditions imposed by harsh ROman rule. Note the nest to last verse (22:20) in this book. It is nothing more than a plea for an expedited return of our Lord. QED

-- Anonymous, May 14, 2004

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