Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29 - Revelation 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is Revelation 1. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Some background on Revelation:
    • Revelation is the last of John’s letters and was written to seven churches in present-day Turkey. At the time of its writing Christians were enduring heavy persecution by the Roman government, and this letter was sure to remind them that, no matter how things looked, God was in charge of history and good would ultimately triumph.
    • The title of this book in Greek is The Apocalypse, which means the "unveiling” or “uncovering,” though it has proved to be more of an “obscuring” to modern readers. This is due to the writing style of the letter. It shares some of the traits of other apocalyptic literature, such as an angel acting as tour guide, use of vivid images and symbols to depict the conflict between good and evil, and the use of certain numbers to convey concepts.
    • While literal interpretation is the rule in most other bible books, it's the opposite with Revelation, where symbolism is the rule and literalism the exception.
    • It's easy to get carried away trying to interpret the symbolism of Revelation, but we need to be cautious. Even after 2,000 years, Bible scholars still aren't sure of what everything in Revelation represents. Still, the ultimate themes of God being in charge and good ultimately triumphing will be clear.
  • In verse 7 John writes of how Jesus is going to return. This is taught throughout the New Testament - Jesus is coming again. This time not to live as a human and die for our sins, but as God to end the world as we know it.
  • The number seven appears throughout this chapter. In the Bible, seven is often a number that connotes completeness.
  • The "son of man" (verse 13) is a reference to Daniel 7:13, where it refers to someone who came to judge. Jesus repeatedly called himself the son of man, teaching that he is that judge and ultimate authority.
  • The sword coming out of Jesus' mouth in this picture of him may be a reference to the word of God (see Ephesians 6:17).

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Throughout the New Testament we see that Jesus is love, and offers grace, and is incredibly humble and gentile. But here we get another picture of Jesus, which is equally true. He is God and the ultimate judge and authority. He is powerful and he is truth. He has conquered death, is alive, and is returning. In fact, seeing Jesus for who he truly and completely is makes John (who spent three years of his life with Jesus) faint.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Does this picture of Jesus we get here differ from how you picture him? What do you learn about Jesus from this chapter? How should it impact the way you live today?