Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Letter writing styles change from time to time and place to place. When we read a part of the Bible like Revelation we do well to remember that it is, eseentially, a letter. Revelation is an apocalypse - a narrative about the end times, intended to bring comfort to those who are suffering. But while it is apocalyptic, the entire writing is clothed in the form of a letter, from John to a group of churches. We get to look over their shoulder and see what is going on.
In the style of the time, a greeting of a letter would say who the letter was from, who would receive it, and a very brief topic statement. Letters in early Christianity would often add a brief prayer or blessing. Revelation has a surprisingly long prayer and blessing. Rather than bringing greetings from John, the text brings greetings of grace and peace from God. How is God identified here? He is the eternal one, with a full complement of spirit (seven often indicates completion), who loves us, rescues us, appoints us to a place of honor, and lets us see him in his glory. He is the one who will come again at some time, to be seen and recognizedby all, and who we should eagerly expect.
The coming of God in the Bible is a good event. When God comes in glory he is the one who has loved his people and rescues them from sin and death. This is decidedly good news.
What of those who are not trusting in Jesus? This coming will become a time of recognition, of sorrow, and of fear. The one who came to rescue from sin and death has returned, victorious, even to those who pierced him, who denied him, who said his death had nothing to do with them.
The Bible describes this coming as a time of joy for those who trust Jesus. It describes terror for those who have rejected the Lord. Any reasonable person who even suspects the Bibl is truthful will want to turn to Jesus for forgiveness before facing regret, shame, fear, and even condemnation at some time in the future. May the prayer of us all be, “Lord, have mercy on me.” Thanks be to God.
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