Wednesday Word: A Book of Hope
For God so loved the world that he sent WWIII – Yehezkel Landau, quoted in, The Rapture Exposed, by Barbara Rossing
I'm leading a Sunday afternoon bible discussion via Zoom on the Book of Revelation (1 pm Eastern, Meeting ID 818 4372 6716, Passcode 157085). We are just finishing the letters to the seven churches, will do a little review, take a break during August, and then resume again come September. If you haven't been with us, you are welcome to join anytime.
As we read through this book there are bizarre images of rampaging locusts, stars falling from heaven, seas boiling, devouring dragons, and so much more. These images have been used over the years to (incorrectly) predict the end of the world and the punishment of evildoers. End times “scholars” have used Revelation as an authoritative road map of what must take place to ensure the return of Jesus. These interpretations have weaseled their way into politics and have been used to help create laws and policies on everything from the environment to the Middle East.
Another aspect that people who look to Revelation as a guide to the future seem to have is a gleeful enjoyment of destruction and punishment. The Left Behind series revels in violence and the death and destruction of all those who don't hold the same beliefs as the main characters/authors. There is no need to care for the environment if all the good people are going to be magically whisked away.
But what those “scholars” and others who read Revelation as an end-times road map miss is that the overall message of that book is one of hope, not of despair. It is one of creation, not of destruction.
What would it look like if we all began reading scripture as a book of hope for God's creation rather than as a book of power, revenge, and exceptionalism? What would it look like if we all stopped looking for ways that God will execute our enemies and began looking for ways to see how God loved the world?
Our first step is to begin pointing out that those who use Revelation as a road map to the end times were wrong in 1843, 1844, 1994, 2011, 1988, 1910, 1813, 2015, and will be wrong again.
The next step is to begin seeing scripture not as a book of condemnation, death, and destruction, but as a book that shows God trying to reconnect with his creation, a book of life, and a book of creation.
I've often been asked, “Are these the end times?” My answer is always the same: These are the end times for somebody.
As we encounter people in all stages of life, let us offer our scripture and our faith as places of hope, not of despaire.