June 28, 2017
Eyes to See, Ears to Hear
June 27, 2017
My good friend has some wise words for when we face tough situations in our lives that seem to have no solutions. She says, “You may have to change the way you look at this.” I’ve discovered that her good, practical advice also leads me to change the way I look at these bewildering verses from Revelation.
First, we forget to view this book as one of the epistles. Like Paul, John was writing in the early years of Christianity, calling out specific churches but also addressing problems that beset all churches, even ours today. John is writing later than Paul, when persecution had grown more intense, and he writes to churches in grave danger from Roman oppression. John uses apocalyptic language, strong images that point in hidden ways to crises with the churches’ very real enemies. We need help to decipher some of these: “Satan’s throne” (v. 13), for example, may refer to the Pergamum altar, erected for Emperor worship.
We may also want to change the way we look at the “angel of the church” (v. 1, 8, 12, 18). Suppose John sees each church as having something like a guardian angel who speaks to our resurrected and ascended Lord and receives messages for us. What message would “the angel of the church in Brentwood” bring to us? Would it be anything like the message to the church in Smyrna? “I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich.” Can we look at these words in a new way? Will we listen “to what the Spirit is saying to the churches”?
Questions for the Field
- When you read the Bible, what “lenses” do you use to help you understand? (Teachers, poetic language, the writings of Biblical scholars, and sermons, for example)
- Do you ever find ideas in the Bible that make you question the way you think?
- What do we learn from the experiences of the churches in the time of persecution?
Family Field Talk
- Look for images of angels on the computer. Can you find one that shows an angel strong and brave enough to be our guardian angel?
- What do you think a guardian angel does?
God of light, open our eyes and enlighten us. Guide us to see beyond our own neediness. Teach us to rely on you alone, and help us to be your church in times of crisis. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.