During the difficult moments in life, do we take full advantage of our circumstances and draw closer to Our Lord? In the Book of Revelations, after peace is removed from the earth and amidst other grave difficulties, many people are still unwilling to come to him (Rev 9: 20 – 21). Upon this scene, however, appears the Ark of God’s covenant. From Scripture, we know that this is Our Lady and she is there to offer refuge from the attacks of the evil one – refuge for those “who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” (Rev 12: 17). We also consider here those Companions of the Lamb described in Rev 14 and the role of our baptism in this “companionship”.
Archive for October, 2013
Have you ever wondered why there were 10 Plagues in Egypt? What did God know about the Egyptian people and Pharaoh? For those of us who believe in God, we may wonder why it took Pharaoh so long to become convinced. Yet, if we have ever been asked to reconsider a life-long belief, we know how challenging it can be to be pursuaded of the truth. This is the situation on earth during the time of The Apocalypse. All those who believe have already been sealed (Rev 7). But what about those who do not believe? Does not God also want them in heaven? Of course he does! And to reach them, he has to overcome many grave obstacles in their minds and hearts. He also has to help them understand the choice they are making – love and life on the one hand, versus hatred and death on the other. This program also considers the Two Witnesses (Rev 10) that proclaim God’s truths and asks: are we also called to be witnesses?
Is it possible to be encouraged by the events recorded in the Book of Revelations? Does God will our suffering? Certainly not. Yet, he will allow it if it means we might turn to him and be saved. He knows the alternative is far worse. For the believer, we may readily understand this or be able to accept it on “faith”. However, for those who do not yet know the love of God, or who do not believe he is important in their lives, they must first recognize his presence – that he is not just an “idea” in the minds of believers. This is what the Lamb seeks in opening the 7 Seals (Rev 5 – 7).
Then, in order to save those who now perceive him, but who have not been close to him, God reveals to them, by calculated increments, what life will be like if they choose to remain distant from him (Rev 8 – 9). The 7 Trumpet blasts beckon to the people of the Earth, inviting them to reconsider where they are heading so that they might choose salvation, that they might be with God and enjoy his love. There are strong parallels with the 10 Plagues preceding the Exodus from Egypt, and equally wonderful is the effect upon the non-believer. For just as in Egypt, the great crowd was comprised of a “mixed multitude” (Ex 12: 38) – Egyptians as well as Israelites – so too does God will that all people, of every faith and culture, come to him by these dramatic events.
Is it truly a unusual to look for hope in the Book of Revelations? Let us consider what we find there before answering too quickly. We have many symbols in Sacred Scriptures, no few of which are in the Book of Revelations. These contain meanings beyond their simple descriptions. They are perhaps like the Church’s great icons that reveal hidden truths with each encounter. In looking for hope in Revelations, we may also reflect on what we know about God. Are we to suppose that after opening a door for us and calling us inside, God wants to frighten us? Would he not, like any parent, rather seize his opportunity, pull us close, hug us tenderly, and give us something special as a sign of his love? This is some of what St. John sees in his vision. In Revelations, chapters 4 and 5, we consider the symbols found there in the light of God’s desire to bring us hope in him.
For a list of symbols, see: Symbols of the Apocalypse.
The word “Apocalypse” itself may give us pause. Popular images of the Book of Revelations are fraught with vengeance, violence and death. Yet, is this really what God wishes our understanding to be? Can God actually be like this? In the fourth chapter of Revelations, we are treated to an “open door” into heaven. At this threshold, and led by St. John’s own hand, we glimpse God’s throne. We become aware that God also is imploring us to enter. Yet, once inside, and maybe to the surprise of some, God gives us an opportunity to view things from his perspective. John too encourages us. “Caught up in spirit” on the sabbath, John reminds us that our prayer life, our closeness with God, and the vitality of our faith in Him are important to our entry. Sacred Scripture can come to our aid for all of these needs and more.