Easter 2 – Revelation 1:4-8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega”
Revelation, a book that is obsessively-read, to often disastrous ends!
- Looking for a ‘timetable’ for ‘the End’
- Especially looking to identify ‘the Beast’
- Looking for vindication
Revelation, a book in the genre of apocalyptic, reshaped as eschatology
- Seers, comforting the afflicted
- Prophets, afflicting the comfortable
- Apocalyptic relatively rare in Biblical literature
- Bible more eschatological than apocalyptic
- Apocalyptic instincts (of fear & anxiety) reshaped as eschatology, by the experience of a crucified and risen messiah who is confessed in the Church as Lord (cf. Gospel lection from John for this Sunday – Thomas’ confession, proclamation & adoration)
In our encounter with lections of Revelation over 7 Sundays of Eastertide, we skip the detail of punishments/wraths/battles/characters, etc. Rather, the readings are of the ‘frame’ of the vision, a vision of NEWNESS...
cf Easter Day sermon: the Day of Resurrection is the first dawn of the NEW CREATION – this is our reflection for all of Eastertide...
Further notes of caution:
- If we are going down the route of expectation to read the text as a prediction of my near future, we can be tempted to play all sorts of games with the text, treating it as some sort of cryptogram;
- This text, treated in some of these ways, can also feed an obsessive & rather paranoid ‘need to know’;
- But, doing this , to a remarkable extent, leaves aside almost completely what Revelation might have to say about HOW CHRISTIAN EXISTENCE SHOULD BE LIVED. This is also to be our theme!
Key features of apocalyptic in the Book of Revelation:
- Self-consciously WRITTEN;
- Yet, referring to VISIONARY experience (ie. “I saw...”-formula >20 times)
- NUMBERS used in ‘numinous’ way (eg. 7, 4, 12 & their multiples)
- A well-stocked MENAGERIE (!), often BEASTS;
- COSMIC PHENOMENA
+ BEHIND IT ALL, a simple message of REASSURANCE: ‘GOD IS IN CHARGE OF THE WORLD’ & will bring things to a good end (& quicker than you think, so “Hold on!”)
What is great (& unusual) about the Book of Revelation?
- A work of GREAT ARTISTRY;
- Elements which resemble writings coming from the Jewish Merkabah (mystical tradition), with characteristics and qualities of liturgy & prayer, at places;
- Revelation transcends the apocalyptic genre because of the Christians’ experience of Jesus
....& most of all, the CONVICTION THAT JESUS HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD AS LORD TRANSFORMS THE SYMBOLS OF APOCALYPSE
...so, this is not just a revelation ABOUT Jesus, but rather one that COMES FROM HIM...
Next week: Revelation 5:11-14 – The Throne Room of The Lamb