It’s a good thing Martin Luther didn’t go with his gut on the Book of Revelation in 1522. Otherwise, Protestants might not have it in their Bible. By 1530 he granted it might be helpful to some, but as for himself he was averse to accepting it, for, as Church Father Jerome puts it, “there are as many mysteries as there are verses.”
But let’s not get lost in the verses. Let’s get hold of the process. To do that, zoom out when you read it. Broad patterns emerge like scenes in a series of plays. And what is the broadest pattern we see?
We see this: John rested, and then the revelation came.
“I was on the island of Patmos…I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10).
‘Patmos’: all things came to a halt. ‘Spirit’: he awakened to God’s presence. ‘The Lord’s day’: he rested on the Sabbath. Then the revelation unfolded: twenty-two chapters of it.
Here we find something we can actually do. We can stop and listen to Him.
Granted, we aren’t Saint John, exiled to a remote island, cut off from all help. We aren’t (yet) being kicked out of our culture and community because we belong to Jesus, as John had been. We aren’t (yet) beholding the Messiah eye-to-eye, as John did. We aren’t adding to holy scripture. (FYI, John’s words were organized into 22 chapters much later.)
But at least we can rest.
At least we can set limits on all that drains, demands, distracts, and deteriorates us.
And if we do that, we are on Patmos. It might not be a happy place, but it will be a holy one. We are bargaining on joy as a greater prize than happiness. We are betting that everything can wait for a day. We are banking on a better return than busy-ness can give. We are believing a better hope which the bully of unfinished business shall not be permitted to steal.
We are believing that the curtain will be pulled back, and we will see new possibilities.
But the first step is to arrive at rest. For unless the waters of the heart are confidently calm, we will never see the One looking at us. It takes a lake at rest to reflect the sky above it.
© Kurt MahlerTagged as: hope, prayer, rest, revelation, solitude