Tomorrow I’ll be preaching on Revelation 5. And I’m trying to keep it to just that. Although I’d like to go on about more of the book, the sermon would be so long.
I’m mostly done at this point, but are there things about Revelation you have questions about? What have you learned previously? Before you started reading, did you have any preconceived notions about what Revelation was about? Enjoying it? Perplexed?
If your question or comment is suitably earth-shaking, maybe I’ll have to rewrite my entire sermon. If not, I’ll try to tackle your questions in the weeks to come as we slowly make our way through this mysterious book.
This week is a big step toward the end of Year in the Bible’s reading plan. We begin Ecclesiastes, which excluding Proverbs and Psalms, is our last Old Testament book. We also begin our final New Testament book, Revelation.
If you look ahead in our plan you’ll see that Ecclesiastes finishes next week, and we don’t then pick up additional chapters from other books. That means we end with weeks with only 20 and 17 chapters total. This is a bit on the light side and I wanted that to be the case so you can really slow down near the end. We can reflect on the whole year as we slow to a stop.
But again I emphasize that we aren’t to stop reading. We are just stopping this reading plan. I hope it is a spring board to continue on.
Another approach to these final weeks, if you’re not as into slow reflection, is to try as hard as you can with the extra time to cram in all those chapters you may have had to skip! There is still time. (But don’t go so fast that you have no idea what you’re reading.)
As we go through Revelation, a very intriguing book, please feel free to send in questions that I’ll do my best to answer. Even though we’re only doing six chapters, there is plenty to go through and we won’t be able to do it all. So if you have a part you want to focus on, let me know.
Do you have a friend who is in need of a last minute resolution? Well, they can start with not putting things off to the last minute. But if they want another idea, invite them along to finish out Year in the Bible with you. Let them know what it is about, introduce them to the reading plan and website, and you can even meet with from time to time to talk about the readings. I know it can be odd to join in so late in the game, but we’re not reading start to finish like a novel, so it isn’t so bad. They can augment the readings, too, if they’d like.
Or maybe your resolution is to catch up with the readings? Regardless of our readings, the aim of going through God’s Word in a year is to know him better. Resolve to seek God out in the Bible. Resolve to prayerfully approach it. Resolve to give God enough time in devotional reading. Resolve to be humble enough to learn from it and change your life accordingly.
It is good to remember that we are not reading the entirety of the Bible to impress friends or check something off a list. We do it because the Bible is such a gift, one not to be taken for granted. And God has shown us himself in it. Let’s meet him there.
We talked about this psalm briefly in one of the Reading Groups as a member brought our attention to it. It is hard not to see a picture of Jesus Christ in these words, words which are quoted in reference to him in the New Testament.
I love to see the way in which the whole of Scripture points us to Jesus. The Old points us ahead and the New Testament draws our attention back to him. As we celebrate Christmas it is also good to see such connections and remember that Jesus was no backup plan. Before the world was even created, the plan has been to save the world through him. Like we read in the beginning of John, Jesus may have entered the scene in one way when he was born to Mary, but Jesus has always been on the scene since the very beginning. Christmas is the beginning of a big reveal, but the suspense had been building for a long time.
22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
25 Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you. 27 The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
This is an opening unlike what we’ve seen in Paul’s letters. You may be forgiven for jumping over the first verse or two in his introductions, but here you’d be missing so much. You can’t read these lines slow enough to capture all the majesty of Christ we read in them. We see how he is the perfect revelation of God. Through Christ this world was made and by his word the universe is upheld. Christ is utterly supreme. He is not only savior, who has made us pure, but he is our sovereign Lord.
These are themes the author goes on to emphasize throughout this whole letter, so don’t overlook the introduction.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
An approach that I take when reading Scripture rests on verses like this one. Yes, there is an Old and New Testament, but there is one Bible. One Bible that reveals to us who God is, and that revelation is seen most clearly in Jesus Christ. It is not only permissible for us to read sections of the Bible that are not explicitly about Jesus and to see him there, but it is necessary to fully understanding Scripture.
In Luke 24, Jesus is on the road with two men who do not understand that Jesus had to die to fulfill God’s Word. They say, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” They had hoped. But because they did not understand Scripture they in turn do not understand Jesus and what he came to do. Jesus says they are foolish and are slow to believe all the prophets spoke because the prophets spoke of himself.
Jesus Christ is the center of our faith and he is revealed throughout all of Scripture.