I can remember a conversation I held with an experienced pastor which took place about 20 years. The topic for discussion was the book of Revelation, with particular reference to the interpretations given by such books as “The Late Great Planet Earth”. The comment he made at that time is etched into my mind: “We will never understand the book of Revelation until we begin to understand the ways in which the words were understood in their time.”
Fascination with the end times has continued since then, with films and books produced in abundance. We have heard many scenarios about the identity of the nations symbolized in Revelation, many of which are no longer plausible. Currently the hugely successful book series “Left Behind” shapes the thinking of many. And still that thought echoed in my mind.
I understood what that pastor was communicating to me, the book of Revelation
remained largely closed. It was intimidating in style and language, and
the amazingly specific applications I had read made me tentative about
approaching it. How could I access the wisdom of this book?
The door was slowly opened for me a few years ago, as we studied the book in our Sunday evening services at Rosanna. We took time to examine the messages to the seven churches to whom the book was originally addressed, and discovered as we journeyed further that the insights were accessible. It was a joy for us all to hear the challenge of the book without having to speculate on political and religious propaganda. In that community gathering, we encountered the book as living word.
But it took the better part of 20 years (for me) to reach that point.
The seed that the pastor sowed had taken a long time to germinate. I had rolled it around, returned to ponder it from time to time, but the first fruits of it were a long time coming.
Now, it may be that it took so long because I am a bit thick. And maybe it is part of our journey that some things simply take time. How often am I in a hurry to understand myself, the things of God, or the ways of the world?
Interesting words at the opening, echo through the book of Revelation: I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance…
Some things just take time.
June 8, 2003