So, I opened up the newspaper this morning and read this letter by a guy named “John.” No other information was given about him but apparently he wrote about these dreams he had from God on an island about an impending change to the world and the end of this current age. He also had some great insight from God on how my church should change to live more rightly before God.
I was actually very excited and encouraged because it would seem that the tribulation we are enduring will be coming to an end, and the very first line of his letter said that all of this stuff would take place soon.
Don’t get too excited. None of this was meant for you. All those things John was talking about won’t happen for at least another 2,000 years or more. “Soon” doesn’t mean “soon,” darling. It means at a minimum 2,000 years. Get your facts straight!
Those churches he was speaking about aren’t your churches. He was just using the same names, you silly goose. They were metaphorical language for “ages.” The tribulation you Christians are going through at the hands of the Roman authorities you think will end… forget about it. Why do you people think it’s always about YOU? Can’t you see this letter was not written for YOU?
One piece of advice I have for you: Get your time indicators straight. “Soon” doesn’t mean “soon”. It means it might actually happen quickly when it starts. “You” means “them”. “This” generation means “that” generation. “At hand” means…. well something that’s not soon. If you simply take the time indicators and make them the opposite of what they mean, things will make much more sense. So, don’t be encouraged by this [man]’s letters. They’re not for you.
This dialogue above was posted early this morning by Robert Woodrow in a Facebook forum devoted to the subject of eschatology. I felt it was quite creative. Robert said he wanted to imagine that “someone from one of the seven churches [of the first century] actually wrote into an advice column,” and received a response that reflects the way the book of Revelation is often viewed today.
This imagined dialogue is both humorous and thought-provoking. I know that I once gave very little (if any) thought to what the book of Revelation meant to those who first received it into their hands (i.e. God’s people living in the first century). As I was trained, I jumped straight to what it could mean to me and to my generation. In doing so, I got way off track.
No doubt this great book does speak to our generation, but, because that’s so often our first and only consideration, we miss out on what John (and Jesus, through John) wanted to communicate to God’s people at that time. On the other hand, if we will first take into account audience relevance, we are then far more likely to grasp the relevance of this book for our own time. And it does speak to us in a very powerful and hope-filled way.
All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.