sexta-feira, 10 de julho de 2015

THE TIME IS NEAR


Blessed is the one who reads aloud
the words of this prophecy,
and blessed are those who hear it
and take to heart what is written in it,
because the time is near.

Revelation 1:3 (read 1:3-8) - NIV

The book of Revelation was written in the second century to a specific people about a specific reality. To forget these facts can lead to absurd interpretations. It is an allegorical book, written for people living outside the law, sentenced to death for following a forbidden religion. They were constantly subject to arrest, torture and death. They needed a message to comfort them as they lived in continual danger.

It was written in a language that would be understood only by those people who were suffering persecution. For us who are out of that context and living a comfortable Christianity, it is difficult to understand the Book of Revelation. To us it has become a speculative book of curiosities and used to find out what will happen at the end of history, who will be the beast, the antichrist, etc. But for the persecuted at that time, its message is clear: there is a power that is above the visible dominate powers which were intolerant and apparently invincible. Those powers were doomed to fall. The final victory is for the persecuted, not the persecutors. Jesus was the supreme example who was persecuted and killed, but was now in glory. The hope of the persecuted was that even in dying for their faith, the final victory would be theirs. Death would be transformed into life and chaos transmuted into paradise!

There is a sense in which the phrase, "the time is near", is a permanent state. The conflict between intolerant persecutors and persecuted is constant in human history. Each era only changes the name of the characters. Also in history there has been the role reversal of the persecuted morphing into persecutors.

Revelation is a book for those of all ages who suffer persecution. As long as there is persecution the time is always near for the fall of the powerful. All through history this cycle has repeated itself. It does not describe a single last event of history. The book recounts cosmic realities, valid for all times.

First message is that there is a power above the temporal powers. Temporal means transitory, not permanent. These powers will end. They are opposed to the flow of history and are doomed to failure. Their supremacy is only apparent.

Second message is that it is worth keeping faith in the face of danger. Faith is the ability to look beyond appearances and see the greater reality. The transitional authorities can kill the body but not the spirit. The spirit cannot be conquered.

What is the message for us in the safety of our modern day religiousness? We are not threatened by death for our faith. We are harmless and do not represent a threat to anyone. Instead, we are being seduced with a gentle charm that also leads to death. It is the lure of materialism that promises prosperity. It creates spiritual, social and economic elitism. It encourages greed, corruption, hatred, prejudice and violence which are producing the frightening global realities that we are facing today. By being aware of these realities, we can resist their temptations, remembering that the way of Jesus is solidarity which can lead to a cross. Living only for one’s self is to deny the values of faith. Ironically, even without persecution the time is near for us too.

REVELATION 1:3-8 -NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

GREETINGS AND DOXOLOGY

John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”

    and “every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him”;

   and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”

So shall it be! Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

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