Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Another World is Possible
“… there was silence in heaven…” Revelation 8:1
Revelation is the last book in the Bible and often, the last book we want to read! Mention ‘Revelation’ and scary images about “Armageddon”, “666” and strange symbols as coded prophecies of future events come immediately to our mind. Yet, what is often overlooked is the fact that this book has a profound message of hope, especially for people who are in despair. As the Biblical scholar Pablo Richard points out, the most powerful readings of Revelation are through the eyes of the oppressed living out their Christian faith in the context of the modern empire.
Chapter 8 begins with a series of seven trumpets. According to Jacques Ellul, the vision of the trumpets announces the coming of God in human history, to live and suffer like human beings but ultimately overcome the powers of evil. The earlier chapters depicted heaven and the Lamb on the throne. The focus henceforth, however, is on Christ in the world – the Word that became flesh – and all the struggles that this ‘humanity of God’ implies.
Chapter 8 begins with silence. “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” This silence is in contrast to the jubilant songs of the “great multitude that no one could count,” described in the previous chapter. Bastiaan Wielenga describes this silence as heaven holding its breath because of what is about to happen on earth. We may think of this as stunned silence in expectation of God’s coming to judge (Hab. 2:2). The silence, however, is short lived. The last of the seven seals has been broken heralding the advent of a new era when the seven trumpets are given to the angels. These are the trumpets that announce the coming of God as the king of the earth (Psalms 47 & 98). When the seventh angel blows the trumpet, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15).
It is true that the book of Revelation has terrifying images of death and destruction. The cosmic plagues depicted in chapter 8 that will hit the earth (vs. 7), the sea (vs. 8), the sweet-water rivers (vs. 10), and heaven and sky (vs. 12) too can be seen today as the pollution of the earth, sea and air. In the midst of all this chaos, however, this book is also the affirmation that “another world is possible”. The concluding chapters have a strong message of hope: “See, the home of God is among mortals, He will dwell with them; they will be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 21: 3-4).
Thought for the day: Is Revelation one of the most misinterpreted books of our times?
Prayer: In the midst of despair, O Lord, help me to see your silent but reassuring presence.
Dr. Jesudas M. Athyal. Carmel MTC, Boston