Advent Day 19
Read: Revelation 19
Chapter 19 is, in many ways, the hinge upon which the book of Revelation turns. The momentum towards a final judgment finally reaches its goal.
That being said, I think of chapter 19 as sort of anticlimactic…but in a good way. The chapters and visions leading up to this point have shown a growing tension as the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world are seen to be incompatible and, therefore, thrown into constant and ongoing conflict. A catastrophic eruption is impending. But then that explosion sort of fizzles out, almost as if it’s a dud. But that is a good thing. The great battle of Armageddon turns out to be nothing. Jesus just shows up, blows the whistle and says, “Game over.” We have been perched upon the edges of our seats waiting for a tribulation of epic proportions. But Jesus hits the lights and says, “That’s it.”
The great final conflict with which the televangelists try to unsettle and disturb you turns out to be nothing.
Why is it that they do want so much to scare you? Is it for the same reason that the media does? Panic inspires action.
This is not to suggest that there is no conflict in our lives. Rather, our whole lives are full of conflict. And, in one sense, the final showdown that each of you awaits with death is a fearful thing. But then…it turns out it’s really not. Jesus just sweeps you up into his arms and whisks you home to be with him.
By focusing overmuch upon some final showdown we are distracted from attending to the battles of the everyday. Endurance, that underlying theme of the whole book of Revelation, implies a certain steadiness and constancy.
Get up every day. Make the sign of the cross in remembrance of your baptism. Be reminded of who you are and whose you are. Tackle that day. Let tomorrow worry about itself. The book of Revelation doesn’t invent new teachings that our Lord did not promulgate. There are no exceptional preparations for the end that only those who are ‘in the know’ get to work on. That is one of the grotesque misuses of the book of Revelation–that it contains secrets that only a select few possess. And such a misreading leaves the average person vulnerable. If I know more about how things are going to go, and I can scare you with such stories, and tell you that I also know what the antidote to the terrors to come is, then I have you in my power.
There are too many characters in this world who want to control you. That danger, in fact, is one of the chief things that the book of Revelation warns you about. There are always pretenders and malevolent foes who would seek to deceive you.
Your Lord’s desire is to comfort you, not to control you. Fear is a tactic to effect control. Comfort is given as a confidence so as to inspire trust as opposed to panic.