Advent Day 5

Read:  Revelation 5

There is a scroll that is sealed with seven seals (which are distinct from sea lions).  In modern parlance we might use a padlock to capture the idea behind the seals.  The scroll is locked tight.  

Why?  What doesn’t God want us to know?  

As it turns out, He is not keeping any secrets from us.  The scroll gets opened.  But it has to be opened by a qualified technician; the Lamb.  

What does the scroll contain?  A game-plan for future days?  People often suppose so.  No.  In fact the book of the Revelation is not to be read as a horoscope, or as prognostications for days to come.  The book of Revelation is descriptive of history as it is now and will be until our Lord returns.  John is not unlocking for us the secrets of tomorrow, but rather the mysteries of today that we often misidentify or don’t recognize, though they go on right beneath our noses.  The Lamb possesses the key to understanding human history.

In fact, the discipline of historical study is really a Christian invention.  There were some ventures into historical reflection before the time of the church.  But such endeavors were really more like telling stories about the past merely for the purpose of extracting from such tales a moral lesson.  Christian history is not merely about drawing out examples from the past.  A Christian view of history is a conception by which we understand everything that goes on to be a part of a purposeful plan that fits together and has an end point in sight.  Describing historical awareness in this manner seems unremarkable to us only because or in so far as we have inherited this historical consciousness through the Church.  

That sort of historical consciousness is not self-evident to all, and is not guaranteed to persist.

Henry Ford famously quipped, “History is bunk.”  That’s why I refuse to buy Ford motor products.  Henry Ford doesn’t impress me.  Neither does his assembly-line model of production.  Assembly-line production means the same rote task over and over again; interminable repetition.  

For many people today the world is seen as just an endless string of ‘one damn thing after another.’  There is no rhyme or reason to any of it because they don’t believe that there is any underlying direction to or purpose for the world or for human history.  The Christian conception of history can be undone, just as it once had its beginning.  The scroll can be locked shut once again; not because God doesn’t want to share, but because we want to write or tell our own story any way that we want it, and never mind whether that telling has any connection with what is real and true.

The good news for you and for me is that the Lamb doesn’t abandon his post merely because human beings haven’t the sense to resort to him.  Understanding always remains a possibility to those who would be led by the Lamb.