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Revelation 17-22

Wow, we really made it! We’ve read the entire Bible, all the way from Genesis to Revelation! It’s been a long journey, took almost an entire year, but we actually made it through.

I truly appreciate all the people who’ve come along for this journey with us. Whether you read one chapter, a little here and there, or followed along with the whole thing, it’s good to know that you were there. Some of you actually contributed to the conversation, and that deserves a special thank you as well! The encouragement of knowing that people were participating in this project helped me keep at it, even when I was very busy planning a wedding and going on a honeymoon, among other things that make life seem so busy most of the time.

Brad, thanks for suggesting this project. Things didn’t turn out exactly as we had hoped, but I’m very glad to have done it, and I’m grateful to you for being a part of it with me and encouraging me along the way. We’ll talk about the project, what worked and what didn’t, what we enjoyed and what was difficult, next Friday at HuHot – anyone interested is welcome! I hope you can all make it out for the celebration and the discussion. I’d really like to meet some of you who I know were there but haven’t said much through the year.

And above all, thank you Patti, for coming along on this journey with me, for reading with me every day, for giving me the space and time to write these little posts even when it was inconvenient for our schedule, for reading to me in the car while we were driving, for trying to pronounce all those oddball Hebrew and Persian names with me, and most of all, for marrying me in the middle of it all! I know I just told you this in person a few minutes ago after we finished the last chapter, but I truly believe this has been a wonderful way to start off a life-long marriage. I love you with all my heart, and I’m very honored that you’ve chosen to spend your life worshiping our Lord with me!

The Bible ends on a high note, actually the highest note of all: God will wipe away every tear, and death shall be no more! Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is risen! He has conquered death, and we who trust in Him need never fear, for He is our protector, and He will give us the water of life without price! His words are trustworthy and true! He is coming soon!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Revelation 12-16

I have the impression that Revelation is like a bunch of photographs (or maybe video clips) of scenes that happen throughout the history of the world. Each of them has a specific perspective that’s always outside of the normal human perspective but still not quite having the clarity with which God sees everything. Also, the images aren’t in any particular discernable order, but are all jumbled into a pile. Certainly God has a perfect reason for them to be listed in the order we find them, but they seem not to be necessarily chronologically or in any other order that makes good sense to me as a 21st century educated western white male.

Today’s reading starts off with the passage about the pregnant woman and the dragon. It would help me considerably in understanding the pattern of history to know just what this passage refers to, who the major players really are, and how they fit into the overall scheme of redemptive history. Obviously these are important events, but any analogy I draw trying to fit these characters into the lives of those spelled out more clearly elsewhere in scripture always break down pretty quickly. To be sure, I’ve not put a lot of time into this, and have only scratched the surface of trying to interpret it, but it just stands out to me as one of those passages that doesn’t lend itself to easy interpretation.

Revelation 6-11

Whenever I’m reading Revelation I always hear the music of Aphrodite’s Child’s album 666.


I was introduced to this music as a teenager, long before I knew anything about the Bible or Christianity. The album cover mentioned that the music had something to do with the book of Revelation, but that meant little to me as a devout atheist; I just liked the music. I became so familiar with the music, though, that it’s stuck in my mind, and many of the passages of this book now conjure the music in my head.

Revelation 1-5

Here we are, reading the final book of the Bible! It’s been a long read, but this promises to be an exciting few days of story.

Last year I was in a class about eschatology, or the study of future events. We primarily focused on readings from the book of Revelation, Daniel, and some passages from Matthew, Luke, and a few others. In the process I took an interest in the similarities between the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls, so I made up a chart with descriptions of each for the sake of comparison. For some reason, though, I neglected to consider the relationship of those sevens with the seven churches in these first few chapters. When I have a little time I’ll have to add that to my chart to see where they fit in.

Revelation may not be my favorite book of the Bible, but it does have one of my favorite passages. The imagery of the beginning of chapter five strikes me every time I read it, where the scroll is presented, and no one is found worth to open it, and then the Lion of the tribe of Judah appears as a Lamb standing as though it had been slain. The depths of Johns despair, and then the conflicting concepts of the Lion and the slain Lamb, make this another of those magical passages for me.

2 John, 3 John, & Jude

We read three whole books of the New Testament today, and didn’t even make it through four chapters like we had been doing! It’s a little odd to me that the people who defined the canon of scripture chose to do things this way, rather than just making one book called “The Letters of John” or something like that. The letters are so brief, and John seems even reluctant to write much, preferring to visit the people he was writing to. Of course I’d like to know more about those conversations, but I guess we’re lucky to have the little bits that actually managed to survive all these years.

1 John 1-5

Patti & I have been listening to a popular radio preacher talk about 1 John lately. One of his main points is that “there’s deep stuff in there.” I have to agree – John has a way of saying things that seem pretty straightforward on the surface, but I get the impression that he had seen things that profoundly changed his perspective on the world. I don’t know if this letter was written before or after he had his vision of Revelation on the Isle of Patmos, but either way John comes from a different place that most of us.

One particular thing that I still don’t get about John, as well as the other New Testament writers, is their concept of the “last hour.” I could understand if by “last hour” John meant that the end was coming in a few days, or maybe even a month or so, but two thousand years is stretching the concept of “hour” a bit. Will people still think this is the last hour if it turns out that this age goes on through the year 5000, or 10,000, or more? When do we say that we must have made a mistake in interpreting that concept?

2 Peter 1-3

Peter talks about election in rather a different way from how I normally think of Paul using the word. Paul seems to talk of God’s sovereign election, and that being unaffected by our actions either good or bad. Peter, on the other hand, seems to be using the term in a manner similar to how we think of election in the United States, that the people weigh the merits of the various candidates for an office and elect the one who most deserves the job. (I’m certainly not saying that’s how things actually work here, just that we normally use the term in that way.) So which is it, does God elect those most fit for salvation, or is His election based only on His good pleasure and not on anything to do with us?

1 Peter 1-5

Finally, I have a chance to catch up! My Internet connection has been down at home since Thursday morning last week, so I haven’t been able to post anything from here in that time. Somehow I managed to take that as an excuse not to even write anything, though we did keep up on the reading. So now I have to write something for both Peters, the three Johns, and Jude. Tomorrow we start Revelation.

Along those lines, allow me to announce the latest schedule change that I’ve sovereignly chosen to impose upon you all. We’ll be reading all of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John in just four days. It’ll go like this:

Wednesday Revelation 1-5
Thursday Revelation 6-11
Friday Revelation 12-16
Saturday Revelation 17-22


I tried to pick breaks that seemed sensible in the story, rather than just slavishly sticking with the four-chapters-per-day plan we had been on. Well, I guess we haven’t really been on that plan in a while now, but that’s certainly the way we started.

One other announcement: We’re very close to the end here! We’ll finish the reading this week, so we need to start thinking about an “end-of-the-road” celebratory lunch! Patti, Brad, and I have conferred, and we’ve come to the conclusion that it should happen at 11:30 AM on Friday, December 18, 2009, at the Hu-Hot on Nifong & Buttonwood. Anyone who’s been involved in reading, following along, commenting, or even just lurking should come join us for this final farewell to the project.

James 1-5

James jumps right into the hard stuff, doesn’t he? One brief word of greetings, and he’s telling us to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds. How often do you count your trials as joy? I mean, really now, when you get a flat tire to you do a “Hip, Hip, Hooray!”? When you wait on hold with the utility company for 30 minutes then get disconnected, do you really get a deep feeling of satisfaction? James must have been in cahoots with the author of Hebrews who knew some people who joyfully accepted the plundering of their property!

Perhaps he doesn’t mean that our first reaction to difficult situations ought to be joyful excitement. Perhaps he has a deeper perspective in mind, one of acceptance, serenity; that we can step beyond our automatic and normal reaction to the unpleasant realities of the world and can act in accordance with the abiding peace, love, and joy appropriate for those who are ultimately being saved from the final trial of eternal death.

Hebrews 9-13

Five chapters today, so that we can finish off the book of Hebrews without leaving a chapter dangling. I like finishing off these whole books like this. In fact, we’re getting very near to the end of the whole Bible!

The New Testament doesn’t talk about the fear of the LORD very often, but today’s reading makes it clear that we’re still dealing with the same God painted so clearly in the Old Testament. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Without some context, I’d be unlikely to guess that this line was written by a person who knew of the salvation of grace and the teachings of love given to us by Jesus. The author uses the Old Testament repeatedly as a sign that Christ has come; he knows that he can’t then ignore the fact that Christ has come to save us from the wrath of God against our transgressions. Without the great salvation that Jesus bought for us with His blood, it truly is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.