November 29, 2009

The lion and the lamb in SW GA

I had the privilege of teaching a combined group of adult Sunday School classes this morning at Americus First UMC down in Americus, GA (where Habitat for Humanity's headquarters is located among other things) and it was a great way to end a trip home for Thanksgiving. The adults there, most of whom were in the 50s-70s age range, were awesome. It's so great to come across adults who realize what it means to be lifelong learners.

The subject of my talk was interpreting the book of Revelation, with a specific focus on the theme of apocalyptic irony and upside-down symbolism in the book. This is one of the most helpful keys to interpreting Revelation without going off into doctrinal crazyland, as so many have done in the past. We looked at how in Revelation, Jesus is said to be a "Lion", but is seen in reality as a slaughtered "Lamb" (ch.5). Likewise, the faithful servants of God who are sealed and protected from the "wrath of the Lamb" (a seemingly oxymoronic statement if there ever was one!) are said to be "144,000" from "the tribes of Israel", but they immediately are seen in reality to be "an innumerable multitude" from "every tribe, language, people group and nation" (ch.7).

Thus, the 144,000 who are sealed are in reality all those who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes"...even if that path should lead to suffering persecution and ultimately death (chs. 7 & 14). It's not some class of super-saints who will enjoy a closer existence with God in an etheral "Heaven" while the rest of God's people live forever here on earth (as Jehovah's Witnesses often teach), nor is it confined to ethnic Jews who come to faith in Jesus during the "Great Tribulation" 7 (or 3-and-a-half, depending on who you talk to!) years before Jesus sets up a Millennial earthly kingdom in Israel (as many Rapture-Theology proponents have taught). The 144,000 of Revelation are all God's faithful followers, willing to lay down their lives for the One who laid down His life for them, depicted through Apocalpytic prophetic imagery as the true "army of Israelites"...with the true "Lion of Judah" being the slain Lamb leading the charge!

Revelation is such an amazing book!

Blessings,
JMS

1 comment:

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