Narrative Lectionary Summer Series 2, 2017 — The Book of Revelation Overview
This day's daily devotion is written by Dr. Kimberly Kace Leetch.
The Book of Revelation can be daunting to readers that have not studied it. But it does not need to be intimidating. It is a frightening read for those looking through the lens of a prophecy of the way the world will come to an end. But there’s another way to look at Revelation – it is, literally, a revelation of how challenging life can be for those who have given up on faith, and how victorious life can be for those who continue to trust. More importantly, it reveals who – a loving and powerful God – is at the center of all power and majesty.
This fourth chapter paints a striking picture of the majesty of our powerful God. It shows a suffering world oppressed by Roman rule, just how grand, glorious, and mighty God’s kingdom is in comparison. The gemstones, thrones, and gold, the flashes of lightning and spirits – all of these are far more splendid than even the mightiest in Rome. John’s images are a powerful promise of the presence of a God that cannot be overpowered by their oppressors. It offers hope to a frail, broken community, and hope is a powerful remedy for suffering.
This chapter also lifts up how praise and worship of a mighty God can turn sorrow to joy. This scene encourages readers not to give up hope, but to continue to praise even in the midst of their suffering. Certainly this is a theme most of us can relate to.
It can be extremely difficult to rejoice in the midst of suffering. Many of us inevitably resort to “why me” and “where is God”? But when we do dare to rejoice, even when all hope seems lost, that glimmer of hope can grow in strength. Hope can pierce sorrow, like a tiny light that pierces the darkness. In John’s words there is hope for a suffering community, and there is hope for us as well.
Narrative Lectionary Text - Revelation 4:1-11
After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle.
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.