Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ultimate Shepherd Sunday text

Imagine that you are a Christian living in Iraq or in Sudan. Everyday you are threatened and harassed and worse. Many friends, some uncles, a parent, and even one of your own children have been savagely murdered. Your life hangs by a thread. This book is for you.

Revelation 7:9-17 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
The Great Multitude in White Robes
9After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
10And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb."
11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: "Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
13Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?"
14I answered, "Sir, you know."
And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore, "
they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
16Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
17For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

In my (humble?) opinion, Christians who live in comfortable circumstances such as ours can only hear God speaking through Revelation if we put ourselves in our persecuted brothers and sisters' shoes. We twist everything to pieces when we look at this strange writing as some sort of map for the last days. In fact, I personally find Tim LaHaye and Tim Jenks (?) "Left Behind" series theological pornography. (And I should know, I couldn't put the first two down!) Cheap and easy and degrading. Just makes you want to go shower in holy water. That's what that so-called Christian apocalypse does.

But the power of this heavenly vision to restore hope to the hopeless is incredible. And even comfortable Christians feel hopeless sometimes. What a blessing it is at those times to have this vision of the Lamb on the Throne, who will wipe away every tear from your eyes.

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