Ok, so maybe you’re not as childish or had so much over-exposure to trash TV, but when I hear the word ‘revelation’ I usually associate it with plot revelations, a revelation about someone famous, an amazing new product, or a well-timed conjurers trick. This week I’m looking at a few passages from Revelation, the last book in the New Testament Bible, so I wanted to get that out the way at the start.
Apparently the original Greek name for what we call John’s Revelation of Christ would be better translated ‘apocalypse’, but 400yrs ago no one had seen Mad Max and the whole post-apocalytic film genre just didn’t exist, so they went for ‘revelation’ instead. The truth is that this isn’t a book about the kind of things we now think of as revelations, but much more similar to the end-of-the-world type plotlines we’re familiar with from the cinema.
So, chapter 1… it sets the scene for the rest of the book- John is on the island of Patmos, he’s praying, he has a vision of Jesus who tells him to write down what he’s about to see. So far so good, except… hold on a minute- there’s a guy praying and he gets a vision of Jesus? Who speaks to him? And then he sees stuff? Don’t we call that insanity?
Which is a legitimate question: how do we differentiate between the ravings and thoughts of a madman and the voice of God? Content? Context? Past experiences?
I know when I’m praying and trying to hear from God the things that help me distinguish my own thoughts from God are whether things are in alignment with the general direction of Scripture as well as specifically agreeing/contradicting commands of God (generally speaking its my inner voice that tells me to put the coffee on). Also, it depends what I’ve been thinking or praying about- if I’m praying about how to support someone who is grieving and I keep getting a sense of something that connects with their life, maybe its from God, but why would God be telling me to pay my car tax right now? Finally, when I think that maybe I’ve discerned or heard something from God, I try to see whether it brings peace into a situation (not the kind of peace that we often try to bring, you know, preventing conflict by denying there’s any disagreement, but the kind of peace that comes with reconciliation afterwards). And sometimes, just sometimes, I go with my gut and do what seems right rather than what I planned to do- like writing a blog posting that was intended to be about how Jesus is the alpha & omega that somehow turned into a posting on how to hear from God… Who knows, maybe someone reading this will find it challenging or helpful. If you were looking for something on Revelation 1, i’d love to hear your thoughts…