Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Esinleme gelen bölümler 7 ve 8

America is a fertile seedbed for novel new heresies. It could be because of a cantankerous, independent streak in our national character. Perhaps, we exemplify Francis Shaeffer's maxim, "the little man with the open Bible can tell the 51%, 'You are wrong.'" There's an anti-intellectual undertow in American Christian culture that glories in re-inventing the wheel, one generation after another. After all (I speak foolishly, here!), Christianity is so simple that any fool can understand all there is to know about it, right? No need to invest whole generations in wrestling with the implications of our faith -- a moment's effortless inspiration can speak directly to the heart of the matter. And Christianity is, after all, a new kind of "feeling" about oneself, and one's universe. Not a challenge to the way one understands "life, the universe, and everything."

Chapter 7 is a favorite among cultists, since it seems to suggest that 144,000 folks have an exclusive claim on God's ultimate favor. Everybody likes the idea of being in the know, belonging to a select group, an ultimate elite. Yet Revelation is a prophetic book, using a specialized vocabulary. In those earlier days, 1,000 often meant "a number too big to bother counting." 12 is of course the numeric designator of God's covenant people. Squared, to make sure all of them are indicated. Times 1,000, to convey the image of a vast, uncountable, number. Note what is happening to these select elect: They are each receiving God's "seal of approval." God's mark of ownership. This chapter echoes chapter 9 in Ezekiel, where the prophet sees an angelic messenger with writing utensils going through Jerusalem to put God's mark on all those "who sigh and cry for the abominations" of that city. As Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

But the comfort may need to wait for the next life. Those who are protected by God's trademark on their thoughts and deeds, His Word bound upon forehead and right hand, will receive their reward. And here's today's selection:
Çünkü tahtın ortasında olan Kuzu onları güdecek
ve yaşam sularının pınarlarına götürecek.
Tanrı onların gözlerinden bütün yaşları silecektir.
And, a few of the words:
  • taht -- throne
  • Kuzu -- Lamb
  • yaşam sularının pınarlarına -- to living waters springs
  • yaşlar -- tears
Yes, even if we perish in our tribulations, we can anticipate standing before the throne of The Lamb who is also a Shepherd.

Meanwhile, back on planet earth, there's more to do than just "grin and bear it." Chapter 8 presents the church's artillery, the Christian's counter-attack. We can pray. No, not just in the sense of vaporing pious wishes towards an imaginary heaven. When we assemble for worship, we are in the presence of the King, doing business in the throne room of the Almighty, presenting our case to the ultimate Judge, back seat drivers on the bridge of the Star Ship Universe. The leaders of the church (remember, the "angels" we met in chapters 2 and 3?) take our prayers to God -- and stuff begins to happen around us.

No, we didn't lose count. A pattern repeated several times in this book is -- a set of actions, a pause for reflection, then the concluding members of the set. After the business of sealing His chosen is completed, after the church steps up to the plate and fulfills its duty to pray, the pent-up wrath of God against His enemies is released. The leaders of the church are the maestros of history, implementing God's will for the nations by worship, prayer, and faith.

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