It can be a bit intimidating to be the resident ‘Bible scholar’ when morning staff devotion time comes around. As our staff look at the Bible together, there is an opportunity for people to make comments or ask questions. When a thorny theological question comes up, I know I really ought to be ready to shed some light on the subject. That’s what I went to school for all those years, right?
So, recently morning devotions have been a bit nerve-racking, as we’ve been moving through the book of Revelation one chapter at time. If any book of the Bible holds the record for the number of ‘thorny theological issues per page,’ it would probably be this one. Now, I can’t say that I don’t know anything about the book. I practically teethed on dispensationalism. My Dad was a great lover of Biblical prophecy, loving to discuss all the details in his devoted eagerness for his Lord’s triumphant return. So, Revelation is NOT unfamiliar territory.
But I still have my own questions about the book – as about eschatology in general. So, lately, I’ve just kinda been hoping that people won’t ask too many questions.
It became clear this morning, however, that an M.Div. isn’t necessary (!) to get God’s point in this final book of the Bible.
We had just read Revelation 12, which is of course packed full of detailed symbolism. The woman clothed with the sun. The red dragon. 1260 days. In my mind, I’m already figuring out how to phrase my interpretation of the symbols.
And one of our staff speaks up with her interpretation. Something like this: The dragon is the devil. He’s doing everything he can to hurt the woman. But the woman is following God’s ways. And God takes care of the woman. He protects her, and even the devil can’t hurt her. So, if we follow God’s ways, He will take care of us too.
Now, she didn’t really articulate all the symbolic nuances in the passage. But that’s when it hit me. She got it. She didn’t get bogged down in symbolic details. She just summarized the basic message of the “big picture” of the entire book of Revelation: The devil is going to try to do a whole lot of stuff to make the people of God suffer. Things are going to get tough. But God is victorious over the devil, and if we just stick with God, then we’ll find ourselves on the winning side. Because in the end, God wins. End of story.
I’m not trying to say that the details in the book of Revelation aren’t important. They’re there because God wanted them there. But I know from experience how easy it is to miss the forest in our zeal to examine the proverbial trees. This staff person didn’t make that mistake. She got it.