Friday, April 28, 2017

Revelation 17:1 - 19:6

You can read this section here.

There is a lot to see in these chapters. A reminder: "Babylon" is code language for Rome, and ultimately for all powers and principalities that draw us from the love of God alone. I find William Stringfellow to be an extremely helpful guide to these chapters. In An Ethic for Christians & Other Aliens in a Strange Land, in the final chapter on "The Efficacy of the Word of God as Hope," he asks the million dollar question:
If, as I have said, the moral reality of death in the Fall is so mighty, so ubiquitous, so relentless a power, what then? If Babylon be the story of every nation and, right now, is a parable for America; if indeed the Antichrist is incipient in the American technocratic State, what can a citizen do?
He then writes about the gift of discernment, which he says is...
...basic to the genius of the biblical life style...with the ability to interpret ordinary events in both apocalyptic and eschatological connotations, to see portents of death where others find progress or success but, simultaneously, to behold tokens of the reality of the Resurrection, or hope, where others are consigned to confusion or despair. (pages 138-39)
To see portents of death where others see "progress" but also, at the same time, to also see signs of hope and new life even when others despair. That'll preach! And then, this wise counsel: . the face of death, live humanly. In the middle of chaos, celebrate the Word. Amidst Babel, I repeat, speak the truth. Confront the noise and the verbiage and the falsehood of death with the truth and potency and efficacy of the Word of God. Know the Word, teach the Word, nurture the Word, preach the Word, defend the Word, incarnate the Word, do the Word, live the Word. And more than that, in the Word of God, expose death and all death's works and wiles, rebuke lies, cast out demons, exorcise, cleanse the possessed, raise those who are dead in mind and conscience. (page 142) 
I can't do better than that, friends! What the seer on Patmos sees is the fall of Babylon and rejoicing in heaven which is another way of saying that at least in the end, after much struggle, good will triumph over evil.

Truth really is stronger than lies. And so we bear witness to the truth. We live against the grain, naming death where others claim progress, but also not losing hope. Even as we we feebly struggle, we do so knowing that there is a cloud of witnesses who have been here before us, shining in glory, and they cheer us on.

 We know how the story ends. This allows us to live by faith, with hope and courage and love.

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