“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.”
~Revelation 1:3 (NRSV)
“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’.”
~Matthew 4:17 (NRSV)
The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ is written down for us in word pictures, the best the Apostle John could describe in the book of Revelation: a New Testament work without compare.
It speaks of a time to come, a time drawing ever nearer, indeed close, today.
Of course, the naysayers are in the majority. It is worthy for us to look at the difficulty of apocalyptic writing through the eyes of William Blake, who said:
“You say that I want somebody to Elucidate my Ideas. But you ought to know that What is Grand is necessarily obscure to Weak men. That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worthy my care. The wisest of the Ancients consider’d what is not too Explicit as the fittest for Instruction, because it rouzes the faculties to act.”
~Letter to Dr. Trusler, 23 August 1799.
Idiosyncratic William Blake may have been God’s perfect selection to elucidate such ideas as the Apocalypse. Such ideas are not availed ‘sensible’ men—from the world’s definition of sense (go right to 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 on God’s wisdom versus humankind’s). The logical thinker will be stumped by the concepts expounded in Revelation.
Confused But Still Open-Minded
The true servant of God, as they read the book of Revelation, the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, will often be confused by the concepts arranged in horror-movie scale. But, they will also deflect temptation to judge too easily or too quickly.
The Lord’s angel supplied John with the prophecy of the Apocalypse, an eternal event, and even the Apostle struggled to come to terms with how to describe such calamitous splendour.
The book of Revelation was not given for the sense of analysis, or diatribe, but for plain experience regarding the holiness and might and wisdom of God. It is believed by the person not demanding proof of God—the one to walk by faith, not sight.
Such a person, in William Blake’s estimation, will revel in what is “not too explicit”—seeing it as “the fittest for instruction.” Such a person willingly chooses for an open mind in the realm of things which cannot be explained, only believed or experienced.
Time Will Close Soon
What the common person can find laughable—an apocalyptic prophecy for imminence two millennia old—the believing person can see from the aspect of eternity: a concept itself not explainable with ease in human terms.
God is not goaded by the gargantuan corpus of delay; to the Lord there is no delay. The apocalyptic vision has been given and that timeline is now in play.
The final things may seem distantly off; but time draws near to a close. The saints and servants of God anticipate keenly for that end to come and for all things to be made right. The kingdom of heaven is near and has been eternally so. Now is the time to make things right and ready; the time is near...
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Image: William Blake’s, The Last Judgement.