Friday, March 26, 2010

Up to the bridles?

I've been talking about Darrell W. Johnson's Discipleship on the Edge for some time now. It's a wonderful book, and I begin to suspect that it has reinvigorated my own sense of mission and purpose. Johnson uses the Revelation to John as his blueprint for understanding our times, and the role of a disciple--a follower of Jesus--in these times.

I had never thought of Revelation as a disciple-training and encouragement document. Although I have read Revelation often, until now I have never loved it. And to tell you the truth, some of its passages have seemed quite awful to me. One such passage is in chapter 14, where the blood is up to "the horses' bridles" the length and breadth of Israel. Johnson's treatment of that imagery, which follows in the footsteps of George Caird and F. F. Bruce, was eye-opening for me. And wonderful.  This is not a gruesome image of the blood of unrepentant sinners (one common interpretation), but a symbolic image of the the great extent of the salvific value of the blood of Jesus.

Last year I left a church I had been attending for ten years, and since then I've started attending an Acts 29 church. It's a good church, I have no complaints, but for reasons of my own I have not exactly gotten plugged in yet. You might say I'm in the wilderness. But Johnson's book has been  extremely helpful to me. He shows me that Revelation is a picture of our times and all times, and a delineation of what is at stake. At the end of his discussion of Revelation 14, he allows the imagery to lead him into four "re-evaluations":
  1. Decisions about who or what one shall worship have consequences.
  2. There is a remedy for wrong decisions.
  3. Why be driven by that which is fallen?  Why try to keep pace with that which is collapsing?  Here he references 1 John 2:15-17
  4. "Our role in the world is to join the angels in announcing the gospel.  To keep taking whatever flack we get and keep on announcing 'the hour has come.'  'Babylon is always falling.'  'Worship the living God.'  'There is blood enough for the whole world.' " 

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