A Daily Dose of Good News
Monday, June 7, 2021
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Hi! It’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News for June 7, which if from Revelation 20:1-6. It’s not a long passage, but I thought we’d have some fun with it today. So, I’m going to read it and then we’re going to go on a scavenger hunt with the text (laughs). OK, here we go….
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.
Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years.
Here ends the reading.
If you are trying to understand Revelation literally, it is mind-blowing and confusing and perplexing. But, if you can be open to looking at Revelation a little bit differently, you might have some fun with it. So I thought for today, we would play around with it a little bit.
In these six verses, we’re going to think about what themes have we heard before, in previous parts of the Bible,? That pop up here again, in some way shape or form, that are symbolic- or that maybe help add to the meaning? So to think of these verses, kind of like a collage. A collage is not about each specific picture meaning something. It’s about the feeling, the overall sense of art, it gives you from these various pieces- which have been melded together and overlaid on top of one another. That have been created to form a uniform concept.
So, in going through this Biblical text, I think there’s lots of symbolism. The beginning starts with an angel- coming down holding a key. Now where have we heard something about people holding keys related to God? Well, we know that Jesus said to Peter “I give you the keys to the Kingdom”. So keys are symbolic- of whoever’s got the keys is somebody God put in charge, right? So this angel is coming down by God’s authority.
He sees the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan. We know from our texts in Genesis that the serpent is viewed as the devil from the very beginning. It’s making the connection of: the serpent, the dragon, the devil, Satan- all of those are the same thing. So that should seem fairly familiar.
Then he was thrown into a pit and it was locked and sealed over him, so that he could deceive the nations no more- until the thousand years were ended. So a couple of things on that. First, the idea that we’ve heard before about somebody who was thrown into something like a pit. Actually, let’s think about that… We’ve heard of a couple of people. One group that was thrown into a pit would be: Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego. They were thrown into a pit and God protected them. Even though a stone was rolled over that, so that they couldn’t escape. But God protected them and they came out unscathed. As the King watched that from afar, the King recognized: ‘There’s a fourth figure walking around with them. God is with them’. So that’s one story we know about people being thrown into a pit and then being fine, because God was with them. The other store we know (that’s similar) of somebody being thrown into what looks like a pit, where a stone is sealed over them, so they should be locked in, would be: Jesus. But Jesus wasn’t contained by being thrown into his pit, his tomb, with a stone over it. Jesus broke out of that, Jesus was resurrected from that. Jesus was raised from the dead, despite the stone being there. So the stone being there wasn’t enough to stop Jesus. But the stone being there is enough to stop this dragon, to stop the Devil. So recognizing again, that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit vs. Satan are not an equal match up. What can contain Satan, can’t contain Jesus at all.
Additionally, this concept of the Devil is someone who deceives. We think about that and there’s time and time again in Biblical stories, where the Devil tempts people by deceiving them. From the very beginning, the Serpent tempts Eve by saying: ‘it’s fine to eat the apple’. That was deception. Or when Jesus is in the wilderness, walking around and the Devil is with Jesus. The Devil is saying lots of things to try and take what is Biblical (what would have been at that time- the Jewish readings of text, of Biblical text, the Hebrew Bible) and twisting it, distorting it, deceiving that. So recognizing, for us, when we see deception… hopefully some bells go off- of ding ding ding ding ding! Satan’s doing something here. Or trying.
Next, there’s an idea of thrones being there. We’ve heard that before in Revelation. When there’s thrones, that’s symbolic of Heaven.
Also, this idea of : there are some people who have not worshipped the Beast and they refuse to do that. Yet they’re viewed favorably for refusing to worship something that’s a false idol. Well, there’s a story about that in Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar constructs an altar, basically of himself, a statue of himself, and wants everyone to worship it. Daniel refuses to do that. Yet Daniel is eventually rewarded- even though he doesn’t follow the pressures to worship this God- that’s not really God. Daniel insists on worshipping the only God. Just as these martyrs insisted on worshipping the only God. So while they were beheaded in that moment, they are given glory here. They are given honor by God. In that, they talked about how these Martyrs came to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years. Again, that ‘coming to life’. We know that Jesus came to life in the resurrection. We also know a beautiful passage in Ezekiel, where God calls to dry bones and says ‘can these live?’. Bone comes to bone, flesh comes to flesh, sinew comes to sinew. Basically these things that were dead, came to life. Same concept here.
So, I don’t know how many that was. 6? 8? Whatever. But in that six verses, it is jam-packed with symbolism and references to previous Biblical texts. So I think it’s helpful to kind of play around with Revelation sometimes and look at all of the depth that can be there in just a few verses. By thinking about: where did I hear this before? This sounds familiar. Where else is this in the Bible? What’s it trying to communicate?
So, I hope you have fun with that. I hope that in your life today, you know, I don’t know what’s going to happen and what’s going to occur. But recognize, whether it is clear to you or not, God is in it. Just like God is in this Biblical text and there’s all this symbolism we may not recognize at first glance. God’s in your life, working and doing great things. Being with you in the process and nurturing you in ways that bring you to more life and fulfillment in God. So recognize that there are some symbolically great things happening to you- in this moment right now. Whether you’re aware of it at first glance, or not. Have a great day everybody! Bye-bye.