As I was talking to some of the people in our Pathfinders Sunday School Class they told me they are finishing up their study of the Book of Revelation. Afterward it dawned on me that as interesting as many of the things are in Revelation, that book was probably not included in the cannon of scripture for people like you and me. It is not primarily for any of us North American Christians. It is included in the Bible for people like the Christians in Iraq, Israel, Syria and the West Bank who are undergoing intense persecution right now. Some parts of the book speak to us. Revelation 3:20 has the beautiful word picture of Jesus saying, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” That is one of my favorite images of Jesus. But the basic message of Revelation is to remain faithful, even under what seems like unbearable situations, because God is still in control, and this won’t last too much longer. All of the fantastic images of beasts, the numerical images and so forth that some people use to scare us, were not originally given to John to remain hidden until “the last days of the twenty-first century.” The symbolical images spoke to first century Christians who were facing persecution not so different to that being experienced by those in the middle east yet today.
Our study of God’s Word and our listening to current events worldwide should both cause us to want to pray for our unknown brothers and sisters in Christ who are facing great trials. I thank God that we have the religious freedom in our country that we have. I can’t imagine the kind of world that the radical Muslims are trying to impose, but know from my study that this is similar to the situation that the early Christians faced. I plan to keep praying and watching to see how God works to deliver these remnants of His people even yet today. Won’t you be in prayer, too?
Grace and Peace for all God’s world,
Pastor Jeff Symonds