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Opening THE Book 20 with Rev John K-S

JOHN KINCHIN-SMITH1st January 2020

Rev John Kinchin-Smith
Assistant Minister, St Andrew’s Church

I recently heard a wonderful quotation: “Hope is love stretched into the future". At the beginning of a New Year, I suspect that ‘hope’ is in rather short supply for many people. We live today with so many uncertainties and insecurities. Terrible war and conflict rage in many countries Our planet seems doomed by pollution and climate-change. And trust in the world's politicians and leaders is in short supply — to say the least!
If we Open the Bible, what hope do we find there? Well, I suppose the overall message of the Bible is that there is a God who is perfect love and who does "hold the world (and the future) in his bands". One of the books in the Bible where we find hope clearly spelled out is in that strange and difficult-to-understand book at the very end called Revelation
This book is probably the most misunderstood book in the Bible and has given rise to all kinds of false and crazy predictions, particularly regarding "the end of the world". The book contains visions and prophecies given by God to a disciple of Jesus called John. John had been banished to a remote island called Palmas during one of the many severe persecutions of the Christian Church by the Roman emperors
Much of the language and the descriptions of the visions are symbolic, drawing on other parts of the Bible. As such, they are not to be taken too literally. The book belongs to a type of literature known as apocalyptic (which means 'unveiling' or 'being revealed'). If you really want to understand what `Revelation' is all about, a good commentary is essential, such as the one by Marcus Maxwell (published by The Bible Reading Fellowship)
However, much of the message of 'Revelation' is not difficult to understand. The book contains wonderful pictures of the worship in heaven, it is extraordinarily clear concerning God's judgement on wickedness, it speaks of a God who is in ultimate control of history and creation, and ends with glorious visions of the end of the world when: "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order has passed away".  All of this will happen, the book says, when Jesus retains in glory as he promised


as published by St Andrew's Church in the Gorleston Community Magazine


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