Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
I usually don't get much from reflecting on Revelation. It is so mystical and allegorical, and I am so literal by nature (I am a tax accountant/lawyer) that I don't resonate with the sense of the scriptural passages. I am sure that there are several layers of meaning in today's passage, but for the life of me, without guidance, I can't figure out the significance of the olive trees as witnesses, nor the powers that they possess, nor how an olive tree can be a corpse, nor any of the other references. But it seems clear enough to me on the level I do understand that this is passage of hope in eternal life. The witnesses are physically destroyed, but then the breath of life is restored to them and they are called to heaven. John is telling us to keep the faith - even though the wild beast wages war against us and conquers us and kills us, even though the inhabitants of the earth gloat over us. Certainly for me this raises the challenge - am I a witness or a wild beast? Do the wild beasts need to be truly wild, or are they sometimes subtle, sly, sibilant servants of settling for the good enough, the easy path, the compromise, the rationalization?
What do the witnesses find when they get to heaven? Luke tells us that they won't find seven brothers fighting over one wife! It always amazes me when I hear these accounts of the then church leaders of the Jewish nation who get so caught up in the process, the medium, the trappings and procedure and bureaucracy of religion that they fail to see and hear the message of truth right in front of their faces. Here for a change the questioners acknowledge the wisdom of Jesus with a "Well done!" affirmation. And so I question myself - am I hearing the true message? Do I get caught up in the rhetoric and rules and fail to hear and practice the substance? Do I believe in the God of the living and not the God of the dead? Do I, like the Sadducees, worry over the details and try to find inconsistencies or do I focus on the truly important?
It comforts me to know that, as the Psalmist sings, the Lord is my Rock, it is easy for us, in this age, to forget this simple truth - the Lord is our rock, our fortress, our stronghold, our deliverer. Each of us knows the Lord in different ways, but the Lord is there for all of us. As we fight through the temptation to be wild beasts, to look for inconsistencies, our Rock is there. Let us chant our praise and sing a new song!
Now, if I could just understand Revelation . . .
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