Friday, November 26, 2010


The End of Waiting--Concluded

Lastly, mourning the loss of the city are “the captains and seafaring men, sailors and all those who make a living from the sea.” Here is what they say: “Mourn, mourn for this great city/whose lavish living has made a fortune/for every owner of a sea-going ship;/ruined within a single hour (18:17, 19).”
The end of commerce extends all the way to the ends of the earth, to the farthest reaches of the seafaring network. When the city is destroyed, that destruction reaches into all facets of life and commerce. Nothing will escape its consequences.
Now, what does all this mean? Well, it means a lot of things. There are layers upon layers of meanings embedded in the text of the Book of Revelation. But for me, coming at the text with an appreciation of what lies at the surface, here is what I come away with:
1)Anyone who lives by the city will perish by the city. The city may be many things to many people—indeed for some it may be all things. But the city will never be the vehicle of salvation. That’s a promise, not a prediction.
2)Whoever puts his or her trust in religion, church-going, the temple; in politics, governing, legislating; or in commerce, investing, buying and selling, will find that trust betrayed—again and again and again. That, too, is a promise, not a prediction.
3)All of this—the end of temple, politics, and commerce—happens in “a single hour.” There is nothing enduring or deep about any of those supremely human enterprises. They are but a veneer over the chaos and meaningless of a human existence lived without attentiveness to the presence of the divine, and the promise that presence holds.
Let me simply close these thoughts on Apocalypse and the End of Waiting with these verses that conclude the Book of Revelation:
“The one who guarantees these revelations repeats his promise: I shall indeed be with you soon. Amen; come, Lord Jesus. May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen.”

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