Hello! Ya'll, we only have 4 more days left. This is so insanely surreal and also kinda sad to be honest haha. This blog is what defined me this last year. Thank you all for your encouragement along the way and for sharing how meaningful it's been for you! We invite you to join us at Holbrook Hollows Pavilion on Monday at 6pm. We will read together live one final time and share in communion as we give celebration to this amazing journey. Plenty of parking and some coverage in the case of rain. If you have any questions just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to help. For now, let's read. :)
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What do you think the "mark of the beast" looks like or symbolizes? Why would it be placed on the forehead or forearm?
What do you think the woman and the dragon represent?
The infamous number of the beast - 666 - is mentioned here in today's reading. Considering the usage of number in revelation what do you think this means?
- Commentary -
Whew, there is a lot to talk about here. Let's start with the woman and dragon thing. According to official commentary this story represents the arcing story of "Babylon" (the face of sin in the Old Testament - here the dragon) against God's people (the woman) how it continues to try and kill God's chosen but they are protected, not in luxury, but in the wilderness, a place of mystery and discernment. Talking about Satan and the cosmic war between good and evil is often ignored because it's odd or seems childish, but consider that this just symbolic writing. What could this symbolize? By personifying the devil as a dragon or a serpent it presents a tangible approach to "what is separating you and this world from God's design?" Therefore, Revelation isn't a rejection of the present world and the signs of its goodness but a rejection of the things that exploit it and its people. For example, we might want to outsource our work so it can be done cheaper or buy meats that are cheaper but at what cost? A human cost and an inhumane treatment of animals cost. The dragon represents those temptations to pursue persona achievement, success, wealth at the cost of another person. The woman, represents Moses in the wilderness running from such oppression, the Israelites being led through wilderness to a promised land, the people being liberated from Babylon by persia, and Jesus liberating God from the temple when it split in two at his death. Revelation is a book of liberation and dissent and that theme continues to become more and more clear as we read.
Alright, so the whole number of the beast thing and all that. It's not nearly as cosmic as you might want to think, at least according to most scholars and in most commentary I've read. If 7 is considered perfection in Biblical numerology, than 6 is as close as one can get to perfection while still falling short of it. If 777 represents the Trinity of God than 666 is as close as one can get to that Trinity but not quite. Therefore, Satan, the great tempter from Genesis, Job, Gospels, and Epistles alike is so good as deceiving us, tempting us, luring us away from God because of how charismatic Satan (and by extension sin) is. Sin often feels good (eating junk food vs good food, for example), sin often comes with benefits (more money in our accounts if we don't give to the poor), and personal blessing vs corporate blessing is much more exciting. But, that's not what God's kingdom looks like. Therefore, Revelation is writing to its reader not to literally look for the number of the beast and reject it but instead look closely for the "sin" hidden in plain sight or the personal temptations that lure closest to your heart and resist them.
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 354 in our hymnal - I Surrender All. This is a great hymn that is PERFECT for today as the story of the woman and dragon is all about saying we cannot defeat sin by our own powers but rather through our vulnerability to our flaws.
1. All to Jesus I surrender; all to him I freely give; I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live.
Refrain: I surrender all, I surrender all, all to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
2. All to Jesus I surrender; humbly at his feet I bow, worldly pleasures all forsaken; take me, Jesus, take me now. [Refrain]
3. All to Jesus I surrender; make me, Savior, wholly thine; let me feel the Holy Spirit, truly know that thou art mine. [Refrain]
4. All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to thee; fill me with thy love and power; let thy blessing fall on me. [Refrain]
5. All to Jesus I surrender; now I feel the sacred flame. O the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory to his name! [Refrain]