One of my mottoes when counseling a prospective bride and groom is “prepare more for the marriage than you do for the wedding.” Yet, it is hard for star-crossed lovers to get their heads around “till death do us part.” The logistics of a wedding are so much easier than the logistics of marriage. That is until the wedding day arrives. Standing with the groom, I see in him that same growing bewilderment, I felt on my own wedding day. With each processing bridesmaid a sense of foreboding self-doubt grows.
Then the door to the church opens. The bride, veiled in glory, her father at her arm, appears in radiant splendor. And it hits you. I am making the most momentous decision of my life. I am about to be responsible for another person. I am about to live for someone other than myself. In that moment, self-doubt and introspection grip you in a way you have never been gripped.
Then she is there. Right in front of you. You lift the veil. And the light in her eyes, the love radiating from her face assures you – all is well. You settle in. You breathe. You settle down. And you make vows that change your life forever. All will be well. Because once unveiled, ‘the bride’ is revealed as ‘the beloved.’ And that makes all the difference.
When the veil is removed, we see what really matters. Fear, uncertainty, and insecurity may still be there, but they are eclipsed by faith, hope, and love. However, what is true in our human relationships only dimly reflects what is true of our relationship with Christ. To know Him for who He is, to see Him for who He is, allows us to run with perseverance the race marked out before us. No matter where the course might lead. Yes, there is fear, uncertainty and insecurity. But faith, hope and love rule the day.
Yet, fixing our eyes on Him is hard. We squint to see Him through sight, rather than faith. He has revealed Who He is through His Word, the Bible. But the Bible can be challenging to understand. Yet God has given each part of it to lift the veil on who He is. As John Calvin noted, “in the Scriptures God is veiled, that he might be unveiled.” The one who defies description, describes himself in the limitations of language so that we might be able to see him with unveiled faces and unveiled faith.
No part of Scripture is more challenging to grasp than Revelation – the last book in our Bible. Its enigmatic creatures, symbols, and numbers are fertile fields for fanciful interpretation. Despite early historical claims of authorship by Jesus’ beloved disciple, John, Revelation was one of the last books to be accepted into the Canon of the New Testament. Martin Luther questioned its canonicity, and Calvin never commented on it. Yet, this word that seems so mystifying, and is so often ignored, has been breathed out by God, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training that you and I may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
More than that, the book itself claims to be a “lifting of the veil.” This testimony of Jesus Christ begins with the ancient word which means to “take away a veil” – a word we translate ‘revelation.’ For that is what Revelation and revelation are — God’s self-disclosure to us, that we might see by faith not by sight. In Revelation, Christ Jesus draws aside the veil and shows us his glorious purpose and sovereignty over history, encouraging us to view our circumstances rightly and live boldly. When the veil is lifted, our existential self-doubt and gripping fear are also lifted. At last, we can see that all will be well — even if it will not be easy.
Join us this week as we begin a survey of the book of Revelation, examining Revelation 1:1-3 to consider how this part of God’s Word offers blessing, encouragement, and hope for dark times. We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:30 am for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. Or join us on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube.