Thursday, September 6, 2012
Scripture: Revelation 11:7 (NIV)
"Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them."
John is describing his vision of the two witnesses who will stand and prophecy for "1260 days" and who will be killed but in 3 1/2 days, raised again.
I wasn't there when this part of our scriptures was penned. I can't say what John did or did not see. But I can say, again, that I don't take any of Revelation literally (collective gasp). However, this verse speaks to me. Without digging into some trusted commentaries, I'm afraid to even venture a guess as to the hidden meanings within the pages of this book. I have my theories. However, this I know: stand up for the other, work to bring an undoing of social systems that continue to oppress, and wait to see what beast from the abyss rises up to attack.
Was there an actual beast that crawled up from some crack in the ground, or some depth of the sea, and literally attacked two men for standing in the streets of Jerusalem? I just can't see that. What I do see is the gap between the "have's" and the "have not's" growing wider; I see less concern for our fellow human beings; I see churches who continue to worship their traditions instead of their God; and I see folks still being excluded because of who they are or aren't.
At the same time, if I look, I can see those who are still working to bring God's kingdom wherever they are, regardless of the cost to themselves. Much of the time it's not those of us who stand up on Sunday morning or some other time during the week, it's the retired school teacher working at the food bank, the neighbor who heard the argument during the night and stepped in between an abused wife and her abuser husband, or the philanthropist who makes a donation so that kids he/she will never meet get to eat a decent meal. Sometimes they come under fire for helping those that others deem unworthy of help, but thanks be to God that they continue to take a stand.
God of the weak and the strong, hear our words of thanksgiving for those who work tirelessly to help your kingdom unfold before our eyes. Give them strength when they come under fire for what you have called them to do or become. Allow us to see you in the other. Fill us with compassion for them. Then, my King, give us the strength to stand. Amen.