The Story of Revelation

Folio 10 recto of the Bible of S Paolo fuori le Mura, Frontpiece for the Book of Revelations; source: Wikipedia

Last Sunday, I finished up a 3 sermon overview of the Revelation of John. This was my introduction for the series.

C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien may be best known today for authoring fictional series that were turned into major motion pictures (Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings). They were also friends while serving as literary professors at Oxford University, and both were fascinated with legends, sagas and myths. When their friendship started, Lewis was an atheist and Tolkien was a Christian. Lewis argued that Christianity was just another myth, similar to all others throughout time. Tolkien put a question to him that forced him to reconsider: what if there is a true myth that gives rise to every other myth? Lewis was eventually persuaded by the argument and became a great apologist for the Christian faith.

Recently, my wife and I watched the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy thinking we would go see the new movie The Hobbit. In the series of movies, you can get lost in the cosmic battle between good and evil. As we have read the book of Revelation through in our Bible readings at church, I started to think about the similarities between the two works. Yet, we treat these two works very differently. Many are enthralled with the story of LOTR but shun the Revelation. One is viewed as exciting and one is viewed as difficult. In Revelation, every symbol may not be obvious, but the message is clear, and the book is a dramatic depiction of the battle between good and evil.

Maybe the difference is in our approach. We sit back and take in the scenes of LOTR, enthralled with the visual impact of the movie. But with the Revelation of John, we start off by dissecting every verse, getting lost in the details, and we soon find it boring and irrelevant. We don’t pause LOTR every 3 seconds and ask what everything means. While detailed studies of Revelation can be profitable, we first need to become engrossed in the story. What’s interesting about this story is that it is what Tolkien referenced – the true story that gives rise to all others. While every element is not literal, it is certainly true. Many people read fiction and story to escape reality, but this true story allows readers to enter into reality more clearly than ever before.

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