I did not intend to write this article, but I just watched a movie that for some strange reason motivated me to write. The movie is “Notebook”, but not “The Notebook” that I also loved. I got in a little bit of trouble showing “The Notebook” to my Bible class at school several years ago. I thought it was a great, great movie, and that it was a tender story of a loving husband loving his alzheimer’s (I guess that was what it was) wife in her last years. I wanted the kids to see that, but I forgot that it had the sexual love story of the man when he and his wife to be were younger and not married. I just kinda overlooked that! Oh well, I still think it is a great movie! Especially in the culture our kids are raised in. I remember several years ago a preacher argued that a man could divorce his wife if she has alzheiimer’s. A preacher, mind you. Our kids hear stuff like that. Truly taking care of an alzherimer’s mate must be one of the greatest challenges that a marriage could ever face, or that a husband or wife could ever face. I hope I can learn from the example of my mother-in-law. Her husband, my wife’s dad, has alzheimer’s (or dementia or whatever; does it really matter what we call it?). He is a WWII vet, a self made man who always took care of everyone else in the family or among the neighbors or among the church members. But now he is totally dependent on his wife. As they say, we start and end life in diapers! And make a lot of poopy messes at the first, at the end, and all along the way. I think you get the picture of what she deals with. He is so dependent on her, not just physically. Although he can barely see (he has macular degeneration and can barely see, and can barely hear (a lot of his inner ear parts were taken out in “mash” ear surgery in WWII due to a fungus in his ear), he must constantly be able to see and hear her or else he becomes restless and just wonders around the house until he can find her. He is 93 and it so sad to see him as he is.
In the meantime, she is 89 and quite frail herself. She has fallen twice in the last couple of years, broke her hip and has screws in her hip, and has a lot of pain in he knee, probably due to needing a hip replacement. But she is devoted to taking care of her husband and her disabled, mentally challenged son (62 years old). She doesn’t want to do the hip replacement because she knows how agitated he gets when she is not in the house. Most women in her shape would be getting help to take care of her, instead of her helping two dependents. Her attitude amazes me every time I go to their house. Her husband will see people who aren’t even there, will poop and pee in the wrong places at times, and will say some of the strangest things at times. But she tells us about those things, and just laughs. Not laughing at him, but just laughs at the adversity she is facing. She laughs at trouble, at adversity, whereas most of us whine, cry, gripe, grumble, cuss, speak harshly, etc. She is a remarkable woman, a godly woman, who has always faced a lot of adversity in life, and has always laughed at it and overcome it. I have known her over 50 years (my wife and I are coming up on our 49th anniversary) and I have never heard her say a negative thing about someone or gripe about some trouble that she faced. She is the female counterpart to the man in “The Notebook”.
Sorry about that. The other move, “Notebook” is a foreign movie on Amazon Prime, an Indian (East Indian, not American Indian) love story with English subtitles. I am not going to elaborate on the movie, but there is a notebook that a young lady teacher keeps while she teaches for a year at a remote school of 7 children whom she loves dearly. Her notebook tells story after story of her love and her relationship with the 7 children. She doesn’t want to leave the school but has to, and a male teacher takes her place. He is not a good teacher, but comes to love the children also. He also reads her notebook, and comes to love her through the notebook, and even starts adding his own thoughts. He has to leave the school because he can’t really teach the children what they need to know. She comes back to teach the children, and reads what he has written in her notebook. I will leave the ending to your imagination, or you could watch the movie!
What in the world has this got to do with Revelation and another article on Revelation. Here’s what I am thinking. I have, in my mind, written articles on the correct interpretation of Revelation. In my mind, or is it arrogance, I have shown that the letter was written about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The letter completed God’s mystery as spoken through the prophets (10:7), and completed God’s plan of redemption. Of course the plan of redemption is centered around the cross of Jesus, and not the destruction of Jerusalem. But the destruction of Jerusalem was essential in God’s mind to show the world, once for all time, that His plan of redemption was through Jesus and the new Jerusalem, the church, and not through the old Jewish system. God knew that He had to actually remove the possibility of keeping the Law to convince people that He had changed the priesthood (Jesus is the new High Priest and all believers are priests as opposed to the Levitical priesthood), the sacrifices (Jesus’ body on the cross as opposed to animals), the covenants (a new covenant of faith as opposed to the old covenant of works), etc. There is a critical passage in Hebrews 9: 8 “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the [i]outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time”. This verse not only shows that the temple was still standing when the letter was written, but also shows that God’s plan was not finished until he removed the old temple and system of worship. The New Testament letters were written to people living in this transition period between the establishment of the church in about 30 AD (on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2), and the destruction of the temple in 70 AD by the Romans who were sent by God to avenge the blood of the apostles, prophets, and saints whom the Jewish nation had killed. We read the New Testament as if the letters were written directly to us, but they weren’t.
There are certainly principles that would apply to us, and the main message of the gospel is to be preached as long as the earth stands, but much of the New Testament does not apply directly to us.
So, more specifically, what in Revelation does apply to us. I tried to answer that in the article, “Revelation Conclusion”. But after watching the movie “Notebook”, it made me think I had missed something important in that article. I might had made all the correct intellectual arguments, but maybe I missed the love story. How does one get a love story out of the fulfillment of prophecy in the destruction of Jerusalem and the killing of over a million Jews, probably 200,000 others made captives? Maybe the answer lies in the last few verses of the last chapter. Revelation 22: 17 “17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost”. In chapters 21 and 22, there was the vision of the bride of the Lamb, the church. Of living water flowing from throne of God in the new Jerusalem, also the church. Of the tree of life, eternal life, available through the new system, the new covenant, that replaced the old Jewish system. Of those married to Jesus, i.e. believers, being able to see God face to face in a new way.
This is where the passionate, loving appeal of the Spirit and the bride come in. The Spirit closes this letter about the destruction of Jerusalem with a passionate plea to those who read the letter to come and drink of that living water that is now fully realized and made available to all believers for 70 AD forward. The church in the transition period (30-70 AD) could also drink of that water, but after 70 AD that living water as the source of eternal life was even more evident to all. This invitation to drink of the living water would be still standing long after the city had fallen. And it is free! Without cost! Isaiah 55:1 gave this same invitation: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost”. Isaiah was the Messianic prophet, so maybe that is why Rev 22:17 uses that same invitation.
But notice also that the bride is making the invitation to come. That is, the bride, the church of the Lamb. How does the church from 70 AD forward make this invitation? Well, the church should be about one main thing: the invitation to those who are spiritually thirsty to come and drink of the waters of eternal life and eat of the bread of life (Jesus himself; John 6). Yes, the church needs to be the “pillar of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), but mainly the church must be the loving bride of Jesus that invites the lost to come and enjoy the spiritual marital relationship that believers have with Jesus. Does the modern church really project that image? Sadly, some of the groups who do project such an image are people like the Unitarians. They just invite people to come and be a part of a loving group. They carry it so far as to say that one can come to their group and continue to be in a gay relationship, or be a Buddhist, etc. That’s not Biblical, but their appeal has some value. In contrast, I often as a former preacher and current elder, see a new family visiting at church and immediately I think, “what do we need to do and say to convince them to place membership with us?”. Or I see some lower class person come to church and I start to wonder what handout they are looking for.
Now, for the church to genuinely offer such a loving invitation to come enjoy the love they have with Jesus, that church must be built around their love for Jesus and their love for one another. Such is often not the case. Often the church is built around budgets, members gained or lost, the contribution and attendance figures, doctrinal disputes, etc. We need to ask, “do we really, really love one another?”. Do we really, really love Jesus and the Father? Is our church built around love?
So, Revelation 22:17 ends with a loving invitation to all. I will close with another thought about my mother-in-law. I drop by to fix something for her in the house, and occasionally just drop in to visit and chat for just a minute. She is always so positive and pleasant. But my wife continually is taking them to the doctor or carrying them food or checking on their health. And after my wife has visited her mom, she always sees me at our house and says, “Mom told me to tell you that she loves you!” I’m thinking, “Why would her mom even be thinking about me in the midst of all her troubles?”. Her life is so full of love that it radiates into everything she says and does. I wish I could be like that. God the Father is like that. Jesus is like that. The Spirit keeps telling us that the Father and Son love us and want us to come and drink of the living water they they have provided for those who are thirsty. The book of Revelation is indeed a love story when all is said and done! That love story is as strong for us as it was to those reading the original letter as they were actually caught up in the events that it predicted. The church today need to take that invitation the main message we are sending out. We need to get that message to as many people as we can in as many ways as we can. We need to send church contributions getting that message out in stead of spending them on ourselves. We need to reach out to the poor who are thirsty. Not all of them are thirsty. Many just want a handout, and even Jesus refused to provide more bread to such people in John 6. But many are good people who are just poor, but who want love. Then there are those children of the world who are physically thirsty, whose physical needs and circumstances are so desperate that they need our love. It’s hard to tell a child soldier in Africa, or a child prostitute, or a child dying from drinking dirty water, that the Spirit and bride want them to come and drink of the living water of the gospel until we help them with their circumstances. We have the resources to do that, but we continue spending our time, energy, and money on ourselves.
So there it is. Revelation Concluded: Part 2. Hope you enjoyed it.