Summary: Life is full of chaos but God is in control
Chaos is a state that most people don’t like to live in. Chaos and its cousins: confusion, disorder, mess, clutter, muddle, anarchy, and pandemonium are never welcome in my life. But for some reason, just like a natural gas salesperson, they keep knocking at my door; seeking to interrupt my life with a not so health dose of stress.
Sometimes chaos is self-inflicted, like the state of my office. At other times chaos is imposed, like a couple of years ago when we were renovating our kitchen and while we were waiting on a counter, we basically had to live without water or a skink, or tables in our kitchen for a couple of months. Meanwhile the cabinets sat in boxes that filled our entryway. The result was that you could clearly document the decent into madness that affected our entire family.
This past summer, one day after returning from our holidays, our adjoining neighbour had a fire and lost the interior of their house and caused some significant damage to our house as well. We had broken windows and smoke damage and a few holes in the walls of the basement. We were blessed that we didn’t have more damage, but still, it wasn’t until mid-January when everything was repaired. Our cat, Lucy, who is definitely the most sensitive of the family, is still in therapy as a result.
A home is supposed to be relaxed and safe. It is supposed to be a refuge from chaos; not the source of chaos. Chaos is never supposed to make its way through the door of where we live, but it does!
In fact sometimes chaos digs its way deep into our lives. Maybe it is illness or a lost job, or bills too big to manage, or relationships that no longer relate. Nothing is worse than chaos that moves into our relationships. Sometimes we want to just run away, or hide, or give up. We stand in the middle of a whirlwind that seems to be destroying everything we trusted to make us feel safe. Sometimes the confusion takes over and we don’t have a clue about what to do.
Please turn with me to Revelation 1:4-8, p. 1033
As you turn there, let me remind you that last week we talked about the fact that while Revelation has much in common with the rest of the New Testament in content, it differs considerably when you look at its style and approach. It speaks in a way that is loud, confusing and chaotic.
As an apocalyptic work, it reveals to us a view of the spiritual world that we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise, and it does it in a way that creates within us an experience designed to enhance and emphases its themes. At the same time, the prophetic side of its message has much more to do with a call to stand firm and stay faithful to Christ than it has to do with future predictions. Like all prophesy, it speaks of the past and the future, but only in relation to the present. It was designed as a wake-up call and an encouragement to Christians who were surrounded by chaos.
Beginning with verse 4 we read: John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. 7 Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. 8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
The first thing I want you to notice is that Revelation isn’t only apocalyptic and prophetic; it is also a letter. Verse 4 makes that clear. John writes: “John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you . . .” So after John gives a general introduction in verses 1-3, he gives us the common greeting that was part of many of the New Testament letters, whether we are talking about the letters of Paul , or Peter, or anyone else.
Note also that the last verse of Revelation ends with these words from John, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen. (Revelation 22:21). This again, is a typical, or common way, to end a letter. This is the New Testament equivalent of “sincerely yours.”