Monday, June 11Scripture Reading—Revelation 20:1-6
In the part of the world where I grew up, many people thought this passage held in it the key to understanding how the end times would unfold. The notion that Satan would be bound for a thousand years leads to different ideas about the millennial reign of Christ. My Pentecostal friends were sure that Christ would return before the millennium (pre-millennialism) to rescue the true believers from the great tribulation that was going to follow. That was certainly a powerful motive to get right with God—to avoid the great suffering that would be unleashed after the thousand year reign of Christ (which is the subject of tomorrow’s reading). One of my younger brothers confessed that this idea literally kept him awake at night as a child. He was afraid that he was going to miss out on the rapture and be left behind! Over the years, I have drifted from pre-millennial orthodoxy. I see these texts from Revelation more symbolically. When it comes to these graphic passages in Revelation, as well as other difficult biblical passages I don’t understand, I try to focus on what I think I understand and hope that one day, texts that seem obscure and sometimes even bizarre, will become clearer. (That’s a good Wesleyan principle of biblical interpretation: interpret unclear texts by the truths affirmed in more easily understood ones). The good news I see in this text is that the God we know in Christ will one day thoroughly and finally defeat all that is evil, unjust, and cruel. The image of the angel throwing Satan into the pit makes that point with power! And in a world where there is still much suffering, sorrow, injustice, and yes outright evil, we can’t be reminded of that tenet of our faith too frequently or too emphatically!
Thought for the day: Regardless of how difficult our personal history or the world’s, we persevere because of our hopeful conviction that God will one day completely, decisively, and finally destroy evil.
Prayer: O God, when I am deeply troubled by the reality of suffering and evil in the world, please remind me that one day, your goodness and mercy will overcome all the forces that resist your purposes. Amen.