Hope: Hopeful prophecy

by | Feb 25, 2024

We have only one chapter from our companion book this week. And our author is still laying out the groundwork for understanding Revelation. Meanwhile, our series is already moving onto the actual text, jumping into the four horsemen and not waiting.

The Reverend Naylo Hopkins is scheduled to bring this week’s message. I’ll be visiting Open Door Church.

Jeremy Duncan, in Upside-Down Apocalypse, makes the case that the structure of Revelation mirrors the Book of Isaiah. Why would John make this choice if Revelation is apocalyptic? The answer is Revelation is a prophecy borrowing from the prophetic traditions, but using apocalyptic storytelling for impact. And it works.

Reading Revelation as prophecy is the key to breaking through the obscure symbolism borrowed from other prophets, including Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. And the prophetic tradition of telling a story three times. But remember, prophecy doesn’t predict the future, although prophecy may illustrate possibilities. Rather, prophecy enlightens humanity by critiquing the present while revealing God’s better plan. Prophecy presents hopeful new beginnings.

That is, prophecy points to a better future that is possible because God loves us and all that God created.

Consider the prophecies of Isaiah as three stories, or as one story told from three different vantage points. Isaiah begins with a focus on the lived experience of most individuals. The rich are getting richer and the poorer suffer. Sound familiar?

Revelation isn’t a story told with a timeline. Instead, Revelation loops back to retell the story multiple times while zooming out to tell the same story from a broader view.

In the first part, Isaiah makes the case that salvation is a call to repentance. A repentance that “illuminates the cost of our individual choices, involves us with restorative justice, and saves us from ruin.” Revelation opens with letters to seven churches addressing the lived experiences of individuals facing injustice. John calls for healed relationships between persons facing hardships together. Living the way taught by Jesus.

Part two of Isaiah begins with a new vision. A similar break occurs in Revelation as John, once again, is under the control of the Holy Spirit. In Isaiah, the story of salvation is told from the vantage point of nations. God disassembles empires. Armageddon, in both Isaiah and Revelation, is a showdown between God and the military machinery of nations. War is no more.

I saw the Lamb break open the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice that sounded like thunder, “Come!”
Revelation 6:1-8

And now Isaiah, in part three, zooms out even further. Salvation includes the defeat of evil. Death is no more, not because we go to heaven, but life itself is transformed. Salvation is for all of creation.

Jeremy Duncan writes “Personal transformation, social justice, and cosmic healing are implications of a victory already w on.” Personal transformation, crumbling of empires built on violence and greed, and the disarming of evil and the cosmic triumph of life over death. Salvation from three perspectives.

This week’s text is among the best-known images of Revelation. The seven seals and four riders. The four riders take us back to the chariots of Zechariah pulled by horses of differing colors. I’m looking forward to what Pastor Naylor has to say about John’s vision.

Rome claimed to bring peace on earth. And those living within Rome’s boundaries as citizens benefited from Rome’s subjugation of other nations. Violence never brings lasting peace. But the peace of Christ endures forever.

You can join us each Sunday in person or online by clicking the button on our website’s homepage – Click here to watch. This button takes you to our YouTube channel. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsburyChurch.org.

A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to connect@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.

Pastor Tommy


Parts of our series was inspired by Jeremy Duncan. Upside-Down Apocalypse:grounding revelation in the gospel of peace. Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2022.

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