Well, here we are. Day 365. Last four chapters of the Bible. One problem, though. The Bible Gateway plan didn’t allow for leap day so we have one extra day with no reading scheduled. I’m still going to write something tomorrow but it’ll be more of a year-end reflection on the whole process. I’m looking forward to that.
But we still have four more chapters to go.
Of these four chapters, it’s a fitting end to the Bible, isn’t it? Paradise lost in Genesis is found again in Christ. Access to the tree of life made impossible by the flaming sword is now made possible by the blood of the lamb. Mourning for loss and pain in the fall are now shouts of joy and triumph in the ascension of man to great heights in the kingdom of God. It’s quite poetic.
““Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophecy written in this book.”” (Revelation 22:7, NLT)
“I, John, am the one who heard and saw all these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!”” (Revelation 22:8–9, NLT)
Considering these passages above, we arrive at a thorny issue. What book does he reference? I think there is a temptation to see his “book” warnings as the entire book of the Bible because it serves a such a poetic bookend to Genesis and all the meat in between. But Revelation was not written as a final note in a greater collection on letters and books. It was just the Revelation at one point and it was just the Revelation for probably 200 years before it was added, reluctantly, to the collection of texts we know as the Bible. So when you read…
“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18–19, NLT)
We aren’t talking about additions, subtractions, alterations, and such to the Bible. If you want to get technical, since Revelation predates the Bible, as a collection, then all the other books that we have in our Bibles are “additions” to Revelation. We can’t think like this, though. The warning passages in Revelation are warnings about altering the contents of Revelation and we can’t honestly think it’s more than that.
Now does that mean that we add to the Bible now? Are we free to do so? Absolutely not! But we need to think clearly about why we do what we do and I think additions are not nearly as threatening as subtractions. The Bible represents the lists of texts that the foundational Christians thought were authoritative for guidance and teaching and worship. We, then, view Christ while standing on the shoulders of Christians who lived and died over 1000 years ago. Their collective voice said, “these are the texts you need to know!” And too often, we say thanks and ignore critical elements of our Bible that they included for our spiritual health.
The danger is subtraction. We have a tendency, for whatever reason, to subtract Ezekiel, Obadiah, Jude, or 2 Chronicles and Revelation. Why? It’s hard to read and hard to understand, isn’t it? If we ignore them all, are we not subtracting? Are we not silencing the voice that could be heard in those texts?
I don’t know what the answer is but I think the answer is not “Ignore the tough parts and read the happy parts over and over again.”What happens between paradise lost and paradise found is vitally important to the story of paradise. What are we missing?
Lord Jesus, give us the strength and courage we need to sacrifice our time and energy to dedicate ourselves more fully to meeting you in prayer and Scripture. We love you more than words can say. Help us to show that love in how we act. Be with us father, son, and spirit both now and forever unto ages of ages, amen.