The long weekend has given me a chance to begin some of the books that have been ignored lately. Leading the pack of "others have got to read this" is Eugene Peterson's "Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination" . In his own words, the book is "not a work of expository exegesis...I have submitted my pastoral imagination to St. John's theological poetry, meditated on what I have heard and seen, and written it down in what I think of as a kind of pastoral midrash."
This to say the book (and I'm only 3 chapters in) has brought the whole notion of the Scriptures (God's revelation to us) into a very tangible realm of understanding and with an even greater degree of applicabilty and peace. The book is less about John's vision and more about what the ENTIRETY of the Scriptures is based upon: God's inviting word - his voice, his breath, his being, his Son - and our response to it. It seems the "last word" of the Bible is indeed a very good place to re-aquaint oneself with the first words...
A few quotes to peak your interest...
On the danger of separating the written word from the one speaking it:
Words, spearated from the person who speaks them, can be beautiful just as seashells can be beautiful; they can be interesting just as skeletons can be interesting; they can be studied with profit just as fossils can be studied with profit. But apart from the act of listening and responding, they cannot function according to the intent of the speaker.... The intent of revelation is not to inform us about God but to involve us in God.
On the difference between "prophecy" and "prediction:"
The prophetic word eliminates the distance between God's speaking and our hearing. If we make the prophetic word a predictive word we are procrastinating, putting distance btween the application of the word, putting off dealing with it until some future date. The revelation of "what must soon take place" (Rev. 1:1) means precisely, soon - as soon as hearts are responsive and ears receptive and eyes perceptive....There are, to be sure refereences to the past and implication for the future, but the predominate emphasis of the prophetic word is on the now. There are predictive elements in some prophecy (and some in the Revelation), but they are always in service to a present message.
On "the Alpha and Omega:"
Alpha is the first letter in the Greek Alphabet; Omega is the last. Alpha and Omega include between them all the letters. Anything written must use the letters of the alphabet. God is all the letters of the alphabet.