Worship God – Saturday, 34th Week in ordinary time – Revelation 22:1-7

The beast, an agent of Satan was branded on the right had or the forehead with his name and number, just like slaves were branded with the owner’s sign. This was a sign of ownership. The Beast is also identified with the enigmatic number 666, said to be the sum of the numeric value given to the Hebrew letters making up the name ‘Nero Caesar’.

You must remember that the book of Revelation was written during time of persecution. Many references in Revelation are thus expressed in a code which would only be understood by those within the persecuted community. The mark of the beast must be read only in the context it was written, no matter how ‘endearing’ the cause may seem by some to prove otherwise.

The followers of the Beast, who are branded with his name and number, are now contrasted with the followers of the Lamb marked with his name and the name of the Father. And just as there was a ‘remnant’ of Israel that returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile, here we have the ‘remnant’ of the new Israel, the faithful Christians who have survived persecution and who will begin the restoration of God’s kingdom once its enemies have been destroyed.

In Revelation 22:1-11, John pictures a “river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (22:1). Along the banks of the river stands “the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month” (22:2). “There will be no curse any more” (22:3); meaning that the curse of the Garden of Eden has been removed. The faithful will see God’s face (22:4) unlike earlier times when God told Moses, “You cannot see my face, for man may not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20).

Overcome with this grand vision, John fell down in worship at the feet of the angel who had revealed these things. However, the angel replied, “See you don’t do it! I am a fellow bondservant with you and with your brothers, the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God” (22:9).

We come to the end of the Book of Revelation. The book underscores our need to carry with us a common-sense attitude whenever we read Scripture. If we don’t understand the word of God, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the Bible. Instead, that’s an indication we need to pray and meditate more. There are many mysterious passages throughout the Bible, and it would be an arrogant person indeed who assumed to understand the word of God in its entirety. At the same time, the Scriptures are written for ordinary people, not scholars; and all of us are ordinary in God’s eyes.

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