Image: Christ in glory in front of the Heavenly Jerusalem, (Mosaic, Burne-Jones, St. Paul’s within the walls, Rome)
I listened to the entire Bible on my iPhone this year—the NIV’s dramatised edition– as I walked the country trails around Oxfordshire.
And the year dies spectacularly as one walks listening to Revelation—chilling, majestic, dramatic.
His eyes were like blazing fire, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. And coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!
Oooh, listening to it was like a worship experience in itself.
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne8 And the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honour and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Doesn’t it make you just want to worship too?
Revelation is so sheerly beautiful that I was grateful I was alone as I walked through country footpaths, icy rain blowing into my face, along with hot spontaneous tears I could not hold back as I listened to the sheer chilling beauty of that mysterious book.
* * *
The door I close, no one can open, and the door I open, no one can close.
What a wonderful verse for the New Year!
No ramming open of doors shall be done this year; no time-consuming hustling; with God’s grace, no manipulation— just a gentle leaning into the force-field of God’s power, a gentle knocking, a gentle using of the greatest and most powerful lever in the world, which is prayer.
And the doors he opens not all the enmity or envy or malice in the world can close, and the doors he closes, we will have the sense not to try to force open.
* * *
The week between Christmas and New Year is a strange week, a melancholic, dreamy in-the-womb kind of week, a time of rest before new beginnings.
We consider our year, and relive the past, even as we look to the future.
And those who read (or listen) through the Bible in a Year listen to Zechariah, Malachi and Revelation, to the dramatic end of the world in eternal time, even while we prepare for a New Year, with new beginnings, new goals, the opening of new doors.
Christ’s amazing self-revelation repeated through Revelation is I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the A and the Z.
A year closes in which his grace has shielded us, and a new one opens, in which his love will protect us.
“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” Deut. 33:12.
The goodness of God trails and shadows us throughout our lives. We are always under his secret service protection.