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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

4 November 2020: Tom Cooper, Reader, St Mary’s Buriton

A thought for ‘Bible Sunday’, 25 October

As winter draws near, and with it the renewed increase in the spread of the virus that has dominated our lives for almost the whole of this year, many may be wondering – what kind of message is God sending us?

At times of war, pestilence, famine and disaster, people have turned to the Bible for an explanation of what is going on. In particular, many have tried to read the events of their times into the account of the end of the world that seems to be predicted in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. This has been the case in our present crisis. It has led some to believe that what we are living through now will culminate in a climactic military battle led by a contemporary political figure – and there are some people, even in positions of authority, who seem to welcome this vision and want to embrace it.

But there are many reasons to believe that Revelation is actually describing the conditions of life in the time at which it was written, albeit in extraordinary language. The world in which Revelation was written was very much like ours – the superpower of that time, the Roman Empire, was facing internal strife, foreign incursion, plague, famine and economic disruption. The main threat confronting the Christian communities to which Revelation is addressed was whether they would stay faithful to Christ or compromise with the Imperial power.

The Bible teaches that staying faithful to Christ involves us in challenging the powerful in issues concerning injustice and hardship, in caring for the sick and the poor. The message of the Bible offers us hope that we can all help in the task of bringing about God’s Kingdom of peace and love on earth. It isn’t about the future – it’s about here and now.

 

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