A pandemic. A monumental election. Wildfires and hurricanes. Cries for justice. Economic disaster. Societal confusion. Is this THE END? Is this the Apocalypse?
The word “apocalyptic” is usually associated with zombies in an end-of-the-world wasteland. But the word simply means “revelation,” an “unveiling.” It is pulling back the curtain so we can see what’s covered up.
Apocalyptic texts in the Bible like Daniel and Revelation use vivid imagery to expose reality. Everyday routines lull us into a cozy comfort with “what is” so that we are unconscious of “what is to come.” The Bible’s apocalyptic muscle wakes us from this coma. It sounds the alarm so that we can see through the mirage of life. It exposes evil schemes and systems for what they are. We need apocalypse in every generation.
James Smith, in his book You Are What You Love, comments, “The point of apocalyptic literature is not prediction but unmasking – unveiling the realities around us for what they really are. While the Roman Empire pretended to be a gift to civilization and the zenith of human accomplishment, John’s apocalyptic perspective from a heavenly angle shows us the reality: Rome is a monster.”
Eugene Peterson likens apocalypse to a refining fire. “Apocalypse is arson – it secretly sets a fire in the imagination that boils the fat out of an obese culture-religion and renders a clear gospel love.” (The Contemplative Pastor)
Is this THE Apocalypse? The end to end all ends? Only fools answer with certainty. Of course, only God knows. We are certain of this: crisis is by nature apocalyptic. It reveals truth by peeling back superficial cover ups. It dismantles sham gods. It calls to account any counterfeit trust in power, prestige, popularity, or possessions.
So what do we do with the apocalyptic?
Repent. Wake up. Turn. The Kingdom of God is not a distant dream, but “at hand,” at the doorstep. (Lk. 21:28,34; Matt. 3:2)
Hold fast. Endure. Remain faithful. Do the work God has for you in the moment. Seek opportunities to bear witness to his name. (Matt. 24:13; Lk. 21:13,19; Rev. 1:9; 2:2; 3:11)
Fix your eyes on King Jesus. Remain watchful for Him and alert to his activity. Open your ears to Christ more than any other voice. (Matt. 6:33)
In the last eight months, what has been apocalyptic (revelatory) for you?
What do you see now that has only been exposed by crisis?