I am back to preaching out of the book of Revelation at church. One of the great aspects of speaking from the final book of the Bible is the sheer volume of detail- it would be impossible in any one given sermon to cover the multitude of ideas and thoughts in a chapter. I thought I would take some time over the next few weeks and blog about some of the details I just don't have time to speak about, but that I find fascinating.
This weekend, the message was from chapter 6 (to listen, go here: http://www.easthillsalliance.org/#/home/current-series), which includes the description of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Some of you may be surprised to know that they do not play defensive line for Notre Dame. (For the non-sports fan, just ignore the obscure reference.) One such fascinating detail from this passage concerns the third horseman: this rider is given authority, apparently, to go out and be over famine or economic scarcity such that a loaf of bread will cost a days wages. And then we get this unique detail: but spare the wine and the olive oil. (Some versions say, "don't damage") What is this all about?
Here's my take after reading many different commentaries, all of which seem to disagree with one another and would undoubtedly disagree with me. God gives this rider permission to take away from people what they most needed to survive- basic food for sustenance- but to leave the more peripheral indulgences. While wine and olive oil were of great abundance and used frequently throughout the region, these commodities in and of themselves would not sustain life. If God has sent out these riders in judgment with the hope of bringing humanity to a place of brokenness, this makes total sense to me. By taking away what we really need and leaving what we only think we need, God would be revealing the foolishness of some of our pursuits.
I mean, think about it. How many of us if we had to give up grain or Facebook might actually choose grain? How many if we had to give up clean drinking water or our car might actually keep the car? We are accustomed to having so much, much more than we really need, that the idea of not having our basest of needs is tough to even imagine. I wonder if that is why the third rider is given this authority: take away what they really need in order to expose the triviality of what they want most. If Revelation is an unveiling- a new way of seeing the world- this would certainly accomplish it.
May the curtain of our lives be pulled back to see all of the ways in which we put our hope and our trust in stuff that won't last. May our security be in the Giver of Life alone.