“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:12-15 )
The end is in sight. This is the last day that we look to scriptures that dealing with repayment of our life’s focus. For the Anabaptists it was a theme that consumed a large part of their writing and thinking. This was the result of not only theological and spiritual issues but pragmatic ones as well. The way they believed and how they lived out that belief had direct and dramatic results; they were put to death!
The Anabaptists believed that those who did not attend to how they lived out their faith would suffer for it. Peter Riedeman wrote, “So we truly believe that all our words and deeds, good or evil, are recorded before God and his Son as though written in a book. When the time comes, God will open his secret book and show to each all their deeds. [Matt. 10:19-22; Mark 4:22-23; Luke 8:17-18; 12:2-3] Paul says, “The day of the Lord will clarify all things, and then each will know why he is blessed or condemned.” [1 Cor. 3:12-15]” Humanity is free to act and think how it wants. However the result of this thinking and the action it leads to will be rewarded or punished. The type and extent of control exerted by humanity over itself will have direct consequences for live in the world to come.
In the same way that control comes from above, there is also control in the verses that come to us each day via Sip of Scripture. The verses for this year have come from the book Reading from the Anabaptist Bible. We have read through some pretty heavy themes. It has not been by spontaneous or randomness. The verses, and the themes which they are related to were set down by the authors of that book, and the theologies, philosophies, and theories were predetermined by the Anabaptists, or more precisely the Anabaptist writers of the time. As readers of the Sip of Scripture, we have been audience to the verses. And as commentators for “A Simple Desire” we have been working with the scriptures, taking what message we have found and written about. There have been challenges, but in those challenges we have learned a good deal. It is our hope that you have also gained something.
However, just as humanity is free to live as it so desires, we as commentators and readers of these verses have been free to read them and think on them, . . . . . . or not. It is interesting to consider that the Anabaptists who read and wrote on these verse coming to the theological places they did, and their persecutors who accused and condemned them as they did, read from basically the same Bible. But came out at different places. So with as much gentleness as possible, may I point out that if the themes we have been reading lately seem gloomy, you may want to ask yourself why.
On the other hand this current theme, “God will repay all” is not at all a theme that has been conducive to the Advent season. In fact, the message of the Advent season is contrary to this theme. The message of Advent says that God has sent to us a Messiah who will take on to himself the miseries of the world, and will bring hope. Advent is at the beginning of all things, when innocence abounds and good will to all people flows through the very air. We think not of the end, but of the beginning when all things are possible. Noble hopes and promises borne of sincere faith gird us up, and we find comfort and joy in many places. This is the season of song and festivities. And at the center is Christ come to us as an infant who banishes the darkness and brings light. And God sends us messages of love and a caring that goes beyond our earthly understanding.
We need to carry this message of light and hope into the places of darkness that we have been presented with this past days. While the theme of punishment and retribution has darkened these days, the Lord of Light has been there also. Look not to the darkness that the evil in the world would show us, but the Light that we know is ever present. May the days that come be filled with the Light of Hope, and may that Light banish darkness until the Day of Lord brings Eternal Enduring Light to our weary world. Selah!