Spirit of the prophets
In my work as an eye surgeon, I see many cataracts. I understand cataracts; I know what they are, and how to remove them. Many times a patient who needs cataract surgery to correct their blurry vision does not and to unravel this mystery of theirs, I often will ask, “Do you know what a cataract is or have you just heard the word a lot of times?” Many patients will exuberantly reply, “Yes,” only to pause. They slow down thinking back to what I asked. Then, they pick back up with the quieter, less confident, “I”ve just heard the word a lot of times.” That sets the stage for me to teach them a bit about their blurry vision and my proposal of a fix.
Let’s slide to other things, things like poetry, music, art, literature. In that vein let me ask a question, “Do you know what a muse is, or have you just heard the word a time or two?” In creative works the author, painter, lyricist sometimes will personify a motive force behind their craft as a muse. In dictionary-type definitions, other words like inspiration will be called upon to explain a something behind creativity.
Let me put verse 6 before you again emphasizing something like a muse.
6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” (Revelation 22:6–ESV)
In John’s time, there was a firmly established body of prophetic literature. True and false prophets were held as reality much as we would consider true and false teachers in our time. Behind the prophet’s voice was an assumption of God. Given that false prophets would market their false prophecies the people of Israel were directed to test a prophet’s claims. Failed prophecies were to be the evidence used to brand a prophet as false.
Returning to verse 6 we could paraphrase the words to John like this, “Remember the prophets of Isreal? You know they spoke true things long before they happened. They were not just guessing. God was telling, and here I am as one of God’s messengers. I was sent by God to tell you and the servants who will come after you what is coming. By the way, it will come soon.”
Get out of the imaginary1
If we look at verse 6 unpacking like we have, but do nothing more than smile at it as a pleasantry we fail terribly. There is a set of verses toward the end of James chapter 1 which I have put below.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25–NIV)
We must build our lives on verses like Revelation 22:6, not just read and talk about them, smile at them and go on our way.
This angel claimed something huge. He said that the visions, the spoken words, all these experiences of John the Apostle on this island in the Mediterranean, came from God. They are from the same source as the prophecies which John accepts as true. God sent his prophets, and God sent his angel. Each of these sources has behind them God Almighty.
In our era, we need to inspect the voices from Steinbeck to Jay-Z, Nicholas Sparks to Francine Rivers, from the Bible to Donald Trump. What opinions are in your minds? Are they good ones? Do you recognize truth from falsehood? We will only do well if we inspect our hearts, align them beside the teaching of God Almighty and then obey. Revelation is not just imaginary. Don’t just pat it on the head like your puppy and go on to something else.