Revelation for You – my latest contribution to the God’s Word for You series – is published today. I fell in love with the book of Revelation around 20 years ago and this book is the result of that love affair! Here’s an extract …
Mark Twain is supposed to have said, ‘It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me; it’s the parts I do understand!’ That is certainly how I feel about the book of Revelation. The problem with Revelation is not understanding it (though of course many of its details are difficult to be sure about). The real challenge is knowing how to live it. If John is re-appropriating the Old Testament prophetic critique of idolatrous and unjust power, what does it mean for us to do the same in our generation? For that is what a faithful reading of Revelation must involve. Where do we see idolatrous claims, imperialist agendas and unjust economics today? Where is the church under threat? How is it being seduced?How should the church respond to militant Islam or Chinese expansionism?How do we resist the idolatry of consumerism and the ideology of the self?
Throughout the book of Revelation John offers a penetrating social critique of the Roman empire. Conservative readings of the book of Revelation tend to mute this voice, de-politicising it or postponing it until the end of history. Radicals recognise the social critique, but then assume a certain kind of application, usually some form of political or consumer activism.
But when you look at the response John calls for from his readers, it doesn’t fit our categories. It’s a call to turn from the idolatry and ‘worship him who made heaven and earth’ (14:6-7). It’s a call to reject to seductions of the culture, to ‘come out of her’ whose judgment is sure (18:4). It’s a call to overcome ‘by the blood of the Lamb and the word of [our testimony]’ (12:11). Because this testimony or witness is contested, the book of Revelation is also a call to endure. ‘This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people,’ we’re told in 13:9-10 and 14:12-13. For some this may mean martyrdom; for all it means dying to self (12:11).
A version of the phrase ‘every tribe and language and people and nation’ is repeated seven times in the book of Revelation. John, for example, is told: ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings’ (10:11) The book of Revelation is a sustained appeal to the imagination to inspire Christians to resist the seductions and threats of empire so they might continue the task of world mission.
The book begins with a description of Jesus as ‘the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth’ (1:5). Jesus is the archetypal witness, who did not love his life ‘so much as to shrink from death’ (12:11). But he has risen from the dead and those who die for Christ rise to reign with him (20:4). Whatever the power and seductions of this world, Revelation gives us a vision of the greater and better reign of Christ.
There is an accompanying Good Book Guide available.
My latest book The Beauty of the Cross is published today by The Good Book Company. It’s another Lent book, following the success of last year’s The Glory of the Cross. Both books are a series of short daily readings, each ending with a short meditation or prayer, which are designed to be used through Lent and Holy Week (though they can be read at any time of year). The Beauty of the Cross is based on Isaiah 53, going deep into this famous description of Christ’s death, but also spread out into the rest of Isaiah.
Here are some commendations.
Here is a book to treasure and to share. Tim leads us on a journey through some of the Bible’s most precious chapters, for a rediscovery of the Christ who has walked our road, and who goes with us still. The Beauty of the Cross will be a rich blessing to you.
This is a book to savour! Tim Chester has done an exquisite job in walking us gently through the richness of Isaiah’s vision of Jesus Christ, the Servant of the Lord, as he walks to (and through) his death in our place. Beautifully paced, theologically rich and deeply rooted in the real world—take it, read it slowly, and drink in its Christ-saturated truth!This compelling reflection on Isaiah’s extraordinary portrait of the Servant has a simplicity and directness which will provoke surprise, gratitude and worship. Pastoral and devotional in tone, it illuminates these remarkable chapters through thought-provoking illustration and application which will warm the heart, strengthen faith, and encourage mission. A wonderful resource for spiritual renewal!Tim brings readers right into the right light of Lent. Christ the Lord. Like the old hymn, Chester’s meditations and expositions from Isaiah invite you to turn your eyes upon Jesus, to look fully at the face of the suffering servant, and see how the things of earth grow dim in the divine wattage of Christ’s glory and grace.The Beauty of the Cross is a wonderful resource for meaningful reflection on our Lord’s finished work at Calvary. Tim Chester does a fine job of focusing on rich texts in Isaiah 52-53 and then leads the reader to pray, meditate and praise our Great God for his perfect plan of redemption. Poignant quotes from church fathers and others as well as personal illustrations are value-added to this well-organized devotional. It’s a treasure! The Beauty of the Cross will be a great addition to any believer’s library.
The cross of Jesus is the centre of the Christian faith. None of us thrive when we drift far from the foot of the cross. It is there that we discover that God is not like the world thinks he is, that our only hope does not lie in ourselves, and that the hideous instrument of torture, the cross, is actually profoundly beautiful. Tim Chester’s book, “The Beauty of the Cross”, will be a great companion and guide as you meditate on the cross of Jesus.
Here’s a video from my time in Australia when Dominic Steele interviewed me about Enjoying God.
Available from http://smarturl.it/enjoyinggod.
Here are a couple of articles I written elsewhere to mark ‘Reformation Day’.
“I’m writing a book on joy and the Reformation.” His raised eyebrows were enough to tell me he was skeptical. “What’s joy got to do with the Reformation?” It was one of those questions that is really a statement. Joy is not something many people readily associate with the Protestant Reformation. Courage, yes. Controversy, yes. Truth, maybe. But not joy. Joy is a long way down the list when it comes to most people’s perception of John Calvin … More.
… you’ll never get an accurate understanding of God unless you look at him from the perspective of the cross. Only by grace do we see glory in the shame of cross, triumph in defeat, power in weakness, wisdom in shame. But this perspective also radically transforms our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus … More.
Here’s a new song which I helped write with Matt Searle and Nathan Stiff from Matt’s haunting new album, Watches of the Night. “We have been called to the feast” can be sung as a communion song. The tune (which I had nothing to do with) is that great combination of beautiful and simple. It’s gone down well with our congregation which is a good sign because we’re a small congregation without any accomplished musicians. Here’s a lead sheet.
We have been called to the feast
To come without money and eat
There’s strength for the weary and hope for the poor
Here at your table, O Lord
2. We’re welcomed with arms open wide
You feed us with bread and with wine
Your mercy is seen and your promise is heard
Here at your table, O Lord
Blessed are all
You have called to the table
The lost and least
Will taste and see
You are faithful, forever faithful
3. The wolf will lie down with the lamb
Your glory will cover the land
We taste of your goodness, the riches in store
Here at your table, O Lord.
Lyrics by Matt Searles, Tim Chester and Nathan Stiff.
Music by Matt Searles and Nathan Stiff.
In a month’s time we will be marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. I’ve written a new hymn for Remembrance Sunday, and my friends Colin Webster and Phil Moore of Cornerstone Worship have written a lovely, easy-to-learn tune.
I wanted to mark the sacrifice of those who gave their lives as well as praying for those who continue to suffer from conflict. But above all I want to the song to point to Christ, the Prince of Peace. The song can readily be sung by a congregation, but it could also be performed or you should the video as a meditative reflection.
O Lord, we look upon the past,
rememb’ring those who went before
who heard the call and bore for us
the brutal, bloody face of war.
We think of them and think of you,
who came to earth as one of us,
to share our pain and bear our wounds,
and make the final sacrifice.
O Lord, we look around today
and see a world in conflict still.
We pray for those who strive for peace,
who stand for truth or lives rebuild.
We weep with those whose hearts are scarred,
whose way is hard, whose hope is weak.
To refugees whose homes are lost,
God of all comfort, comfort speak.
O Lord, we look ahead in hope
to see the dawning of the day
when swords are beaten into ploughs
and every tear is wiped away;
when wounds are healed and fear dispelled
and all who trust in you arise;
when Christ, the Prince of Peace, has come,
and glory, glory fills the skies.
CCLI Song # 7120048 © 2018
Colin Webster Songs (Admin. by Song Solutions http://www.songsolutions.org)
Phil Moore Songs (Admin. by Song Solutions http://www.songsolutions.org)
Tim Chester Publishing (Admin. by Song Solutions http://www.songsolutions.org)