The Amen

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. Revelation 3:14

 The Amen, the faithful and true witness, and ruler of God’s creation. At the bleakest time in Israel’s history, as the nation suffered in exile, God promised a new day to come, a blessed time, when the nation would be reestablished in peace, prosperity and world preeminence. When this promise comes to pass, Israel will be his witnesses to other nations, declaring among all peoples that he alone is God and savior, without rival among others who claim to be gods: “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God” (Isaiah 43:10-12). He is “the God of Amen,” the God whose word is true, and whose promises are sure. God “will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:16-17).

 

John takes all these promises and hopes for an idyllic future, and transfers them to Jesus (Rev 3:14). Christ fulfills the role assigned Israel of old: he is the witness of God’s salvation. He fulfills the role assigned to God of old: he is the ‘amen’ (i.e., the faithful and true), the God whose word is true and whose promises are sure; he is the one who saves, who recreates all things, and who rules over this new creation.

In drawing these correlations, John makes several points for his readers, and for us. For one, the fulfillment of God’s promises has begun, no matter how challenging their lives now seem. Christ rose from the dead and redeems God’s people, as promised. For another, Jesus is divine. He plays the role assigned to God in Old Testament. No surprise here, as John misses no opportunity to ascribe divinity to Jesus. Yet his point is not merely theological, but also practical. These believers are suffering for the name of Christ. Hang on, John urges, for Christ has acted to saved, and salvation is found in him alone, so as they persevere through suffering, they will be saved, and their persecutors condemned. For a third, all this prepares the believers in Laodicea to receive the word – the hard word – that John is about to deliver: this oracle comes from him whose word is faithful and true, from him who rules over the new creation, and brings to pass what he promises (and also what he threatens). They must listen carefully, and so must we.

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