Henry Ward Beecher, 19th Century American preacher and journalist said; "The soul without imagination is what an observatory would be without a telescope."
It struck me the other day as I preach through the book of Revelation, and as we chew over ideas at home group on the same topic, we would be lost without the imagination. There's no escaping that now we are in chapter 9, and knee deep in the carnage of the seven trumpet plagues, we would be lost without engaging our imaginations.We spent some time with the garish plague of giant armoured locusts on Monday night, described thus;
"like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had scales like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails like scorpions, with stings, and in their tails is their power to harm people for five months. " (Rev 9: 7-10)
Locusts can look a bit like mini-horses, and their life cycle is around five months, but these locusts are like a sci-fi nightmare. One is reminded of the fiendish mutts created for the purpose of torment and fear by the Capital in the Hunger Games. On Monday I invited our home group to imagine what it would be like to be there, experiencing such a thing as the monster locusts approaching. The sights, sounds and smells would be terrifying.
Remember that John the Seer engages the imaginative genre of Apocalyptic to speak a word of judgement against the misuse of power in the empire, and a word of hope and encouragement to the oppressed churches of Asia Minor (now Western Turkey). His coded imagery and Old Testament references spoke to those who had ears to hear, but were lost on the pagan powers of the day.
This scripture speaks to me, and I hope all of us, in our current global situation of health emergency, climate change, political turmoil and a distinct absence of dignified, measured and wise world leaders, with one or two notable exceptions.
The symbolism of Revelation speaks just as well now into our contemporary situation as it did more than nineteen centuries ago. The beauty of it is that it flies under the radar - except for those with 'ears to hear'.
Please never lose the child-like tendency to imagine. Then Revelation will speak, and enable us to engage with the world wisely and with discernment.