6 Sept 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
“(The book of) Revelation is a love letter. It is one of those books, which its entirety is disclosed in its title, ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ,’” said Mark Rutland, plenary speaker for the World Pentecostal Conference 2013 on August 28, at Calvary Convention Center.
“Some people say, ‘I want a literal translation of the book of Revelation.’ Well, I don’t think you do… Look at the languages represented in this room today,” said Mark Rutland in a room of 67 nations.
Once in Ghana, he recalled preaching with four different translators. Five minutes into the sermon, he wondered if his sermon had the same exact meaning he intended.
For example, a literal translation of ‘I am hungry’ in Spanish is ‘Yo tengo hambre’, meaning ‘I have hunger.’ The Spanish translation carries a connotation of possessing the feeling of hunger for something, i.e. wealth, possession, and knowledge. The English translation on the other hand, meant a state of being feeling hungry.
Hence, putting it into context, ‘I am hungry for God’ meant I want to pursue God to fulfill my hunger in English. But in Spanish, it would have meant I want to possess God to fulfill my desire for something. Likewise, is it right for us to literally translate the Bible?
“In Revelation, there are so much simile, pictures, concepts, and ideas. It is not a tidy western ideological document. But in the United States, we are such literal thinkers. The shortest distance between two dots is a straight line.”
“We may miss the whole point if we understand the book of Revelation literally! It’s in Hebrew, wild and explosive, filled with energy, sounds, and pictures. Let it inspire and shock you (instead),” said Mark.
For example, if someone asked, “How does Jesus look like?” and we were to provide the literal translation of Revelation, Jesus would be a man with a face shining like the sun, hair as white as wool, coals burning in his socket, a sword coming out of his mouth, and feet like bronze glowing in a furnace (Rev 1:12-16).
But this picture symbolically represent the wisdom of Christ by his white hair, eyes that penetrate the darkness where everything becomes plain, and Word that slashes like a sword from his mouth.
In his right hand he held seven stars (Rev 1:16). The seven stars are the ‘angels’ of the seven churches and the seven golden lamp stands are the ‘seven churches’ (Rev 1:20).
“Some young people said, ‘I love Jesus but I don’t love churches.’ But Jesus is found in the church. The church belongs to Jesus and he is there in every meeting and at home when you talk to the pastor,” said Mark.
And these churches in Rev 1 were real churches with people. For every church, John would address each of them by ‘To the angel of the church of Ephesus (Rev 2:1)’ followed by the ‘angel’ of the church of Smyrna (Rev 2:8), Pergamum (Rev 2:12), Thyatira (Rev 2:18), Sardis (Rev 3:1), Philadelphia (Rev 3:7), and Laodicea (Rev 2:14). Who are the angels here?
Some said that every church has an angel but that is not related to the text. The Greek word of ‘angel’ here simply means messenger. And who are these messengers? They are the pastors of the church.
“The greatest thing is to listen and pass the contextualized and personalized message that God has for the people through you, pastors.”
The pastors are the ‘star’, the ‘angel’ standing in the palm of Christ!
“There’re pastors who are suffering for Christ; churches which are burned, looted, and hated for everything it stands for. It (the verse) inspires you, for pastors faraway, to stand firm as Jesus’ star,” said Mark.
Growing up in a rough childhood, Mark has an older brother who went into a life of dangerous crimes, resulting in an imprisonment for up to 60 years. Once, his family moved into a dangerous town. As the new boy in school, a bullied three years older than him threatened to beat Mark up the following day.
Scared, Mark ran to his brother who was bigger and stronger to plead for help. But his brother refused. Instead, Mark was asked to confront the bully by standing three steps higher than the him in the staircase, to be in the same eye level.
So, the next day, Mark did just that. Placing his scrawny hand on his small hips, little Mark challenged the bully for a fight. And surprisingly, not only the bully agreed to stop harassing Mark, he said he liked Mark for a change.
Feeling like a hero, Mark wanted to tell the world about his victory. But when he turned his back, his older brother was standing right behind him when the whole conversation with the bully happened.
The truth is Mark’s older brother had been always behind him like a protector, akin to how our God is always behind us, watching our backs as we preach the word.
“Just say and preach the word! Your older brother (Jesus Christ) is behind you,” said Mark to a roar of laughter.
“Young people, say the message given to you in your culture, in your generation, in your time, and in your place. Preach it boldly and fearlessly to your people,” he added.
Kneeling on-stage, Mark asked the pastors to stand up before he prayed for the pastors to shine brightly as stars in the protective hand of Jesus!
“Pastors, you’re a star and you’re not forgotten. You’re on the right hand of Jesus. He is right here with you and I am proud to be in your presence. You’re preaching in the same anointing of the Pentecost, the same power that anointed Simon Peter in the upper room, to which thousands responded,” Mark said.
Note: Dr Mark Rutland is the Founder and President of Global Servants, a worldwide, nonprofit missions and ministry organization. It has reached thousands of people worldwide through crusades, seminars, camps, books, tapes, local evangelism projects, church planting, and leadership training. Dr Rutland holds a Ph.D. from California Graduate School of Theology in USA and has written 13 books.