Book Review: At the End of Time
By Else Tennessen
One of the hardest Scriptural books to understand is Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse of St John. The Divine Liturgy never features readings from Revelation and historically, the church fathers even had mixed interpretations of it.
In today’s culture, however, we are bombarded by a world preoccupied with Revelation and the return of our Lord. Predictions and interpretations of Revelation abound, explaining the signs, numbers and schedule of the End. Some churches even claim to have the “truth” and definitive explanation of what Revelation means. All this information can be confusing to people--even Orthodox Christians. So what are we to make of this mysterious book of Scripture?
Recently, I read the small book, “At the End of Time: The Eschatological Expectations of the Church” by Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos. Instead of focusing on signs, symbols and their interpretation, this wise Bishop focuses on the over-arching message of Revelation: living an Orthodox Christian life and the state of being ready for our Lord’s return. He explains that Revelation is a book of hope--meant to give us comfort as we sojourn on this earth – just as it was intended for the early Christians who lived at the time of its writing. Surrounded by evil and a persecuting world, these early Christians had good reason for wanting Jesus to return as soon as possible. But when He didn’t, they worried. So Bishop Gerasimos explains that one of the reasons for the visions our Lord sent to St John was as a reassurance that the Lord was indeed sovereign and had a plan for His return and the redemption of all creation.
This book is easy to read and a great comfort. If you really want to know what Revelation is about, this book will explain it. For Revelation is not about signs, symbols and mysteries that only the Lord can understand fully, it is about having a heart prepared for Christ—whenever He returns.
Book Info: At the End of Time: The Eschatological Expectations of the Church. Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos. 1997, Holy Cross Orthodox Press. 94 pp. ISBN: 9781885652065. Available from Amazon, $8.96.