Verily, A New Hope

In time so long ago begins our play,
In a star-crossed galaxy far, far away.

Do those words sound familiar? Even vaguely? If you’re a Star Wars fan, they should. That’s the way the opening prologue ends in Ian Doescher’s marvelous re-telling of Star Wars set in Shakespearean verse. I saw this book–in fact the series of six books–in our local Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago and was too intrigued to pass it up. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS comes with the full backing and approval of George Lucas (it carries the “Lucas Books” logo though it’s actually published by Quirk Books), so it’s not a mere work of fan fiction. This is an homage to both the saga and the Bard, and it is very cleverly done. Take this snippet of monologue from the end of Act II:

Adventure have I ask’d for in this life,
And now have I too much of my desire,
My soul within me weeps; my mind, it runs
Unto a thousand thousand varied paths.
My uncle Owen and my aunt Beru,
Have they been cruelly kill’d for what I want?
So shall I never want again if in
The wanting all I love shall be destroy’d.
O fie! Thou knave adventure! Evil trick
Of boyhood’s mind that ever should one seek
To have adventure when one hath a home–
A family so kind so full of love,
Good, steady work, and vast, abundant crops–
Why would one give up all this gentle life
For that one beastly word: adventure? Fie!

The author, Ian Doescher says he is a life-long fan of Shakespeare, and even though he was born a few months after Star Wars hit screens, he is clearly well acquainted with the series. This isn’t really a review of the book. I’m not well-versed enough in Shakespeare to comment on its authenticity. But from what little I do know of Shakespeare, and what I’ve read of his plays, this has the ring of verisimilitude. And at the very least, it’s fun.

Dotted throughout the book are illustrations of characters from the movie in Elizabethan-type attire, drawn as if they were period woodcuts. Other elements that may resonate with fans of Shakespeare: a chorus that introduces scenes, and provides some third-person-omniscient insight into what’s going on:

Now, in her cell the princess doth remain,
With hope and trouble written on her face.
At times she faces torture, horrid pain.
With these tools Vader seeks the rebel base.
While Leia in her captive state is kept,
Young Luke and Obi-Wan set on their way.
Approaching town, they hope to intercept
A pilot to transport them sans delay.

This is soon followed by an exchange that should raise a smile on the face of any Star Wars fan:

TROOPER 3: I prithee, speak, how long hast thou these droids?
LUKE: ‘Tis three or, mayhap, four full seasons now.
OBI-WAN: We are prepar’d to sell them, shouldst thou wish.
CHORUS: Now is the Force to noble purpose us’d–
          Not as the Sith, employing it to smite,
          Hath through the dark side rank the Force abus’d–
          Good Obi-Wan shall use the Force for right.
TROOPER 4: Pray, show me now thy papers.
OBI-WAN:    —Nay, thou dost
          Not need to see his papers.
TROOPER 4:     –Nay, we do
          Not need to see his papers.
OBI-WAN:      –True it is,
          That these are not the droids for which thou search’st.
TROOPER 3: Aye, these are not the droids for which we search.
OBI-WAN: And now, the lad may go his merry way.
TROOPER 3: Good lad, I prithee, go thy merry way!
OBI-WAN: Now get thee hence,
TROOPER 4:     –Now get thee hence, go hence!

He also makes use of asides, that breaking of the “fourth wall” you never see in TV or movie drama, but is used frequently in Shakespearean dialog. For example:

C-3PO: I’ll tell thee true, I would with Master Luke
          Prefer to go than now remain with thee.
          I do not know what trouble here may be,
          Yet certain am I thou deserv’st the blame.
R2D2: [aside:] I’ll warrant, thou shalt have thy recompense
          [To C-3PO:] Squeak, whistle, beep, meep, nee, meep, whistle, squeak!
C-3PO: Hold thou thy cursing and most cursed tongue!

The way Doescher has written this, I could imagine it being performed on stage. Indeed, one of his hopes is that it will inspire young sci-fi fans to check out Shakespeare. I believe some schools are actually using this book, and this series, in the classroom to that end.

Intrigued? Look out for the series in your local library or bookstore:

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S STAR WARS by Ian Doescher:

  • Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope
  • The Empire Striketh Back
  • The Jedi Doth Return
  • The Phantom of Menace
  • The Clone Army Attacketh
  • Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge

 

Flash Fiction Friday

This week, for a change, I’m going to rip a story straight out of the week’s headlines. Technically it’s more of a vignette than a story, but since this is my blog, I can make up the rules. It’s just for larks anyway, though I am sticking to the 100-word limit. See if you can pick up on what’s going on…

The object was still distant, but distinct against the empty void surrounding it, like cat’s eyes on a dark country road.

“Can you get closer?”

A turn of a dial and the curved shards of ice realigned.

“What is that?”

A stout man with grey beard and surly demeanor took the eyepiece.

“Definitely a satellite. And… it’s taking pictures?”

The youngest of the group hid behind some rocks.

“I’m tired,” yawned another. “Let’s go home.”

“Hi ho,” said the stout man. “It’s about time.”

Reluctantly, the seven men left the telescope and started on the long trek down the mountain.

Have a great weekend! :)

 

Flash Fiction Friday

It’s been a few weeks, so let’s give the Random Word Generator a spin…

  • doughnut
  • panther
  • showcase
  • loan
  • profit

And here’s my 100-word story using those five words:

“Whaddaya say, Dougie?”

Arnelli watched me as he sipped his coffee.

“I dunno,” I said, picking at my doughnut.

“Look, you owe Castello from that loan you took. Get the diamond, and I’ll pay off Castello. We both profit.”

“I still dunno. It’s in a guarded showcase—“

“You’ll be like the Pink Panther, no-one will see you.”

I didn’t dare tell him the Pink Panther was the jewel, not the thief. I also didn’t dare tell him about the deal I already made with Castello. He’ll find out soon enough, though.

Just as soon as he finishes his coffee.

Have a good weekend!

Music Monday: Question

The Moody Blues - QuestionIn last week’s comments, Carolynnwith2Ns–2Ns as I call her–asked if I had featured The Moody Blues on a Music Monday. My response: not yet! I probably would get to The Moodies at some point, so why not now? First, some background on the band.

The Moody Blues are a British band formed in 1964, who had a big hit in the UK with the song “Go Now” (1965). A few years later, they went through some personnel changes–most notably, lead singer Denny Laine left, later to join Paul McCartney’s band Wings, and Justin Hayward joined, effectively to fill his place. They also re-invented themselves from a kind of R&B band to something more prog-rock. Between 1967 and 1972 they released seven albums, known to fans as the “Core Seven,” that reflected this lyrically deeper and musically creative period. The band then went on hiatus for about six years, and when they returned, their sound changed to adopt more of the flavor of the times–especially as the ’80s took hold. Some regard this period as a creative low point, with shallower lyrics and simpler musical arrangements. I’m sure many feared the band was selling out to be more commercially acceptable. The Moodies took much of the 1990s off, but returned to the studio in 1999, and have continued to tour and record since that time.

I remember my Dad being a big fan of The Moody Blues–indeed, that’s how I know of them. Yet he only had the “Core Seven” albums, and didn’t seem interested in their newer material. I suppose he lost interest during the 1972-1978 hiatus. I’ve heard some of the Moodies’ later recordings and I have to admit, there’s something fresh and original in the Core Seven that sets both those albums and the band of that era apart, and that’s lacking in the newer material. Songs like “Nights in White Satin,” (heck, the entire “Days of Future Passed” album), “Ride My See-Saw,” “Dear Diary,” “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band,” “The Story in Your Eyes”–these all have a very distinctive, unmistakable sound that has, I think, been lost to some extent over the years.

And then there’s “Question,” possibly my all-time favorite Moody Blues song. That jangly 12-string guitar intro, John Lodge’s wonderful bass line, Hayward’s heart-searching vocal performance, and that beautiful middle section all caught my attention from the first time I heard it as a child. It seems Justin Hayward wrote the song as a reaction to things going on in the world at that time, particularly the war in Vietnam. The love song in the middle appears a bit out of place, but it’s really just an extension of the search for love and meaning alluded to in the first part.

This song is actually quite easy to play on the guitar. Okay, let me qualify that statement: the chords are quite easy to play. The strumming pattern is a different matter. You have to have a nimble wrist to keep up with Mr. Hayward if you’re playing along! To play “Question” on the guitar, you’ll first need to re-tune your guitar (preferably a 12-string, but it still sounds good on a 6-string) to an Open C tuning like so:

Standard Open C
E E (no change)
B C (tune up)
G G (no change)
D C (tune down)
A G (tune down)
E C (tune way down!)

That Open C tuning has a wonderful rich tone to it. If this is the first time you’ve tried it, you’ll want to just strum the open strings for a while. Go on, it’s okay. Isn’t it great? Now, of course, you throw all the chord shapes you know out the window because those only work with Standard tuning. But you’ll find that some previously hard-to-play chords are now significantly easier. For example, if you barre the third fret, you’re playing Eb! Barre the first fret, and you’re playing Db. Just with a barre–no additional fingers.

There are twelve chords in “Question,” and all but one of them require only two fingers. The one other chord requires three. I’m assuming you’re new to the Open C tuning, so rather than just give you a lead sheet with the words and chord names, I’m providing you a guitar tab key that shows you how to play those chords (click to enlarge):

Question_TAB_Reference

At the top you see I’ve written out the tab for the introduction. It starts with fretting the E and G strings on the twelfth fret, then sliding down to the tenth, then to the seventh, and then to the fifth. You then have a bunch of barres, so you slide your finger from the third to the fifth fret, then back down to the third and to the second. Child’s play!

Here’s the lead sheet (click to enlarge):

Question_Lead1 Question_Lead2

If you click HERE, you can download a pdf of the lead sheet and the chord reference tab in one document.

Finally, here’s a video of The Moody Blues performing “Question” on a TV show in 1970. Justin is singing live, but the band is playing to a backing track:

Music Monday: The Boxer

Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge over Troubled WaterThis is the second Music Monday to feature a Simon and Garfunkel song, and it won’t be the last. “The Boxer” is from their fifth, final, and arguably greatest album, “Bridge over Troubled Water.” There’s one other song I want to discuss from “Bridge,” so I’ll save my comments and reflections on the album until then. This is not only one of my favorite songs off that album, but one of my favorite Paul Simon songs, and certainly among my all-time favorite songs, which is interesting given its relative simplicity. There’s nothing particularly quirky about the chords or harmonies, but it has a compelling tune, and tells a story in poetry that only occasionally rhymes. Even though the chorus doesn’t have real words (“Lie-la-lie…”–apparently these were supposed to be place-holder words that stuck, a fact that embarrasses Paul Simon to this day!), there’s something powerful about it.

Lyrically, “The Boxer” is somewhat autobiographical. It seems Paul Simon was receiving a lot of criticism at the time, and this was his way of dealing with it: turn it into a song. He’s misunderstood, been through a lot, and still carrying the scars. But he won’t be defeated: the fighter still remains. (My favorite mis-heard lyric: substitute “horse” for “whore” in the third verse.)

The song is in C-major and features multiple guitars layered upon one another. I’ve figured out the notes to the introduction, but I think it’s played using an alternate tuning. Since I’m not sure what that tuning might be, I’ve transcribed it in C-major, both in regular note form and in TAB-form in standard tuning:

TheBoxer_TAB

Try out some different tunings (maybe a C tuning?) and see if you can figure out which is used on the track. If you listen carefully, you’ll notice that there aren’t a lot of other instruments on the song other than guitars. There’s a bass drum, a snare in the chorus, a bass harmonica briefly in a couple of verses, and then the mellotron (and perhaps some real strings) for the final crescendo. The majority of the song is just vocals and guitars.

Despite the fingerstyle picking, this isn’t a very complex song to play, as you can see from the lead sheet (click to enlarge):

TheBoxer

It uses standard chords in the key of C-major (C, G, G7, G6, F, Am, Em), with the exception of the C9 at the beginning, the chord around which that introductory run is based.

If you play along to the recording, or if you happen to have perfect pitch, you’ll notice the song is not in concert pitch. It sounds to me as if the guitars on the original recording were tuned down a half-step, so although they are playing in C-major, it sounds like B-major. And then somewhere along the way, maybe during the final mix, they sped the recording up a bit, so the key on the record is somewhere between B-major and C-major. To help you out if you want to play along with the recording (a practice I highly recommend), here’s a version of the song where I’ve tweaked the pitch up to C-major:

Questions? Thoughts? Comments? Requests for future Music Monday songs…?

Flash Fiction Friday

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a Flash Fiction Friday this week, but then Janet Reid announced a new writing contest, so I decided this would be a good warm-up.

The Random Word Generator gave me:

  • formula
  • menu
  • binder
  • test
  • carpenter

Here’s the 100-word story I came up with:

The hall was silent save for the scratching of pencils and the hum of the air conditioning. Jill glanced at the clock: fifteen minutes left. The formula hadn’t changed in the last ten minutes, and she was no closer to solving it. Anxiety crawled up her chest like an army of carpenter ants.

Deep breaths.

Not one answer on the menu seemed possible. Jill closed her eyes and tried to visualize her binder full of math notes. She opened it. The pages were blank.

Five minutes.

It was just one question out of the entire test.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…

Have a great weekend! And don’t forget to check out Janet’s contest tomorrow…

Blog Birthday!

birthday_icon_cakeToday, my blog turns four. I started writing to this little corner of cyberspace exactly 4 years ago today: June 17, 2011. It’s not the hottest spot on the web, but people still stop by to read what’s here. Not as many as I’d like, but more than I thought. What are people reading? Here are the top ten most visited pages over the last 365 days:

  1. The Graham Cracker Question
  2. Graham Crackers in the UK: An Update
  3. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans: Background
  4. 2014 World Cup Thoughts: The Final
  5. Book Review: CARRIE by Stephen King
  6. The Graham Cracker Question Revisited
  7. Banned Book Profile: All Quiet on the Western Front
  8. Banned Book Profile: Twilight
  9. About
  10. Book Review: THE SHINING by Stephen King

You’ll notice that for a blog whose focus is supposed to be Writing, Theology, and Music, only one of the top ten hit any of those categories. Now, if you throw Reading into the mix, then I’m doing a little better, but still, only two book reviews in the list. I’m not sure what this says about me, my blog, or my readers, but there it is. Feel free to offer your own thoughts!

Regulars may have observed that I skipped out on Flash Fiction Friday and Music Monday this past week. I decided to take a break. I hope you don’t mind. I want to keep doing these features, but they take a lot of time to write, and while I enjoy blogging, I’m not a full-time blogger. So I may not commit to EVERY Friday and Monday, just as often as I can. If you enjoy Flash Fiction Friday and Music Monday, or any of the other posts I put up here from time to time, be sure to subscribe so you’ll be notified whenever there’s a new article.

If you’ve visited once, or you’ve been coming back for months–perhaps years–thank you! I’ll try to keep it interesting for you. :)

Music Monday: Ommadawn

I can’t say I’m a big Mike Oldfield fan, though I have a lot of respect for him as a musician and composer. Of all the work he’s done over the last 40+ years, however, my favorite album has to be his third, “Ommadawn.” Released in 1975, this to me is Oldfield at his creative finest. Why? Why not his first, and perhaps most celebrated album, “Tubular Bells”? “Tubular Bells” was certainly a landmark piece, and has some great and memorable moments. However, “Tubular Bells” is very much a stream-of-consciousness piece, at least that’s how it comes across to me. It starts in one place, goes to another, then to another, meandering down paths, exploring ideas for a while then leaving them to the side. That’s all well and good if you like that sort of thing. “Ommadawn,” on the other hand, has structure. In fact, I would go as far as to say it’s a lot more classical in its composition. While “Tubular Bells” sounds as if Oldfield sat down and improvised for half-an-hour, “Ommadawn” sounds composed. It has themes that reoccur. It seems to have purpose, direction, and a destination. Listening to “Ommadawn” I feel like I’m being led on a journey by a composer, not just exploring the landscape with a musician.

You would be forgiven for thinking Part 2 (side two of the original vinyl album) breaks the thematic unity, but there are two ways (at least) in which it very closely connects with Part 1. First, the basic structure: an introductory section, a wind section (part one had recorders, part two uses uilleann pipes), and a final rhythmic crescendo. Second, if you listen carefully, you’ll notice that Part 2 is actually somewhat of a play on the recorder section from Part 1 (from 6:57 to 8:16 on the clip below), and repeats parts of that section in places. Even the song at the end, “On Horseback,” where Oldfield gives us a rare vocal performance, connects back to Part 1. Pay careful attention to the guitar part under the verses–it’s an echo of the main theme you hear at the beginning of Part 1. Not to mention the female vocal that comes in after the first chorus, which sounds uncannily like the voice that joins Part 1 a little more than a minute in. This is what I find so satisfying about this album. There’s a compositional cohesion as well as a unity to the sound that permeates even those parts that seem otherwise disconnected.

I have to confess that part of my affection for this album also stems from my childhood, and the fact my Dad played it quite regularly. He owned both “Tubular Bells” and “Ommadawn” (and possibly a few other Oldfield albums), but “Ommadawn” was the Oldfield album of choice in our house ever since my Dad took my Mum to see “The Exorcist” in 1973. My Dad enjoyed the movie, but my Mum did not. At all. Now she can’t even listen to the beginning of “Tubular Bells” without recalling the worst moments from “The Exorcist.” (For those who don’t know, the first part of “Tubular Bells” was used as the theme for “The Exorcist.”) Naturally, my Dad didn’t want to put my Mum through that torment, so he wouldn’t play the album when she was around, preferring “Ommadawn” instead.

I’m not going to provide music or chords for this–it’s a 36-minute instrumental album, and it would take too long to write out. But I do encourage you to listen to it, perhaps while writing your novel (I imagine it’s great to listen to if fantasy is your chosen genre!), or doing the ironing. Listen carefully for the themes, how they reoccur throughout the entire piece. Get caught up in the awesome atmosphere Oldfield has created by his choice of instrumentation, and the way he carefully weaves voices and sounds together.

Someone posted the entire album on YouTube. I provide the link to promote the music in the hope that you purchase it if you like it:

My brother John found this remarkable arrangement of “Ommadawn, Part 1″ for two pianos. I was very impressed with the way the composer managed to capture the essence of the piece. If you like piano music, you must check this out. Thanks for the tip, John!

Flash Fiction Friday

A quick spin of the Random Word Generator this week gives us:

  • seaside
  • passport
  • neck
  • north
  • beast

And here’s my 100-word story based on those words:

I encountered Beast Haven while vacationing in North Wales. The name intrigued me, so armed with my passport and seasick pills I took the ferry to the small island not knowing what to expect. Some kind of wildlife preserve? A large animal shelter?

On account of this, I paid no heed to the howling that first night.

And didn’t think much of the scratching at the windows the second night.

Fear set in when I found bite marks on my neck while shaving the following morning.

The third night was a full moon.

That’s when I knew I was staying.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday School Notes: Revelation 7:14-17

14 And I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “Those are the ones coming from the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and they have whitened them by the blood of the Lamb. 15 On account of this they are before the throne of God and they serve Him day and night in His temple, and the One sitting upon the throne will tabernacle with them [or spread a tent over them]. 16 They shall neither hunger nor shall they thirst and the sun shall not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat, 17 for the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall shepherd them and he will guide them to a living fountain of waters, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Last time we finished up part-way through verse 14, so we recapped very briefly the chapter so far, and then considered what it means for the multitude before the throne to have “washed their robes” and “whitened them by the blood of the Lamb.” We should be familiar with the symbolism of the white robe (righteousness, purity), and the Lamb’s blood (Christ’s death on behalf of his people) from what we’ve seen so far in Revelation. The striking thing here is that the verbs are active, not passive. Previously, Christ has talked about dressing the overcomers in white garments (3:5), and those under the altar are given white robes (6:11)–in other words, this symbol of righteousness is presented in such a way that we understand that righteousness did not originate with God’s people. They are the recipients of a righteousness that is not their own. They didn’t come with white robes; the white robes are given to them. Yet here, they actively wash their robes and whiten them with the Lamb’s blood. Is the elder saying there is something God’s people contribute to their righteousness?

First we need to remind ourselves what it means to have “soiled” robes, that is, robes in need of cleansing. Back in 3:4, Christ points out that there are some in the Sardis church whose garments are not soiled. When we studied this passage, we concluded that this was a reference to the fact that many within the church had chosen to compromise with the culture rather than stay true to the gospel and their profession of Christ. As in Isaiah 64:6 and Zechariah 3:4-5, such sin is likened to having dirty clothing. Since the faithful in Sardis have not soiled their garments, we understand that they have remained true to Christ, and their spotless robes are a symbol of their faithfulness. So the focus of 7:14 is not on how this multitude in white managed to earn their righteousness, but rather on the fact that these are those that remained faithful, even under the most extreme pressure to deny Christ.

The fact that they have whitened their robes by the blood of the Lamb really serves to underscore this point: it’s not their own sacrifice or faithfulness that has earned them the white garments. Rather, it is Christ’s blood shed on their behalf that makes them clean and pure, and enables them to be faithful. Without the regenerating power of the Spirit at work on those for whom Christ died, they would have all fallen away too. But they have professed Christ as their Savior and Lord, and have remained true to him, and this is how they have whitened their robes with the blood of the Lamb. Daniel 12:10 speaks of the faithful actively cleansing their garments, and this passage could be behind the language used by the elder in 7:14.

I also noted in passing that some believe the multitude before the throne are only those who have died by martyrdom. I’m not convinced of this for a couple of reasons. I think we are looking at the final congregation of the elect here. These are God’s people from all places and all points in history gathered to worship the Lord. And while “coming from the great tribulation” sounds like a present tense activity (i.e., they are coming out now and continue to come out), that verb is actually a present participle: “the ones who come out”–i.e., it’s descriptive of the people, not of their activity. So these are those who survived the tribulation, and did so because they are sealed, and have shown this fact through their faithfulness. They are blood-bought, redeemed people of God. Doesn’t this describe every believer? And the nature of these believers, that they are Jew and Gentile, the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (144,000–remember?), an innumerable amount from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people, seems to point toward more than just those who survived a particular period of tribulation.

It is “on account of this” (Greek: dia touto), the fact that this white-robed multitude have been washed and cleansed by the Lamb’s blood, and they testify to this by their faithfulness and willingness to overcome for the sake of the gospel, that they are able to be before God’s throne. Nothing else gives them that authority or that access–only the grace of God shown in Christ’s redeeming sacrifice on their behalf.

The language of verse 15 is distinctly sacramental. “Serving” is the Greek verb latreuô, which has priestly connotations. The elder is deliberately associating the “night-and-day” ministry of believers here to that of the Jewish temple priest. If we recall in 1:6, believers were referred to as “a kingdom, priests to his [i.e., Jesus’] God,” which was echoed in the form of a promise in 5:10. We can trace this promise back to Exodus 19:6, when the Lord promised Moses (and Israel), “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Clearly, to John and the elder this is fulfilled in the church.

The elder says they will serve in God’s “temple” (Greek, naos). In Ezekiel 37:26-28, God promised that His sanctuary would be in the midst of His people. He then gave Ezekiel a vision of a new temple, set upon land partitioned according to the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 40-48). It’s hard to avoid the fact that this is another vision/prophecy finding its fulfillment in Revelation and the Lord’s promises to the church.

Finally in verse 15, we have this picture of the Lord “setting His tent” or “tabernacling” over His people. This might be another reference to the Feast of Tabernacles, as in verse 9. Certainly, the idea of God pitching His tent with His people is extremely important. This is “Immanuel”–God with us–the idea that God is ever-present with His people. He symbolized this with the Old Testament Tabernacle, then the Temple. He exemplified it in the coming of Jesus at the Incarnation. At the Resurrection and all the way through to the End Times, this idea is fully realized in the church.

Verses 16 and 17 draw from Isaiah 49:8-12 (particularly v. 10), speaking of the restoration of Israel. That restoration will only come when God’s people from every tribe, language, nation, and people, enter into His rest through Christ. Jesus is not only the Lamb of God, but he is the Shepherd of his people, guiding them to fountains (or springs) of living water (a nod to John 4:10?). It’s hard to ignore the fact that Isaiah 49:9 and Psalm 23 both refer to God as the Shepherd of the faithful soul. Here the elder applies that divine role to Jesus in another clear assertion of Christ’s deity.

The psychologist Maslow developed a hierarchy of “human needs” to help explain motivation. At the base of his hierarchy he listed those fundamental needs without which a person cannot survive. The primary of these are air, water, food, clothing, and shelter. In verse 16, we see the promise that these needs will be met for God’s people: they shall not hunger, they shall not thirst, the sun shall not strike them, and they shall not suffer under scorching heat. Indeed, this recalls the situation of man in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, where the Lord supplied all their needs.

This picture of the Lord giving sustenance to His people such that they want for nothing in His presence is brought down to the most intimate level in verse 17: God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Though this is symbolic, it is perhaps the most touching picture of God’s care and compassion for us. If we step back and remember that Revelation is a letter of hope to suffering churches, this vision of believers in their final state (and if there’s doubt that these are believers in their final state, compare these verses with chapter 22), covered by the presence of God, guided by their Shepherd to places of refreshment, wanting nothing, and with no more suffering or heartbreak, is something to cling to. But not only for those in first century Asia Minor, for us too. This is our promise as we go through the trials of life, no matter how big or small. We need this perspective. One day, the frailty of the body, the fragility of this world, the sin we contend with day-to-day, and the evil of fallen men will no longer be of concern to us. The Lord will bring judgment and justice to bear, and those who are in Christ will enter into His rest.

My Sunday School class is taking a break for the summer, but will be back mid-August starting at chapter 8!

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