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Three building blocks of revelation

How does revelation work? Many of us view biblical revelation as a mystical, ecstatic experience or some sort of “knowing” downloaded from heaven into our psyche. Some of us see it as a meditative process or use a tool like journaling to hear God speak better. 

These are great descriptives or practices around revelation, but what does revelation look like when it works? When it becomes more than a word picture or a poem but fleshes out with comprehension that hits us or translates into something we can use?  

To develop this, let’s look at three building blocks of revelation found in our earliest known creative words. 

Context — “Let there be light!” 

Thus, we hear the first spoken words of the Genesis account. There is a shapeless and empty planet and sweeping winds of God’s Spirit over the dark waters. All this is context and words have power only when they are given context.

Context is a building block for revelation that increases understanding. Like shades of gray, meaning begins to emerge through context. We are looking at the dawn of time, heaven and earth made by the Creator. God’s Spirit moves over dark waters. Light is spoken into existence. This context adds meaning to the first words that wouldn’t exist if those words rang out in isolation.

Contrast — “Let there be light!” 

God saw the light was good and so He separated it from the darkness. Contrasting light and dark sharpen definition. Shadows are a contrast of light and help us see and judge dimensions. A picture of this is sin (working through the law) which can teach us grace in greater depth. 

So this second building block of revelation is truth. We can now cut to the heart of the situation. It’s dark and chaotic. But not like before, the waters are exposed by light and we can presently peer into the chaos previously hidden by darkness and the great waters. We also recognize by this change that light is good as God himself observes this. 

Purpose — “Let there be light!” 

The utterance is a prophetic shout of God’s long-term purpose to reveal his heart through Jesus. It points towards the Incarnation, Jesus as a human yet also, Light of the World. 

Our third building block of revelation is purpose. “And God saw the light was good” (not evil or bad). Think of this light like a spectrum of brilliant colors in a full rainbow, the promise of things to come. Everything looks better in full color. Revelation speaks of the purpose of something, its time and season, and the gift or blessing latent within it. Or, importantly, what someone’s purpose is.

In Genesis 1 vs 3, the purpose of light came clear by division. Dividing light and dark. It’s hard to even comprehend how this was done, but imagine a rainbow, which is light, being split into a spectrum so that all its colors become distinct. Light became distinct for what it was, functioning in its purpose to reveal the goodness of God and to reveal the reasons for God’s gift of creation. 

We are called out, divided out, set aside, and purposed for God’s kingdom. A word for this is favor. Favor is God’s revelation of himself and the creation to you. He has purposed to lavishly love you. In contrast, favor can also be God’s revelation of you (your value or purpose) for others. 

The purpose of light was good. The purpose of creative light was to reveal function. The purpose of light was to proclaim Jesus. The purpose of revelation today is to reveal Jesus in you and to reveal Jesus’ purposes through you. 

Revelation’s building blocks

  1. Context to enrich meaning
  2. Contrast to sharpen truth
  3. Purpose to empower function 

When you feel God is revealing something to you, you can ask. What is the context? Where are the contrasts? How is God at work here and is there a purpose or action required of you? 

Here is the complete Genesis 1:1-4 text. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” 

What revelation light is God speaking out into your chaos and darkness?