We know that “all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). All of it—and that includes a wide range of literary forms and genres. A great deal of Scripture is written in poetry—most notably, the entire book of Psalms—and poetic language is woven into the very fabric of the entire Bible, from Genesis to the Gospels to Revelation. What are we to make of all the metaphor and imagery?
It can be tempting to approach the imaginative imagery in the Bible as if it were a nut to be cracked: to peel off and discard the imaginative shell, so as to extract the “real” meaning—that is, a moral or theological point. However, the imagery and metaphors are part of the meaning, not merely pointers to it. The Psalmist exclaims, “O taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Ps. 34:8). It is worth taking time to slow down, to taste the rich images of Scripture and savor the meaning they offer to the reader.
This poem is my own attempt to do just that, with regard to chapters 2 and 3 of the Revelation to St. John. It became a prayer, as I responded to the vivid images offered to us in the sevenfold exhortation, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”