Monday, May 16, 2022

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city…And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1-2, 5

My wife and I record the Carolina Panthers games during football season on Sunday afternoons because it is rare that we are able to sit down prior to kick-off to watch the game live. Our son will text me to see if we have caught up to “real time” so we can discuss the game via text. I make sure the notifications on my phone are silenced so I do not get updates from ESPN. My wife’s mother knows our routine since she used to call to celebrate every touchdown or lament every turnover. It did not seem to matter to her that she was spoiling it for us. Or was she?

A recent article in Psychology Today suggests that spoiling a story can actually increase the fun. In a series of three experiments, more than 800 participants were presented with short stories of up to 4,200 words. “Each experiment tested a different type of literary genre including ironic-twist stories, mysteries, and more evocative literary stories. Within that genre, participants were given different stories to read, some of which were preceded by spoilers and some of which were ‘unspoiled.’ Afterward, they were asked to rate how much they had enjoyed their reading experience.”

Surprisingly, the research participants gave high ratings to stories that had been “spoiled” in advance. However, in follow-up research, the opposite effect of spoilers revealed participants enjoyed “spoiled” stories considerably less than those where the ending had not been expected. Researchers attributed this to the use of different stories and different kinds of spoilers, along with the importance of individual differences. The article concludes, “Even though the experimental findings aren’t clear-cut, it appears that giving away the ending of a story, competition, or sports game might not be as detrimental to enjoyment as previously believed” (Eva Krockow, “Spoiler Alert: Why Some People Need to Know How It Ends,” 7/2/21).

The Bible reaches its climax in the Book of Revelation as God completes the good work he began from the moment of creation. Spoiler alerts appear throughout the pages of Scripture. Specifically, those prophesied by the Old Testament prophets come to mind as we read about the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God (cf. Joel 3:18; Ezekiel 47:1-9; Zechariah 14:8). Jesus also uses the image of the water of life with the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:14). The mention of night as well as the sun in today’s text takes us back to the beginning where “God made two great lights – the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night – and the stars (Genesis 1:16). However, in another spoiler alert, Isaiah prophesies of a time in which “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the Lord will be your everlasting light and your God will be your glory…and your days of mourning shall be ended.” (Isaiah 60:19-20).

Michael Wilcock writes, “the new creation will eventually be what it was meant to be: the throne at the centre [sic] of all, and the people of God seeing him, serving him, sealed by his name, and reigning with him in everlasting day” (The Message of Revelation, p. 212). And with that, we echo the words of John, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

Prayer: .Lord, thank you for spoiler alerts and for your promise to complete the good work you have begun.

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