Do you have a sense that the “other shoe” is about to drop; a sense of impending change; a quickening? The mind can play funny games, no doubt, but I have to admit that something in life seems different, somehow.
If you are not of the Christian faith, then perhaps this discussion will seem odd. If you are atheist or agnostic, you likely have reasoned yourself into believing (or not believing), that such is of little consequence. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that in a world where there are few absolutes, and where knowledge of fact can become yesterday’s mistaken assumption, a wise man will temper his wisdom with perpetual self doubt. If a wise man stands rigidly on nuggets of reasoned wisdom, for rigidity’s sake, that man may find himself standing on lumps of fool’s gold when the new day dawns.
Bible scholars have argued forever about the mysterious book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. It was written by the Apostle John., when he was in exile on a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, called Patmos. The style of the book has been labeled, apocalyptic literature, and it is filled with mysterious and downright frightening descriptions of coming events, revealed to him by Jesus Christ.
I am not a Bible scholar, which is good enough reason for me, not to attempt my own interpretation. However, I am a consumer of such interpretations, and if indeed, the book foretells events yet to come, I am subject to those events just as everyone else is. So in that light, I feel qualified to discuss the matter from a personal vantage point.
The book of Revelation is of such complexity and importance, that I am not going to try to disassemble it here, not that I am even capable of that. In fact, there are two passages at the end of the book that should make anyone think seventy-seven times, before declaring that something is or is not said in the book of Revelation. These are the words of Jesus, revealed through his Angel to John…
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
That tells me, in no uncertain terms, that God takes this last book of the New Testament seriously, and that He will not be pleased with anyone who messes around with it. I am one hundred percent certain, that I have that correct. Add to this book, or take anything away from this book, and you are toast. Crispy toast. Bug-infested black toast.
I wonder then, about the many and varied explanations that have been dished my way regarding the book of Revelation, and the many prophesies contained within.
I have heard a man of the cloth, tell me that the book of Revelation is just a bit of creative entertainment, provided as a light-hearted way of ending the Scriptures. Huh? I never noticed any intermissions offered in the middle of the Bible. There were many stories that Jesus told, but all of them had a very significant meaning. Somehow, I do not believe that this was John’s attempt at the New York Times best-seller list.
There is a well thought of man on the radio, who has all of the answers about the Bible. He seems to think that John was writing about things that were relevant to his time, and such things as the Anti-Christ were in reference to someone with whom the early Christians were well familiar. That would be Nero, who had a nasty attitude about Christians. He is said to have tied (or skewered) Christians on a pole; dipped them in tar, and then lit them on fire to light his garden.
I can see how Nero might fit, and I am certain that this radio personality is well studied in the ancient languages of the original texts. Yet, this simply does not sit right with me for some reason. Kind of like that feeling you get, when you are about to get the shivers, but they just will not quite kick in. Maybe that only happens to me.
Perhaps what bothers me is that the Bible always seems to provide messages that pertain in a timeless manner. What was good thinking then is good thinking now, at least in terms of our relationship with God and our fellow man. Certainly, there are a few descriptions of ancient customs, which would be alien today, but those are scattered within the context of the broader word of God.
To say that the entire book of Revelation was written in such a fantastic way, that it would only make sense in the context of John’s time seems incomplete. Even if you take the point that one must be familiar with the prophesies of the Old Testament in order to decipher the book of Revelation, I find it hard to believe, that God would provide this last Word in a manner that required the average man to be more than he likely is.
Did you see the movie, “The Omen”, which revolves around a child, Damien? The boy learns that he is the anti-Christ, and attempts to claim his kingdom on Earth. There is a group of Priests, who are duty-bound to assassinate the anti-Christ, but fail in their mission. It is spooky drama, using some loose bits and pieces from the book of Revelation, but in the end, it does not come close in substance or purpose.
I would be surprised, if you have not wondered why on Earth I am writing about this subject, and what it has to do with anything. Well, Easter has me thinking. Easter is the most important remembrance for Christians. In comparison, Christmas cannot hold a candle to Easter in importance and significance to the faith.
Jesus was God, who came to live as a man, flawlessly as no other man could, so that he could take upon his blameless self all the sins of mankind, be put to death to atone for those sins, and then defeat death by rising from the grave and ascending to Heaven. That is Easter, the day that Jesus defeated the curse of death and rose to live again. The life of Jesus was spent preparing man for this day, telling us that there is only one way to God, and that is through Him.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” There is only one requirement to join this “club” and be free from our sin which keeps us separated from God. It is a tough one too, because it seems too simple. All we have to do is believe in Jesus, accept the gift of life, by faith alone; acknowledging that nothing in our ability can do what only Jesus could do for us.
Again, why do I bring this up in a column now? What does this have to do with the book of Revelation, and the various opinions about what it “really” means?
Well, I have come to believe that the book of Revelation should be simply read for what it says. It sounds far out and full of dark fantasy. If one believes in God at all, who by his very nature has to be supernatural, then why should the supernatural language of the book of Revelation be so difficult to accept?
Biblical prophesy points to an end of times, when we should notice signs that hint that the coming of the end is near. People have gone crazy over this for centuries, and have been prepared time and time again for the Second Coming of Jesus, only to see the world continue as it has for thousands of years.
However, there are a few loose ends that have wrapped up or are evident. Things such as the Jews returning to Israel, wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, natural disasters, unrest in the Middle East, simultaneous talk from Muslims about the end, and wiping Israel off the face of the Earth.
Perhaps you have heard the words of Peter… “But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
This Easter has me thinking about these things with a little more attention than usual, because, well… there is a lot of stuff going on in the world. There are many non-biblical things to note as well. I have been watching and reading with some curiosity about the ancient Mayan calendar. It is a remarkably accurate creation, predicting with uncanny accuracy celestial events and what not.
However, for some reason, the Mayan calendar comes to a screeching halt on December 21, 2012. From what I understand, the method used to calculate the Mayan calendar, cannot be extended beyond that date. Did you catch the date? That is about five years from right now.
We have heard a great deal about the Muslim faith, for obvious reasons these past few years. One thing that is quite striking is how intolerant Muslims are for other religions, even though the Koran speaks of Jesus, marking him as a prophet, but denying that he was crucified, or that he rose from the dead. There has also been a lot of talk about how quickly Islam is spreading around the world.
You have not been hearing this though. That thousands of Muslims are converting to Christianity. Over the last several years in Egypt, there appears to be nearly one million new Christians who are hungry for the Word. There are reports of thousands of Muslim men, who have converted to Christianity after having dreams, or visions of Jesus, and the Jesus in their vision was nothing like the Jesus described in the Koran. These men were so struck by the experience that they have sought out Christians to help them learn more.
This phenomenon is striking on its own accord, but when taken with the words found in the Bible, such as the following passage, it is very difficult to just sit and look unimpressed.
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
So then, you see, this Easter is upon us, but I have begun to wonder how many more Easters there might be. Maybe there will be a thousand more Easters. Maybe there will be five more Easters. Maybe… this could be the last Easter.
I just want to be sure everyone has an opportunity to consider all that there is to be considered. You may well have decided by now, that I am just another right-wing religious nut-job, and in the end, you might prove to be right. Because of their faith, the earliest Christians were devoured by lions as entertainment. I am pretty sure, that being called a nut-job hurts a lot less.