Sunday, January 3, 2010

Revealing The Book of Revelation

Perhaps the most talked about and most misunderstood book of the New Testament is Book of Revelation. Most people recognize that the language is symbolic. Where most people fall short is in their interpretation and the method of storytelling that is being used. Revelation is NOT a prediction of what is going to happen in the future, but is instead referring to the author's own time and the past and is being addressed to "the seven churches in Asia." The modern day claims that Revelation is referring to the modern United Nations creation of Israel are false and heretical. If that were true, then why didn't John of Patmos just write in his letters: "In 1948, ..." or "In 2010, Jesus will return?" Not even Jesus knew when he would return. The doctrine of dispensationalism was advocated heavily by John Nelson Darby (thought to have been inspired in part by an incident involving Margaret MacDonald). Later, it was seized upon and tinkered with twists that fit the times by Hal Lindsay, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye among others. The Anti-Christ has been everybody and thing from Nero, the Pope, The Black Death, Martin Luther, Napoleon (20th century view), Hitler, Ronald Reagan, the Soviet Union and now Islam. Anybody can twist words to fit an agenda or viewpoint. Beware of false doctrines. The conflicts in the Middle East while historically rooted in thousands of years of precedence is not due to some uncontrollable chain of events that would usher in an Anti-Christ or cosmic battle, but in large part due to distortions of religious texts and propaganda designed to keep the masses dumbed down if not dead altogether. "What good fortune for those in power that people do not think" Adolf Hitler

This book was composed near the end of Domitian's reign, around the year 95 by John of Patmos who most likely was living in exile. What is clear is that the Christians are in the minority and being persecuted by both local audiences who object to their emphasis on monotheism and from Roman governors because they serve one master, thus the false claim that Christians were attempting social unrest. Religion primarily had been a endeavor of the state for the purpose of social harmony and worship of the state as the God's supposed emissary on Earth. So as you can imagine, the notion that the state has no say in matters of religion didn't sit well up until a few centuries ago.

It would be helpful to be familiar with Daniel 7-12, Enoch, 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch in coming to understand Revelation. The use of symbols and numbers stand out in this text. Babylon is a reference to Rome as both of them destroyed the temple. The same goes for the numbers used. Numbers in ancient times were used for symbolic representations whereas in modern times, we use numbers for adding, subtracting, budgets, etc... Keep in mind, that only around 5% of the general population could read and write sufficiently. So symbols and images were used to communicate messages. The seven seals, seven trumphets, seven bowls, etc... are all used symbolically to represent God's perfect plan. 12 stood for the people of God. Hence 144,000 is 12x12x1,000. It does not mean that only 144,000 people are going to heaven as some have claimed. If that were true, all of us would be out of luck.
6 meant imperfection or falling short of God's plan. So what do you think 666 referred to? It was referring to Satan who really falls short of God's perfection.

Revelation used an ancient method of storytelling called recapitulation i.e. repeating the same story in different ways or circular storytelling. Modern audiences tell stories using a linear concept. Recapitulation was primarily relating the past and present times to its audience, not what was going to happen 200 years or 2,000 years later. John was not using a crystal ball. The central message of the book is that we should hold fast to our convictions in spite of persecution and while things are bad now, in the long run, God's justice will prevail.

No comments: