CHRISTIANS WERE CRAZY about the Bible book of Revelation when I was growing up a few decades ago.
They were trying to figure out when in the dickens Jesus was finally going to get here. Soon, they were certain.
“Soon and very soon, I’m going to see the Lord.” I remember singing those lyrics and anticipating the arrival of Jesus.
If I sang those words today, I’d be anticipating my arrival in heaven.
I’ve been waiting that long.
Today, I fully expect to die, waiting for Jesus to come.
Of course, that would be the perfect time for him to come.
“Listen to me,” Jesus said, as quoted in Revelation. “I’m coming. But it’ll be like a thief, at a time that will surprise you. You won’t regret it if you stay alert and keep your clothes handy so you don’t get caught naked and embarrassed when it happens” (Revelation 16:15 Casual English Bible).
Well, I think I’m ready if he comes today. But I also have my 401 (k) and a stockpile of Atomic fireballs for occasional treats.
Code of Revelation
I used to read Revelation with an eye to figuring out a code to the future. I don’t read most of it that way anymore.
Instead, I look for a code to living as a Christian today.
I’m pretty sure the writer, someone named John but otherwise unidentified, wrote mostly about life in his day. He described the persecution Christians were facing in the first century.
But there’s a lot in Revelation for those of us looking for ways to live like a Christian under extreme circumstances today.
In my country, the United States, Christians aren’t usually violently persecuted because of their faith. So we can’t relate to the idea of a godless American autocrat who has “gotten drunk on the blood of God’s devoted people and on the blood of believers who had dared to defend Jesus” (Revelation 17:6 Casual English Bible).
Father of Lies
But we can relate to fellow Christians who have been duped, brainwashed, and reprocessed into something that looks more antichrist than Christian.
Who does this statement from Revelation make you think of:
“He’s a liar who dupes people all over the world” (Revelation 12:9 Casual English Bible)?
We’re talking about the Father of Lies and the Mother of Fabrication who barfs his words from the Abyss of Chaos.
If we follow news today, we might not come to the correct conclusion. In Revelation, the duper is Satan.
Today, Satan seems to have his helpers well positioned in places of power all over the world.
Sometimes they portray themselves as God-fearing, while they scare the you-know-what out of everyone else.
They use fear to herd good people in directions those folks wouldn’t go on their own.
In time, after proper indoctrination, some Christians come to believe it’s okay to:
- treat strangers in the land like animals that belong in cages, when the Bible says to welcome them and to “have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born” (Leviticus 24:22).
- ship war refugees back to where they came from, when the Bible reminded God’s people they were refugees once, too, and when Jesus said that when we feed and clothe the needy, “you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40 Casual English Bible).
- deport sick people who are a drain on our wealth, when Jesus healed the sick.
- diminish the rights of minorities, whether because of race, religion, or sexuality, even though Jesus said, “Come to me. All of you who are worn out from carrying a heavy load. I’ll give you the rest you need” (Matthew 11:28 Casual English Bible).
Revelation is a well-rounded book. Lots of Roman history. A fair amount of forward vision, looking upward. And plenty of advice that targets us today.
It’s a tough book to read because it’s written in a genre called “apocalyptic,” heavily laced in symbolism and sometimes with bizarre stories like the Lady and the Dragon:
“I saw a miraculous sign there in heaven. It was a woman…pregnant, in labor, and ready to give birth. She cried out in pain. After that, I saw another miraculous sign in heaven. It was a massive red dragon…right in front of the woman who was about to deliver her baby. He was going to eat that baby alive, fresh meat” (Revelation 12:1-4 Casual English Bible).
Enjoy Revelation’s ride to heaven. I hope you like the 3D maps, too.
New book coming
Coming in February, Eyewitness to Crucifixion, a book about what Romans themselves had to say about crucifixions they witnessed or performed.