So there you go. What is going on in the world? Dare we speculate that this is what we were warned about?
I know, I know The Book of Revelation is so prone to misinterpretation that it isn't funny. In the Orthodox traditions, they refuse to read from it or comment on it. They begrudgingly accept that it is part of the Holy Scriptures, but that's about all they do. Nonetheless, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the will of God, it is part of the Sacred tradition. Why?
Obviously the original was penned at a time when some of the original assumptions of the early Church did not appear to come about. Jerusalem had fallen, and most would have seen that as a significant moment worthy of the end of times. But it wasn't. By the time Revelation was written - traditionally most put the writing toward the end of the 1st Century - Jerusalem and the Temple were long gone, thanks to Rome.
Of course Rome as a sanctuary for Jewish believers being run out of town on a rail by the Jewish community went out the window with Nero. Contrary to what some of the godless have tried to say over the years - that there were no real persecutions of Christians, the whole being Christian propaganda - a sane and realistic appraisal of the overwhelming paper trail is that by the time of Revelation, Rome as protector was now Rome as oppressor.
So what does Revelation have to say in all of that? However one desires to see in Revelation helicopters or the Beatles or Donald Trump or Hitler or the inventor of Reality TV, most scholars across the board agree on two things: 1) it is a book of hope for the persecuted believer, and 2) it warns of dire periods for the faithful before all things come to pass.
It also repeats the fact that no matter how brutal, horrible, terrifying or miserable the world, most do not repent. Instead, they curse God or join against Him. That's what this passage above is dealing with. It's revving up for the famous "Battle of Armageddon", which actually doesn't happen. If you read the actual text above, there is no battle:
- Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war:
- the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city:
- and fire came down out of heaven, and devoured them”
No matter what is happening, God has it in the end. Contrary to those lovable premillennial dispensationalists, there is no magical Rapture to lift us out of our car just as we're about to get a traffic ticket, just so we can escape the coming persecution. Quite the contrary. Despite our best efforts to suggest there is no punishment and it's all to the happy place, it is in many ways through this tribulation that the wheat will definitely be sifted from the chaff. Therefore, we must pass through this time, showing our devotion and our faithfulness. It is through the tribulations that we will be known, not only by how many we clothed and fed, but by how many remained loyal to the Lord.
None of this is to say I'm predicting the end of times. That's not for me to say. I just recall that Revelation was written to comfort the afflicted and, as the old saying goes, afflict the comfortable, or at least the powerful. It's a reminder that, in the end, we're in a war between the Father of Lights and the principalities, the powers, the world rulers of this present darkness, and against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Sides will be drawn up, and even Jesus has always suggested a minority response of those who would enter through the narrow gate.
So take comfort. Right now there is obviously a war on the Church. Collateral casualties are the Western tradition and America, and the ideas of morality, democracy, liberty and the dignity of the human person that emerged from those worldly civilizations. But it is the Church, and Christ's followers, who are in the crosshairs. To spin it any other way is to see the world as man sees the world, not as God sees it. And how does God see this sudden uprising against His Church? Again, read Revelation.
|Only one side wins in the end|