April 29, 2012

Revelations on Bible Prophecy

We are living in the Apocalypse-- the Revelatory Age, if you will. That means that things formerly hidden are being brought to light. It's like turning over a big rock, and finding a mess of disgusting creepy-crawley creatures scurrying in all directions, trying to avoid the glare of daylight. It should be a time of rapid maturing;
the unmasking of deception should make everyone start to see the world as it really is, not as the old facades pretend it is.

But that is not, typically, what is happening among the majority of people.

To begin with, the Christian commentators who expound on the prophecies of the Bible-- especially of the Revelation-- all seem to make serious, fundamental errors of interpretation that ensure their conclusions are mistaken. What they seem to do is to make some 'logical' (as humans think) assumptions on the future based on their political/economic/sociological (biased) understanding of current events. Then they go sifting thru the scriptures, pulling out whatever verses can be proposed as proving their presumed conclusions. Of course, this process is often unconscious, and they may believe that they are not relying on preconceptions, but the results don't support this view.

The biggest mistake Christian pundits make is to take the book of Revelation literally. They reason that 'if God said it, then it must be exactly so!' In fact, Revelation starts with the assertion that its words 'signify' (Rev 1:1, literal), that is, symbolically describe, 'what is to come.' So, if one accepts that scripture is the divine expression, then why not heed the warning that the words are figurative? Indeed, with its bizarre mix of horsemen, trumpets, bowls, monstrous locusts, etc., it must be obvious that the text is not to be taken literally!

Nonetheless, the pundits invariably decide to accept some passages as allegorical, and others as literal... almost arbitrarily. Let me provide a prime example. The majority of commentators, over several centuries, have decided that 'the beast' of chapter 13 (that recovered from the deadly wound) is the Vatican (the Papacy), or others, that it's the European Union. Then they find a matrix of verses that they can force into 'supporting' this conclusion. If they would let the text define itself, using sound 'hermeneutics' (systematic protocols of interpretation) they would come to an entirely different conclusion!

To begin with, the meaning of a text depends more on context than on pretext! Instead of collecting verses from all over the Bible-- Old Testament as well as New-- you have to examine the whole passage within which a verse appears. Then, it's reasonable to go looking for passages that demonstrate typical meanings of specific words.

In the case of Revelation, one has to consider 'meta-factors' such as the writing style of John, the author. Notably, in many places, John takes recognizable passages from the OT, and applies them in a new context and manner. The recycled text is meant to evoke the general atmosphere of the original situation, while describing the future symbolically. The original words relate to specific, physical events long before the time of Christ; as adopted by John, those words now pertain to universal, spiritual realities that would eventuate in 'the last days.'
Thus, when John writes of Babylon, altho he echoes the OT prophets, he is clearly describing an apostate religious system, not the 'golden kingdom' of yore. If Babylon is not literal-- as virtually all pundits agree-- then why should 'Israel' be taken literally as the modern nation/state occupying Palestine? Yet millions have committed their minds and wallets to this belief as if it's unassailable!

Another prominent characteristic of the book of Revelation is that it is 'cyclical' rather than linear. The western-educated reader has the presumption that a story progresses from 'now' until 'later,' in straight-line fashion. Revelation, instead, retells the same outline of history in several successive passes... without saying so, of course. By studying the text, one can discern this repetition, and appreciate how it provides alternative details of end-time events.

It's nothing short of astounding that so many people can all claim to read the same document, yet like an army of lawyers, all come to different, and errant conclusions as to what it means. Strangely, this ambiguity is deliberate! By this opaqueness, God is able to frustrate the efforts of any agency that would like to twist the scriptures to their own, nefarious ends; and, at the same time, to demonstrate the validity of the holy books and of His custodianship.

This is not to say that the prophecies are useless because they can't be interpreted-- as is the case, incidentally, with the famous 'quatrains' of Nostradamus. Not at all. Under the unction of the Holy Spirit, and maintaining a mind free (as much as possible) from pre-judgements, it is possible to discern the true predictions of prophecy-- and to be amazed by them. I refer readers to some of the essays on this website, for example, 'The Beast of Revelation Is Is...', Revelation Revisited (New Study, and Part 2).

A classic case of how not to interpret Biblical prophecy is supplied by a book written in the 1970s by the 'pop-evangelist' Hal Lindsay. Given the melodramatic title 'The Late Great Planet Earth,' his scenario embraced detailed accounts of geo-political moves by the big, world powers, with fanciful descriptions of fearsome technologies and weaponry, all of it centered around the state of Israel, complete with time-lines. And all of it was totally 'out to lunch' as far as being accurate prophecy. But many nominal Christians have short memories, and Lindsay's forecasts were soon replaced by a new wave of future-hysteria focussed now on the so-called 'secret Rapture,' that will prove to be another unfounded prophetic boondoggle. 

I opened this essay by saying that revealing truth ought to raise the consciousness of humanity, by stripping away the false world created by satanic deception. Jesus said that the truth shall set us free... because operating in falsehood always limits our options, and leads to false conclusions. Sadly, most people are so attached to their fabricated, artificial reality that they just can't handle truth, or the freedom it unavoidably entails. More on this topic in a later treatise.

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