Monday, April 20th, 2020
Everything you read here is indubitably awesome.
Yes, that’s right. It’s undeniably, irrefutably, in-doo-buh-tah-blee AWESOME, squared. Maybe even cubed. Awesome times itself and again.
Someone sent me a text. Someone very helpfully said that my last post was slightly less than understandable. It could have been, should have been shorter. Perhaps I should get to the point quicker. Too much yada, yada. Readers might lose interest. I would not want that; would I?
Someone said that. Someone knows who he is.
I suppose. I suppose someone made a good point. And I should heed that good point.
So today I will try to keep it short and simple. How am I doing, so far?
In Revelation 11:1-14, the protagonist is the Church. The antagonist is the Beast who rises from the abyss. The Beast conquers and kills the Church in the public square; but after a few days the Church is resurrected and brought to heaven in a cloud. Again, the Beast from the abyss conquers and kills the Church; but shortly thereafter the Church is resurrected and brought to heaven in a cloud.
Some of you reading this post or the previous post will not be convinced that the Church is actually the protagonist in this chapter, so I feel the need to try and convince you. I think it’s important that I convince you, because I think we are seeing at least partial fulfillment of this passage in our day. It is happening now. The Church is being attacked. The Church is being conquered. The Church is being killed and left mute and lifeless in the public square. We are living in a day and time of intensifying attacks and persecution. It is in the news, all too frequently. Need I cite some examples? North Korea comes to mind. China comes to mind. But there are more subtle examples, too, much closer to home.
However, if you miss the multi-faceted referential symbolism of Revelation 11 (not to mention the referential symbolism of the rest of the book), you will not be able to connect the dots. You will not make the correct connections. You will not recognize that what it describes is, at least to some extent, occurring right now. It’s happening now, now, now — not later.
The key is to accept my contention that this must be understood as referential symbolism. You need to let go of the literal impulse. No, it’s not literal. It’s referential. And it’s symbolism. In this short section, the Church is depicted symbolically four or five different ways. First, the Church is the Temple of God (an Old Testament reference). Then the Church’s boundaries are expanded slightly to become the Holy City (another Old Testament reference). Then it morphs into God’s Two Witnesses (a New Testament reference), who are also Two Olive Trees, and also Two Lampstands (an Old Testament Reference). Though four or five symbols are used, the primary symbol and reference for the Church here is the Two Witnesses. These witnesses are attacked, conquered, killed, and resurrected, then exalted. That is what happens. We can expect it. It should not take us by surprise.
I tried to explain the symbolism and point out some of the references in my previous post entitled The Two Witnesses. But that post is a bit wordy, convoluted, and tires the reader. So I’ll just ask you to provisionally consider the possibility that I’m not wrong.
If I’m not wrong, it means that you should be on your toes. If I’m not wrong, it means that you should be making the most of these days, as witnesses for Christ. If I’m not wrong, it means that you should be counting the cost, because it is very costly for our brothers and sisters in Christ in many locations.
Yes, I know: scare mongers have thought the same thing for years and years, centuries and centuries. “The End is Near. The End is Near. The End is Near.” Over and over. But no, it never really was near. So why should anyone listen if I cry wolf yet again?
Well, to start, someday someone will be right. Someday, the end actually will be near. Jesus said so. Paul said so. The Book of Revelation says so. If you take the authority of the Bible seriously, then you have to be open to the possibility that someday the end will be near. It’s gonna happen.
Beyond that, I’ll borrow a very contemporary analogy. We are facing a global pandemic. When I say that, I want you to think both of the Coronavirus and the persecution of faithful Christians. Just like the spread of the Coronavirus (which was once just a seemingly far-off epidemic), so the persecution of devout, confessing Christians is increasing worldwide. Persecution has become a global plague, an international affair. While we might not yet be at the point where persecution is coordinated and executed by a single political entity (that is, a final Antichrist or Beast from the abyss), it could come more quickly than we expect. It could foreseeably happen in the near future. Just know that intense and coordinated political persecution of Christians is already happening in many countries. The more widespread and coordinated it becomes, the closer we are to the actual end. That’s how I read Revelation 11. Please consider the possibility that I might not be wrong.