Friday, January 22nd, 2021
Sometimes you should not show your cards. Sometimes you should. Most of the time you only show the select cards that you believe will benefit you. But both my amateur observations and this card-shark analogy hinge on the presumption that you, the player, are completely invested in your preferred game — that you’re in it to win it. But what if you’re not? What if you’re only in the game for the sake of another player? And what if you do not care if you lose?
When playing games, sometimes I do not care if I win. Sometimes I even want the other player to win. That is true especially if and when I am playing against a child. However, there are times I dearly want to win, so much so that I will go to great lengths to achieve victory. Years ago, my wife beat me in chess — not once, but multiple times. This was entirely unacceptable. My ego was badly bruised. I needed to find a way to beat her. Finally, I managed to pull out a victory. Somehow I did win one game. To this day, I cannot be sure whether I really won outright, or whether she let her childish, overly-invested husband win.
Anyway, I deliberately embarrass myself here because honest introspection is good for the haughty soul. Sometimes ego gets the best of me. When it does, some form of humiliation usually follows shortly thereafter, if not immediately. And we witness that same predictable theme play out repeatedly on the stage of history. In the King James’ idiom, “Pride cometh before a fall.” Yes, it does, again and again.
But the line between pride and due confidence is not always obvious. Sometimes we believe someone to be proud or arrogant when that person is not, but is instead duly confident. For example, my wife is quite good at chess. She really is. And she has ample reason for self-confidence, when it comes to the game of chess (among other things). Yet she is never arrogant about it, nor boastful. If, however, she were to say to you, “I stand a very good chance of beating most people in a game of chess,” she would be right, IMHO. She will not say that, though, so I will say it for her here. You’re welcome, my Dear.
Why am I talking about this? You may be wondering that, at this point. I am talking about this because this blog sometimes gets me in trouble with people I know. Most people are too polite to say so outright, but they believe there is a certain amount of audacity for anyone to claim what I claim. And what is it I claim? I claim that my readers or listeners can learn relevant and important information about very, very controversial sections of Scripture from audacious me. The simple act of posting what I routinely post shows a lot of audacity, perhaps even hubris. Who do I think that I am? A fair question, actually. But most people are too polite and too conflict-avoidant to directly ask that question. That’s okay: If I were in their shoes, I would not ask it either, so I will ask it for them.
The straight answer to that (usually unspoken) question is this: Rightly or wrongly, I honestly believe that I must blog what I blog. Writing what I do gets me nowhere professionally (at least, not thus far). Nonetheless, the spread of the dread virus affords me the opportunity and time to blog, so blog I will. And my understanding of Scripture is what I sincerely believe I have to offer my readers and listeners, as I have given a lot of time to the pursuit.
That said, there is only one way for anyone to know if what I have to say is actually worthwhile. You have to read it and take the time to consider it. Some people do, for which I am quite grateful. And if you have read or listened to me thus far, thank you.
Now I am going to show a few of my key cards. I am going to point out exactly where I know most of the experts are likely to disagree with me. And when I say the experts, I mean it. I have read most of the esteemed interpreters of Revelation. Perhaps I should say most of the esteemed interpreters who are published in English (as opposed to German; but most of the German interpreters and theologians eventually get translated into English). Here’s a big card: Most of the esteemed experts would either be uncertain or dismissive of how I interpret the Seven Trumpets, a section of Revelation stretching from the beginning of Chapter 8 to the end of Chapter 11. Yet I will contend that the Seven Trumpets are where I have important insights to offer. And I hope that I can convince some of my readers and listeners to recognize the value of those insights. Yes, I need to be more specific. But I need to take a step back first.
In terms of organization, the Book of Revelation has four sets of seven scenes. The first Set of Seven has to do with the Seven Churches of Asia. This is the least controversial of the four sets. I follow most Evangelical interpreters closely regarding this first set, except that I claim that the respective angel of each of the churches is actually the pastor or bishop. That is a minor point, though. And most of the big interpreters will recognize that my observation might have validity.
The second Set of Seven has to do with the Seven Seals of the Scroll, which are broken in succession by the worthy sacrificed Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Interpreters are all over the place in explaining this set of seven. I understand it as having to do with the progressive historical fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
The third Set of Seven is the Seven Trumpets. This is where I believe I can make an important interpretive contribution. As with the Seven Seals, the esteemed interpreters are all over the place in explaining the Seven Trumpets. I understand the Seven Trumpets as having to do with the progressive historical fulfillment of New Testament prophecy, specifically prophecy concerning the Church and its mission. If you were to go read the Seven Trumpets now, there is a very good chance you will think I am crazy to say what I do. But you will probably miss the symbolism, because you will probably be thinking too literally. Each of the Seven Trumpets is symbolic; and the symbolism is only to be deciphered by looking back to Old Testament references, and, to a certain extent, to portions of the New Testament. Everything I claim here depends on a symbolic, cross-referential reading of the Seven Trumpets. That bears repeating: It all depends upon a symbolic, cross-referential reading of the Seven Trumpets. Yes, I do need to flesh that out for you. And I have fleshed it out in a previous blog post; see Eighteen Interpretive Insights, dated September 8th 2020.
The fourth Set of Seven in the Book of Revelation is the Seven Bowls of Wrath, which is found in Revelation Chapters 15 and 16. I understand the Seven Bowls of Wrath pertain to the awful events that occur in a fearsome period of time after Christ has returned for the Church, but before Christ has returned with the Church. Notice the wording and the distinction there: returned for versus returned with. I believe Christ does take the Church away for a brief time.
Of course, there is much more material in Revelation to explain. But this should be a helpful introductory overview for any reader of Revelation. You should know that these four sets of seven are there, and that they each need to be interpreted. The last three sets of seven are sequential in historical chronology, in my reading: first the Old Testament, then the New Testament, and then a very brief, very intense, very terrifying period of time before Christ himself comes to visibly and physically establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. In a nutshell, that is how I understand the bulk of the Book of Revelation.