Our Opposition

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Our Opposition – Audio Version

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

1 John 3:8

A good friend asked me to write something about unanswered prayer. Ironically enough, his request to write about the vexing problem of unanswered prayer comes as an answer to a standing prayer of mine. His request gave me a clear sense of which direction to take my blog, which is something I have been feeling unsure about and praying about.

To answer his question about why our prayers sometimes go unanswered (at least seemingly so), I am going to reference and bring together a number of passages from the Bible. At the center, my anchor passage will be Revelation Chapter 10, which in perusal appears to have nothing to do with prayer whatsoever. So it seems, until you study its subtle signposts.    

In a previous blog post entitled The Cast of Chapter Ten, I argued that the Mighty Angel in Revelation Chapter Ten is none other than Jesus Christ himself. Are you skeptical of that claim? I strongly suspect that some of my readers and listeners are initially uncertain about that claim. Why not just accept that the Mighty Angel is an angelic being? I would ask anyone who is skeptical about it to do two things: First, go re-read or re-listen to that blog post. Second, hear me out in this blog post. 

An edible (and yet indigestible) scroll ties Revelation 10:8-10 directly to Ezekiel 3:1-3. In the Prophecy of Ezekiel, Someone enthroned in glory (yet resembling a man: Ezekiel 1:26) hands an edible, script-covered scroll to Ezekiel and instructs him to eat it. In the Book of Revelation, the Mighty Angel (who, incidentally, is described very similarly to the One Enthroned in Ezekiel: compare Ezekiel 1:28 to Revelation 10:1) hands an edible scroll to John and instructs him to eat it. Could this be the one and the same Scroll-Giver in both Ezekiel and Revelation? I do believe so. I will assume so. I assume the celestial Scroll-Giver to be none other than Jesus Christ in both books. Again, I argue for this more thoroughly in my previous post The Cast of Chapter Ten.

If you are willing to tentatively grant me my premise (that in both Ezekiel and in Revelation the Scroll-Giver is Jesus Christ), then I will proceed to introduce an awkward, unsettling, and complicating piece of information, a piece of information that opens up the question of unanswered prayer. This awkward, unsettling, and complicating piece of information truly does complicate things. 

Here I go: Revelation 10 points not just to the introduction of Ezekiel, but also to the closing of Daniel. Revelation 10:5-6 depicts the Mighty Angel as making a solemn oath, in deliberate replay of the angel depicted in Daniel 12:7. In itself, that deliberate replay — that echo — is not a problem. But it becomes awkward for me quickly, because the angel at the end of the Prophecy of Daniel looks less like Jesus Christ and more like a standard-issue angelic being. It would be much better for my argument if it were the other way around.

Consequently, I do not readily admit that, nor point it out. I do not want to admit that because at the end of Daniel we are presented with an angel who comes across as a mere angel, and not Jesus Christ. All the same, Revelation Chapter Ten clearly points its readers not just to the opening of Ezekiel, but also to closing three chapters of Daniel, where we read about or hear about an angel who gets temporarily delayed in a spiritual conflict. That temporary delay poses something of a problem for me. And my whole argument may disintegrate due to it. 

But then again, maybe not. 

Am I getting way ahead of myself? My readers and listeners might not know enough about the angel or angels in the closing chapters of the Prophecy of Daniel, yet. So here is a quick and loose summary: While exiled from his homeland Daniel served as a government official (in multiple foreign administrations) and as a prophet of God (an interesting and unusual combination of occupations). At one point, after reading the Prophecy of Jeremiah, Daniel began praying about the potential reconstruction and restoration of Jerusalem, a city he had not seen for decades, since his youth. In response to Daniel’s prayer, God sent the Angel Gabriel with an answer (see Daniel 9:21). Who did God send? A standard-issue angelic being named Gabriel. And no, the Angel Gabriel is definitely not Jesus Christ. Am I wrong, then, to think that the doppelgänger Mighty Angel in Revelation 10 is Jesus? Might he simply be the Angel Gabriel? Hold on, though. Angelic mix-up is occurring here. Gabriel is not the Mighty Angel’s doppelgänger; another angel/messenger is.

On another and separate occasion Daniel prayed another time. Again, God sent an angelic messenger to answer Daniel’s prayer. But this time, the angel is not named; instead this Angel is said to resemble a man (see Daniel 10:18). You might recall that in Ezekiel the Scroll-Giver is said to resemble a man (see Ezekiel 1:26). Perhaps you can see where I am going with this. Perhaps this Angel — this man-resembling messenger — is said to resemble a man because he is in fact the Son of Man, that is, Jesus Christ. This, then, is not just a doppelgänger. This is the same person, the same individual, the same being. This is Jesus Christ, in Daniel, as in Ezekiel, as in Revelation. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He just appears to humanity in various guises.

But if so — if the Angel introduced in Daniel 10 is in fact Jesus Christ — then how is it that this divine Angel was delayed by the Prince of Persia for 21 days (see Daniel 10:13)? How is it that Jesus Christ was held up for three weeks? How is it that Jesus Christ required the assistance of a Chief Prince named Michael? That does not compute. Could Jesus Christ really be delayed in spiritual conflict and in need of assistance?

Yes. Yes, he could. If I am interpreting these passages correctly, that is the implication.

What?!? Some of my readers and listeners did not like that answer, not at all. Admittedly, it sounds nigh-to-heretical. If Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, then nothing and no one can stand in his way and hold him up. Jesus Christ does not need anyone’s assistance.

That is true, on this side of the Cross. But somehow the Prince of Persia (who was not a man, but an evil spiritual being) had legal standing and real spiritual authority. At that point in human history, Jesus Christ had not yet defeated the Principalities and Powers of Darkness. Jesus Christ would utterly defeat them later, at the Cross. Yet for some reason, in Daniel’s day, Jesus Christ did not invoke or actualize his full divine authority. It may even be accurate to say that Jesus Christ could not invoke or actualize his divine authority until after he had completed his mission to save humanity. I think this may be because once God sets spiritual rules, He plays by those rules, even if it means He necessarily imposes limits on Himself.

This may all sound slightly crazy and maybe even theologically unsound. But consider the New Testament passages where Jesus confronts demons and evil spirits. They are fully aware of the potential threat he poses to their “turf,” their domain and dominion (see Mark 1:24). And in his temptation of Jesus, Satan himself even claims to have rightful authority over the kingdoms of the world (see Luke 4:5-6). Jesus was an invader who had come to reclaim what they had previously seized in spiritual battle.

Prior to his incarnation and his victory at the cross, then, Jesus’ authority was temporarily restrained. The Prince of Persia, who had real spiritual authority, was able to contest and delay the pre-incarnate Christ. And the pre-incarnate Christ even required the assistance of Michael, an angel. It sounds crazy, I admit. But it might be right.

What does this have to do with prayer? Daniel only got the answer to his prayer after 21 days of intense spiritual warfare. Perhaps that tells us something important. Perhaps some spiritual battles are only won through persistence in prayer. Perhaps we even assist God through our prayers. Perhaps some accomplishments only occur when we partner with God in prayer. If so, it is probably because those are the spiritual rules God has set; and God plays by those rules.

His disciples once asked Jesus why they had been unable to rid a boy of a demon. Jesus’ response (see Mark 9:29) was telling: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” My wife gets a nod and the credit for making the link between this passage in Mark and the conundrum we find in Daniel 10. Thank you, my dear.

As you might guess, I am back to asserting and affirming that the Mighty Angel of Revelation Chapter 10 is one and the same person as the one resembling a man in Ezekiel 1:26 and the angel/messenger resembling a man in Daniel 10:16. 

How does all this help my friend who is perplexed by the problem of unanswered prayer? If nothing else, it tells us that due to unseen spiritual opposition some of our prayers will require patient persistence and even more patient persistence. We know from Scripture — from Ephesians 6:12 in particular — that we struggle not against flesh and blood opponents, but against rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world, against spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms. Since Jesus has already defeated those spiritual forces of evil at the Cross, we are much better positioned than Daniel ever was. And if Daniel was able to secure an answer to his prayer through persistence before Christ’s victory on the Cross, we stand an even better chance of getting answers to our prayers after the Cross.

Dual Recipients

Audio Version

What do a distasteful beverage, a clueless customer, an immature child, an impolite host, a triumphant conqueror, and an attentive listener all have in common? Not much, except that through John, Jesus used all six of these illustrations in quick succession to depict, correct, and inspire the Church of Laodicea and its Messenger (see Revelation 3:14-22).

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea is like a distasteful, disgusting beverage, neither hot nor cold, which (or who) is at real risk of being spat out. 

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea is like a completely clueless customer who must first be informed of his or her embarrassing lack of discernment, and then be advised as to what he or she actually needs to acquire. 

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea is like an immature (and perhaps naughty) child in need of firm correction and discipline from a loving disciplinarian. 

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea is like an impolite host who leaves an invited (and very important!) dinner guest waiting and knocking at the front door. 

The Messenger of the Church of Laodicea might eventually be a triumphant conqueror.

And anyone hearing Jesus’ message to the Church of Laodicea and its Messenger should be an especially attentive listener. 

Suffice to say, to deliver his message to the Church of Laodicea and its Messenger, Jesus used a lot of short sermon illustrations. 

But I ought to make an aside. Why do I insist on being so wordy? Why do I keep referring to the Messenger of the Church of Laodicea, when I could cut out the extra three words and simplify it to just the Church of Laodicea? Good question. And the answer is this: I want my readers and listeners to catch what gets otherwise omitted, almost every time, in English-speaking settings. Grammatically, it is very clear that Jesus is not addressing the whole congregation of believers at Laodicea — at least, not immediately and directly. Jesus is not speaking directly to the Laodicean church en masse. He is instead speaking first and foremost to someone who is the individual messenger of the church.

But why does that matter?

It matters because the grammatical onus of the passage is clearly on an individual, on the individual messenger, who must personally make necessary personal and corporate changes. This messenger is probably otherwise and more commonly known as the pastor. When the messenger or pastor makes necessary personal and corporate changes, the whole congregation will be better as a result. Thus Jesus’ message indicates that good church leadership matters, and that church leaders sometimes need words of correction — even public correction.

Alternatively and admittedly, the messenger could possibly be understood as a collective singular. While this is a more abstract concept, it basically means that the collective church is personified as a single individual. Maybe this is how we are supposed to understand it. Maybe. But it begs the crucial question of why the singular-collective ambiguity would be used there in the text at all. Jesus could just have spoken to the churches using plural pronouns and plural grammatical forms in general. It is easy to do and would have been much simpler, if indeed the whole church is intended. But no, singular pronouns and singular forms are always used, as if Jesus is speaking to an individual person (which I contend, he is). Therefore, the consistent use of singular grammatical forms points to an intended individual recipient, who is best understood as the leader of the church. (Yes, I do wonder why this grammatical point is so hard for English speakers to accept. It is there for the finding.)

But then again, there is an even better and more nuanced way to understand Jesus’ message to the Messenger at the Church of Laodicea. We can and should read it as applicable to both the individual messenger and the entire congregation. Jesus’ message is meant for both an individual leader and for an entire congregation. Yes, Jesus is speaking most immediately and primarily to an individual messenger, who holds a position of ecclesiastical leadership. But Jesus is also speaking indirectly to the whole congregation. Since the message is supposed to be read publicly, the congregation is meant to overhear it, and take it to heart as far as it applies. If the shoe fits… the listeners should each wear it together. Thus the onus is not entirely on the individual leader. It is also on the congregation, personally and corporately. When we hear and read the Message to the Church of Laodicea in particular, and the Messages to the Seven Churches in general, we do well to keep this intended duality in mind. With each of Jesus’ messages, two recipients per church are intended: the individual leader and the whole congregation. We should strive to keep each of the recipients in view, without forfeiting one for the other.  

Perhaps another time we can look at Jesus’ interesting illustration of an impolite host, who leaves an important dinner guest (that is, Jesus himself) waiting and knocking at the front door.

The Cast of Chapter Ten

The Cast of Chapter Ten, Audio Version

Count the characters. This chapter of Revelation presents listeners with a variety of characters. How many do you count? While some observers say Chapter Ten presents listeners with ten different characters, I see six fewer. No, not ten — only four. One, two, three, four, and no more characters are to be found in Chapter Ten. Of those four, one or two are primary and focal, while the other two are mostly peripheral. You might not agree with me. You might count more. How is it I count only four? Why so few? 

John, of course, counts as one character, albeit a relatively minor character. John serves throughout the Book of Revelation as the vision transcriber and as our narrator. For the most part, John quietly and inconspicuously narrates what he sees and hears, and does so whenever possible from the periphery. He does not focus on himself. That is true here in Chapter Ten, except for when he must eat the edible yet indigestible scroll. More on the edible scroll in a forthcoming blog cast.  

The Seven Speaking Thunders count as a second character. I say they are a character, as opposed to an event, since they do more than rumble. They speak, and speak intelligibly. Although they are said to number seven, they neither do nor say anything obviously distinctive from each other, but appear to function just as one message bearer. Perhaps they spoke simultaneously in stereo surround sound or echoed the same message in turn; yet nothing in the text indicates that they delivered seven different messages. Again, the Seven Speaking Thunders seem to function narratively as just one character. Furthermore, the Thunders cannot be considered a major character in Chapter Ten, since they appear only briefly in verses 3 and 4, where they deliver a message that is curiously censored, and immediately so. 

Forgive me, but to make my point I must resort to Seminary-speak in this paragraph. As I already said, the Seven Speaking Thunders function narratively as one — as a singularity. That fact may be intended to point Revelation’s listeners to an underlying ontological/essential reality: Somehow the Seven Speaking Thunders are best understood as one — a unified one. Ontologically (that is, in essence), they may be just one spiritual entity. Like the Seven Spirits of Revelation 1:4 and 4:5, the Seven Speaking Thunders may constitute not seven separate and distinct individuals, but just one single, yet diverse, entity. Indeed, if Chapter Ten is best interpreted using a Trinitarian hermeneutic, as I would argue it ought to be, then the Seven Speaking Thunders may well be one and the same as the Seven Spirits before the Throne — the one Holy Spirit. I am suggesting that the Seven Speaking Thunders may be the same entity as the Seven Spirits before the Throne, also and more commonly known as the Holy Spirit. Please reference in particular Revelation 4:5, where peals of thunder and seven flaming torches are some of the phenomena associated with the Throne of God. 

As for Chapter Ten’s third character, the Mighty Angel stands center stage. And the fourth character, though very, very important, is heard but never seen. That would be the Voice from Heaven. Throughout its eleven verses, Chapter Ten turns John’s attention, and thus the listener’s attention, to these two primary characters, who sometimes act and speak in tandem. Do notice that the Mighty Angel gets most of Chapter Ten’s airtime, by far. Thus the Mighty Angel ought to be considered Chapter Ten’s central character and primary focus.  

Now that the four main characters have been counted, I will move on to my next controversial claim. Here it is: The main character is probably not whom you think he is.  

Many Revelation-readers/listeners will quickly get the identity of one of these characters right, and just as quickly get identity of the other character wrong. The Voice from Heaven must be God, they will decide, and correctly so. As for the Mighty Angel, he is most likely a high-ranking angel, such as an archangel, many will conclude, incorrectly. Sorry, but that’s the wrong answer, albeit entirely understandable. No, the Mighty Angel is not merely a high-ranking angel. He is mighty. The adjective is there for a reason. He is mightier than other messengers, and far greater than other heavenly emissaries. The Mighty Angel is someone mightier than other messengers, and yet someone other than God Almighty. Who could it be?   

Many Revelation interpreters will doubt with my assertions at this point. Some may anticipate where I am going, and disagree with me on this point. They will argue that the Mighty Angel is obviously portrayed as a high-ranking angel. The text clearly says he is an angel, so he must be a heavenly emissary, simply an angel. What else or who else could he be? If not a high-ranking angel or an archangel, what else or who else could the Mighty Angel of Revelation Chapter Ten possibly be?

That is a key question, a crucially important question. Chapter Ten effectively poses that very question to those who are familiar with the Bible. But those who are not well acquainted with Old Testament prophecies will likely make some quick assumptions and even miss the question altogether, because it is implied. The Book of Revelation makes a lot of subtle scriptural references and drops a lot of detailed hints. Key questions and leads are there to be discovered; but they usually require a significant degree of prior biblical knowledge and a substantial measure of theological discernment. The Book of Revelation does this sort of thing very frequently. You gain deeper understanding of the Book of Revelation as you catch the subtle referential hints, which are almost always hidden in plain sight, there in the details. In fact, it may be an accurate statement to claim that no detail whatsoever in the Book of Revelation is extraneous. Every detail given to the listener and provided by the Book of Revelation is there deliberately and intentionally. Such details often require further study. The interpreter will have to reference and re-read Old Testament prophecies. But it will be worthwhile, since the details will help a careful interpreter arrive at a clearer interpretation.

To be blunt, the hints all point to the Mighty Angel being Jesus Christ himself. More specifically, the Mighty Angel is a New Testament cameo of the pre-incarnate, pre-existent Jesus Christ. The Mighty Angel is who Christ Jesus was before he was born as a human being. Throughout the Old Testament, Jesus appears and reappears as a mysterious figure known as the Angel of the Lord. And Revelation Chapter Ten is dropping hints galore that the Mighty Angel is the pre-incarnate Christ. That is indeed the correct interpretation, in spite of how things may initially seem on a superficial, un-referential read.

In particular, two key Old Testament passages are hidden in the details of Revelation Chapter Ten. The first key passage is the opening vision of Ezekiel the exiled priestly-prophet, found in the Book of Ezekiel chapters one and two. The second key passage is the concluding vision of Daniel the exiled statesman-prophet, found in the Book of Daniel chapters ten, eleven, and twelve. If a reader/listener compares Revelation Chapter Ten to the opening chapters of Ezekiel and the closing chapters of Daniel, the detailed references are overwhelmingly obvious.

In both the opening of Ezekiel and the closing of Daniel, a Mysterious Figure appears. Although the Mysterious Figure seems like he might well be God himself, the two passages leave the  identity of the Mysterious Figure something of a mystery, because unlike God, he is described as visible and likened in form to a human being, a man. So if he is not exactly God, who is the Mysterious Figure? Is he a variation or manifestation of God, or an angelic proxy, or what? Revelation Chapter Ten points the discerning listener directly to both prophetic passages, and links the Mighty Angel to the Mysterious Figure therein, leaving the distinct impression that the Mighty Angel is one and the same as the Mysterious Figure in both passages. 

Therefore, at least three claims can be made. First, the Mysterious Figure in Ezekiel and Daniel is, at very least, God-like in position, appearance, and glory. Second, the Mysterious Figure in Ezekiel and Daniel personally and authoritatively delivers divine messages and interpretations to the respective prophets. Third, Revelation Chapter Ten ties or even fuses these two Mysterious Figures together into one. In Chapter Ten, the equation is not one plus one, but one times one. This is just one individual. The Mysterious Figure in the opening chapters of Ezekiel is one and the same as the Mysterious Figure in the closing chapters of Daniel; that is what Revelation Ten portrays in the person of the Mighty Angel.  

So if the Mysterious Figure of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation is the same singular being throughout, who is he? If your inclination is to say that he is an angel of some sort, I would caution you with the observation that he is enthroned in glory among the cherubim in Ezekiel (see also Ezekiel 10:20). Enthroned in glory, like God and as God. Among the cherubim, like the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, where the presence of God resided. However, if your inclination is to say that he is simply God, I would ask you, How is it that he appears visibly in the likeness of a man in both Ezekiel and Daniel? How is it the prophets can see anyone at all, since God is invisible, and since no one can see God and live (see Exodus 33:20, John 1:18, and 1 Timothy 6:16)?

This individual defies easy categorization because he actually fulfills all three. He is wholly divine. But sometimes he takes the role of a heavenly angel/messenger in order to appear to human beings. But then he went an additional condescending step and even assumed full humanity in the incarnation. He became a man for our sake. Only one individual in history fits all three categorizations: Jesus Christ. Therefore, especially when its two primary Old Testament prophetic references are taken into account, Chapter Ten of Revelation pushes a trinitarian portrait of God, the whole way through. The Voice from Heaven is God the Father. The Seven Speaking Thunders are the Holy Spirit. And the Mighty Angel is Jesus Christ. 

But I have not covered everything in Chapter Ten yet. There are two big remaining narrative issues from Chapter Ten that need to be addressed. There is a vow made by the Mighty Angel. And there is an edible scroll given by the Mighty Angel.    

Once an Angel

Thursday Afternoon, May 28th, 2020

Back in the Day.
Once an Angel, Audio Version

From August 1994 to August 2006 I lived in the greater Los Angeles area. First I worked there. Then I studied there. Eventually, my wife and I met there. We got married there. Our daughter was born there. The course of my life was effectively set there. Those twelve years will forever stand in my memory as simultaneously the worst and the best of my life. Bittersweet is an apt word to describe those years. I am grateful for the time I had there. And I am even more grateful that those years are behind me. It was a hard and yet formative period of life.     

For a little while, I was also an angel there. It’s true. I really was briefly an angel in Los Angeles. Just barely, though. Just barely in Los Angeles county, is where I was, I mean. The law firm where I worked as an angel was less than two miles from the county line — maybe even less than that. Had the law firm been a little farther east, I would not have been an angel in Los Angeles. I would have been an angel in San Bernardino, which is nowhere nearly as catchy. Wouldn’t you agree? But I can honestly say that I was an angel in Los Angeles at about the turn of the millennium. Yes, angelic me.

Are you confused? Angels are simply messengers. Please hear that now. They are messengers. That is exactly what the word means. Angel equals messenger. That’s all. 

I was a courier for a law firm. As a courier, I delivered documents and messages. That was my job. I was hired to make speedy deliveries. I was told to drive around Los Angeles County and Orange County delivering highly important legal documents and time-sensitive messages. Sometimes I even got to drive eastward to San Bernardino County or southward to San Diego County. The drive into San Diego is very pretty, by the way. As just mentioned, San Bernardino County was very close; but the law firm did most of its work in LA County and Orange County. My assignment was: “Go, deliver, and bring back certification of delivery. And hurry!” I spent a lot of time driving Interstate 10 into and out of the actual City of Los Angeles. Yes, angelic me. I was very briefly an angel in Los Angeles.       

Dear Pastor, Hang Tough.

This has everything to do with the Book of Revelation. As you read, you will bump into many angels throughout. Various angels are mentioned in Revelation. And most people reading Revelation just assume they know what an angel is. “Surely this entity called angel is an immortal heavenly being, with powerful wings and brilliance of countenance.” And that is often exactly right. But sometimes in Revelation the entity said to be an angel does not fit the description. Sometimes the entity is not described as an immortal heavenly being. Sometimes the entity is not described at all. The entity is simply called an angel. And sometimes it seems like the entity — even though called an angel — might be a mere mortal, just an ordinary hum-drum human being: a courier, or a messenger, like me back around the turn of the millennium.

Lots of people find this claim somehow annoying, alarming, or amazing. “Angel means angel,” they insist. But no, you cannot and should not assume that. Angel does not mean angel, if what you mean is a brilliant, immortal heavenly being, every single time. Immortal heavenly beings can serve as angels, yes and for certain. That’s true, and biblical. But human beings can serve as angels, too. That’s also true, and also biblical. God can call human beings to serve as messengers. Furthermore, God does call human beings to serve as messengers, lots of times. Need I name names? How about Malachi, which means my angel. The prophet Malachi was just a man, though, a mere mortal.

When you bump into an angel in the Book of Revelation, ask yourself this simple question: Is this angel/messenger actually described as a heavenly being or not? If not, please entertain the thought that the messenger might not a brilliant, immortal heavenly being. I say that because the angels/messengers of the seven churches in first three chapters of Revelation seem quite human to me (and to a number of other interpreters). That’s exactly how Jesus treats them, too — like humans. Jesus speaks words of affirmation to them, and words of encouragement, and words of correction, and words of warning. “Get your act together, angel, or else.”

Jesus’ words all make perfect sense if you’re willing to reconsider what the word angel must mean. Here Jesus speaks not to heavenly messengers but to human messengers. Human beings here receive his words of encouragement, and words of correction, and words of warning. It makes much less sense that Jesus would commission John to write a corrective circular letter addressed to brilliant heavenly beings. Why wouldn’t Jesus just directly communicate himself to heavenly beings? Why use a human intermediary? But these angels need to receive a snail-mail letter from John. These terrestrially-tied angels seem less likely to be luminous immortals and more likely to be ordinary mortals; don’t you think? Perhaps these seven angels are simply the head pastors of the seven municipal churches of Roman Asia. That’s what makes the most sense to me. That’s my interpretive suggestion. And I do speak with some authority on the matter. After all, I was briefly an angel.

Why does this matter? It matters because reading Revelation carefully will keep you on your toes. You will need to rethink your categories and reconsider your assumptions. In Revelation, things are not always as they seem on first glance. Revelation does a lot of that, actually. What at first seemed to be this is actually something else. A lion is a lamb is Jesus. A beast is actually the emperor. Another beast is a false prophet. A beautiful bride is actually the church. An angel is actually a pastor. Get used to it. Get used to the use of symbolism and to symbolic shifts. Revelation re-construes reality, because what we perceive and what we assume is often inaccurate. Repeat that last sentence to yourself over and over. Revelation re-construes reality, because what we perceive and what we assume is often inaccurate, and even distorted.

Please don’t blame me for this. I’m just the messenger.

Here We Have Brilliant, Immortal Heavenly Being.