Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Humiliation – Audio Version

If you are reading this to see how I will attempt to refute the Right Reverend N.T. Wright on the question and reality of the Rapture, please feel free to skip past the historical stuff about Antiochus Epiphanes that follows immediately hereafter, interesting though it may be. However, you will be skipping some valuable information.

King Antiochus IV Epiphanes was a bad guy, a very, very bad guy. From a biblical perspective, Antiochus Epiphanes was one of the absolute worst bad guys ever. He was really, really bad. I wrote about the Greek Monarch Antiochus Epiphanes in a previous post entitled Damnational Geographic and explained why he was so bad. But I did not include an important historical anecdote about Antiochus in that post which I will include now. Antiochus only went totally bad after someone forced him to make a hard unequivocal humiliating choice. Antiochus was forced to decide something significant, and decide it immediately, publicly. He was literally put on the spot, right then and there, in front of his underlings. Only after he was forced to make that very humiliating decision did King Antiochus IV Epiphanes become one of the absolute worst bad guys ever. So exactly what happened? Here I will let tell the tale:

In Eleusis, a suburb of Alexandria, the Roman ambassador Gaius Popillius Lænas, presented Antiochus with the ultimatum that he evacuate Egypt and Cyprus immediately. Antiochus, taken by surprise, asked for time to consider. Popillius, however, drew a circle in the earth around the king with his walking stick and demanded an unequivocal answer before Antiochus left the circle. Dismayed by this public humiliation, the king quickly agreed to comply. Roman intervention had reestablished the status quo. By being allowed to retain southern Syria, to which Egypt had laid claim, Antiochus was able to preserve the territorial integrity of his realm.

A Roman ambassador drew a circle in the sand and in so doing forced Antiochus IV to decide whether or not to withdraw his forces from Egypt and Cyprus. Antiochus knew he could not defeat the militarily superior Romans, so he conceded to Ambassador Gaius Popillius’s demands. Then in his humiliated fury, King Antiochus turned in a raging rampage against the less-than loyal Jews who lived in the territory that he still held. His humiliation turned proud Antiochus into a seething, vengeful tyrant. The Jews would bear the brunt of his fury.

Why share all this information about Antiochus? I am figuratively attempting to get two birds with one stone. As for the first bird, I want to remind my readers and listeners of who Antiochus IV Epiphanes was, because he is a historical prototype of the Antichrist. As for the second bird, this account of Popillius humiliating Antiochus is originally where we get the idiom “to draw a line in the sand” and its variants. Popillius literally drew a circular line in the sand and in so doing forced Antiochus to make an unequivocal decision.

Sometimes lines must be drawn. Sometimes decisions must be forced on the reluctant.

There are things you have to believe. And then there are things that you do not have to believe. There are times we must draw hard and fast lines, and firmly insist that any equivocators make up their minds to be in or out of those lines. And then there are times when lines should not be drawn distinctly — or drawn at all.

Somewhere over Arizona, I believe.

Now I will address the Rapture, and my disagreement with N.T. Wright. Christians do not need to draw hard and fast lines on the question of the Rapture. It is not an essential matter. Fellow Christians will probably disagree with me after what I argue here, no matter how well I argue. But whatever. It is not an essential matter.

That said, I will argue it all the same. If someone were to ask me, “But since you admit that it is not essential, what does it matter?” I would respond with, “In my opinion, the Rapture matters because it makes Eschatology more coherent.” At which point, my hypothetical questioner might completely lose interest and check out, because I dropped an unfamiliar seminary word. “What does eschatology even mean?” N.T. Wright would be familiar with that word, though. He understands it from every direction. 

Let me try again: The Rapture matters because it will help you understand certain sections of the Bible better. I hope I made myself more understandable that time. N.T. Wright would disagree with that claim, though. On his blog,, you can find a brief post entitled Farewell to the Rapture. I encourage you to go read it for yourselves. It is always best to let someone in question speak for himself or herself. And N.T. Wright speaks for himself ably.

He was in a hurry when he signed my book.

If you were to distill everything down, basically N.T. Wright and I disagree about one primary passage of scripture, just one crucial verse: 1 Thessalonians 4:17. It is well worth remembering that, because what someone believes about that one verse will likely determine what he or she concludes about the Rapture. I am going to argue that 1 Thessalonians 4:17 can and should be read literally. N.T. Wright argues that it is metaphorical. In his own words, here is what Wright says:

Paul’s mixed metaphors of trumpets blowing and the living being snatched into heaven to meet the Lord are not to be understood as literal truth, as the Left Behind series suggests, but as a vivid and biblically allusive description of the great transformation of the present world of which he speaks elsewhere.

Therein is the difference. I say it is literal; N.T. Wright says it is not. So who should you to believe and why? Me. Me. Me. Choose me. But that is not the most convincing argument. It might help if you had a better idea of why N.T. Wright does not like a literal interpretation of the Rapture. It has everything to do with his… wait for it… eschatology, his understanding of the End Times. N.T. Wright works within a particular scheme of how history will unfold. He has a hypothetical understanding of the future. That is called his eschatology. For anyone who takes the Bible seriously, eschatology is unavoidable simply because the Bible talks about future events.

Now we turn to the key passage itself. In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul seems to be describing a future scenario in which Jesus descends from heaven, resulting in the resurrection of the dead (the dead in Christ — Christians who have died) and the ascent of all the faithful to meet Christ in the air. Notice that I skipped a few details; I only did so for the sake of keeping my focus on what I consider to be the three essentials. Essential # 1 – Christ Jesus himself descends from heaven. Essential # 2 – The dead in Christ are resurrected. Essential # 3 – All the faithful ascend (or are caught up) and meet Christ in the air. 

Essential # 3 is what many call the Rapture. And it is extremely controversial. A whole lot of Christians join N.T. Wright in pushing back here with the claim, “Well, that is not literal.” But curiously, they will not argue against the literal-ness of Essentials # 1 and #2. Please do not miss that. Those who reject the Rapture usually know better than to argue against a literal descent of Jesus (because that is taught very clearly in the New Testament); and they know better than to argue against a literal resurrection of dead saints (because, same reason). Nevertheless, they will argue against a literal ascent of all the faithful. That, or they will say that any such ascent must immediately turn into a descent as soon as the Meeting with Jesus in the Air occurs. 

But why? Why take Essentials #1 and #2 literally, but not Essential #3? Well, one reason why some dispense with or modify Essential #3 is because it has an embarrassing, humiliating recent history, a humiliating history which N.T. Wright himself references with the derisive words “as the Left Behind series suggests.” Over the last fifty years, eschatology, aka the End Times, has become a pop-culture fixation. And Rapture-talk has been a frequent source of embarrassment for Christians, time and again. That is one primary reason why N.T. Wright and his devotees want to bid farewell to the Rapture. Understandably so. 

But in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 does Paul present a literal Rapture or not? Historical humiliation aside, a literal reading of the verse makes perfect sense, and is simple and straightforward. The real problem is not with a literal reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, but with literal readings of other eschatological verses and passages, as we shall see in forthcoming posts. Sometimes a literal understanding of a biblical passage is the best understanding; but sometimes it is emphatically not. TBC.

Damnational Geographic

Damnational Geographic – Audio Version

“I lift my eyes up to the mountains; from where does my help come?” – Psalm 121:1

“Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go? If I go, there will be trouble. If I stay, there will be double.” – The Clash

Be careful, Little Feet, where you go. Be careful, Little Feet, where you go. For the Father up above is looking down … _______________ ( …in love? …to judge? ), so be careful, Little Feet, where you go. 

Your geographical whereabouts can help you or harm you, spare you or sink you. That can be an undeniable, stubborn fact. Yet as it stands, it is not a particularly profound statement. The reason why it is not particularly profound is because it is not always true. Sometimes your geographical whereabouts are simply incidental to whatever happens there. Sometimes serves as the controlling word in the previous sentence. The locale and the events thereof can be unrelated — can be. Yes, a bad thing or a good thing may have happened right here, but it might as well have happened over there. There’s no particular connection to be made between this location and the event that happened here. Should an accident or incident occur here, the location ought to be considered akin to an innocent bystander. “I had nothing to do with it. I just happened to be standing here,” said the unsuspecting house where the dastardly deed was done.   

But certain locations are more likely than others to have incidents and accidents. Oftentimes we are well aware of that fact. Still, we choose to go there all the same and nonetheless. Sometimes our chosen whereabouts are not incidental at all. We go where we go (or don’t go) premeditatedly, knowing in advance that we may suffer the serious consequences of going there (or not). The premeditated part is what matters. We were able to weigh our options in advance. We weighed. We chose. We went or we didn’t. And we will reap what we have sown. Did we choose well? Time will tell: Be assured of that.

Heavy stuff to consider, isn’t it? Lest this be too heavy, it ought to be said that most of our daily whereabout decisions are not do-or-die, life-or-death-hanging-in-the-balance in nature. Unless you drive a car — then they are. But I should not negate myself from one sentence to the next.        

Anyway, this is not a meditation on driving safety, but on an event known ominously as the Abomination of Desolation. Yes, another light and whimsical topic is our intended focus here. Sarcasm intended: This is neither light nor whimsical. But I should not negate myself from one sentence to the next.   

The Abomination of Desolation: What is that? And why would anyone write about it?

The Abomination of Desolation is a dramatic, ominous event that occurred at a particular geographical location in the past. More precisely, it is a dramatic, ominous event that occurred at the very same geographical location at least twice in the past. And it is a dramatic, ominous event that will occur at a similar spiritual location in the future.

Brakes squeal here. We yield here. A lot of knowledgable Bible readers (and friends) will hit pause at this point and begin to argue with me about the final sentence of the last paragraph. They will take issue with the words similar spiritual location and insist I say same geographical location. But I said what I meant and meant what I said. If this confuses any of my readers or listeners, I will eventually explain what I mean in the paragraphs to come. For now, just realize that I believe the future Abomination of Desolation, the ultimate Abomination of Desolation to come, will be similar in its character to the previous two occurrences, but not identical in its location. This is a necessary and important distinction, lest we miss it when it occurs. If you look for it in the wrong place, you will likely miss it.    

The term Abomination of Desolation originally comes from the Prophecy of Daniel (see Daniel 9:27 and 12:11). Historically, the first Abomination of Desolation occurred when a frustrated Greek despot known as Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Judea and desecrated the Temple in 167 BC/BCE. Among other sordid doings, evil Antiochus the Fourth desecrated the Temple by setting up an image of Zeus there, and by sacrificing forbidden animals, such as filthy swine, upon the blood-consecrated altar there. To say that this desecration was a shocking sacrilege is a massive understatement. It resulted in a violent reactionary uprising and a regional war. In the intervening period, God’s chosen people were unable to worship God as prescribed by the Torah — not until their sanctuary was liberated, cleansed, and rededicated. The Hanukkah holiday is an annual commemoration of that Jewish uprising and the rededication of their sanctuary, the Jerusalem Temple. For our purposes here, please do note why this occurred. It all began when evil Antiochus interrupted and perverted the prescribed worship of God in the Temple by trampling its precincts and imposing his own preferred form of idolatry. 

Significantly, Antiochus IV Epiphanes went even further afield with his sacrilege and idolatry. Antiochus also insisted that he himself was to be regarded as the human embodiment of a god. The name Epiphanes means manifest — as in god manifest. Antiochus had ego issues. 

We have here the beginnings and makings of a working definition, then: The Abomination of Desolation might be identified as an idolatrous political imposition that both interrupts and perverts the prescribed worship of God in his Temple. And the one doing the imposition often — perhaps invariably — make blasphemous grand claims about himself, even divine claims (regarding this, see Paul’s discussion of the Man of Lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). 

Another oh-so-close Abomination of Desolation occasion occurred when Emperor Gaius Caligula attempted to once again re-purpose the Sanctuary in Jerusalem into a pagan temple. Sometime in 40AD/CE Caligula determined that a statue of himself, a statue fashioned in the likeness of the Roman god Jupiter, ought to be placed in the inner sanctum of Jerusalem’s Temple, a gilded inner room known as the Holy of Holies. This rightly worried one Herod Agrippa, who was both a royal dignitary from the region and a childhood friend of Caligula’s. Herod Agrippa did what he could to dissuade Caligula from his statue-installation scheme. Moreover and more effectively, even one of Caligula’s own political appointees resisted the scheme. The appointed Imperial Governor of Syria, Publius Petronius, very courageously delayed the implementation of Caligula’s orders. By means of his deliberate delays, Petronius ultimately succeeded in thwarting Emperor Caligula, whose assassination meant the end of the whole crisis. But the Temple’s second Abomination of Desolation was only temporarily stalled.   

The actual second Abomination of Desolation occurred 30 years later when Roman legions under the command of the future Emperor Titus overran Jerusalem, killing or enslaving all its inhabitants, and demolishing its Temple in 70AD/CE. This destruction of Jerusalem came in fulfillment of an anguished prophecy that Jesus spoke against the city, because most of its inhabitants had rejected him as their promised Messiah. Within one generation of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the Temple was reduced to ruins; and biblically-prescribed worship there ceased (and to this day has never resumed). The City of Jerusalem and its Temple were left both desecrated and desolate, just as Jesus had foretold (see Matthew 23:37-39).  

Jerusalem’s destruction came under the command of a Roman general named Titus Flavius. Titus thereafter followed his father Vespasian as emperor, and was succeeded by his brother Domitian. All three of these Flavian emperors practiced pagan idolatry. Titus had his troops carry the Temple’s furnishings to Rome as spoils, where they were presented as trophies before the gods of the Roman pantheon. Thus Titus took what was dedicated to God and belonged to God and offered it instead to his own gods. Titus’s brother Domitian would later encourage his subjects to worship his late father, his late brother, and even himself, and even while he was still alive. Sacrilege and blasphemy ran in the Flavian family line, it seems.

All of this is helpful and necessary background information, because someday a foretold third Abomination of Desolation will transpire. Indeed, in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 Paul says that the Day of the Lord will not occur until a rebellion or apostasy occurs, and someone known ominously as the Man of Lawlessness is revealed. The Man of Lawlessness will “oppose and exalt himself against every so-called god and object of worship.” Furthermore, the Man of Lawlessness will “take his seat in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.”

If the Day of the Lord confuses you, just know that it serves as Paul’s shorthand for the return of Jesus Christ. Paul is saying that Jesus Christ will not return for the Church until some sort of rebellion or apostasy occurs, and the Man of Lawlessness presents himself as an alternative god, the one everyone ought to worship. This, I propose, is the third and final Abomination of Desolation. Paul presents precisely this scenario to the Christians in the Græco-Roman city of Thessalonica as the tell-tale sign that Jesus is about to return. Paul’s whole purpose in writing his second letter to the Thessalonians was to reassure them that they had not missed the Day of the Lord. Rather, they could know that the Day of the Lord was at hand if and when the Man of Lawlessness was revealed by his Desolation of Abomination deed.

On basis of this passage in Second Thessalonians and on basis of passages like Revelation 11:1-3 and 13:5-10, a lot of Bible interpreters expect a future world leader will someday set up an image of himself in a rebuilt Temple in the City of Jerusalem. While it is an understandable interpretation, if it is wrong, it could cause us to look the wrong direction.

This is an extremely important point, simply because Paul told Christians to look out for the event. In Matthew 24:15-16 Jesus likewise instructs his disciples with these words: “So when you see the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by the Prophet Daniel, standing in the Holy Place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”   

A lot of interpreters will immediately react to my last point by insisting that Jesus was talking about the second Abomination of Desolation, the desolation that occurred back in 70AD, when Titus’s Roman legions razed Jerusalem and demolished the Temple. And that is undoubtedly partially right. But “let the reader understand,” including latter readers. I contend that Jesus also means for us to understand he is talking about the third and final Abomination of Desolation, the same event that Paul describes in Second Thessalonians. If so, we are supposed to catch the parallels and the manifest differences between the previous two Abominations and the future third Abomination.

One manifest difference is that no Old Testament-prescribed Temple currently stands in Jerusalem. Yes, Temple furnishings have been made. And yes, there are some who would eagerly rebuild such a Temple, if only they had the opportunity. Nevertheless, there is no such Temple currently in Jerusalem. However, a New Testament-prescribed Temple does exists. It is not in one particular geographical location. Instead it is made of a particular people. According to the New Testament, the global Christian Church is now the Temple of God. 

If the global Christian Church is the Temple of God now, how might the Man of Lawlessness take his seat in it, and proclaim himself to be God in the Church? Perhaps a Man of Lawlessness will somehow have the power to insist that Christians bow to him instead of the Triune God.

And if the Church is the Jerusalem of God, what might it mean for Christians to flee to the mountains when we see the Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place? Perhaps Jesus meant that we should not knowingly associate with a potential Man of Lawlessness or cooperate with his attempts to co-opt the Church and pervert its worship. Instead, we are to distance ourselves from any such personality and eventuality. However we can, we are to withdraw.      

Jesus made it very clear that his return will catch most people unaware and unsuspecting. I wonder if that is because many of us will be looking for events — or for a particular event — that might never occur. I suggest it would be entirely too obvious if the grand debut of the Man of Lawlessness occurs in a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. If instead, the Man of Lawlessness is revealed by what he does to or in the Church (which is both the spiritual Temple and the new Jerusalem, by the New Testament’s reckoning) then far fewer people will notice it when it occurs. Indeed, we have already witnessed instances where various political leaders have insisted that resident Christians give their primary allegiance (that is, their worship) to a designated Head of State, instead of to God. 

Jesus is Lord and God, not Caesar nor any other claimant. So when we see pretenders and usurpers insist on total devotion and ultimate allegiance, it is time to pay attention, and may well be time to be contrarian and withdraw. Be careful Little Feet where you go, for the Father up above is looking down in love (and to judge); so be careful Little Feet where you go. And if at all possible, go attend a Christ-centered church, since that is where you are most likely to find help and encouragement “even more as we see the Day approach” (see Hebrews 10:25).         

Happening Right Now

Thursday Morning, May 28th, 2020

Happening Right Now, Audio Version

“Why bore people with long historical sketches, and not actually say much about the Book of Revelation itself?” A candid friend recently challenged me with a variant of this question. 

In response, I will start by saying that the historical stuff does not bore me. In college, I was a history major. Personally, I enjoy doing the historical research and presenting what I learn. It’s fun for me. But I realize not everyone else wants to hear all the history. All the historical stuff might come across as unnecessary and irrelevant. I will try to make it seem more relevant. 

A second response is this: A solid understand of Revelation really does require knowledge of what has happening when Revelation was first written and first heard, about 96AD. I do you no disservice by giving you information about evil Emperor Domitian. He sent John into exile. His policies resulted in the difficulties and the persecution loosed upon the seven churches in Roman Asia. Domitian instigated the historical circumstances behind the Book of Revelation.     

A third and important response would be this: What happened then is going to happen again, albeit under different circumstances and with a different cast of characters. History does indeed rhyme. We are supposed to be on the lookout for someone like Domitian. We are supposed to be on the lookout for deceivers and imposters. Revelation speaks not just of the past, but also of the future. Revelation points to the past to show us what the future will hold.

Furthermore, sometimes tyrants and dictators do come along resembling Domitian. There are several on the world stage right now. They behave a lot like Emperor Domitian behaved. They make life difficult for the Christians under their dominion. They insist that Christians toe the party line and sing the party’s song — literally. It is happening right now. But if you do not know about Antiochus and Domitian, the significance of it will not register with you. So I do you no disservice by giving you historical information about Domitian. And I intend to tell you more about Antiochus Epiphanes in a future post.

Please stick with me. The temptation you will face is to think I am just an ignorant blowhard bent on rambling. Even if I take tangents and go directions that seem irrelevant, please stick with me. I am going somewhere with it. You will come away with a better sense of how to read both Revelation and history, including today’s current events. It is not irrelevant. Revelation is not irrelevant at all. Many of the prophecies of Revelation are playing out before our very eyes. And if we read Revelation carefully, we will recognize it. And we will be ready for what may come, if we just have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.           

That does not mean that everything I say will be one hundred percent right. No one can claim that. I may get some things wrong along the way. Revelation requires extensive interpretation. Interpreters sometimes make mistakes. But just because some interpreters mess up does not mean that the study of Revelation is only for crazies and quacks. Revelation actually belongs in the Bible. It is intended to be a blessing to the readers and the hearers. I urge you to listen to it. The Spirit is speaking to the churches through it. We ignore it at our own peril.  

You CBS: A Complete Mispronunciation Guide

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Atrocious Mispronunciations, Audio Version
Guilty As Charged

Up front, a recommendation: If you’re reading this, I hereby suggest you listen to the audio version. Then you can hear all my pronunciation mistakes and my attempted corrections. 

My wife frequently corrects my pronunciation of words. Admittedly, I do need it, since I am frequently messing up words. Even worse, I often revert to an erroneous pronunciation of a word after hearing the correct way to say it. In my defense, I just say it how it looks in print. They taught me to read using phonics, circa 1975-76. Nevertheless, although I am never a quick study, my wife patiently corrects and re-corrects my mispronunciations, as need be.  

To misquote Shel Silverstein’s poem Smart, “She just closes her eyes and shakes her head, too proud of me to speak.” 

Now I need to make a mispronunciation confession and correction. On May 11th I posted a blog entry entitled The Mark. If you happened to listen to the audio version, you were therein subjected to a repetitive and odious mispronunciation of the name Decius. Throughout, I kept saying DC-us, because that’s how it looks in print, thank you. But the correct pronunciation is actually Dee-schus or Day-schus. It’s something like the word delicious with the middle removed. My apologies, then, to Emperor Decius and everyone who may have suffered the trauma of listening through that unedited recording. So sorry.

The word quintessential serves as another sad example of my mispronunciation tendency. The right way to say the second syllable is “tuh” not “tee.” Invariably, I say “tee” — quin-TEE-sen-schull, because that’s how it looks. Simple phonics, but oh-so wrong.  It’s “tuh” not “tee.”     

May I introduce to you a couple more phonics-unfriendly Graeco-Roman names? One is Josephus, the other, Eusebius. Not Jo-sep-hus and Eww-seb-i-us, but Joe-C-Fuss and You CBS. If you don’t already know their names, you do now. These two rank way up there as very important historical historian dudes. In future posts, I will necessarily reference them. Both of them were historians who wrote shortly after the New Testament was written and circulated. Both of them wrote in Ancient Greek, but lived during the Roman era.

If you’re American, it might be helpful to think of Josephus as a Benedict Arnold. He switched sides to save his skin. Many of his people consider him a loathsome traitor, even now. During the Jewish rebellion against Rome, Josephus received a commission as a Jewish general. Galilee was his to defend. However, he failed miserably. In his final battle, General Josephus and forty of his men were cornered by the Romans in a cave. Rather than surrender, they decided to take turns killing each other. The last man was supposed to then commit suicide. Josephus was the last man standing. But he did not commit suicide. Instead, Josephus left the cave and surrendered to the Romans. He offered them his services. As low as that may have been, Josephus went on to become a first-rate historian. Most of what we know about the Jewish rebellion and Jewish history of that era comes directly from Flavius Josephus. He was an eyewitness to the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70AD. That’s all super-important stuff, if Revelation is an interest of yours. So please remember Josephus. I will refer to him on occasion. 

Chronologically, Brother Eusebius comes not long after General Josephus. Eusebius was both a theologian and a historian of the early Church. Like Josephus, Eusebius fills in gaping historical chasms with crucially important accounts. A whole lot of what we know about the first several centuries of Christianity comes from Eusebius, and Eusebius alone. Without Eusebius’s writings, a lot of early Christian history would be formless and void. Significantly, Eusebius was also familiar with Josephus’s work. Eusebius accurately quotes Josephus, which makes Eusebius all the more credible as a historian. So please do remember Brother Eusebius. I will refer to him on occasion.                

Two final historical connections ought to be made here. First, a quintessential character in the Book of Revelation is the Beast. The Beast is the second person of Revelation’s pseudo-trinity, and thus Christ’s direct diabolical opposite. General Josephus gives us information about an indisputable forerunner of the Beast. His name is Antiochus Epiphanes. He was a Seleucid Dynasty Monarch who desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and tried to stamp out Judaism.  

Parenthetically, yes, I find his name hard to pronounce. A professor of mine once laughed aloud at my mispronunciation of Antiochus. Phonics — I am forever hooked on and thrown off by phonics. 

A second connection I will make is to point out some additional Revelation-qualified beasties. Brother Eusebius gives us essential information about the Roman emperors who persecuted Christians. In so doing, these emperors behaved much like ferocious arena animals and so qualified as symbolic beasts. These beasties would especially be Nero, Domitian, and Decius. 

Not everyone agrees with me that Antiochus, Nero, Domitian, and Decius are forerunners and prototypes of an ultimate end-times Beast. However, if they studied Church history, they probably would. I will try to convince you of the validity of my position in future posts.

Thank you for your patience with my atrocious mispronunciations, and please stay tuned.