26 March 2009


[N.B., I had initially considered titling this post 'Becoming Hal Lindsey.' Though I often engage in self-deprecating humor, I try hard not to insult my own intelligence.]

Revelation 12-13 introduces a trio of beasts, grotesquely portrayed, and in clear parody of the Trinity. The reason for this portrayal is that John writes in apocalyptic, which has many specific features. One particular aim of this genre is to provide a caricature and exposure of things which appear to be impressive and powerful. Often this was aimed at the ruling government and sometimes to the religious leadership.

What the apocalyptic narrative is doing throughout this work is establishing two diametrically opposed entities at play in the universe - the way of God and the way of the (fallen) world. Thus, there are two primary classifications in John's perspective: the people of the kingdom and the people of the earth. I am of the opinion that the latter especially becomes semi-technical language for those who reject the kingdom of God and thus work against the Lord and his anointed.

On this, those who are devoted to the ways of the world are characterized in 12-13 as being enamored with the grotesque trio - especially the second: The Beast out of the Sea. In the trinitarian mimic this beast is a parody of Jesus as Messiah. Thus this figure appears to be invincible and impressive, having charisma and offering of salvation and security. The two great questions which are given in the text come from the people regarding the Beast: "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against it?" (13:4). A focus on uniqueness and superiority.

So why does John portray this figure as a beast which is able to draw such admiration? Because he wishes to expose the power and authority for what it really is - a lame attempt at subverting the power of God and replace the true Messiah. I remain unconvinced that John's words are meant for a specific time and place or person, and that they are thus timely for every day and age in which power corrupts and the ways of the world stand contrary to the will of God. What happens in the narrative of Revelation is that people are given the opportunity for true and genuine freedom, but instead they willingly give away their liberty to the promise of security which, in reality, is a grotesque beast.

I bring this up (and thus run the risk of being labelled a Hal Lindsey [may it never be!]) to draw our culture's attention to the encroachment of governments overstepping their boundaries (both in America and elsewhere in the world), all in the promise of salvation and security - mostly by stealing language which used to be reserved for one Messiah alone. And it is sad that they have also convinced believers and Christian leaders to dedicate these very words to entities which are not Jesus.

I am not making the claim that the current President (or anyone else in the current government) is the antichrist. I do not believe this to be the case. But I am convinced that the stripping of humanity, from the least of those among us to the unborn to those who have lost most of what they've worked hard for, is more in line with the ways of the world than the ways of our God. This is a cheap shell of hope and a pathetic excuse for change. I affirm that I am making a political statement, but only because I am convinced that true freedom and liberty involves the whole individual being set to live out the inalienable rights endowed by the Creator.

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