Archive for December 17th, 2008

The Beast is dead

December 17, 2008

A cold winter night and the faithful trudged to our final class on the Book of Revelations. We were not spooked by the many symbols of this wild and crazy book, one which has created more delirium and historically irrational movements than we care to remember. And we ignored the bizarre rantings of the Televangelists, literalists who lead folks astray and miss the point of the book.Beasts with horns, falling stars, mysterious horsemen—wonderful cartoon characters.We enjoyed them all and asked the question we always need to address when reading scripture: What do all of these mean?

On the last night 666 was conquered by the Lamb (“King of Kings, and lord of Lords.(Rev19:16) who is 777 (perfection)

The message of Revelations is ongoing.

The temptations are great because Babylon lives in us—as does “Egypt”.(Hebrew Scriptures)

We want to be with the “Merchants of the earth” with their cargoes of “silver, jewels and pearls” (Rev. 18: 12)

The Beast often conquers by sweet seductions like this. Remember the warnings to the 7 churches in the first chapter. The whore language (harlot, the Great whore) is often used in the Jewish Bible to depict those who are not steadfast, who succumb to infidelity.

John merely repeats Jesus warning about wealth when he says “Come out of her my people.”(18:4)

Babylon is in all of us and we often are more comfortable in the court of Pharaoh than on the Exodus march.

Revelations is a call for resistance, steadfastness and fidelity to the Lamb in times of trouble—as in the first century.

The powerful metaphors still ring true.

“The marriage of the Lamb has come” (19.7).We come to Eucharist to re-member. We still are invited to “the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

One of the New Testament’s most energizing metaphors is “the new heaven and the new earth” a powerful utopian symbol which is always luring us on and which we see when justice pitches its tent among us.

The saints repaired to theĀ  PaupersĀ  pub and continued in a secular setting to further the wedding feast.

No more worrying about the Second Coming. God as evidenced in Jesus is not violent. A First Coming and the conviction that the incarnation is real and ongoing is enough.

images1Revelations is never about a world destroyed but an earth transformed. it is about prophetic eschatology and not nihilistic apocalyptic eschatology.