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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Book of Revelation
There is a LOT of symbolism in it.

Seriously. Clearly it was written to be veiled even to those who lived contemporary to the author. It isn't as if John was trying to obfuscate everything he wrote either, he was writing about things that he saw, all of which were significant, but he was seeing images that were inscrutable even to him. Some of these were explained to him, and others were left unexplained.

This book comes with a promise: "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." (Revelation 1:3 [NASB]). When the book was first delivered to the church, someone would have stood up and read it, and everyone else would have sat quiet and listened. When John writes, "blessed is he who reads" I think he was alluding to the person who stood up to read, and when John writes, "and those who hear" I think he means those who were listening to the reader. These would have been the remainder of the congregation. The blessing required more than just hearing the words of the prophesy however; those who were exposed to the prophesy, either as the one reading it to their congregation, or as the congregation hearing the words that were read - what was understood had to be heeded in order to invoke the blessing.

The word translated as "heed" here actually means to keep your eye on something so as to guard it against being stolen or lost to your sight. Think of spotting a someone in a crowd far away, and keeping your eye on that person so that you don't lose them in the crowd; or again think of keeping you eye on your towel at the beach so that when you come out of the water you know where to go. In order to be blessed by these words you must keep your eye on them. I don't mean literally, but rather that you retain the words in your understanding.

No other book in the bible has suffered such sore abuse as this book, for obvious reasons. It speaks of things past, present, and yet to come from John's perspective, and it speaks of the end of the world in spiritual imagery that has given birth to entire speculative schools of thought. If someone wants to talk to me about what such and such represents in the book of Revelation, I like to ask them how well they understand and live out the book of Romans, not because I believe that one text is superior to the other (though I admit, I am tempted on this point...) but rather that I reason that no one should obsess over that which is obscure until they have at least mastered that which is obvious and plain.

I do not (usually) make any extra effort to comprehend the book of revelation <Gasp!>, but I don't ignore it either. I read it like I read any other book of the bible, and I read it as often as I read any other book in the bible. I know that the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthias 2:14), but I don't use that to say that John was being a "natural man" when he had to have some of the imagery used in the visions explained to him. If John says he was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, I don't later on say he was a natural man simply because he couldn't interpret the visions himself. I recognize that these things are purposely obscured by God, so that even the messenger who received them (John) couldn't comprehend them without direct intervention. If John couldn't comprehend the meaning of these things fully, I don't call any person "unspiritual" if they are only as spiritual as the Apostle John.

There are some things we can understand, even many things. Yet there are things that are obscure now that will be made clear later - after they have come to pass. I mean, before the prophesies of Daniel came to pass, who could have guessed what the imagery meant? Sure you could identify the big themes (this is about wars to come... right?) but getting into the nitty-gritty (and this goat represents a man who is going to be born hundreds of years from now named Alexander the Great!) would have been impossible. So too, I think, with the book of revelation. I don't believe the blessing at the beginning of the book means that the one who studies this book disproportionately will be blessed with perfect understanding of the imagery in it, I think it means only that the person who is exposed to this book, and keeps the eyes of his heart on the message in it (Christ is coming again) will be blessed.

There is nothing wrong with rigorously studying this book, and I don't write today to discourage anyone from such study. I would only caution Christians not to make the promise at the start of this book bigger than God intended to make it, I would caution people against thinking that 1 Corinthians 2:14 guarantees them a better understanding of these images than even the Apostle John could have had, and I would caution people in giving this book greater focus than any other book in scripture.

I couldn't care less for prophesy conferences. My eschatological view is still malleable, not for lack of study, but for lack of understanding. I will understand when God opens my eyes, and until that day I am satisfied with the light He has already given. If God put a deep desire in me to pursue speculative arrangements and charts and details about the end times, I suppose I would be far more passionate about it; but then again God wouldn't do that unless it was for the building up of the body. It is good to have an interest, but unless it edifies people other than yourself, chances are it is just a selfish pursuit. Selfish pursuits are something we all can get caught up in, so we ought not to have our judgment clothes on just yet.

So if you have been reading, and waiting in your heart for me to nail the prophesy-mongers to the wall, it isn't going to happen. Yeah, some kooks fall off the deep end, and some would-be kooks hang out in that direction, and yes, we ought to speak to that sort of thing clearly and boldly (and thoughtfully and gently), but this is a splinter in someone else's hand, and I set that aside for the moment. The point we're making today is just that we should read more into the book of Revelation than is there. Treat it like the rest of scripture, that is, read it, and believe it, and trust that God will open your understanding as far as is perfect for what God wants you to do.


posted by Daniel @ 6:19 AM  
  • At 12:38 PM, July 14, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Just for the record, I deleted a spammy comment on this thread that was little more than an ad for a self-published book that the commenter assured would provide irrefutable proof that God was just something mankind dreamed up because we couldn't understand the night sky.

    Personally, I prefer the atheists who believe God was something we invented to personify the forces of nature, but meh... to each their own.

    I didn't delete the comment because of the ridiculous claims however, nor because it painted evangelicals as a scourge of misinformed and therefore violent enforcers of some vacuous religion, as I expect nothing less from the uninformed. I deleted the comment because after all the rhetoric, it was basically nothing more than the typical "buy my book" sort of spam that one only finds in the self publishing industry.

  • At 12:41 PM, July 14, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Here is a link that might be useful to those who may be experiencing hidden expenses in their self publishing efforts:


    I consider that a public service.

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