November 3, 2014 2

Episode 39 – Revelation

By in Blog, Podcast

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left-behind-NO[TRANSCRIPT]

In my left hand is a sense of bittersweet emotion. In my right hand is the satisfaction of finishing something I started. This must be the final (official) episode of BOOK.

[INTRO MUSIC]

Hello, this is BOOK, a bible podcast for everybody, and I am Josh Way. For two years we have been exploring the writings of the Hebrew and Greek bibles with an emphasis on history and literature, context and meaning. And now, we have just a single text remaining, and boy howdy is it a barn burner. The Revelation of John (or John’s Apocalypse) is undoubtedly the most notorious and sensational book in the New Testament, though it was the last book to be canonized, a decision debated and disputed by Early Church Fathers, Reformation leaders and modern theologians alike. Biblicists and conservatives look to Revelation as a blueprint for our near future and the “end times,” and liberal Protestants tend not to look at it at all.

Throughout our bible journey here on BOOK, we’ve observed with troubling frequency how ancient texts can be so easily misunderstood, and how those misunderstandings can evolve into entire belief systems that confound and divide. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that this is the conundrum of Revelation. For myself growing up, Revelation and the “end times” cast a terrifying shadow over every aspect of life and faith. I lived in constant fear that at any moment, the sky might tear open and the holy war would begin. Sometimes this was explicitly taught via pulpit or rapture movie, but most of the time it was just under the surface in our assumptions, a central and non-negotiable but unspoken feature of our view of the world. The bizarre irony of the whole thing was that, according to our doctrine, our beloved Lord was going to appear, and God’s ultimate purposes for the world were going to be realized, and yet we – the true believers – were scared!

As a kid I was assured that Revelation predicted at least four events in particular that would happen at any moment: the second coming of Jesus, the rapture of true Christians to heaven, the rise of the Antichrist, and the end of the world. So, if we open up Revelation together right now, that’s what we should find, right? Here we go.

Revelation is written from the perspective of a man called “John,” traditionally the gospel author, though some scholars identify him simply as “John of Patmos,” possibly but not necessarily the same man as the Evangelist. It was most likely written in the late years of the first century, during the early days of the church but after the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple. Here’s how the text begins:

1 A revelation of Jesus the Messiah! God gave it to him to show his servants what must soon take place. He signified it by sending a message through his angel to his servant John, 2 who by reporting all he saw bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus the Messiah.

Then John drops this on us, verse 7:

7 Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye shall see him: yes, even those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of him. Yes! Amen.

The long narrative portion of John’s vision hasn’t even begun, and this already sounds like a description of the “second coming” of Jesus. But if you’ve been listening to BOOK and paying attention, these words will sound familiar to you. “Coming with the clouds” is a reference to Daniel 7, a passage invoked by Jesus when predicting his own vindication. John uses the language to announce that, in what he is about to reveal, this vindication will be complete, and it will happen in public, before “every eye.” John may or may not be predicting a physical appearance of Jesus in the sky, but he is surely saying that the “revelation” he is about to present constitutes the long awaited vindication of the Messiah and his people, the parousia on which Paul and the apostles fixated in their epistles.

And speaking of which, before the narrative portion of John’s vision begins, before the dragons and monsters and earthquakes, the author describes an encounter with Jesus himself. John sees the Messiah, wearing a robe, with blazing white hair, fire in his eyes, “holding seven stars” in his right hand, with a “two-edged sword coming out of his mouth,” standing among seven lampstands. This is apocalyptic writing, so these weird visuals have symbolic meanings. Jesus is pure, his eyes burn with power, and the words that come out of his mouth cut like a sword. Remember, this is how apocalyptic works: hyperbolic metaphors come to life. Jesus tells John that the lampstands represent the seven churches of Asia, and the stars in his hand are “the angels of the seven churches.”

The “seven churches” in question are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, and Jesus proceeds to dictate letters to each of them which John is to record and deliver. And here’s why these Revelation epistles are a biblical head-scratcher: are they to be considered the actual words of Jesus? Or are they a device the author is using to communicate, like the outrageous description of the Messiah’s appearance, or the fantastical spectacle that is the rest of the book? Some modern Bibles print these words in red, choosing to interpret them as the actual words of Jesus. Others see these as more epistles of John, embedded in his vision narrative and placed in the mouth of Jesus to give them more weight. Consult your doctor or theologian and judge for yourself if this sounds like the Jesus we met in the gospels. Very briefly, here’s what the seven letters say to the seven churches.

  • To Ephesus: You’re doing well, you have not tolerated “false apostles,” but you’ve lost the passion you had at the beginning. Repent and get your groove back, or I’ll “remove your lampstand.”
  • To Smyrna: You have suffered and you will suffer more, but stay faithful and you will be rewarded.
  • To Pergamum: You live in a city “where the satan has his throne,” and have not denied me! But some among you have followed false teachers. Tell them to stop or I’ll come and fight them!
  • To Thyatira: You have done well, except that you have tolerated that false prophet Jezebel. I am going to “throw her on a bed,” and “utterly slaughter her children.”
  • To Sardis: You are a “dead” church. “Wake up,” or you won’t be ready when I appear.
  • To Philadelphia: Don’t worry about the “frauds” from the “satan synagogue,” I’m going to make them worship at your feet!
  • To Laodicea: “I wish you were either cold or hot,” but you’re lukewarm, so I’m about to spit you out! You’re too fat and rich to realize you even need a Messiah.

The primary thing we notice about these letters, apart from how much more cranky and revenge-y Jesus seems to be since the last time we saw him, is how specific these words are to the First Century churches, to the point of naming names and describing current events. That’s very important to keep in mind as we enter into the main section of the “revelation,” an extended apocalyptic pageant. Here’s where we get to the juicy stuff, but first we need to brush up on our literary criticism.

This is the third major apocalyptic text we’ve examined, the first in the New Testament. And John isn’t just aware of the Hebrew apocalypses Ezekiel and Daniel, like Jesus he seems to be a big fan and he borrows from both liberally, creating a kind of mash-up for his own time and his own purposes. Remember the two defining attributes of apocalyptic writings: 1) they employ outrageous, impossible symbolism to describe the spiritual dimensions of mundane realities, and 2) they are intended as vehicles of hope and inspiration for suffering people, not a gloom and doom wet blanket for happy people. Ezekiel’s creatures, thrones and skeletons were a cryptic message of hope and survival for the people of Judah in the early days of the Babylonian Exile, and Daniel’s dreams about statues and monsters were about the fall of evil empires and the vindication of Israel. So here in Revelation, even as things are about to get profoundly weird, let’s remember that John’s whole purpose in composing an apocalypse is to inspire a specific type of hope in a specific group of Christians at a specific moment in history.

In Chapter 4 John is taken up into heaven, where he catches a glimpse “behind the curtain,” at the other side of reality. He sees a glimmering, bejewelled throne surrounded by a rainbow, with an unnamed “someone” sitting on it, with twenty-four elders in robes wearing crowns surrounding the throne, and the seven lampstands too. The lampstands, we recall, are the seven churches under John’s jurisdiction, and the twenty-four elders are probably a representation of the universal church – twelve elders for the tribes of Israel, twelve more for the apostles. Four “creatures” appear, not unlike the four beasts from Ezekiel’s throne vision, one like a lion, one like an ox, one like a human, and one like an eagle, representing the totality of created living things. Together, the elders and the creatures worship the throne day and night, declaring, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who Was and Who Is, and Who Is to Come,” a refrain borrowed from Isaiah’s vision of the seraphim in his Chapter 6. In the logic of Revelation, this is what is happening in God’s dimension while we are going about our business here on the “earth” side of reality.

In Chapter 5, the “one sitting on the throne” holds out a scroll, covered in writing, sealed with seven seals. These are the plans and purposes of God, his decrees. An angel asks, “Does anybody deserve to open the scroll…?” Opening the scroll will unleash God’s purposes and set them in motion. At first, no one is found who is worthy of opening the scroll, and so John starts to weep. One of the elders says to him, “Don’t cry, look! The lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has won the victory! He can open the scroll!” John looks and sees… a mighty lion? Nope, a slaughtered lamb. This is typical of apocalyptic: mixed metaphors and subverted expectations. The slaughtered lamb/lion gets up and walks to the throne, taking the scroll. The throne room erupts with celebration and singing:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, you are worthy to open its seals;
For you were slaughtered and with your own blood You purchased a people for God!”

Even here in Revelation, the Messiah is great and powerful not because he is physically strong or clever or wealthy or domineering, but because he is a meek and lowly servant who surrendered his life freely for those he loves. This makes him the only one who can fulfill God’s purposes. And what are those purposes according to Revelation? Well, buckle up. Starting in Chapter 6, the seals are opened, one by one, and spectacular things begin to unfold.

At the breaking of the first seal, a white horse and rider are dispatched to earth to conquer lands and “win victories.” At the second, a “fiery red” horse and rider “take peace away from the earth,” turning people against one another. The third seal unleashes a black horse, its rider holding scales and setting prices on consumer goods. And the fourth rider sits atop a “pale horse.” This is Death, followed by Hades, who kills a quarter of the earth’s inhabitants via sword, famine, and wild beast.

So, wait – these are God’s glorious purposes? These are the amazing events only Jesus could bring to pass? Sounds like we should have left the scroll unopened! But in the strange, cryptic dream-logic of Revelation, this is the demonstration of the problem to which the lamb and the scroll are the solution. In John’s pageant, the four horsemen represent the problems which plague the earth: war, enmity, corruption, and death. But the sequence isn’t complete yet, there are three more seals to go.

At the breaking of the fifth seal, a host of Christian martyrs appears, pleading with God to be vindicated and avenged. At the sixth seal there is a great earthquake, the sun turns black, the moon becomes “like blood,” and the stars fall out of the sky. The kings and warriors of the earth run for cover. Before the four horsemen – now replaced by four angels – can unleash even more destruction on the planet, there is a pause so that the “servants of God” on earth can be “sealed” “on their foreheads.” 144,000 people are sealed, 12,000 from each of Israel’s tribes. These are, apparently, the Jewish “servants of God,” but John looks up and the throne room is suddenly filled with innumerable multitudes of people “from every nation, tribe, people and language,” dressed in white robes, holding palm branches. John’s angel guide tells him, “these are the ones who have come out of the great suffering.” They are martyrs, rescued post-mortem by God, and they will “never be hungry or thirsty again,” and “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Finally, some real hope! But, there is still the matter of the seventh seal. When the Lamb breaks the final seal, there is silence in heaven for a half of an hour, and seven angels with seven trumpets stand before the throne. Within the seventh seal, a new sequence of seven begins. The first angel blows his horn and hail, fire, and blood rain down on the earth, burning up a third of the planet. The second trumpet sounds, and a giant flaming mountain falls into the sea, turning a third of the sea to blood, killing a third of all sea creatures, destroying a third of all ships. Third trumpet, and a star called Poisonwood falls from the sky, contaminating a third of all the earth’s water sources. Fourth trumpet, and the sun, moon, and stars are dimmed by one third.

The fifth trumpet is blown (we’re in Chapter 9 now, if you’re playing along) and another falling star crashes into the earth. This one opens an abyss, out of which come smoke and a host of locusts which attack the earth. We’re told that the locusts look like “little horses, prepared for battle,” which sounds adorable, until they proceed to “torture” everyone who wasn’t sealed as a servant of God for “five months.” Yikes. The sixth trumpet releases four angels, who in turn unleash “two hundred million” troops on horseback who kill a third of the human race with various plagues that come out of their mouths. The text says those left alive after this attack still refuse to repent, and continue worshiping idols, murdering, stealing, and fornicating.

As before, there are a few distractions before we actually get to the seventh trumpet. Chapters 10 and 11 are even more bizarre and obtuse than anything we’ve read so far. John hears “the seven thunders” of heaven saying something totally amazing, but he is forbidden to write it down. Then an angel feeds him a little scroll that tastes like honey but gives John a tummy ache. He is then given a measuring rod to “measure God’s temple,” another allusion to Ezekiel. He then watches as “two witnesses,” two prophets with authority from God, are killed by a monster from the abyss. The world celebrates their demise, but “three and a half days later,” God raises them up and glorifies them to heaven. The seventh trumpet is blown, and it is officially announced: “Now the kingdom of the world has passed to our Lord and his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” Thunder, lightning, and earthquakes mark the occasion.

Thus ends the first half of the book of Revelation, and as we take a moment to catch our breath we might ask ourselves, what the heck does it all mean? What’s with the seals? The trumpets? The tiny horses? The measuring rod? The two witnesses? While in many cases we can’t be precisely sure of the meaning of each symbolic detail, it seems pretty clear in a broad sense what has just transpired. Messiah, the innocent slaughtered lamb, has facilitated the opening of the scroll of God’s plans, specifically God’s plans to identify, rescue and glorify those Christians who have died as martyrs in the “great suffering,” the persecution of the First Century church. The seals and trumpets – not unlike the seven days of creation in Genesis 1 – are a device for ordering and explaining the chaos of the believers’ experience. The world is full of corruption and conflict and death, but God has “sealed” his “servants” for rescue. In each round, a percentage of the earth and its inhabitants are destroyed, but a majority remnant always survives. The point is: yes, there’s suffering and loss, but it’s all part of a plan. As for the two “witnesses,” they seem to be another way of talking about the church martyrs, killed by a “monster,” but rewarded for their faithfulness. In the end, the “kingdom of the world,” that is, rule of the earth, is transferred to God and all of the rescued saints. And they all live happily ever after.

This could have been the end of John’s strange revelation, but it’s not. There is another extended vision which seems to tell the same story from a different perspective using very different images and ideas. Let’s go.

It begins in Chapter 12 when John sees a “woman, clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.” This woman is pregnant, in fact she’s in labor. As she cries out in agony, a “fiery-red,” seven-headed “dragon” appears from heaven, knocking a third of the stars out of the sky with its tail. The dragon positions itself beneath the woman, ready to swallow her baby as it is born. She delivers a “male child,” one “who is going to rule all the nations with a rod of iron,” and God rescues the child from the dragon’s jaws. Enraged, it chases the woman into the desert where she hides for 1260 days.

Before we go any further, let’s take a moment to sort out these new characters and what they represent. The “male child” is clearly Messiah, and the text will explicitly identify the “dragon” as “the ancient serpent who is called the devil and the satan,” the accuser. But who is the “woman?” Since she gives birth to the Messiah, many have assumed that this is Mary, but the detail of her hiding in the desert for four years is quite peculiar. Given her endangerment by the dragon and her “crown of twelve stars,” I think we’re safe to speculate that this lady represents the universal church – Israel who gave birth to the Messiah, and the martyrs who are now left to be persecuted in his absence. War breaks out in heaven, “with Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon,” and the dragon’s own angels fighting back. The dragon is thrown down to earth, conquered by heaven, but left to run amok in the world. He knows he is defeated, but his fury is only increased.

In Chapter 13, things get even more interesting. Two “monsters,” sometimes translated “beasts,” join forces with the dragon. One climbs out of the sea, the other rises out of the earth. The dragon gives “authority” and “power” to the first monster, and “the whole earth” worships it. It speaks “blasphemous words” and it wages war against “God’s holy people.” One of its heads appears to have a “fatal wound,” but it lives. Meanwhile, the second monster is a sort of public relations manager for the first monster. It performs amazing miracles which deceive people into worshiping the first monster, makes images of the first monster, and marks everyone on earth with a sign so that “no one can buy or sell unless they have the mark of the monster.” The number of this monster, John tells us, is “six hundred and sixty-six.” And yes, this is where the dispensationalist obsession with the “antichrist” and “666” comes from, though the word “antimessiah” never occurs in this book, and “the beast” isn’t a singular, future human figure, it’s one of two monsters from this weird little apocalyptic cartoon. Let’s shake off everything we think we know about “the mark of the beast” and look at these two monsters in context.

While the dragon comes “from heaven” (which is weird), the two monsters rise out of the earth, and they carry out the will of the dragon. These are earthly powers that are animated by and in league with the accuser. And it’s not actually that difficult to discern what these two beasts might represent. The first one “speaks blasphemous words,” persecutes God’s people, and is worshiped by the world. This is pagan empire, the chief enemy of God’s people for most of the bible’s storyline. It’s Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and now, Rome. And when one of the monster’s heads looks like it’s been mortally wounded and the nightmare is finally over… Nope! There’s always another head, always another emperor. The second beast is a false prophet and a cheerleader on behalf of the empire, he tricks people into pledging allegiance to the empire, and hands out Price Plus cards so they can participate in its economy. These are the religious and consumer systems that exist to support and feed the interests of empire.

As for 666? Well, this is a bona fide secret code. Not a code that can only be unlocked by future bible readers, but one for John’s readers that they would surely know how to decrypt. John tells us as much. Revelation is, first and foremost, an anti-imperial polemic, though it cannot identify the empire by name. Instead it uses monsters and dragons and one last big metaphor that we’ll get to in a moment. John says that 666 is “the number of a human being,” and says “anyone with a good head on their shoulders can work out the monster’s number.” In Hebrew cryptography, popular in John’s day, each letter of the alphabet also carries numeric value, and the name “NERO CAESAR” works out to 666. This also serves John’s purposes well, as 666 falls offensively short of 777, the apocalyptic number of divine perfection. In all likelihood, John is calling out the current emperor for orchestrating persecution of God’s people and being the “beast” who is in league with the dragon.

In Chapter 14 the Lamb prepares for battle with 144,000 elite, celibate warriors. That’s right, according to John, heaven’s best soldiers are those who have never “polluted themselves with women.” Three angels make three announcements: “The time for judgment has come!”, “Babylon the Great has fallen!”, and “Those who worship the monster and its image… will drink the wine of God’s anger!” John sees a human figure on a cloud with a sickle, who announces that “it’s harvest time!” More angels go forth into the world and gather the “fruit of the earth” – that is, human beings – which are put into the “winepress of God’s anger,” from which blood pours, “high as a horse’s bridle for about 200 miles.” Even granted that this winepress is as metaphorical as all the dragons and giant ladies, this is still one of the most horrifying images in the whole bible.

Chapter 15 brings seven more angels, this time holding seven “bowls filled with God’s anger.” They proceed to pour the bowls out onto the earth, one at a time, and various “plagues” befall the humans who worship the monster and bear his mark. Painful sores, the death of sea creatures, rivers turned to blood, and fire from the sky are only the first four. As in the sequence of trumpets, the humans who endure these heavenly assaults are unrepentant, in fact they curse God’s name. The fifth plague plunges the earth into darkness and the sixth dries up the Euphrates and gathers the kings of the earth at a place called Mount Megiddo or, in Hebrew, Har Megiddo, which is where we get the word Armageddon. There is no “Mount” Megiddo, but Megiddo is a town where Israel fought many ancient wars. A dramatic setting for John’s final battle. At the pouring of the seventh bowl, a loud voice from the throne room announces “it is done!”, and “Babylon the Great” – obviously the new code word for Rome – is dragged into God’s presence to be dealt with once and for all. The plagues unleashed on “Babylon” are so horrible that the very islands and mountains of earth flee away.

With the final sequence of seven completed, John looks and sees another giant woman, sitting on a “scarlet monster” with seven heads. This is not the beautiful mother from Chapter 12, but a “whore.” She is “Babylon the Great, Mother of Whores and Earth’s Abominations!” An angel explains to John that the monster’s seven heads are “seven hills” on which the Whore of Babylon sits. This is a clear reference to the geography of Rome. He explains that the monster will turn on the whore and destroy her, before being destroyed himself. This is all part of God’s purpose and plan. Another angel comes forth and declares once more that “Babylon the Great has fallen!,” and the kings and merchants of the earth weep over her destruction. But as earthly powers weep, heaven celebrates, and in Chapter 19 we head back to the throne room for the ultimate cosmic party. A multitude sings “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God! … He has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged the blood of his servants for which she was responsible!” As cryptic and dense as Revelation certainly is, it’s also remarkably clear what the whole thing has been about: John’s vision of Rome’s fall, and vindication for Christian martyrs. It’s no more complicated than that.

The last few chapters imagine the ultimate victory of God after the evil empire’s demise. The elders and creatures in the throne room continue to praise God, and all of heaven prepares for a marriage banquet, as theLamb welcomes his “bride” the church into her rest. Then suddenly, Jesus is back in his form from the beginning of the vision, in his white robe with his flaming eyes and the sword coming out of his mouth. He rides out on a white horse, heaven’s armies behind him. They capture the two imperial monsters from Chapter 13 and throw them into a burning lake of sulphur. The humans who served them are killed, and birds feast on their flesh. In Chapter 20 the dragon himself is captured and locked in “the abyss” for a thousand years, during which, the earth is ruled by Messiah and the Christian martyrs. After these thousand years the satan is released from the pit, only to be thrown into the lake of sulphur where he and the monsters will be “tortured day and night forever and ever.” What follows is a judgment scene not unlike Daniel 12 or Jesus’ “sheep and goats” parable in Matthew 25, in which resurrected humans are judged on the basis of “what they have done.” The righteous are ushered into their reward, and the wicked find only a “second death.”

The final vision of Revelation, in Chapters 21 and 22, is one of the most remarkable in all of scripture. In it, a “new heaven and a new earth” are unveiled, and a “holy city” called “New Jerusalem” comes down out of the sky to the earth, and God sets up shop forever. This new city is made of precious stones and radiates God’s light. There is “no temple,” for God and the Lamb are always there. There is no more death, no mourning, no pain. And furthermore (this is most remarkable), the gates of this city will never be shut, and the nations and kings of the earth will bring tribute to it. In John’s vision, even after the apparent judgment of all humans and the defeat of evil, the earth still goes on. There are still kings and nations and projects and things to be done. The ultimate eschatological vision of Revelation (and thus, of our Bible) is of a future for humanity, for the world, for all of creation. For all the scary, ugly stuff in this book, the ending catches us off guard with its beauty and joy. John ends his book with a warning to the reader to heed its words, and the hopeful refrain, “Amen! Come Lord Jesus.”

Now, having read the whole book of Revelation, let’s go back to our checklist and see how we did.

#1 – Did we find… the “second coming” of Jesus? Well, the entire book anticipates the parousia or the vindication of the Messiah, and Jesus makes several appearances in both heaven and on earth in various parts of the vision. But there was no “second coming” narrative per se, at least not in the way I was always taught to expect it.

#2 – How about… “the rapture”? Well, we saw some First Century martyrs appear in heaven, but they had been killed, not raptured. No, I don’t recall a rapture scene. Do you?

#3 – The rise of “the antichrist”? There were a couple of monsters that represented the Roman Empire, but… nope. No antichrist.

#4 – And finally… what about the “end of the world”? Well, we just read about the new heaven and the new earth, and how life continues happily on earth FOREVER, so that’s another no-show.

How did this happen? How did Revelation become synonymous with events and expectations that it doesn’t even address? How did its true storyline – about the defeat of Rome and the vindication of Christian martyrs – take a back seat to speculation and modern politics? On the one hand, we’ve only made certain advances in our understanding of apocalyptic literature in the last couple of centuries. On the other hand, some of the most egregious misreadings of Revelation come out of European and American theologies of the last two hundred years. I think, ultimately, that the cryptic nature of the text, combined with our hunger for certainty about our future have created a perfect storm for missing the point. The biggest irony that I see, looking at Revelation in context, is that Europeans and Americans would be the ones to miss the book’s anti-imperial message. Or maybe that makes perfect sense. We’ve always imagined that the “beast” was going to be a Muslim, or some foreign politician. Perhaps our misunderstanding has kept us from examining our own relationship to empire, and how our wallets and lifestyles “feed the beast” in our own context.

Even as I read Revelation through fresh eyes and with help from scholarship, I struggle with what I find. On the one hand, John’s vision of the Lamb’s victory and the beauty of New Jerusalem is some of the most compelling and exciting material in the bible. On the other hand, we see an insistence on divine violence and retribution that is troubling to say the least, and possibly even at odds with the ethos of Jesus’ own teaching. As with the epistles, I think we can sympathize with the author’s sense of calamity and hopelessness in the face of ruthless persecution, but I don’t think that obligates us to embrace violent visions of “the end.” Of course, in Revelation, we are also dealing with a highly stylized and symbolic work, something that should always factor into our interpretation.

Revelation is, first and foremost, a coded message of hope for frightened and persecuted First Century Christians. Its hope can be ours too, if we choose to embrace it, but we do a great disservice to its author and original recipients when we reappropriate it for our own purposes and agendas and pretend it never meant much until we came along. In a way, Revelation is a more extreme version of every other bible book: it has a great deal to say to us, but it has to say it in its own way and its own language. Not just Koine Greek, but the language of ancient apocalyptic. If we don’t bother to learn the language, we might as well write our own bible.

This is the end of our journey together through the Hebrew and Greek Bibles. I have a couple of things to say by way of wrapping up in a forthcoming supplement, and I’m keen to keep the podcast alive by answering questions if you’ve got any, so this doesn’t need to be goodbye. Still, it does represent the end of a very long journey that I have enjoyed very much. I thank you sincerely for listening and traveling alongside me.

This has been BOOK, a bible podcast for everybody, and I have been Josh Way. If you enjoyed this podcast I encourage you to share it with your online friends and family. If you have any comments, questions or constructive feedback, email me at book@joshway.com. You can also leave a voicemail at 801-760-3013, and I’ll try to respond on the podcast. Read the BOOK blog and find lots more content at BOOK.JOSHWAY.COM. That’s it for me, bible pals. I’ll catch you again, I promise…

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