Recently my Facebook feed has repeatedly presented me with cartoon pictures that echo the apocalyptic imagery of Revelation, and apply that thinking to the rise and rise of Donald Trump on the US political scene. It is interesting how in even such a determinedly “secular” culture as NZ this biblical imagery still has power beyond the church.
However, some of the best sense I have read recently about Trump and Christians comes from Paul Windsor. In trump – again?! my Kiwi-American-Indian ex-boss neatly explains much of what most needs to be said about reading Revelation in the West, and about the unrecognised and so unacknowledged syncretism that continually trips us up. His scalpel is directed in this post at US Christians, but the message is for all. We build our belief systems, and so our lives, not only on the solid rock of the gospel but also on the shifting sand of the cultures we inhabit (and that possess us).
As part of my move to deliver the screencast versions of 5 minute Bible via You Tube I’ve been looking closely at the automatic captions the system offers. Basically I go in and tidy them up. Some are atrocious, making out I swear or say the most outlandish things. I’m not sure whether it’s my strange (British, close to “Received Pronunciation”) accent or whether it’s the topics. Certainly You Tube has less problems with Beatrix Potter’s stories than with my 5 minute Bible episodes… though again this could be the difference between a text read and one spoken from notes…
The biggest tasks have been the sermons. I did the one I posted the other day almost straight away, today I did this one on making sense of Revelation.
The advantage I hope to gain is accessibility. Both for humans with hearing issues, and for the great and powerful Googlebot. If the transcripts actually say what the audio says, then surely Google will direct better traffic my way (as in people who are actually interested in topics like making sense of Revelation, and not what Laurie Guy called the goofy stuff).
He referred to this image (the first to come up when he searched for “apocalyptic”) which ironically couldn’t be more wrong :)
One of my ex-bosses (Paul Windsor) has a superb post on preaching from revelation. Understandably he overlaps a lot with Laurie’s book. But for a really short guide to making sense of Revelation (surely one of the most “difficult”, and most abused, books in the Bible) this post is great stuff.
Study Bible comments are kind of like stuff on the internet. Sometimes the information is good, sometimes it’s junk. But at least when you go to the internet, you know you’re going to find some junk. You don’t expect to find junk in your Bible. At least you shouldn’t.
Some Study Bibles are relatively harmless, and even helpful at times. The notes are limited and just provide context and background that most typical Bible readers just don’t know.
The curse in Rev 21:18 is fairly explicit:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll.
A charitable interpretation would be that the curse only applies to Revelation (“this scroll”) in which case I suppose a “study bible” with ZERO additions to Revelation escapes the curse. But friends your trusty NIV Study Bible is cursed with all the plagues described in Revelation!
A little slice of heaven (photo by Oriane Blandel)
I have just put two simple “facts” together. If both are correct then 97.5% of the readers of this blog are in for a severe disappointment.
The first “fact” is the claim by some interpreters (notably the Jehovah’s Witnesses) that there are, according to Rev 14:1ff., only 144,000 places in heaven.
The second “fact” is that the end is nigh, indeed has been scheduled since forever (though unknown to Jesus or the writers of the Bible, but revealed to some Camp guy through a simple mathematical calculation) for next Saturday. The same “authoritative” source informs us that the end will occur in an orderly manner (as befits an orderly and mathematically minded God) rather like the allocation of seats on an airplane by time zones.
Since the date is fixed, and the exact hour by timezones, and the number of places limited I suggest you all come to the real East. While a number of Pacific Islands have (not least by sneaky adjustments to the Dateline) possibly earlier claims the first major landmass (and therefore the last place on Earth where you can reasonably hope for a seat among the 144,000 elect) is NZ. And if Creator is sophisticated enough to work in minutes and seconds those in the Eastern parts of NZ may have an advantage.
Laurie Guy author of the straightforward and clear:
Guy, Laurie, Making sense of the book of Revelation. Macon, Ga: Smyth & Helwys, 2009.
will be visiting Tauranga that day, Tauranga is in the East of the North Island. Why not visit us on Saturday and increase your chances of a place in heaven!