Maybe it's time to look again at the lamb-like beast of Revelation 13 in the context of today's world, instead of the 1840s.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11304
Maybe it's time to look again at the lamb-like beast of Revelation 13 in the context of today's world, instead of the 1840s.
Let’s bite the bullet. We bend the “prophecy” to fit history and we bend history to fit the prophecy.
… and we’re still doing it. I can personally give you at least a couple different scenarios of how this can happen, but who cares… it’s only guessing.
One thing hasn’t changed, the focus is on Adventism and the flag it flies - the Sabbath. If we were to shift the focus just a degree or two to simply “WORSHIP of the true God”, seeing there are increasingly more gods popping up even beyond traditional religions. Society has made a religion out of current ideologies - racial equity; one world government (getting rid of national histories and national identity); erasing the family, where mothers are relegated to “birth persons,” and children are free to decide their own genders; language control; thought and speech control; ideological censorship - and the list goes on, including the “cancelling” of people who disagree with the status quo - the loss of personal freedom.
The shift may not come from any religious institutions, but from the sectors that control everything else - monitoring our ability to “buy and sell” without acquiescing to some prescribed ideology. Too many people couldn’t care less about Sunday laws; but take away their livelihoods and their freedom of expression, you have included the entire globe being affected by some controlling power.
Just thinking out loud.
Enjoyed the article. Many voices are speaking to the subject and many are pushing back. Follow the past or look to the future.
Yes, I have recently thought how racist Adventist thought was in the rise of the lamb-like creature in a relatively “empty” America. It is that Euro-centred, self-centred view that justifies European expansion in America.
The first creature appeared among “waters” (representing populations.) The second creature appeared out of (presumably empty) land.
That in turn comes from seeing one’s own history through the template of Israel’s genocide of numerous Canaan peoples.
The new settlers largely exterminated Native Americans, dealt in slavery, all the while as a Lamb-like creature and only looking like a dragon when making an image to the first creature, passing a Sunday Law.
Our thinking was and is problematic.
Thank you for a thought provoking article that needs wider dissemination throughout the denomination.
One other thought…to reread Revelation according to current events and the contemporary climate, I still think is to reverse the telescope. It is still an attempt to read the book by the headlines of the day, or projected ones of the future. How about going back and attempting to read Revelation as if we are sitting in the audience of the seven churches in the first century province of Asia, to whom Revelation was first read as an unsealed message, and try to understand it from their perspective? It would seem that more solid applications could be made today, if we take into account what John was trying to say to his audience then, rather than staying on the merry go round of how such prophecies will be specifically or even generally fulfilled in the future. That’s repeating the same error as the early Adventists.
Revelation was not primarily a forecast of the future, but an unveiling of the present in which these first century believers lived, and an encouragement for them to stay faithful to God and the lamb, despite and in resistance to the conditions with which they were dealing. The future was assured, God is the judge, and would sort out everything in true justice for all.
If that is the case, we don’t need to spend an iota of time trying to figure out how eschatological conditions will play out.
The time to question the Word of God has come and gone. If you’re not standing on his word from what is about to hit, WE all need to be prepared for his soon return. It is the United States that Revelation 13 points at. I am not looking at the Great Controversy for guidance but the Holy Spirit. I go by what is written, not by trying to figure out what someone’s opinion about the Word of God is.
Matthew 4:4 Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
Our Lord Jesus said in John 5:39, Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think they have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me. Brothers and Sisters please Search the Scriptures
I finish with Martin Luther quote, “ I cannot and will not recant anything , for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”
look up EVERONE our deliverance is at hand
You’re standing on traditional, Adventist interpretation. It is not necessarily one and the same with what the Bible, particularly Revelation, is saying. In fact, it is a distorted, sectarian reading of it.
another approach is to resist the urge to tweak and apply prophecy to our time, as if we are central actors in the drama to which our prophecies converge…all of us want to think that we, and our time, matter…but in terms of prophetic reckoning, it’s much more likely that our generation is merely one of many that have come and gone, and that history will attach no particular significance to…
i see no reason to believe that the end of time needs to happen now, and that our prophecies aren’t meant for a time in the future that will see a resurgent Catholic Church work through the United States to mobilize the world around a universal sunday law in terms of a worldwide concern…the fact of this matter is that developments in our world seem to be inching towards just such a scenario…they aren’t moving away from it…
for instance, we have the worldwide phenomenon of climate change that isn’t going anywhere, but seems to be clamouring more and more for a worldwide solution…we have a catholic pope who has linked sunday as a family day of rest to responsible earth stewardship…we have a catholic U.S. president, who is strengthening ties with G7 and NATO countries - and with 3rd world countries through a covid vaccine distribution program - vow to make climate change a central concern in an historically massive infrastructure program…we even have a catholic prime minister in canada, who mimics america at every opportunity, vow to make climate change a central concern…
let’s understand that climate change activism is a worldwide phenomenon that is popular…greta thunberg’s Fridays for Future now boasts 14 million people in 7,500 cities in all continents, and seems to be growing by the minute…world leaders have every incentive to out-do one another in terms of legislating measures that will make a difference…and who’s to say that the pope isn’t right, and that a desirable, even necessary, place for the world to be isn’t to be shut down completely one day each week, with that day being each and every sunday…
You would then have a problem then with Revelation 11:18. This would put the Pope on the right side of that verse and those who continue to destroy God’s creation as those who will be destroyed on the wrong side.
I tend to look at the issues that divide Adventism from the rest of Christendom, and the one fundamental difference, beside the difference in a worship day, is the disgusting portrayal of God as a tyrant in his treatment of the lost in an eternal hell fire. We are almost exclusively alone in the camp that says a merciful God extinguishes those who are lost, and it is 100% provable, since Jesus paid for our sins and he was in the grave for 3 days, period. The entire immortality of the soul is a myth that almost every other Christian denomination believes in. Their belief in God being unable to destroy the soul is their entire basis for an eternal hell. It defies logic in that it says that God creates something He cannot destroy. It’s lunacy. Ellen White even says that this will be one of the issues that separates Adventists from the rest of Christianity. If there ever is an issue about the character of God, this would be it. Enough said.
i actually don’t have a problem with Rev 11:18, or anything else in Revelation or the bible…i don’t see that the pope being on the right side of Rev 11:18 means he isn’t running the agency portrayed in Rev 13 as the enemy of the remnant church portrayed in Rev 12…as we all know, Peter’s Pence, collected every June to help the poor (10% goes to the poor; 90% services the Vatican’s burgeoning debt), has a history stretching back more than 1,000 yrs, when the papacy was burning at the stake people who disagreed with church edicts…
from the beginning, satanic agencies have worked through various combinations of truth and lies…it’s quite evident that something that is 99% true, but 1% false, is far more dangerous than something that is 100% false…we know that Hamas launches rockets from schools and hospitals…we ought to know that satan will persecute the 144,000 through agencies that do many good things for society…
but your point about the non-immortality of the soul is well-taken…my understanding is that our unique belief in the non-immortality of the soul, given to us through egw, is what will protect us when evil spirits impersonate deceased loved ones with the message that the sabbath has been changed to sunday, and that god wants us to be good citizens and fall in line with the state in its push for sunday laws…all of this, of course, will come just before satan himself impersonates christ’s second coming, works miracles in our sight, and then tells us that he has indeed changed the sabbath to sunday…
our entire eschatology reads like a gripping movie…we can all visualize it…we can all easily understand it…i can totally see why more converts to adventism happen during Daniel and Revelation seminars than at any other time of the year…the only question is whether we can hang on to what we believe when persecution comes, and when many of us will indeed give our lives for our faith, just like the millions of martyrs did centuries ago…it doesn’t seem like we have that kind of faith happening anywhere in NAD…but we can’t say for sure…we can’t know how or whether the HS is working with people, or how or whether they’re strengthening…
Thanks Admiral Ncube for provoking a moving beyond primarily trying to identify literal interpretations of things and instead focusing on discerning the underpinning principles that reflect the Kingdom of God versus those that reflect the Kingdom of Darkness. It is the seemingly subtle differences in the expression of those principles that have the biggest deceptive impact. Spend time learning and discerning (under Holy Spirit-inspired Biblical guidance: 2 Timothy 2:15) these underpinning principles and you won’t go wrong - no matter what specific form those principles end up taking.
Admiral Ncube speaks with sagacity here, with well reasoned thinking and wisdom to enlighten this subject, bring it up to date, and to enlarge its scope for a world-wide SDA church.
It is good–and very fundamentally Adventist–to be open to how the Holy Spirit is moving in our world today, and to what might constitute present truth, without giving up anything essential to the everlasting gospel. A prophetic understanding is one that is relevant, timely, and trenchant.
I grew up in Ashanti, Ghana, where singing bands spreading the gospel through the town streets were an even bigger draw in evangelism and more adapted culturally than the Revelation seminars of the U. S. would be; and at least equally as effective, if not more so.
My parents went back to Africa again as educators, after I completed college, this time to Rwanda from 1974-1978. My brother also joined them there for a time, helped in the construction of the primary school that my Dad was having built on the Gitwe College campus, and while there, my brother and his guide managed to climb through the four different zones and to make it to the top of Mount Karisimbi–and back!
During the tragic events that later took place in that nation, while we were living in Michigan, my parents remarked to one another and to me, with grave concern wondering whether the “time of trouble” might not occur at different times chronologically in different geographical locations. It certainly seemed as though trouble could hardly be worse for this country that my family had worked in and for and that we cherished.
Mr. Ncube’s point about the Maginot Line is well taken and apt. We must not limit God, who works for all peoples and nations in history–whether “coasts” or “islands,” cross-roads or continents; nor must we quench the Spirit. Just as the apostles and the early church had to adjust their thinking, attitudes, and policies to a world larger than Palestine, Adventists would be well advised to adapt our worldview.
If only more “westerners” would produce messages as insightful, as biblical, as broad in vision, as full in faith, as thought-provoking, and as sensitive and germane to the cultures they might be addressing as Admiral Ncube has done here, gently turning the tables on us and any provincial or ethnocentric perspective. God is no “respecter of persons”–all are “precious in His sight,” as the Sabbath School song goes. It’s a big world out there, even if it is a global village!
Repeat after me:
No one can foretell the future.
No one can foretell the future.
No one can foretell the future.
Many have tried. It never turned out well.
Revelation, in its current form, was certainly dealing with then current issues and guessing as to how the scenario would play out. It was written as though it were relating visions, but the genre was well established by the time of its composition, and it followed that genre very well.
I use the expression “Revelation, in its current form” with reason. Its authorship and date is uncertain. Critical scholars have noted that it may have originally been composed as a Jewish, not a Christian document, since it relies so heavily on Jewish concepts of the time, Jewish asceticism (144,000 Jewish virgins a la Essenes), war in Jerusalem along with the promise of a New Jerusalem. There are good reasons to consider the possibility that it was written immediately after the Jewish revolt of 132-135 AD led by Simon bar Kochba which was perhaps a more damaging war than that of 70 AD. In the aftermath, the emperor Hadrian outlawed the Jewish religion, especially the practices of circumcision and sabbath observance. He forced the Jewish inhabitants of Judea into exile (the author was one of these) which was the cause and timing of the great Jewish diaspora. The temple mount was scraped clean and a pagan temple was built there in its place. Christians may have later adopted the apocalypse and added a few scattered references to Jesus. But overall, it doesn’t seem to have originally been a Christian document, but was later edited to appear so.
But that “Time of Jacob’s Trouble” movie preview I’ve had playing on a loop inside my head since I recited my first memory verse in SS class seems so compelling.
That MUST be 100% real, right?!
I mean, you’re not trying to tell me that my father, both grandfathers and millions of grandparents since the Romans took Masada, all went to their graves WITHOUT having been treated to a virtual, if somewhat cryptic trailer for The Apocalypse by Daniel, some guy writing under the name “John” and Mrs. Egg White, are you?!?!
That’s stuff is really in the Bible.
So those predictions, no matter how long overdue or hard they are to decipher, cannot NOT be absolutely accurate, can they?!?!
Don’t worry. When prophecy fails, reinterpret. When reinterpreting fails, just add time. Eventually everything will unfold as predicted…or not.
Interesting speculation…but that shoots the first four chapters of the book, which all revolves around Jesus addressing the seven churches in Asia, and the vision of John seeing the lamb who was slain on the throne. It also shoots chapter 5 and 6, the lamb opening the scroll and the seals. Chapter 12-14 are gone, which center on faithfulness to God and the lamb, amidst the monstrous powers. And of course, the climax, which proclaims one whose robe was dipped in blood as king of kings and lord of lords.
While I could see the plausibility of an adaptation from Jewish apocalyptic, I think your characterization of Jesus as little more then an inserted footnote is an overstatement. Also, there is a movement among many scholars back to an early dating of Revelation, away from AD 90, (and certainly not after the bar Kochba rebellion), to before the Jewish War of 66-70. Hence the references to a satanic synagogue and a prostitute riding a beast, etc., images that are used ( the latter adapted from the OT), to depict unfaithful Israel, as a persecutor of the early Jesus movement.
In your zeal to discredit what is textually there, you have seized upon one redactive postulation. There are other ways of seeing this that are just as textually credible.
Yes, the letters to the church’s would be an add-on in the Christianization of the apocalypse. But look again at that which follows, as you point out. There is a sudden transition to the theme of the lamb which follows throughout the rest of the book. This is a peculiarly Jewish motif, an animal sacrifice. In the neo-platonic milieu of the times (see Philo), the sacrifice of the lamb was seen as an earthly representation of the heavenly “reality” in similarity to the Epistle to the Hebrews. The missing element throughout the rest of Revelation, with the exception of a couple insertions of the word “Jesus” (Yahweh’s Savior), is any reference to him. The intro of the letters to the churches clearly referencing Jesus are interpretive for that which follows. The question is whether the abrupt change in motif from Jesus to the lamb was original or an add-on. You clearly read the rest of the apocalypse through the lens of the seven letters, but if you excise them from that which follows, the text can easily be read as a non-Christian Jewish apocalypse complete with the Jewish abhorrence of sex, animal sacrifice, temple centrism, numerological symbolism, Jerusalem centrism, war with a thinly veiled reference to Rome, and neo-platonic projections of true realities. The very literary form of apocalyptic literature fits well within Jewish intertestamental milieu. With very minor editing, the apocalypse could have been transformed from Jewish to Christian. I am not insisting that this was the case. It is a speculative position. But to maintain that this didn’t occur and that the form of Revelation that we now have was original is also uncertain. The intro of the messages to 7 churches seems a bit out of place to that which follows.
It is understandable for anyone from Zimbabwe or any other country, who may not be closely following developments in the US, to miss the beacons of fulfilling prophecy and become disgruntled with the long apparent ‘wilderness wandering’ delay of the second coming and then to question the prediction itself. No doubt, a good healthy re-examination of long held beliefs is essential and a must for protestantism. No doubt the truth is as a dawning day, shining brighter and still brighter unto the perfect day, indicating that we certainly do have more to learn. Our focus may be to exhaust all possible interpretations of the last day message to the world, namely the hour of judgement including the investigative judgement, the exodus from Babylon and all that pertains to Babylon, and the understanding of the mark of the first beast and the transformation of the second beast with lamb like horns into one that speaks as a dragon.
The main beacon missed in this discussion and comment section is the very decisive event happening right now that points to this transformative cause of this country to morph into a dragon speaking beast. A fascist like tyranny is soon to envelope our nation. Is anyone following the big lie? The idea that this last presidential election was stolen and the red state voter restrictions ensued based on that big lie, are certainly a threat to any democracy as we know it and that this over reaction will assure a one party rule by those who operate on this lie. This party is also heavily influenced by theocratic proponants of the dominionists and seven mountain advocates who would christianize our country, defying the church-state seperation policy. This ‘christian taliban’ apostate Protestant group also embraces the anti choice, Islamaphobic and Homophobic biggots. Here is being fulfilled the dragon speak as we behold the demise of our great nation and the republic for which it stands. Come out of her (Babylon) My People!
the big lie is definitely a concern…and it’s all stemming from a toddler in a 75-yr old body who can’t accept the fact that he’s the biggest loser of all time…
but i think the cy vance indictments that have already started may end up jailing that 75-yr old toddler, in which case america will probably have the opportunity for a reset…