January 21, 2008

Revelation 14.6-7

Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on Earth, to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, and he said with a loud voice:

"Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgement has come;
worship him who made Heaven and Earth, the sea and the fountains of water."


At 12:48 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

A conventional piety, here? Just, why, exactly, is this called "an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on Earth"?

This is like hearing: "Your house is on fire." If you ask, "All right, so why are you telling me this," it's a pretty good sign that the implications haven't set in.

You understand "Your house is on fire" if you're calling the fire department, getting out the hose, taking steps to remove endangered people and goods, depending on some details you'd need to consider.

But you have to take a look at that situation, and act accordingly.

This is a "gospel", in the original usage of the word, because it's an announcement of who's in charge of the world.

It's "good news," and not just an echo of Roman imperial propaganda, because unlike "Who is Emperor (or President)", "Who is God?" makes a real difference.

It's a different kind of judgement than you might think, the establishment of a benign justice, of everyone receiving what he needs rather than what he "deserves."

Where? When? Aren't the Wicked prospering right and left? Yes, this is what they need, for now.

And their fall, in the condemnation and destruction of the powers they have built their lives upon, is what they will need when they and the world are ripe for it. Soon, I would say.

Are they to be condemned and destroyed? The way Jacques Ellul interpreted this book, no. And while I'm not so sure about what "John" here meant, that is certainly the way I read God.

But as a prophet I met once put it: "Shiva is the Destroyer of Illusions."

So what about you, and your life, is an illusion? And what isn't?

At 1:57 p.m., Anonymous paul maurice martin said...

Just popped into mind as I was reading - I'd never put these two things together before:

Eschatology assumes that ultimate reality involves space/time as we presently experience it. There's a lot in science and cosmology - for example, how Einstein's ideas are more accurate than the common sense Newtonian model that preceded him - to suggest that our idea of an end time event may be "of the flesh," as it were.

At 3:53 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

First of all, thanks! I don't get enough comments, and wonder how much of that is my fault.

I'm not sure which "two things" you mean, though.

The way I understand 1st Century eschatology, God was supposed to show up to judge "the nations," ie the angels of the various ethnic groups. And this was to happen at the end of the Age, not at some sort of crimped-off spacetime edge.
Israel was to be vindicated & put in its rightful place as God's special people; what would then happen to us goyim as individuals was a secondary consideration. That is, belief in this expectation was confined to Jews and goyim "God-fearers," ie semi-converts to Judaism in some form (including the various contemporary versions of Christianity)-- So while it was taken for granted that we others would be dealt with appropriately, the really burning question was "When are we going to get God's Land back from those brutal, greedy, blasphemously arrogant pagan conquerers? And live as God intended?"

The Christian version was gradually evolving into the sort of 'Closing Time, Game Over' concepts that later Christian ideologues usually read back into this book.

But the basic issue was: "Okay, God, when are you going to take charge and set things right?"

Now if we consider that, as the Jewish prophets assumed, God already is in charge, and things are as they should be (considering...

"This is the best of all possible worlds
with people like us in it.")

then no, you don't look forward to some future trigger-point when God will suddenly start acting otherwise than He always has. You can expect some future vindication and reward for the martyrs, all those people who did the right thing and had Bad Things consequently Happen to Them, but we don't need to close down the Space/Time Game for that to happen. (Reincarnation, for example, is a traditional Jewish belief, not a universal tenet of Judaism, but an acceptable element of it for many Jews. So a fortunate rebirth would be an obvious way...)

Catastrophes happen. They are part of "normal life," much as we'd like to rule them out. God's justice is at work, both in the catatrophes and in those tedious times between... It's tempting for us to think, "Okay, the Bad Guys have been prospering for years and years, but pretty soon they're going to Get Theirs." But that's merely a human-type misconception: They are always Getting Theirs; it just isn't apparent. And the object is not what we think, to make the WIcked suffer proportionately to the harm they've done. They, like the rest of us, just need to undergo some shaking in the process of waking up. A Zen Master, according to Van de Wettering, will often have two sticks: One for the student who just needs an occasional tap as a gentle reminder, another for students with really hard heads...)

At 5:22 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

Forrest, you have made something real and valuable with "our" blog. After a long absence (my life has taken new directions for the past year), I return and find a really meaningful blog. Thanks again.

Re Revelation: what can I say? To 'semi-quote' Blake: the Last Judgment comes whenever a person faces the truth and repents toward a more truthful existence.


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