March 06, 2008

Revelation 13.9-12

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If any one worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also shall drink the wine of God's wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

5 Comments:

At 1:14 PM, Blogger nathan's shepherd said...

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

This line would be the key to understanding this whole section. We are not, despite the Left-Behind books, talking literally about marks on hands and head.

We're talking about compromise with the Beast in thought and deed. And that can take many forms -- like perhaps writing the Left-Behind books and going on the Bored Again talk-show circuit.

Me? My compromises are many. I don't think I'm in over my head (yet) but the ooze certainly is lapping at my chin.

 
At 6:38 PM, Blogger forrest said...

I would have thought this portion much weaker than the other two, having (I think) misunderstood it.

There needed to be a 3rd angel (like a third bear, etc.)--So this passage must belong to the basic structure of the book... but what is all this stuff about people being "tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb"? As if this were the sort of Lamb who delighted in witnessing other people's torments?

I need to stop reading this through Sunday School eyes! It looks like a conventional "God is going to get them" message--but if we wipe away that gloss, we should expect to find something less punitive and more descriptive, such as:

Inevitably we are marred in thought and in deed by our involuntary participation in "this filthy, rotten system." There is no true rest for us until we free our minds and our lives from its lies and the crimes it persuade us to approve... so until we find the Lamb (always present if we look), and turn to him, there is no end to the trap we were born into.

"Compromises"? That was the form this issue took, back when it was a question of "Just put a little pinch of incense on Caesar's altar" vs maintaining the formalities of Jewish monotheism.

Today it may be something closer to the words of that Bob Dylan song: "To keep it in your mind/ and not forget/ that it is not he or she or them or it/ that you belong to!" Because the brainwashing technology of this civilization is incredibly strong, blatant, and readily overlooked in plain sight! We're in "This World;" (and it is doubtless someplace we need to be, maybe even ultimately a good place for us)--but we need to be "not of it." I think that's the awareness we need to live in. Because identifying ourselves with "This World" and the things of "This World" intrinsically entangles us in conflict and suffering.

"When shall we see the Messiah
coming on the clouds in Power
like an icon of Franklin Roosevelt?
When will the dead dog
wag his tail?" I see so many good people yearning to have an endurable man win the next election, if there is one--and I'd like to see that myself! But the real issue has got to be much less about 'What person sits in the President's chair,' and more about 'What reality are we prepared to inhabit?' As in: "The Kingdom is spread out upon the Earth, but men do not see it."

 
At 8:50 PM, Blogger nathan's shepherd said...

Leviticus 10:1-2.That same day Nadab and Abihu, Aaron's sons, took their censers, put hot coals and incense in them, and offered "strange" fire to God—something God had not commanded. Fire blazed out from God and consumed them—they died in God's presence.

Such things I do not try to fathom. No, I do not anticipate eternal torment for anyone. And yet there is something that says worship needs to be something holy and pure and there costs when it is not. And the Presence of God is not just a warm fuzzy feeling inside us.

 
At 6:05 AM, Blogger forrest said...

Back in the 70's, my Old Testament prof was saying that some of the priestcraft we were reading about may have involved playing with volatile, inflammable hydrocarbons, known to exist in the Middle East. Not that what was burning in Moses was confined to whatever physical process was happening to that bush he was led to see...

God is responsible for this entire world, nice or otherwise, and so we do need to recognize Our Friend as a Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright, not just some Pussycat we may pet at our convenience....

But neither is God some alien, external force! He is precisely as "other" as our own deepest self. There are things even we value more than our personal comfort!

But that doesn't mean that we, or anyone else, should be subject to arbitrary, purposeless suffering! As Jesus was giving us the Straight Poop about the nature of our Father, we can and should expect nothing but good from Him, whether for ourselves or the worst human being on Earth!

It's the nature of that good that throws us off! Generally what we get is the precise consequence of what we are doing; that's what it means to live within a world!--and then, naturally, we kvetch because fire burns us and water makes us wet!

All that this passage really needs to say is roughly this: There is no rest for the Wicked because they just won't hold still!

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger nathan's shepherd said...

I think that was a very 70s kinda thing for your OT prof to say. Of course he may very well have been right. But the story is not recorded and preserved through thousands of years as a warning about vaporous hydrocarbons and open flames. It was recorded and preserved as a warning to us that encountering the holy can be a dangerous game.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home