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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Of Revelation And Last Days "The Book of Revelation has come to be read as prophesying the events of the end of history. A general resurrection, a general judgment and a new age." Adela Yarbro Collins, PBS Frontline


The Holy Bible
"The book of the Revelation opens with the announcement of its title, and with a benediction on those who give diligent heed to its solemn prophetic utterances:
Verse 1

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John:

2 who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
The Title.--The translators of the King James Version of the Bible have given this book the title, "The Revelation of St. John the Divine." In this they contradict the very first words of the book itself, which declare it to be "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ is the Revelator, not John. John is but the penman employed by Christ to write out this Revelation for the benefit of His church. John is the disciple of Jesus who was beloved and highly favored among the twelve. He was evangelist and apostle, and the writer of the Gospel and the epistles which bear his name. To his previous titles must now be added that of prophet; for the Revelation is a prophecy, and John so denominates it. It is not only the Revelation of Jesus Christ, but it is the Revelation which God gave unto Him. It comes first from the great Fountain of all wisdom and truth, God the Father, by Him it was communicated to Jesus Christ, the Son; and Christ sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.
The Character of the Book.--This is expressed in one word, "Revelation." A Revelation is something revealed or made known, not something hidden and concealed. Moses tells that "the secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever." Deuteronomy 29: 29. The very title of the book, then, is a sufficient refutation of the opinion sometimes expressed that this book is among the mysteries of God, and cannot be understood. Were this the case, it should bear some such title as "The Mystery" or "The Hidden Book," certainly not "The Revelation."
Its Object.--"To show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass." His servants--who are they? For whose benefit was the Revelation given? Was it to be for any specified persons, for any particular churches, for any special period of time? No, it is for all the church in all time, as long as any of the events predicted within the book remain to be accomplished. It is for all those who can claim the appellation, "His servants," wherever or whenever they may live.
God says that this prophecy was given to reveal coming events to His servants, yet many of the expositors of His word tell us that no man can understand it! This is as if God would undertake to make known to mankind important truths, yet fall into the worse than earthly folly of clothing them in language or in figures which human minds could not comprehend! It is as if He would command a person to behold some distant object, and then erect an impenetrable barrier between him and the object! Or as if He would give His servants a light to guide them through the gloom of night, yet throw over that light a pall so thick and heavy that not a ray of its brightness could penetrate the obscuring folds! How men dishonor God who thus trifle with His word! No; the Revelation will accomplish the object for which it was given, and "His servants" will learn from it the "things which must shortly come to pass," and which concern their eternal salvation." 1
Many great themes and mystical parables are brought into final focus in the book of Revelation, which ends the Bible and promises a future divine intervention and deliverance by the Creator to His believers. It is, therefore, a most important book to read and understand. The book introduces itself in the three verse prologue with which it begins:
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw -- that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Revelation 1:1-3)
There are two words in this paragraph that tell us the nature of the book. The very first word, "The revelation," is the Greek word apocalypse which means "an unveiling," a taking away of that which obscures and make it clear. Apocalypses have to do with mysteries and their meaning. So, throughout this book we will find many mysteries made clear. The mystery of evil is unveiled. Why does it persist on the earth and what is its ultimate end. The mystery of godliness is made clear. How can one live a godly, righteous life in the midst of a broken and evil world. Many other mysteries are unveiled and that is why the book begins with that term.
It is also a book largely of symbols. Symbols are important as they are ways of understanding things which you cannot draw a picture of. Something that is rather abstruse or difficult to understand can be made known by symbols.
"A little later in that same paragraph we read, "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy." This book is not only an unveiling, it is also a prediction. It deals with persons and events which are yet to come, as the prologue tells us; "What must soon take place." We will learn what personalities are yet to appear on the stage of history in the last days, and what great events will unfold as history rolls on to its final consummation. This book will make that clear." 2
Biblical scholars believe that around 90 CE the Book of Revelation was written, the only apocalypse in the New Testament and the "last book of the Bible . . . the least read and most difficult." Revelation has had tremendous influence on our culture and history, not only motivating millions of believers but contributing vivid images and phrases to popular culture, from the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse" to the "mark of the beast."
Borrowing much of its imagery from the Book of Daniel, Revelation is fairly typical of the revolutionary eschatology of the time. Because of intricate and unusual symbolic language, the Book of Revelation is hard for modern people to read. They are not used to this kind of literature. It is puzzling and difficult to interpret as "its language is shrouded with mystery, its idea are clothed in imagery, symbolism, myth, and numerology." It is believed that the author thought "his readers would detect his allusions, and therefore he felt no need to make explanations." Addressing "the scattered Christians of Asia Minor in their hour of affliction," the author describes in vivid detail the means through which God will intervene and save his people from their suffering. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."  
"Essentially it's a book about the wrath of God being poured out upon the world. People not repenting except for the small group of faithful followers of God, and this awful wicked beast power ruling the whole world, and defying God, shaking his fist at God. And finally Jesus coming, not as a Prince of Peace at all, not as a lamb, but at the end of the book, as a rider on a horse, a warrior with a sword, to smite the nations. In one of the quotes that comes to my mind it says, "He will rule the nations with a rod of iron, as a potter strikes a pot with iron and it just completely shatters." "3
According to the Dictionary of the Bible Revelation "accurately foretells what will happen in the last days of history before the end of the world." The Illustrated Bible Dictionary is of similar opinion: "happenings that will take place in connection with the second coming of the Lord . . . leads up to the final establishment of the rule of God . . . Futurist views take with the greatest seriousness the language of the book about end-time."
It is also prophesied in the Bible that in the last days the lawless one will be revealed, before Jesus' return or Second Coming. This idea is most clearly expressed in the New Testament in 2 Thessalonians 2.1-12:
As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters,
Not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.
Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction.
He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.
Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you?
And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes.
For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming.
The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders,
And every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false,
So that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. (2 Thessalonians 2.1-12)

"The countenance of the "man of sin" is marked by pretended sanctity. There is in it a look of elevation, marred by pride. The features are full of power and intelligence. His head is circled with a crown of a peculiar form, unlike that worn by ordinary kings, and upon it is the title "King of kings and Lord of lords," — implying that he is ruler both of the Church and of the world, because he claims to be as God on earth. His hand is lifted in the attitude of one bestowing divine favors. His semblance is that of benignity and blessing, while the spirit of the man is that of the great adversary. Behind him, half concealed, is a dark figure difficult to make out, with a face full of malignity. There is a gleam of defiance in his eye, and a deadly purpose in his aspect. He too wears a crown, and the name written on it in yellow, sulfurous letters is, "god of this world." He stands close to the "man of sin," — too close to be seen by the worshipping multitude — directing and inspiring all his utterances and all his movements. With extraordinary skill he wields a worldwide power through this chosen agent, a power which has been exercised in various ways for six thousand years, deluding men to their destruction, but which reaches its climax in this combination of satanic craft with ecclesiastical exaltation. By the mouth of the "man of sin" he speaks to the multitude thronging the holy temple, or house of God, in a tone of authority, commanding them to submit to his teachings and guidance, and to abase themselves in his presence. His words are, "Fall down and worship me." The deluded multitude blindly obeys him, as though his voice was the voice of God!
Under the feet of the "man of sin" are two venerable volumes, bearing the titles "Laws Human and Divine." He is trampling on them both, treading them underfoot! Some in the crowd are pointing to this fact, and stand in a protesting attitude. In the distance there are prophets and apostles looking on. Far above — a perfect contrast in every respect to the self-exalting "man of sin" — is seen the self-humbling and self-sacrificing Son of God. He too is seated, seated on a radiant throne, from which celestial glory is streaming. His attitude is that of one coming in judgment for the destruction of the "man of sin" and his sinful worshipers. Many of the protesters are looking at him in anticipation of His advent, and seem to have something of His likeness. The face of the man of sin is the face of a false apostle, the dark face of a Judas. Written upon the wall of the temple, in letters of light, just above the proud, false, central figure, is the name "son of perdition." The man of sin is a Judas — a secret enemy while a seeming friend — a "familiar friend," yet a fatal foe who betrays with a kiss and a "hail, master!" " 4
It is clear that the Second Coming will not take place until and unless the rebellion against the lawless one takes place, i.e. after his identity is revealed and his power, signs, lying wonders and every kind of wicked deception exposed. It is obvious that this adversary of Lord Christ on Earth, who exalts himself above all others by self-proclaiming to represent Christ, is destined for divine destruction. A similar fate awaits those who empower this false Vicar of Christ, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
The "lawless one" of 2 Thessalonians is thus equated with the "beast" of Revelation and labeled with the title "Antichrist" from the Johannine epistles.
The Book of Revelation, with its bizarre symbolism, intense hatred, and bloodthirstiness of the future should not be taken literally. Apocalyptic horsemen, corpses coming out of graves, the seven-headed Dragon, worshipping the seven-headed, ten-horned Beast on Earth, entire cities devoured by Earth, Babylon burning, Satan being released for 1,000 years, and finally a new Jerusalem are all vivid symbols. These images of fire and brimstone, earthquakes, pestilence, death and destruction represent the decadence of human society preceding the final battle between the forces of good and evil. This is the Resurrection and Last Judgment for all humans. 
Bible prophecy reveals events of our time and world-shaking events preceding the Second Coming. The Bible is God's book of history, prophecy and revealed knowledge of God's purpose and master plan for humanity from its beginning on into eternity.
The verses in the Bible from Revelation 17 onwards point to the dawn of the new millennium which ushers the Age of Resurrection and Last Judgment. If all the revelations and events of Shri Adi Shakti: The Kingdom of God are taken into account then there is no doubt about it.
But what is certain is that the Book of Revelation envisages terrific opposition to God and the believers, but that in the end God will triumph over every evil thing." This opposition to God is the most frightful aspect of Armageddon, where the use of imagery, symbolism, myth symbolizes the last decisive battle that will be fought between the forces of good and evil before Judgment Day. (The Qur'an, which also prophesizes the Second Coming, is as explicit about the Resurrection as the Bible.)
The religious regimes and millions of their deluded followers will battle God Almighty's Message of the Resurrection and Last Judgment, because they will refuse to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. So it was prophesied in the Bible and Qur'an, and so will the unbelievers mock and defy the Resurrection and Last Judgment!
We will begin chapters 1-16 of Revelation with what William Blake foresaw and warned two centuries ago as narrated by David Bindman in William Blake: His Art and Times:
"Uninitiated Christians mistakenly worship the creator, as if he were God; they believed in Christ as the one who would save them from sin, and who they believed had risen bodily from the dead: they accepted him by faith, but without understanding the mystery of his nature — or their own. But those who had gone on to receive the gnosis had come to recognize Christ as the one sent from the Father, whose coming reveled to them that their own nature was identical with his — and with God's . . . Those who lacked spiritual inspiration envied those who spoke out in public at the worship service and who spoke in prophecy, taught, and healed others.
William Blake, noting such different portraits of Jesus in the New Testament, sided with the one the Gnostics preferred against "the vision of Christ that all men see":
The vision of Christ that thou dost see is my visions deepest enemy . . .
Thine is the friend of all Mankind, mine speak in parables to the blind:
Thine loves the same world that mine hates, thy Heavens doors are my Hell gates . . .
Both read the Bible day and night but thou read'st black where I read white . . .
Seeing this False Christ, in fury and passion, I made my Voice heard all over the Nation. . . .
The apocalyptic and revolutionary nature of Blake's beliefs, as he well knew, rendered normal publication of his Prophetic works virtually impossible, for their denunciation of the social order was unlikely to be encouraged by its beneficiaries and upholders . . .
I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the Immortal Eyes of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought, into Eternity
Ever expanding in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination.

Jerusalem, Chapter 1, plate 5

Blake was undeniably a man in earnest in the Carlylean sense, conceiving of a God-given mission to communicate the higher truth to his fellow men. While he had a dislike of any form of institutional religion, his metaphysical beliefs were not fundamentally different from those of other dissenters in the 17th and 18th centuries who took literally the Christian premise that the world is in a Fallen state until its Redemption through Jesus Christ, and who believed that the Book of Revelation gave a true account of the end of the world. It follows from these beliefs that all man's material ambitions are irremediably corrupt. Any church that created a priesthood, gave divine authority to kingship, or compromised with materialist philosophy or science in its doctrine was necessarily inimical to the Spirit, which offered the only salvation through Jesus. Self-evidently rulers and churches would have to pervert the true message of the Gospel to justify their claims to Christianity, erecting idols and persecuting those who exposed them . . .
The millennium for Blake, however, was not so much as a literal or imminent possibility (though there were times when he may really have thought it was about to happen) as a dream of Redemption which could give consolation and hope of eternal life to the Christian. It was a state of being which could be entered into at any time: . . . 
Blake's first Illuminated Books, dating from towards the end of the 1780s, There is no Natural Religion (no. 38) and All Religions are One, are direct philosophical assaults on Deism or Natural religion, insofar as it sought to incorporate the discoveries of empirical thought into the doctrine of the Church of England. To Blake Deism was the religion of the rulers of England, nothing less than 'the Religion of the Pharisees who murder'd Jesus'; he was tireless in his condemnation of philosophical empiricism in all its forms, naming Bacon, Locke and Newton as preachers of doubt and despair. In this deistical world hypocrisy reigned; materialism triumphed as the divine was relegated to the realm of Mystery, men were divided from each other, politics became synonymous with corruption, and the arts were forced to be merely ornamental and imitative . . .
Blake's Prophecies of the 1790s are marked by a sense of urgency, for they attempt to interpret the course of the French Revolution as it actually unfolds. As a concept revolution appears both creative and destructive: it creates a new world but it could not end by usurping the tyranny it destroys . . .
Church Fathers . . . argued that the history of the Jews contained a hidden spiritual meaning which could only be revealed to those with special claims to understanding. While theologians would have argued that it could only be reached by the accumulated wisdom invested in a church, Blake and other millenarians saw the true meaning of the Bible as being within the reach of those few privileged individuals throughout the ages who were guided by an inner light.
Blake was perfectly aware that his Prophetic and personal works were incomprehensible to most of his contemporaries . . . In plate 10 of Europe the grotesque figure of a bat-winged pope, accompanied by two angels with scepters, makes clear the hidden truth that behind the gorgeous vestments of the Catholic — and Established — Church lie cynicism and lust for power; institutional religion helps to pervert men's minds to accept war and domination . . .
The Book of Revelation, for instance, presented the problem of the cosmic scale of the events described; in Blake's watercolours the immense forms of the Angels and the Beasts of Revelation and the Whore of Babylon can become vengeful idols exacting submission from the massed ranks of humanity below . . .
The Book of Revelation, as a prophecy of the end of the world and the triumph of the Spirit, was the bedrock of all millenarian attempts to link the prophecies of the Bible with the events of the contemporary world . . . In the later Pitt is understood as the Angel of Revelation 'who, pleased to perform the Almighty's orders, rides on the whirlwind, directing the storms of war'.
The association of the Great Dragon with Satan, and the Beast from the Sea with worldly power, contributed to Blake's conception of Urizen . . .
The Beast from the Sea is another symbol of temporal power, an enemy to Christianity yet worshipped by humanity; his power is given to him by the Dragon, so Satan is behind this hideous image of war which enthralls humanity. 'And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?' The precise text depicted by Blake is the one in which the Dragon gives power to the Beast 'to make war with the saints', indicated by the sword and scepter.
The grotesque description of the Beast from the Sea in Revelation suggests the bestial face of worldly power lurking behind many other images in Blake, for example the bat-winged pope in plate 10 of Europe. The Beast, with heads of a pope, king, judge, etc., and upon whose tails sits the Whore of Babylon, also appears in the Night Thoughts watercolours . . .
The Beast from the Sea, or temporal power, is worshipped through the agency of the Beast from the Earth, a gigantic lamb, which takes on the deceitful role of False Prophecy. The Beasts are seen as a gigantic altar beneath which the ranks of humanity pay obeisance. The Dragon behind is in distress because he has heard 'the voice of a great thunder', the prophecy of his own impending destruction." 5
From Chapter 17 onwards the Book of Revelation sees the judgment of the great City sitting upon seven hills, a new heaven and a new earth coming down and a new Kingdom of God being established. What John seems to be suggesting is that when the triumph of God comes over the Vatican and her daughters (Mother of Harlots), a new heaven and earth will be created. This new heaven coming on earth is a pure spiritual Kingdom of God within humans, in contrast to the kingdom without, that is, that of "dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." (Revelation 22:15)