Once upon a time, back in my wild younger days, I had an actual alcohol-induced hallucinative episode. I blacked out, but continued to function. My friends said I left the apartment we were in, ran to the park across the street, then started climbing up a hill. I was yelling that I had to get to the top of the hill so I could greet spirits that had come to save earth from its destruction. That was – by far – the weirdest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
The Book of Revelation is even weirder than that.
Wow! I mean, seriously, WOW! Let’s see: we open up with a woman who dressed with the sun, stepped on the moon, and wore a crown of twelve stars. She is about to give birth. At the same time, a seven-headed, ten-horned, red dragon is there, waiting to devour the baby once it is born. However, the baby boy is whisked away to heaven. The woman flees to a safe house.
[toc hint=”table of contents” class=”toc-left” style=”width: 40%” title=”Book of Revelation”]Then a war breaks out in heaven. Michael (presumably the Archangel) and his angels battle the dragon and its angels. The dragon is Satan, of course. Up until this point, Satan has been allowed to stay in heaven and to speak with God. That’s… interesting. Doesn’t seem internally consistent with other passages of the New Testament. But I’ll let that slide. Michael and his angels win the war, casting Satan and Satan’s followers out of heaven, down to the earth.
The woman’s safe house was also on earth, which was a bad idea. The dragon sought her out, looking to get revenge. The woman was given eagle’s wings and was able to fly away to an even safer house. The dragon is even more pissed off, so he opens his mouth and a river of water streamed out of its mouth. The plan was to drown the woman, but the earth opened up and swallowed the river.
What the fuck?
This chapter is the basis for a lot of end-times stories and sermons and fears. It reinforces the tale of the anti-Christ, as well as the mark and number of the beast. The first beast comes out of the sea. it has 10 horns wearing royal crowns. It had seven heads, each with blasphemous names. One of the heads was wounded by a sword and appeared to be dying. However, that head was healed, which was taken as a miracle by the people of the earth. The dragon gave the beast his power and throne, and complete authority over everything on earth. The people of the earth started to follow the beast.
A second beast rose from the earth. It looked like a lamb, but talked like a dragon. It too had authority over the earth. It bragged of its miracles and signs – it was even able to make fire rain down from heaven – and demanded that everyone worship the first beast. The second beast also forced all people to be marked either on their right hands or on their foreheads. If they did not do so, they wouldn’t be allowed to do such things as buy food. The person would be marked with the number of the beast, which was mis-translated as 666.
This just came to mind: the idea of the mark of the beast is very much in-line with biometrics. We use the swipe of a fingerprint to access some systems. Super-high security places require retina scans. Hands, forehead, etc. Maybe John’s revelation is the work of a time traveler? Like a really bored security engineer?
But now I am just being silly.
If I didn’t know there were 8 more chapters to go, I’d swear this is building to a crescendo. The true lamb is finally back, standing on Mount Zion. He is commanded to swing his sickle and harvest the earth. Everyone who was worthy was saved. A second angel – one who had authority over fire – also was called to harvest. He harvested grapes to add to the winepress of the wrath of God. Which is weird, but what is weird is the winepress was trampled outside the city. Blood flowed from the remains of the winepress, creating a lake of blood that was 200 miles across. Ick!
This is by far the shortest of all of the chapters of Revelation. There are seven more angels, these holding the last seven plagues. Once they released their plagues, God’s wrath was finally been sated. John also saw a sea of glass, on which stood everyone who had remained true to God and Jesus, and who had spurned the beast and refused the mark.
Things still weren’t quite over, though. Because apparently God still had seven cups of wrath-wine. These were given to the seven plague-bearing angels.
Up next: Babylon is going to get fucked up
New installments of The New Testament In Review will be posted each Tuesday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series is accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page. You can also follow me (@biffster) on Twitter to be alerted to new posts.
- Angels can be bad-asses! – Revelation 9-11 (NTiR) (biffster.org)