Thursday, November 27, 2008

End of the End Times?

The first "antichrist" described by Scripture was in the Old Testament. This was Antiochus Epiphanes (left). It was about him that "Daniel" wrote: "He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolation. (Dan 9:27; New Revised Standard Version)

The "abomination" which "desolated" was the statue of Zeus which Antiochus had erected in the Jewish temple.

The Book of Daniel contains a style of literature known as "apocalyptic." The same style is also found in the Book of Revelation. Apocalyptic is the literature of crisis. Suffering people always turn to future hope in an effort to ameliorate their current travails. When reading apocalyptic literature, we need to understand the worldview of people suffering oppression, hardship, or persecution. Biblical examples: Daniel was written with the aim of comforting and supporting the faith of those suffering under Antiochus Epiphanes; Revelation was composed close to the year 70 CE to assist those who were suffering under the persecution of Nero. What these writings share is the idea that people were to look to the future rather than now for the day of their deliverance.

What then is "prophecy?" The dictionary says: 1: an inspired utterance of a prophet 2: the function or vocation of a prophet ; specifically : the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose 3: a prediction of something to come Most people focus on the third definition.

The primary definition of "apocalypse" is: "One of the Jewish and Christian writings of 200 BCE to 150 CE marked by pseudonymity, symbolic imagery, and the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom.

It is worthy to note, in English versions of the Bible, the Book of Daniel is found among the Prophets. In the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, Daniel is found in the third division, the Writings (Kethuvim.) The editors of the Tanakh did not consider Daniel a "Prophet" but something else. This is correct, because Daniel is not prophetic literature, but apocalyptic. The first six chapters of the book contain stories of the dream interpreter and faithful servant of G-d in difficult times. Chapters 7-12 contain the apocalyptic visions written under the name of "Daniel" during difficult days. These "visions" are simply intended to show that faithful men and women that, in spite of the power of their enemies, G-d was still the king of the universe, and that they need be unafraid.

The early Christians were mainly Jews who were familiar with their Scripture. They were people who found themselves in similar straights as their forebearers in the time of "Daniel." The genius in the Book of Revelation is that it was written in the same style as Daniel, but adapted to the author's time and place. Here the evil tyrant was Nero (left) and the rest of the "prophecies" were but thinly veiled social commentary. The original readers of Revelation understood the content in the context of their world.
With this in mind, the Book of Revelation should not be seen as a book of prophecies. It is evident down through history that much mischief has been made of this book when viewed this way. In today's world, not only is it stupid to see the Book of Revelation as containing prophecies for our time, it is also dangerous.
Although "evangelical/fundamentalist" branches like to believe they are the only true Christians in the world, thankfully, there is no one "Christianity" today. By the time the full consequences of their theology are made manifest, Nero down in Hell will be laughing at their expense. It will be the responsibility of the remaining branches of Christianity to denounce Dispensationalism as a heresy and engage in appropriate damage control.
For the last eight years we have endured yet another "antichrist" in the form of President George W. Bush. He was a "Christian antichrist;" therefore most of the evangelical/fundamentalist crowd did not recognize the hour of his coming. As of now, it appears the time of Antichrist Bush is drawing to a close. For those who were not deceived, they may rejoice that they have lived and remained faithful to the end. Yet it can not be emphasized enough that the kingdom Jesus spoke of was not of this world. The kingdom is within. Therefore, don't go looking for New Jerusalems to be dropping out of the sky.
The end of the end times can be a bit of a let down; especially if you're looking for some kind of cosmic justice. Perhaps a new revelation is needed.
Let me offer this. Daniel and Revelation were written during and about the times their authors lived in. They were written in a style that is vague and hard to understand today. A revelation written today will not need to be written in the same way. A revelation today will not gain immediate acceptance, but gain credence over time.
Here is what I propose to reveal. The United States is an empire. It is presumed to have a democratic form of state, but this is questionable. For the last eight years the United States Empire has been ruled by an idiot who is likewise the enemy of G-d and the entire human race. I speculate that he will meet his doom from alcohol-related causes. Those who were faithful and resisited Bush's evil will be rewarded by inheriting the world he created; they will have to make the best of it.
G-d save us all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Romans 13 in the news: Manipulation and Manifestation.

The above video is at least a year old, but it's a chilling expose' of Bush's Department of Homeland Security approaching clergymen across the country, and training them to use their propaganda, mixed with Romans 13 as a way to pacify their congregations in the event of Martial Law. The preachers are being prepared to minimize dissent by painting any declaration of Martial Law, for any reason, to be the action of God's appointed leader, whom they should trust.

This is one of many warning signs that the Bush administration fully plans to still be in power when the nation descends into a new level of chaos, and that they have no problem with exploiting God and Christ to obtain their empirical goals. The "Posse Comitatus" law, mentioned in the video, which strictly forbids US troops from policing American streets has been recently undone, by the deployment of a brigade of troops who are fresh out of the Iraq war-zone to a military base in Georgia...their mission objectives are explicitly to put a lid on domestic dissent "just in case" there is a reason for martial law to be declared. Troops were sent to New Orleans after Katrina, and local police forcefully removed guns from citizens, including an old woman, that was tackled by a 250lb police officer. Strange policing actions also took place from the military and local police during the disastrous floods in the Mississippi region this summer.

These are localized practice-runs for a national transformation to martial law. Law Enforcement and Military are both working to train their people to disarm and consider all citizens to be potential enemies of the state. That's the sort of mentality they had in communist Russia. This is all very real, and painfully close. Annon recently shared this mp3 link to a very interesting radio broadcast from John Stadtmiller that paints an eerily possible picture of what could happen between now and the inauguration. It's well worth a listen, if you haven't heard it yet, you can come back to read the rest.

The problem we face, of course, is the fact that Romans 13 seems to support the idea of Christians submitting to ruling kings and governments without exception. Is that really the case, or is there something deeper going on?

Romans 13:1-5
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
By isolating the first 5 verses of this chapter, clergy can advise submission to even the most despotic, and lawless of "rulers". Logic would suggest that only the cunning and deceptive minds of despotic rulers would think to use this passage as a way to pacify the masses. When we are interpreting scripture, it is always important for us to remember context. This is not limited to a chapter, or a book, but the entirety of Scriptures works together to preach one great message. There are paradoxes littered throughout, but no real contradictions. That statement is much easier said than learned, but it is true.

It must be established that our allegiance is to God first, and then to the "ruling authorities" that God has sanctioned. If our earthly leaders are in defiance to God, we must stand strong in the light that has been given to us by Christ, and be prepared to die, if necessary, for the sake of our faith. There is no compromise to that order of authority. When we are told to serve our earthly leaders (or ourselves, or anything) above our heavenly king, we are being lied to by a very old, very sinister fallen angel who twists scriptures to promote his own agenda.

In the desert, when he tempted Christ, the Devil offered to give Jesus dominion over all the kingdoms of the world, if Christ would only bow before him. This temptation demonstrates his ultimate desire to divert people's worship of God. I have no doubt that Lucifer was whispering into the minds of the mob that judged Jesus. John 19:15 reveals this twisted reasoning:

(The mob) shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!"
"Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked.
"We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.
Romans 13, then is a very dangerous passage, if and when it is misinterpreted.

Verse 1 says that "every soul must be subject to the governing authorities", which implies that if a leader does not honor the laws that he has sworn to uphold, that leader is in violation to Romans 13. Only people who violate the law have any reason to fear the law. The Antichrist is described in scripture as being a very boastful, strong and fierce leader who "seeks to change the times and laws" in Daniel 7:25. He is called "The Lawless one" in several other prophetic references. The fact remains on display, that while Bush swore to uphold the constitution on inauguration day, he has actually moved in strong, strident steps to dismantle that constitution (which is the "governing authority" that is above him). Our rights and liberties have been stolen right before our very eyes. Sainthood: the compulsion to love your neighbors and to love your enemies, is now illegal according to the Patriot Act.

I see the constitution as something that God has sanctioned, because the heart of this governing document is wise, and just and fair.

The severe partisanship of the religious right, on the other hand, is not very fair. Think about this: Were leaders of the religious right citing Romans 13 in defense of Bill Clinton? Most pastors actually encouraged people's loathing of Clinton...whipping them up to a partisan frenzy that helped deliver the 2000, and 2004 presidential elections to George Bush. There is a massive anti-government, anti-tax sentiment that partially defines the religious right, and this sentiment runs completely contrary to Roman's 13, not just in verses 1-5, but the entire chapter.

Romans 13:6-7
For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
I believe that Paul is actually warning us not to engage in violent resistance to tyranny, for he knew that the Christians in Rome, and true followers of Christ in the future would be persecuted without cause, just as Jesus was. That persecution can stand as a testimony, as long as we remain blameless, refraining from any evil, even in our resistance to tyranny. This principle was Echoed by the apostle Peter, in the other, oft-interpreted teaching from 2 Peter 2:13-25.

We are commanded to "Bless those that curse us, bless and do not curse". Paul also taught, "Do not confront evil with evil, but overcome evil with good". That is one of the ultimate expressions of self denial. I don't think any of us would have the strength or the will to behave that way without the spirit of Christ within us. But we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.

Dick Chaney is on the receiving end of that sword wielded by the governing authority of the law of the land. In the past three days, he was indicted in a tiny Texas town. This is a time of consequences, a time to pay the piper. The problem is, the Bush Administration is very dangerous, especially when cornered. Justice will be served, if not sooner, certainly later...(and not much later at that).

Romans 13:8-14
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gospel of John (part 2)

By popular demand (and a successful search on Google Video). I present the second installment of the Gospel of John film. I would encourage all who have been moved by the accurate account of the most poetic gospel to purchase a copy of the film. I know it's available at here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Gospel of John (Part 1).

I love this film. It is a very heartfelt and precise reproduction of the entire gospel of John. We are all feeling the oppressive weight of these times, dragging us down. Watching this film is a refreshing reminder of how the world is supposed to be, destined to be. Come Lord Jesus!