Monday, March 18, 2013

Revelation, Chapters 1 & 2: Nightmares and Dreamscapes

Revelation is the most controversial book in the bible, the one that almost didn't make it in during the Nicene Council, a collection of visions worthy of only the best of acid trips. I say, after 21 books of being told to behave because the world really is going to end now, bring it on.

Chapter 1

Jesus decided to let his friend John have a peek at what the end of the world will look like, even though the time is at hand (v. 3). First he sends greetings to the seven churches of Asia from god's seven bestie angels and from Jesus, who, we are gruesomely reminded washed us from our sins in his own blood (v. 5).

Now, onto the Stephen King part of our story, or if you prefer The Brick Testament: Jesus will arrive on a cloud and people will start to wail, because he'll announce that he's here to end the world. John pauses the action briefly to give us some background on his vision: he was on the island of Patmos in the Spirit on the Lord's day (v. 10), which I'm just going to infer means 'drunk off my ass, and possibly a little high,' when a voice told him to write down everything he's about to see and send it off in book form to the other churches. He turns to look for the source of the voice and sees Jesus sitting at the centre of a circle of seven candlesticks, wearing a skirt belted at the nipples a la Steve Urkel. His hair is white, his eyes red, his feet glowing like brass in a fire, and his voice sounds like waves. He's holding seven stars, his tongue is a two-edged sword, and his face is shiny. John faints, but Jesus revives him and says he's back and he stole the keys to heaven and hell from his dad. He explains that the stars are angels and the candles are churches.

Chapter 2

Jesus has a message for the angel of the church at Ephesus: he knows they've been hard workers and haven't listened to any of those pesky christian dissenters, but he still doesn't like them because thou hast left thy first love (v. 3). Jesus threatens that, unless they take her back and apologise, he'll throw their candlestick away like he did with the hated Nicolaitanes. He promises that if they do that, he'll let them eat from the tree of life. 

Now, a few words for the church angel in Smyrna: he knows they're doing good works, but also that they're being persecuted by some people claiming to be Jews but who are really the synagogue of Satan (v. 9). He also informs them that they can expect to be thrown into prison and tortured for 10 days, during which time they will possibly die, but he'll reward them for it. 

Pergamos, aka Satan's seat (v. 13): someone named Antipas was martyred there, but he still doesn't like them for eating meat intended for sacrifice and for fornicating. Also, they've been sheltering his hated Nicolaitanes. He advises them to repent before he comes over there with his tongue-sword. 

Now he has a message for all christians: if you can persevere, he'll give you manna and a stone with your secret name on it. 

Thyatira: you've been good, but you're also under the sway of a woman who calls herself Jezebel and claims to be a prophetess. She's been teaching them to fornicate and to eat sacrificial meat. He warned her to stop, but she didn't so now he's going to throw her into a torture bed with her lovers. He's also going to kill her children with death (v. 23) so everyone will know he judges you by your kidneys and your heart. He promises that people who obey until the end will rule over nations with an iron bar they can use to shatter potters' vases. As a bonus, he'll give them the morning star, possibly the planet Venus.  

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