Part Eighteen – Revelation
The major issues and events in Christian eschatology are death and the afterlife, Heaven and Hell, the Second Coming of Jesus, the Resurrection of the Dead, the Rapture, the Tribulation, Millennialism, the end of the world, the Last Judgment, and the New Heaven and New Earth of the world to come.
According to tradition, Revelation was written by John (who also supposedly wrote the Gospel and 3 Epistles bearing that name). However, most scholars now believe the gospel and epistles share authorship, while another unknown author wrote Revelation. Revelation is an apocalyptic prophecy, composed in the context of a conflict within the Christian community of Asia Minor over whether to engage with, or withdraw from, the far larger non-Christian community. The book is permeated with allusions and echoes to the OT in almost every verse, with over half of the references being to Daniel, Ezekiel, Psalms, and Isaiah.
Because Revelation is so confusing and bizarre, this brief outline of the chapters from Wikipedia may be helpful.
1 – the revelation of Jesus Christ;
2 & 3 – epistles to the 7 churches in Asia;
4 & 5 – the throne of God;
6 – 8:6 – Seven seals are opened;
8:7 – 11 Seven trumpets are sounded;
12 – 15 Seven spiritual figures;
16 Seven bowls are poured onto earth;
17 & 18 aftermath of the Whore of Babylon;
19:1-10 the marriage supper of the lamb;
19:11 – 20 Judgement of the Beast, Devil, and Dead;
21 & 22 the new heaven and earth, and New Jerusalem, and reassurance that the second coming of Christ is imminent.
Steve Wells‘ introduction to Revelation in the SAB:
“Everything in Revelation should probably be highlighted, because it’s all violent, cruel, or absurd in one way or another. But that would make it too hard to read, and it’s hard enough as it is. Revelation has my vote for the worst book in the Bible. And since the Bible, Quran, and the Book of Mormon are the three worst books ever written, that’s saying something.”
And since Wells has read and annotated all 3 books, that really is saying something. I skimmed through the bible once, about 4 years ago, and I couldn’t agree more. You’re warned!
Full disclosure: I know nothing about the topics discussed in this book. I had to look up Rapture, Millennialism, Tribulation, and Eschatology in the dictionary, and read a few basics on about these subjects. To me Revelation sounds like a bunch of nonsense written by someone who was on drugs. But many of its concepts have commonalities with Zoroastrianism (surprise, surprise), and refer to OT prophets (esp Daniel and Ezekiel), so it’s easy to see where the writer got his ideas at the time. And although I had never even heard the word Rapture (as used in a religious context) until sometime in the last 10 years when I became involved with the atheist movement, I understand that for many people raised in Evangelical churches, Revelation is dead serious, and/or the stuff of nightmares. It is also Big Business.
I’m not going to torture my brain trying to fathom the unfathomable nonsense in this book. Christians see it symbolically and concoct all kinds of crazy scenarios to explain it. But I find it terribly difficult follow, so I’m concentrating on the basics; don’t expect deep insights. My notes are long and reflect my desire to capture the gist of ‘WTF is going on here?’ And I rejigged the reading guide, adding a few extra days to cover Revelation. After all these months, what’s a few more days?
I found a video series made by an apologist, consisting of short (< 5 minutes each) videos illustrating each chapter clearly. I will post the link for to each at the end of its corresponding chapter. And I also found some interesting background and related info at the following links. Check them out before you begin reading.
Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture
Rapture Ready Radio
Check Your Spiritual Health