Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 4: Dragons and Prostitutes and Beasts, Oh My!

Doomsday Preppers:  an Advent devotional

Day 4:  Dragons and Prostitutes and Beasts, Oh My!

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.  The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.-Revelation 13:1-2

You've got to love the book of Revelation, which, at least in my estimate, seems to be the least read, but most talked about book of the Bible.  There seems to me to be three different camps of people that react to the book of Revelation, each in their own way.  

The first group are pretentious theologians.  They act as though the book of Revelation makes perfect, predictable sense to them.  They label themselves with terms like post-millennial, pre-millennial, preterists and any number of other terms that describes their hermeneutics and eschatology (other big words this group likes to throw around).  They suppose that there is an obvious way to interpret the events of the book and will argue ad infinitum about why their view is the correct one.

The second group I call the sandwich board wearers.  These are the people that stand on the street corners handing out literature about how the United States (or any other relevant country) was prophesied about in the book of Revelation and how this politician or that politician is the anti-Christ.  They take the symbolism in the book and stretch it almost to the breaking point to prove that whatever social or political thing they oppose is obvious proof that it is of Satan and was spoke about through prophecies.

Then, there is the third group, which I think most of us fall into, who read the book of Revelation, and say, "WTF?!?", and don't really know what to do with all that craziness.

So, what is the last group, who I will lovingly refer to as the WTF???  group, to do when it comes to these bizarre end times prophesies?  Do we just ignore them and write off the book of Revelation as the lunatic fringe of Holy Scripture?

I wish I had some easy answers about what each crazy creature represented or what cities and nations are referred to.  But I can offer up a couple of suggestions for approaching the book without getting completely confused by the extreme symbolism.

1).  Pray through the scripture.  If you have never done this before, it can give you a whole new view on what the Bible is telling you.  As you read each verse, meditate on it and ask the Holy Spirit to bless you with the wisdom and discernment to know what God is trying to communicate in His words.  Don't be surprised if your insight has nothing to do with the end times or dragons or whatever.  He may use a phrase or image to give you insight on some other unrelated issue in your life.  If you ask God to speak to you through His scripture, He almost always will.

2).  Take the book of Revelation at face value.  Read and learn it just as it is written.  God promises that His word never returns empty (Isaiah 55:11), and that all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching and correcting (2 Timothy 3:15-16).  We don't need to know what every crown on every horn on every dragon's head means in order for it to be useful.  Who knows...it could happen exactly as written.  Trust that God has it included in scripture for a reason and commit to reading it, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense right now.

3).  Read some of the more straight forward depictions of the end times that the Bible contains before diving head first into Revelation's pages.  One such place is Matthew 24-25.  Though Jesus is known for speaking in parables and metaphors at times, this is a fairly simple explanation of things to come.  Study this first, then dive into all the talk of bleeding moons and prostitutes.

Activity:  Select a chapter from the book of Revelation, preferably between chapters 4 and 22, and prayerfully read through it.  Begin your time by thanking God for His word and asking Him to speak to you through the text.  Then slowly and prayerfully read through the text, listening for God's voice the whole time.  Did anything surprise you?

Prayer:  Take time to thank God for the gift of His word, even if it is difficult sometimes.  Pray that God uses His word to speak to you and encourage you and pray that you learn to use His word more effectively in your life.

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