Thursday, March 03, 2022

Russian Tanks and Revelation

Nothing like a European ground war to send us to Revelation 6 and squirm over the symbols with one eye on the headlines and the other in the Word.

It is almost comical to read all the ping pong points Biblical scholars make when they come to passages that involve visions. At times it reminds me of that scene in the movie, The Princess Bride- "It could be that cup based on fact A- but you know that I know fact A so it is now cup 2 because of fact B.. and so on and the answer ended up being "all of the above".

But the headlines push us back into these mysterious readings....


           Inflation at an all time high ...

Warships enter Suez Canal...
Federal, state and local debt exceeds size of entire economy...
Deadly quake rocks ... 
Witnesses report bodies in streets... 
Colossal volcano eruption sends ash plume 2 miles high....

Anytime you read a book of the Bible that contains apocalyptic visions- you become a little more sensitive to the current movements of nations and events.

I have experienced this a lot during my lifetime of reading and study of the Book of Revelation- which causes me to see the books of Daniel, Jeremiah, many OT passages, and the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24) as key companions in interpretation and application.

A quick warning, however, is to avoid the temptation is to 'tea-leaf' the passages and apply them exactly to what is happening in the world of current events. A better approach is to cultivate the enduring principles and apply them regardless of how things shake out literally. Any reading of prophetic or apocalyptic passages tell a very clear message.

Here is what I try to remember every time I get pushed back into prophecy due to anxiety over the latest cable news story.


“When Modern prophets turn Revelation into a crystal ball, they turn their back on church history and have been wrong every single time.”  Rev. Art Azurdia

If I Am Reading Revelation (or any prophecy) Correctly
  • I will feel excited, encouraged, and energized to stand boldly for Christ in a world that seems to grow darker and colder
  • I will feel personally challenged to continually stay prepared. This will cause discomfort from time to time.
  • I will see clearer lines of demarcation: Lion/Dragon- Lamb/Beast- Overcomer/Defeated
  • I will evaluate my circumstances in light of eternity
  • My desire and practice to worship will grow
  • I will walk and live as a champion- Victory is in sight
And then I need to ask these questions:

Have I grown dull to damnation?
Do I see that evil that demands justice?
Do I realize I am in a battle with eternity at stake?
Do I see how much the enemy hates me?
Do I see how much Jesus loves me?
Am I missing all of the beautiful promises to those who stand with Jesus?


Daniel 11:32 "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits."


“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12 ESV)

and many more- both in the Old and New Testaments


God exists- He is in control- Conflict is evidence for sin and rebellion- there will be ebbs and flows of war and persecution- there will even be periods where it looks like God has lost the day- but there will be a day when time will be ended- it could be VERY soon- so are we prepared to meet the King? Are we an enemy because of independent rebellion or an adopted son? Have we spent a selfish life ignoring /not thanking the Creator or do we acknowledge His authority and live lives of gratitude? Do we expect to stand before him touting our own righteousness or do we throw ourselves on the mercy of God by clinging to His Son's sacrifice as our only hope of forgiveness? Are we in love with the city of man or do we seek the kingdom of God? Will we incur God's wrath or will we hear the tender sound of a Father's love?

Practical Applications:

1) Regardless of your interpretation you have to get ready now. The signs are all in place ( they have been since the ascension of our Lord) and time is ticking. You can't wait for a warning signal. Your time is now. Simply bend your knee, ask forgiveness and set your heart to follow Him, and ask Jesus for His help and tell Him He is your only hope. There are some who will meet judgment day today just due to their individual life coming to an end.

2) It is likely that living for Christ will get harder as time ticks by. Whatever your circumstance- hard physically, hard socially, hard economically- find a support system to persevere NO MATTER WHAT.
I am so thankful to live in a country where I have the freedom to follow Christ and we have blessings of liberty and relative peace and prosperity- but it is not a guarantee. But we need to be of the mindset that if the bottom fell out tomorrow- we would still follow our King in confidence and joy. Think of it this way- if it got HARD quick, rejoice- the end is that much closer- and the end is sweet!

3) Search the Scriptures and pray so that we will be wise enough to follow our shepherd's voice in times of confusion.

4) Be steadfast and confident- people who know their God never hand ring or whine or collapse in despair. We walk on through in joyful peace!

Take any Biblical vision and read the comments by any true scholar and you will now see the endless debate begin- it never quite fits. So most of the time there are left views that have strong points and weak points and the scholar will tend to lean toward one and live with the weaker points in humble acceptance. We all do this- I do this.

But there are larger points here to be made that we can all agree on. 

1) God's truth is multi-layered and true from many angles and through many cross-sections and dissections. There is often multiple fulfillments of prophecy that show shadows in the Old Testament- applications in the New Testament and pointers to the Kingdom of God which is an alternate reality but just as true- in fact MORE true than the reality we occupy now. The hardest part in all of Biblical visions is to keep reminding yourself "symbol,symbol, symbol- figurative language"- the Bible images of heaven and hell are figurative and point to a reality beyond our comprehension. Still true, but related in a way that humans of all times and cultures can relate to.

2) We have a hard time making it all fit 'clean' because we are still missing a final overview of the end of time. When we see unrest in Ukraine we rush to the Scriptures and want to make sense of it. The problem is that we are in a time period of waiting. All that is in play now is the competition of the City of Man ( figurative Babylon) with the City of God (figurative Jerusalem) and whether we will be citizens of Christ's Kingdom or the Dragon's Kingdom. Citizenship in Christ's Kingdom is an open invitation to repentance and faith in the God of Mercy. But to do so means that you will incur the wrath of the un-holy trinity The Dragon, The Beast, and the False Prophet. One day, God will say, NO MORE DELAY- and we will watch the final scene brought to the close- and then there will be a massive "OH- I see now- THAT is what was meant by.....". We had a little taste of this when Christ came the first time. All the prophecy was there- but all the scholars missed it. IN the end- our human pre-suppositions make us miss the future narrative. Thankfully, we are not saved by being right on our own ability.

“The first thing for us to understand is that although the signs preceding the judgment day are many and great, they will all be fulfilled, even though none or very few men take note of or esteem them as such. For two things must take place according to the Word and prophecy of Christ and the apostles: first, that many and great signs will be made manifest; and secondly, that the last day will come unawares, the world not expecting it, even though that day be at the door. Though men see these signs, yea, be told that they are signs of the last day, still they will not believe, but in their security mockingly say: "Thou fool, hast thou fear that the heavens will fall and that we shall live to see that day?"”
                                                                                                        Martin Luther

Don't shy away from your Bibles in times like these- DIG IN AND BE BLESSED!

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