The Scroll is a Certificate of Divorce.

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Last week I revealed the identity of the antichrist or beast in Revelation. It was the most read and forwarded post of the entire year. The feedback from this series has been eye opening. I’ve learned that most of us have only been given the pre-tribulation, pre-millennial, dispensational view of scripture depicting the End Times. This causes many to shelf their disbelief and basically take a wait and see approach. By illuminating the historical (post-millennial, preterist) view, many are waking up to realize that the bible and science are not out of sync and for many this has been exhilarating.

But not all. Some are struggling and simply can’t or won’t let go of the possibility of future global cataclysmic events. In my discussions, this is usually due to a deep seated need or belief in retributive justice.  Of course the bible doesn’t prescribe this, it only reflects it. Click HERE for tons of proof.

This series isn’t finished. I’ll take you to an entirely new level but the path is shocking. I too deconstructed these same entrenched beliefs in order to be liberated into a much wider place. Wider aspects of truth always seem false or unbelievable at first hearing because our pride thinks we are already possess the truth. It isn’t until we humble ourselves to learn (become disciple) that we actually attain the wider picture. This content is not an argument, it is an offering to those who have ears to hear.

The Scroll in Revelation 5 is important because it’s not just a piece of paper with seven seals on it. The Greek term biblion means legal record, book, or certificate of divorce. Thus the judgement setting of the plagues of Revelation are not global, but specifically on religion, typified by Judaism but not limited to it. Revelation is a courtroom drama of Jesus the Christ divorcing religion and remarrying a new bride capable of intimacy.

While the seals and judgements in the book depict historical events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem, the meta-narrative is not world wide destruction, but ultimately world wide restoration made possible by divorcing religion and moving the place for divine union to the inside.

Most preterists or post-millennials view this divorce as the end of Judaism and then go on to create an alternative religion out of Christianity which is ultimately no better than the Judaism Jesus condemned (Matthew 23). My conclusion after years of study is that Judaism in scripture is archetypal for all world religions.

This means no religion, no system of faith, nor institution can do anything more than talk about God. Paul calls these principalities, powers, authorities and cosmic powers over the present darkness and forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). Talking, theologizing, and debating about God may give us a religion or help us know about God, but it’s not the same as knowing (love making) God. The goal of God is divine union, oneness, with all creation and this happens through relationship, not religion.

This relationship is unique to each soul, regardless of its formative container. This relationship cannot be formalized, systematized, and mass produced for profit. Divine union is forged through the suffering of human experience where faith is birthed between our unique path of lostness and found-ness (Romans 14:7-8, 22).

The Scroll proves that true Christianity is NOT an alternative religion. The only one who could open the Scroll was Christ (Revelation 5:5). What most know as Christianity is what I call CHURCHIANITY, and its no wonder so many have rejected it. I’ve never met anyone who has rejected true Christianity. Each week my challenge is deconstructing Churchianity so that true Christianity can shine through.

The Scroll resets priorities. It’s a certificate of divorce that reminds us that religion got us off track and we are prone to do it again.  As we’ll see in the coming weeks, we don’t go to Heaven, Heaven comes to us. There is no temple in the bright city that is coming. Thus, our construction of icons of egoic power, our elite postures of certainty, and our prejudices against all others who do the same, only foster separation, disunion and hatred. Clearly if we don’t like diversity, we will hate the Kingdom of Heaven.

Modern Churchianity has made Revelation into a book designed to scare people into it’s system of belief. But the Scroll warns us of something much larger, namely that those who miss Divine Union (knowing) do so because they placed faith in an institution or delivery system. They gained religion and missed God-the very definition of Atheism.

Since our institutions of power and certainty give us an identity, revelation depicts a painful, even bloody or fiery process of purging ourselves from their grasp. But it will happen! Everything that is false (Pseudo) about us is tied up in our religious systems.

The scroll represents the divorce process that allows the truest part of ourselves to liberate and emerge to join in God.

666: The Number of the Beast

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The book of Revelation contains the following riddle:

“This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.” (Revelation 13:18)

The recipients of this letter didn’t find this a difficult riddle because they lived within the context of these biblical writings. Over 2000 years later, the riddle is bloated with conjecture, assumption, and threat. So what is the Beast? Perhaps we can do better than an 80’s rock band album cover.

Last week I said Revelation is a semi-cryptic letter to local churches on a particular “mail” route (Revelation 1:4, also ch. 1-3). The writer, John, was in exile on the Island of Patmos. The early Christian church was facing tremendous persecution from Rome. Many scholars now agree that the quasi-cryptic writing was to help the persecuted church to be made aware of all that was happening and about to happen without exposing them to greater persecution.

This historical context (as I introduced last week) illuminates the writing in this book far more than a futuristic interpretation. Since the events prophesied in Revelation were “soon to take place” (Rev 1:1, 22:10) it wasn’t difficult for the readers to assemble the cast of characters which prepared the faithful.

Revelation depicts the “Beast” as a dual identity by stating there is a first and second beast (ch 13). You ready for this?

The First Identity of the Beast: Rome

“The first beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns… (Rev 13:1)”  and ” The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated (Rev 17:9). Beyond the bible, Roman historian Suetonius called Rome the city on seven hills, and the Roman coin during the time of Vespasian featured the goddess Roma who personified the city of Rome.

Without being dogmatic, it’s easy to conclude from archaeology and history that the beast rising out of the sea is a literary term describing the biggest, most oppressive superpower around. That could only be Rome.

Further proof is in ch. 17:9-10, “They are seven kings, five have fallen,”  These are: 1. Julius Caesar 2. Augustus Caesar 3. Tiberius 4. Gaius /Caligula 5. Claudius “…one is…” 6. Nero “the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while.” 7. Galba-June 9th AD 68, 15th Jan AD69.

The Jewish war AD 67-AD70 is documented by Josephus and other Roman historians, recording the slaughter of over a million people. Rome severely persecuted Christians and Jews until after the death of Nero ~AD 68. Then Rome was in civil war until the destruction of the temple in AD 70.  These dates of Nero’s reign and the war following correspond precisely to the 42 months described in Revelation 13:5.  Also note that in 11:1-3, the temple is still there. This is clearly prior to its destruction in AD 70.

Here the bible aligns with many extra-biblical historical documents. Ignoring these facts and believing in a future beast erodes the credibility of the bible and ultimately contaminates what Christianity is all about.

The second identity of the Beast: Nero Caesar

Roman numerals and the hebrew alphabet were common knowledge to John’s audience. The first beast (identity) was Rome it thus the second beast (identity) was that of a specific man. The Hebrew spelling of Neron Qsr (Neron Kaiser) adds up to precisely 666.

Nero was the worst offender when it comes to persecuting Christians and Jews. Roman rule insisted the prideful caesars be worshiped. Nero was an abomination in the worst sense by the devout faithful. To say he was the anti-christ would be an understatement.

Historical and archaeological data repeatedly points to Nero Caesar as the beast prophesied in the book of Revelation.

I realize that this creates a lot of questions, especially for those who are reluctant to embrace post-millennialism. This perspective sets off a domino effect within our theological grids. It requires we move our faith from the evacuation and abandonment of the world to its restoration and healing.  Frankly, I don’t think many in the modern church really want that.

The threat of tribulation and armageddon are huge power plays that dissolve like an Alka-Seltzer in light of biblical history. We must lay down our “otherness” and exclusivity, and recognize that the New World is not waiting for the elite of faith in one-day land, but is here, now among us, if we let love set our agendas.

What will it be for you? As long as the church sees the world as a lost cause, its mission and message will at best be a game of “Red-Rover” with our cities. As we can see, the bible is actually very easy to believe.

Since the bible “reveals” eschatology so clearly, what is keeping more people from believing in its message?

Since the Beast is the most fearful event facing the church, what is the church to do with this biblical knowledge? 

*If you would like a deeper dive, please click HERE to review my expanded summary called the HAPPY ENDING.

 

 

 

Why the Tribulation is NOT coming.

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We live in a world where our news reports almost exclusively BAD NEWS. This plays on our fears and insecurities and makes the herd mentality pessimistic while it simultaneously makes our government, certain corporations, and our military machine richer and stronger. By selling us scarcity and evil all day, we remain anesthetized, dependent, and distracted from the true abundant and generative trajectory of the world.

Religion and modern evangelical Christianity has also capitalized on bad news. The message of most churches is: “If you think that is bad, just wait for the tribulation right around the corner.” Fear is the lowest form of motivation but it is highly effective in people who are anesthetized, dependent, or distracted.

Fear will get us to sign up for religion. In fact, most in today’s religions don’t have a faith so much as they have fire insurance policy. For roughly the last 150 years, the Church has threatened us with the immanent Great Tribulation. Since childhood, I’ve heard countless sermons claiming we are entering the tribulation and that Jesus is returning any moment. Their proof however, was not in the bible, but the evening news, and the tribulation has eluded us for centuries.

This great pessimism is a result of believing a Pre-tribulation, Pre-Millenial eschatology (end times). While most Americans will say they are confused by eschatology, most are not aware of an alternative.

There is an alternative perspective on how this all ends! 

  • There’s a happy ending.
  • The trajectory of the world is toward the restoration of all things.
  • Scripture, like Ken Wilber, calls us to: Wake Up, Clean Up, Grow Up, and Show up.

The eschatology I’m sharing in this series is called POST-MILLENNIALISM.

The Great Tribulation is NOT going to happen, because it already happened in A.D. 70 with the Fall of Jerusalem. Those who know their bible will want proof of this, so I have provided a detailed introduction and explanation HERE of the Book of Revelations, so you can check it all out for yourself. Put on your floaties, I take you to the deep end.

For those who prefer the cliff notes, here’s two considerations from the bible:

The book of Revelations is a “Revealing.” It’s not a cryptic message for 2000 years into the future, it was a quasi-cryptic message written to the churches on the mail route (Revelations 1:11) in the Roman Empire. Scholars now date the book around A.D. 60 not A.D 90, and the Greek texts clearly reveal my first point: that the context was not a global tribulation, but a local tribulation.

This is proven by the term “Oiko-mene” (Revelations 3:10) which is commonly mis-translated as “Earth” or “whole world“, but actually means “Roman Empire. The Greek word, which is NOT used, for whole world is “cosmos” or “Gea” (land, earth). Jesus even uses the same term “oiko-mene” when talking about the same events in Matthew 24:13. Another proof it was a local event is that Jesus warns those in Judea to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24: 16), this is not possible if it is a global event.

My second point is that Revelations clearly states at it’s onset that it’s revealing things that will “soon take place” (v.1) and that the “time is near” (v.3). Jesus, when he is talking about “End Times” in Matthew ch.24, clearly says to his disciples that “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt 24:34). And just in case you were’t convinced, Revelation ends by reminding us that all the things in the book were to soon take place (Revelations 22:6).

In these two basic areas, Scripture clearly says the tribulation was local and approximate to the time of its writing.  So what about the Beast, the anti-Christ, the seals, the trumpets, the dragon, the scroll and all the imagery in the rest of the book? What do we do with the big magical, science fiction, paranormal things?

This is where the post-millennial perspective gets really interesting. I will highlight a few of these in the coming weeks, but if you want a deep dive right away, then click HERE to get my details on the Happy Ending.

I know what I’m presenting may seem incredible if this is your first hearing. You may wonder; “How have I never heard anything about this?” You may feel like I’m deconstructing the heart of your deepest beliefs. Please keep an open mind. I would not deconstruct this if I did not have something much, much bigger to put in its place.

Reframing our eschatology requires an overhaul on our other beliefs. Don’t be afraid to do this. We’ll have to give up our prejudices, our separatism, and our power plays, but what we gain is totally worth it.

Revelations turns out to be TRUE.

 

 

 

 

What about the Rapture?

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The word “Rapture” is not in the bible. The word for “snatch, attack, plunder”  (arpodzo) is.

“For the Lord himself will descend from Heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and  with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

In the mid 90’s Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins wrote a fictional book series called “Left Behind” which is a spin off of the 1972 movie called “A Thief in the Night”. Both depict a global rapture event which usher in Armageddon. In the same way that most Christians derive their understanding of Hell from “Dante’s Inferno“, so most Christians adopt their eschatology (study of end times) from fictional writers and doomsday preachers.

John Nelson Darby was an English preacher who lived in the early 1800’s. He is considered the father of dispensationalism and the pre-tribulation rapture theology. Dispensationalism is when we chop up human/bible history into big buckets of time and then interpret scripture through the lens of each individual piece. (The buckets are: innocence, conscience, government, promise, law, grace) The last bucket is that of Millennial Kingdom (1000 year reign) which is always viewed as future and literal, and thus we call it the “END TIMES.”

Nearly 95% of modern Christians presuppose a dispensational, pre-tribulation, pre-millennial, eschatology. Most, however, are simply unaware of alternative perspectives. Strangely, Darby’s theology is only 150 years old, which begs some hard questions.

This view of eschatology could not have been the view of early Christian writers, so what was their eschatology?

The answer may shock you just as it did me. Keep an open mind in this process. Deconstructing deeply entrenched beliefs creates soul- friction and ego push-back. We can’t remodel the kitchen without removing the old one.

Paul interprets the bible in Galatians 4:24 allegorically. This proves that a literal translation of the bible need not be our sole mode of interpreting. A good hermeneutic (interpretation) is able to find the most likely meaning to the mind of the writer, not the most literal translation. Interpretation must be in context or our beliefs get weird.

I mention this because I’m about suggest that the above rapture passage requires some context. Before any literalist accuses me of heresy, may I remind them that Jesus said to cut off your hand if it causes you to sin (Mark 9:43).

So what about the Rapture?

While I’m never dogmatic about eschatology, there are compelling reasons from scripture to reframe our rapture narratives.

Jesus said; “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst (entos- inside) of you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

This is the closest, cleanest answer from Jesus answering the specific question of when the Kingdom of God would come. He didn’t mention a rapture. He also said that “No one knows the day or hour” (Matt 24:36). JESUS WAS NOT A DISPENSATIONALIST!  Jesus actually brings the end together with the present and the past. The kingdom is here and now while not fully complete. IT’S TIMELESS.

Throughout scripture the trumpet blow ushers in the king. And while Paul may have a two-story world view (Heaven up there, earth below) I don’t think the best interpretation is that we will literally fly away up into the clouds like the “Left Behind” series depicts.

What I can suggest is that all union with God is a form of rapture. In small moments of common grace like a baby grabbing our pinky, a beautiful coastal sunset, the anticipated embrace of a loved one, God is incrementally rapturing us into the dimension of the kingdom in the midst. In moments of worship, perfect meditation, or illumination through study or discovery, God is rapturing us into the dimension of the kingdom that is perfectly adjacent to that of our distraction. And finally on the day when our bodies breath their last, we are not forgotten nor lost, but raised and joined to everyone in a final (complete) rapture where we can remain in the kingdom (divine union) of God.

If it disturbs you to reconsider the rapture from this perspective, then let me ask you “Why?” Can you see the duality, racism, and tribal belief built into pre-trib, dispensational eschatology? Can you see the pride and sense of “otherness” ? We don’t want the kingdom if it has to be here. We’ve concluded a kingdom of love won’t have those we don’t like, so it must be elsewhere.

What happened to loving our enemy?

The story of God’s reign is not one of revenge, or evening the score. Join me as we watch it go from a manger to a cross, a garden to a city, and a divorce to a new marriage celebration.