In the Revelation it’s 666. But what is the Mark of the Beast? A microchip? Nope.Continue reading
This series of posts is my attempt to demonstrate that the language of the Revelation was actually symbolic code that was very intelligible to a first-century Jewish Christian living in the Roman Empire. I’m re-writing the Revelation to communicate the same message, but to a twenty-first century American Christian audience, using symbols we understand. This particular section parallels Revelation chapter 20. If you want to catch up, here’s a PDF of the entire series so far: The Revelation to JR. – Chapters 1-20.
Then I saw an angel descending from Heaven, holding the key to the bottomless pit and enormous hand-cuffs. He seized the dragon – that ancient monster, who is the Deceiver and Prosecutor, and bound him for a billion years and tossed him into the pit, then locked and sealed it over him, so that he couldn’t deceive the nations anymore.
At least until the billion years were up… (after that, he has to be let out for a little bit).Continue reading
This series of posts is my attempt to demonstrate that the language of the Revelation was actually symbolic code that was very intelligible to a first-century Jewish Christian living in the Roman Empire. I’m re-writing the Revelation to communicate the same message, but to a twenty-first century American Christian audience, using symbols we understand. This particular section parallels Revelation chapter 19. If you want to catch up, here’s a PDF of the entire series so far: The Revelation to JR. – Chapters 1-19.
After all that, I heard what sounded like an enormous multitude in Heaven, and together they said,
We pledge allegiance to God! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
Because his judgments are true and just.
He has judged the great whore who corrupted the earth with her adultery,
And he has given her what she deserves for the blood of his servants.
And they cried out once more,
Pledge allegiance to God! She burns forever, and the smoke rises up like a just incense forever.
Then the fifty congresspersons and the four living creatures stood, placed their hands over their hearts and pledged allegiance to God who is seated behind the desk by saying,
This is truth! We pledge allegiance to God!
This series of posts is my attempt to demonstrate that the language of the Revelation was actually symbolic code that was very intelligible to a first-century Jewish Christian living in the Roman Empire. I’m re-writing the Revelation to communicate the same message, but to a twenty-first century American Christian audience, using symbols we understand. This particular section parallels Revelation chapter 18. If you want to catch up, here’s a PDF of the entire series so far: The Revelation to JR. – Chapters 1-18.
Then I saw another angel descending from Heaven, wielding incredible authority. His beauty lit up the whole world. He cried out,
Fallen, fallen is the Third Reich
It has become a home for demons, haunted by every kind of evil spirit, every disgusting bird and awful creature.
All the world’s nations have drunk the juice of her adultery,
The politicians have committed adultery with her,
And the corporations of the world have gotten wealthy from the power of her luxury.
This series of posts is my attempt to demonstrate that the language of the Revelation was actually symbolic code that was very intelligible to a first-century Jewish Christian living in the Roman Empire. I’m re-writing the Revelation to communicate the same message, but to a twenty-first century American Christian audience, using symbols we understand. This particular section parallels Revelation chapter 13 (and a little bit of 14). If you want to catch up, here’s a PDF of the entire series so far: The Revelation to JR – Chapters 1-13.
The Dragon straddled the earth, from sea to shining sea. And I saw a Beast rising out of the shining sea. It had fifty dollar signs all around its thirteen heads, and each head was decorated with a presidential seal, covered in blasphemous names. As the Beast emerged, I got a better look at its uniform – it was wearing a redcoat covered in a swastika imposed over a rising sun, and the Beast was carrying a hammer and sickle. One of its heads looked dead, like it had been sacrificed, or like two fallen towers, but its mortal wound had been healed.
The whole earth saw this and was amazed, so they followed the Beast. They worshipped the Dragon, because he gave the Beast its authority, and they worshiped the Beast. They said,
“Who is like the Beast? Who can win a war against it?”
The Beast was given a mouth that spoke prideful and blasphemous slogans, and it was allowed to exercise its authority for 42 months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming God’s name and God’s Temple (which is those who live with God in Heaven). The Beast was also allowed to wage war on the saints, and to conquer them. It was given authority over every ethnicity and nation and language and people group. Everyone who lives on the earth will worship it, everyone who’s name has not been recorded in the Lamb’s book of life since the creation of the world.
Anyone who has ears should listen to this:
“If you’re taken captive, then you’re going into captivity.
If you kill with a sword, then you’re going to be killed with a sword.”
Saints, pay attention. That’s a reminder for you to stick it out and stay faithful!
Then I saw another Beast that came down out of the purple mountains majesty and across the fruited plains. This second Beast had two horns – just like a lamb – but it spoke like a dragon. It speaks for the first Beast, and does everything on its behalf. It leads the whole world to worship the first Beast, the one whose mortal wound was healed. It performs signs and miracles – it even calls fire down from the sky in full view of everyone. It’s all these signs that it performs on behalf of the first Beast that let the second Beast deceive the people of earth.
It tells them to buy televisions so they can view the image of the Beast it helped them to create, this beast that had fallen like twin towers and yet lived. The second Beast was allowed to breathe life into the image of the Beast on the televisions so that it could speak to the people of the earth, and it was allowed to cause anyone who did not follow the way of the Beast to be killed.
The second Beast causes everyone, important or unimportant, rich or poor, first world and third world, to receive a mark on their hearts and on their wallets and purses, so that no one can buy or sell who doesn’t have the mark. The mark is the name of the first Beast, the number of its name. You need to be clever to figure this out, but with a little effort, you can calculate the number of the Beast, because it’s the number of the title on its seal. The number itself is 392.
Then I looked and woah! The Lamb was standing on Capitol Hill!
And he had the 500 billion with him, those who have his name and his father’s name written on their hearts and wallets. I heard a voice from heaven that sounded like a tidal wave or a loud jet engine, and it was as musical as a majestic symphony.
They sang a new song for the one seated at the desk and for the four creatures and the fifty congresspersons. No one could learn the song except for the 500 billion who had been bought from the earth. They haven’t been sleeping around; they’ve stayed faithful. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They’ve been bought from among humanity; they’re the tithe of humanity, offered to God and to the Lamb. They’re completely blameless – not even a little white lie passes their lips!
The Beard Goes Home is an ongoing chronicle of my trip to Israel, Cairo and Rome from November 3-18. If you want more information on a picture, hover your mouse over it for a pop-up caption. If you want to see a bigger version of the picture, click on it.
After we visited Armageddon, Thomas and I made our way to the Mediterranean coast of Israel, to the ruins of Caesarea Maritima. It’s a beautiful ruined harbor built by Herod the Great just before Jesus was born (10-8 BCE).
After the last of the Hasmonean kings died out, Rome conquered Israel and made Herod the Great king of Israel. Since Herod wasn’t technically Jewish, the Jews were not thrilled with this decision, and Herod spent his entire reign walking a fine line between sucking up to Rome and keeping the Jews happy enough that they wouldn’t revolt. Because the only thing Rome liked less than an unconquered territory was a territory they’d already conquered that was unruly.
For all Herod’s faults, he was an incredible builder (remember – he was the one who first turned Masada into a luxurious, nearly impenetrable fortress). His dream was to create a harbor in Israel that would rival Alexandria. He came to the shores of the Mediterranean and literally created a city out of nothing. The city was a marvel of the Mediterranean – everyone who saw it agreed that Herod had accomplished his goal.
The coast had no natural harbor, no natural water breaks, so Herod utilized cutting edge technologies to create an artificial harbor. He built giant wooden boxes and floated them out onto the water. Once they were in place, they were filled with volcanic ash that, upon contact with water, hardened into a salt-water-resistant concrete. The breakwaters gradually dissolved and after a few hundred years (and a couple of earthquakes), the harbor sank. Today, you can still see the remnants beneath the waves.
Because Caesar Augustus had made him king of Israel, Herod named the city Caesarea (Herod’s son, Philip, built his own Caesarea north of the Sea of Galilee; to differentiate between them, Herod’s became known as ‘Caesarea on the Sea’ or Caesarea Maritima, while Philip’s became Caesarea Philippi). Facing the harbor, on the highest point in the city, Herod built a temple to Roma and Augustus, his patron. As you can imagine, this infuriated the Jews, so to appease them, Herod massively renovated the Second Temple, transforming it into the largest temple complex in the ancient world for nearly 100 years (Rome destroyed it in the First Jewish War in 70 CE). After Rome was Christianized under Constantine, the Temple was leveled and a large octagonal church built in its place.
In addition to the temple and harbor, Herod also built a Circus and Theater to entertain the citizens of Caesarea. The Circus held chariot races, and possibly gladiatorial events by the end of the first century CE. Each of the buildings could hold 10,000 persons and both looked out onto the Mediterranean. Herod also built himself a massive, luxurious palace (of course), complete with a sweet-water pool for public bathing.
As the Christian movement began to spread, Caesarea played a major role. The apostle Philip moved here (Acts 8:40), and the first Gentile convert to Christianity, Cornelius was stationed here (Acts 10). Paul used the port at Caesarea frequently in his travels.
After Herod Antipas died and Rome took over direct control of Israel, the Roman governors stayed here. When Paul is brought before Festus (Acts 25), he is brought to Herod’s Palace in Caesarea. You can walk into the ruins of this room today when you visit.
In the 600s, Caesarea fell to Muslim invaders, who leveled the 4th century church building and constructed a mosque over it. But in the 1000s, Crusaders reconquered the city and tore down the Muslim buildings, constructing a new church building and massive wall around the city. In the 1200s, a huge Muslim army besieged the city and took it.
Maybe because he was sick of all the drama, that general leveled Caesarea and abandoned it. The city lay that way until it was rediscovered at the turn of the 20th century. It’s still being excavated, but it’s now also a popular vacation spot. You can fish, snorkel, swim or lay on the beach. It’s not quite the bustling harbor town Herod imagined, but it’s got a little something for everyone.
I can’t help but see Caesarea Maritima as a fascinating chapter in Israel’s history. Before Herod’s renovations, the Second Temple was a pathetic echo of the temple Solomon had built. But thanks to Herod, it became the envy of everyone who saw it. But Herod had no interest in God (remember – he’s the one who tried to kill baby Jesus!). He renovated the Temple to prop up his own political power. He knew he had to keep the Jews – well, not happy exactly, but at least not miserable enough to revolt. And so while he labored on his true passion – a monument to his own greatness – he also transformed God’s Temple into the envy of the ancient world.
Of course, then Jesus said, “Tear this Temple down, and I’ll raise it again in three days.” And while all that’s left of Herod the Great is a bunch of ruined, excavated palaces, the baby he tried to kill has had a gorgeous, enormous house of worship built over every spot his followers even think he might have done something. Which is a nice commentary on what happens to the guys who trust the kingdoms they build instead of the kingdom of God, right?