The Dragon’s Army vs. the Lamb’s

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!

Book Review: Empire (Orson Scott Card)

Don't let the bad photoshop fool you... this is a wicked-awesome book!Anyone who reads Orson Scott Card – the author of the insanely awesome Ender saga – knows that he’s one of the best Science Fiction writers around.  His stories reflect what is best and worst about our natures, and use gripping, thrilling, so-awesome-you-have-to-read-it-twice narrative to do it.

Empire is no different.  It’s the story of the Second American Civil War.

The book feels as though it’s set tomorrow.  Foreign terrorists assassinate the President and Vice President, and shortly thereafter a group of either right- or left-wing radicals take over New York City, declaring themselves to be the liberators of America.  States quickly move to choose sides and the fighting begins.

What makes Card’s tale so compelling is the frightening plausibility of it.  Card’s America is as sharply divided along party lines as is ours, so this war is not fought across the Mason-Dixon line; instead, it’s red-state/blue-state, urban/rural.  The divisive, divided rhetoric could be taken from any number of email forwards so lovingly sent around – not to mention FOX News or CNN.

Perhaps most intriguing is Card’s comparison of America to Rome – not the Empire, but the Republic.

Card argues – through one of his more interesting characters – that America is not an Empire because were we to disappear as a nation today, our culture would not endure in the world the way Rome’s did.  Rather, America exists as did Rome at the end of her republic phase: broken by infighting and divisions, unable to stand strong on the world stage.

Only when Rome was united under a strong leader was she able to become probably the greatest empire the world had ever known.  And so Card begs us to ask, Will we follow those currents of history, ride along in Rome’s wake?

One of the more inflamatory passages in the book sums his probing well: “We don’t want individual liberty because we don’t want individual responsibility.  We want somebody else to take care of us.  If we had a dictator who did a better job of it than our presenty system, then as long as he pretended to respect Congress, we’d lick his hands like a dog.

Bottom line: A great, quick thriller that will make you rethink your politics.

Bonus!  Card just released a sequel called Hidden Empire.  I can’t wait to read it!