Joyce requested this one–a hymn that brings Revelation and a few other aspects of the Bible into very sharp focus: The Man Comes Around, sung by Johnny Cash. “It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks…” That’s for sure.
Here’s another hymn, out of the Lutheran hymnal, that I’d never heard before–Behold a Host Arrayed in White, sung by The Lutheran Warbler. The imagery is from the Book of Revelation. So is the message.
I really ought to have learned by now that consulting “Bible scholars” is usually a waste of time.
But I was reading Ezekiel Chapter 1 yesterday, the vision of the “living creatures,” and I wanted to enrich my understanding. Because that’s a very difficult chapter!
Ezekiel was a scholar, a trained man: but that chapter is written by a man who is deeply frightened and terribly confused. The “living creatures” are cherubims, a familiar motif in the art and literature of the Ancient Near East. Ezekiel would have known all about them. But the way the chapter reads, it hasn’t been written by someone who has studied cherubims… but by someone who has seen them.
Enter Bible Scholars Inc. They are quick to spot parallels between Ezekiel’s vision and St. John’s Revelation. Both describe cherubims. Other motifs are repeated throughout.
There are also some differences in details–six wings for the cherubims, for instance, vs. four–which the Bible Scholars account for by saying this was how John crafted them to suit his own purpose.
In other words, he made it all up!
Not only made it up, but also got away with it. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Watch us put one over on the plebs.
Because that’s what they would do, they assume that was what Ezekiel and John did. Like Lord Chutt, they attribute their own low standards of character to everyone. I’m a stinker, so everyone else must be, too. I make things up! Therefore the writers of the Holy Scriptures made up everything!
How contemptible is this?
There are reliable Bible teachers out there. There have to be.
As someone who gets paid for making things up, and has received awards for doing it well, I declare the Bible doesn’t read like fiction. And I do know something about fiction. Gilgamesh is fiction and folklore. Homer write historical novels heavily influenced by oral tradition. It’s great fiction, but it’s still fiction.
I am as sure as I can be that Ezekiel wasn’t inventing anything. And I’ll bet he would have turned cartwheels if God had released him from being a prophet.
This song may be a little grim, but it comes from Revelation and Revelation is a book of warning; and warnings are supposed to be grim. But it does come with a happy ending for those who heed the warnings: the happiest ending of them all.
So this is Johnny Cash, with The Man Comes Around. Whoever has ears, let him hear.
One of the things I love about my work for the Chalcedon Foundation is that I’m always learning while I’m working. Not always learning entirely new things. More often, being shown something I really should have noticed before.
Today, editing an article by Martin Selbrede, I was reminded of the difference between “ye” and “thou,” especially in the King James Version of the Bible. “Ye” is plural–“all of you”–and “thou” is singular–“you, to whom I’m speaking.”
Which brings up Jesus’ warning to “the angel of the church in Laodicea” in Revelation Chapter 3. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth…” (verses 15-16).
How many times have I read that passage without realizing that Our Lord was not speaking to the whole congregation of that church, but only to a specific person–the “angel” of that church? And I think we can take “angel” not literally, but as a term for a human being who was that church’s guiding spirit–a pastor, a bishop, maybe even an apostle.
Indeed, all the warnings to all seven of the churches addressed in Chapters 2 and 3 are given to the angels of those churches. That would seem to imply a serious problem with the church leadership throughout Asia Minor–not at all surprising, in the light of the various Epistles by Paul, Peter, James, and John.
Now I have to re-order my thinking about those two chapters in Revelation. Maybe because I live in an age in which so much church leadership is for the birds–if even the birds would have it–Christ’s warning suddenly becomes more relevant. More timely. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48) applies to everyone of high position.
Some of the angels of today’s churches are going to have to do an awful lot of fast talking, come Judgment Day.
It’s getting to be that what I’ve stated in the headline is almost as controversial a claim today as it was in the First Century. I don’t think the rulers and big shots of our world like to hear it any more than the Roman Caesars did.
So let’s pump up the volume and say it again! Jesus Christ is Lord of all!
From time to time we have all encountered empty barrels making a loud noise about this being “a post-Christian age, you might as well get used to it” and learn to love pseudomarriage, abortion, transgenderism, and all the rest of it.
But actually we have yet to have our Christian Age. That can only come when Christ reigns in Heaven and on Earth; and it will last forever. So this can’t really be a post-Christian age. It’s just a lousy one.
Why does the Bible, especially in the Book of Revelation, depict Christ as it were joining in marriage to His church? Why do we speak of the marriage supper of the Lamb?
Because the world–and His church will eventually embrace the whole world, and the world His church–is not complete without Him! Creation, all Creation, will not be its true self until Christ Himself reigns over it!
That’s why God’s word speaks of it as marriage. Because in marriage two are joined into one flesh, one spirit: and each becomes more than it ever would have been, if left alone. Not that Christ needs anything from the world: except that we know God loves the world, loves us: otherwise the Father would not have sent the Son into the world, and the Son would not have spent His precious blood, His very life, for us.
These are high and holy things, difficult to grasp. So we keep trying.
In the meantime, we proclaim the Lordship of Christ and the truth of Christ: that He shall come again, He shall conquer, and He shall reign forever and ever.