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Revelation Study: 17 - 22 review and 'final thoughts'

Produced by TheMediaDesk, ©2021 and 2020
Posted on CCPC's website 2022

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
- Confucius

17
     The City of Babylon, cast as a Las Vegas showgirl, is standing in for every bad thing practiced for fun and profit from history, everywhere. The city / woman starts her fall, and those that have had a good time by/for/with her, end up in the same shape soon enough.

     It is also in this chapter that the failings of the translators of the 1560 and 1611 (and other) English texts come to the sharpest focus. In the chapter study we looked at several of these, and tried to gently explain why they did it that way, we'll take the kid gloves off in a few minutes, stand by for that.
     It is also through 17 and the next chapter that we took an extended look at the "women of Revelation" and probably upset a few people with what we saw when we took the rose colored (or at least rosary colored) glasses off.

18
     The end of Babylon, and the end of those who thought everything was just fine. Those would be primarily the merchants and others that profited from doing business on 'that side of the tracks'.
     It was in this chapter that we even threw some dust up in the air. Yes we did.

19
     John is back to first person narration and reports a loud crowd singing praises to God. Then we see part of the marriage of the Lamb and John gets in trouble for trying to worship an angel (the first time). Then we see Him on a great white horse.
     Later in the chapter we talked about Saint Francis and how the birds of chapter 19 probably weren't the same ones he preached to and why... for one, a 25 pound vulture with a nine foot wingspan even he wouldn't call his "sweet little sister".

20
     We look into the Abyss and then discuss the Millennial Kingdom, something which isn't easy to do in Revelation because in John's book, periods of "a thousand years" come and go like bargains at a swap meet.
     Then Gog and Magog (which is actually Prince Gog from the Kingdom of Magog) stop by and say 'hi' and it is a short visit before they too end up toast. Then there is another bunch of corpses standing around waiting, and we find out that Death and his sidekick Hades (which we met as the last horse of the Four Horsemen in chapter 6) had to be living beings of some sort because they are thrown into the Lake of Fire while ALIVE!

21
     The Earth, the planet itself, as well as heaven (both, apparently, the sky and the abode of God) are now destroyed and remade.
     Then John gets to see the New everything, and measure it, and take an inventory of construction materials. And tells us that various entities are named on the features of the city, but doesn't specify which names are there.

22
     The ending of the Apocalypse is almost idyllic. No, actually, it IS idyllic, in the truest sense of the word. Until John gets scolded a second time for the same thing he'd done before.
     God puts together a New World that recreates, with certain updates and general improvements for a larger population, the Garden of Eden. And if you accept HIS terms, you're invited to move in.

End Study Chapter Review

Begin Overall Review, with a few observations and other 'stuff':

     "In The Beginning...." you were warned that this study was a marathon. And there is no question that it was a long haul, with a wide assortment of tangents and detours through the world of the Apostle John, a jaunt through Jewish, and Greek, and Roman, and other, Histories. And we've seen some great works of art with The Apocalypse as their theme. There have been related quotes from a handful of notable theologians, as well as an assortment of those with no particular religious leanings either way, all at least somewhat related to the topic at hand. And, in the classroom anyway, we've listened to modern music with overtones from the book in it, whether the original composer realized it or not.

     So what have we learned? We'll begin at the 'beginning'.

     At the top of every study was a statement about how the various translators have 'turned the heat down' in the language of the text. Through the study, we've seen several examples of that, and in some cases, the differences have been significant. We even discussed why that was done, and the consensus seemed to be that they had the intent of making the book readable by the general public without scaring anybody to death. This writer maintains that it may have also been a lack of imagination by those translators that John, and his 'muse' for this outing (the Spirit!) couldn't have meant to make some of the imagery as disturbing and flatly terrifying as it was if you do a tight reading of the Greek with the allusions to the context that goes back to places like Egypt and beyond to Abraham's homeland beyond the river that figures so prominently in Revelation, the Euphrates.
     In this study, we have maintained all along that the idea of apocalyptic literature, like John's book, was exactly to Scare The Hell out of those that had it read out loud to them, as the instructions in the book tell us to do in 1 : 3.
     When you get into the things that GOD is most upset with humans about, and yes, all sin is SIN, but some sins appear to upset Him more than others, such as idolatry, the killing of innocents, and the leading of people astray for fun and profit... and no, that's from John's Apocalypse, not the evening news.

     Hang on, there's a question, yes, you, over on the right.....

"But do we need to understand the Sumerian legends to understand Revelation?"

     Good question. We'll answer with both 'yes' and 'no'. Perhaps mostly 'no', but please give 'yes' a fair shot before you change the channel. OK?

     The Desk has spent over thirty years researching all manner of non-fiction topics, many of which came into play in our study of the Apostle John's Apocalypse. Years before our present study, we took apart the legend of King Arthur and his Round Table and the various stories wrapped up in that package, like the Holy Grail. A few years ago we stood around a crossroads in Mississippi with a guitar to see if you could "sell your soul to the Devil", well, sort of. There's also been technical articles about things like Voice over Internet Protocol, as well as a look at why the Federal "Do No Call" list wouldn't work (and it doesn't work, gotten any auto warranty calls lately?)
     So, for this writer, it is almost second nature when there is a reference in Revelation to an abyss in the ocean, to go see what's down there, be it in the real world such as the Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench in the Pacific, or the mythical one where Enki (god of 'water') and Abzu (fresh water god) and their Sumerian friends deal with Tiamat (female oceanic dragon) that rises from her own Abyss. Well, a dragon who's really unpleasant rising from the ocean.... anybody else want to re-watch the original Godzilla movie? Which is another topic the Desk dealt with at length some time ago. See links below.
     (and no, Godzilla isn't a 'dragon', but one of his friends was, we explain why in the article! See link below.)

     So while you may not need to understand all the implications of the imagery of the book, isn't it easier to come to grips with some of it, and outside references to it, if you have some idea of what they meant to John as well as the people the Apostle was writing to?
     As we've mentioned, a significant percentage of the locals in the "Twelve Churches in Asia" were Jews, with all of that baggage attached, the rest were various sorts of Gentiles, many of whom would be of Ionian extraction as the area had been before it was taken by the the Persian Empire from the east, and then Hellenistic empire of Alexander the Great, and then to end up under Rome's heel. So there was all of that mythology floating around as well.
     It pays for us to remember that, unlike many Bible College Courses and Sunday School Classes, the Bible was NOT written in a vacuum. These were real people, with real lives and concerns and things that happened with and to them, that while it served God's plan on His timetable, it may have left them speechless, or worse, at the time.
     Which means that when John refers to one of the cities as having the Throne of Satan in it, the people of Pergamum knew what he meant. For us to understand it, it doesn't hurt to go check it out, and then learn that in just a few years the Roman Emperor at the time will decide that he was more important than the traditional pagan god being honored in their temple, and have it rededicated to himself. After that, maybe more of the locals would agree with John that Satan had set up shop there.

     It also makes it a lot easier to explain something from the text to somebody with a question when you know what Gog and Magog were, how that term has changed over the ages like we mentioned above. And then you see Gog and Magog on a map of Asia from six hundred years ago, and things get a bit more interesting. Right? That map turned up awhile back during the production of an article looking for Prester John. So, yes, all that 'stuff', or at least a lot of it, has come into play with this current effort.

     What all this information does is fill in the details of the painting of the Apocalypse. It's like seeing a photograph of Mount Rushmore. You see the four faces and that's fine. It's not until you see a close up of the image that you see the small triangles of stone in the pupil of the giant face that makes it look like Jefferson is looking back at you that you realize the total concept the original artist had in mind. And then there are those of us that want to go down and explore the 'hall of records' that was constructed below and behind Lincoln. But for those that just want to stay on at the visitor's center and admire the sculpture, then catch the bus to go see how the carving is progressing on Crazy Horse, which is just down the road, they are free to do so. Meanwhile, some of us are going to sneak off and go gold prospecting in the Black Hills.
     As with our tour of South Dakota, there are those that will walk through Revelation and never have a second thought about where else they've seen a scorpion the size of a horse that was armed with a bow and arrow. That's OK, if they ask, we can show them a carving of one from Assyria and explain how they were 'soldiers of fortune' that worked for the 'old gods', and point out that now they work for the One True God. Which is a feature of Revelation, many of the creatures that are identifiable are representations of the various pagan gods, and they are all subservient to YHWH.

The Conclus.... Well, what passes for a conclusion:

     And now we shall consider whether or not we are better off now than we were over six months ago when we began this study. Are we better Christians, better members of His Church, or better just plain people, for having waded through all that?
     In a way, the answer is "absolutely". Even if everything we read and all the historical references and trivial facts about obscure Egyptian gods are forgotten in the next few months, the fact that we Did go through it, and discuss it, and then continue into the next chapter, is worth something. And, there is no law that says that in a year or so we can't dust this study off, perhaps refresh some of the outside references with new discoveries from deep in the sands of the Middle East, and do it all again!
     Besides, your education is one of the very few things that cannot be taken away from you in this life.

     Would this writer have done anything different through this study? Not really, fortunately, we had a long enough preparatory period, and enough feedback from various interested parties to put it together and, hopefully, make it all readable.

Just a side note about the production of the study:
     Have you ever seen what this many Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Sumerian, Egyptian... and etc, words do to a modern American English spellchecker? There's been times during this work that there were dozens of red and blue squiggly lines all over the page. And while colorful, and occasionally they'll make an interesting pattern, it is distracting to say the least.
[NOTICE: There are too many errors in the open document to continue checking.]

     In any case, the Apocalypse is finished, or at least this study of it is, we thank you for your time and patience.

A few final resource links:

https://art.thewalters.org/detail/2832/cylinder-seal-with-scorpion-man-shooting-at-winged-creatures/

A webpage on the temple in Pergamon: https://turkisharchaeonews.net/object/temple-trajan-pergamon

Media Desk articles mentioned:
Godzilla, and friends and (while we're at it) Dragons as well http://themediadesk.com/files9/godzilla.htm

And about King Arthur:

"Don't let it be forgot,
    That once there was a spot,
      For one brief, shining moment
        that was known as....
          Camelot "
http://themediadesk.com/newfiles3/camelot.htm

The study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

http://centralparkchurchofchrist.org

With the assistance and cooperation of The Media Desk.