“This calls for wisdom and understanding” Revelation 17:9
Plot: John (not necessarily the Apostle John) is given visions of God in Heaven, his attendants and angels, and shown symbolic prophecies of the future, including the visitation of God’s anger as plagues on humanity, and the Final Judgment.
For convenience I abandoned the King James version and read this Book from the Good News Bible’s modern translation.
I felt certain this was a must-read to understand references in Western literature for the next two thousand years, so I read it slowly and carefully, taking notes to think over.
After some letters addressed to the seven churches of that time, John’s visions show God on his throne, surrounded by angels, elders, and four creatures covered in eyes (a lion, a bull, a humanoid and an eagle). Christ is symbolised as a Lamb, sacrificed and risen from the dead. There are many items presented in 7s : seven torches, seven stars, seven spirits, seven gifts, etc.
A scroll with seven seals is produced, and only the Lamb is worthy to break the seals. The first four seals release the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (although they are not named as such) while the latter seals break cause earthquakes, eclipses and the moon turning blood red, hail, blood and fire raining down, the seas turning to blood, stars to fall from the sky, plagues of stinging locusts and mass deaths. The trees and grasses are burnt, and the seas rendered lifeless.
Satan is symbolised as a dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and besides his armies of fallen angels he is partnered with The Beast and The False Prophet who can both work miracles to deceive mankind. Seven Angels of God are given seven bowls filled with God’s anger to pour over the earth, causing the seven plagues (boils, seas and rivers turning to blood, heat, darkness, earthquakes, hail)
The city known as The Famous Prostitute or Great Babylon (presumably Rome, sitting on its seven hills) which has seduced all the Kings of the World is destroyed in an hour. The Devil is imprisoned for a thousand years, but will be released for the final battle where he will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, like The Beast and The False Prophet before him. Then with the second coming of Jesus, the Final Judgment of the Dead will be made on their earthly deeds. A New Heaven and New Earth will be made, and a New Jerusalem made from gold and jewels will be sent from Heaven.
I was wondering if some contemporary readers saw the events of the first century AD after Christ’s death, including the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (see below) as having already met some of these prophecies, and found mention online of Preterism which is essentially just that, while Medieval readers saw the fall of Rome, and modern day believers see a warning of a future doomsday still to come.
I had intended to read Jospehus’ The Jewish War at this point, but after three tries I couldn’t even finish the first chapter. I was completely ignorant that the Jews has rebelled against Roman Rule in the middle of the first century AD, and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and so was motivated to learn more, but I simply couldn’t persist with Josephus, so settled for a quick read of the Wikipedia article. 😛
Personal rating: We have returned to the angry God of the Old Testament, blighting and destroying not just sinful man, but the lower plants and animals, and the very planets and stars. As a must read, I give it a 6/10, as an pleasant read to pass the time it only gets a 3/10.
Other reading: Sharpe’s Triumph by Bernard Cornwell, second in the Sharpe series. Richard Sharpe, now a Sergeant in the British Army, is still in India, fighting the Mahratta Confederacy and falling victim to the evil Obadiah Hakeswill’s plans for revenge. A great read, probably more realistic than Sharpe’s Tiger in the horrors of infantry warfare, but not as exciting or escapist as its predecessor. Gets only a 4/5 because Tiger was so good.
So, that’s the Holy Bible finished, and two hundred books read and blogged. To celebrate I have changed the appearance of my blog. Let me know what you think. The accompanying photo is a snap of the Bibles in my house, including a Welsh translation belonging to my mother (I can’t read a word of it 😦 ) and my copy of the New King James gifted to me by my wonderful wife.