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RIDING THE WAVES
SLAPPING AT FLIES
There are two common ways used by which to deal with those pesky flies that like to share our house, they are: either swat them one-by-one, or, shut the screen door. For myself, I like the idea of shutting the screen door. But I find, at least in the realm of Bible study, that most people would rather use the easy method.
In the Sunday School class I attend, the mens' adult class, we are taking many months to study the Book of Revelation, a very complicated book that, in my opinion, can never be understood with any certainty until the events presented have come to pass. But in spite of the impossibility of the task, we all like to stand up to the challenge with the hope that we can overcome the impossibility barrier.
The Book of Revelation seems to me to be a rather straightforward book, fairly easy to understand, at least certain parts of it are clearly laid out so the reader can easily follow the intent of the writings. And I assumed that what I see in the book is what most everyone would see, since what I read is what is said, not up for individual interpretation. But this I find is not to be the case.
Let me give you an example or two of what I'm talking about. In the first chapter of the book we find Jesus telling John to write what he sees. He says John is to address the book to those people who will be most effected by the events in the Book. Jesus, as we know, is the Head of the Church. Jesus spent His time here on earth, died for the Church: and since then has been preparing the way for the Church. John is one of the leaders of the Church Jesus is working with.
At the end of the first chapter of the book of Revelation, we find Jesus standing amidst some candlesticks like the ones described in the Tabernacle and the Temple. Jesus tells us that these candlesticks represent the Church. To insure that we will fully understand who the Book is written to, Jesus said that the stars He holds in His hand are the pastors (“angels”) of the churches.
Moving on, we discover that the second and third chapters of the Book are warnings, and promises to certain at the churches of the time of the writing, which many, if not most commentators will declare are examples of the churches which exist in any age. The first part of each of the letters consist of a commendation (where warranted) and a dire warning to those churches and individuals who are not living up to expectation.
John TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Rev 1:4-5)
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, AND SEND IT UNTO THE SEVEN CHURCHES. (Rev 1:10-11) [Take special note how the Jews are excluded from the contents of this letter, the Book of Revelation.]
As I said in the beginning of this story, to whom the book is intended appears to me to be easily detected. My guess is that the intended reader is the Church, that is, the Christians that comprise the Church: In other words, it's intended for me, as well as those in my Bible study class.
But apparently I'm in the minority with this thinking, which leaves me in the lurch when it comes to being a part of the study being undertaken by the class.
We find the Church being addressed several times in these first three chapters of Revelation. Nowhere do I find the nation of Israel addressed, or even being referred to in the introductory statements. Yet somehow the class (without giving any reason for, or illusion to there being a reason), sees the Church as having no part in the events that are to follow. They see the Church (anyone baptized, so it seems, if they fit the confusing criteria of the denomination) as having been raptured out of the world when the trumpet sounds, leaving the Jews to do what the Holy Spirit has been preparing the Church for these past 2,000 years. And this is to be accomplished with no Holy Spirit since He is supposedly in Heaven with those that are raptured.
Which leads me to another confusion. John hears a voice “like a trumpet,” (he doesn't actually hear a trumpet, verse 4:2) and is in the spirit. This, they say, is what Paul is talking about when he tells us about what is called the “Rapture.” Paul tells us:
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMP: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1Cor 15:52)
And John says:
One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. (Rev 9:12-14)
But in the days of the voice of THE SEVENTH ANGEL, WHEN HE SHALL BEGIN TO SOUND, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. (Rev 10:7)
I have two questions regarding this event; Question one: why isn't this episode considered to be the rapture, rather than the first verse of chapter four? Add to this, why isn't the same event as described in the 10th verse of chapter one used as the rapture instead of chapter four? Question two: what happened to the reported secret rapture where everyone disappears into the sky, when in the 7th verse of chapter one it clearly states that “every eye will see Him”?
And for a third, bonus question: Why is it that these men, who's purpose it is to tear the Book apart, looking at every detail, while supposedly searching for the “truth,” can so easily slide past these blatant conflicts without even batting an eye?
As you can see, in my view, I have taken a full right turn, while the rest of the class, and the commentaries, have taken a full left turn. I don't bother to interject my opinion any more, since all it could do is present more confusion. I offer a question now and then, just to see what their reasoning might be, but my questions are usually dismissed with little consideration.
This obvious conflict is minor in comparison to many of the more serious conflicts and discrepancies locked into the doctrines of the churches. The more I study the Bible, the more I find that those in power are not interested in learning the truth, but instead they are interested in pushing forth their faulted concept of God's truth. For us of the congregation, those who are essentially dependent upon the integrity of the ones placed in authority, we have to decide if we are going to take the easy route and ride the waves of the common view, or to battle the pesky inconsistencies of doctrine.
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