By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“Now, God’s home is with the people! He will live with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared.” — Revelations 21:3-4
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Fourth, apocalyptic writings also expose or unmask the destructive powers. Apocalyptic writers are not contented with the world as it is and with the normal perception of the world. They view history from the underside and challenge the normal common sense. They use symbolic language.
For instance, John’s presentation of the Roman emperor as beast helps us to see the evils in the Roman Empire more clearly. Through clear and eloquent symbolization, John snatches the masks off the lofty claims of Rome and shows its murderous aspect. That’s why the Book of Revelation is called as such partly because it reveals the real nature and characteristics of the Roman Empire and of the Emperor.
Fifth, apocalyptic writings also call for withdrawal of support to the powers-that-be as a form of resistance, and call for endurance on the part of the believers. Apocalyptic writings are often misunderstood as apolitical, because they simply want us to wait until the evil ends, until God brings in a new and better world.
Of course, the Book of Revelation is not a call for a revolutionary action, but rather for passive resistance. John calls on the believers not to collaborate with the powers-that-be. That’s why he is strictly against eating food sacrificed to idols(Rev.2:14,20), because this would mean collaborating with the powers-that-be.
John calls for separation from the Roman world and its culture. He is against any form of assimilation. By refusing to collaborate, by contradicting and resisting, Christian believers disagree that the world belongs to those who claim to rule over it.
This form of passive resistance is not apolitical at all, especially in the context of John’s time. As a matter of fact, the Book of Revelation, I would say, is perhaps the most political book in the Holy Scriptures. It should not really surprise us to hear from Justin Martyr, the great apologist of the Christian church that in his time the reading and dissemination of Jewish apocalyptic literature was considered a crime.
Revelation 14:12 says, “This calls for endurance of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Enduring resistance is a testimony to the rule of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. This endurance, of course, puts Christian life into the role of an outsider, and will heighten the danger to the physical existence of Christians.
Finally, apocalyptic writings are also against compromising with the powers that be. Perhaps, no other Biblical writing can point out better the danger of compromising than the apocalyptic writings. Anyone who compromises and conforms and accommodates himself with the situation supports the status quo. Compromising may include being attracted to wealth, worshipping the emperor, conforming to the dominant view of history, accommodating the world as it is, and leaving the world and its destiny to the powers-that-be.
Compromising is being lukewarm. John’s critique of those people could not be more drastic. In Revelation 3:16, it says, “…because you are lukewarm –neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Apocalyptic hope as such is not one that ignores or turns its back to the world. It does not opt to be out of this world. Apocalyptic hope has been born out of the sufferings in this world, and it holds itself responsible to declare to the world the true state of reality, the true course of history, and to work in the world, in so far as it is possible, to hasten the coming of God’s kingdom from beyond. # nordis.net