Bible Prophecy Is Nonsense
Category: News & PoliticsVia: johnrussell • 6 years ago • 7 comments
We tend see whatever we want to see whenever there is nothing else to see.
...The Book of Revelation is one of the most feared books of the Bible, largely because it seems to foretell of a coming doom and final end of mankind. Now I don’t doubt the world will come to an end one day (for all things that have a beginning also have an end). However, I doubt very much that it is going to come to an end in quite the way Revelation tells it. For one, the specifics of John’s revelation seem to be rants based on wishful thinking based on the fact that he was exiled on the isle of Patmos by the Romans. It is no small wonder then that Revelation has an unhealthy preoccupation with the destruction of Rome in the midst of Israel.
If you think yourself a Bible scholar, then I should warn you that this post may draw your ire. For I’m going to elaborate in as much detail as possible why virtually every interpretation of the Book of Revelation is nonsense. I don’t need you to agree with me. But if you disagree, be prepared to defend your position at the end of this post. You have been duly warned.
The Chief Problems with Bible Prophecy
If I wrote in 2063 that a terrible clown will rule over the kingdom of the eagle for eight years and cause great suffering, would you believe that it is a prophecy or an anecdote? How about neither? Why would you treat something as a validated prophecy when the event being prophesied has already occurred before you read the prophecy? Yet many people continue to!
This is the chief problem with virtually all Bible prophecy. They do not teach us anything new about that which is to come. They all describe events that have already come to pass. I know what you’re thinking: The Book of Revelation supposedly describes events that have yet to come. What you fail to realize dear reader, is that the Book of Revelation is of no exception.
The Book of Revelation tells of the terrible tribulation of Christians during this age of Roman rule. It encourages them to remain faithful and tells of the subsequent destruction of Rome, specifically at the hands of Nero (the Anti-Christ). However, it’s not really a prophecy as much it is anti-Roman propaganda meant to support the Christians being brutally persecuted during that time. Finally, it uses historical references to Daniel’s lucid dream to complete the picture.
Almost everyone who has tried to interpret the Book of Revelation since then has failed to take into account three key things that are intrinsic to the ultimate purpose of the book:
- The specificity with which John writes about Rome as is – Everything from the description of the Beast of Revelation 13 (which we will cover in a bit) to the Great Whore that drank the blood of the Christian martyrs, to the number of the Anti-Christ are all references to the current situation as it was back then in Rome, not a future situation.
- The fact that Revelation never speaks about the spread of Christianity – A cult which was to be later adopted by Rome – an adoption which is responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout the world. Do you realise that is conspicuously missing from the Book of Revelation? Why is there no mention of this anywhere throughout the book?
- The fact that Christianity was under siege at the time – Anyone familiar with Rome’s history (or the history of Christianity) will note that at the time when John wrote Revelation, Christians were being severely persecuted because of what they believed. Revelation’s job was to reassure those beleaguered saints that their suffering was only for a time as the empire responsible for their terror is to be smitten from the earth. Those Christians could have easily caved and disavowed their faith. They had to be reassured that doing so would be spiritually fatal and that their fellow martyrs would be redeemed.
So Bible prophecy has three key problems:
1. They all foretell events that have already occurred.
Every prophecy that was foretold in the Bible is an event that had already occurred. All the prophets from Daniel right back to John were attributed prophetic status when they foretold of an event that as far as we’re concerned, happened before the writing. Therefore we have no way of verifying that this is indeed a prophecy or just a historical embellishment of the past.
2. They are heavily steeped in the events of their time.
The prophecies of the Old Testament age speak to events that occurred in both the Old and New Testament age. So we can rule those out right off the bat because of Observation 1 above. The prophecies of Revelation lack specificity to anything of relevance in our times as all the events there can be traced to specific events occurring during the time of ancient Rome.
3. The events described are a recurring theme in history.
The events of Revelation (even Jesus’ signs of the end times) are not specific to any time (or the end times) for that matter. Children have always been disobedient to their parents. Kingdoms have always risen up against other kingdoms. There have always been wars and rumors of war. There have always been earthquakes in diverse places for billions of years.
Knowledge has always increased. Think about it. Man had to evolve to a level of intelligence before he could invent paper and writing so that a Bible could be written in the first place. Men have always wandered “to and fro” the Earth. It’s called “exploration”. That’s how we migrated out of Africa. We have always been giving into marriages. Nothing new there either.
There has always been indoctrination, war, famine and death (the four horsemen of the Apocalypse) because that’s how the sequence of events usually occur. First one nation tries to impose their beliefs on another. Then a religious war erupts, which causes the population to starve, which then leads to death. The four horsemen are an allegory of cause and effect.
There have always been great floods (earthquake born Tsunamis). The moon has always turned to blood (Lunar Eclipses – which we can scientifically predict with great accuracy). The stars have always fallen from heaven and consumed a third of all the earth (cataclysmic meteor strikes). I could go on, ad nauseum , but I think you are able to clearly see my point.
The End Times Fallacy
The only difference between then and now, is that we have 24-hour news channels that tell us when these things are occurring the instant they occur. When Emperor Qin united China, they had to wait centuries before they knew what happened in Europe. When Rome conquered Germany, they had to wait decades to find out what happened in Spain. When King Henry divorced the Church of England from Rome, the knaves only found out months later. When the island of Krakatoa exploded in 1883 – it was weeks before the rest of the world knew what happened. When the Titanic sunk in 1912, it took days to pass it all on.
When Lindsay Lohan gets busted, everyone in the world knows about it a fraction of a second before it happens, whether they want to know about it or not. Can you see a trend here? What’s the difference between the events that took place in Revelation some 2,000 years ago, and the events of today? Do you think the End Times have not happened before?
We think we are living in the end times, because of two key factors:
1. There are more people in the world.
The world’s population is several orders of magnitude greater (thousands of times more) than the population of the world during the times of the Bible. So when the events that have always occurred during the long history of our planet occur today, (war, famine, natural disasters, etc.) a much larger population is affected, increasing our perception of its severity.
Furthermore, our larger population today means that the probability of the occurrence of destructive human behavior (everything from disobedient children to war and genocide) are exponentially more probable. That’s just simple mathematics. However, you need to look no further than the Old Testament to see that war and genocide are nothing particularly new.
Just ask the Jews.
2. We are far better at communication.
The frequency with which we’ve been having earthquakes around the world has not changed in 6 billion years (or 6 thousand years – whichever you believe – it doesn’t matter). However, our capacity to notify each other about it has . What this gives us is the perception that there are more earthquakes with deadlier proportions happening around the world far more often.
The earthquakes haven’t increased. The reporting just got more efficient.
The same principle applies to indoctrination, war, famine, and death. Do you think if we had CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, PBS, SkyNews, BBC and Reuters back in the hey days of Israel that they could have committed so many genocides and gotten away with it? The entire world would be fixing to make war with Israel just like how they did when Germany lost its cool.
Wait, did I say Fox News? I’m sorry. They would have backed the Jewish genocide, not reported it.
There is a fourth problem with prophecy in general that I’ve already covered in a previous post , and it has to do with a little psychological phenomenon called “Cognitive Resonance”. As I’ve covered this before in more detail in that post, I will only reiterate the most salient point here: If you believe in prophecy, you will subconsciously do whatever is necessary to fulfill it.
It doesn’t matter if it is Bible prophecy or the prophecy of an Octopus about the outcome of World Cup matches. Your belief in the prophecy makes it come true. Your mind makes it real. Everyone knows that positive reinforcement creates a powerful psychological response. Wrap that inside a prophecy and you’re good to go. That’s precisely what Revelation is written for.
Revelation tells us about all the horrific things that will befall humanity during the end. But, the writer tells us towards the end, that for those of us who are faithful, we will survive the event and live on in paradise in heaven. This positive reinforcement compels us to believe. This is what has compelled the existence of so many deadly end time cults that have either tried to forcefully bring about the events of Armageddon and/or their journey to heaven:
- The Peoples’ Temple Massacre (Jonestown, Guyana – 1978)
- The Branch Davidian Massacre (Waco Texas, USA – 1993)
- Aum Shinrikyo Sarin Gas Attacks (Tokyo, Japan – 1995)
- The Heaven’s Gate Mass suicide (California, USA – 1997)
- Michael Travesser
There is so much fanaticism about end time events that there is now even a bona fide philosophical discipline dedicated to such study. It is called eschatology and it is a very popular subject among theistic scholars. But that’s not the part that’s really going to blow your mind. Cognitive Resonance shows up more prominently with respect to False Messiahs.
In Matthew 24:4-5 , Jesus warned about the coming of false messiahs claiming to be Christ. In case many of you think this is a budding development, try to bear in mind that the Messiah Complex is something as old as time itself. The ancient Egyptians wrote about a mythical messiah (Horus, the Sun of God), and so have many other ancient religious sects in history.
Since then, the Messiah complex has visited almost every ancient civilization. It’s not because of cross-cultural plagiarism as much as it is simply because the messiah doctrine is a very good story. It’s fun to believe in something like that, because it gives purpose and definition to one’s suffering. Jesus’ warning about false messiahs would therefore ultimately predicate the occurrence of many such individuals in history. That’s just cognitive resonance at work.
Just look at this list of prominent false messiahs in the last 40 years:
- Jim Jones
- David Koresh
- Shoko Asahara
- Michael Travesser
- Marshal Applewhite
- …and there are many others.
As world populations exponentially increase the probability of the occurrence of what appear to be end time events, one should also expect to see a corresponding increase of end time messiahs – mostly white men who claim to be the Christ returned to earth to save mankind. They will seclude themselves from civilization in the middle of nowhere, forsaking all of their belongings, friends and family in anticipation of Armageddon and the end of the world. Then when it doesn’t happen, they’ll kill themselves or commit an act of terrorism to ensure it does.
The fifth and most frustrating problem with Bible Prophecy, specifically that which is contained in Revelation, is that it appears to be deliberately cryptically written. This we are told is to hide the meaning of the scriptures from those who do not truly pursue it. If that were true, then the purpose seems to have been defeated, as there are many different interpretations.
And that’s when the crap hit the fan.
Today, there are two basic camps of interpretations about the outcome of Revelation. The first (and more popular) camp believes that Christ will return before the terrible events of the tribulation (which means Christians won’t suffer through it). The second camp believes that Christ will return after the tribulation (meaning that Christians will have to suffer through it).
To make matters worse, these people will both look at exactly the same passage of scripture and give you two very different interpretations of it, sometimes changing their minds along the way. It seems that if God really intended the Book of Revelation to be of any use to anyone, that He is hiding the truth from even the faithful. Now, that’s not very useful, is it?
The reason why there is a clear split in the interpretation is bound in the fact that both interpretations can be substantially backed by scripture. In fact, whenever Bible scholars find themselves backed into a corner on any particular subject regarding this specific time line, they will quickly cough up another passage of scripture and then reinterpret the entire thing.
This is how they moved from believing that Christ will return after Israel was retaken in 1967, to believing that Christ will return after the temple was rebuilt, to believing that Christ will return after the Dome of the Rock was razed (inciting a Holy War with the Muslims) to believing that Christ will return after Israel is attacked by a Muslim nation as an act of war.
The really frightening thing though, is that many Christians are actually excited about starting a Holy War with the Muslims just so that the events of Revelation will unfold. Aside from the obvious lunacy of this expectation (it is clearly yet another spurious interpretation designed to fit an agenda), what if they get their holy war, and Christ still doesn’t return? What then?
All of these reinterpretations can be validated in Revelation. In fact, you can literally custom build your own interpretation of Revelation on the fly (just pull something out of your ass) and I guarantee you that there will be scripture there than can be used to lucidly and succinctly validate your interpretation. Christian apologists do this exact sort of thing all the time. In fact, that is precisely how modern Christians only recently invented the idea for the Rapture.
The Rapture Concoction
The Rapture event is not described anywhere in Revelation. In fact the word “Rapture” doesn’t appear anywhere in any translation of the Bible. What’s really going to blow your mind, is that the idea of a Rapture is not even in the Bible. Yes you read correctly. The idea of Christ coming back in the sky and meeting with the resurrected dead in the air was invented .
In Scotland, circa 1830, a young girl named Margaret MacDonald had what she claimed to be a vision of Christ coming back to claim the saints . A minister by the name of John Darby apparently claimed her story and preached it throughout the United Kingdom and the United States, appropriating the word “Rapture” to aptly describe that specific end time event.
Then, another minister by the name of Cyrus Ingerson Scofield took Darby’s preaching, and scoured the Bible for scriptures that could be used to back it up (this is intellectual dishonesty at work). He came up with the rendering found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 , to validate Darby’s Rapture doctrine. It then became a fixture in Christian dogma. The rest is history.
If you read the entire passage in context , you will see that the scripture has absolutely nothing to do with the events of Revelation. It was written in response to concerns voiced by members of the church at Thessalonia about what happens to the soul after death. It was written to those church members as a comforting allegorical parable – not end time prophecy.
This is how some Christian apologists dishonestly concoct new ideas, inventing the story as they go along and then capriciously pick and choose spuriously unrelated scriptures at will to validate an interpretation that they invented to suit their agenda. It has happened so often in Christianity, that most of what is being taught in church today is complete and utter, rubbish.
The Second Coming / Armageddon Incongruity
The Valley of Megiddo where Armageddon is supposed to happen.
When Revelation talks about the second coming of Christ, it was wishful thinking. The Jews had long believed at that time that the prophet Jesus would return from his ascension, conquer Rome and liberate his people from their suffering. This was something they hoped to happen between 62 and 70 AD when the Romans destroyed their holy Temple – not 2060 AD.
In fact, they even picked the place where the event would occur. It is an open field near Jordan called Megiddo. However the ancient text translates literally to “Har’megiddo”, and thus the English bastardization of the word, which we indiscriminately throw around to mean ultimate war: “Armageddon” was born. That word doesn’t even exist in the Hebrew tongue.
This is why the Bible constantly refers to those times as the “last days”, because the authors were certain that the terror being visited upon them by Rome represented the finality of the world as they knew it. They were being systematically wiped out! It is only natural that they would think so. If the prophecies were referring to future kingdoms, then none of them fit.
This is why there is such great incongruity between religious scholars who are attempting to rationalize Revelation and why there are so many different interpretations floating around. They’re literally trying to make sense of future events from a book that was not intended to do any such thing, that was written to the early Christians, not to Christians living today.
But the worst part about all of this, is that there are many Christian apologists who openly concur with this idea, (that Revelation isn’t directed at the future) yet they continue to hold on to it anyway! That’s the part that really blows my mind – although it really shouldn’t. That is the true power of hope. People will hold on to any kind of hope, irrespective of its faults.
Of course, there is an apologist agenda. The Council of Nicea already decided in 362 AD that the Jesus character was divine, (a teaching rejected by some of the orthodoxy up until that time) which would naturally mean that the words of Revelation had to be retooled to speak to future events. The problem is, because history repeats itself, Revelation is constantly misread.
The Truth About Revelation
So if none of what we understand in Revelation is true, then what is the book for? Simply to bolster the faith of the Christians that were undergoing severe persecution in Rome at the hands of its most vicious emperor. The Book of Revelation was written under the context that Rome would be the final empire upon earth based on John’s interpretation of Daniel’s dreams.
In John’s mind, Rome fit the bill as the last terrible beast. This is the reason why nothing in Revelation speaks to anything specific to our day and age beyond the times of the terrible persecution of the Christians in Rome. Now Rome is no longer a one world government. It has been reduced to a tiny autonomous state in Italy called the Vatican. It was toppled by its own undoing – not by that of any supernatural messiah. It exists now only as a relic of the past.
John could not write the book of Revelation as explicitly as he wanted to. As such, he had to rely on the use of an old Hebrew poetic technique that relied heavily on metaphors to get the message across without being discovered. That’s why he wrote Revelation in a language that only the Christians of the time would understand. That’s why he uses symbolism that only those Christians would follow. That is why it is so difficult to understand it in context today.
If John were to write in plain language like much of the rest of the New Testament and Roman Soldiers got a hold of it, he would have surely been put to a premature death. But as is, the Book of Revelation would appear to them to be little more than the gibberish ramblings of a mad man on the verge of insanity. They would just ignore it and pass it along to his friends.
However, the Book of Revelation accomplished its job so well, that now we have a runaway train in Christianity (only one of many) where people have looked into the book and failed to account for the obvious purpose of its construction. The reason why this happens is that in order to sell Christianity to the world, there has to be an eternal hope to look forward to.
…and what better book to do that than Revelation.
Daniel’s dream became particularly useful in this context because it had the same message. Daniel’s dream and John’s vision both end where all Messiah doctrines end – the overthrow of a world government (which Rome was at the time) by a supernatural messianic figure. Of course, that never happened. When it didn’t, everyone who read Revelation after that kept looking for Jesus to return – but he never did and he probably never will if this keeps up.
Consequently, the chain reaction built up over the next 2,000 years, with various religious sects coming out of the woodwork, all claiming that their current times were the last days, dragging out Revelation further and further, reinterpreting the book each time to fit the events of their time, each pathetically flogging a dead horse that is well over 2,000 years old.
Each time someone tries to predict when Jesus will return, they are disappointed. The early Christians were disappointed and today’s Christians will continue to be disappointed, because all of these hopes are based on a past event. The expectation of what should happen after the event is based on an ancient myth that is as old as religion – far older than Christianity.
Anyone who has studied eschatology can tell you emphatically that apocalyptic philosophy is neither unique to Judeo-Christianity nor was it invented by Christianity. These mythological trappings predate Christianity by at least 3,500 years, just like the messiah complex and the redemption doctrine. They are all old myths that are ubiquitous to every religion of every age.