Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Revelation is largely known for its description of what the church refers to as The Great Tribulation; or what most people would call the Apocalypse. There’s tons of colorfully worded destruction in the book. What I find fascinating though is that all throughout, God continually gives the people remaining on earth more and more chances to repent. Some times this works:
At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven (Revelation 11:13).
Other times it does not:
A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues sill did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood- idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts (Revelation 9:18-21).
How would you react as the world came crashing down?
The verses that the Holy Spirit used to call my attention to this are part of the final sweeps of wrath that the Lord performs before the great war,
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch the people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and the cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done (Revelation 16:8-11).
From a personal standpoint, I can see why these folks would curse the Lord rather than praise him; after all, he is torturing them. On the other hand, after waves of disasters that, by this point, they must know as being foretold in the Bible, you’d think the people would just give in and declare that Jesus is Lord. According to Jesus, the Bible should still be around even during the end of the world. He explains, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18). So the Bible should be available to them. However, the people remaining apparently won’t be able to get past their hang-ups; because the scene keeps repeating itself, “From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon the men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible” (Revelation 16:21). So we find that because people are angry about their situations, they willfully choose hell.
The problem is that people are doing this today too. Atheists are lying to themselves by trying to declare with full assurance that there is no God. Agnostics, while still being unsaved, are at least taking an honest stance that they have no idea what to think. Scripture tells us,
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).
The Bible makes it clear that everyone has seen enough in their lives to justify God’s existence. But, understandably, it is hard to believe in something we can’t see directly and a lot of the time it’s hard to even make sense of all that we do know. I mean, if there is a God, then there are a few questions I think most people would like to ask him. Such as…
Feel free to fill in whatever questions you may have for God. The list goes on and on.
I’m not going to give you the answers to any of these questions today; heck, I might not even be able to answer all of them. But how much are your opinions worth? Will you stay aboard a sinking ship because of principle? The Bible notes “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). If you don’t believe in Jesus, then of course none of what Christians preach is going to make sense, even God acknowledges that. Unfortunately that’s just how the system works. But I’ll tell you my story. When I came to Christ, I had a lot of questions (mostly about dinosaurs). After I took the first step though and gave my life to Christ, the Lord was (and has been) very fast to answer whatever I asked of him. Would you believe that right after I started asking my new God about dinosaurs that a TV show almost exclusively about that sort of stuff started airing -which was more impressive as the show was several years old and I live in Korea, where the church channels at the time were almost exclusively in Korean (except for a few sermons a week and that one show).
Repent now; then ask God everything you need to know. Don’t end up in hell on a misunderstanding or some stubborn opinion on your part!