12 November 2009

WHERE I STAND [3]: Biblical "End Times"

Pax Romana

Yesterday, my friend Jonathan "Siggy" Sigmon posted a wonderfully balanced bit on Facebook commemorating service on Veterans' Day without praising the means of war and instead calling us all to peace. What follows Siggy appropriated from http://carrieanddanielle.com/honoring-peace-not-war-the-pacifists-dilemma-on-remembrance-day/:

" I will pause to pay tribute to those who have died in war. I will honor their commitment to their ideals, and grieve their losses. But the greatest honor I can offer them is to promise that I have learned from their experience and will do my best to work towards a new day when young men and women do not have to die as they did. We can and must work together to find peaceful ways to achieve a just and safe world. Only then can we truly say that they did not die in vain. Be a peace promoter."

I couldn't agree more.

From that came a number of comments and discussion
about the nature and supposed/possible necessity of war that I was involved in. One of them ended with with this:

"Kudos to you [name removed], that coming from a mother with 2 sons in the service, one serving in Afghanistan right now....and what do you do with the end times? in the scripture it says they will cry peace, peace and there will be none...."

I hadn't thought about bringing the Bible or possible "End Times" scenarios into the discussion but the more I think about it, the more our interpretations of both things could play rather strongly into our opinions of war and peace. That assumes that the Bible matters to one and in some way it usually does. So I decided to weigh in on her question whether it was rhetorical or not. This isn't a comprehensive opinion I am sharing nor is it in the format I normally do these Where I Stand blogs. Instead it is a conversation starter and an opportunity to share a few different perspectives that are normally ignored in mainstream media or church discussions on the Biblical End Times. I wrote:

"Hi [name removed].You have a good question. I'd like to give it a try.

People's interpretations of what we call the "End Times" texts in the Bible are pretty diverse. One good one, in my opinion, is that in Revelation John is mostly writing in code so he doesn't get killed about Rome and Caesar as Babylon. Rome brought "peace" through war and oppression, at least initially, but they framed it as true peace through reliefs on architecture, proclamations, and by actually providing infrastructure and stability to society. It was still peace through war and homogenization though. This period of time, which coincides with John's Revelation, was called the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace") and it lasted for roughly 200 years.

Just as today some people see Radical Islam or Western Society as the last great evil to overcome for God's rule to take over, in John's time Rome was ruling all the known world and was at the forefront of everyones consciousness. To them, there could be nothing greater and more evil.

Also, Jesus' disciples were trying to figure out why He had not yet returned to fully bring the Kingdom of God. Jesus had said "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28). So this Revelation of John's perhaps is towards explaining this return at "the end of the age" as had also been said.

Hopefully this provides some insight or at least another view. Thoughts folks?"

1 comment:

keith slesser said...

chris great blog. i would also say in my opinion; even if the revelation is about the "end times" it is not a justification for war. its not our job to make the end times happen. this is what i fear allot of churches think. just because it is predicted doesn't change our responsibility to love those who hate us. just a though from one who doesn't know a whole lot.

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