The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Ian O'Doherty of the Irish Independent asserted recently in one of his columns that Saint John the Divine had been high on drugs while writing the Book of Revelation.
I was interested by the remark because of late I've been thinking a lot about Saint John's work.
Can the Book of Revelation be read with specificity?
That is to say, can one identify real pophecies in that book which relate to actual events in our time?
Or is the book meant to be read as a form of spiritual poetry?
Even if truths for our time are written there, I reckon it would take much prayer, fasting, wisdom and discernment, plus a grace of inspiration from God, for any person to understand the prophecies.
And yet...
Some of the earlier books of the Bible clearly pressage the events in Revelation and also pressage the possibility that by the grace of God people will understand these events when they occur.
The Old Testament book of Joel contains the words:
"After this
I shall pour out my spirit on all humanity.
Your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your old people shall dream dreams,
and your young people see visions.
Even on your slaves, men and women,
shall I pour out my spirit in those days.
I shall show portents in the sky
and on earth,
blood and fire and columns of smoke."
The Book of Daniel also contains passages which relate to the much later Book of Revelation.
Daniel mentions a war that will encompass vast areas of the planet earth.
"When the time comes for the End, the king of the south will try conclusions with him; but the king of the north will come storming down on him with chariots, cavalry and a large fleet. He will invade countries, overrun them, and drive on. He will invade the land of splendour, and many will fall; but Edom, Moab and what remains of the sons of Ammon will escape him. He will reach out to attack countries. Egypt will not escape him. The gold and silver treasures and all the valuables of Egypt will lie in his power. Libyans and Cushites will be at his feet: but reports coming from the East and the north will worry him, and in great fury he will set out to bring ruin and complete destruction to many. He will pitch the tent of his royal headquarters between the sea and the mountains of the Holy Splendour. Yet he will come to his end. There will be no help for him."
This sort of theme recurs much more spectacularly in the Book of Revelation.

Daniel also mentions the rise of "an abomination of desolation usurping a power that is not his."
Jesus repeats Daniel's words about the abomination of desolation when he speaks to the disciples about the End times.
Jesus adds a few details of his own.
"Take care that no one deceives you, because many will come using my name and saying I am the Christ, and they will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for this is something that must happen, but the end will not be yet. For nations will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All this is only the beginning of the birthpangs. Then you will be handed over to be tortured and put to death; and you will be hated by all nations on account of my name. And then many will fall away; people will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise; they will deceive many, and with the increase of lawlessness, love in most people will grow cold; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved. The good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed to the whole world as evidence to the nations. And then the end will come."
Jesus' words are the main Biblical justification for John's Book of Revelation.
In reading the short passage of Jesus' words above, you can see how one might form the opinion that we are living through the End times now.
In the present era, there have been people claiming not just to speak for Christ but to be him.
Jim Jones killed himself and murdered hundreds of his followers while making just this claim in the jungles of Guyana.
David Koresh made similar messianic statements before overseeing the murder of police officers and then causing the immolation of himself and his followers at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas.
There was a Chinese leader a century ago who claimed to be Jesus during a particularly mayhem rich rebellion there.
The Africans also have much experience of this sort of evil.
There have, as Jesus foretold, been many who claimed to be the Christ.
It is even possible to assert that the persecutions of the church foretold by Jesus have also been taking place before our eyes and in distant lands.
In Mexico as recently as 70 years ago, priests were being executed by firing squad.
In Spain in the 1930's, more than five thousand priests were slaughtered, some by crucifixion.
Hitler herded thousands of priests into Dachau concentration camp.
In Russia, Stalin killed em like there was no tomorrow.
Jesus gave us short succinct predictions about the End times.
It is not difficult to argue that everything he foretold is going on right now.
Jesus also predicts the Jews being scattered among the nations but returning at some future time as a "remnant" to the Holy Land.
The re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 after a gap of nearly two millennia seems like a fairly specific fulfilment of that particular prophecy.
And so to Saint John the Divine.
The Book of Revelation, also known as The Book of the Apocalypse, has several prophecies about the End times.
There are accounts of visions of heaven and an extended account of the apocalyptic End times war foretold in Daniel, which is apparently the same one referred to by Jesus.
Is this stuff happening now?
There are certainly an awful lot of wars about.
And an awful lot of evil.
The hellish mayhem engulfing Africa at present looks Apocalyptic.
The atheistic dictatorships of Hitler, Stalin and Mao, certainly committed mass murder in Germany, Russia, China and beyond, in a manner that looked Apocalyptic.
Could these three have been anti Christs?
I think they could.
There are other candidates.
The abortion mills and euthanasia barns posing as hospitals in Western Europe and America and China look like something Apocalyptic too.
I ask you.
Who has the most guilt?
Barbarian Muslim Jihadis flying passenger planes into skyscrapers or wealthy university educated doctors killing babies for profit?
I think the doctors and those of us who support their trade, have the greater guilt.
I think in heaven the Jihadis will stand in judgement on us.
But it is specificity in the Book of Revelation that I am searching for.
Can one read the Book of Revelation and find specific predictions relating to our own era?
There's a prophecy in there which mentions a plague of locusts torturing humanity led by an angel of the abyss called Apollyon.
Sounds a bit like Napoleon.
A few hundred years ago Napoleon brought war to all Europe and Russia.
Napoleon barbarised and bereaved a generation across a whole continent.
It was a kind of torture for a very large part of humanity.
Was Napoleon an early anti Christ foretold directly in the Book of Revelation as Apollyon?
Or is some other Apollyon still to come?
Let's look for something more specific.
There's a prophecy in there which reads.
"The third angel blew his trumpet, and a huge star fell from the sky burning like a ball of fire, and it fell on a third of all rivers and on the springs of water; this was the star called Wormwood, and a third of all water turned to wormwood, so that many people died; the water had become so bitter."
Wormwood is a type of flower.
The Russian word for Wormwood is Chernobyl.
I kid you not.
There are no shortage of prophecies in Revelation about angels unleashing doom:
"The second angel emptied his bowl over the sea, and it turned to blood, like the blood of a corpse, and every living creature in the sea died."
This prophecy seemed incomprehensible to me up until last April when a BP oil derrick off the coast of Florida blew up and began spewing crude oil into the sea.
The oil has continued to spew into the sea since then.
Could this be the plague that poisons the seas as foretold by Saint John two thousand years ago?
And how about the prophecy that reads:
"The sixth angel blew his trumpet and I heard a single voice issuing from the four horns of the golden altar in God's presence. It spoke to the sixth angel with the trumpet, and said, 'Release the four angels that have been chained up at the great river Euphrates.' These four angels had been ready for this hour of this day of this month of this year, and ready to destroy a third of the human race."
The Euphrates is a river in Iraq.
Hoo boy.
For thirty years under the regime of Saddam Hussein, Iraq was involved in a constant sequence of wars for territory, oppression of its own people and the export of terrorism beyond its borders. Saddam made war with Iran for eight years killing at least a million people. Saddam invaded Kuwait provoking the First Gulf War where hundreds of thousands are said to have died. Saddam sponsored Islamist terrorism in Palestine and elsewhere. Saddam used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. In my opinion Saddam also sponsored, facilitated and trained the Al Qaeda Islamist terror army whose final death tally is not yet known. Saddam's refusal to give up his weapons of mass destruction led to the Second Gulf War in 2003. The consequences of this also continue to this day. The region around the Euphrates is awash with armies engaged in conflict. The Iranians continue to use Iraq as a proxy hunting ground for killing Americans. There seems no limit in sight to the destruction that has been unleashed.
The region around the Euphrates hasn't caused the death of a third of the human race.
Not yet it hasn't.
But it has been the source of an incredible amount of mayhem.
Mayhem which is still happening.
Mayhem which you don't have to be romantic or on drugs to describe as...
And by the way, I've heard it asserted that in Iraqi Arabic, the name Saddam means Destroyer.
Remember our old friend Apollyon the Destroyer from the Bookof Revelation.
In this light the reference to the angels of destruction being unleashed at the Euphrates begins to look like a very specific piece of future telling courtesy of Saint John.
Other verses from the Book of Revelation which have long engaged the popular imagination, relate to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
A neglected and rather boring verse about the third horseman goes:
"Immediately I saw a black horse appear and its rider was holding a pair of scales, and I seemed to hear a voice shout from among the four living creatures and say, 'A day's wages for a quart of corn, and a day's wages for three quarts of barley, but do not tamper with the oil or wine.' "
To me it always seemed an incomprehensible allusion to economics in the midst of an apocalyptic vision.
The other horsemen being concerned with Victory, War and Death.
But this year we're seeing international economies teetering on the brink of complete collapse.
Is this the work of the Third Horseman of the Apocalypse?
And then there's the most famous verse in the Book of Revelation.
The verse that warns of the rise of a being of limitless evil.
The verse that advises:
"Let him who hath knowledge calculate the number of the beast.
For the number of the beast is the number of a man.
And that number is 666."
I don't think the Book of Revelation consists of drug induced ravings.
I am grateful to Ian O'Doherty for encouraging me by his comment to give some serious thought again as to precisely what it might be.

(First published June 2010.)


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