In late October, 1980 (5741) I first read the Book of Revelation, against the advice of Pastor Hansen of St. Luke's Lutheran Church, New York, N.Y. Pastor Hansen was the first religious leader with whom I had ever engaged in discussion. This occurred just after I had completed reading the Old Testament and had begun reading the New Testament, on my own. It turned out that there was tremendously deep and meaningful information in the Book of Revelation. I can see, in retrospect, how warning people might make sense. I could also see how this was selected as the final book of the Bible. Revelation for me was a mirror and bookend for the book of Genesis. Both books cover thousands of years. I also believed that the other four books of the five books of Moses somewhat mirrored the four gospels, not that one gospel necessarily matched up with Exodus and another gospel mirrored Leviticus, etc. I just saw the four Gospels and Revelation as making sense in closing out the Bible. The New Testament epistles or letters I considered as a possible parallel to the “oral law” of Judaism. Neither were scripture, I believed, certainly not the epistles, now that I had read them. They may be “about” scripture, but so is a rabbi, priest, or pastor's sermon. The oral law, well the idea of an “oral law” was absurd as far as I was concerned. I analogize oral law with the experience of one person telling another and then another some secret. By the time the secret goes around the room it will rarely come back quite the way it began. How much more would laws change that were passed down orally, not just around a room, but for centuries until finally being recorded?
One phrase I gleaned from the Book of Revelation was, the beast and the false prophet. The main beast was described in Revelation 13:1.2-2 “And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.” I quickly understood this as Europe. The bear was a common metaphor or symbol for Russia. The lion metaphor was not as clear. There was the Lion of Judah, but Jews, as far as I was concerned and as history had proven (to myself at least), never really belonged in Europe. The Germans had made that most clear. I assumed the lion in this passage must be the Germans, though I’d never heard anything that paralleled the Russian bear for the Germans. My Jewish mother whom I brought this up to one time, mentioned England. However she refused to read the Bible, though she was an avid reader. She could not accept my faith (she did not at all appreciate my belief in Jesus). She had always said, “Jews don’t believe in Jesus,” period. I had of course crossed that line. Hence I was surprised she even responded to my question regarding the lion from the Book of Revelation. As far as the English being the lion from Rev 13:1.2-2, I considered the English the good guys, as World War II illustrated. The British were indispensable in the re-establishment of Israel. Basically it was within the territory of the beast, or where I determined the beast resided, that is Russia to Germany, where the majority of Jews had been massacred during the Holocaust.
Further on in Revelation 13, verses 11-12 described another beast, “Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.” My interpretation of this passage was and remains that this “beast from the east” was Japan and the Philippines. The dragon, being a symbol of the orient, convinced me that this likely represented some part of Asia. “Coming out of the earth” had me think that these could likely represent islands (later on a “Bible expert” concurred that “coming out of the earth means island(s)). Japan, based upon World War II was a “bad guy” in my mind, at that time. Of course the Philippines were victims of the Japanese, just as the Russians and East Europeans were victims of the Germans. However they were within this overall territory of “the beast.” My interpretation of these passages makes these “victims” somehow tied into the evil of the German or Japanese nations. It seemed cold but I assumed that these cultures had developed in such a way that laid the groundwork for the evil label which I felt they were given in this Book of Revelation. This juxtaposed the Jews and Israel who had been chosen by God, and hence the groundwork had been laid for the Jews and Israel to represent good. While many Jews may think they have done good, upon reading the Book of Revelation I now understood that doing good in the “belly of the beast” (i.e.- in Poland) was not going to reap much of a positive reward. It would certainly be better to live in one’s own land, or at least amongst less cursed cultures (such as the Jews of North Africa and the Middle East for example). However, my interpretation of these passages from Revelation is completely politically incorrect. Here I was doing what many alleged racists do. I was lumping whole groups of people together and seeming to condemn them. However, I understood myself as part of a culture and understood the world as divided up into different races, cultures, languages, religions, etc. I did not and do not see this as a either a good or bad thing; this is simply how the world is presently laid out. As far as another politically correct statement that we are all individuals, that is laughable. Just try being “different” even in the most harmless way, such as dressing differently, and see what happens, unless there is a group of people who dress differently like you. Hence one can pretty much forget about individuality, except possibly amongst ultra liberals.
This did not help answer, yet it did help answer what the Jews were doing in these parts of the world. This Book of Revelation, like the whole New Testament was forbidden fruit in the Jewish community. Hence ignorance had become the preferred response to Christianity. However I did not wish to be so judgmental. Why Jews preferred ignorance was a question to try and understand, rather than to judge. Much of the Christian style and approach was one of the problems, however again this was being judgmental. I despised being judged and did not wish to be judgmental. That is I did not like being judged rashly and unfairly and wished to avoid making rash and unfair judgments. However to listen to certain people, it was becoming clear that most of the unfair and harshly critical and judgmental people were the religious folk. Certain Jews and Christians being the most judgmental. Upon reading the Gospels certain passages dealt with judgmentalism and were quite insightful. One was Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Part of the problem is patience. In other words, while I’m not judging, because I’ve got to remove my own planks, or fix my own faults, these self-righteous hypocrites have not been silenced. Being that they are almost all religious folk, they get away with it, all the more in the good ‘ol USA. At that time and still now if you're not one religion or another, people think you're a Communist or an atheist, which may be true, and many religious people have been brain-washed to act like this is the worst thing one could be.
Two other passages in Revelation made a significant and positive impact. Rev. 16:12 “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.” This passage combined with Rev. 9:14.2-16 “’Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million.” Unquestionably, in my mind at least, this had to mean the Chinese. They were about the only nation which could mount an army of two hundred million, at least at this time in history. Besides, who else would be considered the “kings from the East?” Of course there are the Indians who could possibly mount an army of two hundred million, but I remain convinced that these passages refer to the Chinese.
Many a Jewish joke has been written about how Jews often spent Christmas at Chinese restaurants. There seems to be some mutual, though generally unspoken, respect between Jews and Chinese. The Euphrates drying up sounds very similar to the Red Sea parting for the Israelites. As much as many Jews think the events in the Jewish community and Jewish history are a big secret, I believe that the world knows very well what goes on within the Jewish world. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, I strongly suspect that other cultures were well aware, or at least somewhat aware of what was going on. Word of the ten plagues and then manna from heaven must have spread. In fact it likely spread like wildfire, as these were clearly a series of incredible events, previously unheard of in history. The Chinese calendar predates Moses, hence there was already a Chinese civilization developed by the time of Moses.
Another passage which related to these passages from Revelation was from Deuteronomy 11:24 “Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the western sea.” Not only had the territory not been extended, the Jews had been kicked out of the land completely for nearly two thousand years. Israel, that is the ten (or eleven) tribes of Israel had long ago disappeared. The Euphrates River had never been reached, yet expanding Israel's territory was apparently God’s intention for Israel. If Israel's descendants had followed God correctly or if they begin to now, then Israel may yet be ready to greet, the “kings from the East” when the Euphrates River does dry up for them.
Revelation Chapter 20 deals predominantly with the millennium, or one thousand years of rest and peace. Rev. 20:2 “He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.” Hitler and the Nazis referenced the millennium in calling their empire the Third Reich. Reich meaning one thousand years. Apparently the Nazis had imagined two previous millenniums. As far as I am concerned the Nazis idea of peace would actually be war along with many other concepts which are the complete, or 180º inverse of truth. The Jewish communities rejection of the New Testament illustrates how the ignorance Jewish leaders promoted and followers accepted led them to death at the hands of evil. Not long after reading Revelation 20 I understood the millennium as a parallel to not only the seventh day Sabbath, as a day of rest, but the Sabbatical year, which was to be every seventh year. Leviticus 27:4 “But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.” It dawned on me how the Hebrew calendar was fast approaching the year 6000. Assuming that the Hebrew calendar is correct, and I do not necessarily assume that it is. I also have no evidence that the Hebrew calendar is not correct. If the Hebrew calendar dates from Adam and Eve, as I learned shortly after initially reading the Bible, then the year 6000 should bring about the millennium. This continues to make sense to me, much more than many Christians speaking of Jesus' returning at any moment. While we may not know the day, hour, or time of Jesus' return to bring everlasting peace, it is clearly after the millennium which has not as yet occurred. Rev. 20:7- “When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison...”
The furor of an imminent return of Christ for the past two millennia is another of many Christian facades. Particularly when their main document, the New Testament contains this Book of Revelation which makes clear that Jesus will not return until after the millennium.
Other passages in Revelation which made a huge impact were the following: Rev. 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars---their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Then there was Rev. 22:15 “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” These passages challenged me. First was the issue of Hell, which was another one of those, “Jews don’t believe in ____”, fill in the blank that I had heard growing up and still hear. Though the rejection of the concept of Hell was not something I heard in my home. Hell seemed to be another concept that Jews as a group were brain-washed/told to reject. I was getting the sense that when Christianity appears to over-emphasize certain issues, such as Heaven, Hell or Jesus that most Jewish leaders and followers reject the concept altogether, like 5 year-olds. Not looking at evidence, just complete reactionary childish thinking. I was beginning to “understand,” but it still seemed unwise and frankly inexcusable. Yet this was apparently one way to feel “safe”.
While I was trying to find the middle ground, I found that there was no middle ground. If Christianity says left, Judaism says right, and vice-versa. Just as I was not interested in being the victim (Jewish) or the victimizer (Christian), as I saw things, I did not care to reject or accept the concept of Hell, Heaven, Jesus or anything else in order to be accepted as either Jewish or Christian. I preferred to make my own decisions, independent of either group. However the Jewish groups that I became involved with, be they Jewish-Christian, Messianic or otherwise Jewish insisted that I agree with them or else they felt threatened and would not allow myself or others to be a part of their little clique. Along the way were Reform Jews. They generally did not freak out if I mentioned Jesus. At least they had some acknowledgment and knowledge of Jesus. It was the ignorance and the demand and encouragement to remain ignorant which I found most sickening and unacceptable in far too many Jewish circles. Christianity has been around for centuries and it does not appear to be going away any time soon. To ignore Christianity and to willingly remain willfully ignorant of Christian texts is ludicrous. Never mind the fact, as I discovered, that ALL or almost ALL the New Testament authors were products of a Jewish civilization and culture. Hence the New Testament, like the Old Testament is a Jewish history compendium.
I considered that these condemning passages from Rev. 21:8 and 22:15 paralleled laws originally laid out in the Biblical Law. For example, Leviticus 18 is subtitled “Unlawful Sexual Relations” in my NIV (New International Version) Bible. These laws when correctly understood would define what is “sexually immoral,” along with other laws mentioned in the 5 Books of Moses. There are laws which reference magic arts, idolatry and bearing false witness. Yet when these Old Testament laws are seen as done away with, or meant to show our inadequacy, or are considered impossible to fulfill, as are philosophies of most Christian sects, then determining what would violate these verses from Revelation is very open to debate. Even when accepting the Torah laws, violations are open to debate. On the other end is the Jewish interpretation of many Torah laws. Numerous interpretations are ridiculous and are rarely challenged or changed. I won't get into specifics here, but soon I will write a page exposing this abuse of rabbinic authority. There also is the issue of head vs. heart vs. head and heart. The information, especially in the Bible starts in your head and needs to enter your heart. At first, as I discovered, following God's Law is challenging, both from external forces and from within. Your head knows you should do this or that and shouldn't do this or that, because you read it and believed it. Yet the heart still wants to do wrong. It may be best to do the wrong, suffer the consequences, in order to turn more fully to God, head and heart more united. The temptations to rebel becomes less and less tempting. Having experienced the futility of rebellion, now you are ready to walk in God's ways more happily and freely. My experience was going down dead-ends, though not until I personally took things to those ends could I see this clearly. I also gleaned necessary information traversing these dead-end routes. Information which will help me see pitfalls and not fall for them in the future, as I might have previously. This may not be necessary for everyone but I believe it was for me.
A final issue for myself from the Book of Revelation was the false prophet. Rev. 16:13 “Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.” Rev. 19:20 “But the beast was captured and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” Rev. 20:10 “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” I wondered and wondered who the false prophet was or who it represented. For a long time I would wonder to myself, “F.P., F.P., false prophet, French people?” Since I had interpreted the beast to have been covering the area from Germany to Russia; this left out the French. I had also learned that Napoleon Bonaparte of France was supposed to have been an anti-Christ, as was Hitler I was informed, and that there will be a third and final anti-Christ yet to come. This would seem to be a major negative for the French. However, Napoleon was not accused of being a prophet, false or otherwise. This French people idea did not really connect for me. As I wondered and wondered it eventually hit me, Mohammed! At some point I read that Mohammed was considered by certain Jewish religious leaders to have been a false prophet due to errors he had made. One reported fallacy was Mohammed’s calling Haman a pharaoh. Haman was the Persian official who wanted to destroy the Jews as explained in the Book of Esther. Haman was not Egyptian and hence could not be a pharaoh. This sounded more like an error and that probably Mohammed had merely gotten confused. Apparently a prophet cannot be confused, nor make any errors. While I did not at the time know a great deal about Mohammed, he certainly is considered to be a prophet by Muslims. I am not saying that he was not a prophet either. While most western people might magnify the word ‘false’ and minimize the word ‘prophet,’ especially when talking about Arabs or any other “different” group. I wasn’t willing to play this game. I also have tried to avoid the ignorance-based bias of many western Jews and Christians who often need to see Islam and any faith other than their own in a negative light, to make themselves feel superior. My faith however is not a competition. My faith is what it is, and will be what it will be. My ego does not need to make me better than others, as if there were some completely objective way to determine who is better or worse, or whose faith is better or worse.
There are many conclusions one can draw from the Book of the Revelation of John, a brother of Jesus. There are levels and layers of meaning and information in the Book of Revelation that require a strong foundation for understanding them. That foundation lay in a healthy understanding of the first five books of the Bible, the five books of Moses. A mature mind is required. A mind that understands that all is not as it appears on the surface. One needs to ponder God's words seriously and patiently. Some meanings will be clear quickly. Others will take time. Still others may eventually turn out to be much different than they originally seemed. Allow God, allow Truth, to work in your mind, body, and soul. Answers and understanding will come in God's time if you allow it!