Saturday, December 28, 2013
Every Era Has Its Sins
Rev. 9:20 ¶ The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.
Rev. 9:21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.
It seems that we are always trying to “figure out” what we are being told in the book of Revelation. What is the story pointing to, and certainly it must be about us — today!
The reality is that every commentator throughout history has placed this Revelation within their context and their understanding. Most older commentators place these incidents within the period of the early church and the loss of the Eastern Church to Islam. Therefore these Scriptures are interpreted in this light. The plagues overran what is modern-day Turkey and yet the people did not repent.
In the midst of incredible suffering regarding their faith there were those who still held diligently onto their idols. Pagan worship included idols and trinkets made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood. These “things” made of natural substances could not see, hear or walk and yet, humans desired a relationship with them. Instead of turning toward Christ who wanted a personal relationship with them, them wasted their time with things made by human hands.
Self-centeredness ruled the day and a way to accomplish personal goals was to destroy your enemy. Murders can become common fare when human life is no longer valued. It’s easier to “kill” our problem than to deal with it! This happened in Turkey — not in the early centuries, but just in the last century. The “Armenian problem” continued to be an issue in Eastern Turkey — where the Armenian people had lived surrounding Mount Ararat since the time of Noah. In a final effort to deal with their “problem” the Armenian genocide was begun and systematically night after night they were taken and murdered or made to march down through the Syrian desert with only a small handful surviving and making their way to Lebanon. But when we are sure of ourselves we do not repent.
Nor did they repent of their “sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.” The “sorceries” were the things that they did with magic and drugs. The actual Greek word is farmakeia — the act of using drugs to produce a desired effect on individuals. They loved doing drugs and not having to deal with reality. They did not want to give these things up to serve God. And how do you get more and more drugs — by stealing. One sin led to another and the total effect was fornication against God. They loved all the things of the world so much more than they loved God that they were willing to die for them.
The things written in Revelation have been speculated about since the time the book was written. Everyone wants to know exactly what it reveals and when these things are going to happen. How many people do we hear currently who believe that Revelation points to what is happening in the world today? We hear this time and again. However, every era has believed that Revelation was pointing to them.
The early church saw within the pages of Revelation Roman Rule and destruction of Jerusalem. They saw the wicked Emperor Nero and the martyrdom of the early Christians.
A little later Christianity saw the era of the loss of Christianity to Islam — and then the response of the Crusades.
During the period of the Reformation the Protestants saw within the pages the corruption and evil of Rome and the Papacy. They interpreted every one of these sins as actions occurring within the Roman Catholic Church.
Today we look for these signs within the political structures and systems of the day.
Now, let’s step back a minute and realize the timelessness of the word of God. Isn’t it amazing that truths could be found in every era that related to these Scriptures? So, instead of trying to discern what the “signs” mean, why not look at what the word may be saying about who we are and how we act. Today’s Scripture leads us to believe that there are people in every era who will refuse to repent and turn to Christ because of their personal self-indulgence. I believe it is also a warning to you and to me that there is always the temptation to fornication — to giving ourselves away to the things of the world, rather than to God, and this leads to impurity. We are called to be God’s holy people. This description of sins is the antithesis of his holiness.
The world tempts us with stuff! Just look at how overrun our mall parking lots are these days. What in the world are people buying???? Do we really need all this stuff? We are murdering people in other countries (working them as slave laborers) so that we can have more stuff. Really? Could it be that subtly we have lost sight of the fact that our consumerism has replaced our relationship with Jesus Christ and that we are worshiping the demons of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood. All that stuff you got for Christmas — it cannot see, hear or walk. It’s just stuff.
And we don’t repent of our murders because we have cleverly hidden them far away beyond the seas in the workrooms that we cannot see. Out of sight, out of mind and surely I must not be responsible.
We make ourselves more comfortable when we spend our time trying to look into the future to interpret the book of Revelation. In this way we don’t have to take responsibility for our own actions. However, the word of God has been true for the martyrs of the first and second centuries all the way through to us today. We must take a personal look at ourselves and see whether we find our own behavior reflected in the words of the Revelator. Every era will have her sins. We must repent and be clothed in his white robe of righteousness — living in his holiness today, in this corrupt and evil world.
Lord, may we have wisdom to see the sins of the world for what they really are. Amen.