Monday, August 22, 2011

Thoughts on Revelation

Last night I finished the Book of Revelation (c. AD 68-70). In my teens and early twenties, I was literally obsessed with eschatology, reading tons of material promoting and critiquing the dozens of different viewpoints Christians have on the “end times.” Sometime around age twenty-five, I lost interest, and Revelation became a really tiresome book. However, this time I did get a fresh look at it.

The one thing that really stood out to me was an apparent parallel between the apocalyptic plagues seen in John’s vision and the ten plagues of Egypt discussed in the Book of Exodus. In the past, while my attention had been directed towards arguments about the proper interpretation of the seven angels, seven trumpets, and seven bowls, I had overlooked one key phrase found amongst it all:

“…and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified.” - Revelation 11:8 (ESV)

There’s a clear association made between Egypt and Jerusalem. I had to kick myself for not realizing the relationship before, but then I wondered why, out of the many preachers, authors, or speakers I’ve come across, I can’t recall one ever pointing out a connection with the Egyptian plagues. Did they not notice it either? Or was it just dismissed it as unimportant? Taking a fresh look at the text now, I wonder why that story from the Old Testament Law hasn’t played a stronger role in the development of “last days” theories.

Does everyone else see what I’m seeing? (Or am I forcing too much into the text?) Is there a way to account for the missing matches? Has someone written about this?

Egyptian Plagues
  1. Water Turned to Blood (Exodus 7:14-25)
  2. Frogs (Exodus 8:1-15)
  3. Gnats (Exodus 8:16-19)
  4. Flies (Exodus 8:20-32)
  5. Egyptian Livestock Die (Exodus 9:1-7)
  6. Boils (Exodus 9:8-12)
  7. Hail [Thunder, Lighting] (Exodus 9:13-35)
  8. Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20)
  9. Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29)
  10. Death of the Firstborn [by the “Angel of Death”] (Exodus 11; 12:1-32)

Apocalyptic Plagues