sexta-feira, 17 de julho de 2015

CAESAR AND THE LAMB


Then I heard every creature
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth
and on the sea,
and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne
and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”

Revelation 5:13 (read 5.11-14) - NIV

The Book of Revelation reflects the cosmic vision of antiquity. The universe was seen as being created in layers. The land was in the middle. The levels below the earth were the realms of darkness and occupied by the dead, the demons and all the forces of evil. Above the Earth stretched the firmament which separated the waters below from the waters above. Below the firmament were the sun, moon and stars. Above the waters of the firmament were the heavens, home of the gods and the other heavenly beings. For Christians, God reigned up there above it all along with Christ (the Lamb), surrounded by the heavenly court of saints, angels and other heavenly creatures. The symbolism of Revelation is based on this model.

With the invention of the telescope and other research tools, this model has fallen apart. In the current concept there is no "above" or "below" the earth. The earth is a sphere moving around the sun, turning within a galaxy of billions of other solar systems. Our galaxy is only one of billions of other galaxies. If Jesus had "gone up into heaven" in the middle of the first century at the speed of light he would still be within our small galaxy.

But the cosmic vision, adopted by the ancient writers, now outdated, takes nothing from the deep meaning of the scriptures. The Bible is not a collection of objective facts of history, geography, astronomy or physics. It does not portray the physical world in an objective way. It describes the human soul and its relationship with the visible and invisible worlds in symbolic language. It deals with spiritual realities.

The author of Revelation was looking through the eyes of faith and reporting what he saw. He could see the tragedies of his times in a larger context.

The rulers of the Roman Empire required its citizens to recognize that Caesar was a deity worthy of worship. The refusal of Christians to confess him as Lord was interpreted as an act of rebellion and atheism. The punishment was often death.

The vision of the Book of Revelation stated the exact opposite – "Jesus is Lord." Caesar was seen as the antichrist and his supporters were false prophets. The call was to choose between two masters: Caesar or Christ. Jesus was identified as the Lamb who conquered death and had power to give back life to those who were martyred on his behalf. Despite appearances to the contrary, all the forces of the universe were with the Lamb.

Caesar was swallowed by history. He is gone! But throughout history there have appeared many successors of Caesar who ruled for a while, and then also disappeared. The successor of Caesar today, is called "Profit". His state is a military/industrial complex called "Globalization" with hundreds of military bases around the world to enforce it. Its cathedrals are sumptuous "malls". Its ministers are the sales people and its evangelists are the advertising agencies. Salvation is acquired through buying and heaven is the possession of prestige and property. Whoever does not bend his or her knees to materialism is in danger of marginalization and living in the hell of poverty and imprisonment. Wealth is considered to be a sign of divine grace. If you have faith you prosper!!!

The Book of Revelation points out that above all these visible powers, there is the "Invisible" One that is worthy of our praise. Genuine paradise is to be next to the "Lamb" who represents values that will never end. Our temptations are more subtle but just as dangerous as those of the early Christians. Today it is through a life of simplicity and compassion that we can praise, honor and glorify the “Lamb”.

REVELATION 5:11-14 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,

    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength

    and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

    be praise and honor and glory and power,

for ever and ever!”

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

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