Monday, June 26, 2006

Disjointed Thoughts on the Apocalypse

Elijah went over to another mural.
His eyes were drawn to the central figure of the image, a figure of Christ. How strange, he thought, to see a representation of the Lord with the figure of Satan whispering in His ear, and his arm penetrating His robes. Is that Christ's hand of the devil's that emerges from the folds of cloth?
It was not a literal description of a scriptural scene, he concluded; although it might be the artist's imaginative rendering of the temptaion in the desert? But there was something out of character in the way Christ leaned into Satan's embrace and listened with such attention.
He stared at it for a long time. Suddenly, the meaning of the mural became clear, like a scene viewed through lenses revolving into focus. The blurred shapes of reality drew together into a sharp, piercing landscape of moral disaster.
The figure held in the devil's embrace was not Christ but Antichrist.
Elijah understood why Don Matteo had wanted him to see it.

-Father Elijah by Michael D. O'Brien

I've been thinking about the Apocalypse for a few weeks- my interest was piqued by picking up Father Elijah once more (from which the above quote comes). Apocalypse means unveiling- a rolling back of this world to show the concealed truth- the war between heaven & hell, the eternal purpose of human life.

The prophet Daniel speaks of the 'abomination that causes desolation' which will be placed in the temple when the daily sacrifices are stopped. Jesus speaks of this as being the sign of the coming tribulation. How are we to understand this? I believe it to mean that at some point, the Church will be persecuted and they shall attempt to halt the Sacrifice of the Mass.

I have a fairly traditional approach to the Apocalypse. As I approach Revelation, I am guided by this thought- that the prefigurements and presentiments of prophecy are to reach consummation. The spirit of the Antichrist is in every age. Is the Antichrist not to come at the end of the age?


Blogger matthew christopher davidson said...

Oh Matthew,

Your Brethren roots are showing. Does your Scofield Bible have a decoder ring? I'm pretty sure they sell those in cereal boxes...


I mean, apocalyptic writing (esp. Daniel, Hermas, and Qumran) serves as depiction and interpretation of the situations contemporary to its authors; it holds forward the ultimate meaning and final solution. But I don't think its predictions can be properly applied to specific events.

I agree that the antichrist is always at work, seeking to defile the Church.

Regarding Daniel and the Olivet discourse, I don't see how you can read any of that "abomination" and "head for the hills" stuff and not think "70 AD", "Titus Flavius" and "temple destruction".

The destruction of the Temple was the sign of the end of an age. It was the proof that Christ is the End of all sacrifices. The destruction of the Temple is yet another sign, therefore, of the advent of Christ's kingdom.

I think you're right to see that the Mass is, by nature, always at odds with worldly power. Thus, the meeting is always persecuted.

I hope you also can see that this is always happening.

June 28, 2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger gabriel said...

In defence of the church in which I was raised, they never touched on the historical aspects of Revelation. Nor did I ever lay eyes on a Scofield Chain-Reference Bible there.

AD 70 may be a prefigurement of what Christ speaks of (and we already have the example of Antiochus at the time of the Maccabees), but to suggest it is the fulfillment of what Christ speaks of in the Olivet discourse ignores a number of problems. Firstly, the Antichrist is actually putting a stop to the sacrifice- but by AD 70 Christ had already sacrificed himself- the mosaic law was no more, and so the Antichrist was putting a stop to sacrifices of no significance.

I'll post more on this later.


June 28, 2006 11:45 AM  
Blogger matthew christopher davidson said...


The reason the temple had to be destroyed was precisely that Christ was the new and perpetual sacrifice, and the old temple cult HAD to end.

Perhaps you could outline further why you see this as problematic to preterist readings.

Preterism was, incidentally, originally a Catholic teaching.

July 06, 2006 11:01 PM  
Blogger gabriel said...

I should perhaps clarify that I am a partial preterist, with postmillenial leanings. I'm not a dispensationalist, a historicist or a futurist.

I'm sorry I haven't gotten around to posting a longer piece yet- I'll try to put it up on the weekend.

July 07, 2006 10:59 AM  

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