Saturday, September 21, 2019

Facebook no longer chief suspect for the apocalypse, but…

May 22. 2019
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Re: “Facebook – the Antichrist stalks the European elections,” Have Your Say, May 21.

In this letter Nigel Pike asks Have Your Say’s religious commentators, of whom I am one, to confirm that chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation prophesies “a single world government ruled by the False Prophet and the Antichrist”.

I have not looked at the Book of Revelation for some time. Tradition says that its author was a man named John, who was writing in exile on the island of Patmos toward the end of the first century. My first look at the book convinced me that he was a certified nutter who had been smoking some very powerful weed. A fresh look has done nothing to dispel that impression. The book’s contents are supposed to have been communicated to this John by an angel. Not wishing to disparage John, but if an angel ever appeared before me I’d want to see some ID.

The book is full of mystical gobbledygook that may have been comprehensible to first-century readers, since it seems to refer to political events which occurred around that time, but is certainly not comprehensible to us. Chapter 13 makes no specific reference to a false prophet or the Antichrist, as Nigel claims. It does refer to a dragon (a prescient reference to the TV series “Game of Thrones?”) and a beast subordinate to it. The beast has traditionally been identified with the Roman emperor Nero because of some mumbo-jumbo associated with the number 666.

Every generation likes to assume that biblical prophecies apply to itself. Our generation is no different, so we are easily deluded on that score. Chapter 13 says that the dragon gave the beast great authority. My aged antennae perked up when I read: “And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for 42 months.” (RSV, Rev 13:5) That’s three and a half years. What’s more, the beast “was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them”. (verse 7)

If I were inclined to believe in biblical prophecies and apply them to our own time, given the reference to a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, I might conclude that the beast is Donald Trump. The dragon who gave him power would have to be the American people. The saints whom the beast conquers would have to be the Democrats, since there are no saintly Republicans that I know of. 

If this interpretation is correct, that would give Trump 42 months in power, or three and a half years, making the Trumpreich last from January 20, 2017 to July 20, 2022. (Somebody please check my math, which is almost as wobbly as my prophetic powers.) That would suggest that Trump will win re-election in 2020, but his reign will be cut short by July 20, 2022. Exactly how, we don’t know. My personal bet would be death from oral exhaustion, that is, from an overworked mouth. 

Nowhere in chapter 13 do I see anything that could be interpreted as a reference to Facebook; but hey, my ability to interpret prophecies is limited, and Nigel undoubtedly has more insight than I do.

Ye Olde Theologian

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