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Sandy’s Real Revelation

by Dwayne Eutsey

       Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they    do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand. Mark Twain

I first became aware of the Bible’s “end times” prophecies through Hal Lindsey’s bestseller The Late, Great Planet Earth back in the ‘70s.

In the book (which went on to become a movie narrated by Orson Wells), Lindsey laid out how he believed current events at the time were fulfilling predictions about the end of the world in the Book of Revelation, the Bible’s mysterious and controversial grand finale.

As a 12-year-old with an overactive imagination, I remember reading and re-reading Revelation once I finished Lindsey’s book, poring over the strange and obscure text and searching for hidden clues that would reveal what the future had in store for us.

The clues I found were as scary and titillating as they were baffling. The Four Horsemen…Gog and Magog…the ominous figure of the Antichrist…the final battle between Good and Evil at Armageddon. What did it all mean for us? Are these events unfolding now in our lifetime?

I suppose a lot of people are still intrigued by such questions and are still searching for whatever glimpse into the future that may lurk in Revelation’s murky depths.

Hal Lindsey is still around offering what his website describes as “news analysis of current events from the perspective of Bible prophecy.” The Left Behind series, a dramatization of the Rapture and its apocalyptic aftermath, was hugely popular a decade ago. Today some evangelicals even suggest the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 portends Revelation’s ultimate fulfillment at the end of this year.

Not surprisingly, there are a few who also see last week’s catastrophic “superstorm” Sandy as further revelation of the impending end times. http://endtimesforecaster.blogspot.com/2012/10/alert-hurricane-sandy-haarping-on.html

As intriguing as such ethereal speculations may be, I’m not interested anymore in trying to match current events like Sandy with ancient prophecies that were probably never intended as literal predictions of the future in the first place.

Echoing Mark Twain, I’m not as bothered by these scriptural passages that I never really understood anyway as I am bothered by simple biblical passages that I do understand.

Like how last week’s storm has exposed the ever-widening chasm between the rich and poor (see “The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy” http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/10/the-hideous-inequality-exposed-by-hurricane-sandy/264337/) and reminds us of Isaiah’s timeless (and timely) call  

“to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke…to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see them naked, to cover them…” (Isaiah 58: 6-7)

Or how Jesus in Matthew 25 unambiguously identifies himself with not only the poor and marginalized people in New York’s Lower Eastside but also now with the middle class and affluent residents of the city and the region hit by Sandy who are now without homes and basic necessities:

“…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

In this so-called “age of austerity” we’re told (usually by people who are living quite comfortably) that the rest of us have to cut deeply into our society’s already weakened attempt to adhere to these principles. Unfortunately, we also have too many professed followers of Jesus conjecturing over passages from apocalyptic literature than they are living out the clear call for social justice found in the two passages quoted here.

Especially as global climate change contributes to increasingly violent weather that leaves millions of people suffering in Job-like anguish and devastation, I don’t think God is going to judge us by how clever we are in deciphering cryptic end-times scriptures.

I believe if there is to be any judgment, it will be by how much we care for one another, particularly “the least of these” among us, when our worlds come crashing down around us.

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