A pandemic, violence in the streets, racial injustice, political fighting, unemployment, a mushroom cloud in Beirut.
Is this the apocalypse?
Perhaps you’ve asked that question, or heard people talk about it.
Chances are, when you’ve heard the phrase, “The Apocalypse” it is meant to infer “the end of the world.” right?
Just Google the word and see…
I’m writing this post to help clarify terms and put some perspective on our current situation.
First of all, note the red X I put through the above definition. It’s just wrong. True, that is what the term has come to mean in English, but it is not what the actual word means in the Bible.
Imagine this. I bring a plate full of food and set it before you. The plate is covered with a cloth, so you can’t see what food is there.
I pull the cloth away from the plate and say, “Tada! It’s a salad!”
That, my friends, is an apocalypse.
The Greek Word is apocalypsis. The verb is apocalypto. It simply means “to uncover or reveal.”
I apocalyptoed the salad for you.
Read Matthew 11:25,
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants;
God apocalyptoed Jesus’ teachings to infants and hid them from the wise.
The word is used all throughout scripture to talk about how lots of different things get revealed to people for lots of different reasons.
So, why do we think the word Apocalypse means the end of the world?
The last book of the Bible is called The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ to John. You probably know it as The Revelation.
The Revelation is recollection of a series of visions that John had. These visions were wild metaphoric images of beasts and scrolls and seals. It is the stuff of great horror movies in the 20th Century.
Many people have interpreted this book literally and have tried to tie the imagery of the book to very historical events. They believe the book predicts the end of the world.
It does not, in my opinion (based on lots of research).
If this topic interests you, I encourage you to visit A Cartoonist’s Guide to the Revelation where there are links to some great resources.
Back to the Main Question
So is our current situation The Apocalypse?
No and Yes.
No, I do not believe it is the end of the world. It’s not good or fun. It’s nasty, actually, and the world is suffering greatly. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.
Besides, the Apocalypse doesn’t mean the end of the world, anyway, remember?
Yes, I do believe our current circumstances of pandemic and the heightened awareness of systemic racism in our society is an Apocalypse.
Our eyes are being opened to the reality of the world. Those of us who live in the protective bubble of white privilege find it very easy to be blind to the true suffering of our neighbors.
The global suffering we currently experience has revealed the truth of injustice to many of us in a way that we have never had eyes to see.
The Revelation of John is not a book about the end of the world. It is a book that allows us to see the contrast between The Kingdom of God and The Oppressive Systems of Babylon (all human systems of Empire and Domination).
The Kingdom of God is ruled by a lamb that was slain. The King of Kings is the one who taught, “Blessed are the poor…blessed are the meek…” and stands up against the exploitation of the weak and the slaughter of the innocent and oppressed.
Jesus told us that the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the Good News.
Each generation needs its own apocalypse to give us eyes to see and ears to hear.
So, YES, I think this is the apocalypse. I only hope that we can open our eyes all the way and be part of the healing that God wants to bring to our world, if only we let it.
(I want to give special thanks to Tim Mackie and Jon Collins at the Bible Project for their podcast series on the apocalypse that inspired today’s post)
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