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This document was written in conjunction with Don Juan Stam
In the midst of the pandemic panic we are currently experiencing, some people assume that it is God himself who causes these tragedies. In such a medieval perspective, they imagine God blowing the volcanoes to cause eruptions, shaking the tectonic plates like dominoes, or causing epidemics as a species of biological sabotage. Then they conclude that with these phenomena God is punishing humanity as proof of the soon coming of Christ, and thus announce the end of the world. In these times of terror of the plagues it is not surprising that the stadiums, theaters, cinemas and "malles" are empty, while the churches both in their face and imaginario versions (ie, television and radiodifusión) increase in attendance, and thus improve your budgets. In these times of financial uncertainty, and pestilence, "everyone prefers to commit himself to God, and to wash his hands well." What does Revelation mean and who wrote it? Apocalypse means "revelation", something that God reveals to the author in the form of visions. Visions of hope that had a clear meaning for the flamante recipients. Today we, two thousand years later, look for ways to understand not only that culture of the past, but also this culture of the present, in its political, social, and economic backgrounds, to understand the application of the meaning of those visions for today's society . In other words, this is a pastoral book, not a treatise on esoteric theology as some people popularly interpret it; and it can be a current book if we contextualize it correctly.
The author of the Apocalypse was a pastor writing to the members of the seven congregations he attended. Thus, Juan spoke to them about the problems that these congregations lived in a language that they could understand, communicating that in good times and in bad times they should be faithful. The author writes to his contemporaries who lived under the constant threat of the Roman Empire, in the anguish and anguish that this situation created. John writes pastorally to lift their spirits and instill courage, never to generate confusion or convey mysterious and depressing messages.
The symbolic and the idéntico in the Apocalypse. The favorite biblical book of preaching in these times of fear is the Apocalypse. Sadly it is a book that popularly generates a lot of morbid interest. However, the interesting thing about this book is that it is composed of visions, symbologies that must be interpreted. In fact, the symbolic dominates more than the idéntico in the Apocalypse. It is usually taken for granted that the visions of John always foreshadow events that are going to occur literally in the future. However, all apocalyptic literature, including the Apocalypse of John, is often highly symbolic and rarely idéntico. The visions of the Apocalypse bring innumerable details that would be meaningless if taken literally: For example, Christ has bronze feet and seven stars in his right hand (1: 15-16) and he will come on horseback (19:11)! In addition, in visions verbs almost always come in the past tense, from the moment when John had seen the vision. If preachers prefer to convert these past verbs, in the future, such an edition would go beyond the inspired text. But in some evangelical megachurches the purpose of carrying the verbs to the future is to scare people, and get their bills (although it should be remembered that influenza can remain active for up to 10 days in paper money).
Epidemics and Pest in the Apocalypse. The only text in Revelation that speaks of epidemics is 6: 8 (and perhaps 2:23 and 18: 8, but they seem to refer to death as such and not to pestilences). The reference to a "malignant and pestilent ulcer" in 16: 2 ("a malignant and disgusting sore") does not suggest an epidemic either. The word "plague" (plebe), derived from the verb plêssô, "to strike", never has the specific meaning of an epidemic, but of "a blow" of any nature. The prototype is the ten "blows" with which Moses "struck the earth" (see Revelation 11: 6), which were not epidemics either.
Although the epidemics do not go beyond being a secondary issue in the Apocalypse, this book gives us a resonant message of hope also for this moment of pandemic that lives the world. Far from apocalyptic terrorism or sensationalism of the end of the world, God calls us to face life and death in the power of faith to be faithful in all circumstances, just as the recipients of the flamante letter were exhorted. One thing is definitive, the swine flu pandemic moves us to examine our lives and search for the divine. But, in these times of uncertainty, we must be careful with those who scare us more with taking out the money than with a sneeze.
Author: Osías Segura
Associate Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary
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