Earthquakes are mentioned several times in Revelation. I don’t buy the common evangelical interpretation that the events of Revelation will take place shortly prior to and during a seven-year period of tribulation. I am not an expert on this subject, but there seems to be three interpretations of eschatology, or the theology of the last things, or end times. Futurism is the interpretation I, and most evangelicals I suspect, have been taught. Think the Left Behind book series.
I first began to doubt the received dogma years ago, when I realized that Christians have been persecuted more in the past 100 or so years around the world, than in all the centuries preceding it combined. For American Christians to continue to wait for a “Great Tribulation” when a truly great tribulation was occuring under their noses, on a scale not seen since the great Roman persecutions — actually on a scale greater than the Roman persecutions — did not add up for me. The persecutions were not happening in America, was all. Only Americans can think that if it isn’t happening here, then it isn’t happening. Baloney.
I said to myself, The great Roman persecutions were state-sponsored. That is the difference. But then the more I learned about 20th century Christian persecutions, the more I realized it is all state-sponsored. Plenty of Christians were rounded up with Jews and persecuted in Nazi concentration camps. Everyone has heard of Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom, of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. And only God knows the names of the thousands who were not famous. Stalin tortured and killed his millions, as Richard Wurmbrand attested. Christians are in captivity in China, and have been slaughtered and enslaved by the millions in Sudan and on the bloody edges of Islam in Africa. Every week, it seems, we hear of Christian students beheaded, Christians beaten (Broken link, active March 13, 2006), Christians imprisoned, Christian believers threatened with forced conversions or death (Broken link, active March 13, 2006). All of these actions are state-sponsored, or state-allowed, at least, by the state turning a blind eye to the plight of their Christian citizens.
That doubt hardened into rejection of the modern evangelical interpretation (Broken link, active March 13, 2006) when I learned that it was a relatively new understanding of Revelation. The Church had traditionally understood Revelation to be an unfolding historical prophecy the way Daniel’s was. Daniel is the precedent.
God had been speaking continuously into the life of Israel as a nation since Moses was called. That speaking became the Old Testament. But the speaking was about to stop, for a short time. Before it stopped, Daniel had a prophetic vision. (Daniel chapter 7 through 12.) God showed him what would happen in the political and spiritual world until the day came when He would speak again.
That prophecy, which was all future to Daniel, has been long since fulfilled by Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and Jesus the Messiah. The traditional interpretation of Daniel’s prophecy is historicist.
Then God spoke to Israel again, loudly and clearly, through His Son. He was born a baby in a stable, and lived, and taught, and healed all who were
oppressed by the devil. He died on the cross for our sins. Jesus’ disciples continued to speak for Him into the Church, and His sayings and doings, and their writings and doings, became the New Testament. But the speaking was about to stop, for a time. Before it did, John had a prophetic vision — Revelation. God showed him what would happen in the political and spiritual world until the day came when He would speak again.
That prophecy, which was all future to John, has been in process of fulfillment in the 1900 years since John. The Church’s traditional interpretation of John’s prophecy is historicist. God will speak again in a very loud and clear way in the world: He will return in glory, and every eye will see Him, as the lightning is seen from the east to the west.
to be continued …
Update: continued in Earthquakes in context