Monday, April 23, 2012

What a Posterior!

And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. Revelation 17:9

Glen once characterized the greatest problem in his teaching, in anyone's teaching, he said, as having to uproot pre-conceived ideas. Along with it, he said, was the tendency to invent or construct quick solutions to Biblical problems.

"We Americans like quick answers," he said. "We also like what is called common sense reasoning. We have a tendency to look down upon learning. Nowhere is this more evident than in Bible study.

"Yet these same people change their attitudes very quickly when they, or a member of their family face a medical emergency. When someone is injured or suffers from a possible fatal illness, the need is felt for the most learned and experienced medical practitioner that can be found. Gone is the desire for quick answers and the distrust of learning. We want the best, and we should."

I have heard him express this contradiction in attitudes so many times, and seen the frustration of his trying to teach against these odds so many times that I can honestly say it is the one thing that weighs most heavily upon Glen. He is, most times, an even-keel sort of man, steady as a rock. But years of facing foolish and careless attitudes of Bible teachers and students has taken its toll on this man.

"People say that medical people hold your life in their hands," he told me. "Good as they are, they can only do so much, and then your days are over. They can't help you with eternity or themselves either, for that matter.

"Must be weird to be a doctor and find out you have a fatal malady," he said. "You watch the symptoms and can figure what is going to happen to you. This time your diagnosis is not some other guy, it's you! For the medical man or woman, they come to the point where there are no more options. Mankind can only do so much against the curse of death.

"Now the Bible man doesn't have that limitation. In fact he can help people during their lives and prepare them for eternity--a happy eternity filled with great rewards. That's way beyond what medicine can do.

"Now all I'm saying is, why can't people have at least as much respect for God's Bible teachers and preachers, considering the range of benefits that they are capable of conveying?"

All this was said before Glen was to teach a class on the Book of Revelation. He would not teach Revelation to anyone who had not studied the Book of Daniel with him.

"It is necessary to have a good Old-Testament background before you study Revelation,” he said. "You need Genesis too. So many think Genesis is just a bunch of stories that everybody has heard a million times. But where is their understanding of Genesis?"

I was to see a demonstration of the problems he was speaking of later on that evening. Glen was using a basement room with a large blackboard. He loved using blackboards, he said. "I sat for years watching teachers use them, and now it's my turn!"

He had been presenting the persons of Revelations. "Got to nail them down, or nothing makes sense," he emphasized. "And we must not bring our pre­conceived ideas with us to this study. We must draw all our conclusions from the scriptures, not only Revelation, but as many books, as many, points in the Bible as we can bring to bear upon these persons."

His text this night was Revelation chapter 17, and the person, or "personage" as Glen liked to say, was the woman in verse 1, "the great whore".

"Folks," Glen began, "There may be many people here tonight who already think they know who this woman is. I hope this is not true. But it has been my experience over the years that this is one of the texts that people 'already know'. I call this problem of 'already knowing' the carbon monoxide of Bible study.

"As you may know, carbon monoxide kills many people each year. It is invisible, tasteless and odorless so it sneaks up on you and kills you. Often while you are asleep. Yet, this gas is not in itself toxic! It kills because it combines with the oxygen carrying hemoglobin in our bloodstreams and occupies the chemical sites that should be carrying the oxygen our bodies need. CO crowds out the oxygen. It is as if poor little oxygen is waiting to get on a train at the station, but when the train pulls in, all the seats are already taken by carbon monoxide molecules. Sorry, oxygen, no room for you to ride!

"Now, in our minds we have places for the truth concerning any subject. But, in so many cases, carbon monoxide ideas are already there, and poor old truth has got no place to sit!"

Glen proceeded to inquire of his listeners just what ideas they already had about this important personage of Revelation 17:1.

A matronly woman put up her hand. "I'm almost afraid to say anything because you will probably say it is a carbon monoxide idea. But can't we identify the woman, from scripture, as you always say, by finding other quotes in Revelation?"

"Always a good way to proceed!" said Glen. "Which scripture do you have in mind?"

"Well", said the lady, somewhat emboldened by Glen's approval of her approach, "I've read ahead, I mean I've read Revelation many times, and can't we pin down who she is by where she sits?"

"Geography, in this case, is very important,” said Glen.

"Okay" said the lady, "then I think I have the answer, because in Revelation 17:9 it says And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth."

Glen said nothing, waiting for the woman to continue.

"So I think the woman is the Roman Catholic Church!"

"Please continue,” said Glen, calmly. "I'm afraid there might be some here tonight that are not able to follow your logic."

"I think it's pretty obvious,” she said. "Rome, I mean the city of Rome, is known as the "city of seven hills". The woman sits on Rome, so she must be the Catholic Church. That's where the Vatican is, in Rome. It all fits."

"I can sure see where you are coming from,” said Glen. "It is logical, alright."

The woman seemed pleased. She had won the approval of this critical teacher, who often intimidated people with his strict reasoning. She was glad she had had the nerve to speak out.

The rest of us suspected that Glen had just given a poor fish more line, that's all. Yet he was not a cruel man or a rude one. I wondered what he would say to her next.

"We use what is called destructive testing in these classes. Kind of like a little boy with a new toy. He tries to break it--maybe see what is inside. If he can't bust it, it must be a pretty good toy. Let's test your idea of the city of Rome as the place where the woman, the great whore, sits."

Glen walked to the stand where his Bible lay.

"The angel, when he wanted to show John who the woman was, described her as 'the great whore that sitteth upon many waters', Revelation 17:1. I said geography is very important, but so are tenses. The angel did not say where she will sit, but where she sitteth--present tense. I know of no one who believes that this passage was written later than the first century A.D."

An older gentleman interrupted. "But the Catholic Church claims that they began within that time frame. They claim Peter was the first pope."

"Yes," said an older woman, "Even the old Catholic Bible, the Douay, has notes that say the Catholic Church will be the whore of Babylon!"

"Will be?" said Glen. "I repeat, the angel tells John in the last decade of the first century that the woman already sits upon many waters. He further says the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her. Not some kings, but the kings--all of them.

"The angel further says that the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. Think of the scope of her activity and influence! The kings. The inhabitants of the earth. This scope far exceeds any possible influence of the Catholic Church at this time, even if there was such an institution in existence.

"As for Peter being a pope, someone forgot to tell the Apostle Paul that Peter was a pope or even had top authority. Paul in no way yielded to Peter. Look it up.

"Now, we have spoken of the time when the whore has ruled. We have talked about the scope or extent of her influence--both far beyond that of the Catholic church, even at the peak of its power. Now let us look at the area from which she rules. Geography again.

"Let us look at Revelation 17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman....".

Glen was driving his point home. He could be so eloquent in his teaching that you forgot his humble appearance. And he was so sincere in his love of the scriptures that people forgot their resentment when he contradicted their ideas.

"Was the city of Rome in the wilderness? Has it ever been? Has the Catholic Church ever ruled all of the kings of the earth from the wilderness?"

All were silent for a time.

Then the woman who had cited the old Catholic Bible spoke. "But what about the Catholic Bible saying the Catholic Church
is the whore of Babylon?"

"Are we saying this is true because the whore says it is?" asked Glen. "They are simply wrong. What evidence do they give? It is a notation, not scripture. It is a perverse distortion of their idea that, good or evil, they are the
only true church. If the whore is the church, then she is a Catholic Church! That is their logic.

"Folks, I am saying that any identification of the Roman Catholic church as the woman of Revelation is contradicted by the time, the extent of influence, and the geographic location.

"It is a construct, made of parts, but not supported by any scripture." "But I want to thank you for bearing with me and allowing me to thrash around with these ideas.”

A young man raised his hand. "I'm not saying I disagree with what you said about Rome and the Catholic Church. But if the woman isn't the Catholic Church, who is she?"

"That's what we're here to find out,” said Glen. "But before we try to identify who she is, we needed to say who she is not. Please turn with me to the book of Zechariah."

There was a rustling of pages and whispered consultations. "Where did he say?" And so forth.

Finally, when everyone had turned to Zechariah, Glen spoke. "Chapter five, and I'll begin at verse five...

Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.
And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth.
And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.
And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst
of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.
Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these
bear the ephah?
And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.
Zechariah 5:5-11.

"There's your woman, and there's your geography", said Glen. . "The prophet doesn't ask who she is. He only asks where the stork-winged women are taking her."

The woman who thought that the whore was Rome spoke. "But where is Shinar?" she asked.

"Ah," said Glen, "it is the original name in the book of Genesis for Babylon! The woman in Revelation does not sit upon seven mountains all at once. She sits upon one mountain at a time. Wherever world power is, there she sits.”

Glen walked to the blackboard. He drew a series of seven rounded hills across the board.

"Here are the nations which have held sway over God's people Israel."

Starting from left to right, he wrote" Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. And for the seven mountains he wrote, revised Rome, the final kingdom of the Times of the Gentiles.

"This final kingdom is the same as the ten toes of the image of Daniel chapter two."

"But," objected someone. "Daniel only has four. Revelation has seven. What gives?"

“Daniel gives the nations that rule over Israel from the time the Davidic kingdom fell, until Jesus returns. Revelation gives all the nations that have ruled over Israel since the beginning of Israel in Egypt. Daniel is about the Kingdom of David--a shorter time--but of vital importance.

"As for the woman sitting on the seven hills of Rome? You can sit on Mt. Shasta and you can sit on Mt. Wilson. But you can't sit on them at the same time. The wicked woman can't sit on seven hills at one time. I mean, What a posterior!"

Glen was not above such ridiculous figures of speech. "They may groan at my crude remarks," he said, "but they remember them."

"Was it a good class tonight, Glen?" I asked him later. "I mean people did bring up some of those pre-conceived ideas that bother you so much."

"Yes, they did," he admitted. "But you could feel them think, couldn't you? That is all I ask. That is what it is all about."

No comments:

Post a Comment