Picturing Eternity: Revelation 11 – 12

Two Badass Prophets. The Final Trumpet. A Baby Born for God. A Dragon Descends.

“I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” Revelation 11:3 (NIV)

On an over packed bookcase at the far end of my parent’s basement, there is a clean row of 12 books that fills an entire shelf on its own. As this is a Christian household, your guesses are immediately limited as to what these books are. Could it be 12 different versions of the Bible? That is certainly a possibility, but unfortunately, that is not the case here.

They are the 12 books in the Left Behind series.

For those of you who ignore the cultural zeitgeist, let me give you a quick summary. Left Behind (and its eleven sequels) recount the Christian Tribulation and the final seven years of human existence, beginning with the Rapture and ending with God’s appearance on Earth. They became enormously popular following their publication and have sold over 60 million copies worldwide. Movie adaptations were attempted, first with Kirk Cameron, and then most recently with Nicholas Cage, but they failed to garner the same interest. The latter example was universally panned by critics and moviegoers but played well with stoner crowds excited to see Nicholas Cage take on the end of the world.

My father, like many Christian parents at the time, devoured the books one after another, so he recommended I read them. I made it halfway through the fourth book before I quit. It had nothing to do with the writing, which was brisk and eventful (and violent… man those books were violent… but considering we’re halfway thru the book of Revelation and a third of everything and everyone has been destroyed, I guess it’s accurate to the source material). I put the fourth book down, because I could not cope with what was occurring within the pages. Literalizing the end of the world felt insurmountable to me and too actively engaged my anxiety. Nope, I was done, and I promise you, I will never go back.

I wrote earlier this week about some advice a therapist gave me. She told me to picture eternity in my mind in a literal way, and maybe that would help my anxiety. She said I should just think about it like I do with life right now. I’m just taking it one day at a time.

I still don’t like it.

Revelation amps up the action with these chapters. Two “witnesses” come down to Earth and prophecy for three and a half years. They are badass individuals – with fire pouring from their mouths and power to cause plagues on a whim. However, a beast comes from the abyss and kills them, but they are resurrected and torture all of humanity.

The seventh angel plays his trumpet. Thunder, lightning, hail, earthquake.

Then, a woman and a dragon get into a series of fights. She gives birth to a baby, who is immediately snatched up to God for safekeeping, and the woman is whisked off to a place in the wilderness, far away from the dragon. So the dragon goes off to Heaven to fight the angels, but Michael and his squad hurl it back down to the earth. The dragon trudges off to the woman, to kill her, but angels grab her and bring her to Heaven, thus leaving him to wage war against all the Christians on Earth.

Crazy stuff there.

Reading that, though, doesn’t give me any sort of anxiety. I think it is just so far removed from reality that it plays like some fantasy epic. But picturing it… actualizing it in real world terms? That is just a terrifying notion.

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