Obama and Revelation

Kevin Wilson has a post up discussing the recent trend for people to associate a certain presidential candidate with the antichrist. Perhaps Kevin is merely karma whoring, but regardless his post is worth a read.

I find two things quite fascinating–first, that any time there is a political race in America, one of the contenders (normally the democrat) is labeled the antichrist. I personally remember Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and now Barack Obama being labeled the antichrist at one point or another during their various campaigns. Oddly, I don’t seem to recall John Kerry being called the antichrist.

The second, and far more interesting thing, that Kevin’s post brings up is that evangelical Christians tend to read Revelation as a sort of guide to the future. I used to do the same. Thank God that one of my professors in college helped me understand that prophecy isn’t about predicting the future. Quite the opposite, its about impacting your behavior now. “Repent!” said the ancient prophets; I’m fairly certain St. John would agree.

The difficult thing becomes communicating this to evangelical Christians today. I speak specifically of students, though the problem applies across the board. There are students in my youth ministry who could not even tell you the number of books in the Bible, let alone their names, yet they all share this common misconception that Revelation tells us the future and that one should read it to know “what is going to happen.” How is it that such a thing even possible? My perplexity increases when some declare that “Revelations is my favorite book.” Oh yes, because one normally mis-names their favorite book (Kevin, I share your pet peeve).

Perhaps I should bring myself back from the brink of senseless complaining for a moment and propose something helpful. This is a primary reason why I heartily support pastors (including youth pastors) getting themselves a good education. The first step to this is, of course, learning Hebrew and Greek. Then reading some critical commentaries on the prophetic literature might be helpful. To be honest, many of my classmates from Davis, which is itself a quite dispensational school, at least understand that Revelation is not meant as some kind of roadmap. That’s not to say all my classmates understand that, or even the majority. But many of them do.

So, now that I have meandered from politics to the Bible to youth ministry and finally to personal reflection I think I’ve covered every area that my blog commonly deals with, excepting video games. Of course, the Left Behind video game doesn’t even deserve mentioning.

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3 thoughts on “Obama and Revelation

  1. Are you sure you really want to say that prophecy has nothing to do with predicting the future? I definitely agree it is far from the primary purpose, but I don’t think we can exclude the clairvoyant nature of it either.

    Yes, the purpose of prophecy is to change how we live today- but why must that negate the idea of God communicating future actions to illicit that response.

    Now, I’m not saying that about Revelation just prophecy in general. I don’t know what to do with Revelation other than use my ‘Left Behind’ books as a biblical commentary.

    earl

  2. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I want to say that. In fairness, prophets certainly did “predict the future,” however I’m not sure that was the point of prophecy. The point was to bring the message from the divinity, in the case of Israel from Yhwh, and thus move the people towards a certain set of actions.

    In all honesty, the predicting the future aspect has more to do with giving a sign to confirm that the prophet is from Yhwh, then with actually giving information about what will happen (cf Is. 7.14). So, yeah, God can communicate the future, and sometimes its in the form of a threat (ie, “Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll bring Babylon to crush you like a rotten date”), other times as a sign to confirm the message of “repent!” In all of those, predicting the future is somewhat peripheral to the actual prophecy given.

  3. A wise man once told me that any text without a context is a pretext.

    Of course we believe that revelation is all about us, because America is the most important nation that has ever existed and therefore these massive cosmic forces mentioned in Revelation can only be referring to presidents who are democratically elected and have 2 four year terms. Of course Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ because Obama is a black, liberal President with an eastern-sounding name( anti Christ is a word John doesn’t actually use in revelation – he uses the greek for ‘false Christ’ Anti Christ only appears in 1 and 2 John which probably isn’t even written by the same John).
    Emperors like Domitian and Trajan who ruled around the time Revelation was written were having known Christians tortured and forced to either worship their image (emperor cult) and curse Christ or die on the spot. Forget about the left behind series for one minute and take a look at the world that the people who this book was written for were living in. I guarantee you will not regret it!

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