I’ve been waiting for Pastor Dave to finish his series on Revelation. The part I was most interested in was how he would handle chapters 19-21, which we had discussed but where he never was willing to give me his interpretation of it.
I’m very glad that he did get a chance to tell me what he does believe. He pretty much follows what I’ve heard other pastors say so this is not against him personally but what Christian pastors claim and how that doesn’t track with reality. Using Dave’s blog as a source for such things makes it easier to refer to such actions.
In Revelation 20, Satan is released. Whom is he released by? God, for there is no other possibility since supposedly this god locked up this entity. This is after God has everyone who doesn’t obey him murdered (Revelation 19). Dave makes the following claim that there are people who haven’t accepted this god and they chose to follow Satan:
“Satan goes and deceives again. Now isn’t this incredible. Here are these nations and they have had all the benefit of seeing Christ’s reign at work. They’ve had every opportunity to hear the Gospel. They’ve seen the way that God’s people love one another and their good deeds. They’ve been able to read God’s Word for themselves. They are not ignorant of God’s goodness seen in this beautiful creation. Yet, when Satan turns up again, what do they do? They fall into line with him.”
This is not true. Believers in this god, that this god accepted as true believers and didn’t murder, are the only humans who exist at that point in the story. “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.” – Rev. 19
This god allows the second most powerful being in the universe to go among them again with no defense from this god at all (very much like in Genesis, but heck in that, it’s just as reasonable to say this god had no idea the snake was there). Dave says this which agrees that it is this god that is intentionally giving back power to its archenemy: “Satan’s power to deceive is taken away by the truth of God’s Word as it points to the Gospel robbing him of his ability to cause us to despair under guilt and shame and refuting the lies that he tells about God and us.” here.
This god, if omniscient would know that its action of giving back power to its archenemy would cause his true believers to fail, and if this god is omnipotent, this god desires and requires this outcome. The only reason that anyone would do this is that this god needs a final bloodletting, more violence and more punishment because it somehow likes it. It intentionally allows believers to be deceived again. Now, whose fault is it?
The author of Revelation, like the author of Romans, and pastors/priests/imams/etc, all depend on a claim that most religions have, that only their god exists, only their god created the universe, and everyone should see that it was *only* their god. However, this depends on one of their claims being true, and there is no evidence that any theist’s claim is accurate. They could all be false, with not one true religion to be found with one true, or many true, gods.
If each god is so obvious, then why can’t believers, even within sects, convince each other that they and they alone know the one true god and what it really wants?
Dave’s evident answer to why Satan is released is no more than “It is our responsibility to respond obediently to God’s clearly revealed truth.” It seems that this god goes out of its way to make sure humans haven’t a clue on what this supposed “clearly revealed truth” is. We end up with an entity that can’t leave well enough alone and has to repeatedly convince itself it is in charge. It does not defeat its archenemy, it has to work with it to do what it wants. It chooses death and eternal suffering.
To finish, Dave also is sure that revelation is meant for now, that the end time are upon us “Jesus is coming soon, so be ready, alert, excited and expectant” And that’s what every single Christian has claimed for thousands of years now. What will happen when Dave will be on his deathbed and none of the claimed prophecies of Revelation, that JC will return imminently (ready to take place, hanging threateningly above one’s head) have come to pass? Well, there will be one more Dave in another church somewhere who insists that *his* version is the true one.