Revelation 15: The Most High shoulders the blame for the ruin that will fall upon our cultures of violence and privilege.
How do we know whether someone is going to be a good leader? Because we live in a democracy during the television age, our politicians give us many answers to that question.
Some candidates try to convince us that they feel our pain. But does that mean they have answers?
Some candidates run on past success, but what do we care about the success of the candidate? What is important is whether we’ll be better off.
Some candidates run on popularity. They seem to be like us. We believe that they won’t surprise us. But if we already know what should be done, why do we need a leader?
What we really want, of course, is to be confident that we can lead ourselves. The Chinese philosopher Laozi put it this way:
A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.
To say “we did it ourselves” is wonderful, because it means that we can do it again. Of course, new problems will arise, so we’ll still need leaders. But the leader that guided us past the last problem isn’t necessarily the one to get us past the next problem. For example, Dwight Eisenhower helped end World War II, but couldn’t end America’s 100-year race war. That work was begun by Lyndon Johnson.
One of the perks of leadership is power. That power is supposed to be used to help people. When things go wrong, we would hope that a leader would step aside. Many poor leaders fail that test. One example is Mao Zedong, the life-long leader of Communist China. During the Cultural Revolution from 1968 to 1976, millions of people were imprisoned and their property seized. Rather than admit he was wrong, Mao changed China’s national anthem. The lyrics to “The East is Red” start:
The east is red, the sun is rising.
From China comes Mao Zedong.
He strives for the peoples’ happiness.
Hurrah, he is the people’s great savior!
The contrast between these lyrics and Mao’s hurtful actions should be disgusting to us. Laozi would object, and loudly. As would Jesus, who warned:
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
We should be suspicious of a leader that sings his own praises.
Let’s turn now to Revelation 15. It begins with a song of praise to God:
Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
All nations will come and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.
Revelation 15 ends with the preparation of seven plagues to complete “God’s wrath.” As described in Revelation 16, these plagues bring agony and death to every part of the earth.
So what makes the Most High different from Mao Zedong?
A whole book in the Old Testament debates this question. Satan accuses God of moral laziness, for he protects his people from suffering. In response, God rains disaster down on Job. When Job doubts the Lord’s justice, God answers:
Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify myself?
Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
[NIV Job 40:8-9]
One way of interpreting this is “Who do you think you are, puny mortal?” But more sympathetically, we might pause to wonder just how hard the problem is that God must solve. If we don’t, well, how can we judge him?
Let’s go over the story one more time – but with pictures.
Before the beginning of the Bible, the Most High floated in empty space along with a flock of angels. While the Most High loved the angels perfectly, their love for each other was imperfect. This forced the Most High to withhold his power to prevent the angels from using it to hurt each other.
Then the Most High and the angels arrived at earth. The most selfish angels were given possession of the earth. On the earth, they could ignore the Most High. They could play at making bodies without worrying about cleaning up their mess. To prevent the selfish angels from corrupting life completely, 144,000 angels were sent down to help the living creatures evolve until they could receive love from the Most High.
Three billion years later came people. People seemed promising: they took care of each other, and studied the way the world worked. Because of that, we were given a great gift. The Most High left heaven to teach two people how to love the world. Their names were Adam and Eve. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve sought power for themselves. They were corrupted by selfishness. For this reason, the Most High withdrew back to heaven.
Throughout these billions of years, the flock of angels around the Most High was a mix of caring angels and selfish angels. About the time of the coming of Christ, however, the selfish angels were pushed out of heaven onto the earth. This work was done by the angel Michael. This was possible only because the selfish angels had become glued to the earth, and so could not run away. The community of selfish angels is described in Revelation as “the dragon.”
But while selfishness was no longer found in heaven, that doesn’t mean that all the spirits on earth were selfish. In fact, the dragon is said to have swept “1/3 of the angels” out of heaven when it was cast down. How are those angels to be freed? Two people were sent down to save us: Christ and the Holy Mother. Christ’s perfect heart is the tool used to free people from the dragon, and the Holy Mother brings compassion and strength to the good.
In response, the dragon raises up kings. These “kings” are not rulers, but cultures that reward violence and privilege. In the world today, these cultures have spread all across the earth. They make it almost impossible for just societies to evolve.
This situation should be familiar to us from the story of the trumpets. Each trumpet marked a catastrophe that caused a great extinction that wiped out the dominant forms of life. The catastrophes – great volcanoes, temperature shifts and asteroids – weren’t unusual. The impact only was only so severe because the catastrophes occurred when certain creatures (like dinosaurs) had taken over the earth, making it impossible for new creatures (like mammals) to arise.
Just like our cultures of violence and privilege prevent the rise of just cultures.
How could the Most High solve this problem? One way would be to wipe out humanity. But that wouldn’t free the angels trapped on earth with the dragon. They would have to wait around until another living creature like humanity rose up to liberate them. The Most High wants more than that. This is why the Lamb and Sacred Mother were sent down to us – as an anchor for love that would enable us to free ourselves from the dragon.
Now when we talked about the victory of love after the last of the trumpets, we saw that the reason love won was because selfishness doesn’t know loyalty. Destruction, one of the forms of selfishness, kept on ruining the success of his brothers.
The same thing is going to happen again, but this time it is wrath that will undo the dragon’s success. It is said in Revelation 12 that the dragon was “enraged.” We do stupid things when we are angry. We do things that end up hurting us and others.
In Revelation 15, the Most High prepares “seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God.” His plan is to unleash the dragon’s wrath so that it will break the hold of the dragon’s kings. While the kings each have far more than they need, they will always seek more. When the earth has been conquered, they can only get more by taking from each other. This will cause anger between them. By fanning the flames of their anger, the Most High plans on getting them to ruin each other.
But as it is, that will only allow anger to spread. That doesn’t free us from selfishness. In order to be freed from wrath against the people around us, we need to have someone else to blame for our problems.
And who better to shoulder the blame than the Most High?
This is why the Most High brags about His virtue: so that we might blame him rather than each other.
What Revelation 14 promises is that the caring angels will be redeemed from the earth. That will happen for two reasons. First, the common people will look at the powerful and say: “What a bunch of jerks! Who put them in charge?” And secondly the Most High will throw his strength behind those that seek justice.
That may sound a little strange, but it’s the only way forward.
Let’s summarize today’s study.
The dragon has conquered the earth through his ten kings, which are the human cultures that cover the earth. Those cultures are dominated by selfish leaders. To break their power, the Most High will fan the wrath that rises when greedy people compete. Even when that conflict leads to ruin, they will be unable to stop because their great rage makes them stupid. When they have spent all their treasure, the common people will be able to unite to take from the Most High the power needed to heal each other and the world.