Elaborating the triumph of love from the human perspective, John prophesies that we will not be abandoned to tyranny, but serve as the anchor for the love that purges violence and selfishness from our nature.
During junior high school, the five children in my family had a brief rebellion. My sister would gather us in the side yard, choked by a rose bush watered by the air conditioner, and pull out a pack of cigarettes.
I never inhaled. I remembered too vividly the presentations in elementary school. Our principal was the friend of a pathologist that came in once a year to show us slides from his autopsies of jaws, lungs and throats of tobacco addicts that had died of cancer.
Cancer is just how you’d expect cells to act if they were selfish. The tumor grows without pause, invading other tissues. Worse, the cells produce chemicals that stimulate blood flow. Capillaries and vessels multiply, provided nutrients to fuel growth. A sac forms around the tumor almost like a womb.
The tobacco industry is also selfish, for decades using glamour advertising to pull youth into addiction. My grandfather was a tobacco salesman, and my mother lost her father, mother and elder brother to cancer. The shadow of the disease on my life does not end there. Just weeks after the birth of my eldest son, my father’s mother died of pancreatic cancer. My father perished from prostate cancer just before New Year of 2016.
Watching family members suffer with the patient’s long, slow slide into death, we might be forgiven for imagining that cancer is a demon. It consumes not only the physical energy of the victim, but also the spiritual strength of care-givers.
We have many treatments for cancer, but none are perfect. Surgery can be used to cut out the diseased tissue. Chemicals and radiation can be used to weaken the tumor. But no treatment restores health to the diseased tissue. Even if the disease is conquered, the patient will be weakened.
Ideally, the sac would be removed, and chemicals sent in to calm the ravenous cells. The body would be restored.
Medical science isn’t that good yet. But God has better methods.
In Revelation chapters 12 through 18, we are told the story of how selfishness infected human civilization. Once it was a spiritual cancer in heaven, but finally it was cast down to the earth. There it raged as the dragon, giving power to tyrants and religious hypocrites to prevent love from conquering the world. The dragon’s feminine partner, the prostitute of Babylon, uses sexual ecstasy to corrupt our romantic partnerships. Lacking experience of love, we cling to ecstasy as a substitute.
But the Most High and his angels in heaven have not abandoned us. They could use great power to destroy the dragon, much as a surgeon or radiation therapist might, but as explained by Peter:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. His is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
[NIV 2 Peter 3:9]
The Bible explains how the Most High prepared us to attain the freedom gained in repentance. In offering Isaac as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity, the faith of Abraham founded a nation “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. [NIV Gen. 22:17]” That promise was realized in Jesus’s surrender to love on the cross, and preserved in us through the Sacred Mother.
In opposition to love is the culture of violence established by the dragon, and preserved through the adultery of MYSTERY. Violence corrupts the masculine capacity to create by focusing it on weapons for war. In females, adultery corrupts the sacred vessel of the womb. Intended to stand guard over virtue as it binds to flesh, a corrupted womb attaches evil spirits to a woman’s consorts and children.
But recall: selfishness has never worked – not in any of the ages of the world. The Bible documents its failings in Hebrew culture. It led to the flood of Genesis 9, the long silence of God before Exodus, the destruction of Jerusalem through Ezekiel, and the crucifixion of the Savior. In Revelation 16 and 18, selfish people war against each other, wasting strength that the virtuous conserve.
But if it seems certain that the dragon will destroy itself, still how will the virtuous be restored to heaven?
This is the prophesy of Revelation 19 and 20. It is the story told of love’s victory many times in Revelation: as the great multitude in Chapter 7, as the opening of God’s temple in Chapter 11, and as the harvest of the earth in Chapter 14. But those victories were described as the work of angels. It is only in Revelation 16 through 18 that the human experience of selfishness is shown, and only in Revelation 19 and 20 that humanity’s redemption is prophesied clearly.
Revelation 19 begins by re-iterating the collapse of Babylon, the temptress that used sex to cause us to turn our backs to love. With that barrier removed, the virtuous spirits gathered by the Sacred Mother can no longer be denied the power of love, which rushes down:
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
“…For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.”
[NIV Rev. 19:6,7]
Imagine this as a husband bringing friends to celebrate the complete recovery of a wife suffering from cancer.
John falls down at the feet of the angel, only to be rebuked:
“Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus!”
[NIV Rev. 19:10]
What follows next justifies the modesty of this servant of the Most High, for next is described the figure of Christ, coming to disassemble the kingdom of the dragon.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True.
[NIV Rev. 19:11]
As Michael cast the dragon out of heaven, now Christ will drive the dragon from human civilization. He unites all governments under justice, for “on his head are many crowns.” Prejudice and pride are struck down by the sword from his mouth, which is the truth that all are loved equally by God.
John describes battle preparations:
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.
[NIV Rev. 19:19]
But we would be mistaken to imagine this as an battle over earthly territory. Rather, we should recall Revelation 12:
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought back.
[NIV Rev. 12:7]
The horses, riders and birds united by Christ in Revelation 19 break our bondage to selfishness. The “flesh” spoken of in verse 19 is the people held in thrall to the beast of Revelation 13, and to “eat the flesh” is to redeem their spirits through love. Now freed from selfishness, human culture is filled with the light of God’s love, a light that reveals selfish thinking even as it forms in our minds, and pushes it into the “lake of burning sulfur” in which it is annihilated.
Let’s summarize today’s study.
Many of us have seen a loved one consumed by cancer. It is a torment to see their strength seep away.
Selfishness is a form of spiritual cancer. While to us it might appear that its reign over human civilization is unending, when we think of the billions of years spent in preparing for its defeat, the few thousand years of human civilization seem like a single heartbeat.
Heaven stands ready to relieve our suffering. Revelation 19 describes the authority and power that Christ has at his disposal to overthrow the tyranny of selfishness.
Our part is simple: we need only to learn that luxury and sexual indulgence prevent us from receiving love, and live accordingly.