On Blood Moons and Babylonian Whores

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The Book of Revelation contains vivid imagery, wild analogies, and rhetoric rife with end-times judgment. John’s enigmatic vision has tempted many people to treat Revelation as a code to break, and to look around the world for “signs of the apocalypse.” We wonder whether Black Hawk helicopters are locusts, rare eclipses over China are the infamous “blood moons,” Catholic popes are Babylonian whores, and Barack Obama or Donald Trump is the Antichrist (depending on your political convictions). When we do this, we assume that Revelation was written solely to us and applies directly to our situation. That assumption is problematic, to say the least. But most importantly, any fearful chart-making and number-decoding distorts the point of the Book of Revelation—distorts the fact that it is a hopeful document, not a dire one.

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