As you know, I have been reading the Biblical book of Revelation and I am about three quarters of the way through, reading about the dragons, whores, beasts and wars amongst the gods. It took me back to my early teenage years when I was taught about how the Common Market was recreating the old Roman Empire and, in taking the UK into it, Ted Heath was fulfilling biblical prophecy and the end times being almost upon us. It was the time of the Omen movies and the actor Sam Neil emerging in the final installment of those as the beast 666. For my own recreation there was even no escape as I was very much into the 70’s progressive rock group Genesis. The soaring melodies of Tony Banks and mystical lyrics of Peter Gabriel combined magnificently in their 23 minute pseudo apocalyptic opus master work ‘Supper’s Ready’ from the Foxtrot album. There is even a movement within the piece called Apocalypse in 9/8 which mentions Magog, fire falling from the skies, 666, 7 trumpets and the future of our eternal souls- stirring stuff! No one else was producing music like this that spoke to me and my developing Christian faith in this way and I was fascinated why a progressive rock group grounded in English public schooling would use one of the most complex books of the Bible as a basis for their most fantastic piece of music.I was in dreamland having discovered these new prophets of rock ‘n’ roll. Little did I know that with the passage of time the band would end up (minus Gabriel) singing about the hypocrisy of Evangelical preachers (Jesus he knows me) and sell their souls to chart pop music!
The prophesy of the end times has never been away- with the huge popularity of the Left Behindseries books in the US, and for some people who study every word and phrase of the revelation of St John as a route map to what will literally happen to the earth. Some politicians are so influenced by the story of Revelation it even impacts on their foreign and military policy thinking in the middle-east. As far me, coming afresh to Revelation after over 35 years, I am not so sure. What I know is that is uses a lot of obscure images that I do not fully understand and was written by John when he was around 90 years old, at a time when the early Christian church was facing persecution of a type they had not experienced before: this was a vision of how God would overcome evil. Someone very wise once said that ‘life can only be lived forward and can only be understood backwards.” Revelation is like this and I am pretty sceptical about any claims to interpret exactly what it all means other than God wins!
I’ll leave the last word from Genesis (not the first book of the Bible) but the rock group, and the closing lyrics from Supper’s Ready:
There’s an angel standing in the sun, and he’s crying with a loud voice.
“This is the supper of the mighty one”.
Lord of Lords, King of Kings, has returned to lead his children home, to take them to the new Jerusalem.
Now, there’s a promise.