On Rev 13: Authority and Endurance

 

In reviewing Mr Montgomery’s exposition on Revelation–which reminds me, in an Impressionistic way, of the mad Dervishs of the sands, or Olympic gymnasts–I must oppose his rendition of these events with a patently perpendicular perspective.  I hold that the majority of the events described are future tense,  and, more significantly, less optimistic for humanity at large.  Much of my purview centers on the 13th chapter of the work.

The 13th chapter tells us of the rise of the Beast, which is certainly a spiritual creature.  This will not appear in our world as it is described; I will address this in another post, but for now, I must assert that the Antichrist must appear human, and ask that it be accepted as a given for this article.  Daniel makes use of such imagery when alluding to political engines; this Beast should be seen in the same vein.  What is important here are two words: exousia, and huponome.

Exousia, in Strongs (1849), is offered as ‘the liberty to do as one pleases’. Also, it conveys might, right, and state power.  We might refocus these delineations as ‘disposition’ to act. This word implies something else; formality of power, not just raw power (except in case 2: 1, 3, and 4 are linked to formal power).  This demands another attribute emerge, one which only modern men have evaluated, and that is legitimacy of power.  Legitimacy is the right of power to use Exousia. Paul speaks of this concept in Romans 13, that El authorized the governments.  Paul has a very narrow grasp of the idea, so I find it necessary to borrow from a modern source, President William Henry Harrison.

President Harrison, in his inaugural address, made this statement:

“The only legitimate government derives from a mandate by the governed.”

This, of course, is a democratic point of view. Jesus is a monarch, which renders the plebiscite quite invalid.  However, while Yeshua is not bound to a contract as existed for Mr Harrison, He does recognize the central thematic idea of his speech as correct.  To wield might, you must have right.  Abram asks Yeshua ‘Shall not the judge of all the Earth do rightly (strongs 4941, mishpat). In other words, while Jehovah can do what He pleases–exousia–He holds fast to legitimate use of that power. Mishpat means to judge a case or litigation, with justice.  This will come back to haunt us later.

The Beast of Rev 13 is given exousia many times; 4, in fact.  He is given authority over all the world, all tribes and tongues, and, lastly, over the Saints themselves.  Here, in verse 7, begins the war against the Saints, and the Beast is given authority over them, to kill them.  This word, given, is used in all the cases in this chapter.  This exousia was not purloined, or taken by force: it was bestowed.  And there was only one agency that could bestow it. Satan had acquired the authority of the Ten Kings–they swore allegiance to Lucifer for power.  That would give Satan the world; but for power over the Saints, it could only come from the Saints themselves.

Consider the dire warning of the end of the chapter: (as per Biblehub’s greek interlinear) “if anyone {is to go} into captivity, into captivity he must go: if anyone with [the] sword is to be killed,  it is necessary by [the] sword for him to be killed.”  Notice, there is no ‘karmic’ link here in the immediate.  Rather, the Saints are required to have patient endurance–huponome (strong 5281), or, as it is sometimes rendered, perseverance.  This means to endure what is not right, or to persist through what must be.

Now, if Satan was given authority over the Saints, which he loaned out to the Beast, what is the source of that acquisition?  All authority was given to Christ (Matt 28), who gave it to the Church (Matt 16).  Christ gave the Church the authority to bind in Heaven as on Earth–and said the Gates of Hell would not prevail against it.  Yet, here in the Revelation, that is happening.  How, then can this be?

Let’s look at Mr Montgomery’s take on the verse, of swords and captivity.  He has a good deal of support from translations that make it direct, Newtonian causality.  If you x,  then x happens to you.  This does not fit the connotative direction of the statement. If this is cause and effect, only people who have killed would be killed.  Only those who capture would be captured.  But that is not what is occurring.  This is a war against all the Saints, some of whom would surely not be individually involved in either of these.

Rather, this is a corporate action.  The whole Body of Christ–the Church, the Ecclesia–is being attacked.  This is not suffering as with an affliction.  Peter uses pascho (strong 3958) to warn against suffering ‘as a murderer’, and pathema (3804) for innocent suffering in 1 Peter 4.  But in Rev 13, the Church is told to hupomone, to endure.  Jesus uses this word in Luke 21, about the end times: He says: “By your endurance you will gain your lives.”  Again, in Matt 24, “He who endures to end will be saved.”

So, what is happening to the Church, that they must endure, with patience? It is not innocent suffering, nor guilty suffering.  Rather, it must be. It must be endured.  This act reverses what Yeshua said about the authority of the Church, and the subjectivity of the Kingdom of Hell.  This could only happen if the latter usurped the former.  What is happening to the Church had to be a right judgement against her, in a writ secured by the Prosecutor of the Brethren, which is, Satan.

The Church had to have committed an offense too egregious, that Yahweh had to allow His Church to be scourged.  They had to have used their authority to bind on Earth what was so depraved, that Satan was able to argue before El that they had forfeited their authority to him–and Jehovah had to agree.  He had to, as a right judgment, declare the case against the Church was valid, and surrender their authority to Satan.  What this was–or, will be–I will argue another time.

The mechanics are valid, even if the Alpha Event is nebulous.  Look at the verbiage.  The whole church is being afflicted, not just some transgressors.  If the warnings are just a system of karma, then they are meaningless to those who did not transgress.  Also, it would not be hupomone to suffer what you should for doing evil.  If you are being killed by the sword for using the sword, that is justice.  Satan is clearly not doing justice in Rev 13.  You would not need perseverance to endure what is lawful as a punishment.

You need endurance to go through what was not your crime as a person, but was a crime of your species.  If you were innocent a s a person, but belonged to a group that was judged, you would need to persevere.  Consider the Tanakh; how many tocsins did Yahweh levy against all of Israel, when but one or few sinned?  Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?  He has proscribed the whole before, when the sins of Israel needed to be scourged from them.  This is simply the final application of that justice.

So, what Satan is doing in Rev 13 is a function of a justice corrupted by human hands.  The Church did something that caused her to lose her authority, and surrender it to Lucifer–and Jehovah had to agree that bringing them under the scourge was right, as a punishment for what they did.  So, in a sense, it is justice: but, Satan wars against the entire Church, in which are numbered the personally blameless, which El said He would not do, even against Sodom.  Therefore, it is not just.  Since this was bound in Heaven by the Church, it must be a dark mirror of what they did to be scourged–a group punishment against a few sinners, in which the innocent were abluted.

It would require much more space to address the imaginative speculations of Mr Montgomery’s theory.  He is to be credited for his wizardly command of arcane and diverse material; such conjurings are the work of the brilliant and artistic.  This is but one critique of his theory; if space and time permits, perhaps more can be deconstructed.  It would be an undertaking worth pursuing to unravel his elaborate musings, as it pays the dividend of watching the creative, dervish muse ply his craft.

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