Forget “Left Behind”: Jesus Breaks the Cycle of Power and Violence
That’s because the Jewish people were looking for a new leader. Someone who would rise up with God behind him to throw off pagan Roman rule and make the nation of Israel great again.
They were looking to be back on top!
The history of mankind is the history of nations seeking to be “on top”.
The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the British…each nation, and countless others, had their time.
Their moment in the sun.
Their brief season “on top”!
Now the United States is “on top” with China hoping to occupy that seat if it can.
But each of these great nations claimed the “right” to rule the earth and shape history using a system at war with the Kingdom of God.
They used a system of power re-enforced with violence.
It is a never ending cycle…
But is it?
Could someone possibly break the cycle!
Worthy to break the cycle
In the book of Revelation we see this very scenario played out. John, the author of Revelation, uses apocryphal poetic language to lay out the history of humankind and it’s quest for power. We see “beast” after “beast” rise up to make war on the earth bringing destruction and misery in their quest to be “on top” and rule the world.
Their cycle of violence is sealed up in a scroll that cannot be broken. (Rev 5)
The question is asked, “Who can open this scroll”?
And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside
No one could be found to break the cycle of power and greed. The never ending series of pretenders to the throne that bring famine, disease, economic collapse, and death in their wake looks like it will continue on…and on…and on.
Someone is found who can do it. John is told to look at the mighty Lion who is able to open the scroll and break the cycle. But when he turns he doesn’t see a mighty Lion!
He sees a little lamb!
A lamb that is standing…but looks slain.
He sees Jesus!
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne,
Rev 5: 5-6
The angelic beings around the throne of God begin to sing the reason he is able to break the cycle. It is not because he overcame those other empires (the “beasts”) through power and violence.
If he had he would have been just the next king of the next kingdom in a long line of kingdoms that believes it gets to mold people and shape society to its will through coercion and bloodshed.
No, its because Jesus chose not to use power!
It was because when he had a chance to slay his enemies…
…he instead chose to forgive them.
He broke the cycle of power and violence through love and mercy.
And when he (Jesus) had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Rev 5: 8-11
Note that the singers in this passage are specifically carrying the prayers of God’s people as they declare the cycle broken. What a hope we have that our prayer of it being on Earth as it is in Heaven has been, and is being, answered.
So leave all that Left Behind theology that distorts what Christ has done and is doing. Don’t look for a Jesus that will come in vengeance to establish his Kingdom by force.
He didn’t do it 2000 years ago…and he won’t do it now!
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