Let’s give this Bible book its proper name this week, shall we? And in this last part of my project (hurray!) I’ll also mention what some of you may have noticed, which is my capitalisation throughout. At some point in school, or possibly just through observation I was taught that when talking about God and the Bible, both should be capitalised. God because, well, He is God and the Bible because it’s a holy book. Do I believe this? I think you can probably answer that if you’ve read the previous 28 blog posts in this project. So why do I still consistently capitalise? A combination of habit and a deeply ingrained adherence to the rules. The rules say that God and Bible must be capitalised, just as ‘I’ should always be capitalised in English*, so that’s what I do.
*And ever since I was first taught that rule in school I found it the most egotistical thing I could possibly imagine. German capitalises the polite word for ‘you’ to show respect, but English is all ‘look at how important I am! Respect my authoritah!’
Anyway, let’s get this bloody project over with. Last week I stopped just before the blowing of the seventh trumpet, at Revelation 10. In Revelation 11 the trumpet still isn’t blown – first God unleashes two witnesses on the earth to prophesy for 42 months – 1260 days. If anyone tries to harm them they will breathe fire which consumes their enemies, and they will have the power to close the heavens so there will be no rain, to turn the waters into blood and to unleash plagues whenever they want. Powerful beings sent by the Lord! What will he do when those 42 months are over?
They’ll be killed by the Beast from the abyss. I must say I didn’t see that one coming! Their corpses will lie in the street of a city called Sodom and Egypt in spirit, and the people will rejoice, because they’ve been tortured for 42 months. Makes sense! But then there’s a big earthquake that collapses a tenth of the city and kills 7000 people. Exactly 7000? Who knows!
And then the seventh trumpet is blown, and it’s a bit of an anticlimax, because all that happens is that the 24 elders that were mentioned before will prostrate themselves and worship the Lord.
And still we’re not done! Next up a heavily pregnant woman will appear in the sky, wearing the sun and with the moon under her feet. There’s also a fiery, seven-headed dragon with ten horns, and its tail will drag a third of the stars from the sky and throw them onto earth.
Which is where I call bullshit again, because stars can’t do that.
Anyway, Michael and his angels fight the dragon and cast it to earth, and the dragon then pursues the woman, who is given eagle’s wings so she can flee to the desert and stay out of sight of the serpent for a time and times and half a time, which is still the most infuriating measurement of time ever.
Then another beast rises from the sea, again with seven heads and ten horns, and the dragon gives its strength to the new beast, which then rules the earth for 42 months as well, and everyone whose name isn’t written in the book of life will worship it. And the number of the beast is six hundred and sixty-six, which is just randomly tacked on at the end of Revelation 13 and appears to serve no purpose as a fact, since it’s never mentioned again. What does it mean? I know some people interpret it as ‘omgomgomg my bill* at the corner shop** came to six dollar sixty-six, quick, get a packet of chewing gum before the devil comes to drag me away!’, but since that’s never happened yet to anyone, ever , I’m just left a little perplexed.
*check **convenience store
In Revelation 14 we find out that the 144,000 who will rule the earth beside God are all male virgins, because ‘they have not tainted themselves with a woman’. (This appears to be a fact that the Jehova’s Witnesses conveniently ignore or choose not to mention, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.)
Are we done yet? Oh bloody hell, no. We’ve had seven seals and seven trumpets, now we have to have seven angels with seven bowls of wrath. I was getting rather bored at this point, so let’s rush through them:
Bowl 1 – Poured onto the earth and causes malignant swellings. Cancers? Fuck knows.
Bowl 2 – Poured into the sea, which turns into the blood of a dead person, and all living creatures in the sea die.
Bowl 3 – Poured into the rivers and they also turn to blood.
Bowl 4 – Poured over the sun, which is given the power to burn the people with fire.
Bowl 5 – Poured over the throne of the Beast, which darkens its realm and causes people to chew their tongues.
Bowl 6 – Poured over the great river Euphrates, which dries it up so as to pave the way for the kings which come from the rise of the sun.
Bowl 7 – Poured into the sky, and there is a mighty voice saying ‘It is done’. Hurray! But wait, there’s still six more chapters! Anyway, there is thunder and lightning and earthquakes and the city falls apart and the islands flee and the mountains are no longer found and there are hailstones as big as a talent. Which I presume is big, but I still know nothing about old Hebrew weights.
Revelation 17 is all about condemning the great whore that is Babylon. Frankly, if that happens at the end of days then God really hasn’t stayed with the times, because Babylon has lain in ruins for centuries. Mind you, there are people who use that very fact as proof that what the Bible says is true. (I think it’s the Jehova’s Witnesses again – I can’t think where else I might have read that recently.)
Revelation 18 is the fall of Babylon – so since Babylon is in ruins, has Armageddon happened already? I’m so confused!
In Revelation 19 the Word of God rides out on a horse, with eyes like flames and a sharp sword coming from his mouth to slay the heathens with. Then at some point the Beast is caught and thrown into a pool of fire and sulfur.
Except in Revelation 20 the dragon, the old serpent, that is the devil and satan, is caught and thrown into the abyss and chained away for a thousand years, after which he will be let loose for a short while. But I’m confused again – is he chained away or thrown into the sulfur pool? Is the fiery pool for another beast? I suppose there were two of them, but it really isn’t very clear which one they’re talking about.
Oh, and at that point (the chaining of the beast) we get the first resurrection, of those who were beheaded for the witnessing of Jesus.
Then after a thousand years the beast is released and it will go out to the four corners of the earth to tempt the people. It mentions Gog and Magog, but fuck knows what that means – it’s just randomly thrown in as usual. Anyway, the devil is then thrown into the pool of fire where the beast and the false prophet also are. Ah, there we are. I guess there’s more than one devil? And they will be tormented day and night for all eternity.
In Revelation 21 we meet the bride for the Lamb, and it’s Jerusalem. I swear you couldn’t make this shit up. This is when there will finally be a new heaven and a new earth and everyone will be happy and there will be peace and blah. And the city will have twelve gates, which will never be closed.
My last comment is ‘why does a city in paradise have walls? and gates?’ But I suppose it’s not as symbolic to have an open-plan city as it is to have a city with great big fuck-off walls and gates that never close.
The last chapter is just some generic blah to reiterate that this is the will of God and the word of Jesus and stuff. But THAT IS IT! I’ve finally finished this fucker!
So, do I feel more religious after reading the whole Bible? Again, the previous 28 blog entries have probably already given you the answer. I’m just even more astonished that there actually are people who believe all this shit.
Let me try and make one thing clear though – if you’re a religions person who, on the whole, believes that there is a big dude up in the sky who looks out for us and who’ll help you when things are tough and who expects you to, on the whole, love your fellow man and try to do the right thing, then that’s the kind of religion I have no problem with. If that gives you strength and comfort, then that’s great. I don’t (can’t) buy into that, but to each their own.
However, if you’re someone who believes that every single word in this book is the God-given truth and must be adhered to to the letter (except when it doesn’t suit you), then fuck you and the horse you rode in on. The Bible is one gigantic mass of inconsistent hog-crap, and anyone who uses it to claim that being gay is wrong (while happily munching on a bacon sandwich) and that women should shut the fuck up, go home and have babies, and to try and disprove metric fucktonnes of scientifically supported and proven research, then I say fuck you sideways with a sharp garden implement.
From next week I’ll be finding out just exactly how weird Jehova’s Witnesses really are.