Advent Day 9
Read: Revelation 9
People who were not frustrated with the book of Revelation by the 8th chapter usually lose all hope by the 9th. The release of fantastic beasts upon the earth is puzzling. They are like some kind of horse-scorpion-locust things.
Again…don’t lose the forest for the trees. Don’t worry about every detail.
What’s going on here in the 9th chapter?
You have a general assault being inflicted upon the world by other-worldly creatures. These wild creatures are set loose more than they are being managed or controlled. They go out, helter-skelter. These creatures are sent to discomfort and to disturb mankind. They are meant to produce repentance.
Nor do these creatures destroy indiscriminatey. Those who are marked with the cross of baptism are granted a measure of protection from the creatures stings. The saints are not totally out of the fray. But they are not without some protection.
The saints are not preserved from peril. You are not preserved from peril in this world. You don’t have an easier time of it in life than others. Maybe, in some ways, you have a harder time of it. But in the face of dangers and perils, you do have some advantage over others. You don’t believe in randomness. You don’t imagine that bad things have no purpose, so you don’t give in to despair.
The people who feel the full weight of these terrors that are loosed upon the earth are those who, as the chapter says, ‘chase after death, but are unable to attain it.’
That is a powerful statement. They chase after death.
Who chases after death? Usually you think of death chasing after you. It’s exactly backwards when men chase after death. That’s how bad things are for them.
Who is being described here? Who chases death and can’t catch it?
Maybe this is descriptive of those who suffer from despair. The wild creatures of chapter 9 are fantastic. But they’re not fictional characters. In other words, ‘it’s not all in your head.’ That’s one of the worst things that you can come to think…that any crisis that incites despair or despondency is all self-invented. You should be thankful for all that you’ve got. But at the moment, you don’t. If your woes are all in your imagination then you should be able to conjure them away. You should be able to think your way through it. That is exactly what people expect that they should be able to do. And then, when they can’t, they feel like they are failures.
You know, there really should be a certain amount of dissatisfaction with this world. There are scary, unpleasant things flying around. Causes for sadness and depression are in the air.
By making these feelings and these experiences into real, bodied creatures, as St. John does in the book of Revelation, there is the implicit understanding that we are not making these things up when we feel bothered and blue. It’s a relief to know that it’s not all in your head.