Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Revelation for Dummies (6) - The Great Period of Martyrdom

In Revelation 7:9-34 we are given a special vision,
of a vast number of Christian martyrs.
Those who try to apply this vision to the very early times (c. 60-130 A.D.)
or even the last 'great persecution' (c. 280-300 A.D.)
must interpret the vision as an exaggeration of sorts,
a poetical hyperbole.

But if we actually look at the history of Christianity for the last 2000 years,
we will be startled when we find just such a period in history,
and it was quite recent: The first and second World Wars.
The following chart diagrams both the expansion of Christianity,
and the significant periods and places of Christian Martyrdom:

The Second World War in particular is remembered for the Holocaust,
the slaughter of some 6 million people of the Jewish faith,
but the actual numbers for this war show that a a vastly larger number
of Christians, mostly civilians, women and children, were also slaughtered,
in a systemic pattern of genocidal acts, mostly simply butchering,
such as in the Croatian Holocaust, and other East-European events from
the beginning of the 20th century until the end of the Cold War.

It is remarkable that although this great slaughter of Christians temporarily slowed the expansion
of Christianity, it also gave it the greatest boost since the fall of Constantinople.

If we want to interpret Revelation historically, we are again faced with a prophecy
which has a clear and plain literal fulfillment without exaggeration, and with a specific time marked out.

Again, the overall effect is to place us in the Last Times, with few prophecies left to fulfill,
before the Return of the King.

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