Unknown year, November talk, Serial 00637

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The seer uses the imagery of the Old Testament, obviously he was steeped in the word of the Old Testament, particularly the prophets, and he recalls all their images and symbols, or rather probably it was recalled to him, they were deeply impressed in his heart, in his mind, in his unconscious, if you like, and therefore they came out in this vision. So he says, I join your brother who shared with you in Jesus the tribulation of the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Pepos, on account of the word of God, the testimony of Jesus. He was exiled apparently to this island, a small island off the coast of what is now Turkey, and it was fairly common for a person to be exiled in that way, and it's generally believed this book was written at the time of the emperor Domitian, who lived at the end of the first century, and he was one of the worst tyrants among the Roman emperors,


and caused terrible havoc, and John must have been one of his victims. And then he says, I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard a loud voice. The first time I think the Lord's Day is mentioned, it occurs all around this time, the end of the first, beginning of the second century, and by that time, clearly Sunday had come to be recognized as the Lord's Day, the old Sabbath, the Saturday had been given up, and now the Christian people met on the Lord's Day, the day of the resurrection, the Sunday to pray and to worship. And then he says, I heard a loud voice like a trumpet saying, write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, and he mentioned these seven churches, it was in Asia Minor, which is now Turkey, and nobody quite knows why these particular churches were chosen. There were several others, equally well known in the same region, but as we saw, the number seven is a number of holiness,


and it's really addressed to all the churches, and so the exact particular churches are not so important. Then he said, I turned to see the voice that is speaking to me, and I'm telling, I saw seven golden candlesticks in the midst of a golden lampstand, and amidst the lampstand, one like a son of man, these seven golden lampstands recall the golden lampstands in the temple. Remember, all this imagery was, you see, the Jew was brought up with his worship in the temple, and it must have been a wonderful experience, like a Hindu temple today in some ways, tremendous rich imagery and symbolism, and so he recalls these lampstands, and he sees this one like a son of man, and I mentioned yesterday, this recalls the prophecy of Daniel, I saw one like a son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, so he keeps recalling, you see, the old prophets,


that's the way his mind works, and he was clothed with a long robe with a golden girdle around his breast, and this long robe and a girdle almost certainly would say, blessed the priest, or the high priest, so Jesus is seen as a priest, but it seems also that this long robe was typical also of the king and of the prophet, so it may be that Jesus is seen already as the prophet, priest, and king, but certainly he's now glorified and seen as the fullness, you see, those are the three supreme expressions of the divine on earth, the prophet, the priest, and the king, and Jesus manifests those in this way, and then his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow, his eyes like a flame of fire, and all this comes from the prophets of the old testament, often applied to the image of God himself, you see, so Jesus is seen really in the figure of God,


his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, his voice was like the sound of many waters, and then in his right hand he held seven stars, and from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, his face was like the sun shining in full strength. He later explains these seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches, and I think it's important, this idea that each church has its angel, and they all thought each nation has its angel, and each individual of course has his angel, so there are these spiritual powers which are present in the whole universe, present particularly in the church, and they keep guard over the different churches, so there should be an angel of twenty-one of them, you see, present perhaps, and so the seven stars represent the seven angels, and the two-edged sword of course is the word of God, the word of God is like a two-edged sword


cutting through the marrow, it's the divine, the Tibetans speak of a thunderbolt, you know, a thunderbolt which strikes through, destroys all irrelevant, all evil things, and reveals the inner truth, you see, it destroys the falsity and reveals the truth. So this is a beautiful image that he has. Then I fell at his feet and he laid his right hand, fear not, I am the first and the last, the living one, I died and behold I am alive forevermore, I have the keys of death and Hades. So quite clearly now, you see, it is Jesus who died and rose again and has the keys of death, and of course the resurrection, you see, was what triggered the whole of this. Before this, Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet and he was like a human being in so many ways, he had these wonderful powers, but after the resurrection, everything changed, you see, they realized that he had passed beyond this world,


beyond death, and was now at the right hand of God, as they put it, and transcended this world, and now he has this power over death, you see, the keys of death and Hades. Write what you see and what is to take place. Then he explains, for the mystery of the seven stars, which you saw in my right hand, the seven gold lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, the seven lampstands are the seven churches. So that's the scenario, as it were, of the revelation. As I say, it's all built up around the imagery of the Old Testament and yet focused on the new, on the presence of Jesus, you see, at the centre of it all, so that's what gives it its special character. Q. These judgments on the churches in this book of Revelation, and they're all rather relevant,


you see, the problem always is the church and the world, and the church tries to live by this gospel of God, or the word of God, and it comes into conflict with the world, which is living by another standard. On the other hand, of course, you always find that there are many Christians in the church who don't live according to the gospel, according to the word, and you also find many people in the world who do, though the good and the evil are found in both. But he says, you see, I know your works, you have the name of being alive and you are dead, awake and strengthen what remains from the point of death, you have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God, and you have the name of being alive and you are dead, and it occurs to many Christians, really, and to many people of all religions, you see, people profess a religion, and often it's simply they happen to be brought up and born and brought up in a particular religion, and they take it for


granted more or less, and then as they grow up it doesn't mean very much to them, and they live a life which really has very little relation to the gospel or to the teaching, and that remains a great problem. You find it with Christians, you find it with Muslims, you find it with Sikhs, you find it with Hindus, everywhere you get people, the name of religion, but they're not living it at all, and of course there are many, many degrees, some are not living it at all, some are living it in a very elementary way, very partially, some are trying to live it really seriously, and so this is the problem, and this is the judgment which has passed. So you awake and strengthen what remains, not found your works perfect, but remember what you received and heard, keep that and repent. You see, there's a message of the gospel, there's a message in every religion, there is a word of truth in life, and we've heard that word, and we have to constantly return to it, because it's always been challenged by the world, you see, that the standard of the gospel is completely different.


Take the Beatitudes, you see, and he said, blessed are you poor, blessed are you that are born, blessed are you that are hungry, blessed are you that are oppressed, all the things people don't believe in, poverty and suffering and oppression and hunger, these are the things which we avoid and we think are to be rejected, and he said, blessed are those, and woe unto you who are rich, woe unto you that have all you want, woe unto you who are oppressors, and so on, you see. So it reverses the values, and extremely difficult to live out gospel in the context of the world, where the standards are completely different. So remember what you received and keep that and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. And that is what happens, you see, people are just living, half dead like that, and then it comes upon them, they may die suddenly, or they lose their child, their wife, or they suffer a tremendous


loss, things just come upon them suddenly, and nothing comes suddenly if we're prepared for it, but you're not prepared, you're living in a kind of dream world, and then these disasters come, and it applies not only to individuals, but to communities, you see, you get a whole community like say Sri Lanka or Punjab, and they've been living their ordinary lives, but something must have been going wrong, you see, and suddenly the whole thing breaks into pieces, and violence breaks out, and people are suffering on every side, and it comes unaware, you see, you're not ready for it, because you've not been watching, waiting, listening to the inner voice of God. So that's our situation. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people have not soiled their garments, they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. And in every religion, you know, you find people really living a very dedicated life, it's very inspiring actually, in each religion you'll find totally dedicated people, and they've found a way to respond to the


call of God in their life, to truth, to love, to grace, and they live out their lives, and that is really, they become the kind of models, and they help us to see what the real meaning of life is. They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. You enter into the presence of God, you see, in the book of Genesis, God walked in the garden in the cool of the evening, and if we open our hearts, then God walks with us, you see, in our lives, and we walk with him. He who conquers shall be clad in white garments, I will not blot his name out of the book of life, I will confess his name before my father and before his angels. And we always have to remember that this world, this life we're living, is lived in the context of the angels and of God, you see, in a spiritual world, and people today are not aware of that. In the past it was much more general, in today still Hindus and Hindus are aware of the world of the gods, and they live in the


context of that world, and still some Christians still live in the awareness of the presence of the angels. The majority don't, but that's the fact, you see, there's a whole spiritual world encompassing the physical and psychological world, and we can be in contact with that. And when we die, then we enter into that spiritual world, and we're judged by it, you see, according to our attitudes of mind, I will confess his name before my father and before his angels, who as an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. So these are messages, you see, which really come to the church in every age, and we all have to listen, be aware, and we're challenged just as much today as in the Roman Empire, you see, the world today is as very much as it was in the Roman Empire, every kind of thing is there, good and evil, it's all mixed up on every side, and to find one's path through it, to find the way of truth, of life, that is still the challenge and the calling, we all have to respond.


Sir, in this, as this vision of the throne, and again it's all based on the symbolism of the Old Testament, you remember Isaiah and his great vision I saw of the Lord seated on a throne on high, and today, you know, we've lost all this deep symbolism, you see, kings and thrones, very important in the ancient world, and they have a tremendous symbolic value. We've lost it all, you see, presidents and prime ministers, they go about in ordinary clothes and look like anybody else, but in the ancient world they wanted to endow people with authority, to give them a symbol of their authority. Even now a uniform, you know, has a sign, a soldier's uniform, or a priesthood, means he stands for something, he's not just an individual, and so with the king he represented the people in a very special way, and he represented God, you see. The king represented God's authority on earth, and even the Rajas, you know, and the Maharajas of India, for instance, the Maharaja


of Trivandrum, he had his palace, and it was very close to the temple always, and the throne under the altar of the Christian, and the king of the temple in the Hindu tradition, it all closely united, and it all gave a deep meaning to life, you see, beyond the ordinary temple values, as to the eternal realities, the eternal reality of the authority of God on earth, the authority of the priest in the temple, and these are deeply meaningful, and people need that kind of symbolism. Now they have cinema stars, or something like that, they must have some symbols, you see, to look up to, and in the ancient world they had these wonderful symbols of kings, and thrones, and priests, and temples, and so on, and I remember staying at Mysore once, and they had this great festival there, the Dasara, and in the old days, you know, the Maharaja came out on an elephant, and it was a magnificent procession, and all the people felt, you see, the Maharaja was sort of symbolized


themselves, they felt their own importance when they saw him, so there's very great meaning in all these things which we tend to lose. So he has this vision of the, perhaps in the spirit of the throne, stood in heaven with one seated on the throne, he appeared like a jasper and carnelian, and all these precious stones come in very much, and again, you know, precious stones were felt to have tremendous power in them, a diamond, or an emerald, or a jasper, whatever, there's tremendous power concentrated in them, and it's a sign of something, some great power, and so they recognized before the throne of God, and round the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald, you see, all these brilliant colors and lights, and so on, all seen as deeply meaningful. And then, the rest, he's clearly, he's modeled on a church of that period, you see, the bishop


would have been seated on the throne, and the presbyters, the elders, would have been seated round, like now we have concelebrations, small scale, yeah, but the bishop would have been in the center, and the elders would have been seated round, and so in heaven, he sees the God seated on the throne, and then these 24 elders seated there, and clothed in white garments with golden crowns on their heads, and they are the church in heaven, you see, the crown is a sign of victory, and rule, and remember, Jesus said to his disciples, you should sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel, again, it's the same kind of symbolism, so here the 24 elders represent the heavenly Jerusalem, the heavenly church, and they're seated round the throne, and from the throne issued flashes of lightning, and voices of thunder, this very night, Mount Sinai, when God came down,


Yahweh came down on Mount Sinai, all the thunder, and lightning, and so on, and before the throne were seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, you had that before, the seven, as you know, is a perfect number, and these are the, the spirit of God is manifest in these seven spirits, and before the throne is where a sea of glass, like crystal, and again, you see, the waters of earth are fluid, and so on, passing away, but here you have a sea of glass, it's become permanent, the sea is now permanent and eternal, that's the idea of it, and then round the throne on each side are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind, like a lion, an ox, an eagle, and a man, and we have these four living creatures round our temple here on the Pimana, and I don't know if you understand the symbolism of it, that the idea is that in the sanctuary, you see, you have death and resurrection represented by the sacrifice of Christ, then you ascend to the new creation, and the four


living creatures are the, the cosmic powers, the powers which work through the whole creation, they stand before the throne of God, and they carry, as it were, the power of God through the whole creation, and so they represent the power of creation, and then we have four saints, Lady Peter, Paul, and Saint Benedict, they represent redeemed humanity, and then we have four figures of Christ, the Redeemer, as King, Prophet, Priest, and Contemplative, or Aspects of the Saviour, and then finally we have the dome, with the peacock feathers, which represent immortality, and so it's the throne of immortality, on which the divine, and then we have no figure, but you go beyond to the infinite, you see, the supreme is seated on this throne, it's no form or anything, it's the infinite and the eternal. So, the symbolism was taken from here, actually, these four living creatures, and they represent, as I say, the cosmic powers


before the throne, and later they came identified with the evangelists, but that's rather secondary, as you know, I always forget how they were, Luke was the ox, I think, and John was the eagle, and Matthew the man, and Mark the man, I think, but as I say, that's rather secondary symbolism. And the four living creatures with the six wings, full of eyes all round and within, it means, you see, they are, as I say, they're the cosmic powers who see into the whole creation, and represent the whole creation, as it were, before the throne of God, and they cry, holy, holy, holy is the Lord, which is similar to the vision of Isaiah, and every day, you see, in our prayer, the whole Syrian church, we take that prayer from the Syrian church, all centred, you know, around this vision of Isaiah, the angel saying, holy, holy, holy, so at every prayer, we always say that, in Syriac, which we used to use, it's kardish, kardish, kardish,


holy, holy, holy, lord, god of hosts, that comes down from Israel, and then through the Syriac, and then into the Greek church, and then the Latin, that comes down to us, so that's the creation before the throne of God, and whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to him seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him, and worship him, and they cast their crowns before the throne. It's a wonderful vision, isn't it, you see, this adoration, the worship of the creation and the church. You see, the four living creatures represent the heavenly church, and they're all worshipping God before the throne. Worthy art thou, Lord and God, we honour and so on. I just create all things, and by will they existed and were created. So, it's a marvellous vision, as I say, of creation, of the new creation, the new humanity, redeemed humanity, and the supreme Jesus himself,


of course. It comes out more clearly, the lamb before the throne, who represents Christ himself as the lamb before the throne. So, it's a kind of vision of the world beyond. Excuse me, my dear friend, we have these four comings of the Lord which we reflect on. The first is the Old Testament expectation of his coming to get in the prophets, and the next one is John the Baptist making the immediate preparations for his coming, and the third one is the actual coming in the flesh of Christmas, and the fourth, of course, is the final coming. And in a sense, that is more fundamental than the others, because they all, the whole of this life is a preparation for their final consolation. And the second letter of Peter gives us a very good sort of understanding of that second coming.


First of all, the time. See, people were saying at this time, when is he coming? Everything goes on as before, and he replies, do not ignore that with the Lord one day is a thousand years, a thousand years is one day. So, it's not really an ordinary time spam at all. It's a... the second coming really is not a time event. Well, it's precisely the point where time enters eternity. It's the passage of time into eternity, what T.S. Eliot has called the... the point of the timeless with time. See, it's the point when time and eternity meet as it were. So, we can't count it in times properly, and that's why the deeper aspect of it is its coming into our own inner life. It's not simply something external which we look back on or look forward to. It is the reality in our own lives of the coming of God into our lives, and that's why this letter


ends, therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish and at peace. And surely that's what we seek, you see, to be particularly in meditation, to be at peace, and then to realize the presence. I think in Advent, for all the year, this is really our aim, but Advent is one way in which we see this waiting on the presence of God, become aware of that presence, and now the coming of Christ is simply being aware of who he is and what he is. It's simply our awakening. He doesn't have to do anything. It's already there. We have to awake and allow that coming to take place in ourselves. So, that's the real call of Advent, open our hearts to receive that coming, to be aware of that presence, to allow, to make itself known. I'll give you this vision of the revelation. They had these four angels standing at the four corners


of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea against the retreat. And then he says, another angel ascends with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels, do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads. The idea behind this is that all these powers of nature are around us, and of course they can be extremely destructive, and they're held back until the plan of God is fulfilled in creation. And perhaps one can see it in a rather realistic way that today we try to get control over nature, and nature hits back at us various times. There have been two accidents or occasions in England recently, I don't know whether you all heard of them, but the first one was an incredible cyclone swept through South England and devastated a whole part


of it. Very unusual, but it was a reminder that these powers of nature which we think we can control are actually not under our control, and they can suddenly hit at us like that. The other was a terrible accident on the underground at King's Cross in the centre of London. The escalator caught fire and hundreds of people were trapped there, and it was a terrible situation, a raging furnace, and these people tried to get out. And again it reminds us of all our marvellous technology and so on, our underground stations, we're exposed to these violent forces of nature. So what I'm saying is, these forces are there and they are controlled to some extent, but they're not fully controlled, and God can let forth these forces on us from time to time and remind us that we're subject to them. And then it goes on. The number he sees sealed, and there are 144,000


twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve, of course, is a perfect number, and twelve, twelve is a hundred and forty-four, and a thousand is another perfect number. So it's an idea of total completion, and I think that means that all the promises of God to Israel are fulfilled. We don't know exactly how, but today we see Judaism as a valid religion, and there is a belief that the grace of God is with Israel still, and that they reach their final fulfilment. And then he sees this other one, you see, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue, standing before the throne. And then it's the Gentiles, the whole world which is called to share in this new creation, this new heaven and the new earth. And perhaps we could apply it to the church today, to some extent. You see, just as Israel was a small part of the world, God's providence was very especially there, and then it extended to the whole world. So we could


say the church today is a very small part of the world, about one-fifth, I think. And there is a special providence of God there, but God's plan of salvation extends to all humanity, every tribe, nation, people, under the sun. So we live in this sort of mystery of divine providence, you see. There is a grace of God in Israel, there's a grace of God in the Christian churches, but there's also the grace of God working through the whole of human history and through every people, and it's mysterious. And in the same way, the power of God is present in the whole creation, and eventually, as we read in the letter of Peter, the whole creation will be burnt up, a new heaven and a new earth, but it's restrained now, and there is something which keeps control until the plan of God is fulfilled. And then he speaks particularly of those with white robes, with palm branches in their hand, and here clearly he refers to the martyrs. And it's generally


believed that this revelation was written at the time of the persecution of Domitian, the end of the first century. It was very terrible, the mission of these mad emperors, and he definitely, you see, there'd been a sort of belief in the Roman emperor as God. They wanted to keep the empire together, and the emperor was a sort of symbol, you see, of unity that everybody had to acknowledge. And at first it was quite mild, Augustus would be called Lord and God and Savior, all these words were used to the emperor, but it wasn't too serious, and so Domitian insisted that everybody should admit he was God and should offer sacrifice to him. And that was a big challenge, and the Christian people felt they couldn't make that offering, you see, and so if they didn't, they were burnt alive or they were beheaded or whatever, they were killed, and it was a terrible persecution. And out of it, these people came, and it was, you know,


they say that the blood of the mass is the seed of the church. It must have been a tremendous inspiration that so many people went through this and came out victorious, and gave to church a sense that it was stronger than the Roman empire, which of course proved true in the end. So that's really what these people coded like garments are. They represent the martyrs who have gone through the great affliction and have come into the new life, like going through death and resurrection, you see. It was felt that Christ himself was living among them and sharing his death and resurrection with them. I have another phase in this revelation. I have this angel, and these angels are described with a face like the sun, legs like pillars of fire, and these are images which try to put in


human material terms these very invisible powers, because these cosmic powers are not visible in an ordinary way, and they certainly don't have hands, feet, faces and feet as human beings do. We have to image them. In India, you have gods with so many hands and feet and so on. Every people have their own images, but they're images of realities, you see. There are powers which are manifesting through the universe, and these powers take a particular form in different people according to their psychology. Jung's psychology spoke of these archetypes, you see. There are archetypal forms which manifest throughout the universe, and they're present to our unconscious, and they take particular forms among each people according to our cultural tradition, the way we think and feel. And so you get gods in India and you get angels in Israel and so on. So these are manifestations of these cosmic powers which work through the


universe. And then he speaks of the little scroll open in his hand, and I think the scroll, as we had it before, it's the record of human history. You see, Israel had this very strong sense that all human history is in the hands of God. God has created humanity, and the plan of God is working out through all humanity. And this scroll is the record of human history, you see, in the sight of God, what man is in the sight of God. And so he's asked to take this scroll, and there are the seven thunders, I'm not quite sure what they signify, and then a voice says, seal up what the seven thunders have said, do not write it down. And all this is concerned with this working out of the plan of God, which on the one hand is death and destruction. You always get it in the prophets, you see, we're having in Isaiah,


he prophesies death and destruction to Israel, and then salvation which will come. It's always the two sides. So on the one side we have this prophecy of death and destruction, and the other, this whole saving power of God which is working through it. And the angel lifted up his right hand and swore by him who lives forever and created all things, that there should be no more delay, but in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God should be fulfilled. So the deep sense that at this moment, this history is coming to fulfillment. And you know, there's a saying in the letters of the Ephesians, it was a plan in the fullness of time to bring history to fulfillment, is one translation, in the coming of Christ. So always the understanding is the meaning of human existence, the whole human history and existence has been revealed in Christ, that is the understanding. And this is about to take place in


the view of the Federation. Of course at the first coming it was present, but it's not fully revealed. At the second coming alone will the final meaning of all human destiny, all creation be finally revealed. And that is what is contained in the scroll really. And then he says, take this scroll and eat it. And it was sweet as honey in his mouth and bitter in his stomach. And I presume it means that first of all, the knowledge you have of the plan of God is sweet, but then when you realize all its implications, because it's always, we're always faced with good and evil, joy and suffering, death and resurrection, you see, the whole human history is this duality of good and evil. And so you have to face it and it's beautiful at one side, it is sweet as honey, the other side of it is bitter and painful. And so that is the whole nature of humanity and human


history. And so he takes it and it's sweet as honey in his mouth, but eating it is bitter. I said you must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and towns and kings. See, it's human destiny that is really the question. And we should remind ourselves, it's rather important to know that India has very little sense of history. And Israel had this very strong sense that, you see, history is the story of humanity as a body, as a community. And Israel saw itself as a part of this body of humanity and bringing out the plan of God for all humanity. In India, it's always individual. Each individual has his way to God. And it's one way, of course, and a very important way of seeing it. But in Israel it's always community. We belong to a community, just as in the church we belong to a community. And you see God working out his plan not only through individuals, but through communities and through a particular community


God is working out his plan. So I think we have to see this idea, you see, that human history has a unity behind it and a meaning and a purpose. And the whole meaning and purpose of human history as a whole comes to a head in Christ and is revealed in him, but of course not finally revealed, not explained fully until the second coming, that is at the end of time. So that's the perspective, more or less, of the Book of Revelation. This vision of a woman clothed with the sun, as far as it's rather appropriate for the macroconception, it's not simply Mary who is conceived, but it's a more composite figure and a very revealing great portent appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And this is really the,


what shall we say, the mother goddess, in a sense. It's the feminine power. You can see the sun and the moon and the stars represent the whole creative world. And she's clothed with the sun, has the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. So it's humanity raised above the whole creation, you see. It's very important in understanding that the whole creation comes to a head, humanity, and this woman is the archetypal woman, you could say, the archetypal figure who has appeared all through human history, Isis, and so on. And then another, and she cried out in appearance of anguish for delivery. And she is the mother of the Messiah, quite clearly, it applies to Mary very clearly.


And she's about to bring forth this Messiah, you see, and a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven dancers upon his head appears. And this is modeled on the Roman Empire, really. The seven heads, I think, supposed to be the seven hills of Rome, and the ten horns were the ten emperors who came forth. But you see that the human emperor and throne is only a figure, a symbol of this heavenly power. And this is really Satan, the power in heaven, you see, which drags down a third of the stars of heaven and casts them to the earth. This idea of the fall of the angels, you see, the angels are the spiritual powers which govern the world. And the understanding is some of these powers have fallen. Instead of following the law of God, keeping the cosmos in its proper order, they fall away and bring destruction and disintegration,


violence into the world. And that's what we see in the whole creation today, you see, some of these powers have fallen. And then, particularly, they rule the nations of the earth. And each nation has its angel, but then when the angels fall, then you get a demonic power, you see, which governs a nation. Hitler was a very good example of it, Stalin is another, you can take your choice. But so often, you see, the powers of human powers come under these demonic forces, just as other times they come under angelic ones. So that's the situation, you see, the Messiah is born into the Roman world, and his cult of the Roman emperor was seen as the worship of Satan, you see, this part of this world being worshipped as God, and that's the supreme destiny. So he's figured by the Roman emperor, and the Messiah is born, and the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child. He might devour her child when she brought it forth. And she brought forth a male child who is to rule all the nation with


a rod of iron. We just read that Psalm 109 about the birth of the Messiah who is to rule with a rod of iron. So clearly, this is the Messiah who she brings forth. And her child was caught up to God and to his throne. See, the Messiah is taken up in the resurrection to God. But the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, which to be nourished for 1260 years. And now the woman represents the church, you see, a symbol like this always has many aspects to it. It can be the archetypal woman who's been known for early human history, then it can become Mary, the mother of the Messiah, and then it represents the church. And this fleeing, it's the church at the time of the sack of Jerusalem, 7th AD, the church fled to a village called Pella, and a small Christian community was nourished there for 1260 days. And that's a figure of


imperfection. Psalm 8000 is a figure of perfection. Psalm 1260 is a figure of imperfection. I mean, just for a time. So for a time, the church was nourished in this little place of Pella, and then of course, it came forth afterwards. So that's the perspective. It's very interesting, you see, how all these symbols, and you see, revelation is given in the form of symbols, and a symbol is a figure which has many meanings, and you can draw so many different meanings from it. And that's just full of richness of meaning and confusing at times, but also when you discern them, they have a great depth in them. So this figure of the woman is very significant, and on our bimana here, you see, we have that woman covered with the sun. Actually, it's a little incorrect. We've got the moon and the stars at her feet. The stars should really be a crown of stars. Maybe we have to change it one day. But she represents precisely this woman,


the queen of heaven, you see. So it's very interesting, the whole symbolism here. There's some revelation of these events which are described, and we have to remember it belongs to what one can call the psychic world. You see, beyond the physical world, which most people are concerned with, there is this psychic world, the world of the unconscious, if you like, of all the archetypes. And ancient people lived much more in the psychic world. You see, we've concentrated almost exclusively on the physical world for the last two or three centuries, and most people are completely absorbed in the physical world around them. And that's very peculiar. It's quite a recent event. In all the ancient world, they were primarily concerned with the psychic world, with its experiences in the depths of the psyche, the unconscious. And all this world of angels and of demons and of fairies and of elves


and all this was part of their normal experience, you see. We experience laser beams and computers and things like that. But that's all on that level. But they had this experience, you see. So, he's writing of these realities behind, beyond the physical world and in this psychic. And on the other hand, the psychic world is not spiritual. It's still in the creative world, and it varies from culture to culture. Indians will have visions of Krishna and Rama and of gods with many limbs and so on, and Buddhists will have different ones and Christians will have others. So, it depends on your psyche, you see. The archetypes in your own psyche take their own particular form. So, that's the background to this. He says, war arose in heaven. Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought. They were defeated. And this takes place not in our time, of course, you see. It's beyond this time. The psychic world


is not in this world. It's this time-space world, you see, which science studies. But the psychic world is not in this time-space at all. It's beyond it. And so, this takes place in that other world. And Michael and his angels stand for these, in India we call them the devas, the paths of light, you see. And Satan, he says, comes from the asuras, the paths of darkness. And these paths are real, just as real as light and darkness and the sun, the day and the night. These take place in this psychic world. And there's a conflict there, which is reflected in the physical world. All the violence and conflict in nature is a reflection of this conflict in the psychic world and the conflicts in human nature and human life. So, the dragon and his, was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. And this fall of the angels is very important. Again, as I say, it's a psychic event. It doesn't take


place in this time or this space, but it's, it reflects in this. And all the, all the paths of evil and destruction and, and disintegration in this world come from these spiritual paths, you see, the cosmic paths working against nature, against creation. And so, and working largely in the unconscious, you see. We experience them very violently in the unconscious. And these are what we're dealing with. And he was thrown down to earth and his angels thrown down with him. And these paths are working in this world, you see, all these paths of evil. And you see them around it's these collective forces in the unconscious, you see, which have tremendous power. I always mention Hitler as a perfect example of it, but Stalin and his whole regime is another. And today, you see, you see these forces in the Punjab, for instance, you've got demonic forces that work there. And also in Northern Ireland and in Israel and Palestine, all these angelic and demonic forces


work in people's collective unconscious and it drives them to their violent forces and so on. So the devil and his angel are here and he's called the devil, the diabolos, you know, it's very interesting. Diabolos means a divider. Symbolos is a symbol, is a thing that gathers everything together. And we know about God through symbols. And a diabolos is the one who breaks up everything and disintegrates, you see, and divides. And he's considered the deceiver of the whole world. And later on it says he, he says, the accuser of our brethren. And the function of the evil power is this accusation, this judgment on others, you see. It's always inviting us to judge and condemn others and so on. It's rather an interesting aspect. And then he goes on. I heard a loud voice saying, now the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God and the


authority of his Christ has come to the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And always, you see, when the fall takes place, the salvation comes. Just as Jesus said, at the moment as he's going to the crucifixion, now is the son of man glorified. See, now at this moment when he's going to crucifixion, the glory is already present. Because with death and destruction comes resurrection and new life. And so with the destruction, the power of the Satan and the evil spirits is the power of salvation and grace. And notice the phrase I said, the deceiver, the accuser who accuses them day and night before our God. And these are these destructive forces, you see, which are always accusing other people of judging and condemning and so on. They're these destructive forces which we experience. And they have conquered him by the blood of the lamb, by the word of their testimony.


And this, of course, he comes back to his own situation, the persecution of the Christians of the Roman Empire and those who gave their lives for it and were recognized as martyrs. For they love not their lives even unto death. Thence to rejoice, O heaven, and you that dwell therein, that woe to your earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short. And it's always the belief that as salvation came and the martyrs conquered, so the persecution and the opposition grew. And I think you'll find the same thing always. The two go together. As evil and destruction grow, so new life and salvation grows. And equally opposite, when you enter into new life and grace, you meet these forces of opposition and conflict. So we're always in that world of dualities. And then it goes on to talk about the woman who had borne the male child. And I said yesterday, it's Mary, of course, in the


first place. But secondly, it's the church. The woman was given two wings to fly. As I said, the church fled from Jerusalem at the time of the siege to this place of Pella, and a place was prepared there for her. I'm not quite sure what it means about the serpent poured water like a river. I must look it up. I'm sorry I didn't. The earth came to the help and the woman was saved. Then the dragon was angry with the woman and went on to make war on the rest of her offspring. That is on the church, on the Christians, you see, on those who keep the commandments of God and their test brave Jesus, who stood on the sand of the sea. So this is the church fleeing from Jerusalem, and then this persecution awakened against the Christians in the Roman Empire. So you see, it's all centered in the historic realities of the world of his time, of Jesus himself, his death, his resurrection, the church and Jerusalem and the Roman Empire, but at the same time,


it's seen in the context of the psychic world, the world of the angels and the demons. And we ought to know what's next, what we've lost, you see. We've lost this other dimension. People think only the historical world which we live is the real and all the rest is mythology and so on, but the reality is both are real. There is a physical world, but it reflects a spiritual world. The world of angels and gods and demons and so on, they're just as real, more real than the physical. The physical world depends and reflects the path of this spiritual world. And then above all, of course, beyond the physical and the psychic and the angel and so on, is the supreme power of God, who directs and is in control of the whole. And so we have to go beyond all this to rely on God himself, who is present in the midst of all conflict and all human problems. Yesterday, we had the dragon and the beast and the overcoming these powers, these political powers,


I say, which are idolized, essentially, in the Roman Empire, but typical of all these idolatrous powers. And today, we have this opposite. We have the saints of Mount Zion and 144,000, that is his name and his father's name, written on their foreheads. As you know, 144,000 is a number of perfection, 12 itself, and then 12, 12, 144,000, they're all forms of perfection. And so this is the fullness. And it says a little later, they are virgins, they have not defiled themselves with women, for they are chaste. And many people think this probably refers to idolatry, in the Old Testament particularly, idolatry was seen as unfaithfulness to Yahweh, to God.


And it's possible it refers to burden, but it's doubtful at this time where the virginity was so much exalted, it came to be more later, makes more sense on the whole if we see it as, you see, it would come out of the great persecution and it preserved their faith in the face of this. And idolatry is the main problem, you see, the idolatry of the state, as we say in the Roman Empire, wherever the state is idolized, there you have this essential idolatry. And it's common today as it ever was. So that is the main theme, those who are free from that and are dedicated to God alone. And I heard a voice from heaven, like many waters and thunder and so on, and they sang a new song before the throne, before the living creatures and before the elders. And don't forget the images of the God seated upon the throne, the Father seated on the throne, four living creatures representing the whole redeemed creation and the elders redeemed humanity.


And no one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. And it's an interesting idea, you see, that you can't sing this song unless it's a song, not merely an external one, it's an interior one. And it comes from the heart that has been redeemed and purified and consecrated, you see, it's the music of the heart, if you like. And only those who've experienced this inner transformation can sing that song, it's a very deep meaning. The other image he uses is those who have this seal on their foreheads, and that was apparently, I think slaves and people have a seal put on their forehead, and it was a sign you belonged, and they belonged to God when they had that seal upon them. And then it says, I say, they've not to foul themselves with women for their chaste, to those who follow the lamb wherever he goes. He has been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the lamb. It makes more sense, as I say, to see it as supreme from idolatry


in all its forms, and who follow the lamb wherever he goes. Don't forget, of course, this sort of paradox of this lamb, you see, the very meek, gentle lamb, and lambs are not supposed to be some of the meekest of animals, and they symbolize the Redeemer, you see. He overcomes by his weakness, not by his strength. And that's one of the insights which I think rather important, you know, people very often ask, why does God permit so much evil in the world? And, of course, you can't really give a full answer to it, but one approach to it is to say that God does not overcome evil by power, but by love. The message of Jesus, you see, was he tried to overcome evil in the world by love, and by love, self-sacrifice in love. And what we want is for God to assert himself, to destroy the wicked. The psalmist is always asking, please destroy the wicked, destroy my enemies. That's exactly what God will not do, you see. It's a


great mystery, but the power behind the universe is a power of love, and it only works through love. It's a great mystery, and it seems to be very unjust in many ways, terrible things happen, but somehow that mystery of love is behind the universe, and the only sort of sign of it is a crucifixion, you see, at that moment of total weakness, of surrender, of death, is a revelation of the real meaning of the life in the world, that the love of God was totally present at that moment, you see, and it's that redeeming love which saves the world. So I think we have to try to keep that in mind all the time. And they've been redeemed from mankind, as I say, you see, by this love and by their own self-surrender, because the martyr is one who surrenders himself at the point of death as first fruit for God and the Lamb. In their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless. No lie was found, you see. It's this adherence to the truth which is the great test at the time,


and it's so easy to compromise with the truth, and the martyr is one who witnesses to the truth and gives his life, if necessary, for it, with any deep meaning in it for us. ...becomes almost complete, and that is the situation today. And it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. Very important, you see, it doesn't... the saints don't triumph over the evil power, it conquers them, and it happens again and again, you see, for a long time. The political power, it controls everybody, but eventually it always gives way. The saints reign in the end, but they have to go through a very difficult time. And authority was given to over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on the earth will worship it. So the idea is it would spread everywhere, and we do see something like that today, you see,


the extent to which this kind of idolatrous power, whether it's capitalist or communist, it spreads over the whole world and it dominates, you see, it's got this tremendous power of armaments, for one thing, and remember the spread of armaments today is fantastic, you know, the amount spent on armaments in all the countries of the world, particularly the third world, is stupendous, and so they keep their power by these terrible instruments of destruction, and of course many are getting nuclear power, but the other power is tremendous still. So they get their power and they maintain it with these forces, and it does seem to spread to everywhere. You even hear now, you know, in the pacific islands, these little paradises until recently, and now they've got nuclear power and all sorts of armaments and things being introduced from the west. It's incredible, you see, the way it spreads everywhere. Nothing can escape it today, not the remotest island. So this is what is happening now. All with worship, anyone whose name has not been written before the foundation


of the world in the book of life of the lamb that was slain, and this, we'll go into that later, this book of life, in a sense everybody is inscribed in that book of life, but whether we respond to the call and gain it depends on our own freedom, our own capacity. But the idea is that this, you see, the mystery of death, of destruction, of evil, spreads everywhere, and the mystery of grace and salvation and fullness of life is everywhere, and the two are interwoven as long as we live in here, and in the end they separate and the good of the kingdom of the saints comes and the evil power is overcome. So that's the pattern of the revelation. In this reading from the letter to the Thessalonians, we get a kind of summary of Christian life, which is why we get occasionally in St Paul, we get these kind of summaries,


I always found they're very precious and one should meditate on them. He says, Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances. It's a very good instruction, you see, first of all to rejoice always, there's joy, there's ananda, it's the movement of the holy spirit, it gives the spirit of these love, joy, peace, and joy is this gift of the spirit, and it comes from praying constantly, and it's one of the two examples, and you would pray constantly, pray without ceasing, and that's what we call this unceasing prayer, which monasteries and so on has been always aspired to, and it's the habit of being in the presence of God, really, to pray constantly, simply to be in the presence of God, to be aware of their presence, not thinking about it, but being in their presence, and then give thanks in all circumstances, and to learn to be thankful for good things, but also for evil things, to learn how to accept what


comes from God with thankfulness, very difficult, and it's unpleasant things, but we can learn it by being thankful for the ordinary normal things, daily life, and food, and clothing, and so on. But this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. See, the will of God comes to us in Christ Jesus. God is infinite and eternal beyond, and he focuses himself, as it were, he becomes tangible, present to us in Christ, and it's through him, therefore, we discover the will of God. And do not quench the spirit. The great danger, you know, in the church, of quenching the spirit, you see, the church has so many organizations, and when you tell people they've got to go to mass every Sunday, you see, it becomes an obligation, it's no longer a gift of the spirit, it's something you've got to do, you're brought up as a child to do it, and many simply react against it, they give up going to mass altogether. And, you see, going to mass should be a joy of the spirit, it's an occasion you come together to share the joy of the Holy Spirit, and if you force people to do it,


you quench the spirit. There's a great danger of quenching the spirit all the time. You have to be aware of that. And do not despise prophesying. Well, we do despise, nobody's allowed to be a prophet in the church. It's very, very scandalous. And yet, you know, prophets were in the New Testament, the three first sort of orders in the church, prophets, apostles, and teachers, and always the prophets and the apostles were the first. And prophecy is not telling the future, it's still recognizing the signs of the presence of God, being aware of God's action in the world around you. So prophesying is very necessary, and there have been, of course, great saints who have been prophets, but it's not encouraged as it should be, and really the great need in the church today is for prophets. Priests are there to celebrate sacraments and so on, but the prophet is there to reveal the will of God to the people, you see, to make clear what God is asking,


and test everything. Of course, prophets can make mistakes, and you've got to test them, and the two things go together. When you have prophecy, you also have to have a test of it, and what they call discernment of spirit, you see, testing the spirits, whether they be of God. The whole path, what is good, is stained from every form of evil. Then he says, there's a very important phrase here, may the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly, may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless. And this is on occasion in the New Testament, when these three aspects of the human being are mentioned, body, soul, and spirit. And as many of you know, in later times, we got into the body-soul psychology, and the spirit was left out, the spirit is the gift of God. But the idea that there is a human body, a human soul, and a human spirit is extremely important, because the spirit is the point where we're open to God. The soul is the psyche, and it's the sphere of thoughts and feelings, desires, all this part


of us. But the spirit is the point where we're open to God, to the Holy Spirit, and that's the center of our being, and the center of our person. So the whole person is body, soul, and spirit. May the God of peace sanctify you wholly. So we have to be sanctified in the body, as well as in the soul, and it comes through the spirit. The Holy Spirit works through the spirit of man to make wholly both the body and the soul. And sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This parousia, this coming, often looks forward to a future coming, but it can also always be interpreted on this daily coming. God comes day by day into our lives, and we try to keep ourselves holy, waiting on that coming. And we become holy in body, and soul, and spirit, when we wait on the coming of Christ, coming with His into our lives, day by day, hour by hour. He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. See, it isn't what we do. We open ourselves,


and allow the grace of God, the presence of Christ, to make itself known. So it's a beautiful summary there, as I say, of a genuine Christian life of prayer. So we all need to respect God. Q. As you know, we have a series of visions in this book of Revelation, and we've just had, we missed it out, the great judgment on the whore of Babylon. It says about the fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, who made all nations drink the wine of her impure passion,


and so on. And Babylon, of course, stands for the powers of this world, which are corrupted. And the great point of the Revelation is the sin of idolatry. Then the state or politics are idolized, and they are made the end, and that's the sin of idolatry. And last time we had these virgins who have not been – what was the word they used? – defiled with women. And I suggest a different idolatry, but I think it could mean the idolatry of sex, you see. The same thing is there. Sex is good, just as politics is good. But when sex is idolized, then it becomes a great obstacle for God. The same with power. See, power and sex, these are the two things that dominate people, and they become idols. And the Revelation is this condemnation of that kind of idolatry. So we have this tremendous judgment on Babylon, the city of the world, and we must always remember, you see, the two sides are always there.


In every state, you have good people and people who are seeking the good, and you have people who idolize the state and who get the power and dominate and oppress, you see. We see it everywhere. And the same way with sex, you have people who live a good life and marriage and happy children and all the rest, and you have other people who constantly abuse it. So the two are always side by side, even in the same person, and the good and evil are always making up this whole structure, this whole tapestry of life. And so now we come to this voice from heaven, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, henceforth they may rest from their labors, their deeds follow them. And this, presumably, you see, is the context of the martyrs, this persecution, generally the persecution of Domitian at the end of the first century. It was very violent, and many people were killed, and they rest from their labors,


for their deeds follow them. And we can apply to this to all those who suffer. All over the world today, you see, people are suffering from violence and oppression, and when people suffer like that, their sufferings are united with the suffering of the Lamb, you see. That's the idea, this Lamb has taken upon himself the suffering of the world. So it's really very deeply meaningful. And then it goes on, I looked a white cloud and seated on the cloud one like a son of man. And as you know, the symbolism is nearly always taken from the Old Testament. There's a great vision in the book of Daniel, where he sees one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven. And Jesus, as you know, identified himself with that figure of the judgment. He says, you shall see the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven. So this is the figure of Jesus as the son of man with a golden crown in his head and a short sickle in his hand. And you have to get used to this idea.


The three aspects of Jesus, one is as king, the golden crown, you see, is power. And the idea is God assumes the power. And it's very important, you see, he assumes that power through weakness, through suffering and through death. He didn't conquer on earth, which many would have wanted him to do. He suffered on earth, but through suffering and death, he came to the supreme powers. He said, all power is given to you in heaven and on earth. So he assumes this power, this crown, and then the sharp sickle. There is still the judgment. And another angel came with a loud voice, put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe. So he sat upon the clouds, swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. There's a problem here, which goes through the Bible and through a revelation about this judgment, whether some people are saved and some are lost. And I'm reading a book on


the revelation, very profound, and the author there maintains that it's really not so. And it needs a rather careful interpretation, but really it's the sin of the world which is destroyed, the evil is destroyed, and because Jesus took on himself the sin of the world, he's redeemed the world from sin and salvation is offered therefore to all. And we've always had this idea of hell, so many people suffering in hell, but most people today find it extremely difficult to understand how people could be perfectly happy in heaven while others are suffering in hell. And I think it's unanswerable really. As Saint Thomas Aquinas said, that one of the joys of the blessed was to see the justice of God on sinners. So we enjoyed seeing them suffering in hell, but there you are. And on the other hand, you see, there is the idea that Jesus really took upon himself the sin of the world and suffered and died for it, and therefore he redeemed humanity,


and humanity is redeemed, and there is suffering still, and people still suffer for the effects of sin, but in the end there's a total redemption. I know it's rather difficult to maintain this and many other views in the church, but I think this is a view which is coming forward, and at least we ought to reflect very deeply on it, because I say it's extremely difficult to believe, one, that God allows himself to be defeated. You see, the whole purpose of creation was that humanity should be into the life of God, and the purpose of redemption was that all humanity should have this opportunity. I suppose we can't absolutely say that no one can be lost, but we can say there's no reason to believe that anyone is lost. That God's purpose is, as we read today actually in the Mass, which is all men to be saved, which is all men to be saved. So I think we should take that rather positive view, and remembering always that all humanity is one, you see. I think this is the


great insight. Today we know the whole creation is one, one interdependent whole, and all humanity is one interdependent whole, right from the beginning to the end. And I was quoting to somebody, saying one early council of the church in the 8th century, I think, said that just as there is a no human being from the first to the last whose nature Jesus Christ did not assume, so there is no human being from the first to the last for whom he did not die. So the redemption is for the whole of humanity, and humanity is one, and humanity sins as a whole, and we are all exposed to the sin of humanity, and humanity is redeemed as a whole, and we all receive the effects of that redemption. So that's the background, how it actually works out, I suppose we can't say. But certainly we shouldn't keep any sort of crude idea of a lot of people being pushed down into hell, and I was enjoying the sight of it. The book of Revelation, as you know, is a world of symbols, and nearly all religious writing is in


terms of symbols. We can't express the unseen, the beyond, in its proper terms. We have to use symbols from our earthly experience, and these symbols are drawn from, largely from the Old Testament, the experience of Israel, and the human experience, you could say, of history. And so we have to try to interpret in that context, and remembering that the background of it was the church at the end of the first century, the persecution probably of Domitian, a very violent persecution, where the Roman Empire was seen as the concrete embodiment of evil power, the power of the state, political power, used unscrupulously. And the church was seen as the church of the saints, the martyrs, who resisted the evil power. So he had this vision, I saw another portent, great and wonderful, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended. And you here get this contrast between the wrath of God and the mercy,


and also the Old Testament, you get justice and mercy, God's wrath and anger against the wicked, and his mercy and compassion for the good. And again, we have to translate it. You can't simply say some people are wicked and God's anger comes at them and some are good and he rewards them. There's a mystery of grace and suffering. You see, every religion has this problem, an immense amount of suffering and a great deal of innocent suffering in the world. How do you relate it to the goodness of God? And in Hinduism you always have, you have Shiva, you see, as the god of destruction. Brahma is the god of creation, Vishnu the god of preservation, Shiva is the god of destruction, he destroys the world, and Kali, his consort, is the goddess of destruction and death. But at the same time, Shiva is the god of recreation, of renewal, of grace, and Kali is also the mother who saves her children. So, the two aspects are there, you see,


if you try to see God acting in the world, you see a tremendous amount of evil, suffering, and so on, which he allows in some way. And you see, on the other hand, grace and mercy and compassion. So, you try to bring those two together. And we don't ever see it truly, you see, we always see in our limited human vision, and the vision of the Bible is still a human vision, there's the divine grace in it, but it's still based on human experience. So, it says, how this wrath of God, this final sign, the wrath of God means the end of all evil, you see. And so, it is that evil is going to be overcome, and the destruction of evil is this wrath of God, and it leads, of course, to the salvation of the just. And I saw what appeared to be a sea of blasphemy with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and its image, and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of blasphemy of God in their hand. And this takes us back to this great persecution, you see, those who conquered the beast and his image, and the number of his


name. And the beast is the Roman emperor, is a symbol of political power, and its image is the emperor, and the number of its name is 666. There would be a great deal of questioning this in Nero, Caesar, if you add up the numbers of the letters, make 666, it may have reference to Nero. But a more profound view is that seven is the number of perfection, and six is the number of imperfection, it's falling short, so it's a symbol of evil as opposed to the good. And when it's multiplied three times, 666, then you have the sum of evil, so that's one understanding. But, you see, it's the political power which oppresses the people, and the emperor or the person who is in control, and the evil power which is behind it, you see, behind all political power, there are powers of evil in the universe, and they are what are the real, they're the round of all. And then they sing this song of Moses, a servant of God, and don't forget, you see, the exodus was


the great sign of God's deliverance. Israel was slaved in Egypt for 400 years, and then this great deliverance took place, they were set free, brought into their own land, and this was always a symbol of deliverance. So now the great deliverance has taken place, rescued not from Egypt, but from this world. The whole powers of this world have been overcome, and the saints have now entered into their joy. Great and wonderful ideas, Lord God Almighty, and so on. For all nations will come and worship thee, for their judgments have been revealed. And the judgment is always a judgment on sin and on evil, and the revelation of goodness and truth. And I think we can take it in that sense, that, I mean, the whole idea of the revelation of the New Testament is that evil is finally overcome, the beast and the dragon and Satan, they're all cast into hell, they're all finally overcome, and the kingdom of God is established, that is the


main message. And then, then I looked in the, in heaven, the temple of the tent of witness in heaven was opened. Now to the temple came seven angels. Now again, you have the image of the temple in Jerusalem, of course, which was a symbol of the dwelling place of God, God dwelt among his people in the temple. And this opening of the temple, I think it means, really, that, you see, there was a time when the temple was of Israel and Jerusalem and was limited, but now it's going to be open. The whole of creation is going to share now in this presence of God. And so the seven angels come out with seven plagues, robed in pure bright, and so on. And the two always go together, you see, the judgment, the plague, and the salvation. And all through the Bible you get the two things, the judgment on sin and evil, and the deliverance of grace and compassion. So I think we have to keep the two always together, you can't separate


them. And one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven gold. The four living creatures, you know, are really the cosmic powers before the throne of God. We have these four creatures, which we have on our manor of our temple here, the ox, the eagle, the lamb, and the lion, and they are symbols of the cosmic powers before the throne of God. And they give these angels full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. This concept of the wrath of God is very difficult, as I say. When we see so much evil happening and God permitting it, it's a common way to say it's the wrath of God. Even today you have a plague, or you have a flood, or you have people say, this must be God, he's judging these people. But that's really a very limited way of seeing it. The fact is, of course, that God works through all the forces of nature, and those forces have their own laws and so on. God is present, but actually the cause of these things


is the force of nature, and so one has to make that distinction. And it's better to think God is simply love. And love, when it is resisted and when it's opposed, has these contrary effects, and it feels like wrath, but actually it is the effect of love, so that we can see it in that way. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and then always the sign of God's presence was this cloud. When Solomon blessed the temple, the cloud of glory filled the temple, the sign of the divine presence. So here now you see this smoke from the glory of God. You know, when you're celebrating the mass and you wave the incense and a cloud of incense goes up, you feel the impression of divine presence, you see, that's the idea of it. And no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were ended. You see, the sin and evil has to be destroyed before humanity can be finally redeemed and enter into the temple of God, into


the city of God. So you see the symbolism behind it all, and it has very deep meaning, because we're all confronted with the reality of evil, and every sign of violence and hatred and conflict is there, and yet the mystery of divine grace, compassion, mercy is there at the same time. And you constantly separate one from the other, they go together. In the midst of the greatest sin and suffering, there is grace and compassion, and in the midst of great kind love and grace, there is so much suffering and so much failure in the world. So we're always in a world of dualities, and only finally will we go beyond the dualities to the final state.