Friday, 23 June 2017

Fire Of Heaven

The Fire of Heaven Trilogy by Bill Myers is a great read, but the third book, Fire of Heaven, from which the trilogy gets its name, is the best.

Ordinarily I am very reluctant to read anything that puts the book of Revelation into fictional form; for one thing, the warnings inside the book itself about adding anything to God's word are very clear. But Bill Myers is a Christian author I trust. He is very biblical and his books are always a revelation of Jesus.  

And strangely enough Bill Myers avoids the usual pitfalls and instead writes something approaching an allegory. And he also undermines any literalism anyone might have about his interpretations of the prophecies in the story itself by pointing out that no one before Jesus' coming had any clue about how the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament would be fulfilled, so therefore, when this passage from Revelation is fulfilled it would likely be in a very different form from anything anyone guesses.

You see, Fire of Heaven book III is the story of the two witnesses in Revelation 11: in Bill's book, a married couple who together are prophets, warning the unfaithful church and pronouncing God's judgement on the world. Both in their own way are unfaithful to God at various points in the story, and their story is really about something every Christian must do: coming to the point of letting one's own hopes and very life die, so that Jesus can work through us. For -

  'unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life' John 12:24-25

This is the small story from Revelation dramatised in the book: 

I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouth and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.

 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them.  Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

But after the three and a half days the breath[b] of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. Revelation 11:1-13

Of course, like every prophecy in Revelation this one has been interpreted many ways. Some say the two witnesses are the lampstands of Christianity and Judaism, others that they are two churches in Jerusalem. 

But the intriguing explanation to me was always that they are a married couple - you see, in Greek it says 'fire comes from their mouth' not 'mouths' as it is sometimes translated. So two witnesses, having only one mouth, some scholars have reasoned are therefore one flesh - i.e. a married couple. 

What is so marvellous about Fire of Heaven is not, however, its prophetic potential as a literal description of coming events - Bill Myers explicitly refuses to claim that he is describing what will happen (a good thing too - for that would be adding something to the words written down by John) - rather, he is bringing a message for all Christians about what following Christ ought to mean, particularly for modern Western Christians.  

In a strange, very intense way, this book is truly romantic as well. It is an allegory of Christian marriage - as well as a very prophetic look at the modern Western church - it is a full allegorical description of what is lacking in the life of the modern Western Christian - i.e., death to self, obedience to and love for Jesus Christ. 

I am still in the desert in my life - the wilderness - what I thought was God's will, due to my completely stuffing it (everything) up, has gone completely wrong. But you see, now I realise how inevitable this was. I could not really, truly come to the point of dying to myself until I had stuffed everything up I thought God wanted me to do completely, and now, I am at the point where I am resigned, but now believing and trusting that nothing can be done in my strength, but that the Lord Jesus is all, and in all. 

And when we truly begin to comprehend how great God the Father's love for us is - that he gives his only Son, to save us, so that we will not perish but have eternal life - then we realise how many great things are surely still in store for us - and we must have faith in the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - that He will bring everything to pass, that is meant to be. For God sees the future, in every detail. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Dear griffin friend and dirigible traveller - please feel free to leave a comment. I always try to moderate comments within 24 hours or earlier, so hopefully it will appear soon.