3. The Apocalypse of Lazarus
“Behold the dreadful wailing of the sodomites who wallow in morbific blood issuing forth from the putrid bladder of Satan.
You’re guts will be spun on the loom of judgement, to drip like pus into the mouths of the unconverted
You will become like shit on the shoe of a Lucifer, the gristle in a pool of Demonic vomit. You will become the genital warts that adorn the arse of Hades. All this and more shall you become in the final days of Man
The Dragon and beast cast into hel, Death into the valley of Jehoshaphat
The earth will shake at the end of days, Men will flee into holes and caves
Al hail the swarm of shedim that commeth like flies from the bottomless pit. Hark the horns of Armageddon for they herald the messianic oracle of slaughter and wrath.
Apocalypse, An oracle of darkness, Apocalypse, Of brimstone and fire
Apocalypse, The whore of Babylon, Apocalypse, Demonic holocaust
Apocalypse, The shattered universe, Apocalypse, A fellowship of death
Apocalypse, The number of the beast, Apocalypse, The devouring locust
Apocalypse, A holy revelation, Apocalypse, The seventh seal of god
Apocalypse. Seducer of the earth
Apocalypse, A pale horse of death, Apocalypse , Satanic war machine
Apocalypse, The dragon of chaos, Apocalypse, The dead will be reborn”
This is a song about the fervour of the eschatological final battle, the Armageddon, and the idea of an end of the world. These were writings that litter the Old and New testament, most written in the post exile period the most famous being the Book of Revelation. The Lazarus connection is due to the raising of the dead elements that litter the final rewards of many Apocalyptic literature. This is a very real doctrine that Jesus would have been very aware of. Many Christians believe that the Last Judgment will be held in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, interpreting the passage in the book of Joel:
The Gospel of John is the only gospel that contains the events surrounding the death and return to life of Lazarus. The events are recorded in John 11. It is a strange and yet compelling narrative that has elements of ritualistic motives. Here is the event told in full,
“1: Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2: (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3: Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4: When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 5: Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6: When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7: Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8: His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9: Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10: But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 11: These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12: Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13: Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14: Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15: And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16: Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17: Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18: Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20: Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21: Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22: But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23: Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24: Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25: Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27: She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28: And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29: As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 30: Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. 31: The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32: Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33: When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34: And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35: Jesus wept. 36: Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37: And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38: Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39: Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40: Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41: Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42: And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43: And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44: And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 45: Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46: But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done” (Jn. 11).
This reveals much of the familiarity Jesus not only had with women but to his prowess as a healer. The Lazarus incident is fraught with mystery and yet in its simplicity we can deduce the following. Lazarus was not dead and his apparent resurrection was but a ritualistic ceremony performed by Jesus. This is the only explanation unless we venture into that cloudy supernatural realm. We shall endeavour not to, so the original story ahs been glossed over by later writers to conform to the birth of a religion. It is historical foundation cemented over by the fantastic. It is an event that added to the Jesus cult at the time and was probably intended for the eyes of a few initiates. The stories subsequent exposure to the world stage, like all the gospel narratives is a condition of Christianities acceptance and early growth.
The main substance of the song is the Jewish obsession with their own deliverance from the oppressive Roman yoke, and prior to that the Persian and Babylonian. [Apocalyptical elements to reveal something hidden) can be detected in the prophetical books of Joel and Zechariah, while Isaiah chapters 24-27 and 33 present well-developed apocalypses. The Book of Daniel offers a fully matured and classic example of this genre of literature. There are Canonical apocalyptic literature, like Isaiah, Joel, and Daniel, And numerous non canonical literature like, The Books of Enoch, Ezra, Esdras, Assumption of Moses, Jubilees, Maccabeess, and many more. These are known as Old Testament pseudepigrapha.
Jesus would have been very aware of these works and his life was very much influenced by them. We cannot add the New Testament literature and non testament apocalyptic writings as they would not have existed at the time of his mission. The term Shedimis the Hebrew word for demons. Shedim are said to have had the feet and claws of a cock and these fantastical beings would have been woven into the mind of Jesus. Such brazen supernatural beings are rife in the most famous of all the apocalyptic writings, the book or Revelation.
It is said that the study of the Revelation either finds or leaves a man mad. I am sure most of you are familiar with this book. The number of the Beast, the whore of Babylon and Armageddon all take their cue from its mysterious pages. To many people the Revelation has been notoriously difficult to understand. The result is that it has sometimes been abandoned as quite unintelligible or become a theatre for religious eccentrics to map out celestial timetables or predict the end of the world. This is not surprising considering the events detailed within the book are doom laden and speak of a coming catastrophe, which will befall all humankind.
Although the Revelation is unique in the New Testament it is also part of a whole collection of apocalyptic literature written between 300 BC and AD 200. These works include numerous Jewish and Christian documents not viewed to be adherent to canonical dogma. This basically means when the Bible was put together in the early part of the first Millennium AD these often meaningless writings were deemed to have no place in the Christianity Rome was formulating for the new faith.
The Apocalyptic literature was a different kind of religious writing that is neither Old nor New Testament but containing glimpses of both. Jewish thought divided time into two ages. There was this present age, which is wholly bad and beyond redemption. For in it there can be nothing but total destruction. The Jews therefore, waited for the end of things as they are. There was the age, which was to come which was to be wholly good, the golden age of God in which everlasting peace would prevail. The Jews believed that the present age would become the golden age through direct intervention of God. He would blast the present world out of existence and bring in his golden age. Most apocalyptic literature deals with these events. This is further complicated by the fact that most of these documents are written in code as the writers lived in times of tyranny and oppression. The more some alien power held them down the more they would dream of their destruction. So rather than such writings being looked upon as the work of rebellious revolutionaries, they were ignored as being unintelligible nonsense.
A man called John around AD 90 wrote the Revelation. He was probably a Jew of Palestine and the Old Testament was very much apart of his faith as he quotes from in 245 times. Not only did he know the Old Testament he was also familiar with the apocalyptic books written between testaments. This is most evident through his blatant but often overlooked use of , the book of Enoch. This book has been condemned by the Church as it describes the fall of the angels and subsequent cohabitation with mortal woman. This runs against the Church’s own belief that Angels are incorporeal beings and not in a position to make love with harlots let alone sire demonic offspring.
The Revelation makes use of the fallen angel story in the book of Enoch but never in a way has that compromised the Catholic cannon. Most Apocalyptic writings are also termed ‘Ascension visions’ as they reveal the writer being taken up to Heaven and learning things to come as well as other Heavenly secrets. John was no different to Enoch for both were taken to Heaven and shown things normally reserved for celestial beings. It was through these dreams that they wrote their books. John wrote his book whilst in captivity at the height of the Roman domination of the known world. It was during these violent and fearful times that Christians were persecuted by Jew and Roman alike so it’s no wonder his writings were so hard to understand. He was revealing hope to a broken nation, speaking out against the pangs of his fellow people. To openly write such things would have secured his death.
Another fact worth mentioning is when these visions took place it was sometimes after much fasting. It is known that after a long duration of hunger the mind can begin to hallucinate. When reading the Revelation you would be forgiven for thinking the author was tripping his nuts off at the time.
In the Revelation there is nothing but blazing hatred for Rome. Rome is Babylon, the mother of all harlots, drunk with the blood of the saints. By the time of the Revelation Caesar worship was the one religion which covered the whole Roman Empire. We must remember at this time Christianity was nothing more than a small faction of people hiding in the shadows of fear and death. As we shall see, Rome and her Emperors were the central link in the chain of events, which embraced the hope of a fledgling religion against the hopelessness of its people.
The Revelation is a glimpse of things to come shown to John by Jesus Christ, where as Enoch was written before the first Millennium AD and of no consequence to the early church fathers. In the Revelation events, objects and metaphors familiar to the writer veil every hidden meaning. There are certain well-known verses that can be logically explained, as we shall now discover.
The Four Horsemen[rev 6: 1-8] are a perfect example of apocalyptic imagery in full motion. The different coloured horses and their riders each bring a tragic horror upon mankind. The origin of this vision is in Zechariah 6: 1-8. Zechariah sees four horses which are let loose upon the earth to deal out vengeance on Babylon and Egypt. John used this powerful image to convey four great destructive forces.
The White Horse of Conquest
And I saw, and, behold a white horse, and he who was seated on it had a bow, and a conquerors crown was given to him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer.
The passage really speaks for itself. When a Roman general celebrated a triumph he would normally parade through the streets of Rome upon a chariot drawn by white horses. The bow has always been depicted in the Old Testament as a sign of military power. Another source of inspiration would have come from the mighty Parthian warriors for they were the most famous bow men in the world at that time and rode white horses. A ‘Parthian’ shot still means a final, devastating blow, to which there is no possible answer.
The Blood Red Horse of Strife
And there came forth another horse, blood-red in colour, and to him that sat upon it there was given to take peace from the earth, and to bring it about that men should slay each other, and a great sword was given to him.
This second rider has been charged with taking peace from the earth. When John was writing there was much strife tearing the world apart. During the thirty years before the reign of Herod the great, 67 to 37 BC, in Palestine alone no fewer than 100,000 men had perished in abortive revolutions. Also, an essential element in Jewish thought concerning the last days is the complete disintegration of all human relationships. So this passage was a reflection of the terrible events going on around the writer. Not much has changed to this day.
The Black Horse of Famine
And, behold, there came a black horse, and he who sat upon it had the beam of a balance in his hand.
We must remember these horses are signs, which precede the end. So the famine brought by this horse will not destroy but balance the outcome. During Nero’s reign there had been many famines, which left the luxury of the rich untouched. There was an occasion when the starving populace of Rome discovered corn ships entering the harbor but instead of corn they contained sand for use in the gladiatorial arena. The scales in the rider’s hand represent the scarcity of food in that when there was a shortage in those days the food was distributed equally by use of measures.
The Pale Horse of Pestilence and Death
And, I saw, and behold, there came a pale horse, and the name of him who sat upon it was death, and Hades followed with him, and they were given power over a fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with famine, and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
The word pale represents the colour of a face blenched with terror. There is a passage in Ezekiel 14:21 where God speaks of a time when he will send his ‘four sore acts of judgement upon Jerusalem’ – sword, famine, evil beasts and pestilence. Here John has used a traditional picture of what will happen when God dispatches his wrath upon his disobedient people.
So contrary to what your first impressions are about the four horsemen, the reality is far less sinister. These riders do not gallop across the sky like avengers from God.
The very word conjures up images of Satan. The Antichrist is a figure mentioned throughout the Revelation. Firstly we can say as a general principle that Antichrist stands for the power in the universe which is against God, the incarnation of the Devil and evil. The idea of a force opposed to God was not new. Antichrist had his predecessors long before the New Testament. The Babylonians had a myth which they shared with the Semitic peoples and with which the Jews must have come into contact. The struggle between Marduk and Tiamat the dragon was one of the most ancient conflicts of good and evil. The old belief in the struggle between God and the dragon found its way into the Old Testament.
Issiah 27:1, tells of the day God will slay the Leviathan. There is the Belial – or as it sometimes called Beliar – idea. This word frequently occurs in the Old Testament and is a synonym for evil. Between Testaments Belial came to be regarded as the chief of demons. The Persians also had a universal struggle of good and evil between Ormuzd, the God of light, and Ahriman, the God of Darkness.
There is also a sense which the obvious Antichirst is Satan. The very name means Adversary. But, Satan, is an angel, whereas Antichrist is a visible figure upon the earth in which the very essence of evil has become incarnate.
This arch fiend of Jesus known as Satan was more of a Christian creation than a Jewish one. So who was this all encompassing figure of absolute evil?
In popular lore Satan is the Arch fiend, the Hebraic chief of the powers of darkness. He is the embodiment of absolute evil. The Roman Church was fanatical in its recognition of Satan and the temptations that issued from his existence. Since the fragmentation of the church this belief is accepted by some Protestants and rejected by other factions.
The first reference to Satan comes in the original Hebrew word ‘Shatana’ which means Adversary. It appears many times in the Old Testament but curiously only once as a proper name in, 1 Chronicles. The Satan that occurs in the Old Testament is certainly not applicable to the modern conception of a spirit of absolute evil. It was not until the Hebrews were in exile in Babylon in 550 BC that an actual being begins to arise. The Hebrews being Monotheist [one God] had been forced to live among a Polytheistic [many Gods] society. It was here they adopted the idea of an evil agency, probably by wielding many of the Babylonian deities into one central source. It occurred to them that if the world contained an evil principle it could not possibly emanate from God. So it was to separate all evil from God and invest it in a singular adverse deity, Satan.
Judaism does not view the word “Satan” with the same connotation as other religions. Satan in Judaism is not a physical being, ruling the underworld or hell. Rather, in the Torah, the word Satan indicates “accuser,” “hinderer,” or “tempter.” Satan is more an obstacle in one’s way, such as temptation and evil doings, keeping them from completing the responsibilities of tikkun olam (fixing the world). Satan is our evil inclination to veer off the path of righteousness and faithfulness in God. Throughout the Torah, Satan challenges God to test the true loyalty of his followers, including Adam and Eve, as well as Abraham. However, Satan remains inferior to God and is incapable of taking action on mortals without God’s permission. In the Talmud and Midrash, Satan appears as the force in the world, responsible for all sins.
The name Devil is derived from the Greek ‘Diabolos’ [slanderer] . Many of the current words we use for Biblical texts are two fold. For example we have, The Messiah and the Greek is Christ. The same goes for Devil and Diabolos. In the Old Testament we never read of a Devil, although we come across devils. It is in the New Testament that Satan becomes the Devil.
Other references to Satan come from the great mass of books of what is called apocalyptic literature, the product of indestructible hope written between testaments.
The most famous being the book of Revelation. In the Book of Enoch Satan becomes the angel who conceived the impossible notion of placing his throne above that of God and was accordingly cast out of Heaven. The Babylonians had a similar story of, Ishtar, the God of the morning star. He rebelled against God and was cast down from Heaven.
There is one definitive reference to this old story in the Old Testament. In Isaiah we read ‘how you are fallen from heaven, o day star son of the dawn’. This brings us straight to the name of Lucifer which in Latin means ‘carrier of fire’. The name only appears once in holy scripture as a translation for the angel, Heilel which means ‘spreading of brightness’ The link which the early Christians established between Satan and Lucifer is based on a misreading of the passage in Isaiah which is a metaphorical identification of the morning star or Lucifer [Venus]. Satan is also identified with the serpent of creation myth although this is purely speculation.
The Babylonians had a myth in regard to the creation of the world which they shared with all the Semitic peoples. Marduk, the creator and , Tiamat, the dragon who stands for primeval chaos. This idea also entered Hebriac scripture. The dragon of chaos became Rahab. Leviathan and Behemoth are also connected to this terrible dragon who signifies a direct link to Satan. In the book of Reverlation the great dragon [drakon o megas] was thrown down, that ancient serpent [ophis o archaios] who is called the devil [diabolos] and Satan [satanas], the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels with him.
There are the names Beliar or Belial, which frequently pop up in the Old Testament as a synonym for Evil. Samael is another name attributed to Satan which in Hebrew meaning ‘The drug of God’, since it was believed his sword was tipped with poison. The Angel of Death was also recognised as being Satan Beelzebub [lord of flies] was a philistine deity and also identified with Baal. In Matthew 12.24 he is mentioned as ‘Prince of Devils, and this appellation distinguished him as Satan .
To some scholars Azazel who in the book of Enoch is a chief of the two hundred fallen angels. This angel is associated with the yearly feats of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. The Hebrews would sacrifice two he-goats. One was offered up to God, so that he might absolve the Hebrews of their sins, while the other was set aside for Azazel by casting the beast to its death over a cliff. The inverted, or reversed, pentagram stems exclusively from this ritual. During the middle ages this abhorrent symbol of the goat, with the two upright pints signifying the horns, the right and left, the ears and the lower point the beard.
It is a complex but wholly Christian conception derived from ancient sources to literally put the fear of God into the masses. In secular works Satan appears in many forms. Miltons ‘paradise Lost’, Vondels’ Lucifer’ and Drydens ‘The State of Innocence’. Then there are, Goethe’s ‘Faust’ and Dante’s Inferno. All these tragic stories [ and stories is all they can ever be] and other shave helped to shape the images of brooding semi-human forms or winged serpentine creatures surrounded by demonic beings in all their hideous shapes and forms. M any modern Christians doubt that Satan really exists. They say that biblical stories such as the temptation of Jesus are allegories, and that Jesus didn’t actually expel real demons. But some people believe that everything in the Bible is literally true, including the reality of the Devil. Many of these people think that they can see his influence in modern society, and take this as further proof of his existence.
An interesting end to this chapter are the words of the second century greek philosopher, Celsus, What makes the Christians’ message dangerous, Celsus writes, is not that they believe in one God, but that they deviate from monotheism by their “blasphemous” belief in the devil. For all the “impious errors” the Christians commit, Celsus says, they show their greatest ignorance in “making up a being opposed to God, and calling him ‘devil,’ or, in the Hebrew language, ‘Satan.’ ” All such ideas, Celsus declares, are nothing but human inventions, sacrilegious even to repeat: “it is blasphemy … to say that the greatest God … has an adversary who constrains his capacity to do good.” Celsus is outraged that the Christians, who claim to worship one God, “impiously divide the kingdom of God, creating a rebellion in it, as if there were opposing factions within the divine, including one that is hostile to God!”” Celsus accuses Christians of “inventing a rebellion”
Judaism has this to say “Satan is not, as the Christians think, a rebellious angel. How impossible! The angels are spiritual and holy, without any physical or unholy presence, and the presence of Hashem’s holiness permeates them entirely. Angels, unlike humans, are therefore constantly and fully aware of Hashem’s Presence everywhere. Could you stay dry in the ocean? An angel could not stop being holy, and can do no wrong. There is holiness everywhere in Creation, everywhere in the universe, and angels are made of the same thing. An angel could not stop serving God even if he tried.”
So here we see the original concept of Satan being manipulated by Christianity into something quite different. In my opinion the very concept of such a being is ridiculous, and yet all to real for many of us.