Revelation Questions: Food, Ammo, Lions, and Lambs

So how much food and ammo does Revelation say I should stockpile?

During the height of the pandemic I watched a YouTube video of a man claiming to be a prophet (What an interesting age we live in that YouTube prophets are a thing…). After recounting a convoluted mess of conspiracy theories mixed with Christian-y words, he predicted that Christians were about to enter a period of great tribulation, and ought to stockpile food and ammo in preparation. If there was any part of me that was curious about what this man was claiming (and I don’t think there was) any stitch of it was dispelled when he mentioned something like stockpiling ammo. In recent times the book of Revelation has been treated as a guidebook for doomsday preppers, but the reality is that the strategy it offers for enduring tribulation is much less traditional and American than we might have anticipated.

Growing up, I think I heard two primary strategies for surviving the end of the world. Some had a view of the end that said God would rapture all the Christians before the trials came, and thus the strategy was just accept king Jesus before any real trouble could start. Those who didn’t hold this view largely embraced the American post-apocalyptic movie genre solution: build a bunker, stockpile food and weapons, and hold out as long as possible. (I’ve heard a surprising amount of these kind of plans in the last year from a lot of different places).
These two strategies however are nowhere to be found in the pages of Revelation. Instead, it lays out a plan for tribulation (in every age) far more shocking:

love, suffer, and die.

No stockpiles necessary

Perhaps this plan sounds repulsive to you. I can’t really argue either. Suffering and death wasn’t really the solution I hoped for. It doesn’t really sound like a solution at all. Don’t we want to overcome evil? How can we defeat and overcome it if we are dead? How can we fight without fighting?

The answer comes in Revelation 5. John is shown a scroll representing God’s will- the culmination of his plan for all creation. He is grieved when no one is found who can open this scroll and carry out its contents, but that is when he hears the voice of one of the heavenly beings:
“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
A lion! Yes! That is a being of power! One that can use its strength to overwhelm the forces of evil and tear them apart! Certainly a lion can bring about God’s plan! But then after Hearing, John turns and Sees this lion, and in fact, it isn’t a lion at all, but a lamb that is bloodied from a slaughter. It looks defeated, but to our surprise it takes the scroll, and has this declaration made over it:
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”
If it isn’t clear, this lamb represents Jesus- the crucified and risen king. In a world of violence, power-grabs, and rebellion, Jesus overcame by loving his enemies to the point of death, refusing the ways of the world. He perfectly embodied and fulfilled the law, and in doing so overpowered death. He was raised from the dead, and thus declared victorious by God forever.

Thus, John looks at the crucified Jesus and shows him to us. The person that we claim to follow was raised from the dead because he loved and died for his enemies. If we are in him, why would we anticipate a strategy that is any different? John tells his suffering (or soon to be suffering) Christian audience that their faithful suffering is actually the means through which they will overcome evil, and they do not have to fear because they have the example of Jesus, raised from the dead and seated with God. He was exposed to suffering and yet lives. He never raised a weapon against anyone, and yet overcame. If his followers are willing to participate in his suffering, they will absolutely share in his victory.

So many people want to see Revelation as a guidebook written to help people of prep for and escape suffering, when it is actually a promise that such suffering will find every true Christian in every age. It’s a reminder that the way of Jesus is a call to endure suffering and turn the cheek to our enemies in total love, and that just like our king conquered in an unexpected way, so too will we if we’ll just trust him.

Dan Vandzura