Trouble on the Yellow Brick Road

Trouble on the Yellow Brick Road

You stand in front of two doors. Behind Door No. 1 is God in all the splendor, glory, and might described in Scripture—the God of creation, of Abraham, of Israel, of flesh-and-blood Jesus, the God of yesterday, today, forever. This is door No. 1.

Behind Door No. 2 is Satan—the evil one, Beelzebub, Lucifer, the ancient serpent, Father of lies. You’ve always wondered if he’s red, horned, and carrying a pitchfork. Now you have the chance see for yourself. This is Door No. 2.

No one will ever know. No one will ever tell. The choice is yours. Who would you rather see? Which door will you choose?

We seem to be more fascinated by evil than good. The hottest entertainment is reality TV. The villains become more popular than the heroes.

Evil fascinates us, thus our affair with the Revelation. It’s full of evil characters: the beast from the pit, the dragon, bloody horsemen, demonic warrior locusts, and the mother of harlots.

Door No. 2 has drawing power—reality-TV villains, the bad guys, and evil characters in plays and stories. It looks as if we are fascinated with evil.

I heard a famous storyteller say one time that you don’t have a story until you have somebody in trouble. The plot isn’t obvious until someone faces conflict. The Revelation seems to bear this out. Follow the plot:

Meeting the Risen Jesus (chap. 1)
People of God in Trouble (chaps. 2—3)
Lamb to the Rescue (chaps. 4—5)
Struggles Along the Way (chaps. 6—18)
The Final Battle (chaps. 17—19)
Getting All the Way Home (chaps. 20—22)

Every time I review that story plot, it reminds me of The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy and her friends are trying to get home to Kansas, but they keep running into trouble on the Yellow Brick Road. Getting home isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. And all their troubles can be traced to one source—the Wicked Witch of the West. She is full of threats: “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” And the witch has help: flying monkeys, rain to rust the Tinman, fire to consume the Scarecrow, and fear to wilt the Cowardly Lion.

I find myself wishing that John’s story could stick in our imagination like The Wizard of Oz. We’re on a journey too. Our longing is for home. We doubt whether we have the brains, courage, or heart to resist attacks. We’ve run into our share of trouble on the Yellow Brick Road. John writes about these evil obstacles: dragons, beasts, bottomless pits, the devil come down to earth.

But John does one thing with evil that few storytellers do. He puts the power of evil in the passive voice: “The beast was given power.” “The dragon was given authority.” Power in the passive voice is power that is secondhand. It is permitted power—power on a leash. It has an expiration date. Trace the power in the Revelation and you’ll find that evil doesn’t own it. Evil simply uses it for a little while.

Just as there are many titles for evil in the Revelation, there are also plenty for Jesus: the Lamb, the Holy One, the Bright Morning Star, the True Witness, the First and the Last, and one really long title that reads the One Who Shuts and No One Opens and Opens and No One Shuts. I love the titles. There are more, but my favorite one is very simple: the Amen.

Jesus is the Amen. He holds ultimate power. In the end, evil melts like a wicked witch, our time of enduring is over, and we finally arrive home, where we can play.

I think I’ll take Door No. 1.

Today’s post is an excerpt from Answers for Chicken Little: A No-Nonsense Look at the Book of Revelation.

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