Saturday, December 5, 2009

Make a Stand

Brother Richard Draper is a professor at BYU in the religion department. His areas of expertise are prophesy, early Christian history, background of the Pearl of Great Price, and apocalyptic. It's this final focus that lead to me meeting this incredible man. As one of the leaders in LDS apocalyptic research, Brother Draper teaches what I believe is the only Book of Revelation class offered on campus. And since he's probably retiring next year, who knows when this sort of an opportunity will again present itself. Before coming to BYU I wanted to take this class, and my expectations were not disappointed.

In Brother Draper's class the spirit can be overwhelming. I have no problem rising early in the morning each Wednesday to arrive at the 8 am class early. I only go to class early if I was already on campus and it's convenient. Book of Revelation is the exception. I wake up early just to be there on time.

A myriad of views on the Book of Revelation exist in this world, from the mark of the beast being PIN numbers and locusts being battle jets, to the idea that John the Revelator was a raving, drunken lunatic. However, Brother Draper's perspective, and the LDS view in general, is one that I hadn't heard much about. Although I am fascinated by the Revelation of John, Sunday School and seminary taught me very little about the book. Despite Joseph Smith's several revelations regarding this book and its meaning, it was difficult for me to be satisfied by the answers I was given. On one hand, we are told of horrible destruction, danger, war, plague, and terror. On the other we were told that, as saints, we would be safe. This satisfies many people, but not me. I wanted to know more. It seemed vitally important to me to understand what will be happening and my place in it. I knew enough to know that solid answers would be difficult to get for all my questions. But I wanted to understand so much more than I'd ever been taught.

After a semester listening to Brother Draper, I think I understand. We don't know all the details. We don't need to. As we get to each new step, our prophet will tell us what need to know. But I do get to know so much. Even Satan's reign of terror will be ultimately controlled by our God. He loves us completely, and He is pulling the strings to make sure everything ends like He planned it. We have our agency, but He knows us so well, every one of us, that He has put us where we need to be to have His will executed completely. As Brother Draper says, throughout all of the horror to come, God says "If you messa with my children, I breaka yo life!" He probably doesn't talk like that, but that's still how He feels about me, and you, and every other one of His children.

Like no other class before, this study of the Book of Revelation has caused me to want, so very desperately, to make a difference. I feel so insignificant, but I want to help the cause of the Lord in a direct and clear way. Like Elder Holland, I want to declare my position with surety. Last Wednesday, Brother Draper was describing Babylon the Great, mystery, mother of harlots, and her beast. She has a iron grip on this world. She and the Beast support each other. They encourage tolerance of everything but morals. They promote fulfillment of needs that didn't exist until they made you feel inferior. They sell the souls of men as commodities. They create a world based on the Mahanic Principle: using people as tools to get material gain. Promises are made. Babylon the Great offers fine material goods, slaves and souls of men, the praise of the world. She, with the help of the beast, can teach you how to get gain and put down all opposition. Lasciviousness, greed, idolatry, cruelty, and cold selfishness become the norm in the world the beast rules.

I sat in my seat. Vivid images of evil and fear ran through my mind. But the spirit was not gone. He was showing me what this world is like. And then Brother Draper stepped from behind his podium, he spoke to us, and at the same time the Spirit of God told me to really listen, and really understand. "I want you to be rebels," Brother Draper declared, "Rebels for righteousness. Know why you make a stand. Take that stand, and don't back down." I sat there stunned. I've wanted to make a difference, but what can I do? I'm not one of the revolutionary students who helped change roll across Europe. I'm not someone who can march with Civil Rights activists. Those days are over. It's not the same anymore. But I can't sit quietly and watch the world be "made drunk with the wine of her fornication." (Rev. 17:2) Today my voice can make a difference. If one person speaks out, that is one less person supporting Babylon. And maybe someone will listen. But as long as I don't back down from my stand, I can be a rebel for righteousness. Maybe it's not flashy and glamorous and Robin Hood, or the students of the ABC cafe, but it will make a difference.

Don't stand idly by. Rebel.
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