Supernatural Revelation Allusion

Image

The idea of the apocalypse has always captivated people, including the apocalypse of Revelation. This interest in the end times has shown up everywhere, especially in pop culture. Supernatural is one of example of this, seeing that it has two whole seasons dedicated to the end of the world, and much of it alludes to events that occur in Revelation. Megan (red) and I (blue) are both huge fans of the show, so we decided (with Mrs. Foster’s permission of course) to do an allusion super-post for seasons 4 and 5 of Supernatural. Season 4 mainly focuses on the breaking of the seals that leads to the apocalypse, while season 5 focuses on the actual end of the world. Here’s a summary of seasons 1-7 of the show in case you’ve never seen it, but be warned: if you don’t like the song Carry On My Wayward Son, I highly suggest NOT watching it (the summary for season 5 ends at 6:50).

 

Season 4: The Seals

Season 4 begins with Dean Winchester being brought back from Hell by Castiel, an angel of the Lord. After being reunited with his younger brother Sam and their friend Bobby Singer, Cas warns them that Lilith, the demon responsible for sending Dean to Hell, is trying to break the seals that keep the fallen archangel Lucifer imprisoned in order to bring on the apocalypse. Later it is revealed that there are around 600 total seals, but Lilith only needs to break 66 of them in order to spring Lucy from his cage.

Although in Revelation there are only 7 seals, these 66 seals ultimately bring on the apocalypse just as the 7 Revelation seals do. In Revelation, the first six seals can be found in chapter 6, with the final seal being opened in the first part of chapter 8. Even though the seals don’t exactly match those found in Revelation, it does help the view to understand the consequences of the seals being broken if they have read that book of the Bible. By understanding what happens after the seals are broken in Revelation, it’s easy to see why the brothers want to stop Lilith.

 Some of the seals in the show, such as the Rising of the Witnesses (which happens in episode 2 – “Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester”), mirror other events that happen in Revelation. Revelation chapter 11 tells of the final trumpet, but before this, it mentions two prophets that are killed by the beast, and hold great power during the end times. Like with the seals, the Rising is not exactly the same since the “witnesses” are people who Sam, Dean, and Bobby were unable to save, but having knowledge of Revelation does help to better understand what’s going on. The witnesses are still a sign that the end is near and they also hold a great power over the trio, since they all feel guilty about the people that they haven’t saved from the monsters that they hunt. 

Along with the seals, there are several other allusions in this season, including Sam and Ruby, a demon who is “helping” to stop Lilith, being portrayed as Christ figures. In episodes 9 (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) and 10(“Heaven and Hell”), the group manages to find a girl who can hear angels named Anna. It turns out that she is angel who gave up her grace in order to be human, and as a result is being hunted by both demons and angels. In episode 10, Ruby seemingly betrays the group by meeting up with a group of demons to turn Anna in. Since Ruby is also viewed as a traitor by the demons, she ends up being tortured for Anna’s location. Eventually she cannot take the pain anymore and tells the demons where to find Anna, Sam, and Dean. Later, it’s revealed that it was all a trick to get the demons and angels to battle and ignore Anna, which is an amazing sacrifice considering that Anna and Ruby practically hate each other. By offering herself up to be tortured in order to save Anna, Ruby can be viewed as a sort of Christ figure; this is reinforced in the scene where she is tortured, where she is strapped to a table like this:

Image

 Sam can also be viewed as a Christ figure for different reasons. Throughout the season, Sam struggles with his addiction to demon blood, which gives him the ability to exorcise demons with his mind, and gives him more strength than normal. After Dean was sent to Hell at the end of season 3, Sam was intent on killing Lilith to get revenge, but he was not strong enough to do so. Ruby steps in and tells Sam about something only he can do that will help him stop Lilith: drink demon blood. However, when Dean finds out, he is horrified, and demands that Sam stops. Eventually, Dean and Bobby have an intervention with Sam and lock him in a vault under Bobby’s house to help him break the addiction (episode 21-“When the Levee Breaks”). During this time, Sam hallucinates that Alastair, the demon who was in charge of torturing Dean while he was in Hell, is torturing him. Even though this is merely a hallucination, it feels real to Sam. He has sacrificed much in order to stop the Lilith and the apocalypse, including his brother’s trust, and his own sanity and health. Like Christ, Sam suffered not only to save those he cared about, but also those he had never met, something that he has been doing for most of his life. Like with Ruby, Sam’s positioning during this scene also reinforces the idea that he is a Christ figure:

Image

Season 5: The Apocalypse 

In the beginning of Season 5, now that Lucifer has been set free, the main goals have become 1) Send Lucifer back to the pit and 2)Stop the world from ending (This is pretty much a major theme in the entire series).

One of the main allusions to the Book of Revelation in the Season 5 is the introduction of the Four Horsemen.

Image

“Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.

When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”

When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:1-8 ESV)

The general idea for the Horsemen is that the first one is Conquest, the second is War, the third is Pestilence, and the fourth is Death.

In the television series, the Horsemen are still meant to herald the oncoming “end of the world”, but the writers do make some changes from John’s original script. The order in which the Horsemen appear is different than the order given in Revelation. Also, Conquest is changed to Pestilence, and from doing a teensy bit of side research, that is actually a fairly common change when it comes to pop culture and the like. For this series, I feel like the change probably had something to do with the writers not wanting Conquest to be so similar to War.

The Horsemen play a crucial role in the plan to lock Lucifer back in the pit, and the key lies in their rings; once united, they can open the door to the pit. Like demons, the angels needs vessels to walk around in human form, and Sam has been destined to be Lucifer’s vessel. He plans to allow Lucifer to possess him, take control over him when he is inside his body, and throw himself back into the pit. 

The first Horseman to make an appearance in Season 5 is War. The episode is titled “Good God, Y’all”, and in it, Dean and Sam are sent by Bobby to help his friend Rufus, who has sent a SOS from the town of River Pass in Colorado. When they get there, Rufus is nowhere to be found, but they do meet up with their friend Ellen Harvelle and her daughter Jo, both of whom are fellow hunters. Jo soon dissapears just like Rufus does, and when they find them both, they both appear to be possessed by demons, at least to Sam, Dean, and Ellen. Oddly, Rufus and Jo seem to think that the others are the ones being possessed. It turns out that there aren’t any real demons, that everything is an illusion caused by War to trick people into killing each other. In the following fight with the Horseman, they cut off his finger which contains a very powerful ring and War disappears.

Image

Image

The next Horseman to appear is Famine, who makes his debut in episode 14, “My Bloody Valentine”. The Winchesters investigate several murders which involve the two victims literally eating each other to death. After this, people begin dying from alcohol poisoning, binge eating, etc. This leads them to believe that all of the strange activity is caused by Famine, whose power results in people giving in to their deepest desires, and literally consuming what they want the most. Because of this, Sam starts to have an intense craving for demon blood and Castiel’s desire for red meat leads him to consume raw hamburger meat from the restaurant that Famine is in when they attempt to kill him. With Famine destroyed at the end of the episode, they take his ring of power also.

Image

Image

In episode 19, called “Hammer of the Gods”, the archangel Gabriel, who has been masquerading as a Trickster, explains that there is no way to kill Lucifer, but there is a way to trap him back inside the pit that he was released from. He tells them that by uniting the rings of the Four Horsemen, they can open up the pit to throw Lucifer inside. At the end of this episode, it is also revealed to them that Pestilence is now on Earth. The gang finally takes Pestilence’s ring in episode 21, “Two Minutes to Midnight”. Sam and Dean are nearly killed by the diseases thrown at then by the Horseman, but Castiel is able to use the last of his angelic powers to resist them and get Pestilence’s ring.

Image

Image

They are finally able to track down the fourth Horseman, Death, after Bobby sells his soul to Crowley (a crossroads demon who sold his soul for a larger penis) in exchange for the location of Death. As it turns out, he is in Chicago, which is about to be hit by a colossal storm. He isn’t riding a pale horse, but he does arrive in style and in one of the coolest entrances for any character in the series: 

Death and Dean have a brief meeting over pizza, which Death really seems to like. The Horseman tells Dean that he will freely hand over his ring if Sam goes through with the plan of allowing Lucifer to possess him. Dean agrees, and Death hands over his ring and gives instructions on how to open the pit.

Image

Image

The season comes to an end in the next episode, titled “Swan Song”. Sam allows Lucifer to enter him as a vessel, but is far too weak compared to the fallen archangel to take control again. It seems as if nothing can stop the final battle between Lucifer and Michael (who is using Sam and Dean’s half brother Adam as a vessel since Dean turned him down), but Dean decides that he has nothing to lose. After an entrance into the designated “battle ground” that manages to top Death’s in the previous episode, Dean (with the help of the Impala) helps give Sam the strength to break through Lucifer’s hold and throw himself, along with Adam/Michael, into the pit, effectively saving the world.

With all the other elements of Biblical prophecy incorporated into the 4th and 5th seasons, I suppose that the writers didn’t necessarily have to include the plotline with the Four Horsemen, but I’m so glad they did. The Horsemen allowed the story to tie the oncoming apocalypse even closer to the Book of Revelation and gave the Winchesters a means to open back up the pit, and throw ol’ Lucy back in.

In this season, there are several episodes revolving around other characters introduced in the Book of Revelation. In episode 6, “I Believe the Children are out Future” the boys investigate strange happenings that turn out to be the work of a little boy who is discovered to be an Antichrist, meaning a being that is half-human and half-demon. He could have been used as a major weapon against Heaven in the hands of the Demons, but he is allowed to escape, since Sam and Dean believe that he will not become an agent of evil is he is kept out of the hands of the demons. Also, in episode 19, called “99 Problems”, the Winchesters encounter a figure that turns out to be the Whore of Babylon, who is falsely leading a church congregation into committing as many deadly sins as possible.

 

While several changes have been made from the original version of the apocalypse in Revelation, it’s clear that some elements remain the same in Supernatural. By having read Revelation prior to watching the show, it’s easy to see how a viewer would have a better understanding of what’s going on in the 4th and 5th seasons.

 tumblr_static_tumblr_m8qaqypxdq1rqmxbso1_500

Who were the Nicolaitans?

Image

As I was reading the Book of Revelation this week, a multitude of questions came to my mind for a blog topic. Although it was very difficult to pick just one question to do a blog on, I decided to figure out just who the Nicolaitans mentioned in Revelation 2 were, and why they were hated.

“Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:6)

“So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” (Revelation 2:15)

Let’s start with the word Nicolaitans. The Greek word for Nicolaitans is a combination of three other Greek words (Bible Study). The first part of the word is “nikos,” which means “a conquest, victory, triumph, the conquered and by implication, those who are dominate over the defeated.” The second part is the word “laos,” which means “victorious over the people.” The final part is the word “ton,” which simply means “the” (Bible Study). So, put together, the word Nicolaitans means “one who conquers and subdues the people” (LightSource).

Several sources agree that the Nicolaitans were “one of the heretical sects that plagued the churches at Ephesus and at Pergamum” (Theopedia). So it’s clear that the Nicolaitans were a problem in two of the seven churches John was commanded to write to. But what exactly were the teachings/works of this group of people? There are several different theories as to what exactly these people did to inspire the hatred of the Protagonist.

One source states that Nicolaitans are the ones to blame for Christianity’s acceptance of several holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, along with other “unbiblical practices” (Nicolaitanism Today). The same sources goes on to claim that when viewed as a much broader philosophy, Nicolaitanism can be blamed for “the organized and systematic removal of God’s law as a center pillar of the Christian way of life.” So through this, it is easy to see why the Protagonist would be angry with this group of people, and warn about their teachings to those who followed him.

Another source states two different theories. The first is that the group followed the teachings of Nicolas, who was mentioned as possibly being one of the first deacons of the church in Acts 6 (Got Questions). But why would this be a bad thing? Several people seem to agree that Nicolas later went dark side and abandoned his faith in order to join in on the worship of Balaam (Got Questions). As we all know, the Protagonist is not fond of those who worship other gods, as it has been a cause of several hardships for the Hebrew people for hundreds of years by this point. Even more interesting is the “doctrine of Balaam,” which taught followers to “sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality” (Got Questions). This makes it even more apparent as to why Christians are to avoid the Nicolaitans. Personally, I feel like this theory is extremely plausible as to the source of hatred towards the Nicolaitans, especially considering that Balaam is mentioned in the letter to the church at Pergamum. The second theory mentioned is that the Nicolaitans “were not called so from any man, but from the Greek word Nicolah, meaning ‘let us eat,’ as they often encouraged each other to eat things offered to idols” (Got Questions). Whether you believe that they are named after a singular figure or not, it is clear that these teachings went directly against the teachings of the Protagonist, and were to be avoided and hated.

After reading about how the Nicolaitans could have possibly been followers of Balaam, I looked more into what exactly these people did, other than eat food offered to idols and practice sexual immorality. It turns out that the Balaam mentioned here could be the same one mentioned several times in the Old Testament, specifically in the Book of Numbers. By going back and reading a few chapters of Numbers, we learn more about Balaam’s teachings. In Numbers, it is said that Balaam is “a seer who was hired by the king Balak to put a curse on the people of Israel as they were threatening to move into the Holy Land” (National Catholic Register). Interestingly enough, Balak is also mentioned in the letter to the church in Pergamum. Although at first in Numbers Balaam isn’t that bad of a person, later on in Numbers 31:16 it’s said, “Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came along the congregation of the LORD.” Now what exactly is this incident of Peor? Back up to the beginning of the chapter and it is made clear that, upon the command of the Protagonist, the Hebrew people went to war against the Midian people, which resulted in the death of many important Midian people, including Balaam. However, after the battle they decided to bring back some things to Moses and the rest of the Hebrew people, including the women and children of Midian. Because they spared the lives of the Midian women and children, Moses was extremely enraged, as he had told them that the Protagonist had commanded that in order to secure the land that was given to them, they must utterly destroy all of those already in the Holy Land. Since this action of the Hebrew army was blamed on Balaam, it is clear that following his teachings was not exactly a good thing to do, even if it seemed harmless.

So it’s clear that the Nicolaitans mentioned in Revelation are bad news, just like several other groups that were tempting Christians to go the wrong way at the time. Even though there are several different beliefs as to what the Nicolaitans taught and did, they were against the teachings of the Protagonist, so it makes sense that John is commanded to warn the two churches threatened by these teachings.