25 September 2020

Revelation 6-11

Revelation 6

As the Lamb opens each of the first four seals, a rider appears. The first three riders are not described, but their horses are white, red, and black. The last horse is pale and it's rider is Death, while Hades is following close behind. What is important about these rtiders is what they bring with them.

The first is bent on conquest, he is given a crown, and symbolizes control or authoritarianism. The second has a large sword and makes people kill each other. The author, in his statements, seems to distinguish not at all between war and murder. The third rider holds a pair of scales and brings with him economic oppression. John hears a voice bartering for enough food to feed one person (not a family) for one day, for a day's wages. Not surpizingly, after the first three riders bring such terrible hardships of tyranny, war, and poverty, the fourth rider brings death.

With the opening of the fifth seal, the plight of the martyrs is revealed. They cry out to God for justice. God gives them comfort and assures them that it will only be a little longer until all their brothers and sisters have been slain just as they were, then they will all receive justice. Here, John sides with the martyrs, confirming that their way of laying down their lives in passive resistance is superior to engaging in the violence and death brought by the riders.

When the sixth seal opens, God's wrath is poured out on the earth. Everyone from kings to slaves flees from the coming wrath. It seems no one is spared. They call to the mountains to fall on them to spare them God's wrath.

Revelation 7

After the earthquake, God holds back his wrath until all the faithful are sealed. There are 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, 144,000 in all. These numbers are sometimes taken literally, but symbollicaly, these are 12 legions from each of the 12 tribes.

God is gathering his army. Legions are gathered from Israel, all who are willing to stand for their God. Likewise, there is a "great multitude" gathered from all the other nations. When God's army is gathered, they do not go off to kill and destroy, but bow down and worship God.

Revelation 8

The seventh seal is opened and a bowl filled with the prayers of all God's people is brought before the throne. The prayers are given as an offering to God, then the same bowl is filled with fire, wich is thrown to the Earth. More devastation comes to the Earth as the wrath of God is poured out as seven angels ready to sound their seven trumpets.

The first four trumpets call down natural disasters upon the Earth. The first two trumpets call down fire and blood; the third calls bitterness (wormwood), perhaps representing plague, the fourth dims the sun, moon, and stars. The angels then cry out "woe" to the earth, because what the next three trumpets will call down will be worse yet.

Revelation 9

The fifth trumpet opens the Abyss, and locusts pour out from it to torment all of those who were not sealed by God. These people long for death, but are not allowed to die. John describes the locusts with imagry of horses and chariots prepared for battle, and their king is "The Destroyer."

The sixth trumpet releases two hundred million angels ("two times ten thousand times ten thousand") who kill much of humanity.

Finally, John tells us the point of all this wrath in 9:20-21. All of this was to bring mankind to repentance. God wants people to stop worshipping idols, stop murdering, stop deceiving one another with "sorcery," stop harming/abusing one another sexually, and stop stealing from one another. When God answered sin with wrath, it brought no one to repentance.

Revelation 10

John now gives us an interlude from the sounding of the trumpets. He sees a really big angel with a little scroll and when the angel speaks, seven thunders speak as well, but God tells John not to write down what the seven thunders say. Perhaps some things are better left unsaid. John is told to take the little scroll from the angel and eat it. It tastes sweet, but turns his stomach sour. He is then told to prophesy. If the scroll is forshadowing the prophesy, it will start sweet and be well received, but then it will become harsh and painful to bear.

Revelation 11

John starts his prophesy in the past. John measures the Second Temple in Jerusalem, but he is told to not measure the outer court, the Court of the Gentiles, as the Gentiles will trample Jerusalem for 42 months (which is 1,260 days or 3.5 years). There are then two witnesses who prophesy for this whole time. They stop the rain, cause plagues, and fire devours their enemies. When the beast from the Abyss kills them, eveyone is happy, because they had tormented people for over three years.

Who are these witnesses? For one thing, we know that they had to have lived between AD 33-68, because Jesus is in Heaven and the Temple was destroyed in AD 68. This could mean that they are Peter and Paul, both of whom were martyred. Another possibility is that this happened before the time of Jesus, as in 31 BC, there was an earthquake which is said to have killed 30,000 people. The only other earthquake in Jerusalem was when Jesus was crucified in AD 33. I am inclined to think that these prophets came before Jesus, perhaps even at different times, because of what is to come in Revelation 12. There is a little of Revelation 11 left, But that will wait until next week, when the seventh trumpet sounds.

Until then,
Peace be with you.

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