Revelation Week 5 (July 10)

Chapter 5

  • The scroll – best translation is something like a tabbed book, each seal that is opened reveals a different part of the story
    • What is it the story of? What you believe about that depends on what you believe the book is about
      • There’s a reading that connects everything to Rome – John is seeing how the particular threat to his people will be resolved
      • There’s a reading that sees it as things that will happen – at some future point the scrolls will open and we’ll know the end times are coming
      • There’s a reading that sees it as things that have happened, do happen, and will continue to happen
        • In that idea it’s a reading of how/why the world is what it is. This story becomes the story of how the world got the way it is, why God allows it to be the way it is, and what will ultimately be done about it.
    • We’ll get more into that as we look at the contents, while what the story is can be questioned, whose story it is beyond question
      • It’s the lamb’s. The lamb can open the scroll because it is his story, because he was slain. This begins to point to what John believes to be the significance of the cross, on the cross an innocent victim received the the punishment for sin and broke Satan (the one who makes the case against sinners)’s power to condemn. The lamb is the answer to what God is doing about the way things are so the lamb can read the story. 

 

Chapter 6

  • First of a series of sevens – seals, trumpets, and bowls
    • Question – is this chronological or is it a retelling of the same thing three different ways? More discussion as we go through them all
  • Verses 1-8 – The Four Horsemen
    • Seal 1/Horse 1 – Conquest
      • The “Roman View” – early stages of Roman empire – victory was always quick and easy, they were constantly winning and expanding, everyone felt good about what was happening
        • White horse – victory, crown victory
        • Or – Archer on horseback represents the Parthians
          • Persian culture, biggest group Rome couldn’t defeat
          • First comes external threats
      • The broad view – some wars are easy
        • Iraq, seemed like it was over in a matter of weeks
        • WW2 – not easy but we understood why we were there
        • Some wars are easy and have very few casualties (for our side at least) and that causes us to get comfortable with them and with the idea of war
    • Seal 2/Horse 2 –  War
      • Roman view – Stagnation and decline of the empire leading eventually to civil war
        • Struggling with external threats gives rise to internal threats
      • Broad view – some wars are hard
        • The rest of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam
        • War that comes too easy leads to war that is harder, but we’ve made war such a part of who we are that we don’t stop
    • Seal 3/Horse 3 – Famine
      • Rome – as wars get harder and last longer they also get more expensive. The people are taxed harshly (which people – not the ones buying oil and wine). The wars and chaos cause famine and the poor suffer while the rich aren’t impacted
      • Broad view – who dies in war, who is the most impacted? Who makes up the armies? Usually not the people who decided to go to war in the first place
        • The more consumed by war we are the more people will suffer but it won’t be the right people. Poor people die but the ones in power aren’t really touched
    • Seal 4/Horse 4 – Death
      • Pale horse – greek Chloros – where we get clorox
      • Both view are the same on this one – what follows war and famine? Death
      • But here’s the kicker – they only have power over 1/4th of the earth. How many people dying in war is too many for us to ever go to war again? We haven’t hit the number yet
        • The horsemen only impact some people, so the rest of the world keeps the cycle right on going
  • Verses 9 – 17
    • 5th Seal – the martyred saints asking how long this is going to be allowed to continue
      • Answer – a little while longer, more are going to be die
        • We’ll see why in chapter 7 – message to the readers = don’t think its going to get better. It will always get worse before it gets better
          • Being a Christian is costly, sometimes it costs our lives, what the book will continue to unpack is that the reward for faithfulness is greater than the cost
    • 6th Seal – earthquake – some kind of cataclysmic event. Sign that judgement is coming (the presence of God is depicted by thunder and all that)
      • As judgement gets closer some people start to panic – they even beg for rocks to fall on them so that they don’t have to face the lamb
        • Why? Some would say because this time the lamb is coming in hot
          • “Last time he came like a lamb, this time he’ll be a lion” – not what Revelation says
            • They’re afraid of the lamb because when they see him they’ll be confronted by their own sinfulness
              • Who are these people? The ones who kept the wars going, the ones who killed the saints, the ones who embraced murder and greed and violence and evil in all its forms. The ones who killed the lamb. And the prospect of seeing clearly what they’ve done scares them so much they’d rather die
                • Self judgement is always the most painful punishment and consequence of sin. If they would turn to the lamb they would be forgiven, but they’d have to admit they were wrong, so instead they just double down

Picture that’s being painted – the world, particularly the leaders of the world, are addicted to greed and violence and evil and no matter how bad things get their response will be to double down on those things because they can’t give them up and admit that their way was the wrong way, that the suffering love of the lamb is more powerful than all their armies and wealth and might.

 

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