Revelation Week 6 -Interlude Before the Final Seal

One thing to go back and clarify – the big challenge or question in studying Revelation is figuring out when all of these things are/will happening

  • Some things have obviously happened – when we get to the defeat of the dragon we’ll see that that is almost definitely a telling of the life of Christ
  • Some things are obviously in the future – the new heaven and new earth
  • The rest falls somewhere in between – John specifically has a vision not a prophecy
    • The future view is interesting but doesn’t give us much to do – trying to predict the antichrist’s identity is an interesting way to spend an afternoon, but you’ll never know for sure and if you are right what are you going to do?
      • Knowing that we are easily seduced by anti-christs impacts how we live
      • Figuring out which particular war is a sign that the four horsemen are riding might be interesting, recognizing how quickly we get seduced by violence, particularly violence done by others to others, can make us think twice
  • My goal is to respect that tension as best I can, but I also want us to go away from this book with more than just knowledge so I’m leaning on the view that causes us to think about how we live

Chapter 7

  • Pause before the 7th seal is opened – we’re going to see this happen more and more in the book as we progress, we get to a big moment of anticipation and then there is an interlude before we see it finished
    • Common in Greek theater
      • There is a theory that revelation was originally performed as a play
        • When Christians lost their ability to gather together (kicked out of the synagogues) they had to get creative with how to get messages out
          • That’s why there is so much code and symbolism
        • THAT DOES NOT MEAN – that this isn’t a true vision, just that either John, or someone later (we don’t have the original manuscript) arranged that vision in such a way when he wrote it that it would be able to be told to the most people
      • Alternative to all that – no record of it ever being performed as a play
  • What we see in the pause – first, the marking of the 144,000
    • 7: 1-8
      • Four angels – Jewish tradition does a lot more with angels than Christian tradition, we’ll talk specifically about some angels as they show up, but these are angels of destruction who are holding back the final destruction
        • We ended chapter six with scenes of things getting worse, the final moment is being held off
      • Why is it being held back – for the marking of the servants of God
        • What’s going on here
          • 144,000 – probably symbolic. At time’s people have taken it literally (Jehovah’s witnesses) but most see it as 12 x 12, a number of completion. It isn’t that we’re waiting on a specific number, we’re waiting for a complete set – of what?
          • Tribes of Israel – this one has raised a lot of theories
            • Literally means Jews – Jewish converts or evangelists, Israel’s last chance to return to their place as the people of God
              • That’s caused problems over history, for example some people supported the Holocaust because they believed the Jewish population needed to get down to 144,000
            • Oftentimes Israel is used to distinguish the church – particularly during this period when Judaism is protected and Christianity is not
              • So then it is seen as either waiting for the mission of the church to be fulfilled – the number of people who are going to accept Christ having done so, or this is a subset of the church (probably matyrs)
            • Something is up because the tribes are wrong and they’re out of order
          • Big idea – God is patient because there are still more to be sealed – God isn’t going to leave anyone out by circumstance, everyone will have had the chance to make their own choice of who to follow
    • 7: 9-17
      • Vision of the future – once all has come to pass
      • How many have been saved? Too many to count – we’re going to be more surprised by how many people God lets in than how many are kept out
        • What are they saying – “salvation belongs to God and the lamb”
          • Salvation doesn’t come from Caesar, who promises safety through the sword, salvation comes from God through the suffering love of the lamb
      • “the ones who have come out of the great tribulation” – not the ones who were saved from the great tribulation, the ones who came through it. God promises protection through not protection from
      • The blood of the lamb makes us clean. For John it is Jesus’ death that saves us

Chapter 8 – begins the process of de-creation

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