Monday, June 30, 2008

Revelation 10

Revelation 10:1-11: We would expect the seventh angel to blow the seventh trumpet and thereby bring on the third woe, but just as the sequence of the seals was broken, so here we have another angel appear with another scroll. John had been reporting from heaven, but here he is back on Patmos and an angel comes down from heaven with a small, open scroll in his hand. The qualities of this angelic figure are often associated with God – in Revelation God, Christ, and the messengers of God bear a striking resemblance. That a rainbow shines around this figure is an indication that even though the visions John shares are often dark, they are always meant to be heard with hope.

The angels voice shouts out loudly, and brings out the sound of seven thunders. John is going to write down the voice of the thunder, but he is told to seal it up. This may be an image meant to communicate that not all the mysteries of God are revealed by any one “prophet,” even one as powerful as John. Sometimes even prophets are to keep silent, to seal up the voices of thunder.

While John remains silent about the voices of thunder, he does report what he hears from this angel – that God’s purposes will move forward. There will be no more delay. Images from Daniel 12 reverberate in this section.

The chapter ends with a beautiful image of the prophetic vocation – eating the scroll of God. We are reminded of material from Ezekial 2 and 3 here. “The prophetic mission of internalizing and announcing the word of God is a bittersweet mixture of joy and sorrow” (New Interpreter’s Study Bible).

To share God’s love in an often hostile and unloving world is frequently bittersweet. As Christians we have words of love to share, acts of compassion and justice to engage in, but we often see just how far the world is from God’s dream for it. We are painfully aware of how often our own lives fall short. Such a view can create sadness and bitterness. Yet our job is to continue to proclaim God’s love in words and deeds that heal and free, to let sadness become tenderness.

Revelation 11

Revelation 11:1-14: This section is dense with allusions from the Old Testament and earlier apocalyptic traditions. It is not to be “decoded,” but does imaginatively place the experience of the church of John’s day in the context of extravagant biblical imagery. (People’s New Testament Commentary)

John has eaten the scroll and now will speak about nations and languages and kings, I hear and echo in the words about nations and languages to the image in chapter 7 of the multitude of those worshipping God. Here the multitude will be going in a different direction. In a time when the churches to which John is writing feel their distinct minority status, he uses minority images to write about faithfulness.

Nations will have a time of triumph over the church. They will thwart God’s justice and peace and redemption, but only for a time. Two images speak of the limits of the powers that work against God’s purposes – the image of a part of the Temple that stands strong (an ironic image given that the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE), and the image of forty-two months or 1,260 days.

Even in an evil time, there will be witnesses to God’s purposes – here portrayed as two persons dressed in sackcloth or two olive trees or two lampstands. Such fluidity in imagery makes it difficult to argue for the kind of interpretation of Revelation that is often popular – every image has a very specific future reference point. Revelation is simply not that kind of book. The witnesses are powerful, powerful in the words they speak, but even these powerful witnesses will seemingly be defeated, at least for a time. A beast who comes from the bottomless pit will arise and defeat the witnesses, much to the approval of a world gone badly wrong. But God’s purposes will not be defeated, and God breathes the breath of life back into the two witnesses. The promise here is that not even death will ultimately defeat the purposes of God. For some of the people to whom John writes, the choice might have come to faithfulness or death. John’s writing here is both a statement of personal hope and cosmic hope – God’s love will triumph. God’s love will be vindicated.

Revelation 11:15-19: The seventh trumpet sounds, and it is supposed to bring with it the third woe, but it does so only indirectly. The image here is once again of worship, and it is worship as a celebration of the final triumph of God’s dream for the world, the final triumph of truth, beauty, goodness, justice, reconciliation and love. It is not that the world gone wrong has disappeared, it has been transformed into the reign of God. Those forces in the world which contribute to the earth’s destruction (an interesting turn of phrase in our ecologically-minded time), which lead nations astray (depending on the power of violence and injustice to maintain peace and sovereignty), are judged to be wholly inadequate to life. The word of woe here is that lives will be judged and you are asked to give an account. Did you remain faithful to the Jesus way in spite of difficulties encountered or did you give in to another way, perhaps the imperial way? To live other than the Jesus way is to waste a life. To live the Jesus way is to contribute to God’s dream for the world, a dream that won’t be defeated.

The ark of the covenant was a powerful Old Testament image for the presence of God. The weather at the end of the chapter is also symbolic of the presence of God.

While John writes in extravagant poetic language, he is a realistic observer of human life in the world. He sees evil and sees the depths of evil. The world is not as it should be. Every hungry child cries out for bread and for God’s dream for the world. Every injustice is a reminder that the world is still the world and often thwarts God’s dream for the world. When there is hatred instead of love, God’s dream is set aside. When there is retribution instead of reconciliation or forgiveness, God’s dream for the world is crucified. That’s the world we live in. But the world we live in is also a world into which the life breath of God is breathed anew time and time again. Sometimes it seems as if all we are left with is two strong witnesses, but more often we get a glimpse of that wonderfully inclusive party and parade imagined in chapter 7. John’s writing poses these questions again and again – Which side are you on? Will you hold fast to the faith, even when the forces of evil, injustice and oppression seem so strong? The questions are alive for us today.

1 comment:

ElderChild said...

“Love Not The World”

”For the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one”(I John 5:19)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.” (I John 2:15-17)

“If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:19-20)

“Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)

“The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” and “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4)

The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13) “ James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD”(James 4:4)

The “earth” is The Creation of The Only True GOD, Father of ALL! The “worldly” systems are the creation of, and under the dominion of “the god of this world”, he who is “the father of lies”, he who “has blinded the minds of those who believe not The Messiah”! All the nations of this world are under the dominion of, and serve, the evil one for he provides the fuel that feeds mankind’s “imag”ination, and mankind’s “imagination is destroying and perverting Creation(land, air, water, creatures, Truth, Love, Peace, Faith, Simplicity, .etc.) ;-(

And the “strongest thing” in the evil one’s worldly systems? “Woman”…… yet The Truth, that which is of The Only True GOD, is stronger even than woman. (read I Esdras 3&4 of the Apocrypha) And Truth, Love, Peace, Faith, Mercy, Hope,,,etc,,, all that is “good”, is of The Only True GOD and is of HIS Spirit, not of this world. Those born of The Spirit, those born of The Only True GOD, are the brethren of The Messiah, for they received "a love of The Truth that they might be saved”. Reborn!

And those who have received "a love of The Truth” have separated themselves from this world and those of this world, for they have taken heed unto The Call of The Only True GOD to “Come out of her MY people.” They are “in, but not of this wicked, evil world”, and The Only True GOD has received them, and is "A Father unto them, and they are HIS sons and daughters”. And they follow, and desire to be like their Master and Brother, The Messiah, He Who was “the firstborn of many brethren”. And as “The Messiah was a servant of The Only True GOD”, so also His Brethren are “servants of The Only True GOD.”

The called out ones are not “adulterers and adulteresses”, they are not “friends of this wicked, evil world”, they do not “fornicate with the god of this world” for they know that “to be a friend of this world is to be the enemy of The Only True GOD.” They are at war against the evil spirits that possess those who are of this world.

And they do not “allow that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach. For she teaches others to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. The Only True GOD gave her a chance to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” (Rev 2:20-21)

“fornication” and “adultery..” in that which is recorded above signifies spiritual fornication with “the god of this world”, which is to love that which is of his world.

Once again, the “earth” is The Creation of The Only True GOD, Father of ALL! The “worldly” systems are the creation of, and under the dominion of “the god of this world”. Those who “love this world” all serve “the god of this world”, and play their part in the processes that seek to destroy The Creation of The Only True GOD. “And The Only True GOD will destroy them who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:18) Global warming, polluted air, land and waters, toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease ,,,etc,,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life”. And as stated, “woman is the strongest thing of this world”. Yet stronger than woman is The Truth, which is in those who have “received a love of The Truth”. The Truth Is Alive in those who have been born of The Spirit for “they no longer love this wicked, evil world and it’s things, nor do they love their own lives in this world”. They but seek and desire The Will of GOD, as they await their final transformation. “Corruptible to Incorruptible" ndeed and Truth!

Now “the ground was cursed for Adam’s sake” because he “hearkened unto the woman”. Adam listened to a woman rather than obeying The Only True GOD. Yet because of Faithful Noah, The Only True GOD “no longer would curse the ground for man’s sake” because Noah obeyed The Only True GOD! (Genesis 8:21-22) And the Faithful today are exhorted to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” And Faithful women are exhorted to “be in silence.” “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. For I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” “For Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (I Timothy 2:11,12,14) A man and woman joined together in obedience and submission unto The Only True GOD are blessed indeed. All who are not obedient, all who will not submit themselves unto The Only True GOD will have to answer to HIM..period.. Be not of those who deny and defy “The One GOD, Father of All”. Be not of those who are destroying and perverting HIS Creation(land, air, water, creatures, Truth, Love, Peace, .etc.)!

“The Only True GOD is The HEAD of The Messiah, The Messiah is The Head of the man, and the man is the head of the woman”. Multitudes pervert GOD’s Order because they have been seduced by ” the commandments and doctrines of men and devils”. Multitudes are seduced by the religious systems that are in and of this evil world. Seduced because they love this evil world and their own life in it! “Set your affections on things above”. Desire heavenly, eternal things. Quit serving ‘time’ in the prison that is this world and take heed unto the call to ”Come out from among them and be separate!”

Once again, “Come out” of the worldly systems, which are the product of mankind’s “imag”ination, especially the religious systems. “Come out” from among those who are destroying and perverting Creation and be of those who follow The Messiah on “The Way to The Truth of The Life”.

Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world……. francisco