The Weekend Word
From my point of view, Revelation is a 5th gospel. The other four (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) gave accounts of Jesus in his humiliation – conception to his ascension. Revelation is the account of Jesus in all his glory, to the end.
This is a look through the eyes of John, through the visions that were given him; we will see what Jesus is up to now that he is in his glory – his state of exaltation. First and foremost we see that he is in control – no matter how chaotic, wild, violent, reckless and evil it is down on earth, Jesus is above it all and completely in control. All of the evil and violence go only to the point, to the bounds Jesus has set and will be used for the purposes he desires.
With the proper understanding of Revelation as a 5th gospel, we will see that this may be, as opposed to how it often and usually presented today, the most comforting book in the Bible.
Revelation is also the most powerful and focused book in the Bible to discuss Christology – the study of Jesus Christ. A Lutheran saying is “all theology is Christology.” Who is this Jesus? How is he manifest and what is he doing today? We will hear of many, but here are a few;
The Son of Man
The Lamb of God
A Mighty Angel
He is the Lord of the Church
The Judge of the World
The Everlasting God
The Word of God
The Source of the New Creation (the new heaven and the new earth).
The purpose of the Book of Revelation is to reveal – not weird stuff, although there is weird stuff going on, and not really the future, although we do peak into the future – it is to reveal the already from a heavenly perspective and to give comfort for that which is to come. What is to come? We will see terrifying horrors and suffering here on the earth and we will see the comfort of Jesus Christ, the slain lamb exalted in heaven. This will be a story told as a back and forth – terrible things happening on earth, ‘but meanwhile, back in heaven…’ So what is the point? We Christians, the church militant can take heart that we are a part of the family of heaven and because of this, we are not to be disturbed by the things happening on earth. We are not to allow the world to impede our mission as the Church.
We see so much gospel in Revelation. The 7 Beatitudes of Revelation show clearly where God’s heart is in this book.
- 1:3 – “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
- 14:13 – “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
- 16:15 – “(“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)
- 19:9 – “And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
- 20:6 – “Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”
- 22:7 – “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
- 22:14 – “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.”
The Cast of Characters
Jesus Christ as himself (we looked at titles and roles under Christology above)
John, as the author and the receiver of the visions
The Seven Churches as themselves and as representatives of all churches
The Great Multitude
The Two Witnesses
The Four Horsemen
The 7 Angels blowing 7 Trumpets
The False Prophet
The Two Women
The 200 Million Man Army — can you name others?
This is the style John uses telling the Revelation story – the story from God’s point of view. Some examples – (very simple and not comprehensive – just to get the thought rolling.) – at each stop, this is all end of the world language
- The 7 Seals (5:1 – 8:5) leads to the end = 6:12-17.
- The 7 Trumpets (8:6 – 11:19) leads to the end = 11:15-17
- The Interlude (12:1 – 14:20) leads to the end = 14:9-20
- The 7 Bowls (15:1 – 16:21) leads to the end = 16:17-21
- If the back half of Revelation were lost to the ages and ended at Rev 7:17, I am sure that the readers would have been satisfied that they had been shown the end and the following heavenly scene.
- If true, then this would show that John was not writing a chronology, but indeed, retelling the same history, over and over again.
A modern day example of Recapitulation. (Side note on seeing from God’s perspective.)
- Let’s use a televised football game as an example. To see it all (to see it as God would see – so to speak) you would need to go up in the blimp to see it unfold as one continuous action
- You are seeing it all at once, but you cannot describe it all at once – so John will then go back and in order to describe what he has seen, he will keep going back over the same action and go over and over again from different perspectives from all different angles and views. But it is the telling and retelling of the same events. (We will see this most clearly with the Seals, the Trumpets and the Bowls – recapitulating the story from the ascension to the end.)
- John may first join in the tunnel walk – then give a view of and from the concession stands, and then a sideline view of the cheerleaders. Remember, all of this is a part of the football game.
- How many ways can you see and describe a single play of a game? We mentioned the blimp, various sideline shots, from behind the QB, from behind the LB for example – and that does not include the close in shots following a WR as he runs down the sideline … all on the same play.
- Each angle, each replay may be highlighting on that play a single piece (were both feet in?) that shows greater intensity and importance to that single play – do you see the hands to the facemask from the blimp?
- Keep this in mind for the whole book.
Next week we will begin Chapter 1 (1-8)