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There will never be an Apocalypse

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posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:27 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on the "4 Horsemen" episode in Revelation ch6.

I won't be trying to identify them. I'm not considering when they might come or might have come.

Instead, I'm posing the question; why would God be sending them? What are they supposed to be for?

The most important clue, I think, lies in those horses. Four of them, different colours. As a group, they've got predecessors, in a couple of chapters of Zechariah. I'm sure the Christians of John's time would have recognised the echoes, and they would have been reading this chapter in the light of what Zechariah said. I'm hoping to do the same thing.

Obviously Zechariah was writing, in the first instance, for the people of his own time, so we have to think about that side of things first. The most important point about the background of Zechariah's book is the problem of "other nations". Judah had been invaded by the Assyrians in the past, they had been conquered by the Babylonians, and now they were living as part of the mighty Persian empire. That's why the dates are in the name of Darius, and not one of their own kings.

A group of horses, different colours. The first group we find is in Zechariah ch1. They've been out patrolling the earth (so somebody tells the prophet), and the report they bring back is that "all the earth remains at rest". This prompts an outburst from the angel of the Lord, complaining about the contrasting state of Judah themselves. They are not "at rest", because they've been feeling the effects of the Lord's anger. The Lord responds with comforting words; he says that he is "jealous" on behalf of Jerusalem, and also "very angry with the nations that are at rest".

A similar group (slightly different colours, and with chariots) goes out on patrol in Zechariah ch6. The most important mission is to "the north country", the direction of all the recent invaders.

There seem to be at least two schools of thought about the translation of Zechariah ch6 v8; as between, say "brought my spirit to rest on the land of the north" (Jerusalem Bible), and "set my spirit at rest in the north country" (RSV). The first suggests that the north is feeling God's anger, the second suggests, perhaps, that God's spirit was previously troubled. I’m not enough of a Hebrew scholar to adjudicate beween the two.

I must admit that I rather like the sense of the second version, because it implies a neat, logical reversal of the situation in ch1.

The situation of ch1 was;
Earth at rest
God's people not at rest
Therefore God's spirit not at rest

The achievement of ch6 would then be;
Rest of earth overturned
Rest of God's people (implicitly) restored
Therefore rest of God's spirit restored

Anyway, the gist of the message, either way, is that God is expressing his jealousy for his people by expressing his anger against, taking action against, the oppressors of his people.

There was certainly trouble in the Persian empire at this time, because of a succession dispute and various revolts, "but that's not important right now". My concern is to take these insights and try to apply them to the interpretation of Revelation ch6.

The colours of the four horse in Revelation are nearly the same as the colours in Zechariah ch6 (the fourth colour in the RSV is "dappled" in the OT and "pale" in the NT). In my mind, these colours have a clear and unmistakable message for us. The message is "These horses are much the same horses that you saw operating in Zechariah, and you should be expecting them to have a similar function".

If there's going to be any parallel between the setting of Zechariah and the setting of Revelation, then the later setting should be including these features;

The world at large- at least the portion of the world controlling God's people- would be "at rest".
God's people themselves, in contrast, would not be "at rest"- they would be oppressed and in trouble.
God would then, presumably, be "jealous" on behalf of his people, and "very angry with the nations that are at rest".
The 4 Horsemen would then be coming out into the world, like the north-country chariot of Zechariah ch6, as the expression of that anger.

In the first instance, we should be looking for parallels in the time when John was writing. Church tradition mentions great perscutions in the reigns of Nero and Domitian. Between those times, hostile action against the church was not constant, but there was always the pressure of the possibility of hostile action. Meanwhile, the "Roman Peace" of the Empire at large (outside the immediate vicinity of the Imperial palace) has become proverbial. The episode of the 4 Horsemen would then have been read by the church as a promise that God would respond to their troubles, and that he would take action against their oppressors.

If we want to apply this passage as prophecy, then we should surely, once again, be looking out for similar parallels.
That is to say, the church, God's people, would be oppressed and troubled, while those who held power over them would be comparatively "at rest".
God would then be "jealous" for his people, and angry at their oppressors.

The 4 Horsemen would then be sent as God's response to the needs of his oppressed people, which is the answer to my original question.

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:28 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on the subject of Revelation ch6 vv1-8.

This is the sequel to "4 Horsemen- Why?", where I was asking why God would send them. I came to the conclusion that he was responding to the oppression of his people.

My question this time round is; what exactly is John trying to describe? What are these events supposed to look like?

So taking them, firstly, one by one...

In terms of getting an agreed view, the first horseman seems to be the hardest one to pin down.
Matthew Henry and others identify him with the Christ-figure of ch19. Well, they're both riding white horses, true, but they're also carrying different weapons. That one has a sword, this one has a bow. Anyway, if they're supposed to be the expression of God's wrath upon the world, anything benign, like "the spread of the gospel" would seem to be out of place.

"Conquest"? "Conflict"? But what, then, would be the difference between that and "taking peace from the earth", which is supposed to be the job of the next horseman?

"The coming of the Antichrist"? In my reading of the book, this is much too early to be looking for the Beast. I intend to argue in other topics that the Beast belongs to the time when the world is trying to recover from the 4 Horsemen.

Popular culture labelled the first horseman as "Plague" or "Pestilence". I'm still not convinced that popular culture got it wrong.

In Psalm 91 vv5-6, the incoming arrow is one of the symbols of pestilence;
"You will not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Nor the destruction that wastes at noonday."

We get the same image at the beginning of Homer's Iliad, where the flying arrows of the angry god Apollo are wreaking havoc in the Greek camp.
This seems to be an association of ideas which the ancient world would have recognised.

So I'm opting for "Pestilence" as my label for the first horseman, while grudgingly admitting that other interpretations are available.

The second horseman is being permitted to "take peace from the earth" (which might cover any kind of conflict, including civil wars and rioting). Then the third one comes along with instructions to set prices (very high ones, apparently) for wheat and barley. Tradition has labelled them "War" and "Famine", which seems reasonable.

There's a question which needs to be addressed before we go much further.

Should we understand these "horsemen" as four distinct events, coming at intervals, or should we see them coming together?

Certainly, it's nearly impossible to see them as events in the past, as some people like to do, unless we see them as four distinct events. Then they can be matched up, one by one, with various points in time. The drawback is that any sceptic can question the choice by pointing out, quite rightly, that wars, famines, and epidemics have been happening all through human history.

There's also, in my opinion, something rather odd about the place of "Death" in that kind of scheme. "Death" comes as the last horseman in the series, and only as the last in the series. Yet "Death" is following on from "Famine" and from "War" (and, according to certain obstinate historians, from "Pestilence"), which are causes of death in their own right. If these were all coming one by one, you would expect them, surely, to be accompanied by "Death" one by one?

So, I'm convinced that John's expecting us to see a completely different picture. These horsemen are coming in quick succession, and, once they get going, they're running together. The three causes of death fan out across the world, their paths crossing and criss-crossing, while "Death" itself follows on close behind them to pick up all the corpses. In other words, these are not meant to be four distinct disasters, but the different components of one major, devastating disaster.

Death is accompanied, in v8, by further bouts of war, famine, and pestilence (and by wild beasts). Apart from being a quotation from Ezekiel (but that's a subject for another time), this list might hint at a possible "feedback" effect- that is, as these disasters are developing and merging into one another, they might be helping to aggravate one another.

For example, pestilence and war would disrupt the growing of food and the transportation of food, which would aggravate shortages. Shortages would aggravate the loss of peace, with fighting at all levels of society from supermarkets to international frontiers. Any epidemic which was drastic enough to break down social structures would also help to "take peace from the earth". Finally, any combination of death and social breakdown which left bodies lying around unburied would aggravate the problem of disease.

John says that his "Death" would impact on a quarter of the earth. Does he mean a quarter of the land-surface, or a quarter of the world's population? The second one would be a more convincing expression of God's anger towards the world at large.

If John is really describing something on that kind of scale, then clearly the world hasn't seen it yet. I'm not offering to predict when the world might see it, because I'm not that kind of interpreter.

On the one hand, pessimistic speculators can always see the possibility that current events might develop into some kind of catastrophe.

Speculation about pestilence, in the form of mutant flu viruses, etc.
Speculation about war.
Speculation about economic collapse.
And if these things all came together?

So it seems plausible (I refuse to put it more strongly than that) that an event of the kind John was describing might be on the horizon.

On the other hand- if I was right in calling the 4 Horsemen God's response to the oppression of his people-
Then we should not really be expecting them until God's people are genuinely being oppressed.

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:29 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch6 vv9-11.

This is the "Fifth Seal", of course, next in the series after the seals of the "Four Horsemen". It's a dialogue scene- a group of souls gathered "under the altar", complaining to God and getting a response.

Who are these people? John says they're martyrs; they've all been slain "for the word of God and for the witness they have borne". Since they're already dead, they're set aside from the main action. We can almost see them as commenting from the sidelines.

Where are they?
We can take the altar as an incense altar, the place where they make their prayer.
Or we can take it as a sacrificial altar, the place where their lives have notionally been "sacrificed".

In what sense are they "under the altar"?
I see no reason to go for the more bizarre interpretation, which puts them inside the hollow cavity (when were things ever kept inside the Old Testament altars?). I'm quite content with the best alternative, "at the foot of the altar"

When did they die?
I was arguing the case in a previous topic that the opening of the seals would be God's response to the oppression of his people. If I'm right, that implies there must have been some sort of "oppression of God's people" as part of the background of this chapter. It would make sense if these martyrdoms were all part of that. In other words, they would have died before the beginning of ch6. In fact, their deaths would be the reason for what's happening in ch6.

John's first readers would probably have identified them with the victims of the most recent great persecution.

What are they asking for?
The key point here is that underneath the word "souls", what we're really looking at is the blood of the martyrs. It's the principle stated in Leviticus ch17 v11, "the life is in the blood", which is the basis of Old Testament sacrifice and much else.

The appeal in v10 comes from the line of thought that the blood of a murdered man appeals to God for justice. It goes right back to God's encounter with Cain, Genesis ch4 v10- "The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground".

The most direct precedent for the wording is Psalm 79. The psalmist cries in v5 "How long, O Lord?" and he adds, in v10, "Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of thy servants be known among the nations before our eyes." The same verse in this chapter is showing just the same sentiment; "How long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?"

The setting of Psalm 79 (as we see from the opening words) is the Babylonian destruction of Solomon's Temple. If the "souls" here are quoting Psalm 79, that implies they've been experiencing something just as catastrophic. There's the same kind of anguish in their appeal.

At this point, though, the alert reader might be noticing something which looks like a contradiction. If the "Four Horsemen" have been God's response to the deaths of these people- which is what I've been arguing- why, then, do they still feel the need to appeal for justice? Isn't God already giving them justice?

My suggested answer is that they recognise, and welcome, the events of ch6 as the start of God's justice.
But what they're really looking for is the completion of God's justice.
That would mean the full destruction of evil power on the earth, and that's when they'll be satisfied.

The response they get from God is that they're given fresh robes and they're told to "rest until...". That is, they're told to wait. They must wait, in the first place, until a further batch of martyrs has been "made complete", and is ready to join them.

But as a response to the cry "How long?", as a response to an appeal for justice, the instruction to "wait" also implies that they're not immediately going to get the full vindication they're expecting.

We can see that as an advance warning of what happens at the beginning of ch7, when angels come out and hold back the destructive "four winds of the earth", which have been blowing on the earth all through ch6.

In other words, the process of destruction has been "put on hold". This opens up a time of "truce" in God's relationship with the world. I’ll be discussing this “truce” in more detail in later topics.

Then the Beast builds up his power.
God makes his own preparations.
And the net result is the second batch of martyrs mentioned in v11.

For the church of John's own time, in the period immediately following a great persecution. this message would have two effects. It would deliver the promise that the recent martyrs would be vindicated. It would also explain why the vindication might be postponed (and the church of John's time had to wait a couple of centuries before persecution finally ceased).

When using this book as prophecy for the future, the implication seems to be that the cycle of "oppression-followed-by-God's-vengeance" would actually occur twice in the course of the book.

The first appearance of the cycle would be the "implied background of ch6" followed by ch6 itself.

The second appearance of the cycle would then be the persecution associated with the Beast, and the final destruction of the Beast.

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:30 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch6 vv12-17.

These are the events of the "sixth seal", of course. In the previous topics, I was looking over the first four seals- the event of the "Four Horsemen"- and then at the "fifth seal"- the reaction of the martyrs, the "souls under the altar".

Now we come to the sixth seal. But I'm not interested so much in the events themselves.

Instead I'm going to be asking the question; what do these events mean for us. These are descriptions filled with echoes of Old Testament passages- so what is that telling us?

The first echo is the "great earthquake". We don't know where that earthquake may be, but it should be reminding us of the earthquake which defines the beginning of Amos.

The collected prophecies of Amos help to mark a change in the way God was dealing with his people. In the past, he had been guiding them, through his prophets, with a mixture of rebuke and encouragement, as the need arose. But the newer "writing prophets" of Israel and Judah were symptoms of a time when God's people were, increasingly, failing to listen. It was now increasingly necessary that God should be warning them about the dangers of disobedience.

So the earthquake which Amos talks about marks a moment of shift, from one emphasis to another. It marks the beginning of a great theme of "judgement", which finally culminated in the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.

So the earthquake in this passage, in the same way, indicates the beginning of the great process of God's judgement upon the world.

So the message in the event is the beginning of God's judgement.

We see events in the heavens; the sun darkens, the moon turns red, and the stars disappear from view- "as the fig-tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale". The sky then vanishes "like a scroll that is rolled up". In physical terms, these could be the result of something in the atmosphere, interrupting the light.

But what matters for my purposes is that all these things are full of echoes.

We read in Isaiah ch34 v4 that;
"All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll.
All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig-tree."
This prophecy belongs to a time when "the Lord is enraged against all nations"- Isaiah ch34 v2.

And, again, we are told in Joel (ch2 v31) that "the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood", in the time before "the great and terrible Day of the Lord".

"The Day of the Lord", in the Old Testament, is essentially the time when God is expected to come with power to impose his will upon the world and put things right. It would be a "great day" in any event, but it becomes a "terrible day", a time of judgement, for anyone who is part of what needs to be put right. In the New Testament, this becomes what Paul calls "The Day of our Lord Jesus Christ"- which appears to be much the same thing.

So the message in these events is the imminence of God's judgement.

Then there's the human response to all these things, which brings another collection of echoes.

We see the kings and great men of the earth hiding in caves and among the rocks. This is exactly what people are doing in Isaiah ch2 v19, when the Lord of Hosts "has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high" (Isaiah ch2 v12).

The same kind of thing is happening in Jeremiah ch4;
"I looked on the mountains, and, lo, they were quaking,
and all the hills moved to and fro"- v24
"For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be black"- v28
"At the noise of horseman and archer, every city takes flight;
they enter thickets; they climb among rocks."- v29
And all this is part of the prophet's warning about the destruction of Jerusalem.

When they reach their refuge, they call upon the mountains to fall upon them and hide them- just like the people of Samaria in Hosea ch10 v8.

Their own assessment of the situation is that "the great day of their wrath [of God and the Lamb] has come, and who can stand before it?" This brings us right back to the central teaching of Joel; "For the Day of the Lord is great and very terrible, who can endure it?"- Joel ch2 v11.

So the message in all these reactions is that the peoples of the earth are recognising the coming of God's judgement.

This is the other side of the coin to the reaction of the martyrs "under the altar", at the opening of the fifth seal.

The martyrs can see the work of God in all these events, and they welcome it.
The people of the world at large can see the work of God in all these events, and it makes them horrified.

In fact, we can now see the "fifth seal" and the "sixth seal" as one of the many "contrasting pairs" of Revelation.
They're both talking about the judgement of God- but they're presenting two different ways of receiving the judgement of God.

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:30 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch6

I looked at this chapter in earlier topics, and I've been summing it up in the obvious way- the expression of God's wrath upon the nations- based on the various "echoes" of different passages in the Old Testament.

This time round, though, I'm going to be asking the question; why do so many of these "echoes" carry overtones of God's wrath against his own people?

Let me show you what I mean, starting with some of the passages quoted when I was discussing the "Sixth Seal" (i.e. vv12-17 of this chapter).

Firstly, there was the "great earthquake" of v12. That's where I found an "echo" of the earthquake mentioned at the beginning of Amos, which indicates the real start of the "judgement" theme in prophecy.

But the prophecies of Amos are addressed mainly against Israel themselves, against their chronic injustice and their failure to listen to the prophets.

In the rest of the passage, we can find echoes of Joel ch2 vv10-11;-
"The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble.
The sun and moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining...
The Day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it?"

But Joel's warning in this chapter is addressed to Zion, and he continues by calling them to repentance;
"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart."

I moved on to the echoes of Jeremiah ch4 vv27-29, in the shaking of the mountains, the darkening of the heavens, and the flight among the rocks.

But Jeremiah, once again, is addressing the city of Jerusalem, with God's complaints about their disobedience.
"For my people are foolish, they know me not...
They are skilled in doing evil, but how to do good they know not." Jeremiah ch4 v22.

Turning back, now, to the rest of Revelation ch6;

In the topic- "4 Horsemen-Why?"- I looked at this four-fold group and traced it back to the similar groups (horses and chariots) mentioned in Zechariah.

But there's also a four-fold pattern in some of the prophecies about the fate of Jerusalem

In Ezekiel ch 14 v21 there's a declaration that God is going to send "four sore evils upon the land"- namely, the sword, famine, evil beasts, and pestilence. The same list can be found in Ezekiel ch5 vv16-17, and a similar list (with "captivity" instead of "beasts") in Jeremiah ch15 v2.

Then we find, in Revelation ch6 v8, that the four agents of "Death and Hades" are exactly the same "sore evils" that were listed by Ezekiel.

As for the famous "Horsemen" themselves, I examined them carefully in one of the other topics and threw my weight- such as it is- behind the older popular tradition which names them as "Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death".
That quartet can easily be recognised as yet another version of the same four-fold pattern of destruction, part of the warnings against Jerusalem.

How are these overtones of "God's wrath against his own people" to be understood?

I can think of two explanations, and there may be truth in both of them.

One is that, with the coming of Christ, God's claim to recognition and worship is extended from Israel to the world at large. As Paul says in Acts ch17 v30;
"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent."
In that case, the charge of unfaithfulness and idolatry, which was historically directed against Israel themselves, can also be extended. It can become part of his indictment against the world at large.

As for the church, God's people in the more restricted sense, they would necessarily experience the same devastating events as the rest of the world. They would be among the people recognising and fearing the time of judgement. Only the martyrs mentioned in v9, already removed from the scene, can be detached enough to welcome what God's doing.

But the very existence of those martyrs points towards the possibility that God's wrath might be applied to the church more directly.

It's one of the running themes of the Old Testament that God's people suffer at the hands of outsiders, because their own sins have prompted him to withdraw his protection.

That's the explanation given for the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians;
"Because the people have forsaken me and polluted this place...
I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies."- Jeremiah ch4 v4 & v7

That's the explanation given for the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians;
"And this was so because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God."- 2 Kings ch17 v7.

And that's the explanation given for the defeats of Israel in the time of Judges.
"And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord...they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers...So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel...and he sold them into the power of their enemies round about".- Judges ch2 vv11-14.

If the same logic can be carried over into the story told in Revelation, then the implication is;
That the martyrs of ch6 v9 lost their lives partly because God had withdrawn his protection from the church
And that God's protection had been withdrawn from the church because of their idolatry and unfaithfulness and other sins.

This, too, would have to be included in what I've been calling the "implied background" of ch6.

Then the overtones of "God's wrath against his people" would have a real application.

But we must not forget that the "chastisements" of God were never the end of the story.
In the second part of the cycle, as described in Judges ch2, Israel would appeal to the Lord in their troubles, and the Lord would respond, and he would help them.

That response is the main theme of this chapter, and the main theme of Revelation as a whole.

"If we are faithless, he remains faithful-
for he cannot deny himself." 2 Timothy ch2 v13

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:31 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch7 vv1-8 which reports the "sealing" of the 144,000 servants of God.

I'm going to be asking the question; how does this benefit the people who receive it?


This act of sealing will be taking place in a time of "truce", which God allows and sets aside for the purpose.
The truce will be needed bcause the "Four Horsemen" sent by God have been running wild all through ch6, wreaking havoc on human life.

At the beginning of this chapter, the time of havoc is interrupted. We see four angels stopping the "four winds of the earth", holding them back from "blowing against" the natural world. Perhaps these are the same "four winds from the four quarters of heaven" that God once threatened to send against Elam (Jeremiah ch49 v36).

Then a fifth angel steps forward, whose real assignment is to tell us what's happening. He instructs the other angels, loudly, not to hurt the earth or the sea or the trees (in fact they're already acting on that instruction, just by being there).
Then he explains the reason.
Time must be allowed for the servants of God to be "sealed".

And so the time of truce begins.
It seems to come to an end in ch8 v6, because that's the moment when the angels with trumpets go into action, and the business of hurting the earth and the sea and the trees can begin in earnest.
We get more information about the "time of truce" from the statement in ch8 v1;
"There was silence in heaven for half an hour".
I intend to discuss this verse in a later topic.

My explanation will be, briefly, that the phrase "silence in heaven" is an oblique way of indicating that there were no expressions of God's wrath upon the earth- this same time of "truce", in other words.
The "silence in heaven" lasts for "half-an-hour".
And the reign of the Beast, we learn from ch17 v12, lasts for "one hour".
So the "silence in heaven" can be identified as the first portion of the period during which the Beast is reigning.
It would seem, then, that the time available for the "sealing" operation is the entire first half of the reign of the Beast, however long that period might be.


Next, we must consider the "servants of God" themselves.

One, rather oblique, way of learning more about them is to look at the numbers being quoted.
Because the symbolic meaning of number is always important in Revelation.

"10" has been described as the number of completeness or perfection. I think of it as pointing us towards "the full extent of the world".
"1000" is the cubed version of "10"; 10 is taken three times and multiplied out, and that's the result. I think of it as God's version of "10", the full extent of God’s world.
And all the way through the Bible, "12" is the number which points us towards "God's people".

Now each tribe on this list is numbered as "12" multiplied by "1000".
Then the multiplication by "12" is repeated, because there are twelve tribes on the list.
Which brings us the grand total of 144,000.
On that basis, the number 144,000 carries the symbolic meaning of;
"The fullness of God's people occupying the fullness of God's world."

The other source of information about them is the list of names.
This list is really a combination of two different lists from the Old Testament.
There's the list of "sons of Jacob", which includes Levi and Joseph.
Then there's the classic list of the "twelve tribes of Israel".
The difference between them is that the names of Levi and Joseph were left out of the second list, because Levi were set aside as a community of priests, and the "house of Joseph" was divided into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

If we now compare the list of tribes in this chapter with the classic list, we can see that the names have changed again.
On the one hand, the names of Dan and Ephraim have disppeared.
It is not likely to be a coincidence that these were the two tribes which hosted the two golden calves established by Jeroboam, after he broke away from the authority of Jerusalem. Not the kind of names that you can associate with loyalty.

On the other hand, the names of Levi and Joseph have been restored.
These have much better asociations.
It was the Levite Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, who showed his loyalty in the affair at #tim, which was one of the key moments in the fight against idolatry. For that reason, the Lord said to Moses about him;
"Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel"- Numbers ch25 vv12-13.
While Joseph is renowned for a different kind of fidelity, refusing the advances of Potiphar's wife.

So the net result is that "faithful" names have replaced "unfaithful" names.
The implication is that this list is pointing us towards a "God's people" which has been cleansed of unfaithfulness.

If the point of the names and the way they change is to give this meaning to the complete list, there's no need for us to take them individually and apply them to literal tribes or to literal groups of any kind. The "twelve tribe" symbolism belongs to God's people, and, for New Testament purposes, God's people are those who have put their trust in Christ.

The essential point is that this listing covers the full number of the loyal servants of God. We can borrow the words of the Anglican liturgy and describe them as
"The blessed company of all faithful people".


We must consider what is meant by the act of sealing.

This is not the first appearance of "sealing" in the New Testament.
We find it explained in Ephesians as the privilege of believers in general.
"In [Christ] you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance".- Ephesians ch1 vv13-14
And there's a similar combination of ideas when Paul writes to the Corinthians;
"But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."- 2 Corinthians ch1 vv21-22.

God would not need to have two different ways of "sealing" his people and marking them as his own. So it seems reasonable to assume that the sealing in this chapter is that same sealing "with the Holy Sprit".
There's no suggestion that all the servants are sealed in a single moment.
It would be part of the continuing process of people hearing the gospel of forgiveness and putting their trust in Christ, receiving the promise of an "inheritance" and receiving the Spirit as a kind of tangible pledge of that inheritance.


We can learn the purpose of the sealing from the parallel in one of Ezekiel's visions. The Lord is threatening to send his wrath against Jerusalem, on account of its various idolatries. But he gives instructions, before this happens, to put a mark on the foreheads of all those who "sigh and groan over all the abominations"; that is, their loyalty to God makes them grieve over the unfaithfulness of the rest of the city. The purpose of the mark is to protect them from the action of wrath. (Ezekiel ch9 vv4-6)

So the purpose of sealing the ser

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:32 AM
a reply to: luciferslight

Whats happening there is that Israel and Judah split into 2 nations after King Solomon. The northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians around 710-720 BC. But Judah managed to repulse the Assyrians. See 2nd Kings 18 and 19. Judah later fell to the Babylonians in 603 BC.

So yes, the book of Judith could be praising the God of the Jews for defending them against the Assyrians.

However that being said here is a review of the book. Book of Judith.

This book may be fictionalized. Many of the details in it are distorted or incorrect. Thats why it's considered a Deuterocanonical book.

edit on 12-4-2016 by ntech because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:32 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

This title is a phrase which comes from (and gives away, of course) my High Anglican upbringing.
Church Triumphant;= Those already experiencing the fruits of God's victory, in heaven. As against-
Church Militant;= Those still experiencing the various struggles and troubles of life on earth.

I want to offer some thoughts on that great human crowd which can be seen, in heaven, at various intervals in Revelation.

I'm going to be asking the question; who are these people (and what are they doing)?

We see them on four different occasions.
1) From ch7 v1, immediately following the sealing of the servants of God.
2) From ch14 v1, immediately following the account of the Beast and its "war on the saints".
(But also immediately preceding the proclamation of the fall of Babylon)
3) From ch15 v2, at the beginning of the destruction of Babylon.
4) From ch19 v1, immediately following the destruction of Babylon.

Who are they?

They're introduced to us in ch7 as "a great multitude which no man could number".
We're told that they come from "every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues".
This is the same extent as the authority of the Beast in ch13, which implies that they've been part of its realm.

Further information comes from dialogue between John and one of the Elders;
Elder; "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?"
John; "Sir, you know".
The Elder then answers both his own questions; "These are they who have come ouf of (EK) the great tribulation.
I take this to mean that they've had experience of the tribulation; they've passed through it, as it were, and come out the other side.
This exchange echoes the dialogue in Ezekiel ch37 v3;
The Lord; "Son of Man, can these bones live?"
Ezekiel; "O Lord God, thou knowest"
In Ezekiel's vision, the answer is that the bones are revived by the power in the Spirit of God.
The parallel implies that the crowd in John's vision have also passed from death to life by the power of the Spirit of God.

The Elder says their robes are white because they've been washed "in the blood of the Lamb".
In other words, they've been redeemed, purged of their sin by the death and resurrection of Christ.
He says they are before the throne of God and "serve him day and night within his temple", which can be compared to ch3 v12;
"He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it."
And the remainder of the Elder's explanation echoes a promise made in the time of thr first redemption from Babylon;
"They shall neither hunger nor thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall smite them,
For he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them"- Isaiah ch49 v10.
"He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces"- Isaiah ch25 v8
In short, their life is to be the life promised to the redeemed.
In the words of ch14 v4, they have been redeemed from mankind as "first fruits" for God and the Lamb.

On their next appearance, in ch14, John identifies them as the "one hundred and forty four thousand"; that is to say, as the servants of God who were "sealed" in the first part of ch7, in preparation for the conflict with the Beast.
I gave my interpretation of this number in the previous topic.
The total is built up in a way which combines the overtones of the number "12" ("God's people") and the number "10" ("completeness"); I came to the conclusion that it represents "the fullness of God's people occupying the fullness of God's world".
(And if the total is not meant to be understood literally, there's no genuine clash with the previous estimate of "a great multitude which no man could number")

They have the Lamb's name and his Father's name written on their foreheads (which is presumably the sign of their sealing).
This must be the counterpart of the mark of the Beast, which is placed in the same location.
It marks them out as belonging to God's company, not the Beast's.
John says they are chaste, "they have not defiled themselves with women". This will be a metaphor about their spiritual fidelity, in the same way that the "fornication" of the Harlot of Babylon is a metaphor about her spititual infidelity. They're not a company of bachelors, but the complete assembly of God's faithful people, whether single or married, male or female.
And he also says that no lie has been found in their mouth.
Once again ,this echoes a promise made in the Old Testament, about the time when God has dealt with the enemies of his people;
""Those who are left in Israel,
They shall do no wrong, and utter no lies,
Neither shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue".- Zephaniah ch3 v13
All these details are pointing towards the fact that this crowd have been faithful to God and to the Lamb.
They have, by their fidelity, "conquered the Beast and its image and the number of its name" (as we're told in ch15 v2).
Their fidelity, we presume, has been carried to the point of martyrdom.
And since they've been found faithful to the Lamb, they're allowed to follow him wherever he goes.

What are they doing?

The appearance of this crowd in ch7 seems to mark the moment when they first arrive in heaven.
They're holding palm branches and crying with a loud voice; "Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb!"
In the same way that the crowd in Jerusalem were waving palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!" ("Save us!"), when Jesus was entering the city as their king, "mounted upon an ass".
We may like to understand this crowd themselves as the new Jerusalem, acknowledging his kingship once again.

When we see them in ch14, they have a new song which nobody else can learn.
This may be because their new mode of life is beyond our current comprehension.
However, that phrase, "a new song", carries echoes from the Old Testament, which may be instructive.
Thus, in Isaiah ch42 v10, the instruction to "Sing to the Lord a new song" comes in the middle of the Servant Songs, and is followed by the promise that the Lord will lead his people out of Babylon.
Psalm 96 begins in the same way, with praise about the glory and strength of God, and ends with the proclamation that the Lord is coming to judge the earth;
"He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth."- Psalm 96 v13
As already observed, this appearance of the crowd in ch14 is placed between the accounts of the rise of the Beast and of the fall of Babylon. This kind of message- the "new song" which describes a fresh expression of God's saving power- would be very appropriate for both parts of the setting.

In ch15, at the beginning of the destruction of Babylon and the Beast, they add their praise to the event by singing "the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb".
The Song draws the lesson that God alone is holy and to be feared, because he brings justice and truth.
Presumably it is called after the "Song of Moses" because it celebrates the same kind of event;
God is overcoming the power of the oppressor, and preparing the way for a new covenant relationship.
Perhaps we can implicitly include in their message the last words of the original model;
"Thou hast led in thy steadfast love the people whom thou hast redeemed,

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:33 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch8 v1.

I'm deliberately taking on a short passage, to make the discussion more manageable. I see this verse as one of the pivots in the overall "storyline" of Revelation.

I'm going to be asking the question; what does John mean by the statement that "There was silence in heaven for half an hour"?
So, breaking it down...

What does he mean by "half an hour"?
There's a reference to "one hour" later in the book. It comes in ch 17 v12, which tells us that the ten kings "receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast".
If we see "one hour" in one part of Revelation, and "half an hour" in another part, it seems reasonable to suppose that the two are connected.

So I suggest that the phrase "half an hour" means "one portion of the reign of the Beast".

What does he mean by "silence in heaven"?
There's an important clue in the way the silence gets broken, a few verses further down. There are "peals of thunder, voices, flashes of lightning" in v5, just as the seven trumpets are about to start work. We get the same thing at the time of the seventh trumpet(ch11 v19)- thunder and lightning and voices. God sends down trouble upon the earth, and this is accompanied by (and seems to be signalled by) what could be described as "noise in heaven".

Perhaps you can see where this is heading.

If the presence of "noise in heaven" (i.e. thunder and lightning and voices) indicates a time when God is bringing trouble on the earth...
Then presumably "silence in heaven" (i.e. the absence of thunder and lightning and voices) is an oblique way of indicating a time when God is NOT bringing trouble on the earth.

Putting those two pieces of information together, I suggest that "There was silence in heaven for half an hour" can be interpreted as "The Beast rules for a certain period of time, and for the first half of that period God does not trouble it, does not try to destroy it."

Putting this into the context of the overall "storyline" of the book...
This period of relative tranquillity is sandwiched between two bouts of havoc and destruction.
The first part of the sandwich is the "4 Horseman" episode. That is brought to an end in ch7 vv1-3, when the angels are told to restrain the four destructive "winds of heaven", which have been blowing, metaphorically, all the way through ch6.
The description of the 7 trumpets and 7 bowls is the other side of the sandwich.

On this reading of the story, the Beast is prospering, and presumably rising to power, at a time when the world is taking a deep breath and trying to recover from the first bout of destruction.

I can see analogies in history for the way this might work.
When Germany was rocked by defeat in the First World War, and the later demands for Reparations, and finally by the Great Depression, the rise of Hitler seemed to offer the opportunity to revitalise the country.
In the 3rd Century, the Roman Empire nearly fell apart in various disasters and it was pulled back together by a series of stronger Emperors. This culminated in the work of Diocletian, who is notorious in church history as a small-scale Beast in his own right.

If, then, there was a regime which was apparently pulling the world back together and reviving global society after the events of the 4 Horsemen, surely that regime would be welcomed at the time as "saviours of the world". They could get the enthusiastic support of most of the world without much need for compulsion.

As for the timing of all this- if the 4 Horsemen episode is anything like as drastic as John seems to be describing, then we haven't seen it yet.
If we haven't seen the 4 Horsemen episode, then we haven't yet seen the events which follow the 4 Horsemen episode.

This leads me to the conclusion that the period covered by ch8 v1 (including, therefore, the Beast) remains in our future.

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:44 AM
The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on the sounding of the first four "trumpets" in Revelation ch8.
The effects are clearly devastating, and the consequences are long-lasting.

So I'm going to be asking the question; what do these trumpets mean for the planet?

In the context of the full story told by Revelation, the "seven trumpets" are what happens when God brings his power to bear on the destruction of the kingdom of the Beast. In that function, they're very closely associated with the "seven vials". These two sequences, the trumpets and the vials, are very similar, and they're sometimes regarded as duplicate versions of the same story. But the real clue to the relationship is that the state of the world after the seven vials is considerably worse than the state of the world after the trumpets. The most obvious example is the way the condition of the sea degenerates from "one-third blood" to "like the blood of a dead man, and every living thing died".

So I see the trumpets and the vials as the beginning and end points of the same set of events, with each trumpet/vial combination representing a different aspect of the process. On that basis, I feel entitled to cross-reference between the two sequences, and use them to throw light on each other.

The basic question can be broken down in three ways;
What causes these events?
What effect are they having?
What is their meaning?

I'm going to take these in reverse order- less logical, but more convenient.

What do they mean?

Symbolism pointing towards the Exodus

The main feature of the first trumpet is that hail and fire fall on the earth.
This matches one of the Exodus plagues;
"The Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth"- Exodus ch9 v23
Similarly the main feature of the first vial is an outbreak of "foul and evil sores".
This matches another Exodus plague;
"It became boils breaking out in evil sores on man and beast"- Exodus ch9 v10

This suggests to me that the first item in each sequence is a kind of "signature", which has the purpose of pointing us towards the Exodus events.
The implication is that these events, too, are about the redemption of God's people.

Symbolism pointing towards Babylon

After the second trumpet, "something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown down into the sea".
This is an echo of the warning Jeremiah gives to Babylon;
"Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain (says the Lord)
which destroys the whole earth.
I will stretch out my hand against you
and roll you down from the crags
and make you a burnt mountain" - Jeremiah ch51 v25

This is pointing us towards the destruction of Babylon. The implication is that these events, too, are about the downfall of an idolatrous and oppressive power.

Symbolism pointing towards adultery

The star Wormwood has the effect of making the waters bitter and poisonous.
This is an echo of Jeremiah's warning to the people of Judah, who have
"..stubbornly followed their own hearts and gone after the Baals...Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed this people with wormwood and give them poisonous water to drink".- Jeremiah ch9 vv14-15.

Their behaviour is spiritual infidelity,and he's already called them adulterers. So perhaps we should recognise in this warning an oblique allusion to the ritual of the "water of bitterness", prescribed in Numbers ch5 as a way to test a wife suspected of adultery.
The implication is that these events, too, are chastising the infidelity of a people from whom the Lord expects loyalty.

What effect are they having?

Damage assessment.
The land; one-third of the earth, together with its vegetation, has been burnt up.
The sea; one third of the sea has become blood.
The rivers; one-third of the waters has become bitter.
The heavens; the sun, moon, and stars have lost a third of their brightness. This is really about the atmosphere, since the most "economical" way of achieving this effect would be the presence of something in the atmosphere blocking the light.

This is another instance of the "heaven, land, and sea" division of the world which keeps appearing in Revelation.
The overall effect of these trumpets is that all three regions have been spoiled and polluted.
Since the state of the rivers reflects the state of the land (as any enviromentalist can tell you), they can be counted as part of that region.
So the sequence of both trumpets and vials is effectively;
1) The "Exodus" signature.
2) The sea
3) The land (seen through the rivers)
4) The heavens

These look like different aspects of the same process. But if this process is really leading towards "became like the blood of a dead man" and the other effects of the seven vials, then it would be the kind of process which would ultimately render the earth uninhabitable.

What is the cause?

I've suggested that these events can be seen as different aspects of the same process.
This opens up the possiblilty that they are all different effects of the same cause, and I want to pursue the speculation along those lines.
Such a cause would have to be a large-scale event, something capable of having a massive and ultimately fatal impact upon the planet at large.
Modern science has introduced us to a number of possible candidates.
They include natural disasters, of the kind which might have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs- such as supervolcano eruptions and asteroid collisions.
They also include the destructive possibilities of human technology, such as nuclear war and the effects of industrial pollution.
I want to consider these possibilities, firstly, in terms of their potential ability to produce the effects descibed in this chapter. (I'll confine myself to those four options, partly because they seem the most plausible, and partly because I can't resist the symmetry of the presentation)

Supervolcano eruption

This would, of course, be a "burning mountain", almost literally.
No obvious reason (apart from possible location) why it should be "thrown into the sea".
Land and vegetation in the vicinity would be "burnt up".
Volcanic ash in the atmosphere could be blocking out the light, and the settlement of the ash would be responsible for poisoning the rivers and seas.
It is tempting to see the image of a volcano in the "smoke arising from the bottomless pit" in the next chapter.

Asteroid collision

Perhaps this would, even more literally, present the appearance of "a burning mountain thrown into the sea".
No obvious reason why much of the land should be "burnt up".
Debris from the impact would provide material in the atmosphere, with the same effect as before.

Nuclear war

The impact of the weapons themselves would be burning the land and vegetation.
The suggestion has been made that smoke and soot from large-scale fires would fill the atmosphere, with the same effect as before.
Another suggested side-effect is that the ozone-layer would be depleted on a global scale. This would account for the effect of the fourth vial, after which the sun "was allowed to scorch men with fire". The natural disasters don't really explain this feature.

Industrial pollution

This might not need to be a single large event, like the Gulf oil spill of 2010.
In t

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:45 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch9 vv1-12

This passage is about the fifth of the "seven trumpets".
It also counts as the first "Woe"- because, at the end of the previous chapter, the dwelllers on the earth were told to expect woe from the next three trumpets.

So I'm going to be asking the question; what is the First Woe?

When the fifth trumpet is sounded, something is released. But the exact nature of that "something" is not easy to pin down.

They are locusts

The text calls them locusts.
I understand that some of the details of the description are features which might be found on any ordinary swarm.
Ordinary locusts, apparently, have hair and scales, and make a noise in flight, and their normal life-span is around five months. Just like the ones in this passage.
And an ordinary locust-swarm would be a source of terror., because locusts will eat up your crops and bring you close to starvation.

They are not ordinary locusts

But this description has got additional details, bizarre details, which would not be found in any ordinary locust swarm.
They appear "like horses, arrayed for battle".
They have human faces, with golden crowns.
They have the teeth of lions, and stings like scorpions.
The noise of their wings has become thundrous.
And it seems that everything else about them has been magnified; at least their features are surely much more visible and noticeable than they would have been in locusts of ordinary size.

So the image starts with a topical model (a locust swarm) which would have been a source of terror in its own right.
The emotion is then magnified. Further details are thrown into the image to ramp up the intensity of the terror by several degrees.

They come from "outside"

They make their appearance when the shaft of the pit has been opened.
We're not told, strictly speaking, that the locusts themselves come from the pit.
The smoke arises from the pit, and the locusts come from the smoke, but they might have been "generated" in some way after the smoke reached the surface.
But the pit is the ultimate source of the trouble, either way.
The underground pit, by its nature, is outside the inhabited world.
The fact that the pit is called "bottomless" (ABYSSOS) brings an echo of the Creation story.
The same word is used in the Septuagint in their translation of "the deep" which God pushes back to make room for human life.
In both cases, the implication is that "the Abyss" is that region which God has not organised for human habitation
The locusts are under the command of Abaddon or Apollyon- the destroyer or power of destruction.
And destruction, of course, is the polar opposite of order.

They come from God

We're told, in the first verse, that the star, when he opened the shaft, "was given" the key. This is a reverential way of saying that the key came from God. It avoids using the name outright.
This means that the locusts have been released on God's authority.
Similarly, when we read that the locusts "were given power", we can understand that the power came from God.
And when we're told that the locusts "were allowed" to torture men, we can understand that their permission to act and their limitations come from God.

We should also recognise that these locusts are partly modelled on the locust invasions described by Joel.
The first band of locusts in that book have "lions' teeth"- Joel ch1 v6
As for the second band, "Their appearance is like the appearance of horses", and and they leap on the tops of the mountais "as with the rumbling of chariots"- Joel ch2 vv4-5.
But the locusts in Joel are designated as the Lord's army;
"The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble...
The Lord utters his voice before his army, for his host is exceedingly great"- Joel ch2 vv10-11

The implication is that this army of locusts, whatever its immediate origin, is also ultimately acting as God's army and serving his purpose.

They bring torture

They're called locusts, and up to a point they look like locusts. But they don't act like locusts.
Their impact is on the human population, not the crops.
But they don't have the power to kill their victims. Only to torture them.

The effect of the torture is that "men will seek death".
This is the state of mind which we call "despair", and I don't think we need to look any further to identify the nature of the torture.
Despair is the torture.
The function of these locusts is that they are the specialised agents and carriers of Despair.

But this is no ordinary despair.
You would think that "wanting to die" was the deepest, the worst possible, level of despair.
But there's a much deeper level indicated in the words that "men will seek death and will not find it".
There's no need for us to puzzle our minds about the exact mechanism of "not being able to die", because that's not the point.
The real point is that this possibility implies an intensity of Despair beyond anything previously experienced, almost beyond anything that could previously be imagined.

Nevertheless, there's a precedent, contained in one of the complaints of Job;
"Why is light given to him that is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul,
Who long for death and it comes not, and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
Who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad when they find the grave?...
For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes" - Job ch3 vv20-26

This is not a coincidence, because there's another reference to Job at the same stage in the "vials" sequence.
When the fifth vial is poured out, we're told that men "cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores".
And of course this is precisely what Job was advised to do when he was suffering the experience of his own sores.

The message seems to be that the population of the world at large is undergoing a collective "Job" experience. The thing they feared has come upon them. They are not at ease and have no rest, and so they long for death.
Job was plunged into despair by the fact that his world was falling apart.
I suggest that the human race, in this chapter, is plunged into despair for the same reason.

This must be seen in the context of what was happening when the first four trumpets were blown, which I was discussing in a previous topic.
My impression was that the first four trumpets were describing a massive catastrophe, with an impact on the planet at large, spoiling the land, the sea, and the atmosphere.
I thought the "vials" of ch16 were describing the culmination of the same process, in which case it looked like the kind of process which would ultimately render the planet almost uninhabitable.
If this was a correct interpretation, then a state of intense Despair becomes understandable.
Their world would be falling apart.
And, in consequence, their mental world would fall apart as well.
It would collapse under the impact of "the Destroyer".
Perhaps we can see the "locusts" as a symbolic description of that state of mind.

But there is one part of the population which would be immune.
We're told that those who have "the seal of God" are immune. They cannot be touched.
And this would make sense if, as I believe, the "seal of God" is that s

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:46 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch9 vv13-19

This passage is about the sixth of the "seven trumpets".
It also counts as the "second woe", because, at the end of the previous chapter, the dwellers on the earth were told to expect woe from the next three trumpets.

So I'm going to be asking the question; what is the second woe?

When the sixth trumpet is sounded, something is released, but the exact nature of that "something" is not easy to pin down.

They are cavalry

At least the text calls them cavalry, and describes them as riding horses.
The first army in this chapter, the army of locusts, were clearly based on a topical model.
The army in this case, too, are probably based on a topical model, though few people in the modern world have heard of the Parthians.
They were a people ruling the territories eastward of the Roman Empire, and some of the details in this description would have been true about one of their armies.
The Parthians, if they invaded, would have been coming from the Euphrates.
They would have been wearing armour and fighting on horseback, a style of warfare learned from the nomads on the steppes.
And their horses did have a metaphorical "sting in the tail".The most famous tactical skill of the Parthian cavalry was their ability to despatch arrows backwards while riding away from an enemy.
At the battle of Carrhae, the Parthians overwhelmed a force of seven Roman legions and killed the Roman leader Crassus, one of the allies of Julius Caesar. They then attempted to invade Syria, but were beaten off.
So the thought of another Parthian invasion would have been a source of terror.

They are not ordinary cavalry

But the description has got additional details, bizarre details, which would not be found in an ordinary Parthian army.

The horses have lions' heads, with fire and smoke and sulphur coming out of their mouths.
Their tails are in the form of serpents, with biting heads of their own.
And the size of the army has been magnified, to a much greater size than human armies could muster.

So the image starts with a topical model (a Parthian army) which would have been a source of terror in its own right.
The emotion is then magnified. Further details are thrown into the vision to ramp up the intensity of the terror by several degrees.

So far, the Second Woe is following the pattern of the First Woe.

They come from "outside"

They come from the Euphrates, and presumably from the other side of the Euphrates.
At the time when John was writing, the upper Euphrates was the boundary between the Roman province of Syria and the Parthian territory around Edessa.
So, from the viewpoint of Roman citizens, the other side of the Euphrates was the region "outside" the civilised world, the Graeco-Roman world.
It would belong to the world of the barbarians, not the world of ordered society.

They come from God

The army is released by a command which comes direct from God's altar.
This means that the cavalry has been released on God's authority.
(It's the reverse of the instruction given in ch7 v1, when the angels were ordered to hold back the four destructive "winds of the earth")

The fact that the action has been planned shows that it comes from God.
The force has been held in reserve for a specific pre-planned moment-
"The hour, the day, the month, and the year".

The sheer size of the army confirms that it comes from God.
That number of "twice ten thousand times ten thousand" is an echo of the host which accompanied the Lord when he "came from Sinai into the holy place". That force was "twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands"- Psalm 68 v17
Similarly, when the Ancient of Days took his seat in Daniel's vision, "a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him"- Daniel ch7 v10
Only "the Lord of hosts" can muster armies of that order of magnitude.

The implication is that these cavalry, too, are acting as God's army and serving his purpose.

So the Second Woe is continuing to follow the pattern of the First Woe.
It's becoming evident that these two armies are a pair.
A literary analysis of these chapters makes that clear;

A1; The first trumpet sounds, v1
A2; The army of locusts is released, v2
A3; "The first woe has passed...", v12
B1; The second trumpet sounds, v13
B2; The army of cavalry is released, v14
[Insertion of ch10 and most of ch11]
B3; "The second woe has passed...", ch11 v14

Two points become clear in that analysis.
We can see, from the way the pattern repeats, that the "second woe" statement really belongs to the cavalry (just as I've been assuming from the beginning of this discussion).
But the postponement of that final statement has the effect of including the "inserted" chapters in the description of the Second Woe. We must assume there's a reason for that, which I'll return to in a moment.

They bring destruction

We're told that this army will be killing one third of mankind.
This needs to be understood in the context of the other trumpets, which I was discussing in the two previous topics.

My interpretation of the first four trumpets was that they were describing a major catastrophe, whether natural or man-made. There seemed to be an impact on the planet at large, setting in motion the spoiling of the land, the sea, and the atmosphere.
Looking ahead to the "seven bowls", they seemed to be describing the culmination of the same process.
In which case, it looked like the kind of process which would ultimately render the earth almost uninhabitable.

My interpretation of the fifth trumpet was that it was describing the beginning of the human reaction to this catastrophe. It was describing a human race falling into a state of intense despair, which would have been a very natural consequence of the events in the previous chapter.

I now suggest that the sixth trumpet is describing the social impact of the fifth trumpet. It's about the effect of despair on the bonds of human society.

The army of this vision comes from the Euphrates.
But I think we can understand that best by remembering what that river meant to the people of John's time.
It would have been the perceived boundary between the world of social order (as represented by the Roman Empire) and the barbarian world "outside" (as represented by the Parthians).
So we might see in this cavalry a representation of all those forces which come from "outside" the social order, and which would have the effect of undermining it.
These have never been completely absent from human life..
But they would undoubtedly be released in full force in the kind of emergency which these chapters appear to be describing.
The predominance of despair would undermine the motivation to keep things going.
It would be a case of
"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world" (W.B. Yeats)

I would therefore understand this army as the collective symbol of all those forces which would have the effect of bringing human society crashing down into anarchy, and which would thus bring about the death of "one third of mankind".

To me, then, these "trumpets" look like a natural sequence;
The collapse of the physical environment of the human race, under the (undetermined) catastrophe.

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:47 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch10.

This chapter is part of the account of the "seven trumpets". A little before the seventh trunpet is sounded, John finds himself being sent on a mission to the world.

So I'm going to be asking the question; what is the purpose of John's mission?

The message of this chapter comes through John's encounter with a great angel, which echoes and "updates" a couple of similar encounters in the Old Testament.

One such meeting is in Daniel's first vision.
In Daniel ch10, the prophet is standing on the banks of the Tigris. He lifts up his eyes and sees "a man clothed in linen".
The figure is standing above (showing authority over?) the waters of the river, as ch12 makes clear.
The man has a face "like the appearance of lightning". His arms and legs have a brightness "like the gleam of burnished bronze".- Daniel ch10 vv4-6
In the rest of the vision, the figure tells Daniel what to expect from a great king who makes war on God and on his people, until God intervenes.
At the end of the vision, Daniel asks a very important question;
"How long shall it be before the end of these wonders?"
Then he sees the figure raising both hands to heaven;
"And I heard him swear by him who lives for ever that it will be for a time, two times, and half a time".
Once that point is reached, "the shattering of the power of the holy people" would come to an end, and "all these things would be accomplished".- Daniel ch12 vv6-7

We've already seen one version of this figure in the first chapter of Revelation.
I pointed out the similarities when I was discussing that chapter.
His face, on that occasion was "like the sun shining in full strength".
He was called "one like a Son of Man", and he identified himself with the risen Christ.

The other meeting is in Ezekiel's first vision.
In Ezekiel ch1, the prophet sees the Glory of God by the river Chebar.
As in Daniel's vision, Ezekiel reports the brightness of the figure;
"Downwards from what had the appearance of his loins, I saw as it were gleaming bronze, like the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of brightness round about".-Ezekiel ch1 vv27-28

Ezekiel is then shown a scroll containing "words of lamentation and mourning and woe". He's instructed to take the scroll and to eat it, and he's then told to go and speak "my words" to the house of Israel. So the scroll represents the word of God, which supplies the content of his message.
The task is easier than it might have been, because Ezekiel is not being sent "to a people of foreign speech and a hard language", but to his own countrymen, who should be able to understand him.
Nevertheless, he will find them unwilling to listen, because "the house of Israel are of a hard forehead and of a stubborn heart".
The taste of the scroll had been sweet, because it was the Word of God.
But Ezekiel leaves the meeting "in bitterness of my heart in the heat of my spirit", which is very understandable, given the terms of his task.
He's advised later that he will be addressing two kinds of people, viz. the "wicked" and those among the "righteous" who have fallen into sin. But the task in both cases is to call them to repentance- (Ezekiel ch3, passim)

The encounter in this chapter is partly modelled on both meetings.
John sees "a mighty angel coming down from heaven".
There's a rainbow over his head, just as there was a rainbow around God's throne in ch4, which recalls the "appearance of brightness" in Ezekiel's vision.
His face is like the sun, and he comes wrapped in a cloud, which recalls what ch1 says about the Son of Man.
His legs are like "pillars of fire", which echoes the brightness and fire found in both the Old Testament visions.
Then he sets one foot on the sea and one foot on the land, thus firmly demonstrating sovereignty over both regions.
Including, presumably, the Beast that comes out of the sea and the Beast that comes out of the land, as described in ch13.
Then he calls out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring (which may remind us of "the lion of the tribe of Judah" mentioned in ch5).

Seven thunders answer him, but John isn't allowed to write down what they say.
Which seems very strange.
Not because of the secrecy (we expect God to have secrets), but because it prompts the question;
Why is John hearing these words, in the first place, if he's not allowed to report them?
There must be something we're intended to learn from the fact that these thunders have spoken, independent of the actual content.
"Seven" is the number which points us towards God, so the voice of seven thunders would have to be God's voice, the expression of God's will.
The most obvious possibility is that he's expressing his will for judgement (and we have no "need to know" about the details).

In response (it seems) to the seven thunders, the angel lifts up his hand to heaven and swears an oath "by him who lives for ever and ever", the Creator of heaven, the earth, and the sea (which is the usual three-way division of the universe found in Revelation).
He swears that in the time when the seventh trumpet sounds there will be "time no longer"- KAIROS OUKETI, sometimes translated as "no more delay".
Then "the mystery of God should be fulfilled".
This is the moment when he "updates" the Daniel vision.
It's a declaration that the period of "a time (KAIROS), two times, and half a time", as announced by the angel in Daniel's vision, would then be brought to an end.
It implies that the world would then see what was promised in Daniel relating to the end of that period.
That is, following the intervention of God, the power of the hostile ruler would be overthrown.
And, in consequence, "the shattering of the power of the holy people" would come to an end.

So if the seven thunders are giving a decision for judgement, the sounding of the seventh trumpet looks like the moment when the decision comes into effect.

John is now told to take the scroll, which we've already seen in the angel's hand, and to eat it.
He's told that "You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings".
This is the same kind of instruction that Ezekiel was given, which is why the voice from heaven says "again" (ie, "this is something which has happened before")
But there's an "updating" of Ezekiel's vision in the fact that John will be addressing the world at large, people of many tongues; whereas Ezekiel, of course, was explicitly promised that he was not sent "to a people of foreign speech".

With that exception, I think we can assume that his mission would be the same as Ezekiel's.
Let me see; that should mean that the message which God has given him should contain "words of lamentation and mourning and woe".
He would be sent both to the "wicked" and to those among the "righteous" who had fallen into sin, and his task in both cases would be to call them to repentance.
But he would presumably find that the peoples of the world were "of a hard forehead and of a stubborn heart", and that they would be unwilling to listen to him.

This mission , the final call to repentance, is made appropriate

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:48 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch11 vv1-8

This passage talks about the experience of the church under oppression.

And I'm going to be asking the question; who are "the two witnesses"?

The chapter begins with an echo of one of Ezekiel's visions. Ezekiel was shown an angel measuring out the future Temple of the Lord, and John is now told to do the same.
Ezekiel's Temple was being measured out because the Lord was going to return to it (Ezekiel ch43 vv1-5).
So the Temple in this chapter is being prepared for the Lord's return? So far, so good.

But there's an exception. The court outside the Temple must be left unmeasured, because it's going to be "given over to the nations", which seems to be another way of saying that they will "trample over the holy city".
This resembles the prediction made in Luke, that Jerusalem will be "trodden down by the Gentiles (Luke ch21 v24), which may apply to the Roman conquest of A.D.70.
And both passages can be seen as echoes of Isaiah's complaint, which presumably refers to the Babylonians;
"Thy holy people possessed the sanctuary a little while; our adversaries have trodden it down"- Isaiah ch63 v18
But there's also an echo of a different kind of unwelcome presence;
"Who requires of you this trampling on my courts?"- Isaiah ch1 v12
This is part of God's complaint against his own people, that their lives of immorality and injustice and unfaithfulness have been invalidating their worship.
The implication is that the holy place in this chapter is being overrun in both these ways.

We're told that the "trampling" will last for "forty-two months".
This ties in the event with the Beast, because the Beast is exercising authority (ch13 v5) for the same time-period.
So the "trampling" takes place at the same time as- or is another way of describing- the "war on the saints".
But IF the "war on the saints" belongs to a future time (which is the assumption I've been following),
And IF the "trampling over the holy city" is to be identified with the "war on the saints",
THEN the "trampling" belongs to that future time as well, which means detaching it from the events of A.D.70. It refers to an event comparable to the Roman conquest, not the conquest itself.

On the assumption that the "trampling" is the "war on the saints", we know what's happening from ch13. The second Beast is compelling people to receive the Mark, and putting them to death for failing to worship the first Beast.

But we must come back to the point that the Temple proper escapes all this. It was not "given over to the nations", but measured out for God. So what exactly is meant by this image?

We must consider the New Testament understanding of "the Temple". One of the best explanations comes from Paul, in 1 Corinthians ch3.
He's developing the metaphor that the Christian community is like a building, and then he draws attention to the fact that this "building" has a divine resident;
"Do you not know that you are God's temple, and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"- 1 Corinthians ch3 v16
(This is "you" in the plural, referring to the local community. The better-known verse about individual bodies comes later in the letter)
In the context, this is part of Paul's campaign against divisiveness. He's about to observe that anyone who breaks up Christian unity is effectively guilty of demolishing a sacred building.
But the insight has permanent value.
The indwelling of the Spirit within the Christian community itself is enough to make it the true "temple of God".

So the Beast has the ability to persecute the church. He might be able to control the outward structures of the church for his own purposes, as I suggest elsewhere in this series, and gain co-operation from the leadership and some of the members. He could be "trampling" the church in these different ways.

But all these things are nothing more than the "outer court" of the church. That first verse seems to be telling us that the spiritual core of the temple would remain intact and untouchable in the faithfulness of believers. It could not be overrun by the Beast, any more than it could be overrun by the Romans.
They would be refusing to take the Mark.
If Christian meetings, or unapproved Christian meetings, were forbidden, they might be meeting in secret, always wondering which of their "brethren" could be invited without risking betrayal, always fearing hostile and watchful neighbours. ("They're holding a party next door, and it's too quiet")

But there's also a more public response to the Beast, in the appearance of the "two witnesses", given power to prophesy during the same period (described as "1260 days", but this is just another version of the "forty-two months).

What can we discover about these witnesses?
One set of clues can be found in the power they've got available to them.
When the people disregarded the warnings of Jeremiah, and asserted that the Lord would do nothing and that his word was not in the prophets, the Lord's respnse was to say to Jeremiah;
"Because they have spoken this word, behold, I am making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them"- Jeremiah ch5 v14.
The point being that Jeremiah's warnings of judgement would be vindicated.
That power is visualised in the case of the two witnesses- which implies a similar promise.

Elijah was able, on one occasion, to shut up the sky so that no rain might fall, and so can the witnesses.
Moses was able to turn the waters into blood and bring down plagues, and so can the witnesses (but this is in the middle of the "seven trumpets", so these things will be happening anyway).
If they have the powers of Moses and Elijah, does this mean that they are, in a literal sense, Moses and Elijah?
I think not, because they're sharing those powers between them (and they're also sharing the power offered to Jeremiah, which is one too many).

I suggest, instead, that these powers are an indirect way of telling us that the two witnesses are resuming the tasks of Moses and Elijah.
The chief task of Moses was to stand up against the oppression of God's people coming from hostile power.
The chief task of Elijah was to stand up against the temptation of God's people coming from alien religion.
The external danger and the internal danger to the integrity of the community.
The seven churches addressed at the beginning of the book were being warned about the proximity of both kinds of danger.
Similarly the Beast would be offering both kinds of danger, and the situation would require both kinds of witness.
Wearing the sackcloth that indicates mourning and repentance, they would also, presumably, be resuming Jeremiah's warnings of oncoming judgement.

The other important clue is the information that the two witnesses are "the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand before the Lord of the whole earth".
The two olive trees appear for the first time in Zechariah, and Zechariah's told to identify them with the two "anointed ones".
For Zechariah's purposes, the two "anointed ones" are the king and the high priest. That is to say, they are Zerubbabel and Joshua (though Zerubbabel can't officially be called the king, because they're now subjects of the Persian empire).

If t

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:48 AM
a reply to: Klassified

You didn't answer one of my questions
Hitler was semi religious, big fan of Darwin as well

Now, wanna get back to my questions, please

Didn't think so

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:48 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch12 vv1-6.

I'll be focussing on the first of the "great portents" appearing in heaven, the woman seen in the middle of giving birth.

I'm going to be asking the question; who is this woman?

But the logical starting point, even so, must be the identity of the child.

We are told;
That the child is born.
That the child is male.
That he is to "rule the nations with a rod of iron"
And, finally, that he is then "caught up to God and to his throne".

Anyone who knows the gospels can recognise the basic outline of the story. The reference to the "rod of iron" comes from one of the psalms, where it belongs to an anointed king about whom the Lord has just said "You are my son, today I have begotten you."- Psalm 2 v7.
We can hardly identify the child as anyone other than Christ himself.

(And if this passage relates to the birth of Christ, it appears to be what a modern film director would call a "flashback" scene, interrupting the main flow of the story to fill in some of the background)

Who, then, is the mother?

There are two main schools of thought, so this is really going to be a matter of choosing sides.

On the one hand, there's a more literal approach, as favoured by the Roman Catholic Church. "If the child is Jesus, then the mother must be Mary". So the passage becomes part of their teaching about the Blessed Virgin, and the details of the picture become part of Catholic iconography.

On the other hand, there's a more symbolic approach. We can find materials for that in the passage itself. We can compare what we learn with the description of the "great Harlot" in ch17. And we can find further clues in some of the Old Testament prophecies.

Placed in Heaven

The very first thing John tells us in this chapter is that the woman is "clothed with the sun", that she has the moon at her feet, and that she has a crown of twelve stars on her head.
This ought to be reminding us of one of Joseph's dreams, when the sun and the moon and eleven stars were understood as meaning his parents and his brothers. It would appear that this woman has the whole family of Israel surrounding her.

The symbolic meaning of numbers is always very important in Revelation.

The woman is carrying "12" stars, and "12" is the number which points us towards the presence of God's people, based on the 12 brothers themselves and on the traditional 12 tribes of Israel.

The woman is "clothed with the sun", where people have seen a reference to the face of Christ in ch1 v16, "shining in full strength".

And the moon is at her feet. If the moon stood for Rachel in the original dream, then the implication of the subjection is that Rachel is being displaced as "mother of Israel", and that the version of God's people which she represents is being displaced.

Putting all these details together, it seems to me that the woman in this passage is primarily a symbolic figure, that she represents God's people; a newer version of God's people, focused upon Christ himself.

The woman who is not the "great Harlot"

This lady and the "great Harlot" of ch17 are one of the "contrasting pairs" of Revelation. I don't need to examine the Harlot in any detail- just enough to throw some light on the present passage.

The figure of the adulteress is one of the running themes of Old Testament prophecy, found in Hosea ch2, for example, and in Ezekiel ch16. The point is that she's a metaphorical figure, standing for spiritual infidelity. The "great Harlot" clearly belongs to the same tradition.

In Proverbs, there's an implicit contrast between the adulteress and the feminine figure of Wisdom, both offering themselves on the street, for different purposes.

I suggest that what we have in Revelation is a contrast of the same kind, between two different versions of God's people-

The "woman in heaven" is the faithful version
And the Harlot is the unfaithful version.

And the fact that the "woman in heaven" is being contrasted with a symbolic figure suggests to me that she herself is to be taken as a symbolic figure, rather than as an individual person.

Suffering in childbirth

In Micah, and again in Jeremiah, a woman representing Zion is shown suffering an anguish which is like that of a woman in childbirth, anticipating the oppression brought by Babylon.

But there's an interesting difference between the two treatments.

Jeremiah has been complaining that Jerusalem has been dressing herself in scarlet and ornamenting herself and beautifying herself for the sake of her lovers- acting, in short, like a model for the great Harlot herself. Then he goes on to describe the daughter of Zion as a woman "in anguish, as of one bringing forth her first child". The implication is quite clear, that the suffering resembling "birth-pangs" is the consequence of her previous life as the "scarlet woman". (Jeremiah ch4 vv30-31)

In Micah ch4 v10, the daughter of Zion is told to "writhe and groan like a woman in travail", because she's on the verge of travelling into exile in Babylon. But this is immediately followed by the promise of salvation. She's going to be ransomed and rescued in that place. There's no suggestion that she's going to give birth in Babylon, though the ambiguous wording of the Authorised Version might give that impression ("There shalt thou be delivered...").

Nevertheless, a birth does take place when we turn to the next chapter. This is where we find the well-known prophecy that a ruler in Israel will come forth from Bethlehem, a prophecy which Christians apply to Christ himself. he will be able to stand and feed his flock, says Micah, "when she who is in travail has brought forth" (Micah ch5 v3).

Is this the birth of the ruler himself, which is the usual Christian understanding? Or does Micah see a "saving birth" in the release of the captives, the fact that "the rest of his brethren shall return to the land of Israel"?

Either way, the point is that the previous association of birth-pangs with suffering (as found in Jeremiah), has now been turned into an association of birth-pangs with salvation.

In Revelation ch12, we find both associations.

The "birth-pangs" of the woman in heaven lead into salvation. The Christ is born as a member of God's faithful people.

At the same time, the suffering continues. The woman, escaping the power of evil, is forced to flee into wilderness.
That flight, incidentally, is the kind of thing which happens to a symbolic figure rather than a human individual, which is another reason, in my mind, against identifying the figure directly with Mary herself.

I have labelled this figure as "God's faithful people".
For Old Testament purposes, she represented Israel, or at least the faithful portion of Israel.
For New Testament purposes, she represents the church- or at least the faithful portion of the church.

The church has already been told that God has "raised us up with [Christ] and made us sit with him in the heavenly places" (Ephesians ch2 v6).
In that respect, the church has already become part of her place in heaven.

But the church in this life remains the church in struggle, with human enemies and with temptation. Revelation describes a time when that struggle is expected to

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:49 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch12 vv 7-11

This is about the downfall of "the great dragon", alias "the ancient serpent", alias the Devil, alias Satan, alias "the deceiver of the whole world", alias "the accuser of the brethren".

I'm going to be asking the question; when. and how, did Satan fall from heaven?

We can find one version of the story in Paradise Lost.
We learn about the great rebellion before the foundation of the world.
We learn about the hard-fought battles in heaven, and how Satan's force was driven off the edge of Heaven and fell into the Abyss;
"Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms".

Paradise Lost may well be the greatest poem of its length in the English language.
Nevertheless, Paradise Lost is not scripture.

Possible Biblical parallels for the event;

There's a frequently quoted source in Isaiah ch14 v12;
"How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn"- traditionally quoted in the "Lucifer, son of the morning" translation.
This really says nothing, though, about the timing of the event. The prophet is not talking about the past, necessarily, but foretelling what people will be able to say at some point in the future.
In any case, the verse is clearly labelled in the context as part of the prophet's taunt against Babylon.

There's a less ambiguous example in Luke's gospel. This comes out of the episode of the seventy disciples, chosen by Jesus and sent out ahead of him. They return from the mission "with joy", telling him that "even the demons are subject to us in your name."

His immediate response to this report is the declaration "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven"- Luke ch10 vv17-18

We need to understand that claim in a way that fits the context; that is, as a response to what his disciples have just told him.

If we assume that he's describing a Milton-style fall "before the creation of the world", then it's not easy to make sense of the reference as part of the conversation. It would make much more sense if there were some kind of connection between the Fall itself and the success they've been reporting, if he was describing the cause (or perhaps the effect) of their success in the mission field. That would be possible if the phrase "fall from heaven" could be understood as referring to a degree of fall from power.

How can Satan fall from power?

Well, where does his power come from, in the first place?

The name "Satan" come from the Hebrew phrase meaning "The Adversary".
It's also significant that he's described in Revelation ch12 as "the Accuser of the brethren".
Part of the Jewish understanding of Satan is that it's his function, as it were, to make our sins known to God, and draw them to his attention.
That makes him the kind of "Adversary" who would stand against us in a court of law.

That seems to be what he's doing in Job, walking up and down the earth, and reporting back to the presence of God (he seems to have forgotten about any previous "expulsion", and nobody bothers to remind him).

That's certainly what he's doing in Zechariah ch3.
Joshua the high priest stands in the presence of God.
Satan stands at his right hand to accuse him.
The intended accusation is certainly not a false accusation, because Joshua's iniquity is clearly visible, symbolised by his filthy garments.

In this episode, we can see a picture of the power which an Accuser can hold over humanity. It is not much different from that of an informant or a blackmailer.
Effectively, the power is based upon the possession of damaging information about human Sin.
Or, to be exact, it is based on the existence of human Sin, about which damaging information can be possessed.

The best way to deal with a blackmailer is to make his information useless.
That is exactly what happens in Zechariah ch3.
The Lord says to Joshua, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you"-Zechariah ch3 v4.
The filthy garments are removed, and replaced by clean ones. Satan's evidence has been taken away from him- he stands rebuked and silenced.

When you take away the Sin, you necessarily take away the power of the Accuser.

It's time now to turn to Revelation ch12, and see what it tells us about the downfall of Satan, and the way "the Accuser of the brethren" was overcome.

The chapter begins with a "great portent" seen in heaven, a woman giving birth to a child who is to "rule the nations with a rod of iron" (I‘ve already looked at this “woman in heaven“). The child is born and then "caught up to God and to his throne". The defeat and downfall of Satan follows immediately afterwards.

This goes a long way towards answering at least one of my original questions; the downfall of Satan occurs in the immediate context of the birth and ascension of Christ himself.

We are then told by a loud voice from heaven that the brethren have conquered him "by the blood of the Lamb".

The meaning of this phrase is well-understood by reference to the rest of the New Testament. "The Lamb" is a title given to Christ himself, in this book and in John's gospel, because of his death. "The blood of the Lamb" is a more specific reference to the same death.

So an Accuser who has been conquered "by the blood of the Lamb" has been conquered by the fact that Christ died on the cross.

The key to his defeat, as in Zechariah ch3, is the removal of Sin. We are told elsewhere that the Lamb of God "takes away the Sin of the world" (John ch1 v29).
And it is, of course, the central teaching of the New Testament that his death- his blood- was the means of achieving it.
"We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses." -Ephesians ch1 v7

And, as I said before- when you take away Sin , you necessarily take away the power of an Accuser.

So the brethren conquered the Accuser "by the blood of the Lamb"- they destroyed his power over their own lives by accepting the offered forgiveness.
They also conquered him "by the word of their testimony"- they were continuing to destroy his power over others by spreading the news of the offered forgiveness, even if it brought danger to themselves "for they loved not their lives even unto death".

The real meaning of the "battle in heaven", then, is what happened on the cross.
And the real meaning of the "fall from heaven" is that forgiveness became available because of what haopoened on the cross.
And that was how "the salvation and the power and the kingdom" of God and his Christ (v10) came into the world.

So, whatever Milton says, the story of the battle in heaven and the "Great Fall" is really nothing more- and nothing less- than a dramatised version of the doctrine of the Atonement.

In the previous topic, I described this chapter as a "flashback", interrupting the main flow of the story. How does it fit into the the plan of Revelation?

Firstly, it shows us the root of the apparent animosity of the powers of evil towards the followers of Christ, evident all through this book. That is to be understood as a reaction to Satan's "downfall".

But it also shows

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:50 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch12 vv12-17.

This is the second part of the story of the woman who was "seen in heaven", in the middle of giving birth, at the beginning of the chapter.

When I was considering this woman before, I thought the best way of understanding her was to treat her as a figure representing God’s faithful people.

Now I'm moving on to what happened next, and I'm going to be asking the question; what is the purpose of that flight into the wilderness?

The Psalmist says;
"Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it". (Psalm 96 v11)
All three parts of the created universe will be rejoicing together in praise, when the Lord comes "to judge the world with righteousness".

In Revelation ch12 v12, the heavens are rejoicing already, but the other two parts of the world must wait.
Heaven can rejoice, because the "accuser of the brethren" has been thrown down from it (as I was discussing in the previous topic).

Earth and sea, though, are still in trouble.
It may be the case that Satan's power is now limited, it may be the case that the real source of his power has already been destroyed; but, for exactly that reason, he comes down upon them now with all the proverbial ferocity of the mortally wounded animal.

He shows the ferocity in his pursuit of "the woman", because she's the one who gave birth to the "male-child"- that is, to Christ himself- who inflicted the mortal wound in the fist place.

There are some very pointed similarities between the story of his pursuit and the story of the Exodus.

It begins, of course, with the hostile power- Pharaoh in one case, and the dragon in the other.
In fact, Ezekiel describes Pharaoh as "the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams". (Ezekiel ch29 v3)

The serpent or dragon pursues the woman by pouring water out of his mouth, in the hope of sweeping her away in the flood.
Similarly, Jeremiah says about the power of Egypt against Judah;
"Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge.
He said, I will rise, I will cover the earth,
I will destroy cities and their inhabitants." (Jeremiah ch46 v8)

We're told in Revelation how the earth opens itself up and swallows the river.
Similarly, the Song of Moses says this about what happened to Pharaoh's army;
"Thou didst stretch out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them". (Exodus ch15 v12)

We're told how the woman escapes by being given "the two wings of a great eagle".
Similarly, this is how the Lord sums up the whole Exodus experience, when he speaks to Moses at Sinai;
"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles' wings and brought you to myself". (Exodus ch19 v4)

The final similarity, of course, is the culmination of both episodes in a successful escape into the wilderness, where the people will be "nourished" by their God.

There's a clear message in these parallels;
That God's people should be expecting to be oppressed- perhaps to the point of possible extinction- by hostility in a place of power, as at the time of the Exodus.
But that God himself will be able to preserve them by his own power- as at the time of the Exodus.

The woman is going to be nourished in the wilderness "for a time, times, and half a time".
Much debate has gone into trying to identify that period.
I‘ve given my interpretation elsewhere. There isn‘t space to repeat that here, so I'm going to content myself with a summary of what seems to be generally agreed;

That the phrase is intended to be understood as a total- "Three and a half times".
That the phrase refers back to the angel's declaration in Daniel ch12 v7 (where he's describing the time which remains before "the end of these wonders", the time during which the "holy people" would remain powerless).
And that this should be identified with the statement in Daniel ch9 v27, that "the prince who is to come" would be at war with God's worship for "half a week"- i.e., "three and a half days".

In other words. the concealment of God's people "in the wilderness" is understood to coincide with the hostility of that last, great, powerful ruler.

So, coming back to my original question, what's the purpose of that flight into the wilderness?

The most obvious answer, as in the Exodus parallel, is that God's people need to escape from the power of the oppressor. The church has to go "underground", as we would probably say nowadays. The persecuting power cannot grasp the church as a body, and can only seize upon the individuals who attract its attention ("the rest of her offspring").

However, there's another possible angle which may be worth considering.

Hosea ch2 contains a complaint, from the Lord, that his people Israel- his "wife"- have not been faithful to him in the land which he gave them. They've been learning corruption, and injustice, and idolatry. he proposes, therefore, to take their comforts away from them;
"I will put an end to all her mirth, her feats, her new moons, and all her appointed feasts".
And then he plans to take her into the wilderness, in order to complete the cleansing process, and to make it possible to renew the relationship;
"And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt". (Hosea ch2 vv11-15)

There is the possibility that something similar could be happening when the "woman" in Revelation ch12 is "taken into the wilderness". She too, perhaps, might have developed corrupt and idolatrous ways. She, too, perhaps,might benefit from an experience which would take her away from her comforts and temptations, and force her to focus once more on the essence of her relationship with God.

But there is one more purpose which must not be forgotten.
The final purpose of Israel's period "in the wilderness", in the days of Moses, was that it was a time of preparation for their entrance into the Promised land.

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:51 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch13 vv1-4.

There are two "Beasts" appearing in this chapter, and this is part of the description of one of them.

I'm going to be asking the question; how, and why, is this Beast dominating the world?

We're told that this Beast comes up out of the sea

So the first thing I need to do is to go down the much-travelled road back down to Daniel ch7, which is the place where Daniel sees four great beasts coming up out of the sea. These are always understood to represent four kingdoms, and we can identify most of them with reasonable certainty.

The "winged lion" is one of the characteristic sculptures of Babylon, and probably represents that empire.

The empire of the Medes and the Persians was politically lop-sided (most of the original power and territory had come from the Medes), and would be well represented by the "lop-sided bear".

Alexander's empire came into existence with legendary speed, and then fell apart into four distinct kingdoms. That makes it a natural match for the third beast, the winged and four-headed leopard.

The point is (without getting into the vexed question of the fourth kingdom) that these are all political powers. The Beast in Revelation, besides having the same origin, borrows physical features from all of them. So it is reasonable to conclude that the Beast is also a political power.

We're told that the Beast has ten horns

The horn is an Old Testament symbol of power, and there's a royal diadem here for each of them. Ch17 v12 identifies them as ten kings "who are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the Beast".

The symbolic meaning of number is always important in Revelation.
"10" has been described as the number of completeness of perfection. In my mind, the number "10" is pointing us towards "the full extent of the world". The implication is that the "ten" kings are ruling the world between them, and that the Beast is dominating the world with their assistance.

About that "one hour"; I've drawn attention, elsewhere, to the relationship between this "hour" and the "half-an-hour" specified in ch8 v1, which is the first portion of the "hour". This means that we can locate the "hour" to the period following the great catastrophe of the "Four Horsemen" in ch6. This is an important point of chronology, and I'll be coming back to it in a moment.

We're told that the Beast has seven heads

We can find two ways of interpreting this in ch17. The four-headed leopard of Daniel's vision authorises us to make use of a third, that the original political power is being subdivided. We can understand them as seven political powers.

The symbolic meaning of number is always important in Revelation.
"7" is the number which points us towards God.
If the Beast has seven heads, then God is involved. How so?

Well, in the first place, as Paul points out; "There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God...[the ruler] is the servant of God, to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer".(Romans ch13 vv1-4) So the political powers themselves, under normal cicumstances (that is, dealing with criminals), must be seen as acting in the service of God.

This doesn't necessarily cease to be the case even when they're acting directly against God's people. The prophets believed that the Babylonians were unconsciously acting as God's agents in the capture of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews.

In any case, they must fall under his limitation. Their power and authority, although ostensibly given them by the dragon, is only possible to the extent that God is willing to allow it.

We're told that the seven heads carry a blasphemous name

So the dominating political power thinks it's God? Yes, that rather goes with the territory. There is a reason why absolute monarchies are called "absolute". there is a reason why totalitarian states are called "totalitarian". Political power tends towards making its claim to obedience more and more unconditional, until the point is reached where it encroaches on the claim that belongs to God.

If each of the heads thinks it's God, that might suggest that they're dominating the world one at a time- in other words. that they're coming in succession rather than simultaneously. That thought is supported by the observation that the "haughty and blasphemous words" of v5 are only coming from one mouth.

We're told that one of the heads suffers a mortal wound

The wound is then healed. That's easy enough to understand if the "heads" are being taken to represent political powers. We've experienced the "mortal wound" of a political power in our own lifetimes, with the collapse of the Soviet empire, and the dismantling of the Soviet Union itself. Yet now an acute observer might be able to detect signs that the old Russian power was already beng resuscitated. That's an apparently mortal wound which has been healed, and a possible model for what's happening in this chapter.

We're told that the earth follows the Beast with wonder

The head is healed, and the wonder is attached to the Beast. As though the "wounded head" and the Beast were the same thing. The same is implied in v11- "...the first Beast, whose mortal wound was healed". That would make sense on the assumption that the seven heads were coming in succession, as I suggested before, and that the "wounded head" was the seventh and last in the series. Then each head, in turn, would be the current manifestation of the Beast for its own time, and the "wounded head" would be the current and final manifestation of the Beast by the time that we reached vv3-4.

We're told that men worshipped the Beast

My theory is that the World-state of ch13 is the natural product of the world-catastrophe of ch6.

In the chronology which I worked out in other topics, the "hour" when the Beast is reigning follows on from the catastrophic events of the "Four Horsemen".
I suggested that the Beast would be able to rise to power on the strength of leading and organising the world into recovery from the same.
I'm now going to suggest a way of correlating that argument with the present passage;

"The mortal wound"- The "seventh head" power collapses, or even disintegrates, under the impact of the "plague, war, famine, and death" of ch6. So does the rest of the world.

"The wound is healed"- But the "seventh head" itself makes a vigorous recovery, so that social order comes back to life with remarkable speed.

"The earth follows it with wonder"- The world reacts with astonishment, but also with enthusiasm, because the recovery of the "head" is pulling the rest of the world along with it, bringing the rest of the world back to life.

"The ten kings...are of one mind, and give over their power and authority to the Beast" (ch17 v13)-The rulers of the world in general fall under its leadership.

"And all authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it"-ch13 v7-8. That would be the natural consequence of everything that I've just described.

We would have to wait for these events to take place before the "seventh head" could be clearly identified. It might be one of the leading powers in

posted on Apr, 12 2016 @ 09:52 AM

The OP has asked me to share in this thread some of my interpretation of Revelation, which I gladly do.
The page will be put short by the character limit, but the rest can be found via the Index Thread linked in my first post.

I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch13 vv11-15, which describes the second of the two "Beasts" of that chapter.

I'm going to be asking the question; what is this Beast adding to his predecessor?

We're told that the second Beast rose out of the earth

Following on from the first Beast, which rose from the sea.
The earth and the sea were brought into the warning of ch12 v12;
"Rejoice, then, O heaven, and you that dwell therein!
But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath."

I suggest that these two figures, from the earth and the sea, are implicitly set over against, and contrasted with, the figure of Christ coming "from heaven". Then it would complete another reference to that three-way division of the universe, which is one of the running themes of Revelation.

What's the relationship between the first Beast and the second Beast?

My conclusion about the first Beast, on the one hand, was that it represented a political state.
On the other hand, I see no reason to question the standard assumption that the second Beast is a human individual.
Taking those two points together, that seems to settle the nature of the relationship.
They would relate in the same way that a political state relates to a human individual; the kind of individual, apparently, who makes people do things, a leader.

This looks like the kind of relationship that exists between an Empire and its Emperor.
History gives us a useful analogy for this, in the form of Nazi Germany.
We can say that the first Beast is to the second Beast as the Third Reich itself was to the person of Adolf Hitler.

The recognition of this relationship takes us a long way towards understanding the rest of the passage.

We're told that he exercises all the authority of the first Beast in its presence

That would be necessary from the nature of the relationship.

In theory, the Empire itself is the real source of authority.
In practice, the Empire cannot exercise authority in person, because the Empire is not a person.
So the Third Reich, as such, could not hold meetings with generals, or dictate letters to secretaries, or shout at incompetent subordinates and threaten to dismiss them. All these things, the practical exercise of authority, demanded the intervention of a human individual.
That was why it was necessary for Adolf Hitler to exercise all the authority of the Third Reich, "in its presence", as it were. Certainly in the presence of all the symbols of the Reich.

We're told that it makes the earth worship the first Beast

Arnold Toynbee, in "A Study of History", and other places, draws attention to a form of political religion which he calls "collective self-worship", when a society becomes its own god. As when Vespasian instituted the worship of the GENIUS POPULI ROMANI ("the spirit of the Roman people"). He finds it in the city-state loyalties of ancient Greece, and the nationalism of modern Europe. One of the classic examples, of course, is Nazi Germany, where the loyalty of the German nation was being focussed by Hitler upon an idealised and glorified vision of the German nation.

Toynbee foresees that this might be enlarged into a "collective worship of Humanity". I've already suggested that the first Beast, the world-state, would be able to rise to power on the strength of leading the world into recovery from a catastrophe. In those circumstances, it might be easy for the population of the world to recognise the world-state as a projection of themselves, and the second Beast could be encouraging them to do so.

"Collective self-worship of Humanity" would be the natural result, and there would be no need for compulsion- when did people ever need compulsion to worship themselves?

We're told that he makes fire come down from heaven

This, again, is about the promotion of worship. It imitates the story in which Elijah called down the fire to vindicate his god against the prophets of Baal. Perhaps it would relate to a reversal of what happened at Mt Carmel, in which the Beast appears to scatter the power of the Christian church.

The nearest equivalent in Hitler’s experience might have been that morning in 1940 when a successful Blitzkrieg allowed him to accept the French surrender at Compiegne. Surely that was the moment when he felt most clearly that his god, the Reich, had demonstrated its power and scattered its enemies.

We're told that he gets the people to make an image of the Beast

This, again, is about the promotion of worship. But an image does not need to be made of wood and stone. To illustrate that point, I would recommend the famous film footage of the Nazi rallies at Nuremberg. That was Adolf Hitler at work, using sight and sound to build an “image” of the glory of the German nation.

We're told that he can make the image speak

This was precisely what Adolf Hitler was doing at Nuremberg. He was “causing the image to speak” by being the spokesman (since his image could not speak for itself).

We were told in v5 that the original Beast "was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words", and the second Beast is later re-labelled as "the false prophet". That seems to confirm that the voice of the second Beast would be just as central to its leadership as it was in the case of Adolf Hitler.

So the two Beasts are in partnership, and the people's worship has a double focus.
In one sense, they are worshipping the Reich, or the world-state.
But, in another sense, their worship is focussed more narrowly upon the great leader himself.

We're told that it had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon.

In other words, he presents himself as Christ (the Lamb), but the actual content of his speech gives him away.

It's become the custom to call him "The Antichrist", although the title doesn't appear in this book.
I must admit I don't like using the label, because it carries so many associations from mediaeval fantasy and Hollywood fantasy and other speculations. All this baggage tends to confuse discussion of the figure found in Revelation.

Let's get back to basics and consider the definition.
The disciples were told by Jesus that "many will come in my name, saying 'I am the Christ'"- Matthew ch24 v5
The early church was told by John that "as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come"- 1 John ch2 v18
The natural and reasonable assumption is that both references to "many" are to the same kind of people, and that an "antichrist" should be understood as someone claiming to be the returned Christ (taking the Greek ANTI as "in place of").

Does this apply to the second Beast? There are certainly signs that Christ is being imitated, not only in the "horns of a lamb", but also in the business of "recovering from a mortal wound". I think the narrative is sending a sufficiently clear signal that he would, indeed, be claiming to be the returned Christ.

(Though he might, at the same time, be claiming other titles, such as Mahdi and Maitreya and Krishna, in order to broaden his appeal to the other cultures of the world)

But if he publicly claims to be the returned Christ, then he meets the definition of an "antichrist" and belongs to that category. Since

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