Seats v revelation outline for translation - part 1


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Seats v revelation outline for translation - part 1

  1. 1. Introductory MattersThe People to Whom the Book is AddressedThroughout the years there have been four typical ways of viewing the book ofRevelation.1. Already Fulfilled. All events of Revelation were fulfilled during the time of theRoman Empire.2. History of Time from Jesus until the end. Revelation is a panorama of churchhistory from the Apostolic era until the consummation.3. Not Yet Fulfilled. Beginning with Ch 4, Revelation describes the future eventsaccompanying the end of the age.4. Idealist. Revelation is not a representation of actual events, but is rather asymbolic depiction of the spiritual warfare between good and evil.It seems to me that each of these 4 ways has value for us but that we cannot simplylook at one as being primary. For example, it is clear that John was writing to agroup of people in the early church. Since this is true, obviously some of what he hasto say must have been fulfilled during that time. But we are not at that time and wealso believe that scripture can be applied to anyone, in any situation, in any time(every tongue, tribe, people, and nation). Thus we also can see how the otherapproaches add value to our understanding of Revelation today. To a certain extentthere is a series of descriptions of events that happened from the Apostolic perioduntil today but there are also clearly some parts that have yet to happen. One way toview prophecy is to see each one with a series of fulfillments. There is quite often animmediate fulfillment that happens during the time the events actually happened.Then quite often there is a second or third (or more) fulfillment throughout theages. Thus, while we firmly believe that John’s message was for the people of histime, and that fulfillment happened to a certain extent for them, we also firmlybelieve that John has a message for us today.So then how do we approach the book?The Church’s Situation in John’s DayFirst of all we need to look at the situation of the day.As Hendriksen says, "A sound interpretation of the Apocalypse must take as itsstarting-point the position that the book was intended for believers living in Johnsday and age." This is because first and foremost, everyone who writes a letter or abook has an intended purpose. John himself is given his purpose by Jesus: 1:10-11 –“I came under the Spirits power on the Lords day. I heard a loud voice behind melike a trumpet, saying, ‘Write on a scroll what you see, and send it to the sevenchurches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, andLaodicea.’” These are clearly churches that existed during that time, even thoughthey aren’t really around today anymore.
  2. 2. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 2So what was the situation in John’s day? Imagine if you will what things were like forthe early believers. The Gospel had been preached everywhere. This good news saidthat Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, Lord of heaven and earth; that Jesus wascrucified, died, and was buried; that Jesus rose from the dead; that Jesus reigns inheaven; and that Jesus will destroy the ungodly kingdoms of the world and will setup a perfect kingdom.But there was a problem: Some believed and some didnt. As Morris says, "Butnothing happened." The Church remained small, the empire remained strong andevil, oppression and injustice were everywhere, evil prospered, and the righteouswere persecuted.So what of the message of the Good News? Was there any hope? Did we reallybelieve the right thing to begin with? Is God really going to defeat evil and establishgood? When is Jesus going to come back?Morris says, “To a church perplexed by such problems Revelation was written. ... Itwas sent to a little, persecuted, frustrated church, one which did not know what tomake of the situation in which it found itself. John writes to meet the need of thatchurch.”Of course, if this is true, then the imagery and scenes in the book would need to beunderstandable to the people of John’s time. As Morris again says, “The illustrationswhich make the point are drawn from the contemporary Roman Empire, so that thebooks is securely rooted in a given historical situation. But the principles set out in itare of permanent validity. We see them in operation still.”Purpose of Revelation"To comfort the militant Church in its struggle against the forces of evil." 7:17-21; 21:4 God sees their tears 8:3,4 Their prayers are influential in world affairs Their death is precious in His sight. In 15:2 we see that their final victory isassured while in 19:2 we read that their blood will be avenged. Their Christ lives & reigns forever & forever. In 5:7,8 we see that He governsthe world in the interest of His church. We also see, in 21:22 that He is coming againto take His people to Himself in the marriage supper of the Lamb Finally, 1:12-20 tells us that Christ is with us.There is another purpose to this book. We also see throughout the book that thesovereignty of God is being taught. This is not only so that the church is comforted inthe midst of its own struggles, but simply because God is sovereign!Theme of RevelationIn reading Revelation, we also get the sense that "things are not what they seem."From the perspective of the early church, they saw the sin, evil, and unrighteousnessin the world and wondered why they seemed so powerless. Revelation looks at thevarious evil systems the world has and shows us what really lies behind them. For
  3. 3. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 3example, the Beast seems victorious [11:7-10] but in reality he is defeated [11:11,15]. In fact, it is Christ who is the victor [1:18; 2:8; 5:9ff; 6:2; 11:15; 12:9ff; 14:1,14;15:2ff; 19:16; 20:4; 22:3].The Saints’ Prayers seem unheard [6:10] but in reality God answers their prayers[8:3-5].Believers seem defeated but in reality they reign on earth [5:10], in heaven [20:4],and in the New Heaven & Earth [22:5].Like the Beast discussed above, the Dragon seems to conquer [12:3]. However, inreality he is conquered [20:10].Likewise the False Prophet seems to conquer [13:11] but in reality is conquered[19:20].Babylon also seems to conquer [14:8] but in reality is conquered [18:2].The second part of the theme comes out in 17:14, where we read, “They will go towar against the lamb. The lamb will conquer them because he is Lord of lords andKing of kings. Those who are called, chosen, and faithful are with him.”Structure of the Book1. Revelation 1: The Son of Man2. Revelation 2-3: The Seven Churches3. Revelation 4-7: The 7 Seals Opened4. Revelation 8-11: The 7 Trumpets Sounded5. Revelation 12-14: The Christ vs the Dragon and his Allies6. Revelation 15-16: The 7 Bowls Poured Out7. Revelation 17-19: Fall of the Dragons Allies8. Revelation 20-22: Victory Through ChristSymbolism in RevelationRevelation contains many different symbols, from numbers, to creatures, to visions,to ideas. This makes the book very hard to understand at times. I really don’t wantto create a list of the various symbols used in the book and their meanings.However, there are some key ideas and symbols that we can discuss and see howJohn uses them in his writings.Time. Shows the limitation of the hardship and persecution depicted here (and thatexists in the world around us today). It will not be endless!Sitting on the Throne. The key element in this thematic net is the throne. Theconcentration of “throne” in Revelation (45 times, compared to only 15 times in therest of the New Testament) is remarkable. Elisabeth S. Fiorenza wrote: -The majortheological motifs of Revelation are those of power and justice. The centraltheological symbol of the book is the throne signifying divine or demonic power.Sovereignty of God. A thematic macrostructure of Gods sovereign rule ties togetherthe entire text through a system of lexical links.The One Who Overcomes.
  4. 4. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 4Adultery & Prostitution as Spiritual Idolatry. Another surface element that binds thetext together is the use of words from the root porn to describe Gods enemies. Theself-designated prophetess Jezebel refuses to repent of her “adultery” (2:21).Babylon is the “prostitute” (17:1-5). The kings of the earth committed “adultery”with the great “prostitute” (18:3,9). The concept of fornication is joined with dogs,sorcerers, and liars in 22:15 . Each of these terms has a history of association withthe idea of doctrinal deviation, such as the use of “dogs” for heretics in Philippians3:2. The deep notional structure in Revelation, therefore, is a concern for doctrinalpurity and its corollary, moral purity. These notions consolidate the prologue (1-3),narrative sequence (4:1-22:7), and epilogue (22:8-21) into a single literary unit.The Number Seven. Of the many numbers used in Revelation, perhaps the mostprominent is the number 7. It is commonly understood to refer to completeness. Avariety of lists of 7 things is included in the book, such as Spirits,Angels/Messengers, Churches, Seals, Trumpets, Thunders, Bowls, etc.Chapter 1Chapter 1 is the introduction to the entire revelation. John is introduced and we seewhom the story is about and whom it is for. Jesus is described in detail (very strangeand picturesque detail) and these details are referred back to throughout the bookas John seeks to identify the “Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb who was slain.”The story is clearly for the church, both at the time of John and also during thepresent time. Here we also see the question answered by the book, found in 1:5-6.Jesus rules and made us to be a kingdom. “So where is the kingdom?” is the questionwe must ask ourselves. We also ask ourselves the question “The church of John’s day(and ours as well) needs “a reminder of the ultimate sovereignty of God and theimportance of continued loyalty and doctrinal integrity.”“The problem is stated in 1:6: God made them (the recipients) a kingdom, but theydo not appear to reign in their present milieu.” How do they reconcile this obviousdifference between the declaration of God and their day-by-day experience?We can divide the book into two sections. The first section describes the Church’spersecution by the world and how God participates in protecting and avenging them,ultimately becoming victorious over those who oppose Him and His church.Chapters 2-3Chapters 2-3 describe the present day of the church, from the time of the Apostlesuntil now (whenever that might be). Here we see a church thatSo how do we interpret the phrase “to the angel of the church at … write?” MWhat ismeant by the word “angel?” A look at the book of Revelation and how it uses thisword shows us that in chapters 2-3, the term seems to indicate humans, while in therest of the book, the term seems to be more traditional and seems to refer toheavenly beings. Perhaps, though, the kind of creature an angel is misses the point.Perhaps it might be better to look at what “angel” means. The word “angel,” at itscore, refers to someone who does the will of someone else. Notice throughout thebook, angels do not take the initiative. Rather they follow the lead of the “one who
  5. 5. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 5sits on the throne.” They are in fact helpers – some for Jesus and some for Satan.Thus, when we see this word used by Jesus in chapters 2-3, we can understand theseto be those who do the will of Jesus in the church, whether it is the pastor, theleaders, the members, or whoever else might be available. Someone who is servingthe church in behalf of God.Each letter follows a pattern that is common to all. 1. Greeting 2. A Title of Christ -- from Ch 1 3. I know ... 4. Criticism 5. Warning 6. He who has an ear. 7. To him who overcomes ...Ephesus Verdict: In Danger 1. Greeting To the Messenger of the church in Ephesus 2. A Title of Christ -- from Ch 1 These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 3. I know ... a. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. b. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 4. Criticism Thou hast left thy first love 5. Warning Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6. Who has an ear ... He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. 7. To him who overcomes ... I will give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of GodGroup Assignment. Analyze and discuss one of the remaining 6 churches inyour group. Identify the different parts of the outline showing which versesyou are using. What is the verdict for the church? Is your church like thechurch described in your group? Why or why not? Each group will presenttheir findings to the class.Smyrna Verdict: ________________ 1. Greeting 2. A Title of Christ -- from Ch 1 3. I know ... 4. Criticism
  6. 6. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 6 5. Warning 6. He who has an ear. 7. To him who overcomes ...Pergamum Verdict: ________________ 1. Greeting 2. A Title of Christ -- from Ch 1 3. I know ... 4. Criticism 5. Warning 6. He who has an ear. 7. To him who overcomes ...Thyatira Verdict: ________________ 1. Greeting 2. A Title of Christ -- from Ch 1 3. I know ... 4. Criticism 5. Warning 6. He who has an ear. 7. To him who overcomes ...Sardis Verdict: ________________ 1. Greeting 2. A Title of Christ -- from Ch 1 3. I know ... 4. Criticism 5. Warning 6. He who has an ear. 7. To him who overcomes ...Philadelphia Verdict: ________________ 1. Greeting 2. A Title of Christ -- from Ch 1 3. I know ... 4. Criticism 5. Warning 6. He who has an ear. 7. To him who overcomes ...Laodicea Verdict: ________________ 1. Greeting 2. A Title of Christ -- from Ch 1 3. I know ... 4. Criticism 5. Warning
  7. 7. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 7 6. He who has an ear. 7. To him who overcomes ...Chapters 4-5Chapters 4-5 describe the Ultimate Reality – those things that perhaps we forget onearth but Jesus reminds us of in this revelation through John. In all of the thingsdescribed we must take note of the fact that it is God on His throne who remains atthe center of the entire creation. No matter how marvelous or spectacular are theother things that are described, God Himself always remains at the center. This notonly provides hope for those Christians undergoing persecution, it also provides afocus for all of our theological reflection – any theology that does not acknowledgeGod as central and sovereign is suspect. Here is a picture of what the scene lookslike:
  8. 8. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 8F = Father & His throne. At the center of all 1. Jasper 2. Carnelian 3. Emerald Rainbow 4. 4 Living Creatures 5. 24 thrones of elders 6. Thousands of Angels 7. All other creatures of the Universe L = Lamb 7 Lampstands SeaBasic Outline of Chapters 4-71. The Church Exists with its various problems and blessings2. God exists at the center of it all3. God has a plan that only he knows4. John weeps because Gods plan cannot be carried out due to the unworthiness of all creatures in creation!5. The Lion/Lamb is Worthy to open, and thus begin, the plan of God!6. The Seven SealsChapters 6-7Chapters 6-7 describe the scroll and the 7 seals that need to be opened. It isessential for us to know that each of the list of 7 things are all different perspectivesof the same events – that same time period as described in chapters 2-3, namely thetime period of the church, from the time of the Apostles until the present time. Inmany ways these seals seem to describe natural events that cause death on theworld. What we learn here, however, that God’s plan in the midst of a dead anddying world is to seal and save a people for himself. Throughout the 7 seals, we seethe continual hand of God in controlling and limiting those things that happen on theearth. Each rider is “given” his power and authority, which implies that it is limitedand not eternal.Chapter 7 describes the peak of this part of the book. Here we see that the sealing ofthe 144,000 is one of the main focuses of John’s revelation. This helps us understandone of his goals in providing an answer to the people of his day who have not yetexperienced the full promises of God. In response, John describes a key scene inheaven – something that is discussed in other parts of the NT – namely the sealing ofGod’s people. This sealing is not limited to a certain number of people, however. The144,000 talked about in vv1-8 are seen to be a great multitude. This multitude,although presented in “Israel” terms, in fact reflects and includes people from everytribe, nation, language, and people. The seals are divided into 4 then 2 then 1.
  9. 9. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 9The Scoll and the 7 SealsWhat does it represent? Hendriksen says, "The meaning is this: the closed scrollindicates that plan of God unrevealed and unexecuted. If that scroll remains sealedGods purposes are not realised. His plan is not carried out. To open that scroll bybreaking the seals means not merely to reveal but to carry out Gods plan.""If the scroll is not opened it means that there will be no protection for Godschildren in the hours of bitter trial; no judgments upon a persecuting world, noultimate triumph for believers; no new heaven and earth; no future inheritance."Morris agrees with Hendriksen and says, "The book is surely that which contains theworlds destiny, and its contents are revealed to us pictorially as the seals arebroken."That is why John is so sad when he sees that no one can open the scroll. How then willGods plan be carried out if no one can open it up and start the process? Finally achampion is found! He is the "Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David." But whenJohn sees the Lion he looks like a lamb that had been slain. Of course we know this isJesus since these are words that have been used to describe Jesus before.So let’s look at the seals as the Lamb opens them.Seal 1 White HorseThe rider on the white horse had the power to conquer. It is interesting to note thathere John uses a phrase “was given ...” to describe the authority by which the riderwas able to do his actions. This is a formula that John uses when he wants to talkabout the sovereign permission to do things that, from a human viewpoint, seemcontrary to Gods character but nevertheless accomplish his will. These actorsinclude those coming from the abyss (9:1,3,5), the beast (13:5,7), and the falseprophet (13:14,15). The one seated on the throne is the only one who has realauthority.Seal 2 Red HorseThe rider on the red horse has the power to take peace from the earth and to makepeople kill each other. Some say that this means he has the power to persecuteChristians and certainly that is included here. However, it is important for us to seethis as happening to anyone who lives on the earth. Note also that any authority therider of the red horse has also been granted to him.Seal 3 Black HorseThe results of the rider of the black horse’s activities result in the proclamation thatbread will cost so much that one day’s wages will be enough to feed only one manfor a day. However, note that other necessary food items such as oil and wineabound! Some see this as referring to famine. Others see it as referring to inflation.Regardless, it is something whose power is limited. Economic oppression is notendless – God limits the power to a manageable amount.Seal 4 Pale Horse
  10. 10. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 10The rider of the pale horse is given power to kill by sword, famine, plague, wildanimals. But even though he is called Death and is joined by Hades, his power, too, islimited. Notice that only ¼th of the world and no more. Some also see this asapplying to the persecution of Christians however, since death comes to all men it isbest to see this too as applicable to all on the earth.These first 4 seals are a view of the world as we see it. People conquering and beingconquered, war and peace, death and dying, sickness and tragedy, famine, plague,and other hardships abound. One thing we can learn from reading this prophecy isthat all of the power given to these things – things that seem so powerful to us today– is in fact given. Evil has no power of it’s own. Death has no power of it’s own. Thesituation of our life has no power of it’s own. The one seated on the throne is theonly one with authority to do anything. So what then does that mean for believers?Let’s take a look at the last 3 seals as God’s plan continues to be revealed.Seal 5 Souls of those killedHere is where we see the difference with other apocalyptic works and where we seethe hope for the church! Most other writings of this type focus on judgment andpunishment. Here John adds hope for his readers, who are in the midst of death,persecution, and hardship. Here we see the question that is on everyone’s lips:“What about us oh God? Have you forgotten?” The souls of those who have beenmartyred cry out to God for justice. God does give an answer here. He promises toact once the time is right. This means there is hope because the death andpersecution are limited and not endless! And the answer is only a seal away (seeSeal 6)! In Seal 6 we see the punishment on the wicked.Seal 6 The end of the world!The Wicked PunishedNote that here the Lamb is the one who has wrath. At the beginning of the seals he isthe one who has been slain. Now at the end of time we see him as being the judge. Iguess this is part of being the lion of the tribe of Judah!“Who every heard of a lamb being angry? What a terrible thought -- the gentlest ofall Gods creatures being angry! It is the wrath of love, the wrath of sacrificial lovewhich, having done the absolute utmost for us and our salvation, tells us as nothingelse could the certainty with which evil awaits its doom at the hand of God.”Torrance/Morris, 108-109In this account of the end of the world, notice how there are two groups of 7 that aretalked about. Since 7 is the number of completeness we can see here that thisjudgment is complete.The first group of 7 is things: Earthquake, Sun, Moon, Stars, Heavens, EveryMountain, and Every Island. This is a complete breakup of the cosmic system. Butnote 7:3 "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on theforeheads of the servants of our God." There is hope in the midst of destruction, atleast for those who are sealed.
  11. 11. South East Asian Theological Schools, Inc. Revelation Outline Part 1 11The second group of 7 is classes of people: Kings, Princes, Generals, Rich, Mighty,Slave, and Free. Here we see that “No enemy of God, no matter what his position insociety, will escape the terrors.”Here also is much hope for those believers who are caught in this time. An angelarrives “from the east ...” East is a significant Bible word. Ge 2:8 Eden was in the east Ez 43;2 Glory came to the Temple from the east Mt 2:1-2 Wise men came frm the east Mt 2:1-2 Messiah would come from the eastAnd what happens is indeed a blessing since John describes the sealing or securingof the 144,000. This is a wonderful promise for the future. 7:16 says, “Never againwill they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,nor any scorching heat.” The sealing is in effect a protection against the 4 windsbeing held back by the 4 angels.So of course the question we all have is, “Who are the 144,000?” Note that the listincludes 12,000 each from 12 tribes of Israel. Note, however, that Dan is missingfrom the list and Joseph in mentioned instead of his son Ephraim. Three verses canhelp us with this:7:9 talks about “a great multitude that no one can number.” These are the peopleJohn sees immediately after the sealing so this group must be the group that issealed. They are described as being “from every nation, tribe, people, and language.No one was able to count how many people there were.”14:1-5 discusses the 144,000 at length. John says, “I looked, and the lamb wasstanding on Mount Zion. There were 144,000 people with him who had his nameand his Fathers name written on their foreheads. Then I heard a sound from heavenlike the noise of raging water and the noise of loud thunder. The sound I heard waslike the music played by harpists. They were singing a new song in front of thethrone, the four living creatures, and the leaders. Only the 144,000 people who hadbeen bought on earth could learn the song. These 144,000 virgins are pure. Theyfollow the lamb wherever he goes. They were bought from among humanity as thefirst ones offered to God and to the lamb. Theyve never told a lie. They areblameless.”Clearly this is describing believers. The assurance for John’s readers is that theyhave been sealed and that those sealed will be protected when the time comes.Seal 7 The 7 TrumpetsSeal 7 leads to the 7 Trumpets. This ties the two together that we can see they aredescribing the same series of events from a different perspective. The seals revealedthe plan of God. The trumpets sound the warning of God to the world – that God willintervene in the world’s affairs so that He is glorified.