38_ Reading Revelation

38_ Reading Revelation - Revelation What is Revelation...

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Unformatted text preview: Revelation What is Revelation? Apocalyptic literature (sometimes called the Apocalypse) There are numerous apocalypses: Jewish, Christian, and Pagan. From an examination of these extant sources: An apocalypse is revelatory literature given within a narrative framework by God to a human seer through an other worldly mediator that discloses future events, other worldly realities, and eschatological salvation by which present earthly circumstances are interpreted and is intended to affect the understanding and behavior of the audience in the present. Ways of Reading Revelation Preterist Historicist Futurist Idealist Read in its first century context addressing the issues that were facing the firstcentury church Some preterist readings limit the events symbolized in Revelation to the fall of Jerusalem or the fall of the Roman Empire. Read as a forecast of events leading up to the interpreter's own time All events read as belonging to a future time from the interpreter's point of view Revelation does not point to specific events but to basic principles by which God acts in the course of history All these methods are needed to read Revelation The author wrote to address his own immediate situation in the first century pointing to impending future events and final consummation pointing to the forces and principles behind human history. Any method, however, that makes Revelation irrelevant for its first audience ought to be rejected. Therefore, we need to start from the "preterist" perspective. What did Revelation mean to its first auditors? How did it function to address their situation and further their Christian commitment? Pictures in Revelation The Picture of Final Consummation (Rev 19:622:5) Parousia (19:1116) Final of judgment of the righteous and wicked (20:1115) Restoration represented as: A new heaven and a new earth (21:1) A New Jerusalem (i.e., the redeemed saints) in the new heaven and earth (21:2; 21:922:5) The people of God together with the heavens and the earth will be transformed into a new creation A New Heaven and Earth (cf. Isa 65:1618; 66:22) In what way will it be "new"? There will be no more night (21:25; 22:5; cf. Gen 8:22) Heaven has come to earth. There will be an unceasing and unhindered display of God's glory (21:23; 22:5). There will be no more sea (21:1; cf. vv.34) The sea in Revelation is: Origin of cosmic evil and of the rebellious nations who persecuted God's people. The primary location of the world's idolatrous trade activity and the place of the dead. A literal body of water as a part of the old creation Thus, in the new creation there will be no more threats to God's people from Satan or the rebellious nations. There will be no more death or mourning or pain (cf. Isa 51:1011). There will be nothing to divide God's people from one another. All of this will come about because God will dwell among His people in this new heaven and earth (v. 3). A Picture of the redeemed saints in A New Jerusalem intimate fellowship with God. (21:9 22:5) The city contains 12 gates inscribed with the tribes of Israel and 12 foundations inscribed with the names of the apostles (21:914). This represents the redeemed people of God (cf. 7:4, 9). The descent of the New Jerusalem is represented as a marriage (cf. v. 2) and the saints have already been represented as the bride for the coming Lamb in 19:78. God will dwell permanently with His people indicated by the angel measuring the city (21:1517). God has "prepared" His bride, i.e., chosen a people, for Himself to reflect His glory throughout the ages. This is indicated by all the materials of the city which are luminous and designed to reflect and refract light (21:1821), i.e., the radiance of God's glory (cf. v. 11). There is no hindrance to direct, immediate enjoyment of God's presence. This is because nothing that can defile will be present in the new heaven and earth, thus there is no Temple and the gates never close in the New Jerusalem (21:2227). There is a return to paradise. There is unhindered access to the tree of life because the curse has been removed, thus sin with all its consequences has been destroyed. Revelation, as in Jewish apocalyptic thought, represents the time preceding this shift of the ages as a great period of suffering associated with God's judgment. God's people must endure through this time of suffering (cf. 2:10; 6:911; 7:14; 11:7; 13:7; 14:12 13) The Picture of the Church on Earth 7 letters to 7 churches (Rev 23) Characterization of the church on earth: Backsliding (EphesusSardis) Heresy (Pergamum) Tolerance of immorality (Thyartira) Lukewarmness (Laodicea) Martyrdom (SmyrnaPhiladelphia) Conclusion: This is not a church facing official statesponsored persecution. It is a church that is facing the temptation of assimilating into the dominant imperial culture and losing the power of its witness to Jesus Christ. The Purpose of Revelation Antiassimilation literature Revelation is written to prevent assimilation into the dominant culture and preserve Christian identity. Revelation does this by presenting seven visions of the cosmic conflict between God and the forces of evil that are behind the dominant imperial cultural of the Roman Empire. Ultimately assimilation will result in ultimate disaster while fidelity will result in the participation of God's final resolution. (Rev 21:58) Frodo's Vision The Picture of God and the Lamb in Heaven Rev 45 Picture of triumphant worship. God and the Lamb are enthroned over creation. (ch. 4) The Lamb is given the sealed scroll of destiny. Only he is worthy to break the seals and set in motion God's redemptive will upon the earth. (ch. 5) Rev 622 Seven cycles of visions about effecting God's will on earth All visions cover the same material concerning the shift of the ages but from varying perspectives (not chronological linear sequences but recapitulations) 7 seals Suffering 7 trumpets The roots and role of Roman power 7 agents of judgment Judgment 7 plagues of wrath The roles and result of Roman power CONSUMMATION Time after the period of great suffering Birth pangs of the new age Clues to how the symbolism of the previous visions should be interpreted Evidence for Recapitulation for the Visions in Revelation All visions begin with a scene in heaven 4:1; 8:2; 11:19; 14:15; 15:1; 17:12; 19:110 Visions end with impending final judgment 6:127:17; 11:1518; 14:1420; 16:17 21; 18:124 ...
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