Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (XXIX)

April 15, 2010

I have not decided yet what to do for my next extended set of studies on the Book of Revelation.  So, I thought I would explore an effect that expands as the book progresses and reflect on that development.

Have you ever noticed the progression building in the following verses in the Apocalypse?

(4:5) “From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and thunder” (all Scripture citations are from the HCSB).

(8:5) “There were thunders, rumblings, lightnings and an earthquake.”

(11:19) “There were lightnings, rumblings, thunders, an earthquake, and severe hail.”

(16:18) “There were lightnings, rumblings, and thunder.  And a severe earthquake occurred like no other since man has been on the earth–so great was the quake.”

(16:21) “Enormous hailstones, each weighing about 100 pounds, fell from heaven on the people, and they blasphemed God for the plague of hail because that plague was extremely severe.”

Obviously, the addition of elements in 8:5 and 11:19 are a progression.  The accumulation of elements is designed to get the reader’s attention, wondering how much the expanding of effects will continue and where it is headed.

However, not as noticeable is the progression of movement in where the accumulating effects are found.  The first mention is stated to be “from the throne” of God Himself (4:5).  The second is somehow related to “the gold alter in front of the throne” (8:5).  The third is in connection with the opening of “God’s sanctuary in heaven” and the appearance of the ark of His covenant in that sanctuary” (11:19).  The final mention(s) originate from the throne and the sanctuary (16:18), accompanied by the words “It is done!” (16:17), and are poured out as the last of the seven bowls of wrath on Babylon the Great (16:18, 21).

What are to make of these clear progressions?  Without much question, it is a depiction of an escalating sense of imminent judgment that, for reasons only He knows,  God sees fit to withhold until it finally poured out in rapid, climactic Divine wrath.

However, what is particularly interesting to me is that, when the accumulated effects are finally poured out, it is targeted upon Babylon the Great (16:17-21).  Think about it: Babylon the Great is not even mentioned in the Book of Revelation until 14:8, and there is no real detail at all about who/what Babylon the Great is until after 16:17-21, i.e., until after the Lord has delivered them as the last part of His climactic cycle of judgment.

What are we to make of that?  At the very least, it is intended to make us sit up and take notice in regard to the identity of “Mystery (Greek musterion), Babylon the Great” (17:5).

As I have been writing, I have decided to follow up somewhat on this conclusion in my next post.  So, some further reflection on why God has it in for Babylon the Great next time!


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