Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (XXXVIII)

April 30, 2010

This post is going to be pretty short.  The “things to do” list is long, the hours available are limited and my wife and I are headed to a conference right after I leave the office.

I’m going to begin my discussion of the second scene in the second “interlude” in Revelation with an observation about a wider phenomenon seen throughout the book.  In one sense, it is a very simple thing.  However, from another angle, it does help the reader “track” the movement of the book more easily by taking note of what I’m about to explain.

In biblical narrative, the movement would be from one place to another… here on earth.  In apocalyptic, however, the movement is back and forth between earth and heaven.

It works this way throughout the entire Book of Revelation.  For an immediately relevant example, in the first interlude (ch. 7): 1) the sealing of the 144,000 (7:1-8) takes place here on earth; but 2) “the great multitude which no one could count” has just arrived in the heavenly throne room (7:9-17).

This kind of up-and-down (as opposed to sideways, like tennis or ping pong) progression is also found in the second interlude (10:1-11:14), but it is more subtle and nuanced than what was just pointed out in chapter 7.  At the beginning of chapter 10, a very large angel comes down out of heaven (10:1) and the rest of the scene takes place here on earth.  At first glance, though, it appears that all of the second scene (11:1-13) remains here on earth.  That is not the case, however.

In quick overview, here’s what happens: after the Divinely-allotted period of the ministry of the two witnesses (“1,260 days”; 11:3), the Beast (the first mention of the Antichrist figure in the Apocalypse) kills them (11:7).  They then lie in the streets of Jerusalem (“where also their Lord was crucified”; 11:8) for “three and a half days.”  At the end of that time, they are raised from the dead and taken up into heaven (11:11-12).  Immediately, what appears to be a great revival–if fearing God and glorifying Him has the same meaning it does in the climactic preaching of “the eternal gospel” in 14:6-7 (and there is no good reason why it would not)–breaks out (11:13)!

I will discuss the significance of the apparent “revival” in the next post.  But, for now, considering what the crowd reacted to at that point is our focus.  When you ponder only the descriptions of the ministries/works of this “dynamic duo” in 11:5-6, Elijah and Moses quickly come to mind–and, it must be remembered that at least an “Elijah figure” (beyond John the Baptist) was prophesied to appear “before the great and awesome Day of the Lord comes” (Mal. 4:5, HCSB).  When you look only at two figures ascending into heaven, you tend to think of Enoch and Elijah.  However, when you back off and contemplate a miracle-worker who died in Jerusalem, was raised roughly three days later and ascended into heaven in a cloud (see Acts 1:9) while people watched, you obviously think of… Jesus!

Could this imagery have anything to do with the citation of Zechariah 12:10 in Revelation 1:7–not to mention in Matthew 24:30?  After all, in the context in Zechariah 12, it certainly appears that there is true repentance (maybe saving faith?) when those present in Jerusalem look on Him whom they have pierced.  And, this is one of only a couple of places in Revelation where the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10 might be fulfilled.

Think about it… .

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