Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (XLVII)

May 19, 2010

As I begin to explore the successive parts of the “prelude” to the bowls of wrath sequence, which is made up of chapters 12-14 or 12-15–depending on how you look at it, as will be explained in a later post–it’s important to remember that there is very little agreement–certainly nothing approaching consensus–as to what this wider section is doing within the wider book.  In my long-considered opinion, a major reason that that is the case is that the unsealing and trumpets sequences grab the attention of the reader much like the action sequences in a movie, leaving the significant parts–which are not so “slam-bang,” comparatively unnoticed.

However, from a very logical standpoint, by the time you arrive at chapter 12, the so-called “interludes” in the earlier part of Revelation have already made a strong counter-argument to the apparent surface focus on the unsealing and trumpets sequences.  Think about it: even from a purely statistical perspective, the amount of space given over to the sequences of seven versus the “interludes” is surprisingly similar.

You may be thinking “It doesn’t seem that way to me.”  But, you–as I was for a long time–would be wrong.

Let’s look at the first cycle.  The first six seals removed in chapter 6 cover 17 verses, then the seventh seal is lifted in 8:1.  That means the unsealing totals 18 verses.

Compare that to the first interlude.  Chapter 7 is 17 verses long, the 144,000 covering verses 1-8 and the innumerable multitude in heaven verses 9-17.  That means the comparison between the two is a virtual statistical “dead heat.”

Things change somewhat when you get to the trumpets.  Chapters 8 and 9 cover 34 verses (13 in ch. 8 and 21 in ch. 9).  Then, the seventh trumpet is 11:15-19, another 5 verses.  That totals to 39 verses.

By comparison, the second interlude is 25 verses.  The first scene (chapter 10) is 11 verses long.  The second scene (11:1-14) is 14 verses long.

However, even though the second interlude is only roughly two-thirds as long as the trumpet judgments themselves, this comparison still served to get the reader’s attention to the point of making you think “Something is going on here that should be viewed as more center stage than just in the background of the trumpet judgments.”

I’m going to close today by piquing your curiosity.  Think about this until we meet again: the “prelude” to the bowls of wrath (i.e., Rev. 12-14) is 56 verses long (i.e., 18 verses in both chs. 12 and 13, then 20 in ch. 14).  In stark contrast, however, the bowls of wrath sequence is 29 verses (i.e., 8 in ch. 15 and 21 in ch. 16).

In other words, not only does the literary structure shift abruptly from interludes, with the unsealing and trumpets sequences, to a prelude with the bowls of wrath.  In addition, the prelude is twice as long as the judgment sequence itself.

Chew on that for awhile!

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