Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (LXVIII)

July 27, 2010

We now come to Revelation 4-5, the first portion of the third part of the outline of the book previewed in 1:19: “the things which shall take place after these things” (italics mine)  Since 4:1 clearly says “after these things,” that is a fairly obvious structural clue that the longest section of the book is beginning at that point.

Chapters 4-5 are also Layer C in the inverted parallel structuring of the Apocalypse.  Its counterpart section (i.e., C’) is 20:1-10.  The predominant comparison/contrast between the two sections is that chapters 4-5 pictures the heavenly throne room, during the course of which description it is stated that those for whom Christ shed His blood would reign with Him on the earth (5:9-10), while 20:1-10 centers on that earthly reign with Christ (20:4-6).

Because chapters 4-5 take place in the heavenly throne room, there is nothing about “the earth-dwellers” at all in that section.  That changes in 20:1-10, though.  The mention that, while the Devil is bound in the abyss, “he could no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed” (v. 3, HCSB) is significant.  It is clear enough in this context that “the nations” is speaking of a group that is the effective continuation of the idea of “the earth-dwellers” on the other side of the Second Coming of Christ chronologically.  After the 1,000 years are completed, the force incited by the Devil, having been released from the abyss (v. 7), on “the saints” and “the beloved city” is called “the nations” and it is said they are “deceived” by the Devil to do his bidding.  They are also called “Gog and Magog,” which, in Ezekiel 38-19, is the name of a force that ambushes Israel from the north.  I am not going to join the debate over whether that prophecy is fulfilled in Revelation 20:7-9 or whether the phrase “Gog and Magog” is simply employed here in a proverbial manner.

The only thing about “the heaven-dwellers” in Revelation 4-5 is the material noted above in 5:9-10, which states that the blood of Christ was shed for those “from every tribe and language and people and nation,” and that those so redeemed would be “a kingdom and priests” to God and that they would “reign on the earth” (italics mine).  As stated above, 20:4-6 appears to be the earthly fulfillment of that prophecy.  In other words, the same group spoken of in 5:9-10, which, throughout the middle part of Revelation is clarified as being “the heaven-dwellers,” is those who rule with Christ in chapter 20, as the parallel wording (see 5:10) at the end of 20:6 strongly implies: “they will be priests of God and Christ, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years” (HCSB).  In addition, as inferred above, the references to “the encampment of the saints” and “the beloved city” (v. 9) must speak of some kind of continuation of the idea of “the heaven-dwellers,” just as those who attack them are somehow closely related to “the earth-dwellers.”

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