Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (LXXII)

July 29, 2010

Revelation 10-11 is the “interlude” in the trumpet judgments series, as far as the conventional outline is concerned.  It is also the first half of the G Layer of the chiastic structuring of the book, with 17:7-18 being the counterpart passage (G’) in the second half of the book.

In this interlude, the only explicit reference to “the earth-dwellers” is in 11:10, where the wording is used twice in describing the unbelieving world of that time’s glee at the death of God’s two witnesses.  However, that does not mean that there are no other references to the non-elect, which 13:8 and 17:8 make clear is fundamentally who “the earth-dwellers” are.

The two other passages in the G section that, to me, fairly obviously speak of “the earth-dwellers” are: 1) 10:11; and 2) 11:8, 9.  With 10:11, while the mention of “many peoples, nations, languages” likely looks ahead to part of the mass conversion in 11:13, “kings” would have to preview passages like 17:12ff. and 18:9 and 19:18, 19, all of which unquestionably have to do with “the earth-dwellers.”  The wording in 11:9–“the peoples, tribes, languages, and nations”–probably, in light of 11:13, is partly “earth-dwellers” and partly “heaven-dwellers.”  In 11:8, though, even though “the great city” being mentioned is undoubtedly Jerusalem, since that wording usually refers to Babylon the Great (see, e.g.,  16:19; 17:18; 18:10), the reference in 11:8 must be considered very close to saying “the earth-dwellers,” at least in a generalized sense.

In regard to where “the heaven-dwellers” are to be found in G (chs. 10-11)–besides John himself, who plays a prominent role in chapter 10, I think the answer to that is “as easy as 1, 2, 3”: 1) 11:3; 2) 11:13; and 3) 11:18.  In 11:3, the two witnesses would have to be considered “heaven-dwellers,” given that they ascend to heaven in 11:12.  Second, since the response of the onlookers to the witnesses’ ascent to heaven in 11:13 is the same as the content of the eternal gospel in 14:6-7, those who so respond are realized to be “heaven-dwellers” at that point.  Finally, the reference to “Your servants the prophets… the saints, and… those who fear your name, both small and great” in 11:18 certainly is talking about “heaven-dwellers.”

In G’, 17:8, like 13:8, reminds the reader that “the earth-dwellers” are the non-elect.  Later in that section, the discussion about “kings” in 17:12ff. certainly is dealing with “earth-dwellers.”  Finally, the explanation about “the great city” in 17:18, which is Babylon the Great–who is seen to be “intimately” related to “the earth-dwellers” in 17:2, means that this entire section is talking at least indirectly about “the earth-dwellers.”

As to where “the heaven-dwellers” are found in G’, the answer is 17:14b: “Those with [the Lord of lords and King of kings] are called and elect and faithful” (HCSB).  Since such a description would hardly be fitting for angels, it seems almost certain that 17:14 and 19:14 are both speaking of the same set of circumstances, and the armies described in those passages are none other than “the heaven-dwellers.”

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