Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (LXXVI)

July 31, 2010

Having now tracked the whereabouts of “the earth-dwellers” and “the heaven-dwellers” through every nook and cranny, so to speak, of the Book of Revelation in the past several posts, I am now going to shift gears.  There was a lot to be worked through to gain a full sense of the scope of usage—and intended significance—of those two groups in the Apocalypse, more certainly than I had realized, even though I had been thinking seriously off-and-on about the role of “the earth-dwellers” and “the heaven-dwellers” for well over a decade.  But, now, having gauged that role far better than ever before, it is now time to move on to another interlocking way of approaching the book that I think has great potential for gathering up, and weaving together, whatever “loose ends” may still be out there, in order to get the best possible grasp on the overall message of Revelation.

What I am going to be doing in this next mini-series of posts is taking apart, then putting back together, the chiastic structure of the Apocalypse in even more detail.  You see, not only is the overall book shaped in an inverted parallel manner.  So is every subsection of that overall mirroring structure.

Now, I know that sounds overly intricate, especially for a book as complex as Revelation.  However, I simply respectfully request that you withhold judgment on that front until you have seen the evidence for it.  That’s what I had to do when I was first approached by (now Dr.) Michelle Lee back in the mid-90s in regard to her first thoughts on an overall chiastic outline for the book.  It seemed completely far-fetched to me at that point.  But, she was right—even though I have made a few small adjustments to her initial perspective, the macro-structure I will be working with for the next group of posts is still at least 90% Michelle’s original idea.

Before laying out my tweaked version as a base to start from, allow me to make a couple of comments as to what I hope to get from working through this material in this way: 1) While I feel that I have a very good grip on the flow of Revelation following the conventional outline, I am not yet comfortable with being able to see the full scope of what the chiastic outline is seeking to communicate to the reader, so this more detailed trek to the “twin peaks” of the inverted parallel structure of the Apocalypse will definitely help in that regard; and 2) Having just completed a survey of “the earth-dwellers” and “the heaven-dwellers” over the same “ground” in the same inverted parallel manner, I expect to see previously unnoticed tidbits concerning those two groups peeking through the cracks of the micro-structure of the book in ways I never have before.  Some of these passages have been broken down in this way in previous posts, but I am going to risk duplication/redundancy because I just might see things I did not even a few weeks or months ago, given the “lenses” I now have from so recently studying “the earth-dwellers” and “the heaven-dwellers” much more closely.

The following is the overall chiastic macro-structure of Revelation—with some broad observations about “the earth-dwellers” and “the heaven-dwellers” riding shotgun, so to speak:

A (ch. 1) Introduction, including the “preaching texts” of the book (1:7) and its first beatitude (1:3), which pairs content-wise with the sixth beatitude (22:7)

B (chs. 2-3) God’s people in the seven churches in Asia Minor, including introducing Jezebel (2:20-23), the contemporary parallel to Babylon the Great, and the first use of the wording “earth-dwellers” (3:10)

C (chs. 4-5) The heavenly throne room, where it is first said that those whom the Lamb (holding a seven-sealed scroll) died for from all the nations will eventually reign on the earth

D (ch. 6) The first six seals are removed from the scroll and “the earth-dwellers” are identified as those who killed the martyrs under the altar in heaven (i.e., already “heaven-dwellers”; 6:9-11)

E (ch. 7) One group of “heaven-dwellers” (the 144,000) is sealed on earth and another (the innumerable multitude from every nation) is taken to heaven to serve the Lord

F (chs. 8-9) The latter trumpet judgments are said to be focused “woes” upon the “earth-dwellers” (8:13)

G (chs. 10-11) John is set apart to prophecy that the beast will kill the two witnesses in Jerusalem, “the great city,” and the “earth-dwellers” will celebrate as a result, though the witnesses resurrection/ascension will trigger a great revival of probably both Jews and Gentiles (11:13)

H (12:1-6) The birth of Christ and His ascension long ago is the ultimate reason why a corporate righteous Jewish “woman” made up of new believers (see 11:13) flee to the wilderness to be protected by God

I (12:7-17) As the expulsion of the Devil from heaven is explained, the “heaven-dwellers” are finally introduced by name (12:12) and it is said that Satan’s wrath will be focused on the earth from that point forward

J (ch. 13) Mid-point “peak” I: Worshiping the beast (because you are an “earth-dweller” [13:8]) and persecuting killing the “saints” because the “heaven-dwellers” are out of reach (i.e., in heaven)

J’ (chs. 14-15) Mid-point “peak” II: Fearing/glorifying the Lamb (or suffering the eternal consequences of not being a “heaven-dweller”), including the second beatitude of the book (14:13), which pairs with the fifth beatitude (20:6)

I’ (ch. 16) God’s wrath is focused on “the earth-dwellers” (16:2, 6, 7, 9, 11) and Babylon the Great (16:17-21), as well as the third beatitude of the book (16:15), which pairs with the fourth beatitude (19:9)

H’ (17:1-6) The evil corporate image of the woman, Babylon the Great, is stated to be responsible for the deaths of many believers

G’ (17:7-18) “The great city” is revealed to be Babylon the Great (17:18), whom the beast will betray, before being defeated by Christ and the “heaven-dwellers” with Him

F’ (ch. 18) The final extended “woes” of the trumpet judgments are stated over Babylon the Great, who receives the punishment earlier predicted to come upon the “earth-dwellers” (3:10; 8:13) for martyring God’s people (18:20, 24; see 6:10)

E’ (19:1-10) including the fourth beatitude of the book (19:9; see its pairing in 16:15)

D’ (19:11-21) Christ and His armies of “heaven-dwellers” instantaneously climactically defeat the gathered armies of “earth-dwellers”

C’ (20:1-10) God’s people reigning with Christ for 1,000 years, including the fifth beatitude of the book (20:6; see its pairing in 14:13)

B’ (20:11-22:5) God’s people—pictured initially as a bride—as “new-heaven-and-earth-dwellers” after all “earth-dwellers” have been sent to eternal torment

A’ (22:6-21) Conclusion, including the last two beatitudes of the book (22:7 [see its pairing in 1:3] and 22:14, which stands alone, as a closing evangelistic offer for any unsaved reader who will believe)

I will pick up with the smaller chiastic structures in Layer A in the next post.  If you have never seen this sort of thing before, get ready to be surprised, particularly as to how little “forced” any of it is.  Also, don’t be completely shocked as you come to realize more and more how much this perspective contributes to your understanding of why Revelation was given to us as the last book of inspired Scripture.


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