Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (LXXIX)

August 5, 2010

The third layer of the inverted parallel structuring of the Book of Revelation is composed of chs. 4-5 (C)  and 20:1-10 (C’).  Chapters 4-5 portray John being called up into the heavenly throne room (i.e., where God reigns without question) in his vision, as well as a promise that the redeemed will reign on the earth (5:11).  The “pairing” passage describes Christ–who is the Lamb in chapter 5–reigning for 1,000 years with those to whom the promise was given in chapter 5.

The following is the internal “mirror” effect in chapters 4-5 (C):

a (4:1-8a) The One seated on the throne, the 24 elders, the seven spirits and the four living creatures are described.

b (4:8b-11) The four living creatures and the 24 elders praise the One on the throne.

c (5:1-4) John cries because no one was found worthy to open the seven-sealed scroll.

d (5:5) The Lion of Judah is proclaimed to be victorious and worthy to open the seals on the scroll.

d’ (5:5-7) The Lamb who was slaughtered (see v. 9) takes the scroll from the One seated on the throne.

c’ (5:8-10) The four living creatures sang a new song because the Lamb is found worthy to open the scroll due to His redemptive death

b’ (5:11-13) Angels, the four living creatures, the elders and every other creature praise the One on the throne and the Lamb.

a’ (5:14) The four living creatures and the elders fall down and worship.

In analyzing the above structure, I do not have time today to go into depth.  So, I’m just going to throw out a few ideas: 1) Seeing the One seated on the throne would have immediately made John think of Daniel 7:9ff., especially after the vision of the Son of Man, also out of Daniel 7, in Revelation 1; 2) Seeing the seven-sealed scroll in this context, with images of Daniel already in play, would have definitely made John think of the scroll sealed until “the time of the end” in Daniel 12:4, 9; 3) Since there is so much related to Daniel in play here, would it not be natural for John to expect that the open scroll would deal with the end-times periods prophesied in Daniel (e.g., the “time, times and half a time of Dan. 7:25 and the seventieth seven of 9:27)?; and 4) Since Christ’s worthiness to unseal the scroll is based on His redemptive death for the group who turns out to be “the heaven-dwellers”–a group who will later reign with Him on the earth (5:10)–and the prophecy in 3:10 stated “the hour of testing” would be focused on “the earth-dwellers,” does not that imply that John is crying because he so longs to know how the various prophecies going back to Daniel, and filled in somewhat in the interim, as well as the previous promise in 3:10 would work out?

Next, we see the inverted parallel structure of C’ (20:1-10):

a (20:1-3a) The Devil will be bound in the abyss for 1,000 years.

b (20:3b) The Devil will not be able to deceive the nations until the end of the 1,000 years.

c (20:4) Those who did not worship the beast will rule with Christ for 1,000 years.

d (20:5) The first resurrection takes place at the beginning of the 1,000 years.

d’ (20:6a) “Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection” (the fifth beatitude in the Book of Revelation)

c’ (20:6b-c) Those who are God’s priests and reign with Him for 1,000 years will not suffer the second death.

b’ (20:7-9a) The Devil will again deceive the nations at the end of the 1,000 years.

a’ (20:9b-10) The Devil will be defeated and thrown into the lake of fire to be tormented forever.

As 5:9-10 predicted, 20:4-6 tells us clearly that those Christ redeemed by blood would “reign on the earth” (HCSB) with Christ for 1,000 years.  The wording in 20:4 gives us the impression that the martyrs will have a place of special prominence during that millennial reign, however.  But, it does not exclude at all those who go to heaven (i.e., become literal “heaven-dwellers” in 7:9ff.  The surrounding sections of this passage simply get across that, whenever he is free to do so, the Devil will “deceive the nations.”  And, as we see in 20:7-10, 1,000 years free of Satan’s onslaught will do nothing to make sinful mankind any less vulnerable to his diabolical attacks.  Sadly, the categories of “earth-dwellers” apparently will continue on through the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth.

The final point I would like to make here is another connector between C and C’.  As 20:4-6a make clear, the “first resurrection” is for the dead who are among the elect, who will reign with Christ for the 1,000 years.  Back in 5:8-10, the group that provides those resurrected in 20:4-5 is said to be “redeemed… from every tribe and people and language and nation” with the current identity of being, in some sense, “a kingdom and priests to our God,” and the future destiny of reigning with Christ “on the earth.”  If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, that is your present-tense identity and your future destiny.  Selah and Amen.

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