Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (LXXXI)

August 10, 2010

We continue on through the ins and outs of our exotic “tour” of the chiastic structure of Revelation.  Layer E of the inverted parallel outline of the Apocalypse is made of 7:1-8:1 and 19:1-10.  The initial part of this “pair” (E) is comprised of the first interlude of the book, which occurs between the sixth and seventh seals being removed from the scroll.  The corresponding section (E’; 19:1-10) is found at the end of the lengthy “postlude” description of Babylon the Great (ch. 17) and her destruction (ch. 18).

The following is the internal parallelism seen in 7:1-8:1 (E):

a (7:1) The calm that results from the restraining the four winds of the earth

b (7:2-3) Sealing the “servants” (Gk. doulous) of God on their foreheads on earth

c (7:4-8) The “144,000 sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel” (on earth)

c’ (7:9-12) The victorious (i.e., symbolized by the palm branches) innumerable multitude from “every nation, tribe, people, and language” before the heavenly throne, praising God for their salvation

b’ (7:13-17) The multitude from earth who has washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb  “serving” (Gk. latreuo) God in the sanctuary in heaven

a’ (8:1) A half hour of silence in heaven

The “pairing” is striking here.  The outer sub-layer (a, a’) matches calm on earth and silence in heaven (which echoes Zeph. 1:7, which speaks of the Day of the Lord being “near,” after the silence, which eschatological event I believe also begins at the same point as the Great Tribulation).  The next “mirror” (b, b’) speaks of servants on earth and serving in heaven.  The middle matches (c, c’) face off the 144,000 sealed on earth and the innumerable multitude taken to heaven (by the Rapture, in my understanding).  From the standpoint of the OT background of c and c’: 1) it appears to me that c (7:1-8; i.e., the 144,000) is a partial fulfillment of Ezekiel 37, the valley of dry bones prophecy, given the military-like formation of the tribes described there; and 2) the innumerable multitude from “every nation, tribe…” in heaven (7:9) is unquestionably at least a partial fulfillment of Daniel 7:14.

Next, we see the breakdown of the parallels in 19:1-10 (E’):

a (19:1) The great multitude in heaven (see 7:9ff.) sings “hallelujah” for God’s salvation

b (19:2a) God’s righteous judgment on Babylon, the great harlot

c (19:2b) God has avenged the blood of His servants, the martyrs

d (19:3) Hallelujah for the eternal judgment of (the woman; see chs. 17-18) Babylon

e (19:4) The 24 elders and four living creatures worship God with “Amen!  Hallelujah!”

f (19:5) Praise God, all you servants, those who fear Him, great and small

f’ (19:6a) The rumbling voice of the great multitude (i.e., His “servants… who fear Him” in 19:5)

e’ (19:6b) Hallelujah, because the Lord has begun to reign!

d’ (19:7-8a) Rejoicing over the marriage of the Lamb and his bride

c’ (19:8b) The righteous acts of the saints

b’ (19:10a) False worship of an angel

a’ (19:10b-c) Worshiping God through the correct testimony about Jesus

The internal “mirroring” in 19:1-10 is more intricate than I had previously realized.  The outer “pair” (a) implies that the great multitude worship God correctly.  The b “mirror” parallels the deserved judgment of Babylon the Great with John’s false worship of an angel, leaving the implication that those guilty of such heresy are certainly at risk of being party with Babylon.  In c, it appears the reader is to imply that at least most of “the righteous acts of the saints” will have been done by martyrs.  With d, “the other woman,” Babylon the Great, has been dispatched to eternal torment and the Lamb prepares to marry His bride.  At this point in the book, e tells us that the Lord has (finally) begun to reign.  At the mid-point (f), in case we did not “get it” before, we see equated the great multitude–only seen elsewhere in the book in its “paired” section, 7:1-8:1–and God’s “servants, those who fear Him, great and small.”

In these intertwined sections (E, E’), 7:1-8:1 speaks only of two groups (i.e., the 144,000 and the innumerable multitude) who must both be included among “the heaven-dwellers.”  The great multitude in 19:1-10 is, again, “the heaven-dwellers,” as are the bride and those who accept the Lord’s invitation (i.e., the gospel message) to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  As seen more and more clearly in the final third of the Apocalypse, Babylon the Great plays the corporate figure role for “the earth-dwellers,” much as the bride of the Lamb apparently encompasses “the heaven-dwellers.”

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