Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (LXXXV)

August 17, 2010

The I Layer (12:7-17; ch. 16) of the mirroring structure of Revelation was one that initially gave me pause to question whether such an inverted parallel outline of the Apocalypse was possible.  However, over time, I have become much more confident that it is, in fact, legitimate, having noted some very interesting comparisons/contrasts between the two passages.  For example:

– In 12:7-17, the Devil, who has been cast out of heaven, now attempts to kill God’s people, while in chapter 16 the earth-dwellers (whom 13:8 and 17:8 make clear are the non-elect) are punished by God for shedding the blood of His martyrs, presumably as the unwitting instruments of Satan.

– In 12:7-17, the Devil is about to set forth the final fury of his wrath, while in chapter 16, in the pouring out of the bowls of wrath, we see the final focus of His judgment.

– At the center of 12:7-17 (see below), we note the spotlight on who “conquered [the Devil] by the word of their testimony” and died as martyrs (v. 11) and also the “heaven-dwellers” (v. 12a), while in chapter 16 the focused attention at the center of the structure is on those who blaspheme God, and refuse to repent and give Him glory (vv. 9, 11; see 14:6-7).  These are the ultimate human heroes and villains in the Apocalypse.

The following are the “pairs” found in Revelation 12:7-17 (I):

a (12:7-8) War in heaven: the Devil and the demons lose to Michael and his angels and are expelled from heaven

b (12:9) The Dragon, who is the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world, was thrown to earth

c (12:10) The salvation, power, kingdom and authority of God is beginning (Gk. egeneto) because the Devil has been thrown out (of heaven)

d (12:11) The brethren who die as martyrs “conquer” (Gk. nikao) the Devil by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony

d’ (12:12a) Rejoice, heaven-dwellers (because of the Devil’s expulsion from heaven)!

c’ (12:12b)  Woe to the earth and sea because of the Devil’s fury and short time

b’ (12:13-14) When the Devil realizes he is limited to the earth, he begins to persecute the woman  who is the end-times successor to Mary (i.e., believing Jews), who is protected from him for three and a half years in the wilderness

a’ (12:15-17) Persecution on earth: the Devil does his best to get the woman, but is prevented, and then, in rage, then wages war against “the rest of her offspring” (i.e., Gentile believers)

Continuing, we now take a careful look at the mirroring effects in Revelation 16 (I’):

a (16:1-2) The first bowl: Painful sores on those who have the mark of the beast/worshiped his image (i.e., the earth-dwellers; see 13:14ff.)

b (16:3-7) The second and third bowls: God’s judgment on the earth-dwellers because they shed the blood of the heaven-dwellers

c (16:8-9) The fourth bowl: Burning the earth-dwellers, who blaspheme and refuse to repent and give God glory (see 14:6-7) with fiery heat

c’ (16:10-11) The fifth bowl: Darkness on the beast’s throne and his kingdom, including the earth-dwellers, who blaspheme God and refuse to repent

b’ (16:12-16) The sixth bowl: The Devil, beast and false prophet setting up the battle of Armageddon—and believers need to be alert (16:15)

a’ (16:17-21) The seventh bowl: Climatic effects (see 11:19) poured out on Babylon the Great

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