Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Woman and Dragon–Part 1

Outline: Woman and Dragon - 1
Passage: Revelation 12
Discussion audio (52m)

With chapter 12, we enter what may be the beginning of the heart of the book of Revelation. At the very least this is where many consider the “interesting” aspects of Revelation to begin, what with dragons and beasts and other assorted fantastic creatures.

How should we read this next section? As allegory, as is often the case? Or as dramatic narrative, as we have been doing so far? Does how we read it make a difference to how we interpret the text? Does it make a difference to the message we take away? Those are some of the questions that we will begin to answer with this session.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Outline: Seven Trumpets - 7
Passage: Revelation 11:15-19
Discussion audio (1h21m)

This wraps up the series of the sounding of the seven trumpets. Instead of further judgment events, the sounding of this trumpet returns the audience back to the Temple and Throneroom scene in heaven with the return of the twenty-four elders. They had become silent as the trumpets began to sound, but with the seventh trumpet sounded, they resume their worship of God.

This scene ends in verse 19 with imagery reminiscent of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai, immediately after the Exodus story. God and his covenant with his people are revealed. For the servants of God though, this time God is not veiled behind clouds. The innermost compartment, the location of the very presence of God is visible in heaven.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Trumpets–Interlude, Part 2

Outline: Seven Trumpets - Interlude, Part 2
Passage: Revelation 11:1-14
Discussion audio (1h27m)

This session discusses the second part of the interlude scene between the sounding of the sixth and seventh trumpets of Revelation. According to a number of scholars and commentators, these are some of the most difficult texts in all of Revelation. Who are we kidding the, when we try to figure out what they mean? The key, I believe, is to stick to the big picture and the overall theme of the message rather than trying to identify what every detail supposedly could mean.

John borrows heavily from his Old Testament context when he writes the words that form today’s passage. Without properly understanding those contexts we can misinterpret and misapply what John wrote. We can end up forcing meanings and interpretations onto the text that were not intended. This is not to say that what we have is provably better than other explanations, but by taking a look at the larger context and keeping to the overall themes, I hope we come away with an interpretation that is closer to what John intended his audience to hear.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Trumpets-Interlude, Part 1

Outline: Seven Trumpets - Interlude, Part 1
Passage: Revelation 10
Discussion audio (43m)

The sequence of the sounding of the trumpets is interrupted by an angel that flies into John’s vision. As with the interlude that occurred during the opening of the seven seals, this interruption occurs between the sixth and seventh trumpets. The interlude can be seen as describing something different, yet closely related to the events of the sixth trumpet.

The text can seem rather confusing upon initial reading, but many of the images and allusions are quite similar to those that have already appeared. When we carefully examine the similarities and allusions, the overall picture that emerges seems quite reasonable. As we have emphasized in the past, Revelation is less about the details and more about the big picture of where God is leading his people.

In this installment we take up the first part of the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets. The overall message is that the time has come for the plan of God for the world is to be revealed. The end of time that Daniel saw is now present. God’s servants are commissioned to carry the message of and about Jesus to the world. This message is sweet, because it is a message of hope, but also bitter, as God’s servants identify with Jesus in his experience of the rejection of his message.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Outline: Seven Trumpets - 6
Passage: Revelation 9:13-21
Discussion audio (1h13m)

The discussion of the trumpets continues with the sixth one now being sounded. It is similar to the previous one in many ways. The primary difference is the commentary at the end where John writes that in spite of the terrors falling upon them, those who have chosen to reject God continue to do so and will not repent.

It must be reiterated that these judgments are “signs” in a manner patterned after the signs that fell upon Egypt. Just as the signs on Egypt failed to move the Pharaoh, the signs that fall upon those who have rejected God do not move them.

The sins that they fail to repent of can be classified into three broad types:

  1. The sin of attempting to build security for themselves using their own efforts
  2. The sin of seeking security through powers and authorities of the world
  3. The sin of seeking security through elevating self over others, through manipulation, abuse, and use of others

In contrast the servants of God, those who have been sealed, have already been described in contrasting terms:

  1. Servants of God rely upon God to provide security
  2. Servants of God worship God as the ultimate power and authority over the world
  3. Servants of God do not elevate self, but instead love one another through giving of self

The fifth and sixth trumpets describe the results of false worship. False powers and authorities promise security and comfort, but in the end these powers turn on the very ones who rely on them.

In the midst of all that is happening, servants of God have nothing to fear because Jesus holds the ultimate power and authority. He is even the master of death so that even physical death cannot ultimately harm his people.

The book of Revelation was written to encourage God’s people and to inform them of what is going on behind the scenes. It was not written to those who have not yet accepted the gospel. Revelation cannot be understood outside of the gospel framework. Revelation is not an evangelism tool.