Sabbath school commentary for discussion alongside the Adult Bible Study Guide for June 17, 2023.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/12404
Sabbath school commentary for discussion alongside the Adult Bible Study Guide for June 17, 2023.
What Rev. 14: 6-12 does is to identify the Gospel with the Final Judgment, declare that Babylon has been condemned at the judgment and that those who have been attached to Babylon will pay the price for their idolatry. The message of the the tree angels is as plain as it can possibly be. To read the text and try to give it any other message is denied by the evidence.
How is this GOD, you say is depicted here, any different from any other pagan god? Is this our motivation to “keep the commandments of God” - one of which is to forgive 70X7. If that statement coming out of the mouth Jesus, God incarnate, doesn’t have the same authority as the TEN spoken to Moses, then we’re in serious confusion.
This same John, presumably, defines the “testimony of Jesus” in 1 John 5:11 - And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. This follows the previous declaration,
The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.
If the NT Gospel means anything, it means that. All else must be interpreted through the Gospel lens if we are to call ourselves Christians.
The prophet who wrote the Apocalypse at Patmos was not John, the disciple of Jesus. And the gospel that is identified as “According to John” was written anonymously, just as the other three gospels in the NT were also. To announce what “the Bible” says as if it were one piece of writing with a single author is to declare what you say that the Bible says.
The books of the Bible have to be read and interpreted as units expressing the faith of one author. In the case of the Apocalypse, I find the god of John the prophet at Patmos to be a vengeful, sadistic god, as the message of the third angel makes abundantly clear, and the invitation for the birds to come to gorge themselves at the banquet of God consisting of the cadavers of those killed in battle by Michael further underlines. Then he resurrects them all in order to kill them a second time for no reason at all. I cannot worship this god. That is also the case of the god of the author of the Psalm who askes his god to smash in the rocks the children of his enemies!
I should have pointed out that the messages of the three angels are found in a book addressed to the elect whose names were written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world. The purpose of their messages is to tell them that martyrdom is better than idolatry and thus give them reasons for not being deceived by the Dragon and Babylon, its surrogate. Within an apocalyptic horizon God is in ultimate control of everything, the future is predetermined and retributive justice works, even if at present it is not evident.
Sorry I forgot the I in front of John. If you had read it, you would have known I wasn’t quoting the Gospel of John but I John 5. My Bible identifies the John I, II, III as the author of Revelation, but who really knows. I do realize the Gospels were not written by the Apostles.
Dr Tonstad, I need more! As you note, to keep the commandments of God and have faith/testimony in Jesus is a core identity of the SDA church. However, (as you may be hinting) I feel we have turned this formula to identify God’s people on its head, to make the formula match us rather than for us to aspire to the formula.
“Commandments of God” is read exclusively in our church as the decalogue, especially the Sabbath command. “Faith in Jesus” is equated with the parallel “testimony of Jesus” in 12:17. This is then cross-referenced with a curious reading of 19:10 to make “testimony of Jesus” the “spirit of prophecy”, which we then extrapolate to the ministry of Ellen White. So, the convenient outcome is: people of God=Sabbath keepers + acknowledge White’s prophetic gift = SDA church.
Despite the above comments, I find the gospel of John, the letters of John and Revelation inform each other, especially with interpreting this text. The themes of “commandment” and “testimony/witness” are developed in the gospel of John, form the backbone of the letters and are then echoed in Revelation.
The perspective of John for these two concepts is quite distinct from other NT voices. “Commandment” focusses strongly on Jesus’ command to love, introduced in John 13:34. “Testimony” starts with the validation of Jesus’ ministry by God (eg. John 5:36) but ends with John’s personal experience of Jesus (John 21:24).
So, I would suggest the enduring saints who “keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of (or bear witness to) Jesus” are those who build a community of mutual love and have been transformed by Jesus. Not so specific as our self-declared identity, but perhaps more of a challenge to maintain.
I remember hearing somewhere that the commandments of God as used in Revelation, specially in Revelation 14: 12 refer to the commandments of Jesus, in context, to love each other, as is identified variously in the epistles of John. The testimony of Jesus is indeed a reference to the testimony about Jesus, perhaps used to identify the Father’s own declaration about Jesus at His baptism.
If these interpretations are correct and in context, then it can follow that the traditional SDA position, as it is used to identify the SDA church may be very incorrect after all.
I believe the third of the three angels is the one who bears the most amazing and stunningly unbelievable goodnews. But just as a person is blindfolded before their eyes are unwrapped and friends and family shout “surprise!! “and they break down in joy and gratitude to be so loved. This message rightly understood indeed lifts up the slain lamb. The harmless one, the innocent one. This fire rightly understood relieves us, frees us. It’s a wander and a miracle that such love could be found in such terrible language, yet if we remember where the height of love is, from the garden to Calvary. Yes it was the hour of darkness ( Matthew mark and Luke) and yet it was the hour of glory! (John). Therefore I judge that if indeed we are to let this fire have its full effect on us as a people, perhaps we may carry a yet more potent message. Thanks a lot Sigve. I still however think perhaps you have given the devil too much power, is he not in the end also thrown into the lake of fire together with the grave? (Chapter 20)
Well said…you have summarized my own belief in your comment. Isn’t the SDA church’s interpretation classic ‘eisegesis’…making the text say what you want it to say, rather than a fair translation in context.
And I am so worn out with the compelling need to go back to the ‘tablets of stone’, when talking about the commandments. As you say, Jesus raised the bar considerably, but the institutional church is too smitten with rules and legalism to realize that.
You mean these commandments?
But if the ministration of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! ~ 2 Cor 3:7-9
The blindness is astounding.
This article does very little to clarify the text within its context. Instead it focuses on linguistic details to bolster Adventist identity. it is a disappointment for me.
The question should be asked, what is the testimony of Jesus in the context of Revelation, before jumping to 1 John. In Revelation Jesus is called the faithful and true witness. His testimony is not just about himself, but an unveiling of the truth about the anti God powers such as the beast and the dragon that are threatening the people of God, those addressed in the seven churches to whom the letter is addressed. They are being warned to not compromise or align themselves with those powers, but to continue in allegiance to God and the lamb through whom authentic life, society, and the future is assured.
I would draft in what 1 John says about the testimony of Jesus, only after establishing what Revelation itself is saying…the testimony that is of/from Jesus specific to the content of the book itself.
Yes, I’m fully aware of the importance of context. This is what brought me to investigate just that when it comes to “the testimony of Jesus”. This is, of course, a seminal designation for the SDA interpretation of, not only Revelation, but even more so, for the place of the entire teaching on Ellen White and her place in the church.
You most likely are aware that the church teaches that Ellen White carries the “testimony of Jesus” through her messages called “the Spirit of Prophesy”, as if it’s used as a title. As I read these passages, the Bible is, instead, saying that the prophesies John has been giving, are not about the “angel” who is giving them to John, but the spirit (essence ) of these prophesies is a testament to (of - about) Jesus. It was a response to John kneeling in adoration of the angel giving the prophesies to John. saying “don’t kneel to me, I’m only the messenger. The essence of prophesy is Jesus.”
In the meantime, I found John defining “the testimony” in 1 John 5, totally agreeing with the angel in Revelation. While context is important, definitions probably remain constant on some level, especially repeated by the same author.
I don’t know where to post this so I’m doing it here - the comment sections of the latest articles are not loading on my computer. Is this a technical problem on my end or Spectrum’s?
@Sirje Yes, we are aware of this problem, which has to do with the connection of the Discourse platform to our website. We solved it once, and it’s reappeared. We’re trying to get it resolved. It isn’t you, it’s us!
Thank you for responding. For a minute i though you were going to make me get on “Face Book” to take part here, in which case “my work here is done”.
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