Timeout: Armageddon Prospect

(Spectrumbot) #1

To make an argument for something that is obvious does not make it more obvious. It is the other way: an argument for what is obvious makes it less obvious. Cognitive science supports this insight. A strenuous argument for what is obvious strengthens the view that the argument aspires to overcome.

In the Garden of Eden, the serpent presented himself as someone seeking to know the truth. “There is a malicious rumor out there,” he begins. “I hardly dare to repeat it, but here it is: ‘Has God really said that you cannot eat of any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1)

How should the woman respond? Is there a way to correct the serpent’s misconception, a strong, conclusive argument? Perhaps she can find a text, chapter and verse, that will set the serpent straight? A “thus says the Lord” — that must be it?

She finds her text although she reproduces an amended version. “God said [’āmar], ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die’” (Genesis 3:3). The inaccuracies in her answer are minor but telling. God had not “said.” God had “commanded” (Genesis 2:16-17). The woman diminishes the force of the divine command. And then she makes it more severe: “nor shall you touch it” (Genesis 3:3). She corrects the misconception, but she loses the argument! The obviously false view is gaining ground! She is starting to talk like the serpent!

Give her a ten percent discount for thinking that the serpent was sincere. Add ten percent for being beguiled by the serpent’s tone of voice. We shall still be left with eighty percent of the original thesis: to make an argument for something that is obvious makes it less obvious.

The Bowls — and What Is Obvious

I am at risk of falling into the same trap in this comment on the Battle of Armageddon. How so? I am going to say that it is obvious that God is not the one who brings the bowl calamities on the world (Revelation 16:1-21). I will struggle with the temptation to defend my view. If I give in to the temptation — if I proceed to argue on behalf of what I call “obvious” — it will seem less obvious. The temptation to defend my conviction gets worse by the fact that nearly all interpretations are sure that the bowls are sent by God. This is also the view of the Sabbath School Quarterly. God is doing it — it is the hour of divine retribution.

All schools of interpretation share this view, preterist, historicists, and futurists. They agree on little else, but they agree on this. I will try to limit my mistake as much as possible by this assertion: to attribute the bowl calamities to God is a problem of the same order as the serpent’s misrepresentation in the Garden of Eden. It was obvious that the serpent was wrong, and it would have stayed more obvious if the woman had said less.

There is a second clue as we approach the bowls, a limitation that is compositional. In a court of law, a good lawyer will use the closing statement to drive home points already made. He or she will not bring new elements into the case. If he or she does, it will confuse the jury. If we apply this logic to the seven bowls, they fit the lawyer’s strategy only if they are not a novelty. John cannot — this late in the game — bring in something entirely new except to confuse the audience and weaken his case. Likewise, the last movement in a symphony will not introduce a new theme. If it did, the message falls apart. Instead, the fourth movement deepens, expands, and intensifies the theme that has been established in the previous movements. Within a symphonic conception, the seven bowls are like the fourth movement in the symphony. Its function is to bring crescendo, climax, and clarity — as in the Battle of Armageddon (16:12-16). This would not be possible unless the message is obvious.

The “obvious” part of my view is predicated on my conviction that Revelation is symphonic. John is not any less a composer of symphonies than Beethoven or Mozart or Tchaikovsky. Like them, his symphony has a theme, played before a riveted audience. There are variations on the theme, some of them surprising, but each movement moves toward the great climax. In a symphonic conception leading up to the bowls, the seven seals are the first movement (4:1-8:1). The trumpets are the second movement (8:2-11:19). The war-in-heaven retrospect (and prospect) is the third movement (12:1-14:20). The seven bowls are the fourth movement, not limited to the bowl sequence only (15:1-16:21) but extending to the end of the book by the bowl angel that acts as the guide and interpreter till all has been told (17:1; 21:9; 22:2).

To arrive at a view that is obvious, let us retrace our steps in the composition; let us hear the previous movements one more time.


The setting throughout is the heavenly council (4:1-11). Reminders of this setting are scattered throughout the book, in the “sea of glass” (4:6; 15:2) and in tokens of continuity like “harps” (5:8; 14:2; 15:2), “temple” (2:12; 7:15; 11:1, 2, 19; 14:15, 17; 15;5, 6, 8; 16:1, 17; 21:22), and “tent (of witness)” (13:6; 15:5; 21:3). Location matters in life, as a real estate agent once told me, and it surely matters here.

All is not well in the heavenly council. Though some of the greatest interpreters say so, we do not have a contrast between earthly chaos and heavenly calm. Heaven, too, is in turmoil. There is a crisis in the heavenly council, centered on the sealed scroll (5:1-4). Or, as Adela Yarbro Collins puts it, “[t]he first four verses of chapter 5 imply that the heavenly council is faced with a serious problem.” She explains that “the problem facing the heavenly council is the rebellion of Satan which is paralleled by rebellion on earth.” Does anyone disagree with this? Does this view impose on the text an element that is not there? Does this view come as a surprise to anyone reading this text within the Seventh-day Adventist tradition?

When we get to the Song of Moses and the seven bowls, the problem to be solved is still the one that was introduced in the transition-to-heaven vision (4:1). And here is something new. We recognize that the Song of Moses draws heavily on the song Moses sang in Deuteronomy 32. Do we recognize the setting of Moses’ original song? “There is much in this song that gives the idea that it took place in Yahweh’s heavenly court,” says John M. Wiebe of the text in Deuteronomy. Imagine that! Not only is the Song of Moses in Revelation performed in the setting of the heavenly council. The original “Song of Moses” was, too! In Revelation, the hymn is sung in answer to the crisis in the heavenly council — in the wake of the revelation. Perplexity and lack of confidence in God’s ways change to understanding, admiration, and acclaim (5:1–4; 15:1–4).

We should say one more thing on the crisis-theme in this book. Let me call it the problem of the empty chair. If I were to advise a church community or a group of students how to bring to life the drama in Revelation, I would stage the setting. First, I would put a chair (throne) in the middle. This one is for the Ancient of Days. Second, I would put four chairs (thrones) around it. These are for the four living creatures. Third, I would put twenty-four chairs (thrones) outside them, at all four sides of the chair (throne) at the center. These are for the twenty-four living creatures. Then, depending on the size of the audience, I would put as many spectator chairs as possible at the periphery.

And then, right next to the chair (throne) in the middle, I would put an empty chair. This one is for the Shining One (Isaiah 14:12-20), the Covering Cherub (Ezekiel 28:12-19), the person that the poetic imagination put closest to God and closest to the mystery in the middle. This is an empty chair, permanently empty, and the heavenly council is casting about for a meaningful response to the problem of the empty chair.

First Movement

After the transition to heaven, the seven seals are the first movement in John’s s symphony (4:1-8:1). The theme is introduced. And the first point in the theme is perplexity. We need a Revealer! Can one be found (5:1-4)? Not easily! But there is one, and his role is this: the Revealer is himself the main subject and not only an instrument. When he appears in the middle as the Lamb that was killed with violence (5:6), he is the solution to the cosmic conflict (see also 12:7-12).

To drive the point home: the solution is not historical knowledge of future events. Far from it! It is the Lamb in the middle of the throne and in the middle of history that is billed as Revelation’s solution. Only then comes the exposé that shows the truth about the other side: the white horse of deception (6:1-2), the red horse of violence (6:3-4), the black horse of scarcity and want (6:5-6), and the sickly green horse of death (6:7-8). Not only is the Revealer one who was killed with violence (5:6). He was “killed with violence from the foundation of the world” (13:8).

This is not a statement about God’s enigmatic foreknowledge. It is a statement about God’s knowledge when the cosmic conflict began. God recognized in the Shining One (“Lucifer”) not only a person who was contesting the obvious but also one who — though at that time concealed — was turning into a murderer. The Lamb “was killed with violence from the foundation of the world” because there was an actual killer in the conflict (13:8). These are not theological abstractions. We find the same claim and discovery in the Gospel of John: “he was a murderer (‘man-killer’) from the beginning and does not stand in the truth; whenever he speaks, he speaks the lie…because he is a liar and the father of the lie” (John 8:44).

Second Movement

The exposé continues (8:6-9:21). Say all you want that God is bringing the trumpet calamities on the world. Say all you want that they are punitive. Given that we are listening to a symphony, I will say that this opinion is tone deaf. Revelation is in the business of “aural circumcision” (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9). Those who hear the trumpets as divine punishment are not hearing the jarring tonal sounds, helped along by the most overwrought, bizarre imagery in the entire book (9:1-21) — darkness that becomes locusts, locusts that become scorpions, scorpions that become horses, horses that have heads where there should be one but also heads in their tails, heads, too, like the heads of lions, and mouths in their heads and in their tails (9:1-19). And then this: “the power of the horses is in their mouths…with these they inflict harm” (9:19).

Do you say, as most interpreters do, that this monstrosity shows God at work? I say, against most interpreters, that it shows a demonic reality at work. And yes, I say that it is obvious!

Third Movement

This movement covers chapters 12 to 14. I must skip it except to say that it ends with the second-most bizarre text in Revelation. “And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as the bridles of the horses, for a distance of about two hundred miles” (14:20, translation mine). Which city is this? Which battle? Whose horses are drowning in blood?

Fourth Movement

Let me say it again: it belongs in the category of “obvious” that the trumpet calamities are revelatory, not punitive. It belongs in the category of “obvious” that God is not the acting subject. We see a demonic character at work. Indeed, we see in the fifth trumpet the compressed story of the star that fell from heaven and what he brings to bear on earthly reality (Revelation 9:1-11; Isaiah 14:12-20). The thematic groundwork is in place in our symphony. We are beginning the fourth movement. Should we expect novelty? Is the composer changing his or her theme, his or her tune? Not this composer! We have repetition, intensification, and climax of the theme already known. The theme of the second movement is especially prominent. There, we had many thirds whizzing and hissing through the air, not as markers of quantity but as markers of agency, tail and all (Revelation 12:4; 9:17-19). We had musical kindergarten pedagogy — darkness, locusts, scorpions, horses, head and tails, and heads in the tail.

Here, in the fourth movement, we go over the same ground, with the main difference that it is worse. The claim stands: we have repetition, intensification, and climax.

And yes, what we see is still in the category of “obvious”: we have not moved from revelation to retribution any more than in the trumpet sequence; we have not switched from scenes of a demonic reality at work to seeing the handiwork of God.

First angel: “an evil and vicious sore came on those having the mark of the beast and who worshiped its image” (16:2).

Second angel: “the sea…became blood like that of a corpse, and every living creature in the sea died” (16:3).

Third angel: “the rivers and the springs of water…became blood” (16:4).

Fourth angel: “the sun…was permitted to scorch the people with fire” (16:8-9).

Fifth angel: “throne of the beast, and its kingdom was darkened, and they bit their tongues because of the pain” (16:10-11).

Will we ever see a literal, physical, historical event that conforms to the imagery in the bowl sequence? We have seen some already throughout history, especially in the twentieth century and now, as the climate crisis is accelerating, in the twenty-first. More important, though, is to see the implied contrast in the exposé. We have here, as in the Gospel of John, a delineation of the characteristics of divine action in contrast to the demonic. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” Jesus says of his opponent in John (John 10:10). By contrast, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Try now to assign the “evil and vicious sore” of the first bowl to Jesus! What the bowls represent in history, past or future, is one thing. What they already represent from the point of view of the heavenly council, is easy to surmise.


Armageddon is the climactic scene in the fourth movement. If the first five calamities in the sequence were the work of God — and punitive, as most interpreters believe — the sixth bowl reverberates with demonic action. We have conspicuous continuity with the trumpet sequence, and we have a climactic scene of revelation.

And the sixth angel poured his bowl out on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order that the way be prepared for the kings coming from the rising of the sun. And I saw coming from the mouth of the dragon, and from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet three unclean spirits like frogs. For these are demonic spirits, performing signs [sēmeia], who go forth to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for war [eis ton polemon] on the great day of God the Almighty. “Look, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his or her clothes so as not to go around naked that they might see his or her shame!” And they gathered them at the place that in Hebrew is called Har-magedon (16:12-16)

Here, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet are not acted upon. It is not as though they are incapacitated and barely breathing by the bombardment of the first five calamities. On the contrary, they are acting at full and final throttle. The relationship between the act and the agent is obvious. John forgoes the passive voice in favor of a sentence in the active voice. “They,” meaning the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, “gathered them at a place that in Hebrew is called Har-magedōn” (16:16).

Our lesson makes it appear that it has cut the Gordian knot of “Har-magedōn,” but this is overselling a weak point. “Megiddo” is a weak etymological candidate, and it does not fit well within Revelation’s story line. David Aune does better, noting that the word “occurs only here, where it represents the mythical apocalyptic-world mountain where the forces hostile to God, assembled by demonic spirits, will gather for final battle against God and his people.”

Should we add anything to this? I believe we should add that “Har-magedōn” represents the point when the Shining One will make good on his aspiration to sit enthroned on “the Mount of Assembly” as though he is God (Isaiah 14:12-13). (Paul describes the same reality in Second Thessalonians 2. If you are interested, write to me at sktonstad@gmail.com, and I will send you my published paper, “The Restrainer Removed: A Truly Alarming Thought.”

Song of Moses

I am already on the tenth page of this submission (double-spaced), and I must close. I will do it with my translation of the song that precedes the seven bowls, the song that Revelation calls “the Song of Moses that is also the Song of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:1-4).

Great and counter-intuitive are your actions,

Lord God the Almighty!

Right-making and trustworthy are your ways,

King of the nations!

Lord, who will not fear and speak well of your name?

For you alone are faultless.

All nations will come and worship before you,

for your notion of ‘right act’ has been revealed (15:3-4, translation mine).

This is the best and most clarifying part of the Fourth Movement, more clarifying, even, than the Battle of Armageddon. Something has been revealed in this book. What has been revealed is not only what is “righteous” according to a prior conception of “righteous.” Interpretations of Revelation fail readers badly by their pretension to know what God’s “right act” is. This book works its way with care to the fourth movement, to God’s “counter-intuitive” action and to the revelation of God’s idea of the “right act.” What I call “obvious” in this book is not what I normally would consider obvious. It is rather what this strange book makes out to be obvious. As most interpretations show, that discovery has not been obvious at all.

Further Reading:

Revelation: For Re-Readers Only, January 5, 2019

Apokalypsis, January 8, 2019

Revelation and the Neighborhood, January 14, 2019

Timeout: Revelation and the Crisis of Historicism, January 18, 2019

Crisis in the Heavenly Council, January 21, 2019

Timeout: Cosmic Conflict vs. Historicism, January 25, 2019

Silence in Heaven — for about Half an Hour, January 28, 2019

Timeout: From Daniel to Revelation, February 1, 2019

Revelation 7: The 144,000 and the 233,000, February 4, 2019

Timeout: Storm Clouds over Historicism, February 7, 2019

Revelation’s Trumpets: The Devil is in the Details, February 11, 2019

Timeout: Disarray and Trivia in the Trumpets, February 14, 2019

Revelation 12: Don’t Rush at Ground Zero, February 19, 2019

Timeout: “1,260 Days” and the Smoke Signals in Flyover Country, February 22, 2019

Revelation 13: “The Dragon’s Story,” February 26, 2019

Timeout: “And Its Number is 666,” February 28, 2019

God Reacts: The Three Angels’ Message, March 5, 2019

Timeout: “The Smoke of Their Torment,” March 8, 2019

Armageddon Retrospect, March 12, 2019

Sigve K. Tonstad is Research Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Loma Linda University.

Image Credit: WikiArt / Nicholas Roerich (Public Domain)

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9485


Dear Dr. Tonstad,

I really like and appreciate your insights to this study. I really would like to believe what you say here. I’m sorry for my ignorance in asking this, as i don’t have your scholarly insights and of the many that comment on things here but how do you put the context that is given in:
Rev 15:1
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.

Or Rev 16:1,
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."

I do not have access to your book, or other material that corroborates your commentary with these texts.



(L Humberto Covarrubias) #3

Bravo! Bravissimo! I really mean it. Thank you Sigve

(Floyd) #4

I can’t thank you enough for this explicit emphasis on the truth about how God intends to overcome evil His way. I have been immersed intensely in this book for 6 months and just a few days ago I saw this same conclusion about the bowls. Now you confirm and expand on what I already believe which is very compelling for me. I only wish you did not have to stay within the confining limits of editorial restraints. You have so much more to share but little venue to get it out.
I couldn’t agree more that the sets of 7 are intensifying waves of light and truth causing intensifying violent reactions by the forces of darkness and evil trying to repress the truth. Sadly nearly all theologians side with the enemy in too many ways which makes your comments so meaningful.
As I poured over the issue of the bowls in just the past few days, what came to me were some key insights that i found very liberating. First, I asked what was really in the bowls and who do the angels represent and why all the details about their origin. Also, the intense reactions revolving around the temple as soon as the bowls were handed out (before being poured out) I found extremely significant. Based on all that I concluded (with not outside input at the time) that the bowls are full of the most intense release of truth about God’s glory ever seen in history, which is why they become the last round needed to shatter the very foundations of the enemy’s empire. They are not full of negative, dark, violent things as we have long assumed but rather the most potent revelations of glory that they cause the enemies of God to have violent allergic reactions. This is the nature of all the negative things in Revelation but especially here in the bowls.
I love how the last bowl is so potent that it cracks the very foundation of the capital city of Satan into thirds. There’s his trademark again, just as you have been so adeptly pointing out to us. The following chapters simply rehearse how the now compromised structure of the evil empire increasingly collapses of its own weight, even while still trying to blame God for all the evil it is producing.
Please bring us more. I just can’t get enough of this and my passion for this book is only increasing in recent weeks. It is time for the glory of the 4th angel to be released, and this is part of how it is coming out. Thanks so much for giving the trumpet that certain sound that God is good 1 John 1:5.

(antony nyathi) #5

Floyd I have had the same experience as well, about two years ago I decided I needed to work on Daniel and Revelation on my own, rather than taking what I heard from D&R seminars. So I started reading and the two books over and over again while going through the rest of the Bible and making notes on how each book compares to whatever book I would be reading at the time. I made notes. Sometimes I typed sometimes I made voice notes. The process lasted about 2 years. And even though I wasn’t attempting any interpretations I came to some conclusions that I found were what I’ve been reading through here. It is very affirming


Like a previous commentator I also prefer your interpretation however the plagues in Revelation mirror those inflicted on Egypt. Are we then to assume that it was not God who sent the plagues on Egypt but some satanic force? If God did it back then why not in the future also?

(Nancy C.) #7

In trying to look at this scene with new eyes, I would like to make some observations that may or may not be relevant but would appreciate comments on. The 7 angels are dressed in priestly garments. (I don’t know of any time in the Bible that they are referred to as having a priestly function.) They carry bowls which in the sanctuary service are used for sprinkling the blood of the Lamb. Another reference to bowls is in Zechariah 4 where a bowl is on the top of the gold lampstand and receives the oil from the 2 olive trees. Zechariah 14:20 refers to sacred bowls in from of the altar. After the angels pour their bowls, John refers to one of them in Rev. 17:3 and Rev. 21:10 and in both times he is carried away in the Spirit. Often when God the Son comes to people (in the old testament and in references in Revelation), He is seen as an angel.

Here is my question: Is it possible that the 7 angels are the same as the 7 Spirits before the Throne of God with a different title since they are interacting with the earth? If so, God’s Spirit interacting with the earth and its inhabitants would have an explosive reaction as evil has developed to its end state.

This is a totally new thought that may be going down a rabbit hole, but I would appreciate comments.

(Leroy Gillan) #8

All you theologians be patient with this ole layman. but I stirred up a next of hornets this morning at Sabbath School. I understand and take seriously Jesus’ closing statement (John 17:6 ) that He finished the work that the Father gave Him to do - to manifest God’s true character, as opposed to the lies of Satan. If that is true, everything in Scripture must be interpreted is a way that defends God’s character. Am I wrong? If I am not wrong, then the seven bowls of plagues cannot contain all of the destruction that ALL Christianity believes, including the SDA church. What do the bowls contain? Sister Ellen helped me with that. Manuscript Releases 99, 1902. “The plagues of God are falling upon earth, sweeping away the most costly structures as if by a breath of fire from heaven.” Then she lists many calamities in her day, and there are a lot more in our day! I view the bowls as containing the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit, when withdrawn, gives the devil freedom to “destroy” and kill everything he wishes, and that will sure make his followers angry and mad as #$%^& against God. And all these Christians are saying “God does it”! That doesn’t defend the character of God, as I see it, and anyone that believes that God does it has accepted the devil’s picture of the character of God. Now, brethren, don’t take me to task with all your theological mumbo jumbo cause I won’t know what you are talking about. I’m not theologian, just a nobody.

(Phil van der Klift) #9

Hi Leroy

Please know that you are not alone! As you can see from the comments above, there are other nobodys out here, all coming/being led to to a similar conclusion as a consequence of their own bible study. I concur with every word you have said. I would amplify your concept of “defend God’s character” to “reflect, and in so doing, vindicate God’s character”.

Keep studying and keep sharing the reason for the hope that you have with gentleness and respect - humble conviction (1 Pet 3:15).

Sadly but not surprisingly, if you do share this view, you will face opposition like Jesus did for doing what you said about Jn 17:6.

(Phil van der Klift) #10

Thanks again Sigve

Your presentations give us non-theologians something to compare and contrast our own bible study with. Could God be stirring something to life (once again)?

(Sigve Tonstad) #11

Dear Sona. Scholars do not have much of an advantage. Anyway, the scholarly consensus is that we have God acting retributively in the bowls. I suggest the following: (1) The monstrosity in the trumpet sequence (such as 9:1-21) is Satan. The message is revelation, not retribution. (2) In the trumpet sequence, God acts in a posture of restraint (9:13-15). (3) When God’s wrath comes to completion in the bowl sequence, it suggests that God’s wrath has been seen earlier, albeit in a state of in-completion. The trumpets were “God’s wrath,” too, in a state of in-completion, even though God is not the acting subject. (4) Now that “God’s wrath” comes to completion in the bowls, it is necessary to call it God’s wrath, but it is not necessary to say that God is the acting subject any more than in the trumpet sequence. The similarity and progression betwee the trumpets and the bowls suggest otherwise. It is not as though God has taken over the work done by Satan in the trumpets, only that God does it more harshly. (5) The sixth bowl, like the sixt trumpet, is a scene of revelation. We are told explicitly that Dragon is the acting subject (16:12-16). Was he not the acting subject in the previous bowls? (6) Words like “righteousness” and “wrath” are tricky when God is the subject. That is why I urge a different translation of the Song of Moses – it is God’s idea of what constitutes “right act” that has been revealed. And here, in the wrath passages, it is God’s way of practising “wrath” that comes to light. I do not believe in using statements by Ellen G. White to close down a subject or end the discussion, but I find the following statement helpful. Note that the Quarterly and most interpreters say that the plagues come DIRECTLY from God. Not everything that “comes from God” comes DIRECTLY. Consider this: “I was shown that the judgments of God would not come directly out from the Lord upon them, but in this way: They place themselves beyond His protection. He warns, corrects, reproves, and points out the only path of safety; then, if those who have been the objects of His special care will follow their own course, independent of the Spirit of God, after repeated warnings, if they choose their own way, then He does not commission His angels to prevent Satan’s decided attacks upon them.” {LDE 242.1}

(Steve Mga) #12

Thank you.
In other Scriptures, God’s WRATH is Actually His REMOVAL of Himself
from the Wicked person or groups, and THEY actually bring on the
bad results of their bad behavior on themselves.
Although in Deut. 11:13-21 God does say He is in charge of the weather.
Rain in Spring and harvest time. Or No Rain at needed times. Based on the
Israelite behavior.
And Jesus tells us that it Rains on the Just and Unjust with no discrimination.
So GLOBAL Weather probably is NOT due to humans.

(Frankmer7) #13

Yes, heaven faces off with rebellion. But, I do not see from the text where the council is in turmoil over not knowing what to do, or searching for a solution, as has been suggested in prior articles.

The Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world, suggests that the solution was already in place. John, a human taken up in vision, is the only one who is in turmoil, weeping because he cannot see who is worthy to open the scroll/seals. He is then told by one of the members of the council to look and see. When he does, he sees the Lamb in the center of the throne. All heaven is already worshipping him…in confidence for who he is, and what he has done and already revealed. The turmoil is here, from a human perspective. The one human, who personifies this perspective in the picture of Chapter 4, is directed immediately to the divine perspective, where worship and praise is the continual theme. He is directed there to allay his fears, and calm his anxiety and grief. Heaven knows that the solution has already been found in the Lamb.

I acknowledge that dealing with, and putting to rest, the problem of evil is a very difficult task, even for God. The long arc of justice is indeed very long! But, I think that this idea of heaven in crisis is overblown, to suit a chosen big-picture lens, through which Revelation is being viewed. I don’t have a problem with the lens. I do have a problem when smaller textual units are bent to fit the view it gives.



(Frank Peacham) #14

The idea that God is not causing the plague–but instead revealing the actions of evil is very interesting. When there was War in Heaven God did not kill satan, burn him painful sores…He just exiled him. We imprison and execute rebels who practice violence. God did not use Satan’s hate and violence in casting the rebel out of heaven.

Apparently Satan had anticipated an eternity or war against God (that was all he knew–life forever), for we see when he was cast to the earth he knew his time was short. God limited his time of activity, when his time is up (who knows when?) Satan will be cast into outer darkness. The wounded lamb will use the Key to open the graves of all humanity. After a human dies Satan has lost control, the dead are in God’s hands.