Welcome to this blog which is following the Book of The Revelation. Previous blogs can be found by date from the archive, or at emmock.com bible reference, or emmock.com topic word. Comments and questions are always welcome. My other blog, which is more political can be found at xtremejesus.co
The daily headlines are reminders of the world we live in.
POPE ISSUES NEW PROCEDURE FOR MARRIAGE ANULMENT
19 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
Salvation and glory and power to our God,
2 for his judgements are true and just;
he has judged the great whore
who corrupted the earth with her fornication,
and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’[a]
3 Once more they said,
The smoke goes up from her for ever and ever.’
4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who is seated on the throne, saying,
5 And from the throne came a voice saying,
‘Praise our God,
all you his servants,
and all who fear him,
small and great.’
6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready;
8 to her it has been granted to be clothed
with fine linen, bright and pure’—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said[c] to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades[ who hold the testimony of Jesus.Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’
The Rider on the White Horse
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’.
The Beast and Its Armies Defeated
17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders—flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.’ 19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and against his army. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. 21 And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
This is perhaps the chapter most disliked by those who think Revelation depicts God as a vengeful warlord: the rejoicing over the destruction of the great city, the acclamation of the victor God, the king of kings on the white horse with his name inscribed on his thigh (!) -these speak to many people of a macho God who revels in the destruction of his enemies. I have argued that the victories of God in this book are but the heavenly counterparts and ultimate future of events on earth, in particular, of the execution of Jesus, the gathering of the messianic assemblies, and the stubborn suffering of these assemblies under persecution. All these, the prophet says, are acts of faithfulness by which God is honoured and wins his victories. That which appears on earth to be merely stubborn suffering is in fact the means by which God destroys evil. The disproportion between the tiny assemblies and the completion of God’s Rule is the very same disproportion as between the crucified Jesus of Nazareth and the Lamb who is at the heart of God’s throne. This is the same mystery of which St Paul says, “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” The Book of Revelation simply dramatizes this truth in its vivid scenes of victory.
Moreover, this victory of divine goodness is seen from the perspective of the powerless of the earth, who have been persecuted by agents of Rome/ Babylon. If some glee at the destruction of the Great Destroyer is evident in this passage it should not be criticised by those who have never suffered as they did. Those who benefit from a violent empire even if they deplore their violence, may have leisure to mourn the human waste when they are destroyed. Those who lived and died under its brutality, however, will simply celebrate the removal of its foot from their necks.
Lets pick out some detail.
The Great Whore is Rome and her fornication is her pleasure in false Gods of her own making. I have noted several times that the prophet John is using a biblical image which equates idolatry with prostitution. The use of a consistently female image to denote evil is offensive to those who cherish the equality of men and women. It is balanced by the fact that the Adversary (Satan) and his agents, the Beasts, are considered as masculine.
The victory of God over Babylon is to culminate in the “marriage feast of the Lamb”. God himself and his messiah had been depicted in Jewish scripture and religious writings as the bridegroom of the true Israel. The messiah’s victory over evil had been depicted as celebrated with a great banquet. Jesus himself in his parables had used both of these images. We are told that those invited to the marriage feast are blessed but the identity of the bride of the Lamb is not revealed yet. We can understand, however, that those who have loved the Lamb, and suffered with the Lamb, are already united with him. In the midst of words of joy, the theology remains sober. Those who are united with Jesus are to worship God alone.
The rider of the white horse is Jesus Messiah, identified as the Word of God. This identification is essential seeing that he slays his opponents with the sword of his mouth. That is, he cuts down lies, especially the lying propaganda of the Beast, by declaring the truth. More than anything else, that’s what the victims of violence desire; not revenge, but the establishment of the truth: that killers and torturers will have to face the facts of what they’ve done, that lying politicians and self-serving administrators will see their carefully kept secrets openly displayed, that those who have covered their greed with cosmetic deceit will stand exposed and naked as the diseased specimens they really are.
A crucial phrase about the rider is “he will tread the winepress of the wrath of God.” What event is described here? It is on his execution stake that the Rider, whose robe is dipped in blood, treads out the grapes of wrath, which are the evils that God has allowed to run their course.. So even the most violent-sounding detail maintains the identity of the Rider and the Lamb.
The final battle pits the rider and the armies of heaven, who wear white as a sign of their faithfulness to Jesus, against the powers of the world city and its supporters. It is a spiritual battle which is won by those who have suffered for the Word of God, whose truth cuts down the enemy. The lake of fire is a kind of holding kennel for the powers of Empire, while death comes to those who have chosen it instead of life.
The whole chapter (indeed the whole book) is an inspired picture of what is really happening in the life, faith, sacrifice and death of Jesus messiah, the messianic assemblies and those who refuse to worship the Beast. As we find written in the first letter of John, “This is the victory that overcomes the world: our faith.”