Lecture 30: Revelation Part 2
Lecture 30: Revelation Part 2
This is the 30th lecture in the online series of lectures on New Testament Survey by Dr Thomas Schreiner. Recommended Reading includes: Article on Divorce and Remarriage – Craig Blomberg, Trinity Journal, 1990; The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross by Leon Morris; Are there Two Will in God by John Piper; Two views on Women in Ministry by James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Word Bible Commentary: Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46, by William D. Mounce and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood, by Wayne Gudem and John Piper (article by Vern Poythress entitled, ‘The Church as a Family’)
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Flow assignment 2 Peter 1:3-11
‘His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’
The following is a linguistical analysis of 2nd peter 1:3-11. This could be either a progression or a series. I think it is both since faith is the root and love is the fruit. It is hard to defend the notion that one is specifically built on the other. Before you have knowledge you have to have moral excellence. Before you have self-control you need knowledge, but such an interpretation may lead to a Ben Franklin view of Christianity. This means, this week I will work on patience and next week I will work on love. I don’t think this is a Biblical view of how God works in our lives because when the Spirit is working, all these things are ours. This is an action manner going backwards. By applying diligence, you should do all these things. So these are the first three verses. Then we have an ‘if then’ construction. He who lacks these qualities is blind and short sighted is a ground. Why? Because he has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Now 10b is temporal as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble. You will never stumble is the main proposition. This is defined by verse 11. The last sentence is an idea / explanation. You will never ‘’stumble’ means that you will enter into heaven. He doesn’t say that you will never sin. He means that you will never commit apostasy. You will go to heaven. That is what I understand the relationship is. So 10b through c is the ground for 10a. So we have 8, then 9 and then 10 and 11; there is 5-7. The main idea is to supplement your faith by all of these virtues because they render you fruitful in knowing Jesus. This is a positive. If these qualities aren’t yours then you have forgotten about the forgiveness of your sins. You need to be diligent to confirm your calling and election. These things are necessary to obtain the final inheritance, heaven itself. But this is not works / righteousness as it is built on verses 3 and 4; God has given you everything for life and Godliness. Therefore you must live this way otherwise you are not believers at all. I think this is what Peter is trying to say.
III. Visions of God 4:1-5:13
A. The identity of the four living creatures and twenty four elders
So we ended with the letters to the churches and now we have the visions in chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 is the vision of God as creator and chapter 5 is the vision of Christ as redeemer. There is an open door in heaven and this signifies revelation from God. God is about to give him revelation. He was in the spirit. He means that the Spirit has seized him for revelation according to a prophetic Spirit. Then he sees a throne in heaven and he sees a person seated on the throne. God is on his throne, ruling, but what does he look like as he is seated on the throne? This is intensely interesting to all of us. John’s answer is simply, indescribable. He describes God with stones like jasper, carnelian, and an emerald and then a rainbow. Of course if you know your Old Testament, this goes back to Ezekiel chapter 1:26-28. It is very similar to Ezekiel’s vision. So this imagery wasn’t new and so people had already seen it in their Old Testament readings. He doesn’t see God but he sees beauty or rather he can’t describe God in any concrete way but only with imagery. There are twenty four thrones around that throne with twenty four elders who have white garments and crowns on their heads. John also sees flashes of lightening and voices and thunder. It seems like a dangerous place. And before the throne were burning seven torches of fire which are the sevens spirits of God. I believe this to be the Holy Spirit, but again there is fire; it is an awesome place. And there is a sea of glass, like crystal; clear pure class in ancient Rome was hard to fine. It was difficult and expensive to make. This was a way of describing the awesome beauty of God along with the glory, wonder and holiness of who he is and the majesty of what was occurring around his throne.
There were four living creatures also around the throne; they were full of eyes around them. The first creature was like a lion, then the second was like an ox and the third had the face of a human being and the forth was like a flying eagle. When we consider these creatures, we think again of the Book of Ezekiel because the imagery comes out of Ezekiel chapter 1. In Ezekiel each creature has the four different faces so it is adjusted a little different in John. But we are told in Ezekiel chapter 10 that these creatures are cherubim’s; that they are angels. I think the same is true in Revelation. So who are these four living creatures? The Biblical revelation specifies it for us so we are not left to any speculation. The six wings and the words they say, ‘holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’ So both the elders and the creatures are focused on God and his awesome and beautiful holiness.
Ezekiel 1 and 10. Ezekiel was with the exiles by the Chebar canal where the heavens opened up. This was reminiscent of Joshua when God spoke to the Israelites: ‘From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.’ God refers here to the unwritten history of previous times as also mentioned in Ruth and Esther. The 13th year was counting from the beginning of the reign of Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, the era of the Babylonian empire in 625 BC which coincides with the 18th year of Josiah and the 30th year of Ezekiel’s life. Ezekiel was the ministering priest who describes the future temple. The Chabor or Habor flows into the Euphrates near Carchemish two hundred miles north of Babylon. There were four expressions that were given to Ezekiel as revelation. The first three expressions were to assure Ezekiel of the reality of the situation. The Lord touched him strengthening him for his high and arduous ministry. He saw the creatures of which one was a man but they were cherubim as explained in Exekiel 10:20. The man creature was the noblest of the four. But here each creature has four faces making sixteen in all. Above them was the likeness of a throne in appearance like sapphire and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. Upon seeing this, Ezekiel fell on his face as he heard the voice of one speaking. Here, the God head appeared in the likeness of enthroned humanity. The azure sapphire answers to the color of the sky. Again in chapter 10:1 he mentions something that appeared like a sapphire.
Revelation 5:9-10. It was between the thrones that the four living creatures and the elders saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and seven eyes were the seven spirits of God sent out to the earth. The Greek word for Lamb here is only found in Revelation. It expresses endearment, namely, the endearing relationship that Christ has with us, as the consequence of His previous relation as the sacrificial Lamb. They fell down before the Lamb singing: worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign on the earth. So this is the theme of redemption suggesting thoughts of praise. The object of their worship was the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Their worship was in profound adoration. They mention his sufferings and then the fruits of his sufferings. This was redemption from the bondage of sin, guilt, and Satan for us. We were redeemed to God, we are freed to serve him and enjoy him. Every slave was ransomed and restored to freedom in Christ. The number four marks world-wide extension: the four quarters of the world. Here, the use of kindred is another term for tribe and nation. We will reign on the earth is a new feature. As saints we spiritually reign now; but certainly not as we will when the prince of this world is bound up.
B. The focus of the Vision in Chapter 4
So we have the scenery of God on his throne as the covenant God of his church. We have the Lamb of God, Jesus introduced. In 5:13, we see the one sitting on the throne is different than Jesus. The Son of man before the Ancient of days is distinguished from God. The golden lampstand represents the church on earth and the seven stars represent the pastors of those churches. Their attention is redirected to things in heaven where it is now open for all the saints. This is part of the vision of the heavenly world. The speaker is the risen Lord. This is an invitation to those who have been chosen, his elect. Thus heaven is near and can be known to us. The Bible is the door along with the life of Christ. Before this, there was a wide gulf between heaven and earth. Until now the knowledge of heaven was so far removed from our understanding but not any longer.
The rainbow is the object of God’s covenant with his people. The thunder and lightning is the fore warning to rid the earth of its oppressors amidst judgement. The Cloud has always been a symbol of God and Christ’s presence as it was on Mount Sinai and with the tabernacle, a pattern of a heavenly holy place. The singing of holy, holy, holy is also represented in Isaiah 6:3, psalm 99:3 and 5 where he is praised for his holiness on account of his majesty. The cherubim here with six wings are like those in Isaiah 6:2 who are called living creatures. In Ezekiel 1:6 these creatures are in contrast to the four world powers represented by four beasts. These are also identified with the four Gospels: Matthew the lion, Mark the ox, Luke the man and John the eagle and these express an aspect of Christ in relation to the world. Similarly, it relates to the four standards where Israel camped in the wilderness, the east, north, the west and south and thus representing the lion, eagle, ox and man. We have praise for God’s eternity and power and glory. Remember, the purpose of Revelation was to encourage a suffering church and how better to encourage people than tell of God’s majesty in all his glory and the availability of God to his people.
C. The Sealed Book and the Focus of the Vision in chapter 5
The Lamb opens the scroll’s seven seals which portray a series of seven visions introducing ways that will be used to bring his enemies to justice. What is this scroll? It seems to be the ownership of the earth. Psalm 24:1 says that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it and all who live in it for seals 1 through 4. Seals 5 and 7 give us a rationale for his righteous wrath while seal 6 provides us with a climactic judgement at the end of history. Know that the world is in rebellion against God. Those who hold a futurist view of Revelation say that the great tribulation begins with the opening of the first seal. Other futurists think the great tribulation beings with the 1,260 days. A horse and rider comes in the opening of the first four seals as being emissaries sent by God to watch out over the world. Number 4 is represented in the seal, trumpet and bowl, all being judgments on the earth. There are also three larger judgements. The bow often relates to the Parthians, an enemy of the Roman Empire. This could symbolize a destabilization before the coming war. The next horse was red symbolizing blood. The black horse relates to food being at an all-time high, actually unaffordable. So we have the seals where death and hell is given authority over one fourth of the earth and then the trumpets where one third is affected and then the bowls represent every living thing. The sixth seal reveals the coming destruction with an earthquake to announce the arrival of the Lord. John sees the sun becoming black and the moon red with the mountains and islands shake the world over. So those who are in Christ will declare the glory of the Lord for we will be with him in heaven and every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and sea will hear blessing, honor, glory and power be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for every and ever. And the four cherubim said, Amen and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped him.