Hello! Today we continue through Revelation as the description of the 7th seal is described, thus finishing the first of the 3 "7" objects that are signs of the end times. (Trumpets are next, and then bowls after that.) Yesterday's Bible Project video explained to us that acolyptic reading is intended to be read as a symbol and further, using symbols that would be familiar to the reader. Therefore, think of Revelation as sort of a "term exam" on everything you've read these last 351 days to make sense of it. When John describes what the people are doing today with the palms and the blood and all that jazz what famous stories of scripture will this remind you of? By keeping these stories in mind how does that help you understand what the "point" of this reading is? Let's get started and I'll talk more in the questions to consider section.
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
Why do you think heaven went silent for half an hour after the 7th seal was broken? (There isn't a single answer I'm looking for here, I'm curious for your speculation.)
Why do you speculate God only saves 144,000 select people? Why 12,000 from each tribe even though the tribes were vastly different in the number of people in them?
What famous old testament story do the terrors remind you of? What significance does that merit?
- Commentary -
One of the key aspects of Calvinism that John Wesley fiercely rejected is "pre-destination", the idea that from our conception we have a destiny that God has ordained and every action we do is just executing that plan, including where we go when we die. That root of that concept is the 144,000 that are saved in revelation while the rest will be banished to torment. John Wesley, after his heart warming experience of universal salvation for all those that believe, saw pre-destination as a heresy. The number should not be taking seriously as this entire book is symbolism. 144,000 is just 12,000 times 12 which we all know by now that any reference to 12 is linked to the 12 tribes of Israel. The 12 tribes of Israel are representative of God's chosen people. If by extension Jesus is a descendant of the tribes of Israel and we are all redeemed by Jesus than we too are "God's chosen" and will not be excluded from the renewed Kingdom of God. So, please don't panic thinking this is like college admission and you're Good Points Achievements (GPA) will limit you from making it into heaven or not. For those that paid super close attention you might have noticed that 12 tribes have changed slightly from their original list in Genesis 35 and Joshua 13. Dan is absent from the list while Manasseh is included in Revelation.
Next, let's consider the image of being "washed in the blood" for the robes to become white as snow. Three things to consider here and I'll make it short and to the point.
Martyrdom: The key theme of all the epistles had been staying faithful in the face of persecution and that remains true in Revelation as well. The point of such an argument is stay when you are covered in blood (from attacks, whips, jailing, etc.) you will enter the kingdom of heaven with a robe as white as snow, just like Jesus who appeared to the disciples the same way after his own persecution. It's not saying you must become bloody in order to achieve heaven but rather for those that do to continue to stay faithful.
Connection to Passover: In Exodus God asks the "chosen people" to mark their door posts with the "blood of the lamb" so that God knows to "passover" the house in God's assassination of Egyptian babies. (this still is weird to me.) Therefore, this is a call back to the same message to say that those affiliated with the "blood of the lamb" are God's chosen people.
Active vs Passive: In context to Rev. Joyce's wonderful rally day message from this past Sunday she challenged us to be more active in our reading. (well not us, we've been doing that!) The same type of language is present here as it says that those saved are "washing" themselves in the blood rather than "being washed." It's a super small detail but an important one. Faith is not a one time "said the magic words and now I'm saved experience." Faith is active and require daily commitment. It requires action to "wash" and not "be washed." What can you do after our daily journey ends to keep up your own "washing"?
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 352 in our hymnal - It's Me, It's Me, O Lord. (Standing in Need of Prayer)
Angela Primm (Black woman in the pink dress) is one of my favorite gospel singers. She's so expressive when she sings that you can't help but smile along. I hope you find that to be true for you as well.
Refrain: It’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. It’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.
1 Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not my brother, not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. [Refrain]
2 Not the preacher, not the deacon, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not the preacher, not the deacon, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. [Refrain]
3 Not my father, not my mother, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Not my father, not my mother, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. [Refrain]