Hello! Today we continue our march through Revelation featuring two demonstrations by the angels using John as the conduit. The meaning of them was not particularly clear to me even after reading it through twice so don't feel too discouraged if you don't have some immediate spark as to what this could mean. I'll share officially commentary down in the usual space. With that said, let's get going!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What do you think the small scroll and the measuring stick represent?
What about this reading, if anything, can you apply to your life?
What does it mean that when the Kingdom of God comes on earth (after the 7th trumpet blow) the temple is opened?
- Commentary -
According to the official commentary the meaning behind the small scroll that John eats is that it is a connection back to the prophets, specifically Ezekiel, where he does the same thing in Ezekiel 2:8-3:3. Ezekiel words were both comforting but also times of lament and woe for the poor behavior of the people. In other words, the angel is telling John that his words will be a balm to some but judgement to others. Further, in Ezra, he is told to drink a cup that God hands to him that appeared to be water but filled him with wisdom. Lastly, Jesus commands his disciples to "take and eat" and "take and drink" at the last supper as an act of remembrance. There is a strong lineage dating back to God providing the manna between food and prophecy. So, next time I make you upset in my preaching it's just because the scroll is both sweet and bitter ;)
The next weird section was about the two witnesses, symbolized as lampstands and olive trees. This comes from Zechariah 4 where the priestly and royal messiahs were described the same way. Further, lampstands are used in Revelation 1 and 2 to symbolize the seven churches, suggesting that there is a role of prophecy and witness for the churches. The churches are protected by way of fire (the same way the temple was protected throughout the Old Testament with Elijah and Elisha) and they are called to speak to "sodom" and "Egypt." The names are intentionally not to be read literally, as they represent places of rebellion and persecution, just as was the case with Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified.
You might notice and be surprised that Revelation is a coded message of resistance and non-conformity with its calling to be active participants in prophecy and dissent. It's a lament to say that we will not accept the world for the way that it is. We will not accept climate change, wars, cultures in which minorities and women are oppressed, systemic racism, the plight of the poor and more. If we continue to reframe Revelation not as a sign of the end of the world but rather a renewing of it, it helps us better understand why this document is a letter of resistance rather than anticipation.
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is the written prayer for Ash Wednesday found on page 353 in our hymnal. I invite you to recite this prayer silenty or in your heart before closing out this time of study.
O God, maker of every thing and judge of all that you have made, from the dust of the earth you have formed us and from the dust of death you would raise us up. by the redemptive power of the cross, creating in us clean hearts and put within us a new spirit, that we may repent of our sins and lead lives worthy of your calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.