Sunday, December 11, 2016

Revelation Advent -- December 11

Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:6-7, ESV)

Recapitulation. That is a big word. A shorter form of it is used in sports casting all the time: recap. Sequences in visions could be sequences in time -- or they could recap the same span of history from another angle. Hebrew poetry has forms of recapitulations where one stanza is restated in another parallel stanza. We see this in the Psalms and other passages. This is on a larger scale. The trumpets look again at the history from Christ's first advent until his second coming.

But that isn't the only kind of recapitulation happening. The trumpets in revelation recapitulate the trumpets on Mount Sinai, the coming of the Lord to Israel, the trumpets surrounding Jericho sounding warning and its doom and fall. Many of the plagues of the trumpets echoes the plagues the Lord sent to Egypt to extract the chosen people of God out of Egypt. In a similar way the plagues with the trumpets in Revelation are sent on the earth to announce that the Lord is coming, as warning to the people who dwell on the earth, and prepare God's chosen ones to be delivered into heaven.

What God did to deliver Israel in the Old Testament is a shadow and type of what God will do deliver not only ethnic Israel, but also all who are grafted onto true Israel, God's people who comes from every tribe, nation, and language, the people blessed through Abraham.

The imagery of the trumpets paint a canvas of metaphors of the trumpet plagues that visit earth between the first and second advent of Christ. The first trumpet's fire correspond with the savage activities of the seals, where warfare and conquering had widespread fiery destruction crops and orchards. The second trumpet shows the disruption of trade and fishing from war and natural disasters. The third trumpet shows the polluting of rivers, springs, and wells -- often brought about by war, but also the human general fouling of the water in its fallen economic activity. The fourth trumpet shows the results of war with burning cities, fields that were put to the torch by military conquerers. The fifth trumpet delivers images of locusts whose activity is spiritual in nature -- the do not harm those who have God's seal. The fifth trumpet illustrates how Satan's allies are tormented. These torments come in various ways, those outside of God see the cruel meaninglessness of life, to various curses that accompany life outside of Christ. The sixth trump brings war.

These six trumpets show the activity throughout the inter-advent age. War, destruction, famine, economic disruptions. All of these come from God's ordained plans, at the call of the angels. When we see these things we are reminded that God is working in history and we look towards our ultimate redemption. We are not to hold fast to the things of this world, but keep our eyes focused on Christ, our champion and redeemer.

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