One theme in the book of Revelations is the importance of the holy numbers. Threes and sevens are littered throughout the book. Three angels. Seven seals. Seven trumpets. John wanted to make sure that we knew divine numbers are in use here. Expect many more instances of the divine numbers, and we’ll be adding in twelve to go with them soon.
In the previous chapters, the destruction of earth begins. And then begins in a slightly different way. The sun, moon and stars are either darkened or turned black and blood-red. People all over the planet are getting killed. Again and again, by plague, famine, you name it. We left off after the fourth angel blew his trumpet, and an eagle warned that things up until this point have been tame compared to what comes next…
Every time I think that this book can’t get weirder, it does. And in this chapter, things quickly change from weird to bizarre! It is definitely a trip down the rabbit hole.
The fifth angel blows his trumpet, and a plague of locusts invades the earth. These aren’t ordinary locusts, though. They looked like horses with human faces. They had hair like a woman’s, teeth like lion’s, they were wearing breastplates, they had scorpion tails, stinger and all. The locusts were allowed to torture people for five months.
The sixth angel blows his trumpet, and four more angels are released. One thing to note here: angels can be bad-asses! First the horsemen of the apocalypse, then the angels with the trumpets, and now angels who were imprisoned at the Euphrates river. These angels ride with an army of 200 million calvary troops, and are allowed to kill one-third of humanity. The horses in this attack breathed three plauges – fire, smoke and sulfur. These plagues killed another third of humanity.
The remaining third had not learned their lesson, and did not repent of their sins.
I have to say, that’s pretty fucking stupid. If I were to see fire and brimstone rain down from the skies, the oceans boil, the sun and moon blackened, a plague of mutated scorpion/locust hybrids wiping out a third of humanity and mounted army of 200 million come sweeping across the world, killing another third of the world’s population, you can rest assured that I’d be saying “okay, I was wrong. I’m sorry!”
We’re going back to the bad-ass angels. The next has legs that were like columns of fire, and his face was like the sun. He speaks with the roar of a lion, and is big enough that he can set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on land. The angel speaks, and then seven thunders (???) cried out. God wouldn’t let John write down what the thunders said, however. Which I take to mean that John couldn’t figure out how thunder could talk, nor what it would say. But that’s just me being cynical.
The giant angel holds a scroll in his hand. God tells John to eat the scroll. John does, and finds that the scroll tastes like honey, but sours in his stomach. And look, I know that this is symbolic of something. The scroll stands for something – maybe the teachings of a false prophet? I am not completely blind to imagery. I don’t have a lot of patience for it, though. I am too literal a person to make these types of connections. My brain doesn’t work that way. I don’t like imagery, and this chapter is one great big batch of symbolism.
John is told to measure the temple of God, but I’m not sure why because his measurements are never used. God does say that the Holy City (Jerusalem, I presume) will be trampled by representatives of all nations for 42 months. During this time, there will be two witnesses (who are each an olive tree and a lampstand) who will prophesy of things to come. These two witnesses will have the power to rain down plagues upon the land. In the end, they will do battle with the beast from the bottomless pit. Never fear, though: the Beast will conquer and kill the witnesses.
No, wait, what?
The peoples of the earth rejoice, since the two witnesses had been saying things like “you’re a sinner living in a land of evil!” Who wouldn’t want to be able to put a sock into a self-righteous party pooper? The witnesses aren’t buried, and lay displayed for three and a half days. At that point, God resurrected them and took them into heaven. Then there was a powerful earthquake, destroying 1/10th of the city (I’m surprised there’s that much still standing) and killing 7,000 people.
Getting back to the angels and the trumpets, the seventh angel finally steps up to bat and blows his trumpet. There was singing from heaven. The Elders fall to their knees to praise God. The heavenly temple of God is finally opened – oh, look, there’s the ark of the covenant!
New installments of The New Testament In Review will be posted each Tuesday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series is accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page. You can also follow me (@biffster) on Twitter to be alerted to new posts.
- The end is here! (New Testament in Review) (biffster.org)