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This Sunday during the morning service, Lanty Moss, a missionary from Awana International, will be giving a brief overview about a children’s program called Awana Clubs!

This children’s ministry is for children 2 years old through 6th grade.

A children’s program like Awana provides the solid foundation that kids need to grow up to become adults who know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Awana focuses on Scripture memorization and helps kids understand and apply the truths of Scripture to their lives. With an atmosphere of fun and excitement through group time and games, kids will want to return week after week!

Don't miss this exciting presentation on Sunday morning!

    Thanks to slow motion cameras an entire stadium and an entire television viewing audience can see an umpire’s mistake replayed frame by frame over and over again. So many sports enthusiasts are now calling for instant replay to correct umpire mistakes (which seem to have been legion during this year’s major league baseball playoffs). Just a few thoughts on that subject:

    I’ve been an umpire for about nine years, working a little over four hundred games at every level from eight-year-old Pee Wees to high school varsity. For those who think bad calls are just umpire stupidity, I offer one suggestion: try umpiring six games–three behind the plate and three on the bases. It will change your view of the sport forever.

    Once I was umpiring behind the plate and my partner on the bases was dealing with a confusing play at second similar to the one that recently occurred in the Yankees game–two runners trying to stand on one base. Both teams on the field had the same color uniforms and the same color hats. Three fielders were gathered around the base, tossing the ball back and forth, bobbling it, dropping it and trying to tag everyone in sight! My partner had to make a split second call, but he was so confused he made NO call at all–and turned to me for help! I had been trying to make sense of the mess from my position. I made a call, and instantly both coaches were out of the dugout arguing. I got them settled down and explained the rules I was applying based on what I had seen.

    As I walked back to the plate, one coach said to me, “You know blue, I’m a plumber. And if I do a lousy job at plumbing, I don’t get paid. You hear what I’m saying?”

    “I understand,” I said, “but when was the last time your day of plumbing involved split second decisions about complicated matters on the spur of the moment?”  I winked and got back behind the plate.

    You’d be amazed at how fast things happen on the field! If you blink your eyes you can miss a pitcher’s balk. If you look down at your indicator to check on the batter’s count, you can miss a throw to first. You’d be amazed at how fast the pitch passes the plate, and how quickly that tag is made at the base. And how quickly people groan and yell over what you thought was a clear and simple no-brainer. You don’t have the advantage of slow motion action, of seeing the play a second time in great detail. You must make an immediate decision based on what you saw take place in a fraction of a second. You don’t have five vantage points (camera angles)–you have ONE: the eyes in your head from the place you’re standing. You’d be amazed at how fast things happen, and how easy it is to have your view blocked by a player, or to be unable to get into position so you have the best angle.   

    Should there be instant replay in baseball? My perspective is that sports are intended to be a form of diversion–just for fun. I don’t think they should be taken too seriously. But there is something in my soul (or maybe it’s my body)–and I think in most men’s bodies (I think it’s called testosterone)–that makes us more and more competitive when we begin to play. The more competitive we grow, the more detailed our rules become. The more detailed our rules become, the more detailed our rules have to become (yes, I intended to say it twice). And we get more and more serious about our play. Sometimes I think that we as a nation are more serious about our sports than we are about our personal discipline, the rearing and education of our children, the government of our nation, and even our faith. So I think that for people like that, who insist on working at their play, instant replay is inevitable. We will demand it and get it–especially in professional sports, which are about money, not fun. But deep down I think that level of technicality is bad for our souls. It encourages the technical legalist in all of us, and somehow I think that’s harmful to us—whether we’re talking about religion or sports.

    I for one prefer the human factor. Accept human finiteness and let the umpire or the referee make the call. Stop replaying it a gazillion times in slow motion! You win some, you lose some. If there was baseball in heaven, how do you think it would be played?  I think there would be rules, and even umpires and umpiring. Scores would be kept, and someone would win and someone would lose. But somehow I don’t believe there would be slow motion cameras or instant replay. Not because the umpiring would be perfect, but because people would play and not worry about it.

    But this isn’t heaven.

    Sigh…

Just some random thoughts on the passing scene…

… I find most public “apologies” ridiculous. Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), Kanye West, Serena Williams and David Letterman have all recently offered public apologies for bad behavior. But they didn’t offend the public; they should apologize in private to those slighted – and that should be the end of it. A good number of public apologies seem to be more about ego/publicity stunts. A celebrity’s personal failure in most instances isn’t of much public consequence. His words just aren’t that powerful or far-reaching, and he shouldn’t be permitted to think so.

… I agree with Congressman Joe Wilson that President Obama was not being completely truthful about the health care plan, but I think the Congressman’s remark during the speech (“You lie!”) was bad form. Speeches in British Parliament are always this way, with opponents regularly shouting down the speaker. I guess this is freedom of speech; but it makes it really difficult to understand what anyone is saying—and I don’t think it’s the best way to do things. I prefer civilization to barbarity, wherever possible.

… Why are we so shocked by the rising price of health care? We’re not shocked at the rising prices of houses, property, cars, the newest electronic technology or anything else. I have found articles of deep concern about the “crisis” of rising health care dating back into the early 1990’s. How have we survived all these years in the face of such a “crisis”?!?!

… Facebook users – Why should I care which Disney Princess or SpongeBob Squarepants character I am – or, for that matter, which one you are?

… I believe “adolescent” is an artificial social category. If you list the characteristics of “child”, “adult,” and “adolescent,” I think you’ll find little significant difference between “child” and “adolescent.” So what are we really saying when we say that the adolescent years are being stretched into the late-20s?

… Many people expect nothing of their children any more – and that’s exactly what they get.

… I generally don’t allow my children to “hang out.” If they can’t state a purpose in going somewhere, why should they go?

… When I’m umpiring, the people that yell the loudest about my calls are nearly always people who know little or nothing about umpiring and baseball. I think about that every time I’m tempted to yell about anything …

… The guy who doubts his own existence and the guy who says that words have no meaning should either be laughed at or committed to an asylum. He should NOT be paid to teach “serious thinking” in a university.

… People ask me how it feels to be a grandfather. I’m not a real “feely” guy, but I have observed that whereas the relationship with my children was natural and almost automatic, grandparenting depends on how much you choose to intentionally insert yourself into the child’s life, and how much you invite her into yours. You must MAKE the grandparenting relationship happen. I never much thought about that before. I thought I’d raise my kids and then die. For some reason all notions of grandparenting as a significant stage of life eluded me. I’m in for some pleasant discoveries, I think.

… I enjoy holding my granddaughter Emma. I ponder that I’m touching the hands of a girl who may live to see the year 2100. And she’s touching the hands of a man who knew people born in the late 1800s. It makes great swaths of time seem so small. It also reminds me of the brevity of life, and the significance of “moments.” Some only come once—and you dare not miss them.

… Recently my wife and I visited a restaurant called California Tortilla. When I told the cashier taking our order that it was our first time there, I did so hoping to get help with their rather large and varied menu full of unfamiliar Mexican terminology. Instead, the young man began clanging a brass school bell and shouting through a yellow megaphone, “Hey everybody!  We’ve got a first-timer here! Let’s give him a big welcome!” I am neither young enough hip enough to find public embarrassment either amusing or an acceptable form of preferential treatment. The fact that I still use the word “hip” probably makes that doubly clear. Perhaps I will eventually get comfortable with it, or forget about it, but presently I have no need or desire for California Tortilla.


Just a few thoughts on handling the growth of our church…

    The elders here at MVC have been praying about and discussing direction for a few years now. And as we’ve prayed and thought and discussed, some simple and basic ideas have bubbled to the surface. We know that the next step is to go to two services, but a number of folks have expressed displeasure with that option. Two services, they say, always creates two separate congregations, and it’s so hard to put them back together!
    Yes, exactly.
    So, if two services naturally forms two congregations, why not go with that flow, allow nature to take its course, and plan on constructing two congregations? This is the plan that I am suggesting we follow, the course that we begin to pursue. That course develops in four steps. First, we go to two services and I pastor both until we have enough income to hire an assistant pastor. Second, the new assistant and I share ministry to both services for a time. Third, we divide the services between the pastors. I take one and he takes the other and we solidify them as separate congregations, each with their own leadership. Finally, we move one of the congregations to a different location, planting a new church.
    There are numerous advantages to this plan. Most importantly, it’s the plan the apostles followed. The Christian church grew and spread through the multiplication of smaller congregations. Additionally, smaller churches (under 500 people) are easier to manage with fewer staff. In smaller churches there are always plenty of niches in which to serve. Smaller churches require less overhead and can get by with the creative use of smaller facilities. Smaller churches make for more meaningful contact between people, and it is that “small” interaction that is the catalyst for spiritual growth in the lives of members.
    Despite these things which I believe to be clear advantages, those to whom I have spoken seem skeptical of this course for the future. No one can quite put a finger on why they think it is a bad idea; people just seem to feel that it’s more desirable to keep the whole group together as one big and growing body.
    I guess the upside of building yet a bigger building to house a bigger congregation is that we can maintain that comfortable feeling. But what really is the appeal of keeping such a large group together? Do you really have “more friends?” After all, most of us can’t interact meaningfully with more than five or six other families at a time. Our circles of REAL friends just aren’t that large. So what is the big advantage of going to church with 1,000 other people? Most large churches are working hard to create small groups so that people can have meaningful interaction and spiritual growth!
Going further, consider some of the logistics for such a building project. If we go to two services, fill them and then plan on building, what size building will we need?  Two full services means 500 per service—so 1,000 people. And when you build you must build to accompany what you have AND to accommodate additional growth. So, if we plan to accommodate an eventual doubling of the congregation, we’d be building to house 2,000 people. Most of the local high school gymnasiums house half of that (or just slightly less). We are talking about a MONSTER of a building. And many of you have asked about building a Sunday school wing in addition to a new auditorium. Just understand that we are talking about tens of thousands of dollars in consulting costs before we even build—just to handle all of the variables of zoning and government regulation. And then we must maintain that big building, and run it weekly – with heat and air conditioning, etc., etc. And of course, such a large congregation would take additional staff. Are we that confident in the economy and the way things are going in America to believe THAT such a large step is wise at this time?
    What is the real downside of starting a second congregation?
    And what overwhelming upsides of an enormous church am I missing?


A few more observations on the book of Revelation…so have your Bible open…

    Did you notice that in Revelation 21 John introduces the New Jerusalem twice (21:1-2, 9)? And this isn’t the only place in Revelation where an event is narrated twice. The same thing happens in Revelation 12:6, where John says that the heavenly woman gives birth to a son; the son is taken to heaven and the woman flees into the wilderness to escape the dragon. This event is then reiterated in more detail in Revelation 12:13-17 after the depiction of the battle between the archangel Michael and the dragon Satan. Why note these things twice?  What is the significance of this double reference?

    I believe the answer lies in understanding some of the difficulties in recording a vision in written form. John’s senses are attuned to all of the things that he is seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting while in his “trance.” He is looking all around him; things are happening to his left, to his right, above him, below him, behind him. Some of these things are happening simultaneously; sometimes they are happening in a chronological order. In addition, many of the things which may take place minutes apart from each other may be related thematically. Somehow, all of these things must be conveyed so that the audience understands not only what John saw, but how the parts of the vision related to one another and what they therefore meant. Those involved in the television and movie industry now have this sort of conveyance of information down to a science. They know how to film various scenes and then put them together so that viewers are able to tell the chronological order of events – even if one scene is a flashback to the past – and we have become trained viewers; we pick up the subtle clues that indicate chronological connections as well as thematic connections.

    Video is one thing; accomplishing all of those things in a written text is a whole different story – but I believe that that is precisely what John is trying to do in the two texts that I have mentioned above.

    In the text of Revelation 12 John is watching “signs” in the sky;  he tells us that he sees the child escape and then he sees the woman flee – but he doesn’t tell us what she’s fleeing from or why she’s fleeing. His attention then turns to a battle in heaven in which the dragon is cast down to earth by Michael and his angels, and the dragon in anger then pursues the “heavenly” woman – which indicates that her heavenly existence is symbolic, and that she really represents someone or some group living on the earth – but she escapes. I propose that John is trying to show us that these events are all happening very closely, and that they are all related. The child’s escape to heaven is related to the dragon’s failure to destroy him. The dragon’s failure to destroy him is related to his defeat in the battle of the angels. The dragon’s failures in these things generates his anger and explains his reason for directing his angry pursuit to the woman. Her escape explains his redirecting his attention to the woman’s other children. John demonstrates these thematic connections by noting the woman’s escape (12:6), then narrating the scene of the battle (12:7-12) and then re-narrating the woman’s escape (12:13-17). The two narrations are not about two separate escapes, but about the same escape. It is narrated twice to show the relationship of the “scenes.” We do the same thing with chase scenes in movies today.

    John is doing a similar thing in Revelation 21. As I noted in last month’s Scrip, there is an important thematic relationship between the harlot (Babylon) and the bride (New Jerusalem). We can see this by comparing all of the visionary similarities between them. But there is also a chronological order to the vision, and John is very careful to note the progression of events. The apostle first sees the gaudy, bloody prostitute riding the hideous beast (17:1-6). An angel then tells John that someday the beast will turn on and destroy the prostitute; John never sees the destruction; he is simply told it will occur (17:7-18). “After these things” (18:1) an angel comes down from heaven describing how the fall of Babylon will be and the effect it will have on others in the world (18:2-20). “Then” (18:21) an angel throws a gigantic millstone into the sea and proclaims that Babylon will be thrown down violently. “After these things” John hears cheering in heaven over the fall of the prostitute (19:1-3) and watches the elders in God’s throne room fall down in worship (19:4). “Then” he hears a voice from the throne calling for praise (19:5) and again cheering erupts in heaven (19:6-8). An angel then tells John to write, and John falls down to worship the angel, but the angel rebukes him for doing so (19:9-10).

    John then sees heaven open and Christ appears on a white horse leading the armies of heaven (19:11-16). He then sees an angel standing in the sun calling all the birds to come and eat the flesh of evil human beings (19:17-18). He then sees the beast and earth’s armies gathered together to make war against Christ, but tells us they are all captured or killed (19:19-21). He then sees an angel bind the devil and lock him in a pit (20:1-3). John then sees thrones and the souls of those beheaded sitting on them (20:4-10), and then one great white throne and all of the dead being judged by the one sitting on that great white throne (20:11-15). Finally, John sees a new heaven and a new earth (21:1); then he sees the New Jerusalem descending from heaven (21:2).

    Pardon the lengthy detailing of the vision, but it’s important to understand that John had a difficult task here. First, he wants to make clear the chronological order of events portrayed in the vision: God uses the beast to destroy the prostitute (and there is great rejoicing in heaven over this); then Christ defeats the beast and the dragon is imprisoned while the saints reign with Christ. After this Satan is released and finally cast into hell; this is followed by a judgment of the dead, the establishment of the new heavens and new earth, and the arrival of the New Jerusalem. But he also needs to establish that this final episode – the arrival of the New Jerusalem – though separated by so many events in the vision from the fall of the prostitute is directly related to the fall of the prostitute (see last month’s Scrip). Rather than lay out the details of the vision of the New Jerusalem in 21:2, John simply notes the fact of New Jerusalem’s establishment chronologically, then notes a few more things that were spoken at that time (21:3-8) and THEN the apostle goes into great detail on the New Jerusalem itself. Thus, John saw the details of 21:9-22:5 at 21:2. There are not two comings of the New Jerusalem but one.

    There are theological ramifications to these seemingly trivial technical points, but I’ll leave those for you all to chew on. If you really care about them, ask me or email me.

Let’s talk about a few more interpretive keys to the book of Revelation.  (You may want to have a Bible in front of you to follow this article.)  The last thing John sees in Revelation 16 is the fall of the city of Babylon.  I can imagine that there were all sorts of noise and clouds of dust (recall the fall of the World Trade Center on 9/11!) in the vision.  As the dust settles, one of the angels who had been pouring the vials of God’s wrath emerges to talk with John.  Note the way John’s description is structured (Revelation 17:1-6).

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me ...
 ... saying “Come, I will show you ... ”
 ... the judgment of the great harlot ...
So he carried me away in the Spirit ...
 ... into the wilderness ...
And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast ...
 ... and on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon the Great ...

Now turn to Revelation 21:9ff and notice the similar structure.

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked to me ...
 ... saying, “Come, I will show you ... ”
 ... the bride, the Lamb’s wife ...
And he carried me away in the Spirit ...
 ... to a great and high mountain ...
And he showed me the great city ...
 ... the holy Jerusalem ...

These similarities are not an accident.  They are an invitation to compare and contrast the two situations; the sections are related.  Thus, the next large section in the outline of Revelation is 17:1 – 22:5 (at least, or possibly to the very end of the book; the end of the section is a minor consideration), and is a contrast between two women who represent two cities.
   
Note that in each section John is invited to see a woman, and in both cases that woman is also a city.  First, John is taken to a deserted wilderness and sees a raucous prostitute riding a seven-headed, ten-horned beast (to whom we were already introduced in Revelation 13).  The woman’s name is Babylon and she is drunk with the blood of martyred followers of Jesus (17:6), i.e. she is a city that loved to put followers of Jesus to death.  By contrast, the second woman John views from a high mountain; she is a pure and spotless bride coming down from heaven, and her name is (New) Jerusalem.  Filthy prostitute ... pure bride.  Mystery Babylon ... NEW Jerusalem.  Killer of the followers of Jesus ... Home of the followers of Jesus.  We are not supposed to simply observe these things.  The very structure invites us to relate the women/cities to one another, to contrast them, to note their relationship to one another.
   
The angel gives John clues about the identities of the characters in the vision.  The seven heads of the beast are seven mountains; they are also seven kings – one which “is” – which means he was ruling during John’s time.  The city on seven hills and the king who “is” would seem to identify the beast as Rome, famous in the ancient world as the city on the seven hills, and a Roman emperor ruled during John’s time.  But if the beast is Rome, who is the woman that sits on the beast, i.e. that is supported by Rome?  Again, John is given a clue: she is a city that, with Rome, persecutes Christian believers, and she is eventually the victim of the beast herself.  Thus, she is a city that is eventually destroyed by Rome.  So what city might that be?

Going further, this prostitute is contrasted (replaced) by a pure and faithful bride – the NEW Jerusalem.  If the bride replaces the prostitute (as the explicit contrast encourages), and the bride is the NEW Jerusalem (cf. 21:2) – then who might the unfaithful prostitute Babylon be?  (Hint: see Revelation 11:8 where she is called by the names of other wicked and unfaithful cities, and 1 Peter 5:13 where Peter uses an interesting code name to speak of the city from which he is writing).
   
John is given some clues about the identity of the New Jerusalem.  She is the bride of Christ (21:9).  Her foundation is the apostles (21:14).  She is a Jerusalem without a temple, that doesn’t need a temple, because God and the Lamb dwell within her (21:22).  So who is this New Jerusalem who is the bride of Christ?
   
So what conclusions might we draw about these two women, these two cities?  Why are they depicted as they are?  What is the theological message being sent by the vision to John to give to the persecuted churches of his day?
   
Finally, did you notice that John introduces the New Jerusalem twice (21:9 and 21:1-2)?  Why is that?  We’ll talk about that unusual little twist in next month’s Scrip ...

   Let’s talk about a few more interpretive keys to the book of Revelation.  (You may want to have a Bible in front of you to follow this article.)  One of the first things that readers of Revelation observe is the prominence of groups of seven: seven seals on the scroll that are opened, seven trumpets that are blown, seven bowls of the final wrath of God that seven angels pour out.  These groups of seven comprise the bulk of the book.  Many interpreters spend a lot of time on the details of the individual items  but it seems to me more important to consider the seventh item in each group because that item is the culmination, the point to which the first six is leading.   

    The first set of sevens is the seals on the scroll.  The seventh seal we expect to bring us to a culmination; we expect to be able to read the message of the scroll.  Instead we get a half hour of silence during which seven angels with trumpets prepare to blow (8:1-6).  Contrary to our expectations, the seventh scroll leads not to a culmination, but instead introduces the seven trumpets.  The seven trumpets do, however, culminate in the kingdoms of the world becoming God’s kingdom – the time of the judging of the nations of the world, the rewarding of the faithful, and the commencement of the reign of God (11:15-19) – the end, the goal, as it were.  The first two sets of seven, then, are really one set, and they all lead us to the announcement of God’s rule over the nations of the world.

    The third set of seven consists of seven bowls containing “the last plagues,” last because “in them the wrath of God is complete” (15:1).  These horrible plagues lead to an invasion of the Holy Land (sixth bowl – 16:12-16) and culminate with the fall of a great city named “Babylon” (whatever that is).

    These culminations become the focal points of the book.  The scroll which no one could read introduces seven trumpets which point to the establishment of the reign of Christ.  The seven bowls point to the fall of Babylon (which is spelled out in greater detail in Revelation 17 and 18 – but we’ll save those chapters for another day).  The establishment of Christ’s kingdom and the fall of Babylon are the ends and therefore the chief concerns of the visions.

    What are the connections between the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls?  I’ve already noted the connections between the seals and the trumpets; they are closely related, flowing into one another almost without pause.  But the bowls seem to be disconnected, part of an entirely new portion of the vision.  There seems to be a dividing line after the culmination of the seventh trumpet, the establishment of God’s rule.  A new series of visions is begun built around three “signs in heaven.”  The first sign is a pregnant woman in heaven giving birth to a son (12:1).  The second sign is a great red dragon in heaven that tries to eat the newborn son but fails to do so (12:3).  And the third sign in heaven (after a good deal of intervening action) is the pouring out of the seven final bowls of wrath (15:1).  But the “sign in heaven” theme indicates the connection of these three things, and therefore signals that the section is a connected whole.

    These simple observations help us understand the basic structure of the book and the visions, and when you understand the structure, you can set up the beginnings of an outline.  Outlines help us group information properly, enabling us to see the forest so we don’t get lost in the trees.  The basic outline of the book based, on the observations noted above look like this:

The Road to God’s Rule of the Nations of the World (4:1 – 11:19)
The Road to the Destruction of Babylon              (12:1 – 16:21)

When I interpret the book of Revelation, I work within this framework.  I try to see the message of 4:1-11:19 as a section, and then I try to see the message of 12:1-16:21 as a section.  There may be relationships between these two big sections, but you can’t really establish them until you understand each section on its own.  If you are really serious about understanding the book of Revelation, I’d suggest reading it in terms of these sections.  Read 4:1 – 11:19, and then put your Bible down.  The next day read 12:1 – 16:21.  Read, read, read – and acquaint yourself with the details and flow of each section.

   Somewhat to my surprise I’ve received very positive response about the sermons and articles on the book of Revelation.  Along those lines I have a few more interpretive keys to the book of Revelation to offer for your consideration.

The vision itself begins in Revelation 4.  The setting is the throne room of God, and the action centers on a scroll written on both sides that no one is worthy to open.  And then the Lion who is a slain Lamb comes forward.  He alone is worthy to open the seals on the scroll.  Now, a scroll full of writing that is sealed with seven seals and which no one can open or read or look at, but which everyone wants to see opened and read and looked at, is an intriguing thing, isn’t it?  In that sense the scroll – or should I say “the contents of the scroll—” becomes the main character.  We all want to know what the scroll says -- so the key is getting the whole thing opened so we can read it!

Students of prophecy spend a lot of time trying to figure out the images that flash up on the screen each time Christ opens one of the seals on the scroll.  But are the images that are seen – the four horsemen, the martyrs under the altar, and great earthquake and falling stars – really expressing the contents of the scroll?  Or are they representing things preparatory to the real message of the scroll, things that must take place before the message of the scroll can be read?  I’m inclined to believe the latter.

As the scroll is almost open, six of the seven seals having been undone, there is a great pause as John sees the sights of Revelation 7 – four angels holding back winds of judgment until the servants of God are sealed, and then a great innumerable crowd from every tribe and nation and language who are going to “come out of the great tribulation” and live peacefully and joyfully in God’s temple.  Why is John shown these sights while the scroll hangs almost completely open – just prior to the message of the scroll being FINALLY revealed?  It seems as though the vision of Revelation 7 is also preparatory – things that must be put in place, revealed for some reason, before the message of the scroll can actually be read.
   
In Revelation 8:1 the last seal is broken, and we expect now to be able to read the message on the scroll.  Instead, after all the noise and hubbub that we’ve seen in chapters 6 and 7, there is suddenly silence.  John says it lasts for half an hour.  Try a half hour of total silence some time, especially after there’s been all sorts of noise and commotion.  It’s quite a pregnant pause.  We are all holding our breath waiting to hear what the scroll that couldn’t be read has to say.

But instead of the contents of the scroll, seven angels take their turns blowing trumpets, and we get to see more commotion – hail and fire and blood falling to earth and killing the vegetation, a great mountain falling into the sea and poisoning the water, a great star falling into the fresh waters and poisoning them, the lights of the sky are struck and dimmed, an army of locusts emerges from the pit and wild demonic horses are turned loose across the Euphrates River.  Six of the seven trumpets blow – and we’re waiting for that last one, just like we waited for the last seal of the scroll to be broken.

And then we are introduced to Revelation 10.  It’s an odd chapter; commentators often seem unsure what to do with it.  In it, a large angel with a little book (or scroll) in his hand comes down to John.  The only other detail that we’re given about this little scroll is that it’s OPEN.  And John is commanded to eat it (just as the prophet Ezekiel had eaten a scroll that was written on both sides, full of judgment).  He does so, and then is told “that he must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

What is this little scroll, or as the KJV puts it, “the little book”?

I want to suggest that we consider what the vision has been building toward up to this point.  It has been a vision about a sealed scroll that we all wanted to read.  The opening of the scroll is stretched out dramatically.  When the scroll is opened there is a very pregnant pause of silence.  As the action moves forward and is moving toward completion, a large angel gives John an OPEN scroll to eat – and then commands him to prophesy.
   
Why introduce this little scroll out of nowhere?    Isn’t it more likely to find its meaning in the previously established context?
   
What might the relationship be between the scroll of seven seals and the little scroll that John eats?
   
And might there be some connection between all of this and the statement in the introductory verses of Revelation 1:1 which says that the risen Christ sent the Revelation to John “and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”

    It’s just a thought … Chew on it; if it makes sense and you find it helpful, swallow it.  If not, just spit it out.


Visit the Pastor's Weight Room and read his review of the novel "The Shack" by William P. Young which was #1 on the New York Time's Bestseller List.
    A few Sundays ago I noted two keys to interpreting the book of Revelation: the time frame of the book (the book says that it is about things that must “shortly” come to pass) and recognizing that imagery is imagery and NOT literal description.  I received a number of questions concerning Revelation, so I’d like to spell out some more interpretive keys in the book.

    It’s crucial to remember that John is not just writing a book, but is recording his experience of the vision.  If you don’t understand why that might be important, imagine that I gave you an assignment to make a video presenting what John saw in the vision recorded in the book of Revelation.  Put yourself in his body and make a movie of what he experienced.  Thinking this way as you read John’s detailed presentation will revolutionize the way you think about and understand the book of Revelation.

    What you will find is that sometimes he is telling you things that he is seeing.  He says “I saw” 33 times throughout the book.  But sometimes he tells you that he hears something rather than seeing it.  He never sees the 144,000 sealed servants of God; he just hears their number (7:4) – which would seem to indicate that the important thing about them is the number.  He hears the number of the “demonic horses” (9:10).  He doesn’t see the outcome of the battle between the angels; he hears a voice proclaim what the outcome will be (12:10).

    When you come to Revelation 11, John is given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple; he is told what parts of it to measure and what not to measure – but he never actually measures it.  Why?  What does this mean?  And while John is sitting there with a measuring rod in his hand, God tells him about the careers of the two fire-breathing witnesses (Revelation 11:3-13).  John never sees those two witnesses nor does he experience anything about them in the actual vision.  Why?  What does this mean?

    The same sort of thing takes place in Revelation 20.  John never “sees” the millennium (the thousand-year reign of Christ).  He sees beheaded souls sitting on thrones and tells us that they shall live and reign with Christ for a thousand years – but he doesn’t tell us how he knows that, or how he knows that the rest of the dead won’t live again till after the thousand years.  He simply declares that this is what will happen.  How does he know?  Where does he get this idea?  Likewise, John never claims to see the end of the millennium.  He declares that Satan will be loosed from his prison, that he will deceive the nations again, and that he will be finally defeated (20:7-11), but he never says that he sees it as part of the vision.  So how does he know these things?  And why did he feel compelled to tell us about them since he didn’t see or hear anything about them in the vision?

    A second thing to keep an eye on is John’s location.  John is physically on the island of Patmos – and he never leaves that island.  His body is on Patmos the whole time, but at God’s calling he is “in the Spirit” (4:2) – which means that despite his earthly location, his inner man, (his soul) is perceiving something else.  He perceives that he is in the throne room of God;  this is what his Spirit takes in through his eyes and his ears and his other perceptory senses.  And while many people get caught up in the identification of the four horseman of Revelation 6 or the 144,000, I think it’s crucial to remember that John is seeing and hearing all of these things while he perceives himself to be in the glorious throne room of God.  Don’t lose sight of what he is actually seeing!  He describes the whole throne room in Revelation 4, and the significant action that is going on there is the Lamb’s opening of the seals on the scroll.  The Lamb doesn’t disappear from his sight, nor does the scroll.  He sees the Lamb opening the seals of the scroll in the throne room (6:1); the horseman ride out in (or from) the throne room.  It is like a movie being played out for him in the throne room.  So when the Lamb opens the fifth seal, John sees martyrs under the altar.  The altar is right there in the throne room – and has been the whole time.  John is seeing all of these things at once, but he can only tell you about them one thing at a time.  This is part of the difference between understanding Revelation as the vision that it originally was and the book form that it had to take in John’s hands.

    So if you’re really interested in Revelation – try that.  Try reading it as though you were trying to turn it into a movie, and see what sorts of interesting insights you come up with…

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