Monthly Archives: October, 2006

Seventh Trumpet Sounds/Revelation 11:15-19

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and voices could be heard shouting in heaven, calling, The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.

The twenty-four elders, enthroned in the presence of God, prostrated themselves and touched the ground with their foreheads worshipping God with these words,

We give thanks to you, Almighty Lord God, He who is, He who was, for assuming your great power and beginning your reign. The nations were in uproar and now the time has come for your retribution, and for the dead to be judged, and for your servants the prophets, for the saints and for those who fear your name, small and great alike, to be rewarded. The time has come to destroy those who are destroying the earth.

Then the sanctuary of God in heaven opened, and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it. Then came flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and an earthquake and violent hail.

Cecil B. DeMille eat your heart out

Revelation 11:1-14

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days, wearing sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth. But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe has passed. The third woe is coming very soon.

prophetic calls

What jumps out at me from this reading — and especially the last paragraph (eating the book) — is the theophany from Isaiah. So I post that here as well for reference.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.

And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

Revelation 10

And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He held a little scroll open in his hand. Setting his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, he gave a great shout, like a lion roaring.

And when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”

Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will be no more delay, but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets.” Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”

So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. Then they said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

idolatry/david

But the rest of the human race, who escaped death by these plagues, refused either to abandon their own handiwork or to stop worshipping devils, the idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood that can neither see nor hear nor move. Nor did they give up their murdering, or witchcraft, or fornication or stealing.

Issues come and go. Today commentators are quick to say that whatever the bible means by idolatry, it isn’t what Hindus of good conscience do as they practice their devotions, or what Eastern Orthodox folks as they pray before icons or Roman Catholics and their devotion to the saints — no none of that is idolatry.

And I want to agree. Of the few Hindus I’ve met they seem like fairly nice friendly folks. I’ve met even fewer Easter Orthodox, but I’ve met a fair number of Protestants with icons in their homes. I have a modern print handing on the wall intended to be a contemporary icon. As for Catholics with their cults of the saints, I have met quite a few Catholics, and while they have all been flawed human beings, they have not been any more flawed than the Protestants I’ve met. So I’m not altogether sure what all the fuss is about.

Past generations have not felt this way. Iconoclasm was a movement that in its extreme expressions went about smashing religious images in churches. The modern austerity of Quaker meetinghouses is the end product of that movement. We are wise to not altogether disown it — at least until we full appreciated it.


For me the idols of this world are corporate logos and national emblems. Golden Arches. Canadian Tire. Calvin Klein. The Gap. Exxon. It troubles me to see national flags displayed in church sanctuaries. This because these are representations of the powers and principalities that overrule us.

And yet. This attitude is a very liberal Christian kinda attitude. It too is socially constructed. I point my finger — power principalities idolatries — at all this stuff and conveniently turn a blind eye to what my own devotions to the powers that constrain my life. Where am I then?

Sixth Trumpet Sounds/Reveleation 9:13-21

The sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a single voice issuing from the four horns of the golden altar in God’s presence. It spoke to the sixth angel with the trumpet, and said, ‘Release the four angels that are chained up at the great river Euphrates.’

These four angels had been ready for this hour of this day of this month of this year, and ready to destroy a third of the human race. I learnt how many there were in their army: twice ten thousand times ten thousand mounted men. In my vision I saw the horses, and the riders with their breastplates of flame colour, hyacinth-blue and sulphur-yellow; the horses had lions’ heads, and fire, smoke and sulphur were coming from their mouths. It was by these three plagues, the fire, the smoke and the sulphur coming from their mouths, that the one third of the human race was killed. All the horses’ power was in their mouths and their tails: their tails were like snakes, and had heads which inflicted wounds.

But the rest of the human race, who escaped death by these plagues, refused either to abandon their own handiwork or to stop worshipping devils, the idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood that can neither see nor hear nor move. Nor did they give up their murdering, or witchcraft, or fornication or stealing.

Jacques Is Back!

Jacques Ellul saw this whole section of trumpets and woes as the center of Revelation. “It is there that we must situate what follows: in particular the judgment, because the judgment and the end of the world cannot be read or understood except in terms of the judgment which has fallen upon the Son of God; and those who are condemned in the final destruction are not men but the rebellious powers who are described for us in the central section, upon whom men depend and whom men represent only figuratively. It is indeed the action of these Satanic powers that in every circumstance provokes death in the Apocalypse, and not at all, never directly, the action of God upon men….

“Before studying the ‘plagues’ in the perspective that we have indicated, it is necessary to make at least two remarks. The first is that each act of God in Jesus Christ implies an aspect of catastrophe for the men enclosed in the world, in solidarity with the world, separated from God, and in conflict with him. Man is so much the prey of the powers, so closely associated with their work, enjoys himself so thoroughly to their profit, desires so much all that they offer, conceives his life to such a degree separated from God, that every approach of God, every positive work of God, appears to him as an unacceptable disturbance and finally an attack upon him. When God comes to deliver him, he does not at all perceive his liberation; he protests against the breaking of those marvelous objects, which are his chains or the doors of his prison, the adored chains….

“The second remark is that since Jesus Christ incarnates all humanity… all that which happens to him is in reality a catastrophe for the entire human race… But also, inversely, all that happens to humanity is in reality that which falls upon Jesus… Thus we must never read the plagues and judgments of the Apocalypse outside of this perspective of perfect, absolute, unbreakable association between Christ and men–all men, those of the past and of the future, those of all races and religions: man, the sole and unique Adam, come from the hands of the Father with his billions of possibilities, which are the billions of our visages.”

I’m Back

Thogh I don’t know for how long.

Numbers 11:29

Fifth Trumpet Sounds/Revelation 9:1-12

Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven onto the earth, and the angel was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss. When he unlocked the shaft of the Abyss, smoke rose out of the Abyss like the smoke from a huge furnace so that the sun and the sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss, and out of the smoke dropped locusts onto the earth: they were given the powers that scorpions have on the earth: they were forbidden to harm any fields or crops or trees and told to attack only those people who were without God’s seal on their foreheads. They were not to kill them, but to give them anguish for five months, and the anguish was to be the anguish of a scorpion’s sting. When this happens, people will long for death and not find it anywhere; they will want to die and death will evade them. These locusts looked like horses armoured for battle; they had what looked like gold crowns on their heads, and their faces looked human, and their hair was like women’s hair, and teeth like lion’s teeth. They had body-armour like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings sounded like the racket of chariots with many horses charging. Their tails were like scorpions’ tails, with stings, and with their tails they were able to torture people for five months. As their leader they had their emperor, the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek Apollyon. That was the first of the disasters; there are still two more to come.

The Seven Trumpets

In searching for a picture for this post, I came across an Episcopal church’s page – An Adult Sunday School Class On The Revelation to John – which can be found here. I don’t know if it will be helpful or not, but speaking just for myself, any bit of insight couldn’t hurt :-). The lesson on our reading for this week (7 trumpets) compares the plagues and woes to those experienced by Pharoh and Egypt … interesting.