Monday, June 07, 2010

The Creation of the Revelation (continued)

Continuing from where I left off yesterday...

4. Fourth Day "Great Passage" (Rev. 12:1-17): The Woman and the Dragon

Fourth Day in Creation: God creates the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night, and he creates the stars. They are for signs and seasons and days and years and for separating night from day.

Fourth Day Themes: All the themes associated with Day One, PLUS: father, mother, and children. Parenthood (and its authority). Leadership, shepherding, ruling the nations with the "rod of iron". Receiving the rewards according to one's "deeds". Loyalty versus adultery. The Woman vs. Jezebel/Babylon. Israel in the wilderness vs. apostate, worldly, and wealthy Israel. Signs in heaven. A son is born.

Look for the above themes in the letter to the Church in Thyatira. The theme of parenthood is attached to the sun, moon and stars in Genesis. The sun, moon and stars appear as symbols for Jacob, Rachel and Joseph's brothers in one of Joseph's dreams. God also tells Abraham that his children will be as numerous as the "stars in the heavens".

At verse 9 in Chapter 12 an interesting rupture begins to occur in the creation day imagery. This is the beginning of a "break", a transition passage. Note the up and down, up and down movement caused between 4th Day (heaven, stars), 3rd Day (earth, rivers) and the 5th Day (midheaven, eagle) symbols. At verse 12, we hear an angel proclaim: "Rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them", but woe to the earth because the "devil has come down to you". From this point on in the text, the sun, moon and stars are no longer harmed in the text of Revelation. They are instead empowered. The heavenly denizens created on the Fourth Day are suddenly off the table from the tribulations/judgments that follow.

5. Fifth Day "Great Passage" (Rev. 13:1-10): The Beast From the Sea

Fifth Day in Creation: God creates the swarming creatures of the sea and the birds of the air (the midheaven).

Fifth Day Themes: All the themes associated with the Second Day, PLUS: Birds, sea creatures, wings and flying. Eagles and locusts. Midheaven. Completing, filling and multiplying, swarming over things. Being full of life, wriggling with life, being energetic and virile. Being healthy vs. being full of pain and blasphemy. Liveliness vs. deadness. Active vs. slumbering. The Book of Life.

Look for the above themes in the letter to the Church in Sardis and note how they appear in the Great Passage with some themes that also belong to the Second Day--being once slain but now healthy again most pertinently.

There are no (discernible) breaks in this passage. You are probably noticing by now that the Great Passages of Revelation have suddenly contracted in relative length. It's hard to understand why the pace picked up suddenly, but, actually, this kind of shortening or elongating of the literary structure seems typical of the text. The structures are somewhat elastic. Compare the relative lengths of the Seven Trumpet judgments for example.

5. Sixth Day "Great Passage" (Rev. 13:11-18): The Beast From the Earth

Sixth Day in Creation: God creates the beasts from the earth and the man and the woman and he gives the man and woman dominion over the beasts and he gives the humans and the beasts the green plants for food.

Sixth Day Themes: The beasts of the earth and mankind. Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. Being empowered or given access vs. being weakened and denied access. Naming/marking things and having the power to do so. Exercising authority and granting authority or privilege, such as what to eat. Being given dominion over something. Images and giving "breath" to them. Making something in one's image. Giving one's name to something to mark its belonging/origin from oneself.

Look for the above themes in the letter to the Church in Philadelphia and note how they appear in the Great Passage. For greater effectiveness, go back and read the details of God's creation of Adam in Genesis 1-2 and then read Rev. 13:11-18. What do you notice?

...That's not the end of it. Revelation's Creation Day riffs only get more interesting from here. We are entering into what I call the "Great Break", an interlude leading to the Seventh Day that is quite a raucous and tempestuous passage of riffs wrestling with one another across many chapters...

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