Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The paradox of Revelation

I read Graeme Goldsworthy's first chapter in The Gospel and Revelation. He explains the nature of Jewish apocalyptic literature. Common features include writing the secrets of a revelation (apocalpyse) from God onto a scroll which is sealed until the time for it to be revealed. He then points out how this plays out in Revelation 7 (see below): it is expected the mighty Lion of Judah will open the seal. But, instead the slain Lamb does! This illustrates the central paradox of the Gospel: the victory of God was not won by power but by the humiliation of his own Son.
2And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" 3And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."

6And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying,

Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

The painting is Saint John of Pathmos by the Limburg brothers.

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