Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A violent reality, from beginning to end

Who are the four men of the apocalypse in Revelation 6? When will they come? These are natural questions to ask when puzzling through Revelation?
But, maybe they have already come! Perhaps Revelation is actually describing the way the world is today. Consider this passage:
1Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, "Come!" 2And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.

3When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" 4And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

The world is a very violent place. Surely this is an undeniable reality. But, we seem to be often surprised and shocked by this. This should bring us back to Genesis 4, where Cain murders Abel and Lamech describes his bloodthirsty lust for vengeance:

23Lamech said to his wives:

"Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
a young man for striking me.
24 If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold."

Cain and Abel, by Titian c. 1570

Lamech is alluding to God's promise to protect Cain and take sevenfold vengeance on anyone who attacked Cain. Lamech has twisted God's gracious offer of protection to Cain and justify his own violence.

It is striking to me how in Genesis 4:13-15, God's judgement on Cain was limited.

The "chronology" and "historicity" of both Genesis and Revelation are confusing and debatable. But, they are very clear on certain realities: man's violent injustice and God's merciful and perfect justice.

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