Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [revelation-list] Comparing two scenes of heaven

Expand Messages
  • Jon Newton
    very thoughtful comments, Dave I tend to see Rev 4 as the standing habitat of God as king, the control centre of the universe, also referred to in other
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 28, 2011
    • 0 Attachment
      very thoughtful comments, Dave

      I tend to see Rev 4 as the standing habitat of God as king, the "control centre" of the universe, also referred to in other places in Rev., whereas the new Jerusalem is the final state of "heaven on earth", the final outcome of His grace through Christ. The plot "goes" from one to the other.  In your terms, God is transcendent but becomes immanent. Another way of seeing it is in terms of the garden of Genesis which is fulfilled in the new Jerusalem, only now as a city.

      Bill Dumbrell has a good book on Rev.21-22, I think it's called "The End of the Beginning" and was reissued recently.

      What stands out in our comment was the narrative structure in Rev, which is still being unpacked by scholars, e.g. Resseguie, see also my article "Reading Revelation Romantically" in JPT 2009

      (Dr) Jon Newton
      Harvest Bible College
      Melbourne Australia


      --- On Thu, 28/4/11, David Brubaker <dave@...> wrote:

      From: David Brubaker <dave@...>
      Subject: [revelation-list] Comparing two scenes of heaven
      To: revelation-list@yahoogroups.com
      Received: Thursday, 28 April, 2011, 10:16 AM







       









      I've never seen or heard any discussion of this topic, and I wonder if

      the more knowledgeable people here on this list know, or have

      opinions, about it. Also, do any of the standard interpretations say

      anything about it?



      There are two extended descriptions of heaven in Revelation, besides a

      number of brief glimpses throughout the story. The first scene

      (chapter 4) is at the beginning of the main part of the story and the

      other scene (new Jerusalem) is at the end. What interests me about

      them is that the two scenes are completely different, almost opposites

      in some ways. Even God is completely different in the two descriptions.



      Here are some of the differences:



      Ch4: God sits anthropomorphically and localized on His throne in the

      sky, alone, aloof, and separated from people. Only a few elders and

      some strange creatures are in the same room with Him.

      NewJ: God is omnipresent, providing light to the entire city, and He

      dwells with multitudes of His people down here on earth.



      Ch4: Out of God's throne come thunder, lightning, and voices. God is

      powerful and awesome, but in potentially dangerous and fearsome ways.

      NewJ: Out of God's throne comes a river of water of life. Quite a

      difference. God is powerful and awesome in loving and nurturing ways.



      Ch4: God doesn't do a single thing except sit on His throne. He

      doesn't even acknowledge those who worship Him continuously, day and

      night, forever. He is completely uninvolved with people until, as the

      story transitions to the next episode (opening the seals), He

      unleashes all sorts of havoc on earth.

      NewJ: God is deeply, closely, and lovingly involved with His people,

      providing all sorts of benefits. He dwells with His people and they

      see His face.



      Ch4: God's home seems to be small, like a room or a house, because

      John enters it through a door (4:1). It is also up in the sky.

      NewJ: God's home is a gigantic city, 1500 miles long, wide, and high.

      Instead of a door, it has twelve city gates and twelve foundations. It

      is down here on earth.



      Ch4: This heaven seems rather barren and stark. There's nothing there

      but thrones, crowns, some lamps, a door, and a sea of glass.

      NewJ: New Jerusalem is rich, beautiful, and opulent with streets of

      gold, adornment of all sorts of precious stones, the tree of life

      yielding fruits and healing leaves alongside the river of water of life.



      Ch4: A sea of glass is before the throne. John doesn't tell us any

      more about the sea of glass or its function, but it seems to be a sort

      of buffer zone or barrier between God's throne and any people there.

      NewJ: There is no sea of glass here. Conceivably, the statement "There

      was no more sea" (21:1) could be a cryptic and ambiguous way of

      pointing out the absence of the sea of glass, rather than the usual

      understanding that there is no normal sea. (That would make people

      happy who lament the lack of salmon, sushi, and surfing in heaven

      because of the absence of a sea.)



      It would be reasonable at first glance to think that all these

      differences are simply because God changes everything at the end.

      However, many of the changes from Ch4 to NewJ happen gradually and

      stepwise throughout the rest of the story, not at the end. Here are a

      couple examples:



      In Ch4, thunder, lightning, and voices come out of God's throne; in

      NewJ, the river of water of life comes out of the throne. In a brief

      scene midway in the story (14:2), John hears "a voice from heaven, as

      the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder." The

      voice of thunder is a sound from the Ch4 heaven, and the voice of many

      waters seems to be the sound of the river of water of life from NewJ.

      The voice of many waters also refers to the opening vision of the Son

      of Man in 1:15, but since Jesus is closely associated with living

      water and water of life, this is an additional connection to the river

      of water of life. So, at this point midway in the story, John hears a

      mixture of sounds from Ch4 and from NewJ, indicating a gradual or

      stepwise change.



      There is a whole sequence of changes in the lists that include thunder

      and lightning. 4:5 has thunder, lightning, and voices. 8:5 (the

      seventh seal) adds an earthquake to the list and changes voices to

      noises. 11:19 adds hail to the list. 16:18 makes the earthquake the

      greatest earthquake ever and 16:21 seems to make the hail even greater

      than the previous hail. However, it isn't obvious how this sequence

      then leads to the river of water of life.



      Another transitional element: In Ch4 there is the sea of glass

      separating people from God, and there is no sea of glass in NewJ. In a

      brief, odd scene (15:2-4) in the middle of the story, people are

      standing on a sea of glass, mingled with fire. The story doesn't say

      that this is the same sea of glass as in Ch4, but where else have you

      ever heard of a sea of glass? These people seem to me to be crossing

      the sea of glass to get closer to God; when they get across it, then

      there is no more sea of glass separating them from God.



      One more side point about the sea of glass: Could it be a divided and

      very subtle Biblical allusion? In Ch4, John sees across the sea of

      glass to God and His throne ("Now we see through a glass, darkly...")

      and in NewJ people see His face ("but then face to face").



      So, what do you all think? Has all this been examined and explained

      and I just didn't get the memo? Does it mean anything at all? I have

      my ideas about it all and have written some about it, but I kind of

      want to see what you have to say.



      David Brubaker






















      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • George F Somsel
      Actually, there is only one description of heaven in the Apocalypse which is that in chapter 4.  The description of the New Jerusalem is a description of the
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 28, 2011
      • 0 Attachment
        Actually, there is only one description of heaven in the Apocalypse which is
        that in chapter 4.  The description of the New Jerusalem is a description of the
        prototype of the Church which is continually "coming down from God out of
        heaven" and is never actually on earth.  There is actually quite a lot going on
        in chapter 4 if you know how to read it.  At the very beginning of the book
        "John" tells us that God / Jesus "signified" or "signed" the message.  That is
        to say that the descriptions we read are not simply those that some modern
        author might make in the course of telling the tale.  The descriptions
        rather ARE the tale.  The Apocalypse might be called a picture book.  Attention
        must be paid to each and every detail described if one is to understand what is
        being conveyed. 


        I'll begin with your "little door."  This is not simply an entrance into the
        heavenly throne room but is a part of the structure of the universe
        itself.  First of all, let us note that the word "door" here is a catch-phrase
        to tie chapter 4 to what has preceeded at the end of chapter 3 where Christ, the
        exalted ruler of the Church is pictured as standing outside the door of the
        Church and seeking entrance. The door is also somewhat reminiscent of the
        "windows of heaven" which are opened in the Flood Narrative.  Once it is noted
        that chapter 4 is securely tied to chapter 3, one notices another feature of the
        description in chapter 4.  That is the "Sea of Crystal" which stands before the
        throne.  The Sea of Crystal is "John's" designation for the "firmament" which
        forms a part of the creation of the world.  It is that which separates the
        waters which are above the firmament from those which are beneath the
        firmament.  Then there is the matter of the rainbow which is around the head of
        "the one seated on the throne."  This recalls the "bow" which God set in the
        heaven following the Flood as a sign of God's promise that he would never again
        destroy the earth with a flood.  In the Flood Narrative the bow is God's hunting
        or war bow while here it is signified in a less martial manner as the common
        rainbow (which the bow represented in the first place).  Note that all of these
        symbols place us firmly at the very beginning. 


        The thunders and lightnings which you mention are the standard depictions of the
        divine coming.  We shall see them mentioned again later in the book.  The
        meterological phenomena serve to announce the presence and the action of God.

        One of the main features of the scene is the Seven-Sealed Book which is in the
        hand of "the one seated on the throne."  This is a "modern" depiction of
        the Tablets of Destiny which were a part of the narrative of the Babylonian
        New Year's festival.  These contain the fate of the entire world throughout its
        history which then begins to unfold as the seals are opened.  Many, indeed most,
        understand this to be a scroll, but I think it possible that what we have is an
        early description of a codex.  Only a codex could reveal a part of its
        contents due to the fact that pages in the codex can be opened while other
        sections can remain sealed -- this is not true of a scroll.  The Church adopted
        the codex form quite early.   

        Much more could be said regarding the divine throne room and the things depicted
        there, and sometime it will be appropriate to


        "To talk of many things:
        Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
        Of cabbages--and kings"

        For now, however, I will conclude.

         george
        gfsomsel


        … search for truth, hear truth,
        learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
        defend the truth till death.


        - Jan Hus
        _________




        ________________________________
        From: David Brubaker <dave@...>
        To: revelation-list@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wed, April 27, 2011 5:16:11 PM
        Subject: [revelation-list] Comparing two scenes of heaven

         
        I've never seen or heard any discussion of this topic, and I wonder if
        the more knowledgeable people here on this list know, or have
        opinions, about it. Also, do any of the standard interpretations say
        anything about it?

        There are two extended descriptions of heaven in Revelation, besides a
        number of brief glimpses throughout the story. The first scene
        (chapter 4) is at the beginning of the main part of the story and the
        other scene (new Jerusalem) is at the end. What interests me about
        them is that the two scenes are completely different, almost opposites
        in some ways. Even God is completely different in the two descriptions.

        Here are some of the differences:

        Ch4: God sits anthropomorphically and localized on His throne in the
        sky, alone, aloof, and separated from people. Only a few elders and
        some strange creatures are in the same room with Him.
        NewJ: God is omnipresent, providing light to the entire city, and He
        dwells with multitudes of His people down here on earth.

        Ch4: Out of God's throne come thunder, lightning, and voices. God is
        powerful and awesome, but in potentially dangerous and fearsome ways.
        NewJ: Out of God's throne comes a river of water of life. Quite a
        difference. God is powerful and awesome in loving and nurturing ways.

        Ch4: God doesn't do a single thing except sit on His throne. He
        doesn't even acknowledge those who worship Him continuously, day and
        night, forever. He is completely uninvolved with people until, as the
        story transitions to the next episode (opening the seals), He
        unleashes all sorts of havoc on earth.
        NewJ: God is deeply, closely, and lovingly involved with His people,
        providing all sorts of benefits. He dwells with His people and they
        see His face.

        Ch4: God's home seems to be small, like a room or a house, because
        John enters it through a door (4:1). It is also up in the sky.
        NewJ: God's home is a gigantic city, 1500 miles long, wide, and high.
        Instead of a door, it has twelve city gates and twelve foundations. It
        is down here on earth.

        Ch4: This heaven seems rather barren and stark. There's nothing there
        but thrones, crowns, some lamps, a door, and a sea of glass.
        NewJ: New Jerusalem is rich, beautiful, and opulent with streets of
        gold, adornment of all sorts of precious stones, the tree of life
        yielding fruits and healing leaves alongside the river of water of life.

        Ch4: A sea of glass is before the throne. John doesn't tell us any
        more about the sea of glass or its function, but it seems to be a sort
        of buffer zone or barrier between God's throne and any people there.
        NewJ: There is no sea of glass here. Conceivably, the statement "There
        was no more sea" (21:1) could be a cryptic and ambiguous way of
        pointing out the absence of the sea of glass, rather than the usual
        understanding that there is no normal sea. (That would make people
        happy who lament the lack of salmon, sushi, and surfing in heaven
        because of the absence of a sea.)

        It would be reasonable at first glance to think that all these
        differences are simply because God changes everything at the end.
        However, many of the changes from Ch4 to NewJ happen gradually and
        stepwise throughout the rest of the story, not at the end. Here are a
        couple examples:

        In Ch4, thunder, lightning, and voices come out of God's throne; in
        NewJ, the river of water of life comes out of the throne. In a brief
        scene midway in the story (14:2), John hears "a voice from heaven, as
        the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder." The
        voice of thunder is a sound from the Ch4 heaven, and the voice of many
        waters seems to be the sound of the river of water of life from NewJ.
        The voice of many waters also refers to the opening vision of the Son
        of Man in 1:15, but since Jesus is closely associated with living
        water and water of life, this is an additional connection to the river
        of water of life. So, at this point midway in the story, John hears a
        mixture of sounds from Ch4 and from NewJ, indicating a gradual or
        stepwise change.

        There is a whole sequence of changes in the lists that include thunder
        and lightning. 4:5 has thunder, lightning, and voices. 8:5 (the
        seventh seal) adds an earthquake to the list and changes voices to
        noises. 11:19 adds hail to the list. 16:18 makes the earthquake the
        greatest earthquake ever and 16:21 seems to make the hail even greater
        than the previous hail. However, it isn't obvious how this sequence
        then leads to the river of water of life.

        Another transitional element: In Ch4 there is the sea of glass
        separating people from God, and there is no sea of glass in NewJ. In a
        brief, odd scene (15:2-4) in the middle of the story, people are
        standing on a sea of glass, mingled with fire. The story doesn't say
        that this is the same sea of glass as in Ch4, but where else have you
        ever heard of a sea of glass? These people seem to me to be crossing
        the sea of glass to get closer to God; when they get across it, then
        there is no more sea of glass separating them from God.

        One more side point about the sea of glass: Could it be a divided and
        very subtle Biblical allusion? In Ch4, John sees across the sea of
        glass to God and His throne ("Now we see through a glass, darkly...")
        and in NewJ people see His face ("but then face to face").

        So, what do you all think? Has all this been examined and explained
        and I just didn't get the memo? Does it mean anything at all? I have
        my ideas about it all and have written some about it, but I kind of
        want to see what you have to say.

        David Brubaker




        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • e_s_c_h_a_t_o_n
        I think you make some very valid observations about the the heavenly temple and the New Jerusalem. Of course the New Jerusalem is seen coming down to earth in
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 28, 2011
        • 0 Attachment
          I think you make some very valid observations about the the heavenly temple and the New Jerusalem. Of course the New Jerusalem is seen coming down to earth in ch. 21, and is correctly understood as the church I believe.

          I think mentions of a heavenly temple, messenger, or vision can be seen as the beginning of a section in Revelation. The sequence proceeds chiastically and then closes with some of the same symbols we saw near the heavenly temple. That's what you point out with some of the same symbols in the NJ that we found in the heavenly temple. We can follow that pattern to make an outline of Revelation.

          The pattern is very similar to what we find in the first three chapters of Genesis. First we have seven days, and then we have a reverse pattern in the Garden of Eden. The animals are created on the fifth day, man on the sixth and God rests. Then man is placed in the Garden, he names the animals, etc. See the Hexameron by Anastasius of Sinacticus for more explanations.

          In Genesis we have the sequence of seven first, and then the Garden of Eden which corresponds to the temple/tabernacle. In Revelation we have the temple and then the sequence of seven.

          Alan Fuller
          http://www.lulu.com/arfuller


          --- In revelation-list@yahoogroups.com, David Brubaker <dave@...> wrote:
          >
          > I've never seen or heard any discussion of this topic, and I wonder if
          > the more knowledgeable people here on this list know, or have
          > opinions, about it. Also, do any of the standard interpretations say
          > anything about it?
          >
          > There are two extended descriptions of heaven in Revelation, besides a
          > number of brief glimpses throughout the story. The first scene
          > (chapter 4) is at the beginning of the main part of the story and the
          > other scene (new Jerusalem) is at the end. What interests me about
          > them is that the two scenes are completely different, almost opposites
          > in some ways. Even God is completely different in the two descriptions.
          >
        • David Brubaker
          ... I m going to have to take a closer look at Ressequie. Your article sounds interesting and rather unique too. Here are a few more observations about the
          Message 4 of 7 , May 2, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
            Quoting Jon Newton <jonknewton@...>:

            >
            > What stands out in our comment was the narrative structure in Rev,
            > which is still being unpacked by scholars, e.g. Resseguie, see also
            > my article "Reading Revelation Romantically" in JPT 2009

            I'm going to have to take a closer look at Ressequie. Your article
            sounds interesting and rather unique too.

            Here are a few more observations about the narrative structure:

            The "story" aspect appears in several ways in the series of series of
            plagues (seals, trumpets, bowls) on the earth, in ways that both move
            the story along progressively and tie it together coherently with
            common elements.

            For instance, there is the increasing resemblance of the Revelation
            plagues to the plagues sent upon Egypt in Exodus leading up to the
            release of the children of Israel. The seals bear virtually no
            resemblance to the Exodus plagues, some of the trumpets bear
            significant resemblance, and many of the bowls bear even stronger
            resemblance.

            But there is another connection to the Exodus plagues that I don't
            often hear discussed. That is the parallel in the story structure
            itself--in Exodus, the plagues come one right after another until the
            next-to-last of the series is finished. Then between the next-to-last
            and last plagues, there is a sort of interlude when God gives
            instructions to Moses on how to prepare the people for the last plague
            so that they will be saved from it in the original Passover. Then
            comes the final plague. A similar story structure appears in the seals
            and the trumpets--all but one plague in the series occurs, then there
            is an interlude, and then the final plague of the series comes. Even
            the series of series follows that pattern--all but one of the series
            (seals and trumpets) happens, then there is a long interlude
            (12:1-14:20) before the final series (bowls). Of all the series of
            plagues and series of series of plagues, only the final bowls series
            does not have the characteristic Exodus-like interlude before its last
            plague.

            Another progression in the story as well as a tying-together factor is
            the sequence of what the Revelation story says about the wrath of God
            and the Lamb through these series. In the seals, the wrath of God is
            present but not explained in the text. "The great day of their wrath
            has come" (6:17) but Revelation doesn't tell us any reason for God's
            anger. We can make the natural assumption that it is because of sin,
            but it may be useful to note that there is no mention of sin, the law,
            or repentance in the whole seals section of the story, including the
            seals themselves and the interlude before the last seal.

            Then in the trumpets, Revelation says explicitly that God's wrath is
            about lack of repentance for sin. 9:20-21 lists a number of kinds of
            sin for which people have failed to repent.

            Finally, in the bowls "the wrath of God is ended" (15:1). Interesting
            sequence about wrath--no reason is stated for wrath, wrath is a result
            of unrepentant sin, wrath is ended.

            David Brubaker
          • e_s_c_h_a_t_o_n
            It appears to me that the wrath is for the whoredom of Babylon (Rev 16:19, 17:1, 18:3,) and in other places persecution of the saints (6:10, 20:4). Alan Fuller
            Message 5 of 7 , May 3, 2011
            • 0 Attachment
              It appears to me that the wrath is for the whoredom of Babylon (Rev 16:19, 17:1, 18:3,) and in other places persecution of the saints (6:10, 20:4).


              Alan Fuller
              http://www.lulu.com/arfuller

              --- In revelation-list@yahoogroups.com, David Brubaker <dave@...>
              > Finally, in the bowls "the wrath of God is ended" (15:1). Interesting
              > sequence about wrath--no reason is stated for wrath, wrath is a result
              > of unrepentant sin, wrath is ended.
              >
              > David Brubaker
              >
            • Jon Newton
              Good insights, David Resseguie, I and others see a more conventional plot in the narrative of Revelation. In my article, I see it building up to a climax
              Message 6 of 7 , May 4, 2011
              • 0 Attachment
                Good insights, David

                Resseguie, I and others see a more conventional "plot" in the narrative of Revelation.

                In my article, I see it building up to a climax like a play or novel, which ends with a wedding (hence my attention to the romance element)


                (Dr) Jon Newton


                --- On Tue, 3/5/11, David Brubaker <dave@...> wrote:

                From: David Brubaker <dave@...>
                Subject: Re: [revelation-list] Comparing two scenes of heaven
                To: revelation-list@yahoogroups.com
                Received: Tuesday, 3 May, 2011, 2:03 PM







                 









                Quoting Jon Newton <jonknewton@...>:



                >

                > What stands out in our comment was the narrative structure in Rev,

                > which is still being unpacked by scholars, e.g. Resseguie, see also

                > my article "Reading Revelation Romantically" in JPT 2009



                I'm going to have to take a closer look at Ressequie. Your article

                sounds interesting and rather unique too.



                Here are a few more observations about the narrative structure:



                The "story" aspect appears in several ways in the series of series of

                plagues (seals, trumpets, bowls) on the earth, in ways that both move

                the story along progressively and tie it together coherently with

                common elements.



                For instance, there is the increasing resemblance of the Revelation

                plagues to the plagues sent upon Egypt in Exodus leading up to the

                release of the children of Israel. The seals bear virtually no

                resemblance to the Exodus plagues, some of the trumpets bear

                significant resemblance, and many of the bowls bear even stronger

                resemblance.



                But there is another connection to the Exodus plagues that I don't

                often hear discussed. That is the parallel in the story structure

                itself--in Exodus, the plagues come one right after another until the

                next-to-last of the series is finished. Then between the next-to-last

                and last plagues, there is a sort of interlude when God gives

                instructions to Moses on how to prepare the people for the last plague

                so that they will be saved from it in the original Passover. Then

                comes the final plague. A similar story structure appears in the seals

                and the trumpets--all but one plague in the series occurs, then there

                is an interlude, and then the final plague of the series comes. Even

                the series of series follows that pattern--all but one of the series

                (seals and trumpets) happens, then there is a long interlude

                (12:1-14:20) before the final series (bowls). Of all the series of

                plagues and series of series of plagues, only the final bowls series

                does not have the characteristic Exodus-like interlude before its last

                plague.



                Another progression in the story as well as a tying-together factor is

                the sequence of what the Revelation story says about the wrath of God

                and the Lamb through these series. In the seals, the wrath of God is

                present but not explained in the text. "The great day of their wrath

                has come" (6:17) but Revelation doesn't tell us any reason for God's

                anger. We can make the natural assumption that it is because of sin,

                but it may be useful to note that there is no mention of sin, the law,

                or repentance in the whole seals section of the story, including the

                seals themselves and the interlude before the last seal.



                Then in the trumpets, Revelation says explicitly that God's wrath is

                about lack of repentance for sin. 9:20-21 lists a number of kinds of

                sin for which people have failed to repent.



                Finally, in the bowls "the wrath of God is ended" (15:1). Interesting

                sequence about wrath--no reason is stated for wrath, wrath is a result

                of unrepentant sin, wrath is ended.



                David Brubaker






















                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.