Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd Before the One Upon the Throne and the Lamb -- By: Russell Morton
ATJ 32 (2000) p. 1
Revelation 7:9-17: The Innumerable Crowd Before the One Upon the Throne and the Lamb1
Russell Morton (M.Div., Western Evangelical Seminary; Th.M., TL.D., Lutheran School of Theology) is Research Librarian at ATS.
Having survived the dire predictions of the so-called “Turn of the Millennium,” which doesn’t actually begin until 2001, relatively unscathed, perhaps it is time to reconsider John’s message in Revelation. This is especially so in light of all the irresponsible excesses of some who managed to combine a gross misunderstanding of the nature of biblical prophecy in general, and apocalyptic in particular, with the more extreme warnings about the dangers of “Y2K.2 ” Thus, we were inundated with predictions by cable preachers, and even cable channels, such as The Learning Channel, about how the so called turn of the millennium will usher in a new and more dreadful age. In 2000 the prophecies of Revelation or Nostradamus or Joe Prophet will be fulfilled, with great earthquakes, terrors, and even, perhaps before the year is out, the return of the Lord.
Yet do these people recall the explicit statement of Jesus in Mk 13:32, that neither the angels nor the Son of Man know the day or the hour of Christ’s return? Are they also oblivious to Acts 1:7, where Jesus tells his disciples that it is not for them to know that day and hour that the kingdom is restored to Israel? Is this why they also grossly misrepresent the nature of biblical prophecy itself? For they substitute a concept of prophecy more suitable to the views of ancient astrologers, where it titillates the curiosity or provides a guide map through the future, for the biblical idea of proclamation of God’s word to
ATJ 32 (2000) p. 2
inform the life of the community. Thus, John’s concern, to provide a word of comfort in the expectation of persecution,3 is ignored.
The result is that the power of the Apocalypse is undermined. We are not exposed to its true message, which calls upon readers or hearers to decide between two opposing and irreconcilable claims. Will the readers submit to the rule of God and the Lamb, or will they be deceived by the vile parody of divine authority represented by Rome? Will they be a people who live in radical obedience to God, or will they perish with the rest of humanity? In the course of his vision, John provides us with a glimpse into heaven, of which Rev 7:9–17, like chs. 4–...
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