In the last entry, Jesus was sending nasty letters to the seven churches of Asia. These letters contained everything from praise to condoning the murder of children. There were also some bits about stars and candlesticks and whatnot. I dunno, it isn’t my hallucination…
Three more churches to go. Three more messages to read. I am starting to grow weary of this book, but I know far weirder things lie ahead.
The church in Sardis appears to be alive and healthy, but Jesus declares them dead. He wants them to work to strengthen those few things that remain in the church, to try and keep those from dying, too. There are a few Sardisians (Sardines?) who are worthy; those will walk beside the Lord and will remain in the Book of Life.
The chuch in Philadelphia is weak, but have continued in their belief of Christ. Jesus will reward them for this by making the disbelievers and slanderers bow at their feet. Their endurance in their faith has won them a reward: the Philadelphian church will not have to suffer the hour of testing that is to come for the rest of the world.
Finally, the church in Laodicea. This church takes a middle road, neither being on fire in faith for Jesus, nor being cold towards Christ and his teachings. Instead they are content with their own wealth and comfort. Jesus says he would rather they be cold than lukewarm, it is better to choose one side or the other. There’s no room to sit on the fence.
John’s hallucination kicks in strong. He says “instantly I was in the spirit” and of that I have no doubt. What that spirit was – gin? wine? opium? – I cannot say, but he was into something. John sees a throne in heaven that had someone sitting in it. There were seven flaming torches burning in front of the throne, symbolizing the seven spirits of God. (Seven?) There were also 24 lesser thrones arrayed around the main one, and in these thrones sat 24 elders who were wearing white robes and gold crowns.
Wait, it gets even better! The throne is set on a sea of clear glass or crystal. There were four living creatures surrounding the throne. These were beings that resembled a lion, an ox, a human and an eagle. Each of these creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes. These creatures constantly sang praises to Jesus Christ. The 24 elders join in with this song, also giving glory to God.
At this point, it is left up to the reader to determine who is actually sitting in the throne. Sure, it is safe to assume that it is God. But that is never expressly stated. One could’ve also thought it was Jesus Christ who sat there. Until this chapter, that is.
The one sitting in the throne had a scroll in his right hand. The scroll was sealed with seven seals. An angel asked who was worthy to open the scroll. Throughout creation, none was deemed worthy. John cried bitterly at this thought. But one of the 24 elders told John to stop crying, and instead look at the throne. There was now a lamb standing in the middle of the throne. The lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, also representing the seven spirits of God. The lamb also looks like it had been slaughtered. The lamb takes the scroll, causing everyone in heaven and in all creation to sing of the worthiness of the lamb.
I had thought that this chapter disproved the theory of unitarianism – or at least made a credible argument against it. After all, how could Jesus be “the one sitting in the throne” if he approached the throne and climbed onto it? But I misread the opening verses. It does not say that the lamb approached the throne, nor had to climb on it, nor wasn’t already seated on it. It simply says that the lamb was standing on the throne. It is conceivably possible that the lamb was sitting on the throne all along, but then rose to stand in the middle of the throne.
Up next: The Four Horsemen of the apocalypse
New installments of The New Testament In Review will be posted each Tuesday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series is accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page. You can also follow me (@biffster) on Twitter to be alerted to new posts.
- The anti-Christ and the Beast – Revelations 12-15 (NTiR) (biffster.org)