Friday, January 18, 2013

Revelation 8: All Heaven Breaks Loose

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The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer (v. 1-5)

The lamb broke the 7th seal and there was silence in heaven for a half hour.

Seems like this half hour of silence has some significance, but I can only guess at what it I will. Maybe it is that everyone stops everything to watch to see what will happen, like a moment where everyone is fixated on a single thing and the room is silent, except this is such a huge event that moment drags out...for a half hour. Another guess, it is like a moment of silence when someone dies, except it is the whole world, so it stretches out way longer than normal.

I did pretty good on this one, Guzik seems to agree with my guesses. (And again, I'll use him as a source for the Christian commentary today unless otherwise stated)

Then seven angels are given trumpets, and another angel is given a censer. They burn a bunch of incense on a golden altar in front of the throne, and put fire in the censer and throw it down at the earth. It causes thunder, lightning and earthquakes.

It's on!

The Seven Trumpets (v. 6-13)

The first angel blows his trumpet, hail and fire were mixed with blood and thrown upon the earth. A third of the earth and a third of the trees were burned up. All grass was burned up.


The second angel blows his trumpet and something like a great mountain on fire fell into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, a third of the sea creatures died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

I find the phrase "something like a great mountain" very interesting. It would seem to indicate that John is describing something that he can best identify as a mountain, but he knows is not actually a mountain. It seems to me to indicate to me that he is trying to be as accurate as possible, so if you ever want to argue that when he says X it was really Y, you have to be arguing that he was wrong, and thought it was really X. For example, when he says that a star fell from the sky, you can safely argue that he thought it was a star but it was really an asteroid. When he says he saw a creature with six wings, I would argue he's telling us what he thinks he saw.

The third angel blows his trumpet and a great star (named wormwood) fell from heaven blazing like a torch. It fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. A third of the water became wormwood and people died from the water because it was bitter.

Isn't wormwood what absinthe is made of? That stuff makes you hallucinate. Maybe that explains this whole thing.

The fourth angel blows his trumpet and a third of the sun, moon, and stars were struck so that a third of their light would be darkened. So a third of the day and a third of the night would be kept from shining.

How the hell do you darken a third of the sun?

Then John looked overhead and saw an eagle crying woe to people on the earth.

Wait, so eagles can talk? Also, they can fly above heaven?

What did we learn today?

I usually use this space to isolate verses which I will put in the overview, but today I pretty much just want to reference the entire reading. God is a violent monster. He's raining destruction down on people on such a massive scale it is hard to imagine. How anyone can call him a loving God is beyond me. I suppose if people can spin noah's flood to be a good thing they will be able to do the same here, but I just don't see it.


  1. Dang it...I just lost a long comment. Oh well, try again...I would guess that people would say that god is loving towards his believers and the rest of us had our chance and would be getting what we deserved. I'd rather take my chances than worship a monster like that any day.

    I also think it safe to say that this book must have been terrifying when there was a lack of explanation for natural phenomena such as volcanoes and earthquakes. Today, it really just seems silly.

    1. I'm going to have to agree with you here. I reread some of the stuff and it does sound pretty fucking scary if I forget everything I know about the way the world works. Damn..

    2. That's a really good point. A natural disaster hits and no one understands what is going on, if someone claims it is a warning from God it would be hard to argue with.

      Your comment about God loving his followers and everyone else gets what they deserve is interesting. It probably explains why Christians so often vilify atheists too. If we are a bunch of evil people, their whole worldview makes a lot more sense.

  2. I like your comment on absinthe. While reading along with you, it's really hard to try to say anything constructive since most of it sounds kind of crazy to me. I actually asked my girlfriend, who teaches high school English, to read a chapter (this one) and get her opinion on it. She said it seems more like a stream of consciousness rather than telling a story. I guess this would make sense with the visions, but its a lot of "this happened, then this happened, and then this happened." She said if a student turned this in, they probably wouldn't be getting a good grade.

    1. I agree, I have found Revelation a quite difficult book to make blog posts about. Between it being so terrible, and not knowing what things are supposed to mean, it has definitely been a challenge.

  3. I could be wrong, but I think the "something like a mountain" is less significant than you may suspect. I reason it like this: If you've ever gone out to the ocean, or even a really large lake where you can't even see the other shoreline across from you, you would get the impression that in order to cause any kind of significant disruption to the body of water, you would need something big. I mean, really, really big. Perhaps, something like a mountain would do it. ;-) So I don't see this as trying to be accurate, but rather trying to make due with a limited vocabulary. If he was writing it today, I think he would say a satellite (as in a moon) or large asteroid.

    Fun Fact: "Chernobyl" means wormwood. Some portion of the faithful have taken the nuclear accident there and interpreted it as the third trumpet sign.

    1. hmm, interesting, so you think he's simply dealing with his own lack of vocabulary. Seems reasonable enough to me.

      That's really interesting about Chernobyl. But, if they were going to say that is the third trumpet then wouldn't the first 2 have to have already happened? I don't pay that much attention to the news, but I feel like I would have noticed the hail and fire mixed with blood raining down on the earth, and a third of the ocean turning to blood. Also, last I checked we still have grass.

    2. Wait a minute Hausdorff. You are obviously not reading Biblical prophesy like a believer does. This is the key: if any part of it comes true, then it is all true. Any parts which do not seem true, just sweep them to the side, because you yourself must have a misunderstanding. His ways are not your ways, you know. ;-)

      But seriously, yeah, you would think that the first two trumpets missing from the sequence would have been a strong enough indication that it was not an act of fulfillment. I didn't dig into how they justified away the first two. I'm sure they picked some event from history and played "pinned the tail on the donkey."

    3. that's funny, I was listening to an apologetics podcast the other day, they kept talking about how you need to orient your mind to God before you engage in apologetics. You need to be prepared to receive God's wisdom.


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