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The Seven Seals (v. 1-17)
Today we are reading about the 7 seals upon the scroll from last chapter. Jesus will break the first 6 (presumably he will break the 7th in a future chapter), and each one releases something.
When he broke the first seal, a rider with a bow on a white horse emerged. He was given a crown. He came out conquering and to conquer.
The more I read Revelation, the more I think that they are using the word conquer differently than we use it today. What the hell could it mean that he "came out conquering"? He is surrounded by angels, elders, cherubim, and he is standing next to God and Jesus. What exactly is he conquering right now? Actually, since I'm thinking about it, why not look at some alternate translations! NIV says "he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest", BBE says "he went out with power to overcome", there are a few others along those lines. This makes a lot more sense to me.
Again, I will use Guzik as my main source for the Christian commentary today. Apparently there is much debate about this first rider. Some think he is Jesus, others think he is the anti-Christ. That is quite a range. From the perspective of him being the anti-Christ, we have the following quote:
This final satanic dictator over men will be the more terrible than all previous dictators were. He will rule over men as a false Messiah, and lead man in organized rebellion against God, in the pattern of Nimrod, his first predecessor. He is the one often called the antichrist.I guess this is as good a time as any to ask a question about the very idea of the apocalypse. Why do we need it at all? How could a loving God unleash such things on the world? I suppose it's not terribly different from Noah's flood in this respect.
The second seal released a rider on a red horse. He was given a great sword and was permitted to take peace from the earth so that people would take one another.
I guess this is War. It makes me wonder what it means to remove peace from the earth. Presumably there are people on the earth who want to fight each other, but aren't for some reason. Is War (with God's blessing) simply removing those reasons? Somehow screwing up some uneasy peace treaty that the people had set up. Or is he simply manipulating their brains to make them go and fight despite their previous reasons for making peace? In either case, God seems to be a violent monster, in the worst case he is also messing with free will.
I love the way they deal with this problem
Peace between men and nations is a gift from God. It is not the natural state of relations between men.So God isn't manipulating people to cause war, he is removing the peace that he had given them. Again, we see the twisted worldview that religion brings to us.
The third seal released a rider on a black horse with scales in his hand. He said "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!"
What? The scales suggest Justice, or Injustice perhaps? Is wheat not supposed to be three times as valuable as barley? I don't understand the oil and wine thing.
Apparently the scales indicate a need to carefully measure food, these prices are about 12 times what they should be, they indicate scarcity and famine. The oil and wine indicate that nice things are still available to those who can afford it, I don't really get the point of this.
The forth seal had death riding a pale horse, and Hades followed him. They were given authority over a fourth of the earth to kill via sword, famine, pestilence, and by wild beasts.
The 4 horsemen have free rein on a forth of the earth? Brutal.
Power is given to the horseman, and given by God. Though all hell is breaking loose on the earth, God is very much in control. He still holds the scroll and opens the seals.Umm...yeah, that is the problem I have with all of this.
The fifth seal contained those who had been slain for the word of God. They cried out asking God when he would avenge them who killed them and still dwell on the earth. They were given a white robe and told to wait a little longer until there were more of their brothers on earth, who would also be killed in the battle.
Wait, did I read that right? God is waiting to increase the number of his followers a little more, and once there are enough they will all die in the battle?
Breaking the 6th seal caused and earthquake, the sun became dark, the moon became like blood, the stars fell out of the sky, the sky vanished, and the mountains and islands were removed from their places. Everyone on earth from kings to slaves went and hid from God in caves.
This whole thing makes sense from the perspective of earth basically being a snowglobe with the various celestial bodies on the dome. Given what we know of cosmology, it makes no sense whatsoever.
It is best to regard these pictures as real, but poetic. John isn’t using technically precise scientific language, but he simply describes what he saw.The events described here are clearly ridiculous, and yet Guzik still wants to consider it true, so he say it is real, but just that John is describing things as he understands them. Some of it I suppose you can find a legitimate explanation for, comets producing "falling stars", a sudden storm blocking out the sun, but what about the mountains and islands being removed? Oh, it's poetic, great non-answer.
What did we learn today?
Revelation 6:4,8 God is a violent monster
"...Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another...they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth."
Revelation 6:4 God messes with free will
"...Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another..."