Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 283

The scriptures read are Ezekiel 27-28, Psalm 82 and Revelation 5.

Ezekiel 27. A metaphor of the port city of Tyre as ship is lovingly detailed, as if written by a sailor. There follows a list of all who traded with Tyre. It sounds like a chamber of commerce press release. Then back to the ship, which sinks.

Ezekiel 28. The king of Tyre, who thinks he's a god, will die like a dog. Then Sidon is judged. But God's people will return to their land one day.

Psalm 82. Know what we haven't offered here? A really hard rocking version of a psalm. Like this. For those of you who prefer soothing harp music and water sounds with your psalm, plus some commentary, we offer this.

Revelation 5. Now that we're in apocalypse mode, you should know that there is more than one way to interpret Revelation. The 4 main schools of interpretation are: historicist, preterist, futurist and spiritual or idealist.

Historicists see the visions of Revelation as predicting the flow of church history from apostolic times to the end of time. People like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Isaac Newton and others have drawn parallels between the events in this book and eras of the church. It's not a very popular position today.

Preterists point to Revelation 1:1 where it says these things "must take place shortly." They think these events must have taken place in the first century. They usually hold that Revelation was written before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This was a popular view for the first several centuries of the church. Some only applied it to the first part of the book since Jesus has yet to return.

Futurists, on the other hand, think most if not all of Revelation takes place in the future, just before Christ's return. This is the popular view among evangelicals and especially those who are dispensationalists. They work out elaborate timetables of the events, harmonizing them with apocalyptic material from other parts of the Bible. They tend to see more of Revelation as literal and less of it as symbolic. It does make it rather irrelevant to the churches in Asia Minor to which it was originally addressed.

The spiritual or idealist school sees Revelation as containing spiritual lessons and principles that have repeated themselves throughout history and thus are relevant to all Christians in all times, not just the end times. So they emphasize the obvious symbols in the book and interpret it in a non-literal manner.

There are variations within these schools and some students of Revelation blend 2 or more of the approaches, like preterist and spiritual, maybe with some futurist thrown in towards the end of the book. I will from time to time point out these different interpretations, thanks in large part to the excellent book, Revelation: Four Views; A Parallel Commentary, edited by Steve Gregg.

It is the time in the liturgy to read the scroll. But it is secured with seven (there's that number again) seals and nobody can open it. John is in tears over this. But one of the elders tells him the Lion of Judah will do it. John looks up and sees not a lion but a lamb, and one that appears to have been slaughtered. Song and worship break out. The lamb who was slain is worthy to break the seals. The lamb, obviously, is Christ.

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