Apocalypse2: The Book of the Apocalypse to John

[4th Throne Vision, 14:1-20] On “Mount Zion”, the hill of kings, the Lamb takes center stage with the 144,000 who are free of the shackles of the earth, initiating a new song, the background for an apocalyptic process now brought forward by various angels with visions of the Eternal Gospel of the Creator, of the Announcement of the coming fall of the city of impure passion, and of the coming torment of those joined to the beast. A second call for endurance (14:12) is followed by the beatitude for those who die in the Lord from now on. One like a son of man, sitting on a white cloud, on the word of an angel initiates the harvest of the earth as it is “fully ripe”, whereas an angel begins gathering in the vintage of the earth, “for its grapes are ripe”. From this vintage of the earth, thrown into the great wine press of the wrath of God and trodden “outside the city”, blood flows high and wide. – In this vision the two manifestations of the Christ who is always Coming have come together: the Lamb in the midst of his people on the way to the New City, and the One like a Son of Man setting the stage for final decisions and separation.

[5th Throne Vision, 15:1-16:17] Before the sea of glass, now mingled with fire, once more a song is begun, which is the song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb, advancing the theme of the first angel in the preceding vision, as God’s judgments now “have been revealed” (15:3-4). Those who sing it, who have conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, stand in strong contrast to those whom the preceding vision’s third angel has warned. The opening of the temple, the “tent of witness” brings forth the seven angels with the seven plagues, who receive the bowls of wrath from one of the four beings around the throne. The first six bowls having being poured out, the cleansing of the cosmos having come to include the throne and the kingdom of the beast, the forces of adversary issue out of their mouths three foul spirits, demonic spirits performing signs to assemble the kings of the earth for the last battle. Already, after he has poured out this (third) bowl, the angel of the waters had as it were endorsed God’s judgment, the altar crying out its affirmation (16:4-7). Like an erratic block in this landscape of (coming) doom, the third beatitude is spoken, warning: “I am coming life a thief”, urging all to be awake and not to be naked and exposed by losing one’s garments.

[The Interlude, 16:17-18:24] Interlude as well as Final Vision originate in the Throne, the Interlude once more in the temple, whereas beginning the Final Vision, a new heaven and earth with the holy city ask for all attention. Both times one of the seven angels with the bowls carries John away “in the Spirit”, to show him two very different pictures of spiritual womanhood: the one doomed and the one that will furnish the new abode for humanity. In this interlude, detailed explanations of the apocalyptic realities of doom are given to John, who “marveled greatly” (17:6f). Here also, the final picture of the victorious Rider on the White Horse and his armies (19:11ff) is prepared – of him who is the Lamb accompanied by those with him who are called, chosen and faithful (17:14). The fall of “Babylon the great” having been announced by an angel and a “last call” having gone out to “my people” (18:4ff), the fall of the mighty city is described from the view of those who wallowed in her: the kings of the earth, merchants and sailors. A mighty angel speaks the eulogy, throwing a great millstone into the sea as the sign of Babylon’s ruin.

[6th Throne Vision, 19:1-20:15] A continuous “Hallelujah” encompasses the throne, cried by the voice of a great multitude in heaven, the beings at the throne, the same voice as before but stronger, like many waters and the sound of mighty thunderpeals: “Hallelujah, for the Lord our God the Almighty reigns”. Yet, even after what has happened since “he has begun to reign” (11:17), this implementation is due, now that the marriage of the Lamb has come, his Bride having made herself ready. The fourth beatitude blesses those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and John, falling down to worship the angel speaking to him, is rebuffed – as happens once more (19:9f and 22:8f). Before his eyes, heaven opened, the Rider on the White Horse appears with his armies, and pictures from the last visions recur while beginning to be fulfilled. In five visions John first sees the beast and the false prophet being captured and thrown into the lake which burns with sulphur, those following them slain by the sword issuing from the mouth of the Rider. Then the dragon is bound for a thousand years in the closed bottomless pit, and thrones are seen for those who will judge souls who either will only come to life after those thousand years, or will reign with Christ all that time: the first resurrection (the fifth beatitude highlighting this). After the thousand years and after the final battle, Satan the Devil the Deceiver is thrown into that burning lake. Before a great white throne, and before him from whose presence earth and sky fled away, the dead are judged “according to the books”, Death and Hades being thrown in the lake of fire as well – the second death.

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