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Revelation 7

-or- “pardon our tangents”

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

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     Again. This study is verse by verse, IMAGE by Image, IDEA by Idea, and concept by concept. Which means it is a Marathon.
     We are using sources that John the Apostle and those mentioned as the recipients of the letter, the Seven Churches and other First Century Christians, the majority of which were Jews, would / should / could have been familiar with. We will also reference newer translations and versions of the book, beginning with the 1560 Geneva Bible (the bulk source for the 1611 KJV, which we also use) all the way up to much more current publications, and examinations of the text from various scholars, as well as beginning the analysis of the text from the Greek.
     It should be said here, as we are beginning with the Greek, we are going in remembering that John was writing in an 'apocalyptic' style. It seems many translations have forgotten that and 'moderated' the language.
“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”
- Martin Luther

1 There is no transition, John immediately sees the “tessaras angelous” (four angels) “hestotas” (standing) on the four “gonias” (corners) of the earth. They have “kratountas” (seized and are holding) the four “anemous” (winds)...

Greek Mythology Tangent:
     The Four Winds mentioned are a constant image not only in Greek mythology, the Anemoi (see link below), but other cultures as well. But to be fair to the rest of these somewhat lower ranking gods, there were at least twelve of them in the classic myths. It was Homer who put the others out of work and named the ones he related to the cardinal directions, nevermind how Aristotle or anybody else labeled them. Homer had (with the classic direction after): Boreas (north-northeast), Eurus (east by southeast), Notos (due south), Zephyrus (west). The name of the wind blowing from the west has survived in the name of an Amtrak train to San Francisco from Chicago (so it would be a more of an east wind- Apeliotes, which wouldn't sound as cool on a train). Instead of a train the Greeks imagined their “wind gods” as what we would think of as a winged angel, as is depicted on the Tower of the Winds in Athens, and in other ancient artwork.
     Certain other aspects of what was then 'popular myth' can be seen in other images related here and elsewhere simply as a touch point to help people understand what is being talked about, or in the case of Paul and party in Lystra (also in Asia Minor and not one of the Seven Churches of Revelation) where they were thought to be Zeus (whose temple we've mentioned in another town) and Hermes. And remember those four horsemen earlier in Revelation? Hades (Greek god of the underworld and one of the few Titans to make the transition to the new team) was tagging along behind Death. Later in Revelation we'll meet a dragon whose 'grandmother' comes from the ancient world of Sumeria and related lands.
     While the core of the church was still Jews who had converted, Greek culture had been dominate throughout the area for several hundred years, and now had a thin Roman veneer over it. These old legends were a fact of life and well known, just as today some still refer to Aesop's tales to make a point.
End tangent
     .... so that “me” (no) wind would “pnee” (blow) on the earth or the “thalasses” (sea) nor on any tree. There are implications here that we miss today. In an ancient city, if the wind did not blow, it got to be like Los Angeles during a 'thermal inversion' when the smog would just hang over the area until visibility got bad. Except back then, instead of exhaust from a city bus, it was the stench from open sewers and garbage pits, smoke from fires, and the smells of everyday life (so it would be LA!). Also, no wind on the sea would really slow down trade, and no wind in the trees meant pollination would stop, directly hitting the food crops.

2 and 3
     Then another angel appears to put their efforts on hold for a time.
     We have another conflict with the older translations. Both the 1560 and the 1611 have this angel coming up from the East. Well, he did, but there's something else there. He “anabainonta apo anatoles heliou” (ascended from the rising sun, 'Helios' is the Greek sun deity). Some of the newer translations go with east (such as the NIV, the Catholic edition, and the New Living), others (including the NAS) go with the sun. He comes on stage with something and also has a message for the four holding the winds: he “echonta” (possesses) the “sphragida” (signet / seal (the root of the word used in ch 5)) of “Theou zontos” (the God that is Alive). He shouts to the four who were told to “adikesai” (intentionally harm (almost 'to torture')) the earth and sea: do not “adikesete” (harm) the earth, sea, or trees “achri” (until) we “sphragisomen” (stamp / mark for identification) the “doulous” (servants) of Our God on their “metopon” (forehead).

4 through 8
     144,000 are sealed, “phyles” (family or larger kin group, 'related tribe' in this case) “huion” (sons of) Israel.

Tribal tangent:
     This list of the “12 tribes” is different than other lists of the 12 tribes, Genesis 29 and 30 and Numbers 1 to start. The differences are interesting and telling, and describe Jewish History in detail. In the division of the land, the tribes of the two sons of Joseph were given their their own portion through the wishes of his father Jacob (Israel). So on the maps of the tribes you see Ephraim and Manasseh but no Joseph. Also the Levites were not given land, they were dedicated to the Lord and had charge of some “cities of refuge”. Later, the tribe of Dan fell into some serious idolatry, see Judges 13, and was removed. As was Ephraim in Hosea 4
     So the list we see in Revelation 7 is interesting in that while it does include the Levites, the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are NOT listed, but Joseph (which probably includes those who remained true to God from Ephraim) and his son's tribe Manasseh (listed in place of Dan and before his father!) are, and you still have 12.
End tangent.

     While it appears that the numbers, 144,000 as 12,000 from each tribe are exact and realistic figures, it most likely indicates “a great multitude”. Given Israel's five thousand year (give or take a couple of weeks (we'll come back to 'weeks' later)) history, one would hope there are more faithful people than that within those tribes.

     Again the transition is abrupt, 'after this, behold': “ochlos polys” (a mass /throng great) which no one could count, from every “ethnous” (foreign races 'not Israel'), tribes, “laon” (people), and “glosson” (languages), they are “hestotes” (standing) before the Throne and the Lamb, they have already been given “stolas” (robes) that are white, and are holding “phoinikes” (palm fronds)...

Palm Tangent
     We've seen palm branches before, most notably at the Triumphal entry of Christ in Matthew 21, and John 12, among others, where the people laid palm fronds and their outer garments on the road as He rode into town on the colt.
     We also see palm leaves in the decoration of Solomon's temple in 1 Kings 6, and an interesting reference in Ezekiel 40. Today they are used to remember the temple during the Jewish festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) where they are part of the decorations, if not in the actual construction of the shelter.
     In some Greek and especially Roman processions, victorious soldiers carried palm fronds as a sign of victory, and by extension, peace. Many later Christian artists use the palm as a symbol of the victory of the martyr and depict the person holding a palm as described in Revelation 7.
end tangent

     These people are “krazousin phone megale” (literal order: 'shrieking voice loudly') saying: “soteria” (rescue, or in this context; 'salvation') to our God, the One upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb.

11 and 12
     And “pantes” (every one, every kind) of “angeloi” (messengers / angels) are standing around the throne. The Elders and the four creatures then “epesan” (collapse to the floor) onto their “prosopa” (faces) before the throne and “prosekynesan” (prostrated themselves) saying: “Amen” and “eulogia” (adulation/praise, blessing/gift), “doxa” (glory), “sophia” (intelligence/wisdom), “eucharistia” (gratitude / giving thanks), “time” (dignity / honor), “dynamis” (miraculous power), “ischys” (absolute strength) “to our God” for “aionas ton aionon” (ages of the ages). Amen
     There is some differences in the list between the translations. The 1560 begins with “praise” and the 1611 has: Blessing, and glorie, and wisedome, and (1560 thankes) thankesgiuing, and honour, & power, and might be vnto our God for (euermore) euer & euer.
     NIV: Praise and glory, and wisdom and thanks and honor, and power and strength, be to our God for ever and ever. (the Living and the New Century versions are pretty close to that)
     The New American (Catholic) begins with “Praise the Glory”

     And “apekrithe” (begins to speak) (to John) asking: These people “peribeblemenoi” (having been clothed) in white robes, “tines eisin” (who are they) and “pothen elthon” (where are they from)?

14 (John proves he's not an idiot)
     “And I said to him 'Kyrie' (master) you know”.
     The Elder answers: They have come out of “thlipseos tes megales” (tribulation the great) and “eplynan” (have washed) their robes and made them “eleukanan” (made white) in the “haimati tou Arniou” (blood of the Lamb).

     “dia touto” (because of this) they are “enopion” (in front of) the Throne of God and “latreuousin” (provide service) to Him “hemeras kai nyktos” (day and night) ....

A Dark Tangent (as promised when we were in Chapter 4)
     The concept of Night goes back to the early verses of Genesis where God called the “ha ho sek” ('absence of light' / darkness) “la ye lah” (night). But there is a bit more to it than that, as we see in Genesis 1 : 4 and so on.
     Things get interesting in Amos 5 where verse 8 says “Seek Him that Makes the Pleiades and Orion and turns the Shadow of Death into the morning and makes the day dark with the night....” (it is interesting to see that the KJV turns the Pleiades into 'the seven stars', the grouping has always been known in mythology as 'the Seven Sisters' even though there are more stars than that in the grouping, although only SIX are visible 'now' to the unaided eye, this is another Greek/ancient myth, see below for more.). The Prophet states the idea in an interesting way if you remember the original act of creation from Genesis one, one, where the Earth with without form, and Darkness was here. Then. God Created Light. Per Amos, God allows the Day to turn into night.
     Check out 1 Thessalonians 5: 5. Light has always been associated with the Presence of God. As such, how can there be a 'night shift' in Heaven? Is there a contradiction here?
     No. The assertion that 'they serve day and night' is another way to say: “they are always serving”.
End Tangent

     ... in His Temple, and the One on the Throne will “skenosei ep” (tabernacle / reside with /over) them.

16 and 17
     Most of this section is a paraphrase of sections in Isaiah 49.... And they will not “peinasousin” (be famished) or “dipsesousin” (suffer thirst).
     The next section is somewhat odd, even given the general theme of the Apocalypse.
     1560 and 1611: “neither shall the Sunne light on them”, which is essentially what is in the Greek, but it is then explained: nor any “kauma” (scorching heat). GOD is the Light, but GOD doesn't cause skin cancer.
     Because the “Arnion” (Lamb) in the middle of the Throne shall “poimanei” (govern) them and He will “hodegesei” (instruct / guide / show) them the way to living fountains of water.... It ends with a comforting statement from Isaiah 25: 8

end 7

Selected Sources for this chapter:
the Anemoi, “the Winds”, in Greek Mythology:
“100,000-year-old story could explain why the Pleiades are called 'Seven Sisters'”

Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages:

the Geneva Bible downloadable

the 1611 KJV

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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