Not a Game, but the reality of The throne – Wednesday, 33rd Week in ordinary time – Revelations 4:1-11

Chapter 4 and 5 of the Book of revelation do not make for easy spiritual reading unless you have a mind that can pull out references from the Old Testament in order to makes sense of this vision. Our text of today is eleven verses, the whole of chapter 4 and it essential covers a vision of ‘John.’ After the letters to the seven churches, the rest of Revelation is devoted to a series of prophetic visions expressed in very symbolic language and images.

The symbolisms mentioned in this text can set your head reeling for a while. To understand these and all such apocalyptic texts we need to understand that apocalyptic writings come from a definite era in history of almost exactly 300 years, 165 B.C.-A.D. 135 or what is called the intertestamental period, or the years between the Old and New Testament.

These years extend from the rise of Judas Maccabeus in opposition to the persecutions of the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, to the final subjugation of the nation of Israel by Rome after the second futile attempt against the oppressor in the days of the emperor Hadrian. For centuries Israel had been subject to one foreign oppressor after another. Dreams of a restoration after the Babylonian captivity had proved disillusioning. The Jews were forced to change from a nation with its own king to a religious community with a priest at its head.

When your read apocalyptic literature you begin to wonder what’s with the symbolisms? One must admit that much confusion has been caused by these terms used in the book. Actually, such books were not written, as has been often assumed, as puzzles for the curious, to afford glimpses of prophecies in the future. Rather, they were intended as sources of strength and confidence for the people living at the time of the author who were in a period of crisis and needed encouragement to stand firm in the testing days immediately at hand. Their message was that despite the machinations of wicked men and nations, shameless in their opposition to God and his chosen people, it is God who will deliver the final blow against the enemies of his faithful; but till then they must stand firm in the faith.

Chapters 4 and 5 consist of visions of God enthroned in heaven, surrounded by his worshiping hosts and angelic attendants, and of God’s giving the book of his will to Christ, the Lamb. These scenes are meant to be an assurance to Christian readers that God and Christ are shortly to intervene in the affairs of this age and to deliver the faithful from the domination of Satan and his demonic powers as experienced in the Roman state.

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