The Things Which are Still to Come
Ethical Stipulations cont.
The Book and the Lamb
"He said, Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have rebelled against me. They and their ancestors have been in revolt against me up to the present day. Because they are stubborn and obstinate children, I am sending you to them, to say, 'Lord Yahweh says this.' Whether they listen or not, this tribe of rebels will know there is a prophet among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or of what they say, though you find yourself surrounded with brambles and sitting on scorpions. Do not be afraid of their words or alarmed by their looks, for they are a tribe of rebels. You are to deliver my words to them whether they listen or not, for they are a tribe of rebels. But you, son of man, are to listen to what I say to you; do not be a rebel like that rebellious tribe. Open your mouth and eat what I am about to give you.' When I looked, there was a hand stretching out to me, holding a scroll. He unrolled it in front of me; it was written on, front and back; on it was written Lamentations, dirges and cries of grief."-Ezekiel 2:3-10
(God's command to the prophet Ezekiel in 593BC; 7 years before the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple by the Babylonians)
"Moses turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, tablets inscribed on both sides, inscribed on the front and on the back. The tablets were the work of God and the writing on them was God's writing, engraved on the tablets." –Exodus 32:15-16
Read Chapter 5: 1-6
Verse 1: "I saw that in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne there was a scroll that was written on back and front and was sealed with seven seals."
John had been focused on the 24 elders as they prostrated themselves before the throne of God and responded to the hymn of the 4 Living Creatures with antiphonal (responsive) praise themselves. Now his attention is directed to the One who sits on the throne and he sees that He holds in his right hand (the hand of authority) a scroll. The word in Greek is biblion, which can mean either a rolled scroll or a codex (the precursor to the modern bound book).
Question: What two statements does John make about the condition of the biblion? Answer: The biblion is sealed with 7 seals and it is written on back and front.
The codex (book form) was new in the 1st century AD. As a mater of fact, it would be the Church who would popularize that form over the scroll. But since the biblion is sealed with 7 seals leads me to believe it is a scroll and not a codex; although it would be extremely unusual for a scroll to be written on both sides. The members of the 7 Churches of Asia would have been very familiar with a document sealed with 7 seals. It was the practice in the ancient world of the first century to prepare one's last will and testament in the presence of 7 witnesses who would each affix their seal to the document. The usual practice for pagans was to place the document in the hands of the priests or priestesses of pagan temples (when Julius Caesar made his testament he gave it to the Vestal Virgins to keep in their temple in Rome). When a testator died the testament was brought out and when possible, unsealed in the presence of the seven witnesses who sealed it where it was read aloud, and executed by the deposition of the contents named in the testament to the testator's heirs. The scroll with the 7 seals that God holds is the symbol of the promise of a future kingdom. It was documented long ago and it was sealed but it had not yet been carried out.
The scroll/book was also written on the back and on the front. Question: Can you think of any occasions in the Old Testament when a scroll/book or other object was written on both the back and the front? Hint: read the Scripture passage in the beginning of this lesson.
Answer: (1) Ezekiel 2:3-10 when God have His holy prophet/prosecuting attorney the Covenant Lawsuit against Israel (Judah) the Old Covenant Church 7 years before God's judgment fell on Judah and Jerusalem with the destruction of the Temple in 586BC by the Babylonian army. (2) The 10 Commandments; see Exodus 32:15-16 "Moses turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, tablets inscribed on both sides, inscribed on the front and on the back. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing on them was God's writing, engraved on the tablets."
The key to understanding the scroll John sees in God's right hand is contained in these two Old Testament passages. The Ezekiel passage recalling God's Covenant Lawsuit against an unrepentant Israel and the Exodus passage when God established His Covenant with Israel. But what about the importance of the two tablets of the 10 Commandments being inscribed on both sides? Could it be that they were duplicate copies? We have already mentioned that the covenant treaty format of ancient Near Eastern nations is evident in the establishment of the Sinai Covenant. When a victorious king would form a treaty/covenant with a vassal (and all those under the vassal's authority), two copies of the covenant were drawn up (as in modern contracts). Each party would place his copy of the covenant in the house of his god, as a legal document testifying to the agreements and stipulations. In the case of Israel, of course, Yahweh was both the great king and God, so both copies of the Covenant with Israel were placed in the Tabernacle...that is why it was called the Ark of the Covenant! See Ex. 25:16, 21; 40:20; Deut. 10:2; Heb. 9:4.
The purpose of Israel's copy of the Covenant was as a documentary witness (Deut. 31:26). Question: How would the written tables serve to remind Israel of the stipulations of the covenant? Answer: It was to remind Israel of her oath to Yahweh and her obligations, which if executed faithfully, would result in blessings (Deut. 28:1-14) but if violated would bring covenant curses (Deut. 28:15-69). God commanded that the covenant stipulations were to be publicly proclaimed to teach the fear of the Lord to all Israel, especially to the children (Deut. 31:13; Ps 78:5ff). Question: What purpose did God's copy of the covenant serve? Hint: read Genesis 9:13-16. Answer: Yahweh's duplicate tablet of the covenant served the same purpose as that of the rainbow in His covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:13-16. The tablet was the link to the oath God took to remember His people and to faithfully keep the blessings He had promised them for their obedience and the discipline (curses) if they were unfaithful to bring them back to repentance.
In understanding the immense significance of this passage, it is important to remember that from the beginning of this prophecy much of the specific information in Revelation has indicated that the idea of covenant is central to its message. Jesus declared this prophecy as part of the Canon; to be read in the liturgy of the churches. Jesus has organized this book in terms of the established covenant structure; the entire book is arranged in the 5 part covenant treaty format and each of the 7 letters to the Churches are arranged in the same format. And now we come to this vision of a testament/treaty document, written on front and back in the hand of the One who sits on the Throne. The book is the Testament of the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ: the New Covenant and we, as His heirs receive His inheritance. But the establishment of the New Covenant requires the passing away of the Old Covenant...after all, there can only be One Church. Ezekiel's scroll is judgment on Old Covenant Israel; the 10 Commandments were the establishment of the Old Covenant Church/Israel. Jesus' testament, sealed with 7 seals, is a judgment on Old Covenant Israel as well as the establishment of the New Covenant Israel, the Holy Catholic (catholic means universal) Church. (As each of the seals are opened we will see the curses of the Covenant against Israel unfold).
Verse s 2-5: "Then I saw a powerful angel who called with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?' But there was no one, in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, who was able to open the scroll and read it. I wept bitterly because nobody could be found to open the scroll and read it, but one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep. Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and so He will open the scroll and its seven seals.'"
John begins to cry because no one in all creation is able, or as St. John explains, worthy, to open the book/ scroll of the New Covenant that he been offered by the One sitting on the Throne. Without someone who was worthy to act on behalf of both God and man the New Covenant cannot be ratified (for more on the ratification of a covenant see Exodus 24. Moses was the one who acted on behalf of both Israel and God in the ratification of the Old Covenant Church). One of the elders steps forward to comfort John. He tells John (literal translation) "Stop crying; behold, He has conquered!" Question: What significance is it that this message of comfort comes from an elder and not from the angel (heavenly messenger)? Answer: The Church preaches the Gospel ("goodnews") to St. John! It appears that the elder is so excited about his message that he blurts out the climax before he even explains who it is who has conquered.
Question: In what two ways does the elder describe the One who has conquered? Answer: as "Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.." Question: What Old Testament passage is being referenced with the title "Lion of Judah?" Answer: Genesis 49:9-10. The elders statement is the fulfillment of Jacob/Israel's ancient prophecy to his 4th son Judah. It was the shepherd boy who became king, David, God's beloved (in Hebrew David's name means "beloved"), to whom God revealed both the plan of the Temple (1Chron. 28:11-19) and the plan of the everlasting covenant by which the Messiah-Priest/King would bring the blessing of Abraham to all nations (2Sam.7:18-29, 23:22-5; 1Chron. 17:16-27; Psalms 16; 110; Acts 2:25-36). David was the conquering Lion of Judah of the Old Covenant but David's greater Son came and conquered sin and death to establish everlasting dominion and open the New Covenant in His blood.
Question: The elder also describes Christ as "the Root of David." What a strange statement! If Jesus is descended from David through Mary, why wouldn't David be called the root, or beginning, of Jesus? In Isaiah 11:1 the Messiah is prophesied as "a shoot from the stem of Jesse" (David's father), and both Jeremiah and Zechariah refer to the Messiah's descent from Jesse and David by calling Him the "Branch" (Jer. 23:5; Zech.3:8). What is the significance of Jesus being "the Root of David?" Read Colossians 1:15-17 to help you with your answer. Answer: The root of David's very existence was the Son of David, Jesus Christ. God the Son is united with the Godhead from eternity. It was through Him that all creation was made: Col. 1:16-17 "In Him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominations, principalities or powers; all were created through Him and for Him. He is before all else that is. In Him everything continues in being."(New American Translation). God desired to glorify Himself in Jesus Christ and to offer salvation to all of mankind, therefore, He created Jesse and David, and all the other ancestors of Jesus' human nature in order to bring the Second Person of the Trinity, the Divine and Eternal Son, into the world. In this statement the elder is presenting Jesus Christ in the most radical way possible as the center of all history, the divine Root as well as the Branch, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. It is as the conquering Lion and the determining Root that He has conquered so as to open the Book and it 7 seals!
Verse 6 "Then I saw, in the middle of the throne with its four living creatures and the circle of elders, a Lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed; it had seven horns, and it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits that God has sent out over the whole world,.."
Notice that repeated pattern from chapter 1 where first John "hears" and then he "sees." Question: John "heard" the angel call out in a loud and what does he "see?" Answer: the Lamb/Christ. This isn't any meek and humble lamb; this Lamb is the mighty King of Kings, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This passage is not a reference to Jesus in His Nature but Christ as He works out our salvation. Question: What is curious about the way John describes the Lamb? Hint: think about how an animal that has been sacrificed would be situated. Answer: a sacrificed animal would be lying down, unable to stand. Question: So why is this Lamb standing?
Answer: The central work of history is the finished, sacrificial work of Christ who died once and for all time for our sins. CCC#1137 (quoting St. John Chrysostom's Liturgy on Rev. 5:5: "...Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one 'who offers and is offered, who gives and is given.'": Heb. 7:27 "..He has no need to offer sacrifices every day, as the high priests do, first for their own sins and only then for those of the people; this He did once and for all by offering himself." Although He suffered and died once and for all time, the sacrifice is ongoing. Christ continually offers Himself before the throne of God in sacrifice (as the "standing Lamb") until such a time when sin no longer exists. His sacrifice is ongoing because sin and salvation are ongoing. Also see CCC#1330, 613-14,1364-68, 2009,2100.
John presents this doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ in a uniquely Jewish way. He uses two Greek words for the English translation "the Lamb standing." He uses the Greek word hestekos which means 'standing' but he uses the Greek word arnion for lamb, an unusual choice. Arnion is the archaic form of the word lamb. This term for lamb is only used in the book of Revelation and John will use this form 30 times. The common form of the word that would be used in the first century is amnos. In fact, John uses the Greek amnos for lamb in his gospel; for example in the passage 1:29 when John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God: "Look, there is the lamb (amnos) of God that takes away the sin of the world." When John the Baptist made this statement, the crowd of Jews present would have been shocked. The mention of a lamb who takes away sins would immediately make them think of the daily Temple sacrifices of the lambs prescribed since the Sinai Covenant. This sacrifice was called the Tamid (tamiyd –pro. Tah-meed)) sacrifice and the lambs that were sacrificed were called The Lamb of the Tamid (Tamiyd). The word tamid in Hebrew means "standing as in continuous or perpetually. Now it is true that the Greek word hestekos only means 'standing' in the usual sense and not standing in the sense of perpetual or continual but it is not always possible to translate into another language a concept peculiar to a certain culture. The same problem existed in the attempt to convey the meaning of the Hebrew word "messiah" into the Greek. In Hebrew Messiah means the 'anointed one of God' or 'God's anointed,' an entirely foreign concept to the Greeks. The best the New Testament inspired writers could do was to use the Greek word 'christos' which means, "smeared." That word hardly conveys the Hebrew concept of the Messiah as a title for Jesus but generations of Christians came to understand that Christos, Christ in English, really meant Jesus, the Anointed of God! I think in using the archaic form of the word lamb and the Greek word for standing that John is once again using poor Greek to make good theology and to connect the ongoing sacrifice of Christ with the sacrifice of the Tamid (Heb. Tamiyd) which was a foreshadow and promise of Christ's redemptive work. Please read about God's requirements for this continual, 'standing', sacrifice in Exodus 29:38-42 (also in Numbers 28:3-8, and Lev. 6:2-6).
Ex. 29:38-42 "This is what you must offer on the altar: 2 yearling male lambs each day in perpetuity (Heb.=tamid or tamiyd). The first lamb you must offer at dawn, and the second at twilight (between the twilights), and with the first lamb, one-tenth of a measure of fine flour mixed with one-quarter of a hin of pounded olive oil and, for a libation, one-quarter of a hin of wine. The second lamb you will offer at twilight (between the twilights), and do it with a similar cereal offering and libation as at dawn, as a pleasing smell, and an offering burnt for Yahweh, a perpetual burnt offering for all your generations to come.." The Israelites understood that this sacrifice had to last as long as the earth existed. A key to understanding the times of the sacrifice is the proper translation of the Hebrew words bayin ha ereb. Bayin = between, ha =the, ereb = twilight. Between the twilights has to be 12 Noon. According to the Jewish historian Josephus (Antiquities 14.65) and the Jewish historian Philo of Alexandria (Special Laws I #169) as well as information in the Talmud and supporting information in Acts of Apostles (ie. 2:15; 3:1;10:3, 9, 30; etc ) the hours of prayers in the Temple corresponded to the daily Tamiyd sacrifice for the people; this is the time frame of those sacrifices. (1) At dawn (the first hour) the first male lamb, in his prime and perfection, is brought out and tied to the altar in the Temple. For approximately 3 hours he is there for all to see him in his perfection. (2)At the 9AM (the 3rd hour) he is sacrificed. (3)At noon (the 6th hour) the second lamb, a male in his prime and perfection is tired to the altar. (4) At 3PM (the 9th hour) he is sacrificed. (It is important to remember that between dust and total dark the next day began so the sacrifice had to be completely burned on the altar before that time).
The Jewish day began at sunset and was divided, from sunset to sunset, in 8 equal parts:
First Watch Sunset to 9PM
Second Watch 9PM to Midnight
Third Watch Midnight to 3AM
Fourth Watch 3AM to Sunrise
First Hour Sunrise to 9AM
Third Hour 9AM to Noon
Sixth Hour Noon to 3PM
Ninth Hour 3PM to Sunset
The Romans, however, marked the beginning of the next day 12 hours from high noon which was at 12 midnight. They divided the time into 24 hours with two major divisions at high noon and midnight. The hour from midnight to the next hour was called the first hour. Sunrise was generally at the 6th hour, or what we call 6AM and at 12 noon the hour count began again. As a matter of fact, we keep Roman time as did the majority of the Roman world in the first century. In the Bible the times we are given are usually Hebrew time but in several places the times are Roman time. In Acts 23:23 the Roman commander orders that Paul be smuggled out of Jerusalem at the ninth hour in the evening (9PM). I also believe that in John's gospel that he is using Roman time. His gospel was written while he was living in Asia where everywhere the Christian churches used Roman time, not Hebrew time. If John is using Roman time in John 19:14, there is no discrepancy between his gospel and the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke as to the time of the crucifixion. We will discuss this topic in depth next year when we study the Gospel of St. John.
Question: How does the Tamiyd sacrifice foreshadow the redemptive work of Christ in His passion and crucifixion? Hint: Please read these passages, record the times, and compare them to the hours of the Tamiyd: (1) Matt. 27:1; Mk15:1; Lk22:66-23:1 (2) Mk.15:25 (3) Matt 27:45; Mk 15:33; Lk 23:44 (4) Matt 27:45-450; Mk 15:34-39; Lk 23:44-46.
Answer: the Tamiyd anticipated the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. From the time His passion begins to the giving up of His Spirit, the times correspond to the hours of the Tamiyd sacrifices. Question: Why were there 2 lambs required for the Tamiyd sacrifice? Answer: My guess is that 2 lambs symbolized the dual nature of Christ. He was completely human and completely divine. The Tamiyd sacrifice was an imperfect sacrifice because no animal could be perfect enough to take away sin. Christ, however, was the perfect Lamb of Sacrifice who takes away the sins of the world: Hebrews 9:22 In fact, according to the Law, practically every purification takes place by means of blood; and if there is no shedding of blood, there is no remission." Heb. 10:5 "Bulls' blood and goats' blood are incapable of taking away sins, .."
Heb. 10:11 "Every priest stands at his duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking away sins, He (Christ) on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins.." Additional note: As I mentioned the required hours of prayer also corresponded to the Tamiyd sacrifice. Prayer 3 times a day was the minimum for a member of the Old Covenant Church: 9AM (when the Temple gates were opened for the morning sacrifice), 12 noon (when the second lamb was tied to the altar) and 3PM (the hour of the second sacrifice). A very religious person, however, would observe 5 times of prayer (privately or at the Temple): dawn, 9AM, 12noon, 3PM, and the end of the day at sundown. These hours of prayer are recorded in Acts. For example it is the 3rd hour (9AM) when Peter encountered the large crowd of people (on their way to Temple prayers) at Pentecost (Acts2:15), and Peter was praying at 12noon when God gave him the vision of the sheet and the unclean beasts (Acts 10:9), and in Acts 3:1 Peter and John "..were going up to the Temple for prayer at the ninth (3PM) hour,.." the hour of the evening sacrifice. They were going not take part in the sacrifice and prayer service but to share the gospel of the risen Christ. Question: It has long been a tradition in the Catholic Church to pray the Angelus 3 times a daily: 6AM, Noon, and 6PM. Do you observe regular hours of pray in your daily encounter with Christ?
Verse 6 continues: "..it had seven horns, and it had seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits that God has sent out over the whole world,..." Question: What two unusual qualities does the "Standing Lamb" possess and what is the significance?
Answer: #1 Christ the Lamb has 7 horns. This is symbolic imagery. Seven is, of course, the symbol of spiritual perfection but the horns are also symbolic. In Sacred Scripture the horn is a symbol for strength and power: 1Sam 2:1 (literal translation) "My heart exults in Yahweh in my God is my horn lifted up,.."1Sam 2:10 (literal translation) "Yahweh judges the ends of the earth, He endows His king with power, He raises up the horn of His Anointed." ; 2Sam 22:3; 1Chron. 25:5; Job 16:15; Ps. 18:2; 75:4,5: 89:17, 24; 92:10; 112:9; 132:17; 148:14; Jer. 48:25, Lam. 2:3, 17; Ezek. 29:21; etc. and Luke 1:69 (literal) "..and He has raised up for us a horn of salvation in the House of His servant David,.." (Most modern translations will use the word strength in place of the literal word horn). Therefore, the 7 horns symbolize the Messiah's power. But there may also be a symbolic connection to the seven ram's horns used to announce the judgment of God on the enemies of God's Covenant people, Israel, and the victory and salvation that would come to them as they prepared for their first battle to take possession of the kingdom that God had promised them. Question: Do you recall this historic event in which 7 Ram's horns (shofar) played such a prominent role in the conquest of the Promised Land? Hint: read Joshua 6:2-5. Answer: The Battle for Jericho. Now Jesus, the Lamb of God to whom all other Old Testament sacrifices pointed, provides for the New Covenant Israel the strength and victory to wage their war to claim dominion over the whole earth by establishing the Universal (catholic) kingdom of Christ the King. Read Matthew 28:18-20.
Answer: #2 In addition to the 7 horns the Lamb has 7 eyes. All seeing eyes in Scripture are symbols of knowledge. We have symbols of the fullness and perfection (the #7) of the Messiah's power (horns) and His knowledge (eyes). We are told that the 7 eyes are the 7 Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. God the Holy Spirit in His fullness of knowledge (symbolized by the eyes). But this passage may also refer to the first mention of God the Holy Spirit in Scripture. In Genesis chapter 1 verse 1&2 "In the beginning God created heaven and earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, with a divine wind sweeping over the waters." The "divine wind" in Hebrew is the ruah = God the Holy Spirit who is sent out over all the earth during creation. As creation continues God the Holy Spirit enacted 7 acts of "seeing" = the 7 fold Spirit's eyes. Question: Read Genesis 1:1-31. As each day of creation was completed what two words are repeated 7 times? Answer: "God saw.." 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31. God was not only creating, He was also judging the earth ("God saw that it was good..") until the final judgment was made in the beginning of the 7th day. In the same way, the Lamb is presented as the center of history, the conquering Lamb who opens the New Covenant and who serves both as Covenant creator and judge as He takes the Book out of the right hand of God the Father. It is the new beginning of God's Covenant people!
Have a blessed Christmas and we will continue with our study in 2 weeks.
CHAPTER 5 continued
Ethical Stipulations cont.
"Sing a new song to Yahweh, for He has performed wonders, His saving power is in His right hand and His holy arm. Yahweh has made known His saving power, revealed His saving justice for the nations to see, mindful of His faithful love and His constancy to the House of Israel." Psalms 98:1-3
"Sing a new song to Yahweh! Let His praise be sung from remotest parts of the earth...Yahweh advances like a hero, like a warrior He rouses His fire. He shouts, He raises the war cry, He shows His might against His foes." Isaiah 42:10-13
Verse 7-8 "The Lamb came forward to take the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne, and when He took it, the four living creatures prostrated themselves before Him and with them the twenty-four elders: each one of them was holding a harp and had a golden bowl full of incense which are the prayers of the Saints." The sacred assembly of saints and angels (the 4 living creatures) kneel (or prostrate) in adoration before the Lamb as they worship Him each having one harp and a golden bowl full of incense. Question: What are we told do the golden bowls represent or set forth symbolically? Answer: Prayers of the Saints. See Psalms 141:2 "May my prayer be like incense in your presence, my uplifted hands like the evening sacrifice." This reference is to the second Tamyid Lamb of the daily sacrifice and the uplifted hands refers to the way prayers were offered up as the smoke from the sacrificed lamb rose above the altar. The evening sacrifice took place at 3PM and was a regular time of prayer. Prayer, in the Old Covenant, was always associated with sacrifice. (Also see Luke 1:10) Symbolically the rising smoke of the sacrifice in the Temple was the refined quintessence of the offering rising to heaven. That is why every sacrifice on the sacred altar was salted'to produce thick clouds of smoke rising above the altar'and why the mixture of incense that was burned at the small golden incense altar in front of the Holy of Holies contained a substance that produced a dense white cloud. Question: Can you think of a tradition in the Catholic Church that corresponds to this symbolic practice? Answer: Lighting prayer candles and the incense used a high Mass.
Verse 9 "They sang a new hymn: You are worthy to take the scroll and to break its seals, because you were sacrificed , and with your blood you bought people for God of every race, language, people and nation and made them a line of kings and priests for God, to rule the world." Question: Would you like to guess how many times the new hymn (or new song) is mentioned in the Old Testament? Answer: Good guess! That's right, 7 times! Psalms 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10. The "new song" is always mentioned in reference to God's redemptive and creative acts in history. In the Old Testament references the "new song" celebrates the creation of the Old Covenant Church and announces the promise that the Messiah will bring salvation to the nations (see Psalms 98:1-3 and Isaiah 42:10-13).
Question: What does the "New Song" that the Saints and angels sing in John's vision proclaim? Remember that this is the 8th time in Scripture that calls forth a "new song." What does the number 8 symbolize? (refer to the document: The Significance of Numbers in Scripture). Answer: the number 8 means salvation. (New American translation)
(1) v.9"Worthy are you to receive the scroll and break open its seals" -Establishment of Kingdom Treaty
(2) "for you were slain. With your blood you purchased (some ancient MMS add 'us') for God men of every race and tongue, of every people and nation. – Redemption
(3) v.10 "You made of them a kingdom, and priests to serve our God," Nationhood-establishment of the New Covenant Israel, the Universal Church
(4) "and they shall reign on the earth." Dominion
There are 2 observations that I find very interesting: #1 that the 4 living creatures sing the new song with the Saints and #2 that the song shifts to the 3rd person between verses 9 and 10. The question I ask myself is why would the 4 living creatures count themselves as among the redeemed? Angels don't need redemption but man does. Does this mean, along with the shift into the 3rd person, that this new song is responsorial? Could it be that the elders and the 4 living creatures begin the song: "Worthy are you to receive the scroll and break open its seals.." And then the elders sing "For you were slain. With your blood you purchased (us) for God men of every race and tongue, of every people and nation." And then the 4 living creatures respond: "You made of them a kingdom, and priests to serve our God, and they shall reign on the earth." Earlier (in chapter 4) the 4 living creatures and the elders were singing responsorial praise...and then too it is reasonable that men, and not angels, would become inheritors of a kingdom and become a priestly people. It also makes sense, if this is an antiphon, that there would be a shift to the 3rd person if the 4 living creatures complete the hymn singing about redeemed man. This "New Song" also shows us the direction of history. Christ's passion and resurrection was not simply a "saving from" sin but a "saving to:" He has made us to be kings and priests to our God and has set the destiny of the New Covenant Church. God's original plan for Adam has been lost but now Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, has redeemed us and restored to us our royal priesthood. We are to increase and rule and through the Gospel to bring the plan of God for man to completion throughout the earth.
Verses 11 & 12 "In my vision, I heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the living creatures and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, loudly chanting: Worthy is the Lamb that was sacrificed to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing."
In response to the praise of the 4 living creatures and the 24 elders, the host of heaven joins in this song of praise. The number of angels chanting in praise of the Lamb is a symbolic number for a countless number of angels. Question: What do the angels proclaim that the Lamb is worthy to inherit? Count the enumerated items; what does this number represent symbolically? Answer: There are 7 items. This number indicates the fullness of the Lambs spiritual perfection, the perfection of the Lambs 7 horns (power) and 7 eyes (knowledge); in other words, Christ is worthy to inherit all things in heaven and on earth as we hear in the continuation of the song in the next verse:
Verse 13-14 "Then I heard all the living things in creation — everything that lives in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, crying: To the One seated on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honor, glory, and power, for ever and ever." And the four living creatures said, 'Amen'; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship."
All of heaven joins in the song of praise to the Lamb with all of creation singing in response. Question: List the created things that join in the song as well as the enumerated items of praise. Answer: Every created thing that is (1) in heaven and (2) on the earth and (3) under the earth and (4) in the sea. = all of creation becomes part of the cosmic chorus. They are singing to God the Father and to God the Son (1) praise, and (2) honor, and (3) glory, and (4) power, for eternity. Four is the number of the earth and creation. This is the climax to this section of the heavenly liturgy. This song reveals to us the goal of history as the universal recognition of the Lamb's kingship and the eternal glory of God through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. The new and final age of salvation history has come....the New Covenant is established and the Lamb has conquered. Philippians 2:9-11 "And for this God raised Him high and gave Him the name which is above all other names; so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and under the earth, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as lord, to the glory of God the Father."
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