Sunday, June 18, 2017

Stumbling Through the Book of Revelation, 1:10

I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

The picture you get is of a man in a trance. You could have picked him up and carried him out like a wooden plank. He obviously wouldn’t be the first to do that. (Acts 10:10 & 11 - And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth)
But I don’t think that is necessarily the case here. It doesn’t say he is in a trance, and people were physically moved all over the place by the Spirit. Ezekiel 8:3 - And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
Acts 8:39 -And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
Now, he could have been in a trance. I’m not trying to sell a point of view here, I’m just exploring possibilities. I believe the spirit realm is actually another dimension, with its own set of physics, that through the power of God, a person can slip in and out of almost like walking through a curtain. Jesus seemed to do it a lot: John 8:58 - Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. In this verse, it says that Jesus hid Himself. Where do you suppose He hid? He was standing before a crowd in the Temple. It’s not like He could duck behind a pole and sneak out when no one was looking. He had to have hidden in the spirit, or spirit realm. There is also Luke 4:29 & 30 - And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way, and Luke 24:31 - And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
Jesus was taken bodily into Heaven. So was Elijah.  Enoch probably was, too. Why couldn't John?

It is astounding to me that most of the commentaries I read say that this means Sunday. The argument goes that Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, so Christians, very early in Church history, essentially moved the Sabbath from the last day of the week (Saturday), to the first day of the week (Sunday). Ignatius, one of the greatly revered, second generation church leaders (circa 101 A.D.), reportedly endorsed Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath” in an epistle to the Magnesians. (According to “Barnes’ Notes on the Bible”, courtesy of Bible
It may come as a shock to some that I care very little about what the early church leaders thought. Before they had finished writing the books of the Bible, there were already all kinds of doctrinal problems in the church. There was Gnosticism, Legalism, the doctrine of Balaam, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans… The Apostles Peter and Paul had debates over doctrine. I’m more concerned with what the Bible actually says, and what the writer is trying to get across to us.
I’ve read commentaries that say that John’s use of the term “the Lord’s Day” is the first time it was used to refer to Sunday, and so this is where that change was established. This sounds like circular logic to me.
I’m not going to go into a big thing here about how and why the church moved the Sabbath to Sunday, but the fact is, I counted 26 instances of “the Day of the Lord” in the Bible, and every one of them refers to the Day of God’s Wrath.
Isaiah 13:6 -  Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
Jeremiah 46:10 - For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.
Joel 1:15 - Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
Amos 5:18 - Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.
Acts 2:20 - The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
Also: Isa 13:9, Lamentations 2:22, Ezekiel 13:5, Ezekiel 30:3, Joel 2:1, Joel 2:11, Joel 2:31, Joel 3:14, Amos 5:20, Obadiah 1:15, Zephaniah 1:7&8,  Zephaniah 1:14, Zechariah 14:1, Malachi 4:5, 1Corinthians 1:8, 1 Corinthians 5:5, 2 Corinthians 1:14, Thessalonians 5:2, and 2 Peter 3:10. A couple of these verses actually used the term twice.
Suddenly, in John’s use of the term, it now refers to Sunday. Why? Because we worship on Sunday. Why do we worship on Sunday? Because John called it the Day of the Lord here.
The abnormally observant could point out here that John didn’t say “Day of the Lord”. He said “the Lord’s Day”.
The Old Testament referred to the “Day of the Lord” because there are no possessive forms for nouns in Hebrew. You can’t say “The Lord’s Day” in Hebrew. The language won’t allow it. But you can do it in Greek. Paul did it referring to the Lord’s Supper in 1Corinthians 11:20, and John does it here.
The idea that John is referring to the Day of Wrath here makes more sense. For crying out loud, that’s what the whole book is about. They don’t call it Apocalypse for nothing.  
How did John get to the Day of the Lord? He was in the spirit (realm). We could call this spiritual realm, this other dimension, “Eternity”. In the Spirit, in God’s realm, in Eternity, there is no time. You can be here and at the end of the world simultaneously. Time itself is a dimension that you step out of when you step into Eternity.
The question then becomes: How do you get to where you can go into and out of these dimensions at will?
Apparently, you can’t. God initiates all these little excursions into Eternity. We are instructed to walk after the Spirit. What does that mean?
This is where it gets a little tough. Walking after the Spirit means being concerned with Spiritual things. Paul has the Spirit as diametrically opposed to worldly things (Galatians 5:17 - For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.), so the more you are concerned with worldly things: your job, your house, your kids, your favorite baseball team, NCIS, politics…., the less you care about the things of the Spirit. As I write this, I am becoming painfully aware of just how spiritual I am not.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that John had this incredible encounter with God after spending some years alone on a rock in the Aegean Sea? There was no internet service. You couldn’t even get radio reception out there. He had nothing to do but commune with God. How often have the great men of God become the great men of God after they spent a lot of time alone in the desert? Even Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days just before He started His ministry.

I’m reading this book as literally as I can, even realizing that some of it is going to be really strange. I’m coming at this from the hermeneutical position that John was, in fact taken bodily to the spirit realm where he could see all of history. Particularly that part that the Lord will soon have him focussing on: the Great Day of the Lord.
The voice he heard behind him was a great voice. It could have said awesome voice. The kind of voice that can’t be ignored, or even misinterpreted. As soon as we see “as of a trumpet”, everybody (yeah, me too) goes running to find scriptural references to trumpets. There are some verses in Exodus, chapters 19 and 20 that seem to have the trumpet sounding from Heaven. There are a lot of places where the trumpet is used both in ritual sacrifices and as a call to battle.
Then we realise John didn’t say “the sound of a trumpet”, he said “as of a trumpet.”
It’s a simile. John is likening the voice to the sound of a trumpet. Now I’m imagining a voice, the very sound of which will rattle you to your core. The voice came from behind John, but it had his undivided attention. Of course, on the Isle of Patmos, there wasn’t a lot of competition for John’s attention.
It is starting to bother me more and more that there is so much competition for mine.

Thank you to the Blue Letter Bible for allowing me to cut and paste all the scriptures I use right from their website. The last thing I want to do is commit a typo on the Word of God.

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