This week, I am working through Revelation, chapters 3-7.
- Verses 15-16 - I can't tell you how many times I've heard this passage as interpreted to mean that God would rather have people be actually against God than be merely "indifferent" (neither "hot" nor "cold").1 I have since come to believe that this is not what this passage is getting to at all. I understand this passage to say "do something helpful!" (Hot water has therapeutic uses, while cold water is good for drinking and refreshing, and lukewarm water being useless for either.)2 Indifference may well be no virtue, but it just doesn't make sense to me that open hostility would actually be better!
- Verse 4 - I'm not at all sure what the number twenty-four is meant to signify, here.3
- Verse 8 - Somehow, these guys never seem to make the list (it's quite short) of "talking animals in the Bible" (I know of only two, in fact: The serpent in Eden and Balaam's donkey.)
- Verse 4 - I wonder why John's so upset at not being able to look inside a scroll he'd never even known about just minutes earlier....
- Verses 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12 - It is intriguing to me that "things happen" when the Lamb opens each seal, wholly separate from anything actually written/read upon the scroll itself. Generally, a seal is unimportant (outside of signifying a letter/scroll's source, which is determined without breaking/opening it), it is what the seal is attached to that has the meaning.
- Verse 6 - Not knowing how much wheat and barley should cost, I needed to look this one up. Apparently these are highly inflated prices, possibly signifying a time of famine.4
- Verses 4-8 - More numbers. Mounce: "The number (144,000) is obviously symbolic: Twelve (the number of tribes) is both squared and multiplied by a thousand--a twofold way of emphasizing completeness." Mounce also notes that the actual tribes mentioned have all disappeared by the time this book would have been written, which would also imply a symbolic understanding rather than a literal one.5
1David E. Aune, Revelation 1-5 (Word Biblical Commentary), Word Books, 1997, p. 257, follows this interpretation.
2Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), Eerdmans, 1977, pp. 125-126, is much closer to this understanding.
3And, apparently, there isn't a scholarly consensus, either, although I am most intrigued by the possibility, mentioned in Aune, p. 289, that suggests that twenty-four would be the number of the tribes (Aune says "sons") of Israel plus the Twelve Apostles.
4See Mounce, p. 155.
5Mounce, p. 168.