Sunday, 28 April 2013

SPLC Eastertide 2013 - A great multitude of martyrs (Easter 4)

Easter 4 – Revelation 7:9-17 – A great multitude of martyrs
7:9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.

7:10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

7:11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,

7:12 singing, "Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen."

7:13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?"

7:14 I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

7:15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.

7:16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat;

7:17 for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

A great multitude, or crowd

-        GK. Used by John is όχλος (ochlos), generic word for a gathered crowd

-          “a casual collection of people a multitude of men who have flocked together in some place;  a throng;  a multitude of the common people, as opposed to the rulers and leading men with contempt”

-        They come from “every nation, tribe, people & tongue”

-        They have been clothed with white robes & they are carrying palm branches

In St John’s time:

-        Writing to 1st generation of persecuted Christians, within powerful Roman empire

-        John himself an exile, possibly for ‘crimes against the state’

-        Writing to persecuted across the 7 churches of Asia Minor

-        This is the όχλος which he now sees before the throne of God as witnesses to God’s saving work & purposes

Witnesses - μάρτυς (martyrs):

-        To be a martyr is to be one who witnesses to the Lordship of Christ above all other claims to power, authority & truth

-        But, never alone – this martyrdom/witnessing is never merely a private or a solitary affair

-        It is to be part of a witnessing people, a crowd, a multitude, an όχλος

-        The true όχλος is a crowd of witnesses to God’s acting in the world


What does this witnessing όχλος look like?...

-        They come from every παντς (pantos):

-         nation θνους (ethnos) – 60 uses NT, 21 in Revelation alone

-        tribe φυλν (phule) – 6 uses in Revelation)

-        people λαν (laos) - >100 uses in NT, 8 in Revelation)

-        tongue γλωσσν (glossa) - >50 NT uses, 8 in Revelation) the end of the great battle sequence of the vision that runs through the heart of the Book of Revelation, these μάρτυς are those who are vindicated and take their own places on thrones...
-        ie. they share in the power and authority of the Rule of God
Our call to be witnesses of Christ is within the promise of our call to share in the work of bringing Jesus’ Rule into being on earth – enacting the Lord’s Prayer.

Next week:  Easter 5 – Revelation 21:1-6 – A new heaven and a new earth

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