Herein continues my reportage of Revelation, the wackiest book in the Bible. (The first installment is here.)
—– Chapter 6
In this chapter, the lamb opens the first six seals on the scroll, one by one. Here’s what happens at each breaking:
1. A conqueror on a white horse appears, and gallops off to do some conquering.
2. A man on a red horse appears. He is able to “take peace from the earth and make people kill each other”.
3. A man on a black horse appears. He has a scale in his hands. The four animals with eyes all over their bodies make a rather Python-esque remark about the cost of a day’s wages and being careful not to damage the oil and wine (what are you smoking, John?).
4. Death appears on a pale horse, with Hades behind him. The four horsemen are now complete. Death is given a quarter of the earth to kill via the sword, famine, plague, and wild beasts.
5. All those who died for their beliefs appear beneath the altar, seeking vengeance. They’re told to wait just a little longer.
6. All hell breaks loose. The sun turns black, the moon turns red, the stars fall to the earth (geocentrism, anyone?), mountains and islands are “removed”. Everyone hides in caves in the mountains (apparently they weren’t all removed!), and bemoans the impending wrath of God.
—– Chapter 7
Here, an angel with the “seal of the living God” tells the four horsemen to hang on a second while he puts a seal on each of God’s chosen people. There are 144,000 lucky ones in total (this is a core scripture for Jehovah’s Witnesses). The chapter ends with an enormous crowd of people worshiping God. These are the people who have “come out of the great tribulation”.
—– Chapter 8
The seventh seal on the lamb’s scroll now gets broken, followed by about half an hour’s silence and the appearance of seven angels with seven trumpets. Next is a magnificent Thor-esque moment during which an angel fills a censer with fire from the altar and hurls it at the earth, which causes thunder, lightning, and an earthquake.
Then the destruction begins. As each of the seven angels blows his trumpet, the following things happen:
1. A mixture of hail, fire, and blood burns a third of the earth.
2. A mountain-like object is hurled into the ocean, turning a third of it into blood, destroying a third of all sea creatures and a third of all ships.
3. A star called Wormwood falls to the earth and turns a third of the rivers into deadly bitter poison, killing bunches of people. (Wormwood is a bitter plant – see Artemisia absinthium.)
4. A third of all celestial bodies turns dark, leaving a third of the day (and night) without light.
The chapter closes with a nearby eagle remarking that the remaining three calamities are going to be really bad.
—– Chapter 9
5. At the sound of the fifth trumpet, a star unlocks the abyss (I’m not making this up, really), out of which pours a plague of horribly nasty locusts (see picture) that are ordered to torture for five months all people without a seal on their foreheads. These locusts have men’s faces, women’s hair, and lion’s teeth, by the way.
6. At this point, the four horsemen are at last released, and they have good news! Now they are allowed to kill a third of all people, not just a quarter.
The chapter closes by noting that the survivors of the human race, despite the aforementioned mayhem, still refuse to mend their ways.
—– Chapter 10
A short respite from the carnage now ensues. An angel with a rainbow halo appears, holding a little scroll, and gives a loud shout. This prompts seven thunders to roar some very important words, but hang on, John is told that he cannot write these down, and we have to move on.
The angel then tells John to eat – yes, eat – the little scroll. It is sweet in his mouth, but turns his belly sour (are you sure that was a scroll, John?).