Revelation: A review (part 3)

We pick up with John having eaten a scroll, and with two of seven violent calamities still to come (see previous post).

—– Chapter 11

Here comes calamity number six: the witnesses. These two fellows will stand in front of the temple and prophesy for over 1000 days. They will be given control over the weather, they’ll breath jets of fire at anyone who tries to stop them, and they’ll be able to send plagues to the earth “as often as they want”. Eventually, however, they’ll be destroyed by the beast from the abyss, but they will come back to life three and a half days later and ascend into heaven.

Oddly, the language changes from the future tense to the present tense in this chapter: it starts off predicting what the witnesses will do, and finishes off by describing their ascent into heaven as if it has just occurred.

The chapter closes with the seventh trumpet being blown and the temple being opened, followed by thunderstorms, earthquakes, and hail. This, then, is presumably the last calamity.

—– Chapter 12

A pregnant woman clothed in the sun appears, and a red dragon with seven heads waits to eat her baby as soon as it is born. However, the baby is taken instead into heaven, and it is said that the baby will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.

The dragon turns out to be Satan. He and his angels enter into battle with Michael and his angels, but fails, and falls to the earth. There, he starts to chase after the woman who gave birth, but the earth repels his attack. Instead, he decides to attack the rest of her offspring, namely those who keep God’s commands and maintain their belief in Jesus. Could this be Eve?

—– Chapter 13

A blasphemous, leopard-like beast now rises out of the sea. The red dragon bestows his power on this beast, and the people worship both of them.

A second beast with horns of a lamb then rises from the earth. This beast makes all the earth worship the beast that came out of the sea. Importantly, this second beast forces all people to carry the number “666” on their right hand or their forehead. This number is described as “the number of a man” or “humanity’s number”, even though it’s also called the name of the beast and the “number of its name”. The mark is required for any person who wishes to buy or sell.

—– Chapter 14

Here, we learn that the 144,000 chosen people are all male, and all virgins (!): “These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins.” We also learn that those who worship the beast and receive his mark will be tormented with sulfur for all eternity, with no rest, day or night. Interestingly, this will happen in the presence of the “holy angels and the Lamb”.

Lastly, the son of man and an angel both take a sickle and harvest the earth. The angel’s harvest of grapes is put in the wine press of God’s wrath, and blood from the press rises to the height of a horse’s bridle for a distance of 180 miles. I remember someone doing a calculation on this: a typical person contains about 6 litres of blood, or 0.006 cubic meters. To fill a cylinder with a diameter of 180 miles (I’m being generous: it sounds like 180 miles could feasibly be the radius, not the diameter) and a height of 1.4 m (the typical shoulder height of a light riding horse), one would need the blood of 10^11 / 0.006 = 10^13 people. Estimates of the total number of people who have ever lived, are in the ballpark of 100 billion (= 10^11). God’s wine press will therefore end up crushing 100 times the number of people who, as of the present moment, have ever lived!

—– Chapter 15

In this brief chapter, John sees all the people who resisted the beast, standing in heaven playing harps, and singing. The seven angels who released the plagues are given bowls filled with God’s wrath (wrath broth, perhaps?), and the temple is filled with the smoke from God’s glory and power.


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