October 2001

BOOK OF REVELATION      (continued from previous issue)
By Carlos Mesters

The opening of the seven seals (6:1-17)   continue

The first thing that appears at the opening of the sixth seal is a tremendous calamity (6:12-14): "All the kings of the earth, the governors and the commanders, the rich people and the people of influence, the whole population, slaves and citizens" (6:15) take to flight and shout, in their fright, "The great day of his retribution has come, and who can face it?" (6:17).

The situation is completely changed. Those who, in the fifth stage, were still dominating and persecuting are now taking to flight, filled with terror. But what will happen to the communities during this sixth stage? Will they escape the calamity or suffer still more? The answer comes immediately in the visions of the census (7:1-8) and of the numberless crowd (7:9-17). Before this, however, we must explain the meaning of this division of history into seven stages.

The seven seals of the plan of history, opened by the Lamb, must not be calculated in months, years of centuries. When he divides the entire history into seven stages, John intends to treach that all the events, all the peoples, all the persons even those who declare themselves to be neutral, even the emperor and his empire all of us indeed are willy nilly involved in the great combat between good and evil, between justice and injustice, between freedom and oppression, between God and Satan. There are no balcony seats from which one could witness the drama of history. We are, all of us, on stage playing the game for or against the Plan of God. It depends on us to side with justice and liberty, to side with God and victory.

The mission of the persecuted people (7:1-17)

1.     The census in the desert (7:1-8)

The vision of the sixth seal continues. John describes a beautiful scene from Exodus. After the flight from Egypt, a census was made of the people (Num. 1:20-43). This census of the people was the beginning of a new, egalitarian and fraternal organisation of the people, in agreement with the Law of God and completely opposed to the oppressive organisation of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Now at the opening of the sixth seal God decrees another census, this time of "the servants of our God" (7:3) who suffered persecution but were not tained by contacts with the false gods of the empire (14:4). An angel is sent to "put the seal" on them (7:3), the seal of God which is a sign of protection (9:4). Those who receive the seal are 144,000 (7:4), 12,000 from each tribe (7:5-8). Their number is now complete, no one is missing (6:11)

In fact, at the sixth seal the situation is changed: the oppressors have fled in fright (6:15-17). The people, up till then oppressed and scattered, now show themselves to the world as a perfect organism, the various parts of which are united with one another (7:5-8). What does all this mean?

. . . to be continued  

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