Sunday, December 13, 2015

Revelation 4 and the Team Mascots

Today's Reading: Hosea 12-14 and Revelation 4

Here's a great worship video called 'Revelation Song,' performed by Kari Jobe at Passion Conference 2013.

If you still want more Revelation-based worship, here's Chris Tomlin singing 'We Fall Down.' This song is based on Revelation 4:10.

I don't usually share 'study notes' on our readings but I had a lot of fun this past year studying Revelation with both the High School group and with the Nursing Home groups. Here's a thought from Revelation 4 that both groups found interesting:

Revelation is more easily understood when we remember genre. If you go to a romantic comedy in movie theaters, for example, you probably know how the movie will turn out in the final 5 minutes. Each genre has its formula, and a story is great depending on what it does with that basic formula.

Revelation is the genre 'Apocalyptic Literature.' We no longer see movies in theaters or books in bookstore from this genre, but in the 1st Century they were quite popular. They started with a very colorful, grand entrance (like we see in Revelation 4) and centered around a good guy (usually a king or god) who fought against evil. Nowadays our equivalent might be a superhero movie?

John uses this genre to tell the story of Jesus because, well, Jesus is ultimate hero. And Revelation becomes easier to understand when we learn to identify the genre from the new information John adds. Make sense?

A fun bit to identify in Revelation 4 are the four animals. To us these feel random. But to the 1st Century audience those would have immediately been recognized as the 4 mascots of the Israelite tribes. Every time the Israelite people stopped in the desert, the 12 tribes would break up into their 4 sections (north, south, east, west). And each 'mascot' represented the 'best of' creation -- of the thinking animals, the wild animals, the flying animals, and the tamed land animals. The New Testament tradition even continued these mascots in representing the four Gospels.

Those 4 mascots would have been instantly recognized. And they would have been a clue for who the 24 elders are (the 12 Old Testament tribes and the 12 New Testament disciples). This elder interpretation will be solidified further as we read on. And of course, at the center of it all is Jesus on the throne.

Hopefully this little bit of information is fun to hear. If you have specific questions, don't hesitate to leave them in the comments section. Revelation is a great book to research and discuss.

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