End-time Trauma and the New Jerusalem: A Reading

Revelation 4-6; 21:1-7; 22:20-21  NRSV

   

AMBS July 2002   Nelson Kraybill and Loren Johns

 

Parts: John, Voice, Four living creatures, Mighty Angel, Elder

 

 

 

John: 4:1 After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open!  And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said,

 

Voice: Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.     

   

John: 4:2 At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! 4:3 And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. 4:4 Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. 4:5 Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; 4:6 and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal.

   

Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 4:7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. 4:8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing,

   

All sing HWB 120:   ["Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty"]

   

John: 4:9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 4:10 the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,

   

All sing: [Thou art worthy; thou art worthy; thou art worthy O Lord,

To receive glory, glory and honor, glory and honor and pow'r.

For thou hast created, hast all things created,

Thou hast created all things!

And for thy pleasure, they are created, Thou art worthy, O Lord!]

   

John: 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; 5:2 and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice,

   

Mighty angel: "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?"

   

John: 5:3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. 5:4 And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5:5 Then one of the elders said to me,

 

Elder: Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.

   

John: 5:6 Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 5:7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne.

   

5:8 When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 5:9 They sing a new song:

 

All say:  "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; 5:10 you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth."

   

John: 5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 5:12 singing with full voice,

   

All sing: [1. Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb! (2X)

2. Glory, glory, glory to his name! (2X)

3. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord! (2X)

4. Praise him, praise him, praise him evermore! (2X)]

 

John: 5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing,

 

All say: To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!

   

John: 5:14 And the four living creatures said,

 

Four creatures:  Amen!

   

John:   . . . and the elders fell down and worshipped.

6:1 Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder,

                                   

First creature:  Come!

   

John: 6:2 I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer.

6:3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out,

   

Second creature:  Come!

John: 6:4 And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword.

   

6:5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out,

   

Third creature:  Come!

   

John: I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, 6:6 and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying,

 

Voice: A quart of wheat for a day's pay, and three quarts of barley for a day's pay, but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!

 

John: 6:7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out,

 

Fouth creature:  Come!

        

John: 6:8 I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.

 

6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; 6:10 they cried out with a loud voice,

 

All cry:  Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?

   

John: 6:11 They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.

   

John:  6:12 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and there came a great earthquake; [Cymbal crash!];

 

Crescendo of noise and flashing lights throughout this section, ending with silence

John: the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 6:13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree drops its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 6:14 The sky vanished like a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the magnates and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 6:16 calling to the mountains and rocks,     

  

All cry: Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb; 6:17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?

Silence

 

All sing HBW 562:     [Let nothing trouble you

Let nothing frighten you

God alone is enough!]

 

[pause]

 

John: 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 21:2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

 

Voice: See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 21:4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.

 

John: And the one who was seated on the throne said,

 

Voice: "See, I am making all things new. . . It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 21:7 Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

 

All sing HWB 616:  ["Children of the heavenly Father"]

 

John: 22:20 The one who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."

 

Chorus:  Amen, come Lord Jesus!

 

John:  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.