October 18, 2006

Sixth Trumpet Sounds/Reveleation 9:13-21

The sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a single voice issuing from the four horns of the golden altar in God's presence. It spoke to the sixth angel with the trumpet, and said, 'Release the four angels that are chained up at the great river Euphrates.'

These four angels had been ready for this hour of this day of this month of this year, and ready to destroy a third of the human race. I learnt how many there were in their army: twice ten thousand times ten thousand mounted men. In my vision I saw the horses, and the riders with their breastplates of flame colour, hyacinth-blue and sulphur-yellow; the horses had lions' heads, and fire, smoke and sulphur were coming from their mouths. It was by these three plagues, the fire, the smoke and the sulphur coming from their mouths, that the one third of the human race was killed. All the horses' power was in their mouths and their tails: their tails were like snakes, and had heads which inflicted wounds.

But the rest of the human race, who escaped death by these plagues, refused either to abandon their own handiwork or to stop worshipping devils, the idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood that can neither see nor hear nor move. Nor did they give up their murdering, or witchcraft, or fornication or stealing.


At 5:55 a.m., Blogger david said...

Couldn't resist posting the image.

At 3:48 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

I've been notably short of things to say about all this. That tone of one-damn-thing-after-another is much like the news, except instead of GW's gloating face we get 200 million (2X10^8) men on fire-breathing horses knocking off 1/3 the human race as usual. (Film at 11:00.) We get all this happening (despite what Jacques says) apparently by God's orders. So maybe, to a member of a persecuted minority living under an oppressive pagan state, this would all seem appropriate, I dunno.

Malina says the Euphrates, like the other rivers of Babylonian tradition, had a celestial equivalent == "the River of Orion, the Eridanus." From here, as he sees it, a comet ("trumpet") unleashes this host of plagues featuring red (fire) violet (smoke) and yellow (sulfur.) He has them only killing 1/3 of Israel, not humanity, because "it was only with Israel that the the God of Israel had a covenant," and thus only Israel that could be expected to "repent" (as this is translated in his version.) "Only covenanted people could be expected to change their behaviors and return to their proper way of living."

My take is that Israel's sacred deal involved giving up something called "idolatry" (here called by various names) which is a definite error/evil/mistake for whatever ethnic group. It has very little to do with the devotional use of images as done in Buddhism or Hinduism etc. The essence is worshipping demonic "works of our own hands."

"Demonic"? Van de Wettering records a Zen story about a man who bought "a very good devil" for $50. It was hard-working, useful about the house and all. You just couldn't leave it unsupervised, without "something to do." Ever. Many of the "works of our hands", whether concrete or conceptional, show a simular tendency to seem useful but to readily get out of control and wreak havoc.

And even when we "escape death by these plagues," and seemingly ought to recognize the nature of such tools--In the book we still "refuse to abandon our own handiwork or to stop worshiping devils." Is that in character? Have we given up the automobile yet? Outlawed air travel? Feed lots? Industrial agriculture? "The American Standard of Living?"

At 5:28 a.m., Blogger david said...

I'm not familiar with Malina. Who's this?

At 12:29 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

Bruce Malina, "Professor of Theology at Creighton University, Nebraska. He has pioneered social science criticism of the New Testament for the past quarter of the century..." (back page blurb on _The Social World of Jesus_, my Social Science Commentary on Revelations is upstairs.)

At 6:12 p.m., Blogger david said...



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