From the second half.
Ch. 15:5-19.10: the seven bowl-plagues.Learning what is to come. Babylon exposed and cast down in prophecy.
From the first half.
Ch. 8:2-9:21: the seventh seal, oblation at theheavenly altar, and the sounding of the first six trumpets. Destructionof 1/3 of the cosmos.
Ch. 10:1-11:19: the eating of the small scroll andsounding of the seventh trumpet. ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ’ (11:15).
From the second half.
Ch. 12:1-15:4: the woman clothed with the sun,war with the Dragon, reaping of the earth. A recapitulation of John’s prophecies seen from within the Eucharist.This should become clearer as we go on.
Inaugural vision and seven messages
John is told to write to the churches about what he sees: ‘what is and what is to take place hereafter’ (1:19). In other words, he is to reveal to the young Christiancommunities the meaning and goal of history. The whole Book of Revelation is thisletter to the churches, but first John presents a series of condensed messages,describing the tests and temptations that each of the seven churches undergo as theystruggle to remain faithful to the sacramental life of the Church (chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation). In these messages are contained glimpses of the imagery and propheciesthat will be expanded upon in the rest of the book. The function of the messages is toconsole the Christian community under persecution, but also to call it to repentance.The fact that there are seven churches is, of course, no accident. The number sevenrepresents completeness, and these communities are being taken as representative of the full spectrum of Christian experience in the world. Each of the seven churches,John tells us, is a ‘golden lampstand’ (one branch of the
) and each has anangel (a star) that is held in the hand of God. The seven stars are also, as Austin Farrer argued, the seven planets, which gave their name to the days of the week, representingthe plenitude of time held in the hand of Christ.
Throne vision and the seven seals of the Lamb’s scroll
In chapter 4 John sees a door in heaven, and through it the throne of God surrounded by thrones for twenty-four Elders (one for each hour of the day), seven torchesrepresenting the sevenfold Spirit of God, a sea of glass, and four living creatures fullof eyes in the forms of lion, calf or bullock, man, and eagle, each with six wings, each praising the Trinity (cf. Ezekiel 1:10; Isaiah 6:2-3). As they sing their praises of God,the Elders cast down their crowns and join in the praise.The vision is of a heavenly liturgy, an eternal act of praise and worship. John seems to be saying that liturgy, after all, is what heaven
. John’s visions all take place in the