At first glance, this oracle seems to encompass a final day of judgment and wrath that sweeps up the entire globe in an event still future to us today. Yet, tucked into this far-reaching oracle are also mentions of Babylon, an empire long since crumbled into dust, with only the remnants of its grandeur ensconced in museums here and there. What do we make of this strange juxtaposition?
Seven represents all that is—the sum of the physical cosmos (the number four) and the spiritual realm (the number three). This was not unique to Judaism, but was also well-established in the Greco-Roman world.
For this study, I’m going to be reading from the Greek text, so my translations will retain an "accent," so to speak. But I am convinced the gems are easier to find in the original language, and my decision was immediately rewarded as I opened to the first page and read the first three words.
How do we outline a book that's a letter, but also prophecy, but also apocalypse? It's the Word of the Lord, highly symbolic, yet also (in parts) plain speaking and historical.
Revelation was written in the setting of Asia Minor, just off the coast of the Aegean Sea, towards the end of the first century, under the reign of Emperor Domitian.
What approach do we take, perspective do we use, and hermeneutic do we employ when reading Revelation? It's not a slam-dunk answer.
Even a few sentences in, we can tell the Book of Revelation is unlike anything else in the Christian Testament. But the truth is, there is really nothing like it in the Hebrew Scriptures either, although there are many references to various prophetic imagery and events from the Hebrew scriptures.
Now, at last, this final vision rests on a time of great celebration, when all shall be made “Holy to the Lord.”
Part of what makes this final chapter confusing is how Zechariah seems to oscillate between idyllic scenes and catastrophic scenes. However, reading this chapter with John’s Revelation suggests a cohesive overall narrative.
We have come at last to the final chapter of Zechariah’s final oracle, the most prophetic and profound (and for many scholars, puzzling) of the prophet’s visions.