Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Sign of Things to Come... Or Is It Already So?

“And they sang in a mighty chorus: ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’”

–Revelation 5:12 (NLT).

Most sane people will ask at least once in their life, ‘What’s it like after death?’ In other words, what will it feel like? It’s a very reasonable question because if we know consciousness and a state-of-being now, we can’t really picture a time of non-consciousness or non-being. It just doesn’t fit in our vocabulary of perception.

The abovementioned verse is the only verse in the Bible I can speak fluently in Greek. It’s perhaps the only one of true significance when all is said and done. I pray it often, especially at times of worship i.e. in church services and others times when praising God. It’s such an appropriate and fitting ‘word’ to pray in praise of God—the One who deserves all honour, glory, praise and a word, worthy.

The blood of this holy Lamb was shed for you and I—God’s eternal sacrifice; once—for all. It carries through the aligning theme running throughout the Bible—one single sacrifice for many indiscretions.

The doxology[1] is interesting in that it combines the “seven substantives” under one single notion through the use of a single and preceding article (ordinarily, “the,” which is not shown in English [shown as “tān” below]) before the swath of substantive phrases (power, riches etc).[2] The idea is a holistic one.

The Lamb’s dominion is total and the picture of praise is astoundingly difficult to comprehend in both its size and significance. John’s vision takes in an all-encompassing sight of ‘every creature’ both living and dead, on land and at sea—all, without exception, praising Christ—the only Worthy One—in the presence of God.

We see here but a view of things to come, far off or near, though coming all the same. And, yet, we also see a picture here of what’s always been and currently indeed is (i.e. the eternal “is”), in the heavenly realm. The angels with God singing his praises; not because God commands them to, but simply because of who God is. It’s an overflowing instinct implicit in approaching the throne of glory and grace.

In Greek:

λέγοντες φωνῇ μεγάλῃ· ἄξιόν ἐστιν τὸ ἀρνίον τὸ ἐσφαγμένον λαβεῖν τὴν δύναμιν καὶ πλοῦτον καὶ σοφίαν καὶ ἰσχὺν καὶ τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν καὶ εὐλογίαν.[3]

In a readable (phonetic) English:

Legontes phonā megalā; Axzion estin to arnion, to esphagmenon labein tān dynamin kai plouton kai sophian kai ischun kai timān kai doxan kai eulogian.

It is perhaps fitting that an atheist, and a famous one at that—Nietzsche, could summarise what this point of Revelation (chapter 5) brings us to; at this point of eternity is the “revaluation of all values.”[4]

There will be an end to all things. It’s something all will face. It comes, just now.


“You say that I want somebody to Elucidate my Ideas. But you ought to know that What is Grand is necessarily obscure to Weak men. That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worth my care. The wisest of the Ancients consider’d (sic) what is not too Explicit as the fittest for Instruction, because it rouzes (sic) the faculties to act.”

–William Blake, Letter to Dr. Trusler, 23 August, 1799. (Cited from Rowland, p. 502.)

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] Doxology means, “An expression of praise to God.” See:

[2] David E. Aune, Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation 1-5:14 (Vol. 52A). (Dallas, Texas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), S. 364. There are similar doxologies found in Revelation 4:11, 1 Chronicles 29:11 and Daniel 2:37.

[3] Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition Greek New Testament. (Oak Harbor, Washington: Logos Research Systems, 1997), c1982, S. Rev. 5:12.

[4] Christopher C. Rowland, The Book of Revelation – Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections. Vol. XII (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1998), p. 605. Citing Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist (London, England: Penguin, 1990).

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