Monday, September 10, 2012

Precursor to Hell; Imminent or Not?

In my latest reading of G.K. Beale's The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, Beale argues that six of the seven trumpets represent God's judgment on idolaters during the church age (the time between Christ's first and second comings), whereas the seventh trumpet concerns the last judgment.

Beale often does not take the cataclysmic events accompanying the trumpets literally.  So what does he think that these cataclysmic events symbolize?  He sees the mountain going into the sea as the collapse of a nation, and the famine to be a spiritual famine, the sort of famine that Amos 8:11 mentions.  What Beale could be saying is that the spiritual emptiness and problems that have afflicted nations throughout the church age are due to God's judgment of idolaters.  And Beale does not think that God is afflicting the idolaters in order to encourage them to repent, although Beale does believe that a few unbelievers who have been sealed (as well as some Christians who are compromising with idolatry) will repent.  Rather, for Beale, God is afflicting them to demonstrate their hard hearts and his own justice in punishing them.

Does Beale believe that John expected for Christ to return in his own lifetime?  My impression thus far is that Beale's answer is negative----that John thought that prophecies were being fulfilled in his own time and that the Kingdom of God was somehow being realized, but that the final consummation could be years away.  On page 544, however, Beale says:

"The angel tells John that the final completion is to be at the last judgment and establishment of the kingdom announced by the last trumpet.  Daniel knew that much, but was not given hope to expect it in his own time, as John is, although even John's expectation needs to be balanced by an 'already-and-not-yet' perspective..."

This does not strike me as a straight answer.  Did John expect the final consummation in his own time or not?  And stop hiding behind "already-and-not-yet"!

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