Revelation Teacher’s Quarterly, Week 7, February 9-16 Analysis of Changes Made in the Editorial Process for the Teacher’s Edition

Basic theme: The Seven Trumpets

The changes to this quarter’s Teacher’s Edition of the Adult Sabbath School Study Guide (known popularly as the Sabbath School Quarterly) were fewer and less significant than in the previous week. I will review the changes that were interesting or substantive.

In Main Themes II of the Commentary section, the editors removed wording that alerted the readers to the fact that it is possible (but not likely) to read the trumpets as after the close of probation. Since quite a few Adventists read the trumpets that way I felt it was best to acknowledge that possibility and then show why it doesn’t likely work. The editors probably felt it was safer to act as if such views did not exist. That is a judgment call that editors have to make, like it or not. I’d prefer not to “make opponents disappear” but to deal honestly with their differences and seek to win them. But in practice my approach may not be as effective as I’d hope it would be.

In Main Themes III the editors removed my reference to Ezek 20: 47-48, which is critical to my interpretation of the first trumpet. But my interpretation was left intact. Do look at Ezekiel as you prepare to teach or participate. Regarding the second trumpet the editors added a reference to 1 Pet 5:13, which I think is helpful. I left it out because of space limitations. Regarding the fourth trumpet, the editors removed my suggestion (on the basis of comparison with the fifth trumpet) that the fourth could depict the rise of secularism after the Middle Ages. They prefer the interpretation of deepening apostasy in the church. I think that is less likely to be the case as we have there the imagery of eclipse rather than alteration (as in the third trumpet), but it may be correct. Regarding the fifth trumpet, the editors removed my references to Luke 8:31 in connection with the Abyss.

In Main Themes V I noted that the angel of Revelation 10 raised his “right” hand to heaven. The editors removed this, which puzzled me, since the word “right” (Greek: dexian) is clearly there in all manuscript traditions. But the NKJV, following the KJV, leaves that word out. Evidently the final editor, whoever that is, uses the NKJV almost solely and does not check the original.

In sum, I can only be delighted that most of my comments were accepted and published. The seven trumpets are extremely difficult and there is no SDA consensus on their interpretation. Have fun trying to work it through this week! I should mention that Uriah Smith’s interpretation (Fall of Rome) is not followed by most SDA scholars for a number of reasons. Among others, he did not study them himself (his comments are full of quotations from others), he got his views from non-SDA sources, the position is not based on analysis of the text itself, and Ellen White’s seeming endorsement is casual and her use of Rev 9 is peripheral to her intention for that chapter. For more on that see http://www.thebattleofarmageddon.com/interpreting_7_trumpets_jon_paulien.html.

Again, for those who don’t have access to the standard printed edition of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide or the Teacher’s Edition for this quarter, you can access them online week by week at https://www.absg.adventist.org/. My original pre-edited Teacher’s Edition manuscript for this week is provided in the previous blog. You can also download audio of me teaching the lesson ahead of time each week at http://pineknoll.org/sabbath-school-lessons.

6 thoughts on “Revelation Teacher’s Quarterly, Week 7, February 9-16 Analysis of Changes Made in the Editorial Process for the Teacher’s Edition

  1. Linda Hoover

    I see right hand in Rev. 1,2,5,and 16. But not Rev. 10. I do not see dexian in the Greek there. Not that it matters. Is e-sword missing something?

    Reply
  2. Dan L. Kelly

    It is encouraging to me that there is no consensus in the Trumpets. It tells me that those who bloviate on the trumpets are no more elevated in wisdom that the next one. It’s like I learned long ago: “An opinion is just that, an opinion. And, my opinion is just as valid as yours!” The Lawyer giving that seminar went on to say “the opinions become fact when there is a multiplicity of consensus on the given subject.” That will probably hold true in the Trumpets. We shall soon see!

    Thank you for your work in creating the good counsel and in providing the extra mile fo us poor teachers!!

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      I was once asked by Mervyn Maxwell, who wrote a major commentary on Rev, why God would put something like the trumpets in the Bible. I suggested, “To keep us curious.” The Bible is necessary for spiritual life. The difficult texts keep us coming back.

      Reply
  3. Victoria Haselden

    In today’s class, we discussed the meaning of the 30 minutes of silence Rev. 8:1 relating to the Old Testament sanctuary service before the call of the trumpets in the old sanctuary service indicating the service was complete.
    Would you please elaborate on Revelation 8:1 thirty minutes of silence as some would have us believe it is the period of one week it will take for the saved to travel to heaven.
    Others say that does not fit or perhaps we should wait and see?
    A note for the editors. We wondered why the study of Revelation was not held over two Quarters or even a year considering the importance of this book to the SDA Church especially this week’s study of Rev, 8,9,10, and 11? Rather a large study for one week. We are grateful for the scholars who have spent time preparing this Quarter and encouraging our deeper study.
    February 16th, 2019.
    New Zealand.

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      Here’s what I have so far on Rev 8:1:

      Rev 8:1– ” And when he opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven for about a half hour.” The seventh seal is minimal in the extreme, a very brief verse. There was simply silence in heaven for about a half an hour. This is quite surprising as the sixth seal ended with such overwhelming catastrophe (6:15-17), that one would expect the final events to be ushered in catastrophically and rapidly. But instead there is simply a half-hour’s silence. This is so minimal that many commentators have assumed that the seventh seal includes the verses that follow (8:2-6) or even the entire four chapters that are impacted by the seven trumpets (Rev 8-11). But this inclusion of the seven trumpets in the seventh seal is unlikely, as I will show when we get to the introduction to the trumpets shortly. There is a clean break between verses one and two of chapter eight. So our exploration of the seventh seal will be limited to the data in verse one of this chapter.

      T Rev 8:1—There is a clean break between verses 1 and 2, so the inclusion of the seven trumpets in the seventh seal is unlikely. Therefore, my exploration of the seventh seal will be limited to the data in verse one of this chapter.

      Rev 8:1–“When he opened” echoes the earlier seal openings (Rev 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12) with one small difference. “When” (Greek: hotan) translates a different Greek word than the one used in the first six seals (Greek: hote), although the text behind the King James Version also has hote here. Both Greek words are temporal particles. Hotan with an indicative means “when, whenever, at the time that.” Hote with the indicative can express the same but also duration, “as long as.” The use of hotan may actually be more appropriate for the context. But the manuscript evidence is divided between hotan and hote. Hotan is more likely because scribes tend to “correct” manuscripts to the reading they are used to, so they would correct the opener to the seventh seal to conform to the way their manuscript had opened the first six seals.
      The implied subject of the sentence, “he,” harks back all the way to Revelation 6:1, where it tells us plainly that it is the Lamb of chapter five that is opening each seal.

      T Rev 8:1– “When” (Greek: hotan) translates a different Greek word than the one used in the first six seals (Greek: hote). Hotan expresses more of a point in time (“at the time that”) than hote. Hote with the indicative includes “as long as.”

      Rev 8:1–The “silence in heaven” (Greek: sigê en tô ouranô) fits naturally with the scene of Revelation 7:9-17. The last sound to be heard there is the voice of the elder (7:13-14). But the reference to heaven also harks back to the earlier part of the vision, where the Lamb is breaking the seals one by one in order to open the book he has received in the fifth chapter (5:7). After the Lamb takes the book there is the sound of massive rejoicing in heaven (5:8-14), so that is another likely antecedent of the silence here.
      To some degree the silence in this verse is like the calm after a storm. Or perhaps it is the silence of expectation. The scroll cannot be opened until all seven of the seals have been broken. With the breaking of the seventh, there is anticipation of the unrolling of the scroll and the revelation of its contents. But no mention of a scroll happens again until chapter ten (10:2, 8-10). One would expect the final catastrophe here, but the seven trumpets are only partial and limited compared with the seven bowls. So the silence here probably anticipates the rest of the book of Revelation, particularly its end-time parts (chapters 12-20).

      T Rev 8:1—The silence in heaven could contrast with the speaking of the elder (7:13-17) or the sound of massive rejoicing in heaven (5:7-14).

      Rev 8:1– Is the seventh seal limited to this verse or not? The answer is yes and no. The conclusion of major visionary sequences in Revelation tends to be duodirectional, both climaxing a previous series and anticipating in some way what follows. See comments on Rev 3:21. Also, the silence in heaven fits with the sanctuary’s daily service (Tamid, see further later on) alluded to in 8:2-6.
      All the earlier seals are broken in heaven, but the events that follow are on earth. The puzzle with the seventh seal is that no events on earth follow, unless one includes Revelation 8:7 and following, which is problematic, as we well see. Since the seven trumpets are mostly prior to the Second Coming, they do not follow the opening of the seventh seal chronologically. But duodirectionality would suggest some relationship. Perhaps this is another way of connecting the trumpets with the seals and the prayers of those under the altar (Rev 6:9-11).

      T Rev 8:1—The margin between the seals and the trumpets is at the end of verse one, yet boundaries in Rev are often porous. For example, verses 1-5 together reflect the daily (Tamid) service in the sanctuary.

      Rev 8:1– This is the only place in the New Testament where the word translated “half hour” (Greek: hêmiôrion) appears. Some have sought to understand the “half hour” in creative ways. One obvious reference would be the period of silence in the temple when, in the tamid (“daily”) service, the priest is ministering incense at the Altar of Incense in the Holy Place. The half hour, in that case, would be taken literally. This supports the larger idea of a structural allusion to the daily service in chapters 1-8 of Revelation. Since that allusion climaxes in 8:3-5, the location is supportive of such an allusion here.
      Along the lines of the so-called “year-day principle” the half hour would be a forty-eighth of a day, so the half hour would represent a period of a little more than a week. Some suggest that this time is what it will take for the redeemed to travel to heaven at the Second Coming (which was alluded to in 6:15-17—see Ellen G. White, Early Writings, 16). On the analogy of “a day with the Lord is like a thousand years” (Psa 90:4; 2 Pet 3:8), the period would be a forty-eighth of a thousand years, or a period of a little more than twenty years. But the evidence of the text itself is a bit sparse to support either of the latter two calculations with conviction here.

      T Rev 8:1—The half hour of silence likely alludes to the daily service (Tamid) in the temple. The half hour could represent a week, according to the year-day principle, or twenty years along the lines of a day with the Lord is like a thousand years (Psa 90:4; 2 Pet 3:8).

      Rev 8:1– If the “silence” is the sum total of the seventh seal, as I believe, what meaning could it possibly have? A number of explanations have been offered. 1) The silence in heaven signals that justice has fully and finally been done for God’s people. Isaiah 62 (NIV) may be pertinent here: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch” (see also Isa 62:6-7). In Isaiah it is not clear exactly who the speaker is, but it presumably is the prophet himself (Isa 62:2). He declares that when God is silent, it means Jerusalem has fully and finally been delivered. Her suffering is over. The silence would be the silence of God’s satisfaction in the deliverance of His people. The seventh seal would be like an eschatological Sabbath-rest, celebrating the completion of God’s work of redemption, which, as the Psalmist says, is well-worth waiting for (Psa 62:1-2).

      T Rev 8:1—One option for the silence in heaven is a signal that justice has finally been done for God’s people (Isa 62:1-7), the completion of God’s work of redemption.

      Rev 8:1– 2) Another possibility for the silence in heaven is that it corresponds to the silence at the beginning, before God’s work of creation in Genesis 1. At the beginning the earth was dark and there was silence until God’s voice breaks in to begin the creation (Gen 1:2-3). If such an allusion was in John’s mind it would suggest a new beginning, a new creation, perhaps the New Earth of Revelation 21 and 22. 3) A third idea is that the silence is that of a stunned universe watching the destruction of the wicked. This would parallel Revelation 20:7-15. The challenge I see with this idea is that the redeemed watching in horror as relatives and friends are tormented in the flames (Rev 14:10-11) would be inclined to serve God from fear rather than love in eternity, which would not secure the universe. The thousand years of Revelation 20:1-6 must, among other things, help the righteous understand how the wicked in fact are destroyed, that it is not the arbitrary smiting of an angry God, but the sadness of a God who turns away (Rom 1:24-28; Hos 11:8) and allows the wicked to reap the consequences of their own rebellious choices, an inability to survive in His presence.

      T Rev 8:1—The silence here may also correspond to the silence before creation and the silence of those watching the destruction of the wicked.

      Rev 8:1– 4) A fourth idea is that the silence of this verse is the silence of the courtroom when the book is opened. Nothing is more silent than a family waiting to hear the reading of a will. The opening of the scroll is somehow vital to resolving the cosmic conflict and its contents will help secure the universe forever. Sin will not rise a second time.
      Given the shortage of evidence, I am not sure how to read the seventh seal, but if one wants to place the seventh seal at a particular point in history, it is clearly at or after the Second Coming, which appears to be in view in 6:15-17. The silence would then represent either the millennium itself or the universe at peace at the end of the millennium. With that in mind, I would favor a combination of interpretations 1 (the silence as justice is done for God’s people—Isa 62:1-7) and 2 (echo of primeval silence, so here would be the silence preceding the new creation). Either way, it is the eschatological Sabbath which celebrates the approaching end of the conflict and the inauguration of the New Earth.

      T Rev 8:1—The silence may correspond to the silence of a courtroom when the “books” are opened. All in all, the silence would seem to be the eschatological Sabbath, celebrating the end of conflict.

      Rev 8:1– We noted in the comments on Revelation five that the best interpretation of the scroll is the validation of kingship (Deut 17:14-20). As the Jewish Messiah, Christ took the throne of David from Satan and began his reign over the earth (Acts 2:33-34; Eph 1:20; Heb 8:1-2) in chapter five (5:6-7). But his reign is still of the “now and not yet” variety. While Christ is the ultimate ruler of earth, Satan still has a fairly free hand to create havoc (Rev 9:1-11) with some restraint for the time being (Rev 7:1-3). He is bound and made captive at the Second Coming of Christ (Rev 20:1-3—the beginning of the millennium). But until he has been allowed a final demonstration of his character and government at the end of the millennium (Rev 20:7-9), the reign of Christ is not full, final and complete. I would see the seventh seal as an anticipation of that day when the reign of Christ is, in fact, full, final and complete.

      T Rev 8:1—Christ’s reign begins in Rev 5 but is not complete until the final defeat of Satan after the millennium. Seventh seal anticipates the day when Christ’s reign is full, final and complete.

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