Imitation of the Divine


The seven seals are followed by the seven trumpets, beginning in chapter 8. The last seal ended with a theophany of fire, announcing that the divine has arrived upon the earth. John begins to see stunning destruction unfolding upon the earth, and the instrument of destruction is fire. This is confusing, because the divine has just arrived as fire, and at first glance it seems as if the divine comes as destroyer. However, in the Apocalypse, the demonic imitates the divine. It is an imitation that is deceptive, as we learned in the letters to the seven churches, that people and events are not what they pretend to be. John called upon the churches to be aware and alert for this imitation. The first four trumpets unleash events that point in the direction of this imitation and deception. The sounding of a trumpet announces the arrival of someone special, imitating the Thunder that announced the arrival of the divine as fire upon the earth. In the Apocalypse, the sounding of the trumpets announces the coming forth of chaos, the demonic as fire upon the earth. The sounding of the first four trumpets brings the creation into convulsion. In the first, the heavens rain down fire upon the earth, in the second, the seas are struck with fire from above, in the third, the rivers and streams are struck by fire from the star Wormwood, and become deadly, in the fourth, the fires of the heavens are darkened so that day and night fade. The first four trumpets unleash fire. That is why in the opening of the seventh seal, the divine arrives upon the earth as fire from heaven. The divine fire confronts the demonic fire. The battle is being waged so that the new creation may come forth. The demonic strikes first, and is able to destroy one-third of everything. That is its limitation. The demonic that is limited by its own nature cannot destroy the completeness of the divine. But the worst is yet to come. There is now an interlude, in which the eagle announces the coming of three woes upon the dwellers upon the land. The eagle is a curious bird. It is unclean, living off the remains of the dead. It stands with the dead. It is the character of the eagle that allows us insight into what is to come. Perhaps the woes to come will speak of the day of the dead.

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