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A Survey of The Days of Vengeance: Ethical Stipulations or Christus Victor (Part 5)

Note: This is a continuing evaluation of the book The Days of Vengeance written by David Chilton. Chilton at the time of writing this was a partial preterist who later in life (after a massive heart attack) turned to full preterism. Sections will be taken from the book and commented on to the fullest extent possible. A PDF of the book can be found here.

The fifth chapter in the book of Revelation is one of serious visions. This chapter begins the process of judgments in the book of Revelation. Chilton kicks off this section by quoting Theodor Zahn who provides incredibly insight into the nature of the book that the Lamb eventually receives and opens,

The seven seals indicate that this document is a testament. While this is not the entire explanation, it is important for a proper understanding of the Book. Zahn wrote: “The word biblion [book] itself permits of many interpretations, but for the readers of that time it was designated by the seven seals on its back beyond possibility of mistake. Just as in Germany before the introduction of moneyorders everybody knew that a letter sealed with five seals contained money, so the most simple member of the Asiatic churches knew that a biblion made fast with seven seals was a testament. When a testator dies the testament is brought forward, and when possible opened in the presence of the seven witnesses who sealed it; i.e., it was unsealed, read aloud, and executed...The document with seven seals is the symbol of the promise of a future kingdom. The disposition long ago occurred and was documented and sealed, but it was not yet carried out." (DOV, 76)

A similar imagery is the fact that the book is written on the front and back. This is suppose to bring to mind the Covenant on Sinai (Ex 32:15). Chilton is helpful here are he boils down the teaching of Meredith Kline,

A victorious king (the suzerain) would impose a treaty/covenant upon the conquered king (the vassal) and all those under the vassal’s authority. Two copies of the treaty were drawn up (as in modern contracts), and each party would place his copy of the contract in the house of his god, as a legal document testifying to the transaction. In the case of Israel, of course, the LORD was both Suzerain and God; so both copies of the Covenant were placed in the Tabernacle (Ex. 25:16, 21; 40:20; Deut. 10:2). (DOV, 75-76)

This insight is incredible. It is also modeled after the Scriptures. Chilton points to the texts of Ezekiel's visions and responsibility to proclaim woes to Israel (Ezk 2:3-10). The whole of the Old Testament sets the stage for the final removal of covenant membership from the people of Israel. The seven seals, seven trumpets and seven chalices all stem from this covenant book.

With this importance in mind, we can begin to understand the deep distress of John that no one is able to open this book. Within the ending of the Old Covenant, the New Covenant is unable to enter in full fruition by the opening of the seals. It is with this backdrop that Jesus Christ is introduced.  He is verbally introduced as a conquering Lion but John sees a lamb,

In what sense is Jesus Christ a Lamb? The passage is not referring to Jesus in His Nature – He is not “lamblike” in the sense of being gentle, sweet, or mild, as some would falsely understand this text. Christ is called a Lamb, not in view of His Person (which pop-theology degrades to the modern concept of “personality” anyway), but in view of His work. He is the Lamb that
was slain, “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Thus, the center of history is the finished, sacrificial work of Christ. The foundation for His mediatorial kingship (Christ as the Lion) is His mediatorial atonement (Christ as the Lamb). It is because of His sacrifice that He has been exalted to the place of supreme rule and authority. Christ has attained victory through His sacrificial suffering and death on our behalf. 

St. John emphasizes this by his specific language: a Lamb standing, as if slain. (DOV, 78)

Let that slip in. The basis for the entire set of judgments in the book of Revelation is the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ. For me personally, this makes it very hard for me to view Revelation in a futurist manner given the climatic way everything was "finished" at the cross. I'm going to stop here before moving through the tricky "seven" descriptions that are attributed to the lamb.

BBC: Genesis 5:21-24

BBC: Genesis 5:21-24

The Dating of Revelation - Don Preston Review #3