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「關愛受造世界與福音」會議系列

七個號角的信息──上帝通過耶穌拯救祂的創造 (啟八7-十一19)

在啟示錄中,約翰在七個印(前一篇文章)中,介紹了上帝的創造議程。但在這些有關七個印的經文中,基督教信仰的中心──耶穌的死和復活,只有通過「被殺的羔羊」或「羔羊」等隱喻性的字眼來間接提及。

我們可否就此斷定,基督教信仰的中心,對於關愛受造世界這個議題是否重要?而如果是重要,我們如何可以看出?答案就在七號角中。

讓我們從最後的三個 (即第五個至第七個) 號角開始討論,然後再去理解前四個號角。當第五個號角響起時,來自無底坑的煙霧,變成了變異(非草食性)的蝗蟲。牠們在呈現一套優秀表面之後,就像蝎子一樣用尾巴去刺人。這些蝗蟲跟隨那個稱為「毀滅」的領導(九11)。

第六個號角包含三個片段。

第一個片段 (九13-21) 始於人類(來自幼發拉底河,就是巴比倫的命脈,而巴比倫象徵我們人類因為傲慢,不信靠上帝而構築的各種建設和建制),通過馬匹彼此相殺,殺死了世上三份之一的人,但仍沒有悔改。

將這片段與第五號角對比,就出現了明顯的區分:撒旦(來自無底坑)只能通過欺騙(在前面誘惑,過後就刺痛)來摧毀,但不能殺人的肉體;相反地,當人類自己行出這些謊言時,他們會互相殘殺,踏上一個最差劣的惡性循環。馬以嘴來造成破壞,但他們的尾巴也有頭(即有嘴),可再傷害。

教訓:在實現撒旦的非物質謊言時,人類最終要為自己的行為負責。

然而,即使這些兇手拒不悔改,但在第二個片段 (第十章) ,上帝卻暫時停止應有的審判:不允許七個雷(代表憤怒)被記下來,並改為傳講一個新的信息。

這個信息構成第三個片段 (十一1-13),它集中於兩位見證人。他們因保護上帝聖城不被踐踏而說預言(十一2 - 3)。這兩個證人被殺,但是上帝叫他們復活,並被接上了天。

這經文引進了一些時間的尺度:「42個月」,「1260天」和「3.5天」。

請留意,以一個月為30天計算,得到 42個月 = 1260天。

而如果我們讓「3.5天」與 啟十二14 中的「一載二載半載」互相對應(希臘語原文「載」是「預定時間 kairos」),則在第十二至十三章中,我們會再次找到這些時間尺度。

兩位見證人的復活,發生在一個七天的時段的中間(即是兩個3.5天的時段之間)。而由另一個角度來看,這復活也發生在一個七年的時段的中間(即是兩個42個月的時段之間,亦即是兩個1260天的時段之間)。

七天和七年這兩個重疊的時段,都是安息的週期:七天是上帝的「一週」,七年是人類的「安息年」週期(出埃及記二十9-11;利未記廿五 1-8)。

從創世的開始到末了,上帝從來沒有停止工作,這開始到末日的時段,是上帝的「一週」。依照上下文判斷,可以看到前述的所有時間尺度,都象徵著同一個時段。因此,2 x 42個月和2 x 1260天,象徵著整個歷史。這些宇宙性的時間尺度,代表整個歷史長河中,上帝的工作(週)和人類的工作(安息年)。

約翰將兩見證人放在這些時間尺度的中心,象徵著耶穌是成全了律法和先知(兩位舊約見證人),並復活而成為安息的主,正如耶穌親口聲稱(太十二8,可三28,路六5)。

這個教導的意義深長:耶穌不單是上帝工作(週)的中心,而同時也視乎人們與祂的關係,是人類工作(安息年)的中心:在歷史長河中,通過2 x 1260天(基於太陽的「日」,代表光明),耶穌是聖徒的領袖;並通過2 x 42個月(基於月亮的「月」,代表黑暗),耶穌是反對者的審判官。

無可避免地,耶穌是每個人的主,甚至是那些反對祂的人的主。耶穌會帶領衪的創造,進入最後的安息。

在最終(第七)號角中,有終極性但又有開創性的一個勝利被宣告了。建基於耶穌在復活中的勝利,上帝獎賞衪的許多類型的僕人,但只摧毀那些毀滅大地的人(十一18)。因為要在祂的創造之中,去除那些破壞受造世界的人,是上帝的心願。

在第五至第七個號角中,揭開了前四個號角的奧袐:是誰毀壞了受造世界的三份之一?答案:是人類,踐行出撒旦的謊言的人類。是誰保存了受造界的三份之二?答案:是上帝,上帝親自通過耶穌──亦即是安息的主!

像先前的七個印一樣,七個號角的邏輯,是依循聖經的核心教導構成的──人類被撒旦蒙騙,但耶穌藉著復活,擊敗撒旦的終極謊言,拯救上帝的創造,免受人類破壞。

耶穌勝利的信息,如何導致創造得到救贖?在約翰如何描繪耶穌為安息的主之中,我們可以找到答案。這將在下一篇文章中討論。

參考: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXyJBU4QG-Q&t=28s

「關愛受造世界與福音」會議系列文章之五。
作者為前環保署高級主任,現著力研究環保神學。
本文原文為英文,中文版本由梁柏强翻譯。


英文原文:

Message of Seven Trumpets —
God Saves His Creation Through Jesus (Rev. 8:7-11:19)

In Revelation, John introduces God’s creation agenda in the seven seals (previous article). In those seven seals, Jesus’ death and resurrection is only alluded to through the slain Lamb. But is the central Christian message important to creation care, and if so, how? The answer is in the seven trumpets.

Let us start with the last three (5th–7th) trumpets and revisit the first four trumpets later. When the fifth trumpet is sounded, smoke from the bottomless pit turns into mutated (non-herbivorous) locusts that sting people using their tail like scorpions, after presenting a very impressive façade. These locusts follow their leaders called “Destruction”(9:11).

The sixth trumpet has three episodes.

The first episode (9:13-21) starts with humans (from the Euphrates, being the lifeblood of Babylon, the human construction) killing up to one third of each other through horses, yet without repenting. Contrasting this with the fifth trumpet shows a clear demarcation: Satan (from the bottomless pit) can only destroy through deception (beguile in front, then sting after passing by), but cannot kill physically; in contrast, when humans act out these lies, they kill each other physically initiating a vicious cycle downward – horses destroy from their mouths, but their tails also have heads (hence mouths) to harm. Message: In actualizing Satan’s non-material lies, humans are ultimately responsible for their actions.

Yet even when these murderers do not repent, God halts rightful judgment in the second episode (Rev 10): Seven thunders (representing wrath) are not allowed to be written down; a new message is then preached.

The message is the third episode (11:1-13) which centres on two witnesses prophesying against the trampling of God’s holy city. These two witnesses were murdered, but resurrected and taken up to heaven.

Some timescales are introduced here: 42 months, 1260 days and 3.5 days. Note that 42 months = 1260 days with a month idealized as 30 days. These timescales are again mentioned in chapters 12-13, if we allow “3.5 days” to correspond to “time, times and half a time” in 12:14 (time in Greek is kairos, appointed time).
The resurrection of the two witnesses takes place right in the middle of a seven-day and a seven-year period (between two “3.5 days”, two “1260 days” and two “42 months”). The combined timescales are Sabbatical periods: God’s week and human’s Sabbatical year cycle (Exodus 20:9-11; Leviticus 25:1-8).

God never ceases working, from beginning to end of creation. That is God’s week. The context indicates that all the above timescales are of the same “duration”, symbolically, hence the 2 x 42 months and 2 x 1260 days symbolize the entire span of history. These are cosmic timescales representing God’s work (week) and humans’ work (Sabbatical year) throughout history.

By placing the two witnesses in the centre of these time scales, John has symbolized Jesus as the one who has fulfilled the Law and Prophets (two OT witnesses) and resurrected to become the Lord of the Sabbath as Jesus claims himself to be (Matthew 12:8, Mark 3:28, Luke 6:5).

The teaching is profound: Jesus is not only the centre of God’s work (week), but also of human’s work according to how people relate to him: as leader of the saints through 2 x 1260 days (days aligned with the sun and represent light) and judge of his opponents through 2 x 42 months (months aligned with the moon representing darkness) throughout history. Unavoidably, Jesus lords over every person, even over those opposing him. Jesus is leading his creation to the final Sabbath.

In the final (seventh) trumpet is the ultimate but seminal victory proclaimed. Based on Jesus’ victory in the resurrection, God rewards his many types of servants, but destroys only the destroyer of the earth (11:18). Removing destruction of his creation is God’s intention.

The 5th to 7th trumpets unlock the mystery of the first four trumpets: who is responsible for destroying 1/3 of God’s creation? Answer: Humans buying into the lies of Satan. Who is responsible for preserving 2/3 creation? Answer: God himself through Jesus – Lord of the Sabbath!

Like the seven seals before, the logic of the seven trumpets follows core Bible teachings – humans are deceived by Satan, but Jesus resurrected to defeat Satan’s ultimate lie, saving God’s creation from human destruction.

The way this message of Jesus’ victory will lead to creation’s salvation is in John’s portrayal of Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath. This will be discussed in the next article. 



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