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「关爱受造世界与福音」会议系列

七个号角的信息──上帝通过耶稣拯救他的创造 (启八7-十一19)

在启示录中,约翰在七个印(前一篇文章)中,介绍了上帝的创造议程。但在这些有关七个印的经文中,基督教信仰的中心──耶稣的死和复活,只有通过「被杀的羔羊」或「羔羊」等隐喻性的字眼来间接提及。

我们可否就此断定,基督教信仰的中心,对于关爱受造世界这个议题是否重要?而如果是重要,我们如何可以看出?答案就在七号角中。

让我们从最后的三个 (即第五个至第七个) 号角开始讨论,然后再去理解前四个号角。当第五个号角响起时,来自无底坑的烟雾,变成了变异(非草食性)的蝗虫。它们在呈现一套优秀表面之后,就像蝎子一样用尾巴去刺人。这些蝗虫跟随那个称为「毁灭」的领导(九11)。

第六个号角包含三个片段。

第一个片段 (九13-21) 始于人类(来自幼发拉底河,就是巴比伦的命脉,而巴比伦象征我们人类因为傲慢,不信靠上帝而构筑的各种建设和建制),通过马匹彼此相杀,杀死了世上三份之一的人,但仍没有悔改。

将这片段与第五号角对比,就出现了明显的区分:撒旦(来自无底坑)只能通过欺骗(在前面诱惑,过后就刺痛)来摧毁,但不能杀人的肉体;相反地,当人类自己行出这些谎言时,他们会互相残杀,踏上一个最差劣的恶性循环。马以嘴来造成破坏,但他们的尾巴也有头(即有嘴),可再伤害。

教训:在实现撒旦的非物质谎言时,人类最终要为自己的行为负责。

然而,即使这些凶手拒不悔改,但在第二个片段 (第十章) ,上帝却暂时停止应有的审判:不允许七个雷(代表愤怒)被记下来,并改为传讲一个新的信息。

这个信息构成第三个片段 (十一1-13),它集中于两位见证人。他们因保护上帝圣城不被践踏而说预言(十一2 - 3)。这两个证人被杀,但是上帝叫他们复活,并被接上了天。

这经文引进了一些时间的尺度:「42个月」,「1260天」和「3.5天」。

请留意,以一个月为30天计算,得到 42个月 = 1260天。

而如果我们让「3.5天」与 启十二14 中的「一载二载半载」互相对应(希腊语原文「载」是「预定时间 kairos」),则在第十二至十三章中,我们会再次找到这些时间尺度。

两位见证人的复活,发生在一个七天的时段的中间(即是两个3.5天的时段之间)。而由另一个角度来看,这复活也发生在一个七年的时段的中间(即是两个42个月的时段之间,亦即是两个1260天的时段之间)。

七天和七年这两个重叠的时段,都是安息的周期:七天是上帝的「一周」,七年是人类的「安息年」周期(出埃及记二十9-11;利未记廿五 1-8)。

从创世的开始到末了,上帝从来没有停止工作,这开始到末日的时段,是上帝的「一周」。依照上下文判断,可以看到前述的所有时间尺度,都象征着同一个时段。因此,2 x 42个月和2 x 1260天,象征着整个历史。这些宇宙性的时间尺度,代表整个历史长河中,上帝的工作(周)和人类的工作(安息年)。

约翰将两见证人放在这些时间尺度的中心,象征着耶稣是成全了律法和先知(两位旧约见证人),并复活而成为安息的主,正如耶稣亲口声称(太十二8,可三28,路六5)。

这个教导的意义深长:耶稣不单是上帝工作(周)的中心,而同时也视乎人们与他的关系,是人类工作(安息年)的中心:在历史长河中,通过2 x 1260天(基于太阳的「日」,代表光明),耶稣是圣徒的领袖;并通过2 x 42个月(基于月亮的「月」,代表黑暗),耶稣是反对者的审判官。

无可避免地,耶稣是每个人的主,什至是那些反对他的人的主。耶稣会带领他的创造,进入最后的安息。

在最终(第七)号角中,有终极性但又有开创性的一个胜利被宣告了。建基于耶稣在复活中的胜利,上帝奖赏他的许多类型的仆人,但只摧毁那些毁灭大地的人(十一18)。因为要在他的创造之中,去除那些破坏受造世界的人,是上帝的心愿。

在第五至第七个号角中,揭开了前四个号角的奥袐:是谁毁坏了受造世界的三份之一?答案:是人类,践行出撒旦的谎言的人类。是谁保存了受造界的三份之二?答案:是上帝,上帝亲自通过耶稣──亦即是安息的主!

像先前的七个印一样,七个号角的逻辑,是依循圣经的核心教导构成的──人类被撒旦蒙骗,但耶稣借着复活,击败撒旦的终极谎言,拯救上帝的创造,免受人类破坏。

耶稣胜利的信息,如何导致创造得到救赎?在约翰如何描绘耶稣为安息的主之中,我们可以找到答案。这将在下一篇文章中讨论。

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

「关爱受造世界与福音」会议系列文章之五。
作者为前环保署高级主任,现着力研究环保神学。
本文原文为英文,中文版本由梁柏强翻译。


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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