Posted by: Johnold Strey | July 31, 2009

Becker on Revelation 8

For the past two years, the Sunday Bible classes at my congregation have all fallen under the larger theme of “Exploring the New Testament.”  After an eight-lesson introductory course, our adult Bible study worked through 1 Corinthians, 1 John, and Matthew.  These studies were chapter-by-chapter, and often pericope-by-pericope (section-by-section), so our pace was rather slow, but participants had the chance to dig deeply into the biblical text.  Our two-year New Testament focus is wrapping up right now with an eight-week survey course on Revelation, the last book of the Bible.  After an introductory lesson, we are spending one week on each of the seven “visions” in Revelation.  This weekend, we’ll be looking at the vision of the seven trumpets in chapters eight through eleven.

As a part of my preparation, I have been listening to Dr. Siegbert Becker’s lectures on Revelation, found on the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary website and linked on the media page of this blog.  I have also been reading Dr. Becker’s commentary, Revelation: The Distant Triumph Song.  The comments on chapter eight deal with the dangers of false doctrine as depicted in the different trumpet blasts.  Given the modern tendency to look at different churches’ teachings merely as their unique tradition, and not necessarily as a danger to faith when they contradict Scripture, Becker’s comments issue a strong and highly applicable warning to the American Christian culture today.

John knew from his association with the Lord Jesus (see Mt. 24) that false doctrines would be a sign that the end of the world is near.

False doctrine is a significant sign of the end, especially in view of the conclusions which the people of this world, and also some Christians in their weakness, draw from its presence.  There are many who say that if the Bible were a clear book, false doctrine would not exist.  Others simply try to write false doctrines off as a legitimate “variety of interpretations.”  They assert that men have a right to such interpretations because no one can be sure of what the words really mean.

However, the presence of false doctrines in the world is by no means an indication of lack of clarity in Scripture.  Rather, it is evidence of the Bible’s clearness as well as its truth.  For the Bible clearly foretold that there would be false doctrines and apostasy from the faith.

Moreover, the fact that false doctrine follows the angel’s flinging of the incense burner teaches in a symbolic way that false doctrine is a punishment from God.  When men turn a deaf ear to the truth and refuse to take the words of Scripture at face value, error and deception are natural punishments that come as a direct consequence of the rejection of God’s Word.  Because men turn away their ears from the truth, all that is left for them is to believe in fables (2 Tim. 4:4).  And because men have refused to love the truth, God will send them strong delusions so that they finally believe lies instead (2 Thes. 2:10f).

-Siegbert Becker, Revelation: The Distant Triumph Song, (c) 1985 NPH, pp. 138-139

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