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  • Ted Grimsrud

There’s Power in the Blood: The Key to the Book of Revelation

In contrast to the assumption that the book of Revelation emphasizes punitive judgment, I advocate what we could call “the peaceable Revelation” approach. Revelation uses “blood” as a symbol not for death, but for faithful living without fear of death. With “blood,” Revelation refers either to Jesus’s blood or the blood of his followers—never to the blood of God’s enemies.

In Revelation five, Jesus is shown to be the Messiah who can open the great scroll. “For you were slain and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Chapter 12 proclaims that those who trust in God “have conquered [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.”

The reference to “blood” in Revelation 14 is challenging. We learn of Jesus’s “blood,” joined by the “blood” of his followers, as how God achieves the world’s healing. The blood “flowed…as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about 200 miles” (14:20). Chapter seven has told us that the 144,000 (mentioned earlier in chapter 14) are a countless multitude whose robes are made white in the blood of the Lamb. This bridle-high blood, I think, tells us that the love of Jesus and his followers is abundant enough to heal the countless multitudes!

We read that the Harlot (Babylon) is “drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” (17:6). Chapter 18 tells us that drinking this “blood” leads to Babylon’s downfall. Finally, in chapter 19, Jesus goes forth to the “battle of Armageddon” with his robe already bloody (19:13). Rather than fight, he simply captures the Beast and False Prophet and throws them into the lake of fire (19:20).

“Blood” signifies the non-coercive transforming power of self-giving love. It is Jesus’s means of victory; likewise for his followers. The Lamb has conquered; let us him follow.

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