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On the Interpretation of Revelation
When the Stars Fall: A Messianic Commentary on the Revelatoin | 6/21/05 | Michael D. Bugg

Posted on 06/21/2005 4:27:46 PM PDT by Buggman

When the Stars Fall:
A Messianic Commentary on the Revelation
by Michael D. Bugg

About the Time of the End, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the Prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition.
--Sir Isaac Newton


Over eighty years ago, H.A. Ironside wrote, “It is certainly cause for deep regret that to so many Christians the Book of Revelation seems to be what God never intended it should be—a sealed book.”[1] Sadly, eight decades later, the situation is little changed.

Why is that? The problem is not simply that your average Christian hasn’t exhaustively studied the End Time prophecies. Few have exhaustively studied the doctrines of the Trinity, or salvation, or even the prophecies of the Messiah’s First Coming either, but those subjects are not nearly as mystifying or divisive as that as the Bible’s final book.

The biggest difference is how most churches treat the subject. Even in Evangelical churches where over half the congregation has read the Left Behind novels, serious study is all but taboo. Most pastors and Sunday school teachers are afraid to touch it because of its controversial and/or extreme nature. If I may be forgiven for using a personal example, some years ago, I began attending a Southern Baptist church with my parents, and the pastor came to our house for dinner to get to know us. I was at that time just rediscovering my love of the Scriptures after a long dry spell away from any immersion at all in God’s Word, and I felt drawn to study the prophetic books and passages in particular. Desirous of not drifting off the path that God had set, I asked the pastor if he or anyone he knew in that church had studied the prophecies in hopes of getting some tutelage. He didn’t know a single person—not one person in a congregation of over a thousand—who could help me. I, like so many others who have delved into this area, was left to my own devices.

With such an attitude all but universal in our churches, how is your average person supposed to learn? Could you imagine a pastor saying there was no one to help me with a question about salvation? Or a moral dilemma? Or about Messiah’s deity? If not prepared to give an on-the-spot comprehensive answer, the pastor would have at least been able to point me in the right direction on almost any other question. How can a preacher complain about the extremist and sensationalist views people take on prophecy if they are not prepared, and not willing, to teach it?

The problem is compounded by a pair of peculiar misperceptions: That prophecy is irrelevant, and that studying it is too hard.

How many Christians have, when asked about prophecy, said, “Oh, that’s nice, but I’d rather focus on something that actually affects my life”? Granted, the End Time prophecies will be most relevant when we are actually in the End Times—but on the other hand, how will a person really know when they’re in the End Times unless they know what the Bible says about them? But ignoring that, a basic understanding of Biblical prophecy, both of the End Times and otherwise, gives one a far greater understanding of and appreciation for the whole of God’s Word. It also gives one all new reasons to be sure that one’s faith in Messiah Yeshua is well placed.

Of course, we can hardly blame those who consider eschatology (the study of last things) to be irrelevant, because this is precisely what most of the Church has taught for the last two hundred years. We’ve turned prophecy into an intellectual game rather than a living part of our faith. Many pastors and commentators have been taught that the whole of Revelation and its related prophecies were fulfilled in a “spiritual” fashion in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. In believing so, they do indeed remove Revelation from relevancy, for not only does it contain no message for us today, the exegesis (interpretation of the text) needed to defend that position is so poor that it is useless even to use as a part of one’s defense of the faith! Many others have been taught that the Church will be taken out of the world in the Rapture before the events of Revelation take place, so what does it matter if we understand it or not?

But what if Revelation is about our future—perhaps even our very near future—and the Church will indeed go through a significant portion of it? Suddenly, understanding this last book of the Bible becomes very important indeed!

A few years ago, I took part in a Bible study on the book of Daniel, Revelation’s sister book, that took place in a Presbyterian church. The course itself was predominantly premillennial in its direction, but because the pastor and his elders were amillennial, he wanted to address the class to offer his view. (If the reader is unfamiliar with these terms, they will be explained shortly.) Fair enough. He presented his view with grace and dignity, but was not really prepared for the questions that we asked him. In the end, trying to deflect further questions while being conciliatory, he smiled and said, “Well, if your view is right, we’ll all be Raptured out before the bad stuff happens anyway, right?”

“Sir,” I said, “I do believe that Revelation is about the future, but I don’t necessarily believe that the Rapture will be pretrib (before the Tribulation).”

What I remember most about that exchange was the stunned look he gave me. He was completely caught off-guard by my statement, and completely unprepared for the possibility of going through the Great Tribulation. Suddenly, for that moment at least, it wasn’t just an intellectual game to him.

Understanding what the prophecies of the Scriptures say will also open up new doors to witnessing the Gospel, believe it or not. First of all, one can hardly study the Second Coming without also studying the prophecies that Yeshua fulfilled in His First. Most Christians do not fully appreciate that throughout the book of Acts, the Emissaries (Apostles) present Yeshua almost entirely from the Tanakh's prophecies—and did so with such success that they often were kicked out of the synagogues because the Jewish rabbis could not refute them! Secondly, not only do those prophecies prove that Yeshua was the promised Messiah, but they also prove that the Bible was indeed authored by more than mere men. To steal a catchphrase from Dr. Chuck Missler, “We have 66 books, written by at least 40 authors over two thousand years, and yet they are an integrated message system from outside our time domain.” And third, there are many people not believers in the Messiah who can see the troubled storm clouds on our horizon who are eager to find out what the Bible says about the days ahead. And you can hardly share the Bible’s prophecies without also sharing about its Author!

Unfortunately, if you don’t hear, “Oh, it doesn’t matter,” you’re likely to hear, “That’s really neat, but it’s too hard for me to understand.” The underlying premise of that statement is that Biblical prophecy is such an arcane and mystical subject that no one but a sainted genius could ever possibly figure it out.

Not at all! Just consider the Thessalonians. In his second letter to them, Sha’ul is writing to clear up some misunderstandings and false teachings that had come out about the End Times. We’ll come to those in good time, but for now just notice what he says to them: “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?”[2]

To understand the significance of that statement, one has to note that we are told that Sha’ul had only been in Thessalonica for three weeks.[3] Think about that for a moment: In three weeks, Sha’ul had preached about the Messiah, won several converts, and had already taught these baby Christians the basics of the Messiah’s Second Coming, including at least a rough outline of what would precede it, before being forced to flee town.[4] Likewise, the writer of the book to the Hebrews considered teaching on the Resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment—both eschatological issues—to be foundational and elementary principles.[5] If the Emissaries considered this subject to be important enough to teach to even baby Christians, practically still dripping from their ritual immersions, why don’t we?

That’s not to say that one can just flip open the book of Revelation, read it in an hour, and all things will be instantly clear. But a basic and general understanding of just what the Bible says about prophecy is no more difficult for the average person to come to than a basic and general understanding of what the Bible says about the deity of Yeshua Messiah.[6] In both cases, one can also go beyond that basic understanding and attempt to delve into the deep theological waters if one has the desire—and this book does attempt to swim those waters. Either way, I firmly believe that a basic knowledge of Biblical prophecy will quickly dispel many of the theological myths that surrounding the End Times that confuse most people—just like a basic knowledge of the Bible’s claims regarding the nature of Yeshua will quickly dispel the claims of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Of course, no man is an island, intellectually or otherwise, but there are a plethora of tools available to the student today that simply weren’t around to those in previous decades and centuries. In addition to the numerous books that have been written about the subject, the computer age has opened up all new resources. No longer does one need a degree in Greek and Hebrew or hours upon hours to pour through expensive lexicons; there are numerous programs that one can use to better understand the original languages and do word searches, several of which are available for free on the internet. In addition to these, one can find many older commentaries in e-book format or on searchable websites, as well as good articles written by reputable scholars on a wide variety of subjects. And finally, one can also find communities of fellow Christians online who are also interested in this subject with which one can discuss their views and get encouragement, guidance, and suggestions, as well as discover and debate opposing views. Of course, there are many sites that aren’t worth the electrons they’re printed on, but one can quickly learn to spot and avoid these. This new openness of dialogue would seem to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel that his book would be sealed “until the time of the end,” but that in that End Time, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased”[7]—not just knowledge in general, but a knowledge of the prophetic Scriptures.

Of course, your greatest resource in understanding any part of the Scriptures is not commentaries, websites, or lectures given by your fellow man, but the tutelage of the Ruach HaKodesh, the very Holy Spirit and Breath of God. Yeshua said that the Spirit would “teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”[8] This wasn’t a promise just to the Twelve. Ya’akov (James), the Lord’s brother, tells us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and without reproach; and it shall be given him.”[9] That’s a promise that you personally can hold God to—in fact, He wants you to hold Him to every last one of His promises. I firmly believe that whatever wisdom may be found in this book is there because I repeatedly prayed this promise back to Adonai, opening my heart and mind for Him to teach me, and I beg that the reader, that you, do the same, especially if you feel that this subject is somehow beyond your reach.

As I engaged in my own study, I also read many commentators from a wide variety of viewpoints to learn their views on the original languages of the Scriptures, the cultural and historical background behind the Bible, and to understand how the whole fit together, and I’ve done my best in this volume to give credit where credit is due. However, I have also sought to test every writer’s interpretations against the iron yardstick of the Scriptures themselves, just as the Bereans did to Sha’ul’s teachings.[10] There is no sin in seeking the teaching of others, especially when wrestling with a difficult and controversial topic; the sin is in letting those teachers come between us and God and His Word.[11]

I call on the reader to do the same with this work. It is my hope that while you will find this book helpful and instructive, that you will also seek to test it against the iron yardstick of God’s Word and to grow beyond it in your own studies. If this book inspires you to do that, it will have accomplished its purpose even if every single one of my interpretations is completely wrong, and to Adonai will be the glory. Conversely, even if I’m somehow correct in every one of my interpretations and models (and I can guarantee that I’m not), but you simply read it, agree with it, and go no further, then it will have been a dismal failure.

[1] Ironside, H.A., Lectures on the Book of Revelation (37th printing, Loizeaux Brothers, 1985), p. 7
[2] 2 Th. 2:5
[3] Ac. 17:2
[4] v. 5
[5] Heb. 6:1-2
[6] In fact, if the reader is in a rush, they could simply read the first three interludes and chapter 6 and have a good outline of the End Times. I don’t recommend this—Revelation is a book that does indeed bless the diligent student who studies it as a whole—but it is possible.
[7] Dan. 12:4
[8] Jn. 14:26
[9] Jas. 1:5
[10] Acts 17:11
[11] cf. Mt. 23:10

What Is Prophecy?

In the simplest terms, prophecy is nothing more or less than telling God’s will,[1] not simply by interpreting the pre-existing Scriptures as we are used to, but by speaking, writing, or seeing as one is moved by the Ruach HaKodesh.[2] As it turns out, prophecy did not end with the First Coming of Messiah, but continued as a spiritual gift in the Church.[3] Those who believe that any or all of the spiritual gifts came to an end with the first century Church will find a dearth of support in the Bible. Sha’ul writes, “Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. . . [for] he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”[4] He was in agreement with Moses, who said, “Would God that all Adonai’s people were prophets, and that Adonai would put His Spirit upon them!”[5] It would seem that God wants each and every one of us to hear and speak His will, but few are truly walking with Him and listening.

Of course, prophetic utterances were not allowed to run amok and change the Church’s message. Sha’ul tells us that if our gift is prophecy, “let us prophesy according to the proportion of the faith.”[6] “Proportion of” is a translation of the Greek word analogia, from which we get our word “analogy.” It means “the right relation, the coincidence or agreement existing or demanded according to the standard of the several relations . . .”[7] In other words, all new prophecy must be consistent with our pre-existing knowledge of God’s will, especially that contained in the Bible. God would not contradict Himself, for “For God is not the author of confusion, but of shalom . . .”[8] Furthermore, for God to contradict Himself would require that He either have lied or be mistaken and surprised, neither of which are possible due to His very nature and character. For this reason, the whole of each congregation was called to listen and judge any prophecy given by a member.[9]

When we think of prophecy, the first thing that we think of is “foretelling” prophecy, seeing into the future—and certainly that’s part-and-parcel of what Biblical prophecy is. However, the object of Biblical prophecy, if you will pardon the cliché, is not so much to foretell as to “forthtell,” to declare God’s will. Indeed, as we survey the prophets of the Tanakh, we find them spending far more ink on exhortation than prediction. We find the same when we study prophets in the later Church. For example, a pastor who says that the Lord has laid it on his heart to preach about a particular sin that is rising in the Church or who is given the command to build a new church in the next town, just to pick a couple of examples, is really prophesying, speaking the will of God. God does not send His prophets to give “attaboys” to His people, but to correct them—which is why prophets are rarely popular in their own countries or congregations.

That’s not to downplay the predictive power of the Bible or predictive prophecies given by the Ruach HaKodesh, but let’s make sure we understand the reasons why God proclaims the future to us. First of all, it’s to authenticate the message of the prophet. God gave two tests by which we can know a false prophet: First, if he tries to draw us away from worship of the one, true God,[10] and second, if he predicts something that fails to happen.[11]

This latter test tells us something interesting about both God and the Enemy. God says of Himself, “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.’”[12] God alone stands outside of the dimension of time. In fact, by nature of being the Creator of all things, He must, for time itself is a physical property of the universe. Time is dependant on mass and velocity; it couldn’t very well exist before matter and space were created. Being outside of time, God can see every moment at once, and can declare to us the moments that are, from our perspective, yet in the future.

C.S. Lewis eloquently described God’s perspective this way:

But God, I believe, does not live in a Time-series at all. His life is not dribbled out moment by moment like ours: with Him it is, so to speak, still 1920 and already 1960. For His life is Himself.

If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn. We come to the parts of the line one by one: we have to leave A behind before we get to B, and cannot reach C until we leave B behind. God, from above or outside or all around, contains the whole line, and sees it all.[13]

God alone has this outside-of-time perspective. Neither the angels, nor the cherubim (cherubim), nor Satan himself share it with Him; therefore, His ability to tell us with absolute certainty what will happen in the days, years, and even centuries ahead is His way of authenticating His message, so that we can know what is truly from Him and what is the false message of the Deceiver.[14]

The second reason God gives us predictive prophecy ties into the first. Not only does the prophecy authenticate the prophet and his message, but it also authenticates the object of the prophecy as being God’s work. God pronounced both destructions of Jerusalem so that we would know them to be His work and will as a result of the sins of Israel, not a victory of the Enemy over God’s plan. He declared that Israel would arise again in the End Times so that we would know that reemergence was also a part of His plan. The ultimate work that God proclaimed to us was, of course, the work of His Son to save us from our sins and redeem the whole world. When challenged by the Pharisees that His self-witness was not valid since it was not backed by any other witness, Yeshua answered, “I am One that bear witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me bears witness of Me.”[15] The Father bore witness to His Son’s coming hundreds of years before, in the words of the prophets.

The third reason God gives us prophecy is to protect and comfort us. We see this particularly in the book of Revelation. Yes, many of Revelation’s passages are difficult and frightening, but just imagine if the Enemy’s chosen king were to arise “with all power and signs and lying wonders,”[16] and we hadn’t the slightest clue what to expect! By telling us about those dark days, God provides that we can know the Devil’s devices when they come to fruition so that we will not be deceived or dismayed. “Behold, I have told you before!”[17]

And the fourth and most important reason God gives us prophecy is so that we can know His will and obey it, both in a general sense and also His specific will at specific times. Michael Evans, author of The American Prophecies, writes, “The fulfillment of prophecy concerning God’s people has never been a unilateral act of God. First, God informs His prophets what is to come to pass (which can mean quickening His Scriptures to them as happened with Daniel), then His people begin to pray, and God moves in the hearts of leaders to fulfill His Word concerning these things.”[18] When Daniel realized that the seventy years of Babylonian captivity prophesied by his fellow prophet Jeremiah[19] were close to an end, his reaction was not to sit back and watch how God accomplished it, but to fall on his knees in prayer.[20] It is hardly surprising then that God chose to give Daniel the honor of presenting King Cyrus with the scroll of Isaiah, which hundreds of years before had called Cyrus by name, told the manner of how he would take Babylon captive, and called on him to release the Jewish people and allow them to return to their own land.[21] And it was again largely through those who took the prophetic Scriptures seriously that God used to bring about the resurrection of Israel some 2500 years later.

Those who take the prophetic Scriptures seriously now, and see the world moving quickly towards the events they describe should not simply treat them as an intellectual game, a mere puzzle to be unraveled for entertainment, but should fall on their knees and pray God’s promises back to Him. It is from those that the Lord will call men and women to complete His will in the acharit-hayamim, the End of Days.

[1] cf. Dt. 18:15-19
[2] 2 Pt. 1:21
[3] Rom. 12:6, 1 Cor. 15:10
[4] 1 Cor. 14:1, 3
[5] Num. 11:29
[6] Rom. 12:6
[7] Vine, W.E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Thomas Nelxon, 1997), p. 897
[8] 1 Cor. 14:33. The Hebrew word for “peace,” used here, speaks not simply of quietness or lack of conflict, but primarily of wholeness.
[9] ibid. v. 29
[10] Deut. 13:2-3
[11] Deut. 18:22
[12] Isa. 46:9-10
[13] Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity (Touchstone, 1996), p. 148
[14] Being aware of this, the Adversary constantly raises up false prophets and false prophecies to muddy the water, to try to take away the distinctiveness of the Scriptures. However, at best, they provide educated guesses—none has the 100% success rate of the Bible.
[15] Jn. 8:18
[16] 2 Th. 2:9
[17] Mt. 24:25
[18] Evans, Michael D., The American Prophecies: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation’s Future (Warner Faith, 2004), p. 62
[19] Jer. 25:11
[20] Dan. 9:2-19
[21] Isa. 44:28-45:13

Modes of Prophecy

The single biggest issue that comes between students of Biblical prophecy is the most fundamental of all: How do we approach the text? Do we take it literally or do we approach it as symbolic and allegorical? If a little of both, how do we determine between the literal and the symbolic without being arbitrary and turning the prophetic Scriptures into a matter of “private interpretation”?[1] As always, let us use Scripture as our guide.

Not all prophecies are delivered to us the same way or meant to be interpreted precisely the same. Of course, many prophecies are simply given as utterances or writing, delivered in everything from simple, straightforward prose, like the latter chapters of Zechariah, to exquisite poetry like Isaiah. In many ways, straightforward prophecies like this can be considered our baseline or foundation for understanding Scripture, requiring a minimum of interpretative work beyond understanding the meaning of the words and their context. Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventy Weeks and Yeshua’s Olivet Discourse both fall into this category, and both together provide the foundation for our understanding of the book of Revelation.

It is interesting to note that every time someone in the Bible interprets a prophecy, they do so in the most literal manner possible, and often interpret the prophecy more literally than the text seems to allow! For example, Mattityahu (Matthew) understands it literally that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem[2] and be born of a virgin, rather than, say, simply a “young woman.”[3] He even cites a prophecy of Hosea as proof that God’s Son would at one point come out of Egypt[4]—even though that passage is seemingly so manifest in using God’s “son” as a symbol for Israel! If one simply goes through the Gospel accounts with an eye for how the prophecies of Yeshua HaMashiach’s First Coming, death, and resurrection were fulfilled, one finds an amazing degree of literalism! So why should we then expect that the prophesied events leading up to and surrounding the Second Coming would be fulfilled only allegorically and even that in a pale shadow of their promise? And yet many otherwise excellent scholars will say that you can’t take those prophecies literally, and thus we have a thousand years that aren’t really a thousand years, a Satan that is bound in the Abyss at the same time that Sha’ul calls him “the god of this Age,”[5] 144,000 Israelites specifically numbered from the twelve tribes that really represent the Church, unfulfilled promises to Israel of a physical, earthly kingdom that are spiritualized away and given to the Gentile Christians, and on and on . . .

But what then of the blatantly symbolic imagery that floods the apocalyptic books like Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation? This second type of prophecy can be called symbolic prophecy or prophetic visions (some would call it “apocalyptic” prophecy). We see this kind of prophecy in both Daniel and Revelation, in which beasts and statues represent kingdoms, or in which trumpets and bowls represent the wrath of God, and so on. Strangely enough, I’m going to suggest that we should interpret these prophecies “literally,” or rather, “normally,” as well.

Are we to understand then that the Antichrist[6] will really be a beast with red skin, seven heads, and ten horns? No, not at all. But there’s a clear distinction between interpreting a symbol and allegorizing the text: When the Scripture means something to be symbolic instead of literal, 90% of the time it comes right out and tells you—and then goes ahead and gives you the interpretation right then and there! The other 10% of the time, we simply let the Bible tell us what it means by checking every other appearance of that symbol throughout the Scriptures. The heads and horns of the Beast of Revelation 13 are explained in chapter 17 and its body in Daniel 7, Daniel chapter 2 tells us with no misunderstanding what the layers of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreamt statue mean, etc. There is no need to speculate endlessly, because God has told us what everything means in His own Word. Amazingly, this collection of laws and ceremonies, histories, poetry, letters, and apocalyptic visions is consistent throughout its pages in its use of these symbols so that we do not need to have any doubt about what they mean. But in all cases, unless the Bible tells us that a symbol is in use, uses an obvious simile or metaphor, or makes an obvious symbolic comparison (e.g. “Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon . . .” in Ezk. 31:2), it is better to simply assume that God is quite capable of saying what He means and meaning what He says than to try to “help” Him with a tortured interpretation.

This is especially important when dealing with prophetic types, the third class of prophecy. Missler writes, “The western mind views prophecy merely as prediction and fulfillment.  The Jewish mind saw prophecy as a pattern being recapitulated, where a pattern of events illuminates a thematic replay in the future.”[7] A prophetic type then, is an artifact, a construction, or a historical event or figure that appeared in the past (or in a few cases, will appear in the future kingdom of the Messiah) which reflects future events or spiritual realities. Our proof-text for this type of prophecy is Hos. 12:10, in which God says, “I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.” The word translated “similitudes” is damah, which this context means a likeness. This same word is used in Ps. 102:6, in which the author writes, “I am like (damah) a pelican of the desert . . .”

For one prominent and well-documented example of a damah, Abraham’s “sacrifice” of his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah was a type of another Father’s true sacrifice of His only Son on that same mountain (and likely on the very same spot) two millennia later.[8] Likewise, the book of Joshua, for all that it is a historical record rather than a book of prophecy, seems to prefigure the Yeshua’s ultimate “conquest of the land” in Revelation. God often told the prophets to do weird things in order to act out prophecy—poor Ezekiel, who had to lie in bed on one side for 390 days and on the other for 40 days, “besieging” a clay model of Jerusalem[9] (among many other strange acts), is a prime example.

It should be noted that evidence of a symbolic type does not deny the existence of the literal object. For example, 1 Cor. 3:16 indicates that Solomon’s Temple was a type of the believer’s life—that does not mean that Solomon’s Temple never existed, nor does it prove that the future Temple described in Ezk. 40-47 will not physically exist, or that Sha’ul was necessarily speaking of the believer’s psyche in 2 Th. 2:4. In the same fashion, Abraham’s “sacrifice” of Isaac on Mt. Moriah was a type of Messiah’s atoning sacrifice on that same spot, but that doesn’t mean that Abraham and Isaac were not real people.

It’s also important to beware of building doctrine on prophetic types, which generally are not meant to be fully understood until after the fact or in the light of a later, more straightforward prophecy. To use the previous example of Isaac’s sacrifice, we would probably not have known what it meant if not for the other prophecies of the Messiah’s atoning death and their fulfillment in Messiah Yeshua. There are doubtless many more hidden types in Scripture that we will only fully understand or even recognize after they have been fulfilled. There are others that we may be able to recognize in advance because of allusions in other prophecies and Scriptures. For example, when Yeshua warned His talmidim, His disciples, to watch for “the Abomination of Desolation,”[10] He was referring to a prophecy of Daniel that was already fulfilled, in type, by Antiochus Epiphanes when he set up an idol to Zeus in the Holy of Holies in the second century B.C. (We will explore this event and its final fulfillment in the chapters ahead.) However, we have to be very careful when looking at as-yet unfulfilled types, or we soon find ourselves wandering away from the Biblical view and into the realm of purely private interpretation and sheer speculation.

One important thing to bear in mind when interpreting prophecy is that God’s time is not our time. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”[11] A prophecy of the Scripture may, in the course of a single line, or even in the space of a comma, jump from one event to another hundreds or even thousands of years apart. Nowhere is this truer than in the prophecies of the Messiah’s two Comings. An example that the Lord Himself interpreted for us can be found in Lk. 4:16-19, in which He quotes Isa. 61:1-2 as proclaiming His mission. He finishes with His mandate, “To preach the acceptable year of Adonai.” What you don’t realize unless you’ve gone back to Isaiah to read the original prophecy for yourself is that Yeshua cut off right in the middle of the sentence! The rest reads, “and the day of vengeance of our God.” In that comma, the prophecy jumped from the time of Messiah’s First Coming some two thousand or more years into the future to the time of the Second Coming. This is hardly an isolated example in Scripture, and we’ll be looking at others as we proceed.

In addition, we need to be aware of what Van Kampen refers to as a “near-far” prophecy. “In other words, prophecy often operates on two levels of fulfillment. On the first level, there is a divinely revealed ‘near’ prediction relating to a soon-coming event. But on a second level, there is a corresponding ‘far’ prediction that will be fulfilled in a later time . . .” [12] For example, there are prophecies that promise Abraham both a son and also speak the distant Son that would be the Messiah. There are other prophecies that were partially fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes that will be completely fulfilled by the final Antichrist. However, Van Kampen warns, and rightly so, that misuse of this principle of prophetic interpretation will cause every bit as much confusion as ignoring it. “For a near/far interpretation to be valid, it must clearly be allowed for by the context and by the specific wording of the text itself, as well as be consistent with the rest of Scripture.”[13]

[1] 2 Pet. 1:20
[2] Mt. 2:6, quoting Mic. 5:1
[3] Mt. 1:23, quoting Isa. 7:14
[4] Mt. 2:15, quoting Hos. 11:1
[5] 2 Cor. 4:4, NKJV
[6] Some readers may object to my use of the term “Antichrist” on a couple of different grounds. Some may object that 1 Jn. 4:3 uses this term in a general way, not specifically of the Man of Sin at the End of the Age. Others of a Messianic persuasion may wonder why I don’t use the term “anti-Messiah” instead. In answer to both, it is simply a matter of using a familiar title of the coming world ruler for brevity’s sake, and I trust that I may be forgiven for whatever incorrectness the reader may find in me using it as such.
[7] Missler, Chuck, “Pattern, not Just Prediction: Midrash Hermeneutics,” Koinonia House, May 2001
[8] See Heb. 11:19. In fact, Avraham knew that he was acting out prophecy. “Avraham called the place, Adonai Yir’eh [ADONAI will see (to it), Adonai provides]; as it is said to this day, ‘On the moutain Adonai is seen’” (Gen. 22:14). We will continue to use this example of a prophetic type throughout this chapter because it is such a clear illustration of the Ruach HaKodesh’s way of creating a multilevel text.
[9] Ezk. 4
[10] Mt. 24:15, Mk. 13:14
[11] 2 Pet. 3:8
[12] Van Kampen, Robert, The Sign (Crossway, 1993), p. 29
[13] ibid.

The Major Prophetic Viewpoints

Of course, different scholars have different views on just how we should understand the book of Revelation and its related prophecies in the Scriptures, and out of those differing methods of interpretation come the many different and often confusing views on prophecy. The reasons why I have adopted the views I have and rejected the competing views will be explained in detail throughout this book, but since an understanding of the different views and what they believe will be useful to the newcomer to Biblical prophecy, let’s take a brief look at them.

The prophetic viewpoints can be summarized by three primary qualities: Millennial, how they view the Millennium of Revelation 20; Temporal, whether they believe that Revelation was fulfilled in the past or lies yet future to us; and Raptural, when the Rapture of the Church will take place in regards to the events of Revelation.


In Rev. 20:1-5, we read of a period during which Satan will be thrown into the Abyss and the Resurrected saints will reign “with the Messiah a thousand years.” How one understands this passage is foundational to their understanding of the prophetic Scriptures.

Over the centuries, three competing views have developed.

Premillennialism is the view that we are now living in the time before (pre-) the Millennium of Revelation 20. As a general rule, premillennialists believe that God still has a plan for the nation of Israel and tend to interpret prophecy more literally than those of the other viewpoints. Premillennialism was unquestionably the first prophetic viewpoint of the early Church.

Amillennialism (literally, “no millennium”) holds instead that we are currently living within the Millennium, but that the thousand years described in Revelation 20:3, 4, and 5 is simply an idiom for an undefined, but very long time. Most amillennialists do believe that the Messiah is coming bodily again, but that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plans and that there is no place for the latter as an ethnic nation. Amillennialists correspondingly tend to interpret prophecy allegorically.

Postmillennialism is a position that we can understand to be a subset of amillennialism, and throughout this book, refutations of amillennialism should be understood to apply to the postmillennial view as well. The major distinction between the two is that postmillennialists believe that Messiah will return to a triumphant Church that has successfully converted the world. Some will go so far as to posit that not only should the Church live in accordance with the Torah, but even seek to impose it on society.[1] The Dominionist, Reconstructionist, and Kingdom Now movements are all postmillennial in their view.


In prophetic commentaries, we often see discussions or critiques of the various millennial viewpoints. What are more often ignored than not are the different temporal viewpoints of Revelation: Is the whole of Revelation about our past or future as we stand today? These can be summed up as follows:

Preterism is the belief that all, or nearly all, of the Bible’s prophecies of the End Times were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel as a nation in 70 A.D. Most preterists still believe in a future, literal Second Coming, but there are those, known as extreme or consistent preterists, who believe that the only Second Coming was the Lord’s “coming” in an invisible form to judge Israel.[2] Preterisism universally holds to replacement theology (sometimes called “reform” or “covenant” theology), which means that they believe that the Church has “replaced” Israel as God’s chosen people. Preterists are nearly always amillennial or postmillennial, and very allegorical in their interpretations.

Historicism is a view that developed during the Reformation that Revelation is a book prophesying the whole of Church history from the time that Yochanan penned it to the Second Coming. This viewpoint subscribes heavily to both allegorical interpretation and the idea that days in the prophetic Scriptures nearly always stand for years—thus, the 1260 days of the Beast’s reign in Revelation 13 are really 1260 years, nearly always associated in some way with the Roman Catholic papacy. Most historicists are amillennial and replacement theologians, but there are exceptions.

Futurism, in contrast to both of the above views, states that the vast majority of Revelation is about a specific seven-year period right before Messiah’s Second Coming. Futurists tend to be dispensational to one extent or another—that is, believing that God has dealt with humanity in different ways at different times—though not all would subscribe to all of what is currently termed Dispensationalism. The vast majority believes in a more or less literal interpretation and that God will fulfill all of His promises to Israel in the Tanakh to Israel.

Idealism is a method of interpretation which removes the book from any real-world application, instead viewing it as an allegory of the Church’s or even the individual’s struggle to victory in Messiah. While certainly much of the book has application to the individual and the Church in its warnings and lessons even outside of the End Times, Revelation itself claims to be a prophetic picture of events in Yochanan’s future,[3] and as we will see, links together all of the other End Time prophecies in the Bible.


And finally, there are several viewpoints on the Rapture, when Yeshua will catch the Church up to Himself as per 1 Th. 4:15-17 and 1 Cor. 15:51-58. Will it before, during, or after the period described in Revelation? Those of the amillennial camp, whether historicist or preterist in their outlook, view this as a moot issue—since the taking of the Messiah’s Community did not happen in the past, obviously it must come at the end along with the Second Coming. For futurists, however, this is a very important—and divisive—issue.

Pretribulationism believes that the Rapture is a separate event that will come before Daniel’s Seventieth Week (if you’re unfamiliar with this particular prophetic term, a detailed explanation appears in our first interlude), which pretribs often refer to as the Tribulation Period. Pretribulationalism is usually associated with Dispensationalism because of the clear distinction it draws between Israel and the Church, even to the point of declaring that God will not really deal with Israel until after He removes the Church from the world.

Classical Posttribulationism is the opposite view, holding that the Rapture and the Second Coming are one and the same, and both will happen at the very end of the “Tribulation Period” at the battle of Armageddon. Posttribulationalism was the clear teaching of the earliest Church fathers. Posttribs see the Church as passing through but being preserved from God’s wrath, just as Israel did in the days of the Exodus through the ten plagues.

Midtribulationism is an attempt at a mediating position between the first two. It holds that the Church will undergo the first half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, or “the Tribulation,” but be spared from the second half, the Great Tribulation, in which the Antichrist will reign.

Prewrath, the belief held by the author of this book, is a relatively young system, the term having been coined by Marvin Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen in the early 90s. However, it can be considered to be a modified posttrib position, and thus agrees with the earliest Church on the subject. Prewrath draws a distinction between the Great Tribulation, Satan’s persecution of the people of God, and the Day of Adonai, or the Day of the Lord, the time when God will pour out His wrath on the earth, and states that the Rapture and the Second Coming will occur in between the two, sometime within the second half of the Great Tribulation. For reasons that will become clear as we continue, this event must take place no fewer than six months before Armageddon.

As it turns out, the question of what should be considered literal and what should be considered symbolic actually has very little to do with why I interpret Revelation “normally” and view it in a pre-millennial and futurist light. The simple truth is that I have read a wide variety of prophetic books from all manner of perspectives, and to read Revelation as a highly symbolic representation of the fall of Jerusalem or of the current age as a whole falls utterly flat if one simply cross-references all of the other relevant prophetic passages before attempting to compare them to history. This book will give numerous illustrations of this as we proceed.

Does this mean that there is no value at all to be had in looking at certain prophecies from a preterist or historicist point of view? Not necessarily. The rabbis point out that every Scripture has four different interpretations, and in deed the Hebrew word for interpretation, pardes, is an acronym for those four methods:

The first is the pashut (“to spread out” or “make a road”), the simplest and plain interpretation. For example, in the Akedah, the narrative of Abraham’s “sacrifice” of Isaac that we spoke of earlier in this chapter,[4] the pashut is simply what the story says: That God tested Abraham’s faith by having him offer up his long-promised son in sacrifice, and that Abraham passed the test.

The second way of interpreting a passage is to look for its remez, a hint of something deeper or an allusion. In the Akedah, we see that hint in Abraham’s confident statement to Isaac, “God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering”[5] in his naming of the place of sacrifice, “Adonai Yireh; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mountain Adonai is seen.’”[6] As has already been pointed out earlier in this chapter, Abraham knew that he was acting out prophecy, and indeed, two thousand years later, God offered His own Son as an offering on that very same plot of land, offered Himself as a Lamb in Isaac’s—and everyone else’s—place, and on the Mount of the Lord our redemption was provided. That prophetic fulfillment is the remez.

The third way of interpreting a passage is called a drash (“to follow” or “to seek and ask”) or midrash (“teaching” or “learning”). This is the homiletic meaning, the way the passage can be applied to our own lives. In the Akedah, the drash of the story is that we can trust God completely. Abraham knew that God had made a promise that through Isaac a great nation would be born,[7] so if God commanded Isaac to be killed, then God would have to resurrect Isaac to fulfill His promises. Abraham was so certain that God would do exactly as He said that he was willing to trust God even with the life of his son. “For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him.”[8]

The fourth way of interpreting a passage is called the sod. This is esoteric interpretation, the mystical conjecture, the hidden meaning. The sod is often found in a coded form, like the oft-abused equidistant letter sequences (the so-called “Bible codes”) or in comparisons between the numerical value of different words. There is a danger in pursuing the sod interpretation and that is that we can be tempted away from the plain interpretation. In fact, many occultist traditions have latched onto Kabbalah, which grew out of the pursuit of the Bible’s hidden meanings at the cost of its pashut. A true sod would never contradict the plain Scriptures, nor will a true remez or drash—they will only deepen our understanding and will be confirmed by a pashut elsewhere, just as the prophetic type of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is confirmed in the plain interpretations of the latter prophets, and fulfilled by the plain interpretation of Messiah’s work on the cross. For the most part, one is far better off seeking the plain meanings, the hints of deeper things (e.g. the prophetic types), and the personal applications of the Scriptures than in seeking non-confirmable mystical conjectures, and those are what we will focus on in this volume.

Understanding that a given Scripture can have multiple levels of meaning brings a fresh insight to the discussion about which view of Revelation is correct. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interning at an internationally-known apologetics ministry. Those within came from a wide variety of theological opinions and backgrounds, from pre-millennialist to amillennialist, Arminian to Calvinist.[9] During a casual conversation with one of the senior members, a well-known speaker in his own right, the subject of prophecy came up, and he said to me something that has stuck with me ever since, “Michael, to be honest, I think that when Christ finally does come back, we’ll find that all three viewpoints will have turned out to be true.” Perhaps he was just trying to avoid an argument, but his words struck me and still strike me as profound.

That is not to say that I consider the fall of Jerusalem or the whole of church history to be the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies examined in this book, but in many cases they could easily be looked on as prophetic “types.” One moderate preterist that I spoke to pointed out to me, “To the first century Jew, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was the end of the world.” Indeed. Yet the world continues as it did before that destruction, as decadent and violent as ever, so even if the fall of Jerusalem was a fulfillment of prophecy,[10] it was not the fulfillment of the End of the Age or the beginning of Messiah’s rule on the earth.

As Sir Robert Anderson so eloquently put it:

The question here at issue must not be prejudiced by misrepresentations, or shirked by turning away to collateral points of secondary moment. It is not whether great crises in the history of Christendom, such as the fall of Paganism, the rise of the Papacy and of the Moslem power, and the Protestant reformation of the sixteenth century, be within the scope of the visions of St. John. This may readily be conceded. Neither is it whether the fact that the chronology of some of these events is marked by cycles of years composed of the precise multiples; of seventy specified in the book of Daniel and the Apocalypse; be not a further proof that all forms part of one great plan. Every fresh discovery of the kind ought to be welcomed by all lovers of the truth. Instead of weakening confidence in the accuracy and definiteness of the prophecies, it ought to strengthen the faith which looks for their absolute and literal fulfillment. The question is not whether the history of Christendom was within the view of the Divine Author of the prophecies, but whether those prophecies have been fulfilled; not whether those Scriptures have the scope and meaning which historical interpreters assign to them, but whether their scope and meaning be exhausted and satisfied by the events to which they appeal as the fulfillment of them. It is unnecessary, therefore, to enter here upon an elaborate review of the historical system of interpretation, for if it fails when tested at some one vital point, it breaks down altogether.[11]
Like Sir Anderson, I can readily consider that Revelation and many other End Times prophecies have application to events of the past, that they may include double-prophecies or that certain cycles of history is a prophetic type of the End of the Age. As Joseph Seiss writes, “The only prerequisite to the entertainment of both [the historic and futurist interpretations] is, that the two should be homogeneous, and that the one fulfillment should be regarded as inchoate [incomplete], and only a sort of preliminary and imperfect rehearsal . . . of the other.”[12] That is, the futurist interpretation of Revelation is its pashut, the historicist interpretations (including the preterist) may be either remez or in some cases sod, and the idealist interpretation may have application as a drash. Indeed, when we study the seven letters to the seven churches, we will see just such a multidimensional interpretation in this book.

However, to suggest that when it is all said and done that we will be able to look back at the panorama of history and see how God wove events into a prefiguration of the End of the Age is a far cry from the historicist ideal wherein all has been fulfilled in a highly poetic way and all that’s left is a bowl or two before the Second Coming, or the preterist ideal that Messiah’s Second Coming was fulfilled in the destruction of the Temple and that the prophetic Scriptures have virtually nothing to say to our own age. However, to exhaust a study of Revelation and its related prophecies as partially fulfilled in the cycles of history would require decades of time and volumes of books. Of necessity, this volume is focused on the final fulfillments of these prophecies, those which are closer to being fulfilled in our time than in any time previous, and I hope that the reader will bear with my focus in that regard.

Interestingly, I have found many of the amillennialist persuasion, both preterist and historicist, who would agree with many of the broad points in this book. We share a common belief that, as Professor Englesma, a Reformed Amillennialist, writes, “The hope of the Reformed church and believer at the beginning of a new year is the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the body.”[13] The pastor of the Presbyterian church that I spoke of earlier told me that he believed that some kind of Antichrist figure would precede the Second Coming, and I’ve spoken with several historicists who affirmed the same. Similarly, Prof. Englesma writes, “The church in the end time will be a persecuted church, not a triumphalist church. The Messianic kingdom in history is the church, not a ‘Christianized’ world.”[14]

My experience is that much (though not all) of the heat from the amillennialist side is actually directed at the teaching of a pretrib Rapture. In fact, I’ve often found amillennialists who, though reserving the right to disagree with my views, have treated them with respect because I was not a part of the “Rapture Cult” (their phrase, not mine). If you fall into one of the amillennialist camps, let me say up front that I agree with you that pretrib is an incorrect teaching circulating in the Church that usually leads to a kind of escapism: We’re all going to be beamed out before anything really happens, so why worry about it, right?

But let us not confuse the issues or throw the baby out with the bathwater. Pretrib is merely one line of thought within premillennialism, and while extremely vocal, it does not represent the whole view.

I once spent several weeks in an online message board debate in which my opponent constantly attacked straw-men built from false assumptions about my eschatology. He spent the whole debate attacking flaws in radical Dispensationalism and the pretrib Rapture belief, flaws which do not exist in the “Olive Tree” theology or pre-wrath Rapture system that I have adopted and which I will be presenting to the reader. When he realized that his attacks weren’t landing, he shifted into trying to prove to me that I was really a Dispensationalist after all, I just didn’t know it! I’m glad he cleared that up for me. Those readers who have ever had a Jehovah’s Witness, a Unitarian, a Jew, or a Muslim try to convince you that you really worship three gods, not one God in three Persons, will understand the feeling. This book, though disputing certain prophetic positions, will not intentionally misrepresent them, though of course not every conceivable variation to each belief system can be analyzed. If I have unintentionally left out a strong argument for any other prophetic view, I beg the reader’s forgiveness up front.

For those of you who come from the amillennialist camp and have read this far, I ask that you not judge this book by whatever preconceptions you may have against premillennialism (which I hold to) or pretribulationism (which I do not). Rather, I ask that you agree to meet on common ground, accepting the Scripture as our mutual source of ultimate authority.

Interpretation vs. Models

Before proceeding, I must confess that I find myself caught in a curious tension: On the one hand, as I have grown in my understanding of both the prophetic Scriptures and of the world situation, I have also grown more and more convinced that the world is very swiftly aligning exactly as God told us it would, and the time is indeed near that Messiah will return. On the other hand, I am also cognizant enough of the history of the Church to know that many others for the last two thousand years have likewise believed that theirs were the End Times. The Crusaders went to war for the Holy Land convinced that Yeshua was soon to return there. The Reformers were equally convinced that theirs was the End Time struggle between the Church and the Antichrist, which they saw as the Roman papacy. The 1800s were rife with prophetic fervor brought on by numerous attempts at date-setting by the historicist camp. During World War II, many speculated that Mussolini was the Roman Beast and Hitler the False Prophet. And of course, in our own recent history, we remember the fervor surrounding the turn of the millennium and all of the predictions that proved false there. So I am well aware that it is entirely possible that the world’s situation as we see it today could stabilize for another generation or change entirely before the rise of the Man of Sin and his destruction at the hands of Yeshua HaMashiach.

That perspective grants a certain humility and caution in approaching Biblical prophecy, and for that reason I wish to make clear the important distinction between my prophetic interpretations and prophetic models. A prophetic interpretation is just that: An analysis of a given prophecy’s original language, intent, and any cross-referencing passages of Scripture that will shed light upon it. It does not attempt to put the prophecy into the setting of today or the near future, a not so fine art that many commentators have jokingly called “newspaper exegesis,” but rather tries to see what exactly the Scripture says and not go a single step beyond.

A prophetic model, on the other hand, attempts to take the prophetic interpretation already arrived at independently of any current events and then overlay that interpretation on the world as we see it and see if there are any correlations. Obviously, great care must be taken when dealing with any kind of prophetic model, and there is enormous potential for abuse or overreaching to make a desired point. So why then risk it? Simply put, because today’s world does seem to correspond amazingly to what the Scriptures lay out about the End Times, even if not every prediction is yet perfectly lined up. If indeed we are near the time of the Second Coming, this correlation should not surprise us, and we would do well to see the world in the light of the Scriptures. For this reason, this book will occasionally offer models of how several prophecies may tie together with the world as we see it as of this writing. As I hope that the reader will see, these views were not arrived at simply by reading today’s paper and imposing my pet issues on the Scriptures, but by a careful exegesis of who the Bible says the End Time scenario will be.

While prophetic interpretations change only as we learn more about the Scriptures, prophetic models have a way of being upset every few years when God decides to reshuffle the deck. Hal Lindsey’s classic, The Late Great Planet Earth, is a prime example. Many have accused Lindsey of being a false prophet, since he cites entities that no longer exist, such as the Soviet Union, as End Time players. Such an accusation is more than a little excessive; first of all, Lindsey never claims “thus sayeth the Lord” about any of his predictions. Rather, he simply built a prophetic model around his interpretation of what the Scriptures said. While I disagree with many of Lindsey’s approaches and interpretations, his model is no more worthy of ridicule than those of the preterists or historicists. Parts of that model are now clearly outdated, while other parts are still solid even if some of the names of the nations involved have changed.

The same is true here. If the Lord tarries for another generation, doubtless the world stage will have changed as well. Conversely, even if the Seventieth Week begins this year, a misunderstanding of or unknown factor in the world political scene could render those parts of my model wrong. For that matter, I am doubtless wrong on many of my interpretations; I have no illusions that I, or any other commentator, has a flawless theology—that belongs to the Lord alone! The purpose of this book is to offer some views that I have come to after many years of study, but also to encourage the reader to study the Bible for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

[1] In distinction, while Messianics may likewise choose to live under Torah and recognize it’s eternal relevance, we also recognize that it can be imposed as national law only by Yeshua Himself.
[2] Extreme preterism actually goes far beyond the bounds of what is considered orthodox Christianity, denying the physical Resurrection at the End of the Age, and for this reason, nominal preterists usually dislike having their position associated with it.
[3] Rev. 1:1 and 19, 4:1, etc.
[4] Gen. 22
[5] v. 8
[6] v. 14, CJB
[7] Gen. 17:19
[8] Heb. 11:19, CJB
[9] For this reason I will leave the ministry unnamed, as not all would approve of the direction of this book or want the ministry to be associated with it.
[10] This of course ignores the fact that there is no basis at all for placing the writing of Revelation before the reign of Domitian in the 90s A.D. Preterism requires the book to be early-dated to the 60s A.D., a position that cannot be substantiated either from the writings of any early Church Father (all of whom put the writing of Revelation in Domitian’s reign rather than Nero’s) or from the text of Revelation itself.
[11] Anderson, Sir Robert, The Coming Prince (Kregel Publications, 1957), pp. 136-137
[12] Seiss, Joseph A., The Apocalypse: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation, (Kregel, 1987 reprint), pp. 121-122
[13] Englesma, Prof. David J., “Jewish Dreams,” originally printed in The Standard Bearer (January 15, 1995), retrieved from on June 29, 2004.
[14] ibid.

The Structure of Revelation

One of the most marvelous aspects of the final book of the Bible is the very structure built into it by its Author.

A close study of Revelation makes it clear that it is not intended to unfold the events of Daniel’s Seventieth Week in a strictly chronological fashion. Those who have attempted to build charts doing so have always run into either internal inconsistencies or issues with other parts of Scripture. And yet, knowing that ahead of time, how can we determine where and when to place these events that are described to us? In my original notes, I was often disturbed by those occasions in which I felt that I was being arbitrary in my placement of events because of a lack of clear markers showing when the overlapping timelines of events described in Revelation started and stopped.

But as it turns out, Revelation does indeed have these markers that I was looking for, and they come in three different forms. First, the book outlines itself by the threefold division given by Yeshua Himself: The things that were, in chapter 1; the things that are in chapters 2-3; and the things which will take place “after this,” in chapters 4-22, those things that were wholly future to Yochanan when he recorded the visions. These divisions are quite obvious and widely known.

In addition to these, there are also four divisions that are marked by the phrase, “in the Spirit.” First, Yochanan is in the Spirit with Yeshua (chapters 1-3). Then he is in the Spirit in Heaven (ch. 4-16). Then he is carried away in the Spirit to see the fate of Babylon, the Beast, and the False Prophet (ch. 17-20). And finally, he is taken in the Spirit to see the New Jerusalem (ch. 21-22).

In addition to these, Revelation is divided into groups of seven. Four of these are obvious: The seven letters, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. In addition to these, I am indebted to Merrill Tenney for pointing out two less obvious groups of seven, the seven “personages” in Rev. 12-14:5, and the seven “new things” of chapters 21-22.[1] Given the emphasis on the number seven throughout Revelation, it should hardly surprise us to find a seventh group of seven. And indeed we do: There are seven angels—including Yeshua as the Angel of Adonai—listed in Rev. 14:6-20.

Each of these groups, whether divided by chronology, transports of the Spirit, or groups of seven, constitutes a separate timeline. Whether a given division follows, precedes or overlaps those to either side of it must be determined from the text itself rather than by any preconceived notions. For example, for reasons that will be fully clear in the following chapters, the seven trumpets do in fact immediately follow the seven seals rather than come before or overlap them; however, the seven personages backtrack to the time before Messiah’s first appearance (when the woman, Israel, was “about to give birth”) before proceeding forward in time to recap and expand upon the same period of time already described in the seals, particularly the fourth through seventh seals.

However, there is a progression in Revelation, as indeed many commentators state that the structure of the original Greek demands. Obviously, the three time divisions progress from past, to present, to future. Likewise, each occasion in which Yochanan is carried by the Spirit seems to progress and look to a time further in the future than the last. This same progression is found, but more subtly, in the groupings of seven. While there are occasions in which the starting point of a group of seven may begin previous to the end, or even the beginning, of the group before it (like the aforementioned seven personages, which clearly look to a time before the seven trumpets), they always seem to end a little closer to the final consummation. The seven churches continue to the Second Coming. The seven seals continue to a point just a little bit after the Second Coming, with the start of the Day of the Lord. The seven trumpets take us to the end of the Seventieth Week and Israel’s Yom Kippur, her Day of Atonement. The seventh personage, the Lamb, stands on Mt. Zion with the 144,000 a few days later, in the great Sukkot. The seven angels appear to take us right up to the time of the Last Battle, which the seventh bowl finishes. And finally, the seven new things take us right past the millennium and into eternity. In this way, the divine Author who gave these visions to Yochanan works much like a modern author writing a novel, backtracking and overlapping when two or more events are happening at the same time, but always ending a section a little closer to the final climax.


[1] Tenney, Merrill C., Interpreting Revelation: A Reasonable Guide to Understanding the Last Book in the Bible (Hendrickson, 2001), p. 37

TOPICS: General Discusssion; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: apocalypse; buggmanisanutbag; hermeneutics; interpretation; jesus; messianic; revelation; yeshua
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To: blue-duncan

They have nothing to do with Process theology. I think you have confused Dodd with Cobb. Dodd was a Presbyterian.

121 posted on 06/22/2005 9:35:07 PM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: P-Marlowe

Yes, I believe that the biblical account of the ark and the account of Jonah is true. Do I also believe that they are metaphors, giving the discerning student a deeper understanding of biblical truth? yes.

122 posted on 06/22/2005 9:38:24 PM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: blue-duncan
Ahh, even the conflicted Barnhouse says that at the fifth seal "the judgment proceedings have commenced." If this is not the age of grace, then the church has been taken out it would appear. The cry for judgment could very well be the cry for The Judgment.

If I were to say that the judgment procedings of a court hearing had commenced, would you suppose that that meant that the judgment had been carried out? The proceedings in the court of the Lord have commenced by the fifth seal, but the sentence--the wrath of the Day of the Lord--has not yet started.

You have kept me up too long, a pox on your house.

*chuckle* Sorry about that. Sleep well and God bless, my friend.

123 posted on 06/22/2005 9:40:58 PM PDT by Buggman (Baruch ata Adonai Elohanu, Mehlech ha Olam, asher nathan lanu et derech ha y’shua b’Mashiach Yeshua.)
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To: bluepistolero
In other words, you just don't like what I have to say. Not that you can provide any real support for your declaration that my work is unscholarly--you're just going to throw mud, make some meaningless chatter about how complex the issue of eschatology is and how the Bible doesn't really mean what it says, and be wise in your own conceits.

I submit myself and my every belief to the Scriptures; you seek to judge them. If that makes me a fool in your eyes, then I praise Yeshua that I am God's fool instead of a fool of the world.

124 posted on 06/22/2005 9:46:42 PM PDT by Buggman (Baruch ata Adonai Elohanu, Mehlech ha Olam, asher nathan lanu et derech ha y’shua b’Mashiach Yeshua.)
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To: bluepistolero; P-Marlowe
Was Yeshua literally born of a virgin?
Was He literally born in Bethlehem?
Did He literally go to Egypt?
Did He literally ride into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to proclaim Himself King?
Was He literally pierced in His hands and feet?
Did He literally rise from the dead?

If the answer to all these is yes, then what do you have against the literal interpretation of prophecy?

125 posted on 06/22/2005 9:51:56 PM PDT by Buggman (Baruch ata Adonai Elohanu, Mehlech ha Olam, asher nathan lanu et derech ha y’shua b’Mashiach Yeshua.)
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To: P-Marlowe

Having fun? :-)

126 posted on 06/22/2005 9:52:21 PM PDT by Buggman (Baruch ata Adonai Elohanu, Mehlech ha Olam, asher nathan lanu et derech ha y’shua b’Mashiach Yeshua.)
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To: bluepistolero
Very good.

Now, God wrote on the plates of stone in his own hand: "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is..." Do you believe God?

BTW since you were kind enough to answer my last question, the communion literally tastes like crackers and grape juice which, of course, interferes with any belief I might have that it is "literally" the flesh and blood of Christ. However, Jesus did say he was the "Bread" so if you want to get technical....

127 posted on 06/22/2005 10:02:42 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: Buggman


128 posted on 06/22/2005 10:03:14 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: blue-duncan
"and tell everyone who the Antichrist REALLY is." I think Edward Klein already beat you to it, but every one knew her.

ROTFL!!!! Love it!

129 posted on 06/22/2005 10:18:43 PM PDT by ladyinred
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To: Buggman

Very interesting Buggman. My favorite subject. Looking forward to more and to your book.

130 posted on 06/22/2005 10:20:38 PM PDT by ladyinred
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To: Buggman

Very interesting Buggman. My favorite subject. Looking forward to more and to your book.

131 posted on 06/22/2005 10:21:09 PM PDT by ladyinred
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To: blue-duncan

P.S. That was Seiss, not Barnhouse.

132 posted on 06/22/2005 10:27:02 PM PDT by Buggman (Baruch ata Adonai Elohanu, Mehlech ha Olam, asher nathan lanu et derech ha y’shua b’Mashiach Yeshua.)
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To: P-Marlowe

Great post, P-Marlowe! I fully agree with you!

133 posted on 06/22/2005 10:28:29 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: bluepistolero

"I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right." -- Isaiah 45:19

"Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing." -- John 18:20

134 posted on 06/23/2005 12:59:04 AM PDT by Dr. Eckleburg (There are very few shades of gray.)
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To: Buggman
I really haven't meant to cast aspersions, just helping to save you from yourself. Eschatology, no matter what denomination or sect you belong to, is extremely difficult. For instance, not only must the history and belief of the Jews be contrasted and compared to the Christian, but the eschatology of the nation of Israel must be understood as well as the eschatology of the individual believer.

Having worked in publishing, I have to wonder who you intend for your audience to be. Are you going to submit it for publication? If so, you might need to defend it in comparison to the works of other theologians. Or, are you going to publish it yourself? If so, who will you market it to? A book with no audience is a lot of hours wasted.

I googled your name to see if you had other publications but all I found by the same name was a treatise on something that looked like it had to do with Dungeons and Dragons. If that piece of writing is yours, perhaps theology is not your strong suit.

135 posted on 06/23/2005 1:04:58 AM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: Dr. Eckleburg

Yes, for the book of Revelation to be understood, one must start with that first great prophet, Moses, and proceed from there. It is really not all that complicated. Thank you for your import.

136 posted on 06/23/2005 1:09:36 AM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: Dr. Eckleburg

Of course, I meant imput. My English sometimes is not very good.

137 posted on 06/23/2005 1:26:01 AM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: P-Marlowe; Polycarp1; Buggman; xzins; blue-duncan; Corin Stormhands; Alamo-Girl
"We Christians would do a thousand times better to read and live the Gospels than engaging in end times speculations."

Perhaps Polycarp1 is correct.

138 posted on 06/23/2005 2:59:54 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: bluepistolero; P-Marlowe

"Literally" is not appropriate as you have used it regarding the body and the blood. "Literately" would be more in order because that is the meaning of a "literal" interpretation of scripture.

A literate, bible student would know that in the the "body/blood" passages, Jesus himself said "my words are spirit and they are life." Therefore, "literally" I do participate in the body and blood spiritually.

But, I detect from your writings that you have a "low" view of God. God is not capable of creating, nor is he capable knowing or directing the future.

My question would be, "Just what can this God you describe do? Don't you find yourself more often making up excuses for him than anything else?

And finally, what good is a God who is less than omnipotent and less than omniscient?

139 posted on 06/23/2005 4:28:57 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: Buggman
What it means is that the chart is wrong about the location of the Lucan discourse relative to the Matthew discourse.

When it comes to differences in what appears to be the same event, I've always attempted explanation first from the "Various perspectives" viewpoint.

If I'm standing on the north corner and you are on the south corner, there is a car wreck, and we are asked to write an account of the wreck, then we are going to write about the same thing from our particular vantage points. Both can be entirely true AND have differences.

Luke says that in producing his gospel he meticulously gathered the accounts of those things that happened.

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished R1 F1 among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from R2 the beginning were F2 eyewitnesses R3 and servants R4 F3 of the R5 word, F4 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having R6 investigated F5 everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in R7 consecutive order, most R8 excellent Theophilus; R9 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. R10 F6

Both Matthew & Luke are faithfully reporting. IMO, It is better to see a single discourse, than to attempt to come up with 2 extremely similar episodes that are within hours of each other. I find that view to be overly frightened.

It is the UNTIDINESS of the gospels that verify the integrity of the reports.

140 posted on 06/23/2005 4:50:23 AM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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