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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

Introduction

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.

References:
[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.

References:
[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]

References:
[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.

Millennial

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.

Temporal

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.

Raptural

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.

References:
[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 http://www.hopeprc.org/reformedwitness/1995/RW199505.htm 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.

References:

[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: Buggman; jude24; P-Marlowe
And Jesus answered and said to them, "See R870 to it that no one misleads you. 5 "For many R871 will come in My name, saying, `I am the Christ,' F514 and will mislead many. 6 "You will be hearing of wars R872 and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7 "For nation R873 will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines R874 and earthquakes. 8 "But R875 all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs

The Luke 21 Olivet discourse has the most understandable chronology of the 3 synoptics.

Luke makes clear that the 70 AD Destruction of Jerusalem is a starting signal. Then begins the spiralingly worse "birth pangs." These begin with a world in increasingly aggressive turmoil throughout the times of the Gentiles and proceeding to heavenly disturbances and a roaring sea.

It is an ever increasing intensity that is pictured. It is the increasing intensity of shear destructive power that is pictured. We truly have gone from being able to kill one at a time by a sword or arrow to a time when we discuss "weapons of mass destruction."

And the opening of space to be a platform for launching war on the earth is another escalation of the mind-boggling destructiveness that is available.

Men's hearts failing them in fear. And for good reason.

And a recapitulating spiral is a good notion to evaluate and on which to speculate. However, I always reserve the right to speculate, and I request that people indulge me and NOT assume my speculations to be ideas that I have elevated to the level of doctrine/teachings/beliefs.

It is necessary for me to evaluate fair ideas that come along and not simply to dismiss them.

101 posted on 06/22/2005 5:37:28 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: xzins; jude24; P-Marlowe
Ah, you've struck on an important distinction, that being between the Olivet Discourse and the sermon reported in Luke 21:

[Q]uite apart from differences that could be explained as simply different perspectives on the same event—e.g. “the Abomination that causes Desolation standing in the Holy Place” vs. “Jerusalem surrounded by armies” as the sign that should lead the faithful to flee to the mountains—there are a number of details that demonstrate that while certainly intended as parallels, these are actually two separate speeches given at separate times with slightly different subjects. They were given in different places, the Olivet Discourse being given on the Mount of Olives for which it is named, while Luke’s version was apparently given in the Temple a few days earlier.1 They are given at different times, with the Olivet Discourse in Mark and Matthew being given after Yeshua had departed the Temple for the final time while in Luke, Yeshua continued preaching in the Temple afterwards for several days.2

Indeed, even in terms of the timeline of events that they present, the two have distinct differences. For example, the persecutions in Matthew come after the “birth-pang” signs, i.e. “all this is but the beginning of the ‘birthpains.’ At that time you will be arrested and handed over to be punished and put to death . . .” Contrast this with the parallel passage in Luke, where the persecutions precede the “birth-pang” signs: “But before all this, they will arrest you and persecute you . . .”3

Nothing in Scripture is placed there by accident. These subtle but very distinctive differences indicate that we should treat these discourses separately, and it is Luke’s that answers the question, “Rabbi, if this is so, when will these events (the destruction of the Temple) take place? And what sign will show that they are about to happen?” The question of when Yeshua would return is not asked at all, as He had not yet announced His departure.

It is in Matthew (and by extension, Mark) that the question at the heart of the book of Revelation is asked: “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the End of the Age?” Yeshua’s answer continues.



Differences between the Temple and Olivet Discourses

 

Luke's Temple Discourse (Lk. 21)

The Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24-25, Mk. 13)

Where

In the Temple (Lk. 21:7 and 37)

On the Mt. of Olives (Mt. 24:3)

When

Before going to the Mt. of Olives (Lk. 21:37)

After departing the Temple for the final time (Mt. 23:38-39)

The Question

"Master, but when shall these things (the destruction of the Temple) be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?" (Lk. 21:7)

"Tell us, when shall these things (the destruction of the Temple) be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Mt. 24:3)

When will the persecution happen?

"But before all these (birth pang signs), they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake." (Lk. 21:12)

"Then (after the birth pang signs) shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." (Mt. 24:9)

The Sign to Flee

"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." (Lk. 21:20)

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place . . . ." (Mt. 24:15)


1 Mt. 24:3 and Lk. 21:5-7

2 Mt. 23:39 and Lk. 21:37

3 Mt. 24:8-9 and Lk. 21:12

Ack! I've given away still more of the book! ;-)


102 posted on 06/22/2005 5:45:39 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: Buggman; P-Marlowe; blue-duncan
Reading the 2 passages, your where and when are not necessarily correct. There is nothing in the Luke passage that requires it to be AT the temple.

Lu 21:1 And having looked up, he saw those who did cast their gifts to the treasury -- rich men, 2 and he saw also a certain poor widow casting there two mites, 3 and he said, `Truly I say to you, that this poor widow did cast in more than all; 4 for all these out of their superabundance did cast into the gifts to God, but this one out of her want, all the living that she had, did cast in.'

5 And certain saying about the temple, that with goodly stones and devoted things it hath been adorned, he said, 6 `These things that ye behold -- days will come, in which there shall not be left a stone upon a stone, that shall not be thrown down.' 7 And they questioned him, saying, `Teacher, when, then, shall these things be? and what [is] the sign when these things may be about to happen?'

The widow's mite story comes before this. It begins and it ends. It is a pericope entire unto itself.

This passage only says that "some were saying about the temple." The end of the passage says that he spent daytimes in the temple and nighttimes at Olivet.

The Matthew passage has an interesting twist:

1 And having gone forth, Jesus departed from the temple, and his disciples came near to show him the buildings of the temple, 2 and Jesus said to them, `Do ye not see all these? verily I say to you, There may not be left here a stone upon a stone, that shall not be thrown down.' 3 And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, `Tell us, when shall these be? and what [is] the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?'

The disciples come near to him to SHOW him the buildings of the temple. In other words, they were leaving the temple, but STILL there when Jesus pronounces the "not one stone left upon another" prediction.

Jesus takes up the subject AGAIN when they are at Olivet and the disciples question him.

Therefore, it is appears that having split times and locations in one story is not just possible, but actual. If it is possible to have a time gap in Matthew, then it is possible to have one in Luke.

103 posted on 06/22/2005 7:12:15 PM PDT by xzins (Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It!)
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To: Buggman
These authors all refer to the seals, trumpets and vials/plagues as judgments:

Donald Guthrie, "The Relevance of John's Apocalypse" page 115,
Merril C. Tenney, "Interpreting Revelation", page 71,
John F. Walvoord, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ",pages 122-123.

It should be noted that Walvoord is a PreTrib. advocate as is Pentecost, whom he quotes. Dwight Pentecost also calls them judgments. They were both Professors at Dallas Seminary.

As for the fifth seal, this does not appear to be the age of grace. The Jewish martyrs are calling for vengeance, their blood to be avenged. This is not the cry of the church, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do.".

Just some quick thoughts.
104 posted on 06/22/2005 7:15:02 PM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: Buggman
One comment:

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, ...

Interesting argument but totally specious. Unless you acknowledge that the futurist interpretation makes the entire book irrelevant for 1st century Christians.

... 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!

That has to be demonstrated, not just asserted. Especially in light of time texts such as "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near." (Rev. 1:3)

105 posted on 06/22/2005 7:30:37 PM PDT by topcat54
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To: D Rider; Buggman
The book of Revelation has about 400 verses, which contain over 800 references to the Old Testament. Thus it requires exhaustive study in the OT. If you are one of those that studies the New Testament only, you won't get it.

This is entirely correct. It seems to me, Mr. Buggman, that you have missed a very fundamental precept. In trying to explain prophecy you have neglected to study the prophets, and because of that, your book will never make sense to anyone.

106 posted on 06/22/2005 7:31:18 PM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: bluepistolero; Buggman; xzins; blue-duncan
It seems to me, Mr. Buggman, that you have missed a very fundamental precept. In trying to explain prophecy you have neglected to study the prophets, and because of that, your book will never make sense to anyone.


107 posted on 06/22/2005 7:52:27 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: bluepistolero; Buggman
"This is entirely correct. It seems to me, Mr. Buggman, that you have missed a very fundamental precept. In trying to explain prophecy you have neglected to study the prophets, and because of that, your book will never make sense to anyone"

That is very kind of you to point out what you perceive as his deficiencies. However, your generalization does not make sense to anyone without examples. If you had taken the time to study what Buggman has written, although you might not agree with him on everything he says, you would see that he has proposed an interpretation of the prophecies in Revelation that are as plausible as any post mil or amil theory out there.

The only real problem I see is that his charts don't have enough lines and arrows to be eschatologically obscure. But that will come with maturity as he grows out of youth work.
108 posted on 06/22/2005 8:02:38 PM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: bluepistolero

Given how little you've seen of my work so far (maybe 20 pages out of nearly five hundred), I'm curious as to how you came to this conclusion.


109 posted on 06/22/2005 8:17:48 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; Buggman
Actually, not really. I have read and re-read the text several times and have not found even the most elementary landmarks presented that would be needed for a study of the book in any kind of serious scholarship. Eschatology is never lightly undertaken, especially by responsible scholars.

The theological problems posed by eschatology are numerous and complex. Adequate answers must take into account at least four considerations. First, the gospel prophecies were never intended to be understood with unimaginative literalness. Just as it is misguided to mine Genesis for scientific data about the physical universe, so too is it wrong to turn the similes and metaphors of NT eschatology into information about future cosmological states.

Salvation-history is not a pre-determined scheme so much as it is a dynamic relationship between God and his people. The Lord can shorten the interim period (Mk 13-20) or lengthen it. (Luke 13:6-9) His Grace means that history is open and that there can be no eschatological timetable. True prophecy accordingly, does not so much predict the future as isolate one possible course of events, one which can be communicated either as a warning, which may or may not, be heeded, or as a promise whose conditions may or may not, be met.

The heart of eschatology is not when or what, but Who, not a schedule or a plan, but a person. The role of the Gospels, culminating in, The Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ is to move us to contemplate the future not by giving us a blueprint, but by relating all to Jesus, Messiah and Son of Man.

For more reading: D.C. Allison, Jr. The End of the Ages has Come (Philadelphia; Fortress, 1985) GR Beasley-Murray, Jesus and the Kingdom of God(Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1986); H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke (London: Faberand Faber 1960); C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments New York: Willett, Clark, 1937) E.E.Ellis, Eschatology in Luke FBBS 30; Philadelphia, Fortress, 1972); J Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus (2nd rev. ed.; New York: Charles Scibner's Sons, 1972) A.J. Mattill, Jr., Luke and the last Things (Dillsboro: Western North Carolina, 1979); N. Perrin, Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom (Philadelphia, Fortress, 1976); W. Willis, ed., The Kingdom of God in 20th Century Interpretation (Peabody, MA; Hendrickson, 1987)

110 posted on 06/22/2005 8:53:19 PM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: topcat54
Unless you acknowledge that the futurist interpretation makes the entire book irrelevant for 1st century Christians.

Not at all. As I explain in chapter 1:

More importantly where you or I are concerned, this is a book for us. God gave it to Yeshua to give to Yochanan so that we—you and I personally—would know the things that are soon to take place. Unlike Daniel’s visions, which were sealed from that prophet’s understanding,[1] Revelation is not sealed from ours.[2] It was not sealed to the Reformers, or the Roman Catholic Church. Nor was it sealed to the first-century Community to which it was first delivered. From the moment that He gave it to us, God intended that we be able to read and understand this book. As Unger states, “It is mere pious chatter to say that God does not intend this book to be understood or that the symbolism and figures of the prophecy are incomprehensible.”[3]

That denies the approach of historicism, which says that the early Church could not understand it because they had not lived through the two thousand years of Church history that it prophesied of. It also denies the approach of Hal Lindsey, who says, “The encoded prophecies can be understood only when we prayerfully seek to decipher what in today’s vast arsenal of technical marvels fits best John’s 1st century description of them.”[4] I rather hold the opposite to be true. Instead of viewing Revelation as a mystery that can only be understood by some special key, whether that key be mystical insight or our arrival at a certain point in human history, I have actually come to understand that Revelation itself is the key to the prophecies of the rest of Scripture. It serves to tie together the many diverse prophecies of the Second Coming that are scattered, a verse here and a chapter there, throughout the other sixty-five books of Scripture. In fact, the unsealed book of Revelation serves to likewise unseal the visions of Daniel to our understanding. “John is to write and send out to the churches that which Daniel had been bidden to shut up and seal.”[5] However, just like a map key without the map doesn’t do one very much good and a key without a lock to open is useless, neither will Revelation do anything but confuse the reader who does not have a good grasp of the whole of the Bible, especially the Tanakh.

Not only is Revelation intended to be understood, it also promises a special blessing on the person who reads it and obeys its words. That’s an audacious claim, and one unique to any book in Scripture. But what does it mean?

The word translated “obey” or “keep” is tereo, which can mean either to guard (as when Yeshua prayed that God would “keep,” or protect, His disciples from the Evil One[6]) or to observe and follow, where we are told to obey the commands of the Father and the Son respectively.[7] Both are applicable here. This book does contain some very important commands for us to follow, especially in chapters 2 and 3. Moreover, the one who guards the words of Revelation in his heart will find the book unfolding and in turn being unfolded throughout the rest of his or her Scriptural studies. Some have estimated that there are over 800 allusions to the Tanakh in Revelation’s 404 verses—that means that there is an average of two allusions in every verse that one could look up! J. Vernon McGee described it as “a great Union Station where the trunk lines of prophecy come in from other portions of Scripture.”[8] You simply cannot study Revelation without coming away with a deeper knowledge of the rest of the Bible—if you are willing to take it seriously and let the Spirit teach you. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- References:
[1] Dan. 12:9
[2] Rev. 22:10
[3] Unger, Merrill F., The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, R.K. Harrison, ed. (Moody, 1988), “Revelation, Book of the,” p. 1077
[4] Lindsey, Hal, Apocalypse Code (Western Front, 1997), p. 37
[5] Barnhouse, Donald Grey, Revelation: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan, 1971), p. 27
[6] Jn. 17:15
[7] cf. Mt. 19:17 and Jn. 8:51
[8] Quoted by Unger, ibid., p. 1078

Therefore, even though the full fulfillment of Revelation was 2000 years in their future, Revelation was still very relevant to the First Century Church, for it still served as their roadmap to draw together and understand the rest of the Scriptures' disperate prophecies.

That has to be demonstrated, not just asserted.

That would amount to trying to prove a negative. But since you asked:

Irenaeus’ interpretations of Revelation are decidedly consistent with modern premillennialism. Bear in mind that he wrote Against Heresies primarily as an apologetic work. If Revelation were really so manifestly a prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction, wouldn’t the early Church fathers have recognized it and used it as a part of their witness? Yet history tells us that’s not what happened. Only centuries removed from the event was the “discovery” made of Revelation’s supposed intent to prophesy of Jerusalem’s destruction.
To that, I'll add that it's not just Irenaeus who interprets Revelation in a futurist manner, but many other worthy fathers as well, like Hippolytus, Justin Martyr, Victoranius, etc.

Especially in light of time texts such as "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near." (Rev. 1:3)

Joel 1:15 and 2:1 claim that the Day of the Lord is "at hand," and yet even if we understand the Day of the Lord to be the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, that still makes a difference of 800-900 years. Even if we say there are many days of the Lord and suppose Joel to be referring to Nebuchadnezzar's conquest, that's still a 200 year gap. Clearly then, "at hand" means something different in God's view.

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. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
--2 Peter 3:8-9
In other words, God's time is not our time. He tells us that the Day of Judgment is "at hand" not to set times by our reckoning, but to impress on us a sense of urgency as we go about our Master's business.

In view of all this, insisting on a rigid interpretation of "the time is near" while allowing for a very loose interpretation of everything else in Revelation to fit the preterist schema seems a bit inconsistant as a hermeneutic. Using that manner of interpretation, one can make the Bible say literally almost anything one wants.

111 posted on 06/22/2005 8:56:24 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; Buggman; blue-duncan; xzins; Corin Stormhands; Revelation 911
First, the gospel prophecies were never intended to be understood with unimaginative literalness. Just as it is misguided to mine Genesis for scientific data about the physical universe, so too is it wrong to turn the similes and metaphors of NT eschatology into information about future cosmological states.

And I suppose you have scriptures that support your theory?

Frankly I can deduce by your comments that you do not truly believe the first chapters of the Bible as being literally true. I think it would be safe to deduce that you believe that Adam was not a special creation, but a product of divinely guided evolution and that God could not possibly have created the heavens and the earth in the equivalent of 6 literal 24 hour days. I think in that case you have more faith in evolutionists than you do in scripture. Be that as it may.

For you to claim that the end time prophecies are not to be taken literally presumes much, since God clearly fulfilled every prophecy concerning Christ's first coming literally. As Buggman points out, if the prophecies of his first coming came to pass literally, why should we assume that the prophecies of his second coming would not come to pass literally.

Just so we know where you are coming from... Do you literally believe the story of Noah? Do you literally believe the story of Jonah?

112 posted on 06/22/2005 9:05:46 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: P-Marlowe
And I suppose you have scriptures that support your theory?

Well, do you eat the Lord's flesh and drink his blood at Communion? I do not, literally.

113 posted on 06/22/2005 9:10:09 PM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: blue-duncan
These authors all refer to the seals, trumpets and vials/plagues as judgments:

It's a common mistake, but an error nonetheless. Again, Rev. 6:10 says, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" They are told to wait, not that the judgment has begun. Ergo, there is no judgment of God through the fifth seal at least.

Not all the scholars in the world stack up against a single word of Scripture.

As for the fifth seal, this does not appear to be the age of grace.

This is precisely why I am not a Dispensationalist. Salvation has always been by grace received in faith rather than by keeping the Torah (Rom. 4), and even to the present age, the Messiah said,

"Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Torah, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
--Matt. 5:17-19
Your argument is a common one, but not one universally held, nor an insoluable one in the face of Scripture:
Barnhouse proposes that the cry of these martyrs proves that the Church has been previously Raptured. “Can it be considered for one instant that these souls who, of course, have left their old nature far behind, can be crying out for vengeance to God in Heaven in a time that is still in the age of grace? This is impossible.”[1] On the contrary, as Seiss writes, “Such a cry would be out of season, except in this place. But it is the time of judgment. The judgment throne is set. The judgment proceedings have commenced.”[2] These saints cry out for God’s justice for His name’s sake, even as Moses cried out for His mercy for Israel for the same reason.[3]

Nor is it out of place to do so. “These saints are following the teaching of Sha’ul in Romans 12:19, ‘Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, “’It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”’”[4] Indeed, did not Sha’ul himself say with confidence after Alexander the coppersmith turned on him, “The Lord repay him according to his works”?[5] There is nothing wrong with praying that justice and righteousness be done, as we can see by simply perusing a few of the Psalms. Nor is there any contradiction between praying for God to vindicate His righteousness at the same time that we pray for our enemies to find His mercy—and certainly not in a time when those enemies will put themselves outside of His mercy altogether, as we will see in chapters 13-14.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
References:
[1] Barnhouse, Donald Grey, Revelation: An Expositional Commentary (Zondervan, 1971), p. 134
[2] Seiss, Joseph A., The Apocalypse: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation, (Kregel, 1987 reprint), p. 147
[3] Dt. 9:28
[4] Johnson, Alan F., Revelation (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Gaebelein, Frank E., ed.) (Zondervan, 1981), p. 475
[5] 2 Ti. 4:14


114 posted on 06/22/2005 9:11:31 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

Is that a no?


115 posted on 06/22/2005 9:14:45 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: bluepistolero; P-Marlowe; Buggman
From a glance at your references it is easy to see why you do not and cannot and will not understand what Buggman is trying to say. You are reading him through the lenses of Realized Eschatology and Process Theology. Your references, Jeremias and his student Perrin, are disciples of C.H.Dodd, the dean of Realized Eschatology and liberal Kingdom theory. The only conservative writer you cite is Beasley-Murray.
116 posted on 06/22/2005 9:16:08 PM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: P-Marlowe
Is what a no? Is Communion to be taken as the literal eating and drinking of Christ's flesh and blood? It is a scripture that is taken literally by some. Do you take it literally? Or are some scriptures meant metaphorically?

Do you put bible verses in a box and strap them to your forehead? Some do, I do not.

117 posted on 06/22/2005 9:20:38 PM PDT by bluepistolero
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To: Buggman

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


118 posted on 06/22/2005 9:24:25 PM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: bluepistolero; blue-duncan; Buggman; xzins
This is supposed to be a dialogue. I asked you a question. You did not answer it, but instead asked me a question. If you would be so kind as to answer my question, then I will answer yours. Deal?

So here it is again:

Just so we know where you are coming from... Do you literally believe the story of Noah? Do you literally believe the story of Jonah?

After you give your answer, then I will answer your question.

119 posted on 06/22/2005 9:25:20 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: xzins
I'm not sure I'm following your argument. Remember that the Olivet Discourse came right after Yeshua announced, "For I say unto you, ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, 'Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord'" (Mt. 23:39). That's a pretty definite statement that He wasn't coming back, which would conflict with Luke's account that He went on teaching in the Temple.

Further, the other detail differences would make Luke's version an extremely poor and inaccurate paraphrase of the Olivet Discourse, were it the same speech. I hold Scripture to a higher standard than that.

The widow's mite affair doesn't prove anything simply because it doesn't provide any time clues beyond appearing right before both Mark's Olivet Discourse and Luke's Temple Discourse.

Interestingly, for about three years, I held this view and couldn't find anyone else who expoused it. But a few weeks ago, Missler released a briefing pack agreeing with me. That doesn't make my view right, but it does mean that I'm not the only one who noticed these differences.

120 posted on 06/22/2005 9:28:18 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: 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

Loads


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
Amen.

"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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To: Buggman
Joel 1:15 and 2:1 claim that the Day of the Lord is "at hand," and yet even if we understand the Day of the Lord to be the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD,

No, actually the "day of the Lord" spoken of in Joel (and elsewhere in the OT prophets) was speaking often of immediate temporal judgment against either Israel or the enemies of Israel. Peter, under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, applied Joel prophecy to the events of Pentecost in Acts 2. But in neither case is there some requirement to place the "at hand" to mean an undetermined, already multi-millennia time period from the giving of the prophecy. That is a supposition of the futurist.

The word translated “obey” or “keep” is tereo, which can mean either to guard (as when Yeshua prayed that God would “keep,” or protect, His disciples from the Evil One[6]) or to observe and follow, where we are told to obey the commands of the Father and the Son respectively.[7] Both are applicable here.

"Obey" is the primarily meaning with respect to the Word of God. We are not told to "guard" ("tereo") the Word. We are told to obey it. "I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word." "If anyone keeps My word, he shall never taste of death." There is another word "phulasso", that is more in line with your suggestion, and used that way "O Timothy, guard ("phulasso") what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge "--" "Guard ("phulasso"), through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you."

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,

This "God time" verse is probably one of the most misused verses in the futurist arsenal. There is nothing in the context to suggest that when God says "at hand" or "near" or "the things which must soon take place" (Rev. 1:1) He really means some undetermined amount of time in the future. Otherwise we are left to all sort of hermeneutical gymnastics. E.g., that the "thousand years" of Rev. 20 is really only 1000 days in our time, or perhaps 365,000 years depending on how one does conversion according to "God math".

"Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near ("eggus", cf Rev. 1:3);"

Are we really to believe that the expectation Jesus is putting forth here is that when a farmer goes out and sees the leaves coming on his trees that summer is actually (in "God time") thousands of year in the future?

This is the sort of interpretation the futurist relies on all over the place. If this is where your "midrash" leads you, then you can have it.

141 posted on 06/23/2005 6:06:34 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: bluepistolero
No I have not confused Dodd with Cobb. If you follow Dodd and his disciples' eschatology and Bultmann and his disciple's (Conzelmann) eschatology to their logical conclusions of necessity you wind up with a Jewish apocalyptic (Jesus)who either sees in himself the consummation of the kingdon now and not future so that everything that is happening is unfolding or he is a man who was mistaken about the consummation and it is still in process. Either way, the Jesus of these men is not the Christ of the Bible, omniscient, omnipotent and sovereign over the past, present and future.

I don't know about your own Christology but I assume from your comments about the Old Testament prophets you follow the Jesus the Jewish apocalyptic theory and that therefore all prophecy in the New Testament has been consummated in Jesus or not part of the New Testament message but belongs to Judaism.

If I'm wrong or have trivialized your position in any way I apologize. Our friend Buggman has spent many hours in research and study to write this book. You have said you once worked in publishing so you know the sacrifices he has made. He has graciously offered to share some of his findings with us for our critique. We may disagree with his conclusions and he needs to hear them for his own editing or preparing his defense. What he doesn't need and what is not profitable for all who are following this thread is a dismissive attitude. That is not helpful. You appear to have studied eschatology. Your observations about your findings would be helpful to the discussion and might be enlightening to all of us, but that can only be done by asking appropriate questions, giving our opinions as opinions and respecting each others opinions.
142 posted on 06/23/2005 6:24:43 AM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: Buggman

I know, I know, I have the book.


143 posted on 06/23/2005 6:26:15 AM PDT by blue-duncan
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To: HarleyD; P-Marlowe; xzins; Buggman
Thank you for the ping to your post!

IMHO, speculation about prophetic Scriptures can cause a lot of dissension precisely because many try to obtain meaning with the mind instead of the Spirit. If prophesies were meant to be clear, they would have been written that way. Instead, like the parables, prophesies speak to the spirit, and thus are largely concealed from the mind.

I submit that the book of Revelation is vital to whole of Scripture. It affirms and magnifies the deity of Christ, the meaning of life, the purpose of this creation, this heaven and earth - and the next heaven and earth. It discloses God's righteous punishments and rewards.

It assures many of us - it unsettles some of us.

I submit that those who are unsettled by the prophesies in Revelation probably ought to spend more time in the Gospels and contemplating the meaning of life and creation - and then try reading it again - casually, not with a magnifying glass.

144 posted on 06/23/2005 7:49:19 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: bluepistolero
I really haven't meant to cast aspersions, just helping to save you from yourself.

Okaaaay . . .

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.

I think you over-complicate it. Frankly, while studying the historical beliefs of both the Jews and Christians (and I've done both, particularly in the ante-Nicean Church fathers) is interesting and sometimes edifying, neither is nearly as important as studying the Scriptures themselves. 95% of this work is simply comparing Scripture to Scripture and proposing some solutions on how the prophetic Scriptures fit together.

On the broad points of the eschatological scenario, the Scripture is pretty clear, despite all the muddying of the waters that some scholars like to do. There will be a time of increasing "birth pangs"--wars, famines, earthquakes, unrest, immorality, etc.--followed by the Man of Sin, the person we commonly call the Antichrist, proclaiming himself to be God in God's Holy Place. He will persecute God's people, both the Christians and the Jews, but before he can completely destroy them, the Lord Himself will come on the clouds of the sky to gather His Church, seal the faithful of Israel, and inaugurate the Day of the Lord, during which His wrath will be poured out and He alone will be glorified. This same scenario is given and expanded upon by Isaiah, Daniel, Zechariah, Yeshua Himself (the Olivet Discourse and many of His parables), Sha'ul, Kefa (Peter), and Yochanan.

On many of the specifics, I agree that it is less clear, and there are many details that I don't think we are meant to know until they actually happen--but which we are commanded to "keep" the Revelation and other prophetic Scriptures in our hearts so that we will recognize them when they do occur.

Having worked in publishing, I have to wonder who you intend for your audience to be.

Messianics and evangelicals, primarily. In point of fact, I already have a publisher interested in my book, and from the response I've gotten here on FR, I'd say that having an audience won't be a problem (though I doubt I'll ever hit the NYT bestseller list). And in answer to your other question, no, I've never published a book before (outside of small-print stuff when I was in college).

However, even if I had no audience, I wouldn't call the time I've spent on this book wasted. In point of fact, I started on this project simply for self-study to understand the Scriptures better. It was when I started showing my rough notes to people to get feedback, ideas, and corrections and many of them asked me to turn them into a book that I started fleshing them out, always in prayer and humility, ready to change my positions as I discovered new things in the Scriptures that contradicted or changed the direction of them.

It's been a wonderful experience, and if I never published a word, not one minute would have been a wasted moment--because in studying Revelation, I have come to a far deeper understanding of all the Scriptures, both prophetic and not.

Now, if you have specific nits to pick with what parts of the book that I've posted here that you are ready and willing to back up with Scripture and logic, I'm ready to listen. But if you're whole goal is to simply discourage me with "pious chatter" about how difficult the subject is, or how hard it is to get published, I'm sorry, but I've got better things to do with my time than to try to convince you that I'm "worthy" to write this book.

145 posted on 06/23/2005 8:36:02 AM 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
I remain convinced that endless speculation on the end times detracts from Christian life and mission. What if all the things we see today are not "signs of the end" but rather invitations by God to DO SOMETHING about what is happening?

Too many Christians are wrapped up in end times things and see all these terrible things and refuse to address them because they figure "Well its just the way its supposed to be in these last days." Some even rejoice over the pain and brokenness they see because they care only for bugging out at the "rapture".

At the end of time Jesus in the Gospels clearly states that the difference between the sheep and the goats has nothing to do at all with those who may have successfully guessed the actual time of his appearing and the surrounding circumstances (and EVERYONE to date has been wrong) but rather if we did what he asked to the "least of these..."
In addition in the parables of the wise servants it is those who are found doing the master's will who are rewarded and not those who have have hoarded what the master gave them in anticipation of his return.

Writers like Tim LaHaye and Hal Lindsey have done great damage to the faith by playing on people's fears and telling stories based on a very flawed vision of faith (dispensationalism) while making themselves very rich. Imagine if all the millions spent by Christians eager to digest this spiritual junk food would have instead been given to church planting, feeding the poor, or helping those in need! Imagine if all the energy spent on bad guesses about the end were given to the work of spreading the Gospel! How different would our world be?

It's for this reason the Eastern Orthodox churches have never used Revelation in the cycle of liturgical readings. In the wrong hands, and most of the hands are wrong, the book is all sound and fury signifying nothing. Yes it is Canon and has been accepted by the Church as God inspired but it is DEFINITELY NOT for the spiritually immature.
146 posted on 06/23/2005 8:49:37 AM PDT by Polycarp1
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To: topcat54
No, actually the "day of the Lord" spoken of in Joel (and elsewhere in the OT prophets) was speaking often of immediate temporal judgment against either Israel or the enemies of Israel.

No they weren't. Take Isaiah 13, for example: Even if you apply that to the fall of Babylon to the Persians (and as I show in the later chapters of my book, if you simply compare what Isaiah and Jeremiah wrote prophetically to history, there's no way that they fit), you've still got a 200+ year gap.

No, the Day of the Lord is a very specific eschatological period in which Adonai alone--not the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, or Romans--would be exalted (Isa. 2). It is the time of His wrath poured upon the whole earth (Isa. 34). While we might see partial fulfillments, or dress rehersals, or remez, in history, the final fulfillment has never yet taken place.

Peter, under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, applied Joel prophecy to the events of Pentecost in Acts 2.

Joel's sign of the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars is a common theme in Scripture. It also happens to be one of those junctions that enables us to line up the various prophecies on the same timeline:



A Comparison of the Cosmic Disturbance References in Prophecy

Isa. 13:10-13

Isa. 34

Joel 2:31

Ps. 18:7-17

Rev. 6:12-17

Mt. 24:29-31

"Therefore I will make the heavens tremble . . ."





". . . and the heavenly bodies will be shaken."

". . . and the earth will shake from its place . . ."



The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because He was angry."

"There was a great earthquake."


Isa. 13:10-13

Isa. 34

Joel 2:31

Ps. 18:7-17

Rev. 6:12-17

Mt. 24:29-31

"The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light."


"The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the LORD."


"The sun turned black as sackcloth, and the moon as blood . . ."

"The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light . . ."

"The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light."

". . . all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree."



. . . and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree . . ."

". . . the stars will fall from the sky . . ."


"All the stars of the heavens will be dissolved and the sky rolled up like a scroll."


"He parted the heavens and came down . . ."

"The sky receeded like a scroll, rolling up . . ."


Isa. 13:10-13

Isa. 34

Joel 2:31

Ps. 18:7-17

Rev. 6:12-17

Mt. 24:29-31

". . . at the wrath of the LORD Almighty in the day of His burning anger."




"The the [inhabitants of the earth] hid in caves . . . [crying] hide us from the . . . wrath of the Lamb!"

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn."




"He reached down from on high and took hold of me . . . He rescued me from my powerful enemy . . ."


"And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather the elect from the four winds . ."


But could this event be the darkening of the sky that happened at Yeshua’s crucifixion, as many preterists suggest based on Ac. 2:17-21?  No.  Obviously, all the wars, rumors of wars, false prophets, famines, earthquakes, and Abomination of Desolation had not happened in the last 48 hours of Yeshua’s life.  Just as obviously, the exact same event would be described in Revelation decades later as yet future.  In Acts, Kefa is citing the presence of the Ruach HaKodesh as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.  He then recites the entire prophecy to get to its end, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Adonai shall be saved,” from which he launches his sermon.
And now, I need to run to lunch. I'll get back with you in a bit.
147 posted on 06/23/2005 8:59:57 AM 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: Polycarp1
I am not questioning the canonical status of the book of Revelation. I am merely stating a historic fact. The book was accepted into the canon but there were some who had misgivings about it precisely because within decades of its writing its passages were already obscure.

And yes the end of history is part of the Faith but even the Apostles were told that precise information about this was not available to them (Acts 1:7)and the Church has wisely maintained a respect for the reality of Christ's return while avoiding dogmatic statements about one scheme or another.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread and to date every person who has posited a scheme regarding the end times other than an affirmation that Christ will indeed return, judge, and rule have one thing in common. They are all wrong and many, like Adventists, the Watchtower, and others are down right dangerous. How many churches have been senselessly split by end times quarrels?

Frankly Jesus affirmed that we would always have tribulation, at some future date it would be worse, and sometime he would return to judge and rule. That's it. Anyone with a more precise scheme is simply guessing and as long as they state that they are okay. The Church Fathers were wise to address this in the Creed and leave the details in the realm of pious theologizing.

So what is more important, attempting to pin down that which the Apostles themselves were not privy to or doing the work of God in the world? Jesus himself provides the answer when he states quite clearly that the difference between the sheep and the goats is not whether we guessed his return accurately but rather whether we were serving the "least of these..." in His name. The faithful steward is the one who is surprised by the master and found to be doing the assigned work not the one who hoarded all he had in anticipation of an eventual return.

That's again why I say spend the energy on reading and living what is found in the Gospels first and the other things will take care of themselves. Only until I have mastered the Sermon on the Mount will I have the maturity to speak on the Apocalypse.
148 posted on 06/23/2005 9:11:41 AM PDT by Polycarp1
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To: Buggman
While we might see partial fulfillments, or dress rehersals, or remez, in history, the final fulfillment has never yet taken place.

If you're going to utilize rabbinic presuppositions, you may find youself off the mark on the understanding of Scripture. The rabbinic approach, not unlike that employed by modern Christian liberals, is to discover the deeper, hidden meaning of the text. No every text has a "deeper meaning". It's pure presuppostion to suggest that it does.

It's apparent from the contexts that "day of the Lord" has primary reference to the immediate temportal judgment that God meted out on Israel and her enemies. E.g.,:

The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Wail, 'Woe to the day!' For the day is near, Even the day of the Lord is near; It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. The sword shall come upon Egypt, And great anguish shall be in Ethiopia, When the slain fall in Egypt, And they take away her wealth, And her foundations are broken down. "Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia, all the mingled people, Chub, and the men of the lands who are allied, shall fall with them by the sword." 'Thus says the Lord: "Those who uphold Egypt shall fall, And the pride of her power shall come down. From Migdol to Syene Those within her shall fall by the sword," Says the Lord God. "They shall be desolate in the midst of the desolate countries, And her cities shall be in the midst of the cities that are laid waste. (Ezekiel 30)
Whether or not this somehow "hints" of a final "day of the Lord" or not is the debate at hand. But it cannot be assumed. Nevertheless, the primary teaching has to do with the immediate temporal judgments. That is the case in virtually all places where the phrase is used in the Bible. The context in large part dictates the meaning.
149 posted on 06/23/2005 9:45:52 AM PDT by topcat54
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To: Buggman
Joel's sign of the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars is a common theme in Scripture.

The "sun, moon and stars" had other meaning in Scripture besides the literal cosmic entities.

"Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me." "

"Then he removed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven. "

"Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars."

Wouldn't your midrash prompt you to look beyond physical entities for the deeper meaning?

It also happens to be one of those junctions that enables us to line up the various prophecies on the same timeline:

Only if they are intended to exist on the same timeline. What in your midrash would lead you to this presupposition?

150 posted on 06/23/2005 9:56:27 AM PDT by topcat54
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