Isaiah: the Messianic Prophet

Jeremiah is known as the “weeping” prophet because he wept over his suffering he endured at the hands of false prophets and evil kings. Isaiah is known as the “Messianic” prophet because of his many predictions about a future “Servant” whom God would send. He doesn’t call him the “Messiah”, which in Hebrew means “the anointed one”, but it is obvious that it is the Messiah that he is predicting to come. There is much more to Isaiah’s message than just predictions about a future Messiah to come 700 years later, but let’s focus on those predictions in this article.

  1. Isaiah 2: 2″ In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.” The phrase the “last days” refers to the last days of the Jewish Age, i.e. from 30 AD to 70 AD. This is a prediction of the establishment of the spiritual temple, the church, that Jesus would build in the 1st century AD. The nations, i.e. the Gentiles, would stream into it, which is an amazing prediction that the Jews didn’t understand.
  2. Isaiah 4: 2″ In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. ” The term “the Branch” of David or of the Lord is used several times by the prophets to refer to Jesus, a descendant of David.
  3. Isaiah 7: 14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you[o] a sign: The virgin[p] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[q] will call him Immanuel.” This was actually spoken to King Ahaz of Judah as a sign that God would deliver him from his enemies. Before that child was weaned, he would be delivered. It actually came true as Isaiah had a natural born child. Matthew 1 says that it also came true in the virgin birth of Jesus.
  4. Isaiah 9: 6-7 “For to us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousnes from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Gabriel cited this prediction when he told Mary about her amazing son that would be born who would reign on David’s throne. The 4 names by which He would be called are amazing also. He would be human, but also Divine such that He would be called Mighty God. He is distinct from the Father, and yet He is so united with the Father that He would be called Everlasting Father.
  5. Isaiah 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—” 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people ” Again, the “Branch” of David is Jesus. In Romans 15 Paul cites verse 10 to show that the Gentiles, i.e. the nations, would be brought into the church along with the Jewish remnant who accepted Jesus as the Messiah. This gathering of the remnant the “second time” would begin in Acts 2 as God gathered His elect throug the preaching of the gospel. The “first” gathering would have been when He brought back a remnant from Babylonian captivity.
  6. Isaiah 35: 4 “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” Jesus cited this prophecy to affirm to John’s disciples that He was indeed “the One to come”, as proved by His healing miracles.
  7. Isaiah 40:3 “A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord make straight in the desert a highway for our God” Of course this refers to John the Baptist who would come to prepare the way for Jesus.
  8. Isaiah 42:1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Matthew cited this verse in reference to the gentle nature of the Messiah.
  9. Isaiah 44: 3 “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Similar to Joel 2, this is a prediction of the pouring out of the miraculous gift of the Spirit in the last days. In Acts 2, Peter affirms that these predictions were beginning to be fulfilled on that day of Pentecost and would continue through the last days up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
  10. Isaiah 52:13-53:12

13 See, my servant will act wisely[c];
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[d]
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,[e]
    and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
    and what they have not heard, they will understand.

53 Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression[f] and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.[g]
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes[h] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life[i] and be satisfied[j];
by his knowledge[k] my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[l]
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[m]
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors. ” This is the peak of Isaiah’s Messianic predictions. It predicts details about the death of Jesus: being pierced (the nails of crucifixion), silent suffering, scourging, death associated with the 2 wicked thieves, burial in a rich man’s tomb though He was a pauper. Only God could predict with such accuracy details about Jesus’ life and death 700 years before He was even born. Imagine predicting even 10 such specific things about whoever would be President of the U.S. 700 years from now, putting these predictions in a box and buring them, and then opening that box 700 years later. What are the odds of every single prediction being accurate? Other prophets add such specific predictions, such as Mich 5:2 predicting that He would be born in Bethlehem, David’s details in Psalm 22 about his death on the cross, Zechariah’s prediction that he would be sold for 30 pieces of silver and pierced, etc. We need only to turn to Acts 8 to see how convincing it was in the first century when someone compared the life and death of Jesus with these Messianic predictions in Isaiah 53. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53 but wondered whom Isaiah was talking about. Philip the evangelist then told him the facts about Jesus’ life and death, showing him that Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, thus making him the Messiah. The eunuch was convinced immediately and was baptized. We pause here to discuss the Dead Sea Scrolls. Critics of the prophets’ ability to predict the future with such accuracy claim that these predictions were added “after the fact”, i..e after they had already occurred so as to make the Bible look like it was accurately predicting the future. They also say that the Old Testament had been copied thousands of times since the originals and that we can’t trust the copies. Well the Dead Sea Scrolls proved them wrong on both counts. They were discovered in the caves of Qumran near the Dead Sea in 1947. Parts of almost the entire Old Testament were found. A complete scroll of Isaiah was found, later called “The Great Isaiah Scroll”. Based on several dating methods it was written no later than 100 BC; that’s 100 years before Jesus was born. Now the earliest copy of Isaiah in the Hebrew that it was originally written in was in the 10th century AD. So, prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, there was a gap of about 1700 years from the original to our earliest copy in Hebrew. But now we have a copy about 1000 years earlier than that, and most importantly, a copy 100 years before the birth of Jesus. So how does Isaiah 53 in the Great Isaiah Scroll compare with the 10th century AD copy? Almost identical. The specific predictions about the death of Jesus in Isaiah 53 were in the Great Isaiah Scroll 100 years before Jesus was born. They were not added “after the fact”. Isaiah’s other Messianic predictions were also in the Great Isaiah Scroll 100 years before Jesus was born. Not only that, this also shows that the copies of Isaiah over the centuries were done with great accuracy and can be trusted. There are many variants in all the copies, but they are of no great significance. Scholars had told us all along about the strict copying rules used by the copyists, but now we have proof of that. I encourage you to watch a youtube video, “The treasures of Qumran”. It is absolutely amazing how the providence of God protected these ancient scrolls for over 2,000 years until initially discovered by a little shepherd boy searching for his lost goat.

11. Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,[t] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” In Luke 4, Jesus went into the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. Often a guest rabbi would be allowed to speak. He took a copy of an Isaiah scroll and read this passage from Isaiah 61. He then told them that He was the fulfillment of that prediction. He was the one “anointed” (the Messiah, the “anointed one”) with the Spirit to do these great things. But a “prophet has no honor in his own hometown”, and they proceeded to try to kill Him.

12. Isaiah 65: 17 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind 18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.20 “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach[a] a hundred will be considered accursed.” Hebrews 12 tells us that the “new Jerusalem” is the church and not a physical city like the old Jerusalem was. God sent the Romans to destroy the old Jerusalem and temple in 70 AD to show that the way of salvation was from then on to be found in a spiritual Jerusaelem and temple, i.e. the church, God’s new holy nation and chosen people. Peter had predicted that the “end of all things is at hand” in 1 Peter 4:7, and followed that up with 2 Peter 3 predicting the destruction of the old heavens and earth, i.e. the old Jewish system, and replacing it, as predicted he notes, with a new heavens and earth, i.e. the new covenant and Messianic system. Isaiah’s predictions are given in figurative language, such as no infants dying young, etc. but it is easy to see that he is referring to the eternal life that Jesus gives us in the new covenant. Other language is similar to that, such as a lion playing with a lamb or a child playing by trhe hole of a cobra. Such language refers to the peace that we have in this spiritual kingdom of God, the church.

13. Isaiah 66: 19 “I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nations—to Tarshish, to the Libyans[c] and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations. 20 And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the Lord. “They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. 21 And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the Lord. 22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. 24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” Isaiah had predicted God coming with a vengeance to destroy the old Jerusalem in 70 AD and punish the nation for killing the prophets. But here in ch 66 he says that God will send out survivors, i.e. the Jewish Christian remnant who escaped 70 AD because they heeded Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 24, to bring converts from the nations, i.e. Gentiles, into this new Jerusalem, the church. God would even make them Levites and priests, which obviuosly is figurative language. Of course all believers in Jesus are called priests in the New Testament. They will come to worship God in this “new heavens and earth”, i.e. the new Messianic system, even though he describes that worship in the language of old covenant worship (new moons, sabbaths).

I hope this long article will reach someone who is searching. God made these Messianic predictions and recorded them to give us proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that believing in Him we might have eternal life (John 20:31). He even gave us the Dead Sea Scrolls to combat the claims of the critics of the Bible. Will you be like the Ethiopian eunuch and believe and be baptized?


Vanity of Vanity, says the Preacher, all is Vanity. The scholars tell us that the word for “vanity” is “vapor, breath”. Like when you exhale on a cold day and you can see your breath vapor but it quickly dissipates into the air. Or steam vapor coming out of boiling pot of water. It looks real, like you could touch it, hold it, but you can’t. It actually is real, but it is made up of gases, not solids, so it has no definite shape and form.

“Life under the sun” is like that, according to the Preacher. That phrase refers simply to life on earth, life as we know it and observe it. It is like chasing the wind, but you can’t catch it. He often talks about a man working hard all his life achieving wealth, and yet he dies, not knowing who will even get his wealth or how they will use it. We value riches, money, wealth, things, houses, cars, possessions, etc. and they seem so important to us while we are living, but all that is meaningless, empty, like a vapor once we die. A thousand years from now all those things will be deteriorated because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Everything under the sun seems so important, but is really nothing in the big picture. We are nothing important in the history of earth. Life goes on, century after century. History repeats itself. Mark Twain said “history doesn’t repeat itself, it just rhymes”. That is true. An actual event in history is never repeated, but something very similar always occurs later. Usually because people don’t learn from history. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. “Get out of Russia before winter”. Neither Napoleon or Hitler followed that and it led to their downfall. Rivers flow continually into the seas but the sea level remains the same basically. Imagine pouring water non-stop into the bathtub. It would flood your house. The Mississippi River alone, not even the biggest river, dumps water into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of almost 600,000 cubic feet per second! Add all the other rivers to that. How do the seas not overflow? Of course, we know it is the rain cycle that prevents that. But the Preacher’s point is that this cycle has continued as long as the earth has existed. We are insignificant in the big picture. Most of us don’t change much of anything by our accomplishments, but even the greatest men and women don’t control life under the sun. Men work, live, achieve, accumulate, and die. Some are remembered in the history books, but most are forgotten quickly.

The Preacher came to this conclusion by experience. We think the Preacher is Solomon. He was the wisest and richest man on earth. 1 Kings 4 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. We usually think of his wisdom relative to ruling his people, like when he wisely settled the dispute between the two women over whose baby had died in the night. But he was also a naturalist. One can see some of that in Proverbs when he talks about ants and other animals. How would you like to be able to answer any question about any subject on earth? Solomon could, as evidenced by the visit by the Queen of Sheba. But in Ecclesiastes 1 he says that even such vast knowledge and wisdom is meaningless in the big picture. How will that knowledge and wisdom help you when you die? Men after you will always be discovering and gaining knowledge and wisdom that makes yours obsolete. So he tried riches (chapter 2). Imagine that you were rich enough to buy or build anything you wanted. But would those things mean anything to you after you die? You can’t even control how they are used or spent after you die. So he tried pleasure. Wine, women (from the men’s perspective), song, dance, laughter, orgies, sex, lust, etc. The hedonist philosophy of life. Eat, drink, and be merry. But will any of that pleasure last after you die? The pursuit of pleasure is also meaningless in the big picture. There is a time for all events that we experience under the sun (chapter 3). The Byrds made that chapter famous in the song “Turn, turn, turn”. Almost sounds like Calvinistic predestination of events, but that’s not it. The point is that events will just come and go, in cycles of sadness/laughter, etc. but those events won’t really matter in eternity.

Then he adds, Ecc 3 11 “He (God) has made everything [ap]appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, [aq]yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” The word “eternity” changes the whole picture. The ability of man to think about eternity, life after death, is what makes us different from the animals. I believe that is what is meant when God said that he made man “in his own images”. Animals experience life under the sun just as we do, but they never contemplate where they came from, or why they are here, or where they will spend eternity. All men thing about those questions at one time or another in their lives, even atheists. The Bible often speaks about the earth lasting forever, but we will not last forever on earth. So the only things that we do while on earth that really matter are the things that affect our eternal destiny, or the eternal destiny of others.

After chapter 3 the writer elaborates over and over that same these of life under the sun if vanity. He could have just gone directly to his conclusion in chapter 12 “13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” The fear of God will lead one to obey God and thus make his life under the sun meaningful as it relates to eternity. Instead he gives some logical, pointed observations that reinforce his statement about the vanity of life under the sun. I encourage you to read chapter 4-12 to see all those observations.

Some say the book is depressing. Well life under the sun on earth without a view of living for eternity is depressing. Even if you are trying to live a righteous life, the righteous often suffer while the wicked prosper, so that can be depressing also. But the author encourages the reader to enjoy life under the sun as a gift of God even while he lives for eternity. He gives hope that there is life after life under the sun.

Revelation Concluded: Part 2

I did not intend to write this article, but I just watched a movie that for some strange reason motivated me to write. The movie is “Notebook”, but not “The Notebook” that I also loved. I got in a little bit of trouble showing “The Notebook” to my Bible class at school several years ago. I thought it was a great, great movie, and that it was a tender story of a loving husband loving his alzheimer’s (I guess that was what it was) wife in her last years. I wanted the kids to see that, but I forgot that it had the sexual love story of the man when he and his wife to be were younger and not married. I just kinda overlooked that! Oh well, I still think it is a great movie! Especially in the culture our kids are raised in. I remember several years ago a preacher argued that a man could divorce his wife if she has alzheiimer’s. A preacher, mind you. Our kids hear stuff like that. Truly taking care of an alzherimer’s mate must be one of the greatest challenges that a marriage could ever face, or that a husband or wife could ever face. I hope I can learn from the example of my mother-in-law. Her husband, my wife’s dad, has alzheimer’s (or dementia or whatever; does it really matter what we call it?). He is a WWII vet, a self made man who always took care of everyone else in the family or among the neighbors or among the church members. But now he is totally dependent on his wife. As they say, we start and end life in diapers! And make a lot of poopy messes at the first, at the end, and all along the way. I think you get the picture of what she deals with. He is so dependent on her, not just physically. Although he can barely see (he has macular degeneration and can barely see, and can barely hear (a lot of his inner ear parts were taken out in “mash” ear surgery in WWII due to a fungus in his ear), he must constantly be able to see and hear her or else he becomes restless and just wonders around the house until he can find her. He is 93 and it so sad to see him as he is.

In the meantime, she is 89 and quite frail herself. She has fallen twice in the last couple of years, broke her hip and has screws in her hip, and has a lot of pain in he knee, probably due to needing a hip replacement. But she is devoted to taking care of her husband and her disabled, mentally challenged son (62 years old). She doesn’t want to do the hip replacement because she knows how agitated he gets when she is not in the house. Most women in her shape would be getting help to take care of her, instead of her helping two dependents. Her attitude amazes me every time I go to their house. Her husband will see people who aren’t even there, will poop and pee in the wrong places at times, and will say some of the strangest things at times. But she tells us about those things, and just laughs. Not laughing at him, but just laughs at the adversity she is facing. She laughs at trouble, at adversity, whereas most of us whine, cry, gripe, grumble, cuss, speak harshly, etc. She is a remarkable woman, a godly woman, who has always faced a lot of adversity in life, and has always laughed at it and overcome it. I have known her over 50 years (my wife and I are coming up on our 49th anniversary) and I have never heard her say a negative thing about someone or gripe about some trouble that she faced. She is the female counterpart to the man in “The Notebook”.

Sorry about that. The other move, “Notebook” is a foreign movie on Amazon Prime, an Indian (East Indian, not American Indian) love story with English subtitles. I am not going to elaborate on the movie, but there is a notebook that a young lady teacher keeps while she teaches for a year at a remote school of 7 children whom she loves dearly. Her notebook tells story after story of her love and her relationship with the 7 children. She doesn’t want to leave the school but has to, and a male teacher takes her place. He is not a good teacher, but comes to love the children also. He also reads her notebook, and comes to love her through the notebook, and even starts adding his own thoughts. He has to leave the school because he can’t really teach the children what they need to know. She comes back to teach the children, and reads what he has written in her notebook. I will leave the ending to your imagination, or you could watch the movie!

What in the world has this got to do with Revelation and another article on Revelation. Here’s what I am thinking. I have, in my mind, written articles on the correct interpretation of Revelation. In my mind, or is it arrogance, I have shown that the letter was written about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The letter completed God’s mystery as spoken through the prophets (10:7), and completed God’s plan of redemption. Of course the plan of redemption is centered around the cross of Jesus, and not the destruction of Jerusalem. But the destruction of Jerusalem was essential in God’s mind to show the world, once for all time, that His plan of redemption was through Jesus and the new Jerusalem, the church, and not through the old Jewish system. God knew that He had to actually remove the possibility of keeping the Law to convince people that He had changed the priesthood (Jesus is the new High Priest and all believers are priests as opposed to the Levitical priesthood), the sacrifices (Jesus’ body on the cross as opposed to animals), the covenants (a new covenant of faith as opposed to the old covenant of works), etc. There is a critical passage in Hebrews 9: 8 “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the [i]outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time”. This verse not only shows that the temple was still standing when the letter was written, but also shows that God’s plan was not finished until he removed the old temple and system of worship. The New Testament letters were written to people living in this transition period between the establishment of the church in about 30 AD (on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2), and the destruction of the temple in 70 AD by the Romans who were sent by God to avenge the blood of the apostles, prophets, and saints whom the Jewish nation had killed. We read the New Testament as if the letters were written directly to us, but they weren’t.
There are certainly principles that would apply to us, and the main message of the gospel is to be preached as long as the earth stands, but much of the New Testament does not apply directly to us.

So, more specifically, what in Revelation does apply to us. I tried to answer that in the article, “Revelation Conclusion”. But after watching the movie “Notebook”, it made me think I had missed something important in that article. I might had made all the correct intellectual arguments, but maybe I missed the love story. How does one get a love story out of the fulfillment of prophecy in the destruction of Jerusalem and the killing of over a million Jews, probably 200,000 others made captives? Maybe the answer lies in the last few verses of the last chapter. Revelation 22: 17 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost”. In chapters 21 and 22, there was the vision of the bride of the Lamb, the church. Of living water flowing from throne of God in the new Jerusalem, also the church. Of the tree of life, eternal life, available through the new system, the new covenant, that replaced the old Jewish system. Of those married to Jesus, i.e. believers, being able to see God face to face in a new way.

This is where the passionate, loving appeal of the Spirit and the bride come in. The Spirit closes this letter about the destruction of Jerusalem with a passionate plea to those who read the letter to come and drink of that living water that is now fully realized and made available to all believers for 70 AD forward. The church in the transition period (30-70 AD) could also drink of that water, but after 70 AD that living water as the source of eternal life was even more evident to all. This invitation to drink of the living water would be still standing long after the city had fallen. And it is free! Without cost! Isaiah 55:1 gave this same invitation: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost”. Isaiah was the Messianic prophet, so maybe that is why Rev 22:17 uses that same invitation.

But notice also that the bride is making the invitation to come. That is, the bride, the church of the Lamb. How does the church from 70 AD forward make this invitation? Well, the church should be about one main thing: the invitation to those who are spiritually thirsty to come and drink of the waters of eternal life and eat of the bread of life (Jesus himself; John 6). Yes, the church needs to be the “pillar of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), but mainly the church must be the loving bride of Jesus that invites the lost to come and enjoy the spiritual marital relationship that believers have with Jesus. Does the modern church really project that image? Sadly, some of the groups who do project such an image are people like the Unitarians. They just invite people to come and be a part of a loving group. They carry it so far as to say that one can come to their group and continue to be in a gay relationship, or be a Buddhist, etc. That’s not Biblical, but their appeal has some value. In contrast, I often as a former preacher and current elder, see a new family visiting at church and immediately I think, “what do we need to do and say to convince them to place membership with us?”. Or I see some lower class person come to church and I start to wonder what handout they are looking for.

Now, for the church to genuinely offer such a loving invitation to come enjoy the love they have with Jesus, that church must be built around their love for Jesus and their love for one another. Such is often not the case. Often the church is built around budgets, members gained or lost, the contribution and attendance figures, doctrinal disputes, etc. We need to ask, “do we really, really love one another?”. Do we really, really love Jesus and the Father? Is our church built around love?

So, Revelation 22:17 ends with a loving invitation to all. I will close with another thought about my mother-in-law. I drop by to fix something for her in the house, and occasionally just drop in to visit and chat for just a minute. She is always so positive and pleasant. But my wife continually is taking them to the doctor or carrying them food or checking on their health. And after my wife has visited her mom, she always sees me at our house and says, “Mom told me to tell you that she loves you!” I’m thinking, “Why would her mom even be thinking about me in the midst of all her troubles?”. Her life is so full of love that it radiates into everything she says and does. I wish I could be like that. God the Father is like that. Jesus is like that. The Spirit keeps telling us that the Father and Son love us and want us to come and drink of the living water they they have provided for those who are thirsty. The book of Revelation is indeed a love story when all is said and done! That love story is as strong for us as it was to those reading the original letter as they were actually caught up in the events that it predicted. The church today need to take that invitation the main message we are sending out. We need to get that message to as many people as we can in as many ways as we can. We need to send church contributions getting that message out in stead of spending them on ourselves. We need to reach out to the poor who are thirsty. Not all of them are thirsty. Many just want a handout, and even Jesus refused to provide more bread to such people in John 6. But many are good people who are just poor, but who want love. Then there are those children of the world who are physically thirsty, whose physical needs and circumstances are so desperate that they need our love. It’s hard to tell a child soldier in Africa, or a child prostitute, or a child dying from drinking dirty water, that the Spirit and bride want them to come and drink of the living water of the gospel until we help them with their circumstances. We have the resources to do that, but we continue spending our time, energy, and money on ourselves.

So there it is. Revelation Concluded: Part 2. Hope you enjoyed it.

Revelation Concluded

I hope you have read all of the Revelation articles. If you have, there is no need to repeat all the points. If you haven’t, I suggest you read those articles before you continue to read this article.

So, if the predictions in Revelation were completely fulfilled by 70 AD (and I believe they were), then what value is this book to us? What lessons does this book hold for us? Why should we study this book at all?

To start with, if the predictions of this book were completely fulfilled by 70 AD (and I believe that they were), then this confirms Jesus, John, and the Old Testament prophets to be true prophets of God. This also confirms the Bible to be the word of God, not men. The Old Testament prophets predicted the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. An example would be Daniel’s “abomination of desolation” in Daniel 9 and 12 that Jesus said would be fulfilled within His generation, and it was. Jesus said in Luke 21: 22 “because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled”. He was speaking of all things written in the Old Testament.

Many say that the prediction of Israel being restored to their land was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel was given statehood in the Holy Land. But Jesus said that all things that were written in the Old Testament were fulfilled by 70 AD. I think I will take Jesus’ interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies rather than that of modern day scholars. The truth is that the predictions about Israel being restored to their land were indeed fulfilled in a spiritual, not literal, sense when God redeemed the remnant of Israel who accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Paul made this point in Romans 9:6 “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel”, and 9:27 “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved”. I know that we are told that we should take the literal interpretation of the fulfillment of OT prophecies, but most of those prophecies were given in figurative language and were never intended to be interpreted literally. For example, several prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel predicted that David would be king, prince, and shepherd in the Messianic kingdom. I think almost all scholars would agree this is fulfilled in Jesus as the King of Kings and our shepherd. But then those same scholars would say that Israel being restored to their land, which is predicted in the same chapter (Ezekiel 37 for example) as the David predictions, has to be fulfilled literally. They also say it was fulfilled in 1948 by an a nation of Jews who do not accept Jesus to be the Messiah, for the most part, when Paul said the promises were fulfilled by the remnant and not the whole nation. Paul also said that those promises were fulfilled at the very time he wrote Romans 9.

In this same line of thought, Jesus predicted several times the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21, for example). His apostles predicted the same thing, and that the 2nd coming of Jesus was “at hand”, “near” (James 5:8, for example). Peter predicted that the “end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7). Paul predicted that the resurrection (as predicted in Daniel 12:2) would be fulfilled while some of those whom he was writing to at Corinth would still be alive (1 Corinthians 15:51). Hebrews 9:37 predicts that Jesus would come “in a very little while, and would not delay”. As most admit, the early Christians expected an imminent 2nd coming of Jesus within their generation, within their lifetime, and the reason they expected that is because Jesus and the apostles predicted it. All the New Testament books were written by 70 AD, and all closed their letters with some prediction of 70 AD. None mentioned the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD as an event that had been fulfilled already. Surely they would have done so so as to confirm that Jesus and the apostles were true prophets if indeed 70 AD had already occurred.

And then John gets this final vision of 70 AD in the book of Revelation. “Things shortly to come to pass”, “near”, and he even tells us that he wrote the book in the reign of Nero, the 6th emperor of Rome (Revelation 17:10), and Nero died in 68 AD. He tells us that the harlot woman Israel, also called the great city where the Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8), i.e. Jerusalem, would be burned with fire by the sea beast Rome (Revelation 17:16). He tells us that the theme of the book is the “avenging of the blood of the apostles, prophets, and saints. Rome never killed any OT prophets, but Jerusalem surely did! Jesus had predicted (Matthew 23:35,26) that the guilt of all the shed blood of all the prophets would be avenged on the generation of Jews living at the time He spoke.

So Revelation is a fitting conclusion to all the Old and New Testament prophecies. It even concludes with a new Jerusalem, the church bride of Christ, coming down to replace the old Jerusalem which the book predicted would be shortly destroyed. It is as if, almost 40 years after Jesus predicted AD 70 would happen, John picks up on the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction that was about to come true in just a few years. Some early church fathers weren’t sure that the book of Revelation was inspired because they did not understand the spiritual fulfillment of predictions in the book. Others accepted it because John an apostle wrote it (few doubted that), but still didn’t understand the book, and, like Iraneaus in the late 2nd century, still expected Jesus to return to establish a physical kingdom on earth (chiliasm, as it was called). That same false understanding has led to many failed predictions of Revelation being fulfilled at some time during the last 2,000 years since the book was written (whether it be premillennial or postmillennial). Instead, it is as if the Spirit is giving us a book that wraps up the full plan on redemption, that helps us understand God’s plan, that shows the Bible to be the word of God, and yet men’s false understanding of the book has led many to doubt the word of God and prophecies of the Bible.

Wow! That alone would be enough reason for us to study the book. But are there any other reasons? Another reason might be tied to the theme of the avenging of the blood of the apostles, prophets, and saints. The souls under the altar in the opening of the 5th seal (Revelation 6:9-11) were asking “how long before the Lord would avenge their blood”. These were probably those prophet martyrs of the Old Testament, and could include the early church martyrs killed by the non-Christian Jews (like Saul of Tarsus, who would become the apostle Paul). The book of Revelation is not an essay on the problem of evil and suffering, i.e. how could a loving, all powerful God, allow evil and suffering. How could such a God allow His people to be martyred as they were? God even tells those martyrs that He was going to allow more martyrs to die in the next “little while” (Rev 6:11). Why would God sit back and allow more martyrs to die when He could have stopped it? Revelation doesn’t answer that question. But it does assure the readers of two things. One is that He will one day avenge their blood and punish those who killed them (i.e. the wicked Jewish nation). Secondly is that all martyrs will be cared for and rewarded by being around the throne of God and the Lamb, and that all their tears will be wiped away in eternal life after death. Isn’t that enough for us when we think about the problem of evil and suffering? The souls under the altar just needed to trust God, and so do we. We are not persecuted for our faith in the U.S. as Christians are in many countries, so this point might not be as pertinent to us as it is to them. But don’t you know that a family in another country today who has had their husband, father, and brother killed by radical Muslims can find comfort in this point? Don’t you know that martyrs burned at the stake for their faith over the last 2,000 years took comfort in this point? John makes this point in some of the messages to the 7 churches in chapters 2 and 3. He says they will be persecuted and suffer for their faith, but that they will be rewarded if they endure, even to the point of death if necessary. They would then read the rest of the letter and find comfort.

In another article on this blog, I pointed out that the messages to the 7 churches also had a relevance to us today. That is another great reason to study Revelation. Maybe, as the article points out, “7” was a symbolic number of churches chosen to represent all churches of all ages since 70 AD in general. There were several type of churches and stages of faithfulness, or lack thereof, in those messages to the 7 churches in chapters 2 and 3. Even if someone didn’t understand the predictions of Revelation, he/she might see his/her church to be the same type of church as the lukewarm church at Laodicea, or the doctrinally correct but love lacking church at Ephesus, or one of the other churches. Reading those messages to the 7 churches might spur me or my church to repentance, or strengthen our faith if facing persecution, or excite us about new challenges and opportunities that God might give us (the church at Philadelphia). It might spur us to examine some of our tolerance of false teachers and teachings, and liberalism that encourages Christians to openly live in sin while claiming the grace of God (like the Nicolatians that some of the churches tolerated). That is so relevant today as we find churches tolerating same sex marriage and homosexuality. Can you imagine the message the Spirit would give to such a church today if He were to speak through a prophet? But He doesn’t need to condemn such teaching through a prophet today. He condemned it in the messages to the 7 churches, and that condemnation still stands 2,000 years later.

Another reason for studying the book is the picture of the spiritual blessings of the church, Jesus’ bride, as found in chapter 22. No more curse of sin, drinking of the water of life, seeing God by faith, bearing fruit continuously, etc. John Milton wrote Paradise Lost, but he also wrote Paradise Restored. Man lost Paradise in the Garden of Eden due to sin, but Revelation 22 gives a picture of that Paradise restored spiritually in the church that Jesus built and that has existed for 2,000 years. That church is commissioned to bring in converts from all the nations to enjoy the spiritual blessings therein. Those who say that chapters 21 and 22 haven’t been fulfilled yet are leaving believers in a state of limbo, still waiting for God to restore Paradise. Or they may say that it will be restored in a restored physical earth in the future, which is simply not what the Bible teaches. They say that Romans 8:18 teaches that the earth and creation will be restored physically some day, but that same verse says that this glory was “about to be” (the Greek word mello which always means “about to” of time or distance) revealed. Revelation 22 is such a great way for the Spirit to conclude the canon of the Bible, and should be an encouragement to us here and now, something all believers since 70 AD can experience and enjoy.

One final reason to study the book might be the fate of the dragon (Satan), the sea beast (Rome), and the earth beast (the Jewish false prophets and messiahs). After God had finished using them to accomplish His purpose, which was to destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD and to avenge the blood of the apostles, prophets, and saints, He cast them into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. This was to happen shortly after the writing of the book. We might wonder Rome could destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD and yet be itself be cast into that lake. This is truly a spiritual fulfillment. Do you remember the princes of Persia and Greece who were hindering God’s plan being revealed to Daniel (Daniel 10)? Do you remember that Jesus said that Satan was the prince of this world because he controls the rulers of this world for the most part? Paul said that part of Jesus’ mission was to destroy all the evil powers that be, and that would include the rulers of all evil kingdoms of all time. Rome was not physically destroyed in 70 AD, but Satan’s prince who ruled it was judged and the kingdom of Christ was elevated above all kingdoms. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His [j]Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” This was the fulfillment of the great prediction of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13 being anointed as the eternal king of kings over God’s eternal kingdom, the church, that was to be established in the days of the Roman Empire. You know, the one Jesus referred to when He predicted that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, to be established while some he was speaking to would be still alive (Mark 9:1).

And what about Satan being cast into the lake of fire, destroyed forever? This could simply mean that Satan’s power would be destroyed in the life of a believer once God completed the plan of redemption in 70 AD. The last enemy was death, and death had power through sin and the Law. In 70 AD, God removed all doubt about the Law of Moses and the old covenant. God was finished with that old system and had replaced it with a new system. It is not coincidental that the temple has never been rebuilt, nor that animal sacrifices and the priesthood of the Levites ended at 70 AD. Satan’s power to kill, using the Law, ended at 70 AD. But there might be an even more amazing meaning to Satan’s eternal fate. It might just be that Satan is annihilated forever, no longer free to roam the earth. That surely coincides with the fact that we don’t have demonic possession as was common in the early years of the church before 70 AD, though some would claim such still exists. But, you might ask, don’t we still have sin? How could that be if Satan and his angels have been annihilated or at least cast in to the lake of fire forever, no longer free to tempt us? James answers that question. He says that sin comes from within, from our lusts (James 1). We don’t need Satan to have sin and evil. The seed of sin has been planted by Satan and will tempt humans to sin as long as the earth exists. Plus, surely we don’t believe that Satan is some omnipresent being who personally is tempting billions of people on earth to sin all at the same time, do we? Some might think I have really lost it to make this last point, but it could be valid.

I hope this last concluding article to Revelation study has been beneficial. Thank you for reading it and I hope that all my articles will help you understand and appreciate the book of Revelation. It is still relevant!!!!!!

Revelation 21-22

We have seen that Revelation begins (ch 1) and ends (ch 22) saying that the things predicted in the book will happen shortly after the time that John wrote the letter. Then in ch 17 we saw that the letter was written while Nero, the 6th emperor of Rome, was still living. He died in 68 AD, so the book was written before 68 AD. We have seen that the theme of the book is the “avenging of the blood of the apostle, prophets, and saints (ch 18). We have seen that the “great city” is where the Lord Jesus was crucified (11:8), and is the same as the woman (17:19), which is the same as “Babylon” that fell (ch 17,18). Thus, the great city, Babylon, is Jerusalem, not Rome as many have thought. We have seen the wrath of God poured out on the old Jerusalem in 70 AD as the sea beast Rome turned on the harlot woman Jerusalem and “burned her with fire” (ch 17).

So it is sequential that ch 21 begins with a “new Jerusalem” coming down out of heaven to replace the “old Jerusalem” that has been destroyed in 70 AD. This new Jerusalem is described as the “bride of the Lamb”. This obviously refers to the church of the new covenant, which is described as the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22), the “bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5:22; 2 Corinthians 11:2). This new Jerusalem is not a physical city, but a spiritual one, the very body of Christ, the church. This new Jerusalem replaces the old Jerusalem soon after the letter is written, so it is not predicting a rebuilding of the physical city of Jerusalem at some time in our future, a many have predicted. Jesus never came to establish a physical kingdom built around the physical city of Jerusalem, as was the case under the old covenant. Under the old covenant, the Jewish nation was God’s chosen nation, but under the new covenant, the church is God’s chosen nation (1 Peter 2:9), a spiritual kingdom made up of Jewish and Gentile believers of all nations and ages since the establishment of the church in the book of Acts.

Ch 21 also says that the old heavens and earth passed away, obviously at the same time that the old Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. The old heavens and earth was replaced by a new heavens and earth, and that had to happen shortly after the writing of the letter. Obviously the physical heavens and earth were not destroyed shorting after John wrote the letter, so it it is talking about that. We conclude that is symbolic of a new order of things in the Messianic Age. The old heavens and earth would be the old Jewish order of things under the old covenant, and the new heavens and earth would the the new order of things under the new covenant in the Messianic Age. Since the destruction of the old heavens and earth is not a physical destruction of the heavens and earth, the replacement new heavens and earth is not a physical thing. The new Jerusalem is called a “heavenly Jerusalem”, so this fits a new heavenly spiritual order of things. Isaiah had predicted a new heavens and earth with a new Jerusalem with no more weeping or crying (Isaiah 65:17-19), and that this new heavens and earth would endure forever (66:22). Isaiah connects the new Jerusalem with the new heavens and earth. Since the new Jerusalem is the church, we expect the new heavens and earth of Isaiah to be a spiritual fulfillment also. Peter must be referring to this promise in 2 Peter 3:13 of a new heavens and new earth. The only place in the Old Testament that predicts a new heavens and earth is in Isaiah 65,66. But is Peter in 2 Peter 3 predicting a physical destruction of the old heavens and earth at some time in our future, yet to be fulfilled? Is he predicting that the elements of the earth will be physically destroyed and that God will then rebuild the heavens and earth with a new physical heavens and earth? Many have taught that, but Peter in 2 Peter 3 is predicting the destruction of the old Jewish system, the old heavens and earth, and replacing it with the new order of things in the Messianic system of the new covenant. He is predicting the same thing as John did in Revelation 21. But doesn’t it say that the “elements will be burned up”? Yes, but study the Greek word for “elements”. It is used several times in the New Testament and it always refers to the elemental rules of the Law or of pagan religions. It never refers to the physical elements of the earth, such as Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, etc. 2 Peter 3 is a symbolic description of the destruction of the old Jewish system in 70 AD and replacing it with the new Messianic system. The context of 1 and 2 Peter demands this interpretation also. In 1 Peter 4:7, Peter had predicted that the “end of all things is near”. If he was predicting that the end and destruction of the physical earth was near at the time of writing, then he was a false prophet since that did not occur. If he was predicting that the end of the Jewish system was near, then that was fulfilled in 70 AD and he was a true prophet, and that is the case. So he follows up that 1st letter shortly thereafter with the 2nd letter. His prediction of the destruction of the old heavens and earth in 2 Peter 3 would have to fit the time frame of 1 Peter 4:7, “the end of all things is near”. If not, then the end of all things was near but the end of the old heavens and earth would not be near (still left to be fulfilled even today). The 1st and 2nd letter cannot contradict themselves. If 2 Peter 3 does not predict a physical destructon of the heavens and earth, then does the Bible even predict such an event. Not to my knowledge. Several passsages state that the heavens and earth will endure forever. I’m sure God could decide to change His mind in the future and destroy this earth, but the Bible just doesn’t predict such an event. So it is very important to study 2 Peter 3 as we study Revelation 21:1 and the passing of the old heavens and earth, i.e. the old Jewish system and order.

21:3 also says that, after the destruction of the old Jerusalem, the tabernacle of God would be among men and that God would dwell among men. Ezekiel had predicted that when the Messiah would come that God would then dwell among His people and that His sanctuary would be in their midst forever (Ezekiel 37:27,28). That sanctuary would be the same as the tabernacle that John saw in Revelation 21. The tabernacle of the old covenant contained the Holy of Holies where God dwelt on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. That of course was a symbolic thing because we know God dwells in his temple in the heavens (Revelation 14:17), and Stephen said that God did not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 7:48). So we conclude that this tabernacle among men in Rev 21 is the dwelling of God in His church. We are familiar with the fact that the New Testament tells us that God dwelt in the Christians through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and that indwelling was tangible, visible proof that God’s presence was, and still is, in Christians. This is a spiritual indwelling, since, again, God’s actual presence fills the universe.

In this new Jerusalem and tabernacle among men there will be no more crying, death, or pain. Often this has been interpreted as heaven itself, but this actually refers to the spiritual blessings of being in God’s church right here on earth in the Messianic Age (which has been here since the book of Acts). Passages like Isaiah 35:10 predict that in the church we will have everlasting joy and “sorrow and sighing” will flee away. Isaiah 25:8 predicts that in the Messianic Age death will be swallowed up and God will wipe away all tears from all faces. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:52ff that some of those he was writing to would still be alive when this passage was fulfilled and when death would be swallowed up in victory. “No more death, crying, or pain” therefore refers to the spiritual state of joy for Christians even though they may shed tears, feel pain, and die. Now heaven will be a continuation of that joy, even removing physical pain, crying, and death, but Revelation 21:4 is talking about God’s church on earth, not heaven.

One of the angels who had had the 7 bowls of wrath shows John another vision of the new Jerusalem, the bride of the lamb (again, the church). This vision is of a great city, with walls with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, and foundation stones with the names of the 12 apostles of Jesus. The new covenant church began as a Jewish Christian church and its foundation was the apostles (Ephesians 2:20), although the chief corner stone of that foundation was Jesus, of course. There were many precious stones in this city, and streets of gold. Again, this refers to the church, the new Jerusalem that replaced the old Jerusalem in 70 AD. Many times preachers have taught us that it refers to streets of gold in heaven, but that is not the case. This description is similar to Ezekiel’s prediction of a new Messianic temple in Ezekiel 40-48, which is also symbolic of the building of the church, not some physical temple on earth. Zechariah 6:12 says that the branch Jesus would build the temple of the Lord, i.e. the church, the tabernacle of Rev 21.

21:22 makes a significant statement that in this new Jerusalem there would be no temple because God and the Lamb are its temple. This can only mean that there will be no physical temple in this new Jerusalem in the Messianic Age. Of course, we have already seen that God dwells in His church, the tabernacle, the temple, and so there is no need or desire for a physical temple any longer. Oh how this contradicts the teaching of so many who expect the physical temple to be rebuilt some day! There will be no need for the sun or moon because the glory of God illuminates it and the Lamb is its lamp (Jesus is the light of the world). There is no night there and the gates will never be closed (again, symbolic of the church). The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into this new Jerusalem. We are reminded of the several times when Isaiah predicts that the nations, the Gentiles, will be brought in to the church on equal footing with the Jews in the church. Those Christian converts from among the Gentiles are the glory of the nations! Isaiah 66 predicts the destruction of the old Jerusalem and the establishment of the new Jerusalem, and says that brethren from the nations will be brought into the new Jerusalem and will be made priests and Levites. This can only refer to the church where all Jew and Gentile Christians are priests.

In ch 22 there is a river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God in this new Jerusalem church. This river is predicted by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 47 and 48. The tree of life that was lost in the Garden of Eden is restored, bearing fruit year round and for the spiritual healing of the nations. There will no more curse, for as Galatians 3 tells us, Jesus bore the curse of sin for us by dying on the cross. Those in this new Jerusalem church will see God’s face. While that might sound literal, we know that no one can see the face of God in its fullest. Instead, with God dwelling in us, we can see the face of God spiritually through faith through this new indwelling relationship with God, a new intimacy with Him. This is not talking about heaven some day, but the here and now in the church. The saints in the church will reign forever and ever in eternal life. As per the article on Revelation 20, the 1000 year reign refers symbolically to the 40 year period between the establishment of the church in 30 AD and the destruction of the old Jerusalem and the old heavens and earth in 70 AD. The saints reigned during that time, and at the end of the 1000 years, Satan is released and allowed to bring Gog and Magog, i.e. the Roman army, to surround the holy city Jerusalem and attack it. Since this is still things to happen shortly after the time of writing, it can only refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The end of the 1000 year reign must be before 70 AD when Satan is released. But notice that in Revelation 22:5 the saints will reign forever. This is an accurate description of the reigning of the martyrs after 70 AD. They will reign for a 40 year period but then after 70 AD, they will continue to reign and forever. We have that promise to reign forever in eternal life after we die also.

As we have repeated often, the last chapter ends just as it began: the time was near for the fulfillment of the predictions in this book, including chapters 21 and 22. I highly recommend reading the book, The Parousia, by James Steward Russell (you can read it online free). The author, even in the late 1800’s, accurately understand the fulfillment of all prophecy and would agree with everything I have written about Revelation being fulfilled in 70 AD. But then, for some strange reason, he says that Revelation 21 and 22 were not fulfilled in 70 AD, but would be fulfilled later after 70 AD (going on 2,000 years now “later” and still unfulfilled). I can’t imagine why he left the context and took that view on the last two chapters of Revelation.

In chapter 22, Jesus also says that He is “coming quickly”. This coming is obviously connected with the prediction of the destruction of the old Jerusalem in 70 AD. In Matthew 24 Jesus predicts the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple with the lifetime of the generation of Jews to whom he was speaking, i.e. 70 AD, but He also refers to that event as His coming in the clouds with the moon turning to blood, etc. That kind of figurative language is used several times in the Old Testament, not of the literal turning of the moon into blood, but of the judgment of nations like Babylon. Thus Revelation is not only predicting the destruction of the old Jerusalem in 70 AD, but is also predicting an imminent coming of Jesus to judge the Jews in 70 AD. Of course, the preterist position shows that the 2nd coming of Jesus as predicted by Jesus and the apostles was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus in judgement on the Jews in 70 AD using the Romans to do His avenging of the blood of the apostles, prophets, and saints. Some say that Jesus coming “quickly” only refers to a sudden coming and not an imminent one at the time of writing. But notice the context in Rev 21:12: His coming quickly was to either punish the evil Jews and to reward the faithful Jews, and that occurred soon, in 70 AD. The predictions of Revelation are not to be sealed. That is significant. Daniel made several predictions of 70 AD and the abomination of desolation, i.e. the destruction of the the temple, and the end of the Jewish age in 70 AD. But at the end of the book of Daniel, he is told to seal up the predictions because there will be about 600 years before they will be fulfilled. But Rev 21:10 John is told not to seal up the predictions of Revelation, which fits the statements about things shortly to come to pass, near.

The book closes with an invitation from the Spirit and the bride to come and drink freely of the water of life. John Milton wrote Paradise Lost, and then he wrote Paradise Restored. Genesis 1-3 is Paradise Lost, and Revelation 21-22 is Paradise restored. Not a restoration of a physical Garden or a renewed earth as many others predict, but a spiritual restoration of the tree of life for all believers in the spiritual new Jerusalem, the church of Jesus Christ, in a spiritual kingdom. That has been made available to all believers since God completed his plans and predictions in 70 AD. It bothers me greatly when Bible scholars interpret the book of Revelation as some physical renewal of the earth some day in the future. That view takes away from the spiritual fullness of the blessings we have in the new Jerusalem today. It encourages believers to put their hope in something physical in the future instead of the spiritual that we already have. It encourages them to be constantly trying to figure out world events trying to see how they might be fulfilled prophecies (which they are not). It encourages many to give financial support to the unbelieving state of Israel as if they are a vital part of God’s future plans (which they are not). God loves all people, and He loves all unbelieving Jews and wants them to become Christians. But in Matthew 21:43 Jesus said that the kingdom of God would be taken from the Jewish nation in 70 AD and given to a nation that would produce fruit for God, which can only refer to the spiritual nation, the church, of 1 Peter 2:9. Read Matthew 21:43 and see if it doesn’t say very clearly what I just stated.

I guess that concludes my blog article on Revelation. I hope the study has helped you understand this book. I believe that the early readers understood it, and I believe we can understand what they understood. We might not be able to interpret every single verse, and some of the symbolic language is difficult to interpret, but we can easily interpret the main thrust of the book. I don’t think the correct interpretation of Revelation is a matter of heaven and hell, but I do think it is a very important study.

Revelation 14-16

I grouped these 3 chapter together because they seem to be connected. John first sees the 144,000 (ch 14) on Mt. Zion, singing a new song. We identified the 144,000 in ch 7 as the faithful dead saints of the Old Testament. The number is symbolic of 12 X 12 X 1,000. 12 is the number of the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 apostles, etc. The 1000 symbolizes “immensity, fullness of quantity”, as in Psalm 50:10, God owns the cattle on a 1,000 hills (He owns that cattle on all the hills but 1,000 is symbolic of that). Look at all the uses of the number 1000 from this site. It is obvious that the number often is symboic, not literal, and refers to a large number of persons or a long period of time. Remember this when we get to ch 20 and the 1000 year binding of Satan and reign of Christ. These 144,000 are in heaven with the Lamb. It says that they are virgin men, blameless. That is obviously symbolic, not literal, unless you want to say that only the virgin men of the entire Old Covenant made it to heaven. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed that their members, starting with the establishment of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1914, were the 144,000. So they said the number was literal, but they ignored the virgin men part. Both the number and the virgin men part are symbolic.

3 angels are pictured as flying in the mid heaven. The first is preaching the gospel to the nations and announcing a coming judgment. That would be the judgment on the Jews in 70 AD, which is the theme of this book. The second is announcing the fall of Babylon, which we will see refers to Jerusalem in ch 17 and 18 (read the article on ch 17). The third warns that anyone who worships the beast, i.e. Rome,the sea beast of ch 13, and who has the mark (666) of the beast will receive the full wrath of God. In ch 13 we read that the mark of the beast, 666, allowed someone who worshipped the Roman emperors to participate in the trade guilds.

A voice from heaven says that the faithful who die from that time on will actually be blessed and allowed to rest from their labors. There will be more martys after the writing of this book. John then sees the Son of Man (Jesus) on a cloud with a sickle with which he swung and reaped the earth. The sickle gathers the grapes on the earth and cast them into the great wine press of the wrath of God, creating a massive flow of blood (200 miles: again a symboic number). Perhaps this reminds us of Ezekiel’s picture of the nation of Israel as a vineyard of worthless grapes.

Ch 15 introduces the 7 angels with 7 plagues, which are the “last”, which will “finish the wrath of God”. So these 7 plagues will be the very last events predicted by John, finishing the wrath God poured out on the Jews in 70 AD. Before those 7 plagues are poured out, John sees a sea of glass. Standing on the sea are those victorious over the beast, and they are singing the “song of Moses and the Lamb”. The song of Moses was sung by the Israelites after their crossing o the Red Sea as they watched God destroy the Egyptians in the sea. But this group on the sea have not worshiped the beast Rome, and have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, so their song includes the Lamb.

John then sees the temple of God in heaven opened. The true temple of God has always been the heavens where God dwells and not some structure on earth such as the one Solomon built. As Stephen said in Acts 7, God does not dwell in temples made with hands. 7 angels come out of the temple and are given 7 bowls of wrath to pour out on the earth. The first 5 bowls are poured out on those who worshiped the beast Rome, i.e. the Jews. The 6th bowl is poured out on the River Euphrates, drying it up, allowing the kings from the east to cross over. This is an illusion to the Assyrians and Babylonians who came from the easst to conquer Israel in the Old Testament.

John then sees 3 demonic spirits coming out of the dragon (Satan), the beast (the sea beast Rome in ch 13), and the false prophet (the earth beast in ch 13, the Jewish false prophets who persuaded the Jews to worship Rome). These demonic spirits perform signs to convince those on the earth to worship the beast (just what we read of the earth beast in ch 13). They convince them to gather for the war of the great day of God at Har-Mageddon. This is not the 1998 song by Apocalyptica. This is better known as Armageddon. It refers to the gathering of the Roman army to destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD (Revelation 20:8,9). It is called Armageddon because Megiddo was a town and plain southwest of the Sea of Galilee. In Judges 4 and 5, God’s enemies were defeated at Megiddo. King Ahab of Israel built fortifications there to stop invading armies from passing through Israel. King Josiah of Judah fought the Egyptians at Megiddo. It is symbolic of the place where God’s enemies met defeat, and in Revelation it refers to Jerusalem where God’s enemies would meet defeat (the dragon, the sea beast Rome, the earth beast Jewish false prophets, and the ungodly Jewish nation).

The 7th bowl is poured out with lightning, earthquakes, 100 pound hailstones, splitting the “great city” apart. 11:8 had already identified the “great city” as where the Lord was crucified, i.e. Jerusalem. It is also called Babylon, symbolic that the Jewish nation had become as wicked as the ancient empire of Babylon. After the 7th bowl is poured out, a voice from heaven cries out, “It is done”, so this plague terminates the predictions of the book and refers to the final destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

These 3 chapters seem to be connected, picturing the last events before the actual destruction of the city of Jerusalem and temple in 70 AD. They are filled with symbolism, but the event is clear, i.e. the last battle of Armageddon at Jerusalem in 70 AD. Remember, ch 1 and ch 22 tells us that the events predicted in this book were to occur shortly after the time of writing. Ch 17 will tell us clearly that the book was written while Nero, the 6th emperor of Rome, was living (read the article on ch 17), so it was written before Nero died in 68 AD. The famous battle of Armageddon had to occur shortly after the book was written, and that fits perfectly the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It amazes me to read all the “end-time” predictions of Armageddon made by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and numerous others. They tell us it will be a great battle in our future in which the enemies of God will be defeated. They give specific predictions as to who will be engaged in this battle and how it will begin the 1000 year reign of Christ (read the article on Revelation 20 and the 1000 year reign of Christ). Many of them say it will happen in our lifetime, just as countless end time false prophets had predicted over the last 2,000 years since Revelation was written. The battle of Armageddon occurred in 70 AD. It is done. It is finished. The predictions of Revelation have already been fulfilled in 70 AD. The sad thing is that the false prophets make a lot of money and lead many astray, and yet the folly of their false predictions is only seen years after they are dead. It is urgent that we teach the book of Revelation correctly. I hope this study helps you understand the book!

Job and the problem of suffering and evil.

Job 40:1 Then the Lord said to Job, “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.”Then Job answered the Lord and said, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth. “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;
Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”

Job 42:1 Then Job answered the Lord and said,“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”

You are probably familiar with the suffering Job endured. First, the loss of all his possessions and his children. Then, terrible pain from boils all over his body. At first, he handled all that well. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”. “How can we accept good from the Lord and not accept the bad also”. But then (ch 3) he wished he had never been born, or that he had been still born, and cursed the day he was born. When his 3 friends tried to tell him that his suffering must be the result of sins that he had done, he defended himself vigorously, saying that he had helped the poor and done nothing worthy of such suffering. But he also started claiming that he was not being treated fairly by God. He called for an arbitrator to step in between him and God to determine the fairness of his case.

That’s when God finally spoke out of a whirlwind. God rebuked Job for contending or arguing with God, for accusing God of not treating him fairly. He never told Job why He had allowed Satan to do all these evil, cruel things to him. He basically put Job in his place by asking him if he had been present when God created all the animals, stars, things of nature, etc. In other words, “who do you think you are to complain to Me like you are complaining?”

That’s when Job made the replies to God in ch 40 and 42 as shown above. He realizes that he has gone too far in criticizing God. He realizes that He is insignificant compared to God and should not be speaking so boldly to God. He realizes that he has been questioning God’s actions when he doesn’t have a right to, nor does he understand why God allows such suffering and evil as had happened to him. Those things are too wonderful for him to possibly understand because he can’t know God’s mind, and he simply needs to trust God during suffering and evil.

I have studied many discussions on the problem of evil and suffering. That is probably the number one reason that many atheists use to say why they don’t believe in God. You know the very early argument: a loving God who is all powerful would simply not allow evil and suffering to exist, especially in the horrific extremes that it exists such as genocides, tsunamis, famines, plagues, brutal dictatorships, torture, terrorism, rape, murder, etc.

I had read all the arguments defending God allowing evil and suffering. Some point out that God created man with freedom of choice and must allow evil consequences of our choices or even the choices of others. Or that the earth was cursed because of sin in the garden. Or that God wants to test us or humble us. Or the argument that no one can even say what is evil if there is no God or no divine moral code of right and wrong (i.e. who can say that what Hitler did is wrong if there is not a God who determines what he did to be wrong). Or someone will point out all the good things that can come when we suffer with faith instead of doubt, such as proven character, tested and proved faith, more hope for eternal life, an example for others who suffer (as Job’s example was for us), to make us stronger, to draw us closer to God, etc.

All those arguments are valid, but let’s go back to the story of Job. Notice that God did not make any of the arguments I just listed. He did not to convince or show Job the benefits of suffering. God just put him in His place and said “trust Me” during your suffering. Trust Me that I know what I am doing when I allow you to suffer. Trust me that even though it is painful that I will somehow in the end make it right, that I will make it better. And of course He did that by rewarding Job even in his lifetime with double the possessions and with more children. Now God doesn’t always reward faithful sufferers in this lifetime. Many faithful sufferers die for their faith and never see their reward until after death in heaven. The souls under the altar cried out from heaven for vengeance, so they died painful deaths without reward in this life. Lazarus the beggar did not get his reward for suffering in poverty at the hands of the rich man until after death. Stephen and many of the prophets died without reward in this life. I often wondered why God rewarded Job with replenishing his assets and children at the end of the story instead of letting him die in pain and with nothing. I think it was to show that God did reward faithful suffering, even though the reward might not come in this life for other sufferers (but they will be rewarded).

So I think we try to rationalize and use logic too much to discuss the problem of suffering and evil. There is a sufficient amount of evidence that God does exist: from the cosmological argument (you can’t get something from nothing), the argument from design (of the universe, of the human body, of the periodic table, of the cell), the moral argument (God put a conscience in us), etc. In Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. A person has no excuse for not believing that there is a supreme being, a God who created everything, a designer. There is ample evidence that this God is a loving God as revealed in His book to us, the Bible. He is just and must punish sin, but He is a loving God who wants the best for us and has prepared an eternity of happiness and bliss. That amount of evidence for the existence of an all powerful, loving, God cannot be ignored or refuted whether we figure out why God allows suffering and evil or not. The existence of suffering and evil might make us have doubts (as Habakkuk did) or questions, but it can’t take away our faith that there is a God. You either believe in God and trust Him during suffering or you don’t. Faith and trust in God is the answer to the problem of suffering and evil, not logic and rational arguments. It’s fine to discuss those arguments, but remember the story of Job. God could have told Job all about why He allowed Satan to do evil things to him, but he didn’t. So who are we to keep trying to figure out the mind of God on why He allows suffering and evil? Who are we to keep trying to come up with the perfect answers to give to all those who question the existence of God because of suffering and evil? We need to spend more time trying to show them the proof that there is a God, to ground them in the faith that there is a God, instead of trying to give them that perfect, logical argument as to why God allows suffering.

In conclusion, one verse comes to mind. Hebrews 11:And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Wow! Doesn’t that verse sum up everything I have tried to say in this long article? Many of the great heroes in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 suffering many things. Most of them did not get their reward in this life. Their suffering did not cause them to lose their faith in God. The Hebrews writer said that they simply needed to believe that God exists, and that He will eventually reward them. They don’t need to understand why God allowed them to suffer. They just needed to believe God would reward them for their suffering. What a great verse to end with!!!!!!!!!! I hope this article strengthens your faith in God, especially if you are suffering or doubting God.

Revelation 13 The Two Beasts!

In chapter 13, we are introduced to something new that is really something old. We are introduced to two beasts: a sea beast and an earth beast. Who are they? Let’s start with the sea beast. He has 7 heads and 10 horns. He has characteristics of a leopard, a bear, and a lion. The dragon Satan gives him his power to get the earth to worship him. One of his heads is slain but his fatal wound was healed. He blasphemes God and is given power to act for 42 months.

While all this might sound strange and mysterious to us, I don’t believe it was so to the first readers of this vision. They key to identifying this beast is Daniel 7. Daniel saw 4 beasts in Daniel 7: a lion (Babylon), a bear (Media-Persia), a leopard (Greece and Alexander), and an iron beast with 10 horns (Rome). An 11th horn arises after that and blasphemes God and does great harm to the saints. He will be called the “little horn”. The Jewish Christians would have been very familiar with Daniel 7. In Daniel 2, Daniel had interpreted the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw to be: the head of gold (Babylon), the chest of silver (Media-Persia), the thighs of bronze (Greece), and legs of iron (Rome). In the days of the 4th kingdom, the iron one, God would set us his eternal kingdom and put the Son of Man as king over that kingdom forever (Daniel 7:13). 600 years later, Jesus and John the Baptist came preaching, “the kingdom is at hand”. Rome was the ruling kingdom at that time and therefore we conclude that Rome was the iron legs of the statue. We also conclude that Rome was the iron beast of Daniel 7. Putting all this together would have been easy for the believers of Jesus. The sea beast must be the Roman Empire. They would have been very familiar with the pressure they faced to worship the emperor as god. The Jewish non-Christians actually offered a daily sacrifice to the emperor in the temple to appease the emperor. They did they up to 67 AD when they stopped that sacrifice, which Josephus says was the beginning of the wars of the Jews, the rebellion of the Jews against Rome that led to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

No doubt the “power to act for 42 months” refers to the period from 67-70 AD when the Romans killed thousands of Jews and then Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. No doubt this is the same 42 months in Revelation 11:2 during which the nations (Rome) would be allowed to tread under foot the holy city (Jerusalem) for 42 months. No doubt this is what Jesus was predicting in Luke 21:24 when he said that Jerusalem would be “trampled under foot” by the Gentile nations.

So what are the 7 heads and 10 horns? We go to Revelation 17 to identify the 7 heads. Revelation 17:9-10 says that the 7 heads are 7 kings of the beast that the harlot woman is riding on in 17:3. 5 of the kings “had fallen”, and 1 “is”, and 1 is yet to come and will remain for a little while but is the 7th head, and then there an 8th who will be “one of the 7”. The wording here can only refer to the emperors of the beast, Rome, that the woman is riding on. It is so specific. The first 5 emperors of Rome had already died and the 6th was reigning the time John wrote this letter. While some say that Augustus was the first emperor, there is no doubt whom the Jews considered to be the first king of Rome, i.e. Julius Caesar. Josephus, who lived in the 1st century, several times says clearly that Augustus was the 2nd king of Rome. So the first 5 would be Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Calilula, and Claudius. The 6th king would be Nero, the one who “is”, i.e. the one reiging at the time John wrote the letter. He reigned from 54-68 AD. Thus John wrote this letter while Nero was still alive. He wrote it before 68 AD when Nero died. But who are the 7th and the 8th? After Nero died, 3 emperors (Galba, Otho, and Vitellus) reigned for less than one year total, and are considered insignificant by John. Thus the 7th king would actually be Vespasian, the 10th emperor of Rome, but the 7th head in Revelation 13 (if you disregard the 7th, 8th, and 9th. Vespasian was the general sent to squelch the Jewish rebellion in 67 AD, and he killed thousands of the Jewish rebels until he heard that Nero had died and he began making plans to become emperor, and he did become emperor in 69 AD. He then sent his son Titus to finish putting down the Jewish rebellion, and it was Titus who destroyed the temple and the city in 70 AD. No doubt, the “8th” in Revelation 13 is Titus, who was not an emperor at the time he destroyed the temple, but would become an emperor later in 79 AD. Thus Titus could be considered as “one of the 7 heads”.

So who are the 10 horns? Daniel 7 said that the iron beast, Rome, had 10 horns. But an 11th horn, a “little horn”, arose after the 10, and blasphemed God and did harm to the saints. The 10 horns would be the first 10 emperors of Rome (Julius Caesar through Vespasian, this time including Galba, Otho, and Vitellus. The 11th horn would be Titus, a “little horn” because he was not yet an emperor when he killed thousands of Jewish “saints”. This fits in with Revelation 13 and the 8th head is Titus, not yet officially a head but given the same status as the first 7 heads or kings.

So who is the head that was fatally wounded and yet was healed? Tacitus and other historians mention that many thought that Nero was not dead, or that “false Neros” arose after his death. Thus, Titus could be the image here of a resurrected Nero since Titus finished the work Nero started, i.e. the squelching of the Jewish rebellion, killing thousands of Jews in the process.

Am I arrogant to think that I have interpreted all this correctly? I don’t think so. This is sound Biblical logic. This interpretation fits perfectly with the fact that in Revelation 1 and 22 John said the predictions in the book would occur soon. The internal evidence of 13:9 that the book was written during the reign of Nero who died in 69 AD is undeniable, in spite of what many thing Ireneaus said in the late 2nd century. I will take this early pre-70 AD dating of the book based on internal evidence instead of the late date of 96 AD taken from Ireneaus.

In Revelation 17, who is the woman who was riding on the Roman beast with the 7 king heads? That’s not hard to figure out either. 17:16-19 is the key. The 10 horns of the Roman beast that the harlot woman if riding on turn on the woman and burn her with fire. And this is part of God’s plan! It then says that the harlot woman is the “great city”. So if we can identify the “great city”, then we can identify the woman, and we can! Revelation 11:8 says that the “great city” is where “the Lord was crucified”. This can only refer to Jerusalem being the great city where Jesus was crucified! Thus, in 17:19 the woman is the same as the great city of 11:8, i.e. Jerusalem. It is easy to see why many interpreted the “great city” to be Rome, not Jerusalem, since Rome was the capital of the empire, but this internal evidence shows us that the great city was Jerusalem, not Rome. Plus, the woman was a harlot drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. That fits Jerusalem. In Matthew 23, Jesus had predicted that the blood of the prophets, saints, and apostles that had been shed by the rebellious Jewish nation would be avenged “in that generation”. She was a harlot because the unbelieving Jewish nation had committed spiritual adultery, just as the Jews had done so vividly described in Ezekiel 16 and 23. The Jewish nation was God’s “bride” who turned after other gods and became a “spiritual harlot”. The name “Babylon” is written on the woman’s head in Revelation 17. The Jewish nation had become as wicked as the ancient city of Babylon. Revelation 18 is devoted to the fall of Babylon the great. There Babylon will be “burned with fire” (18:8), just as predicted in 17:9-10. Twice, in 18:20 and in 18:24 it says that the “blood of the apostles, prophets, and saints” will be avenged when Babylon is destroyed. This is actually the theme of the book of Revelation. Babylon, the name of the woman’s forehead, is synonymous with the woman, who is the great city, which is Jerusalem, not Rome. Rome never persecuted the prophets of old, but Jerusalem did, as mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 23. It is easy to see why some think that this Babylon of Revelation 17 and 18 is Rome, but it is not. It is just another picture of Jerusalem.

So who does the “earth beast” of Revelation 3 refer to. One key is that he comes from the earth, and not the sea like the first beast. In the prophets’ predictions, the sea is the realm of the Gentiles, coming from far away places by sea. The earth is the realm of God’s people, His chosen nation, the Jews, i.e Palestine, the Holy Land. This earth beast is Jewish in nature, not Gentile like the sea beast. Another key is the he does “signs” to get the earth, i.e. the Jews, to worship the sea beast Rome. He would give the mark “666” on the forehead of those who would worship Rome and the Roman emperors so as to allow them to buy and sell in the Roman guilds. In later centuries, there would even be a “libellus”, a one page document affirming that the person had performed a pagan sacrifice showing his loyalty to Rome and its emperors as gods. A such libellus has been uncovered in archaeology. The number 666 is figurative of course, but one thing is clear: whoever it refers to was living at the time John wrote this letter. In 11:18 John says that one with understanding could calculate who he was referring to, so it had to be someone living at that time. Many think it is Nero, and there is a numbering system that matches the number 666 to the name of Nero. There is a change of one letter to Nero’s name that results in the number 616, which is the number found in 13:18 is some early copies of Revelation. Indeed, Nero was the first emperor or king to persecute and kill Christians around 64 AD when Rome burned and he was trying to throw the blame off himself over to the Christians, which would include many Jewish Christians who were not worshiping the emperor.

So who, of a Jewish nature, did “signs” to deceive the Jews to worship Rome? It can only refer to the Jewish false prophets that Jesus said would come before the tribulation and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (Matthew 24:11,24). Jesus said they would do “great signs and wonders” to deceive many. Of course, they could not do real signs but instead false signs (like Pharoah’s magicians did), but even that would deceive many.

On a side note, read 2 Thessalonians 2. Some said that the 2nd coming had already come (as of about 55-56 AD when Paul wrote 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. Paul says that it had not happened yet, but that an apostasy must first happen and that a “man of sin or lawless one” must first come, one who would sit in the temple of God, blaspheming God. Paul said this process was already occurring at the time he was writing, so it had to be someone living at that time. He said that the coming of this man of sin would be accompanied by “powers and signs and false wonders”, deceiving many. Was it not Titus who finally broke through the 3 walls of Jerusalem and stood in the very temple of God, allowing the legions to worship him as god, before proceeding to burn the temple to the ground? The “man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians 2 can only refer to Titus. Some have thought it refers to Nero, but Nero never stood in the temple of God in Jerusalem, blaspheming God, claiming to be god.

I hope this is helpful. I hope it is true to the text. It bothers me greatly to hear preachers today interpreting the predictions of Revelation to be something that will happen in our future. Their predictions will not come to pass in our generation, just as the predictions of William Miller did not come to pass in 1843 AD. Many lost their faith because of his failed predictions, and several cults formed soon after that trying to salvage the damage done. The 2,000 years of church history since Revelation was written have been filled with many false predictions of fulfillment of the predictions in Revelation. No doubt, skeptics of the Bible and Christianity have fed on these failed predictions. Instead of seeing the failed predictions to be due the the misinterpreting of Scripture, they see them as predictions that were made that did not come to pass. In other words, Jesus and the apostles made predictions about the end time that did not come true! Thus Jesus and the apostles are false prophets! And indeed they are, if the predictions of Matthew 24 and Revelation did not happen before that generation living at that time passed away.

It gives us great comfort to understand that the predictions of Jesus and the apostles came true in their generations just as they predicted. It gives comfort to see the completed plan of redemption, which included one last critical event, the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Only then would it be eternally clear for all times that God no longer considered the Jewish nation to be his chosen nation, but instead the church, a spiritual nation and kingdom, would be his chosen nation and priesthood (1 Peter 2:6-9). It gives comfort to know that God will eventually avenge the blood of those who persecute his church, even if we don’t see that vengeance executed in our lifetime. Millions have died without seeing their blood avenged, but it will be avenged. It gives us comfort that we don’t have to listen to all the preachers speculating on world events that they say are the fulfillment of Revelation and Matthew 24.

Revelation 10 The Mystery of God Is Finished in 70 AD

These are two key chapters in understanding the book of Revelation. There were 6 seals that had been opened. The 7th seal consisted of 7 trumpets to be sounded. 6 of those 7 trumpets had been sounded and the 7th is about to sound. There is something very final about this 7th trumpet.

Rev 10: and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

This is a prediction of the very final last days before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. At that time, there would be no more “delay” of fulfillment of the predictions of Jesus about the destruction of the city and the temple (Matthew 24). This is similar to the language of Hebrews 10:37 “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay”. In 2 Peter 3, the mockers mocked the delayed fulfillment of Jesus’ predictions, but there would be a day when there would be no more delay.

The mystery of God would be finished as announced by His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets. That phrase was used several times to refer to the prophets of the Old Testament (2 Kings 17:13,23 for example). Those prophets had predicted the final fall of Jerusalem of 70 AD several times (Daniel 9:24-27; Daniel 12; Joel 3; Zephaniah 14; Isaiah 66). It was the last OT prophecy to be fulfilled. There were no OT predictions of any events to occur after 70 AD.

Luke 21 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” This is so clear! All OT prophecy would be fulfilled in 70 AD.

Also, the “mystery of God would be finished” when this last predicted event would occur in 70 AD. The Greek word is musterion, something hidden, unknown. Strong adds one use: the secret counsels which govern God in dealing with the righteous, which are hidden from ungodly and wicked men but plain to the godly. What is this “mystery” that the prophets announced that would be fulfilled in 70 AD? Several NT passages refer to this mystery that had been hidden in ages prior to the NT, but that it had been revealed to men by the NT apostles and prophets. Ephesians 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him. 3:3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. 3:9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 5:32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 6:19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. Romans 16:11:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, Colossians 1:25 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself. 1 Timothy 3:16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. Jesus referred to this as the “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew 13:11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

As you can see from these verses, this mystery is referred to in different ways, but the idea behind the word is clear. God had a plan from the very beginning to save sinners through His Son Jesus. 1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you. The prophets announced this plan with messianic predictions that they didn’t even understand. 1 Peter 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time[a] the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. Thus this mystery was announced but the understanding of it was hidden until God revealed it to the NT apostles, like Paul, and prophets. It was summarized by one word, “Christ”, but it also involved the salvation of Jewish and Gentile believers in the church. It was preached in the “gospel”. It included the predictions of the removal of the old temple and old Jewish covenant, replacing them with the new Jerusalem and the new covenant. Thus it included the destruction of the temple and the city in 70 AD as predicted by the prophets. The mystery centered on the cross, but wasn’t completely finished until that last event. Hebrews 9:The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the [i]outer tabernacle is still standing.

John is then told to take the little scroll from the giant angel, who is probably Jesus, and eat it. This is similar to what Ezekiel was told to do in Ezekiel 3. That little scroll contains the very last predictions as described already in chapter 10. The big scroll would be the scroll with the 7 seals, which would be all the predictions of events during the wars of the Jews from the spring of 66 AD when Titus entered the Promised Land to put down the Jewish rebellion up to the final destruction of the city and temple in the summer of 70 AD. The little scroll would just be the very last events in those predictions.