Revelation: An Historic View


revelation

The LORD awakens me every day with a song on my lips and a message in my heart. I pray, also, the courage to be faithful to His word.

At last night’s mid-week Bible study, the teacher made a comment — which I hear typically — that all of the Book of Revelation after chapters 3 or 4 is about the return of the Jews to Israel and the restoration of the kingdom.

This interpretation is heard all day on Christian radio and television. The ‘church’ will be raptured — after all, the church-age was only a detour from God’s original plan — and Jesus will return to reign for a thousand years on the earthly throne of David in fulfillment of  God’s promise to Israel.

The prophets of old did not foresee the church-age — they only saw the coming of Messiah. When Israel rejected Him, the LORD had to revise His plan of redemption. The ‘church’ became an interim solution — a stepchild, if you will — to make the chosen people jealous (Romans 11:11).

Jealous? The Inquisition and Holocaust generated horrific fear — not jealousy.

This interpretation suggests that the LORD did not foresee Israel’s rejection of the Anointed One so He had to scramble and devise a two-stage plan of redemption that included the Gentiles. No, the rejection and crucifixion of Messiah was unmistakably foretold by Isaiah, Micah and Zechariah. (Click on EMET tab for additional study.)

The church-age was not an afterthought.

Bible teachers who present this interpretation are typically pre-millennial with a Dispensational slant. They believe that the Book of Revelation was written towards the end of the first century, 96 A.D. Why is this important?

The dating of the Apocalypse (John’s vision) is critical to our understanding of Bible prophesy. I believe that the Revelation was written in the 60’s A.D. as a warning to the ‘church’ about the impending destruction of Jerusalem.

That singular event was cataclysmic as it brought an end to the age of Judaism, and was a fulfillment of Christ’s prophetic judgement against the nation Israel.

I listen daily to well-known pastors who lift scripture from the Old Testament to validate their interpretation of Revelation. For example, they will cite Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel — wherein the prophet speaks of a return from exile — as evidence that the LORD will fulfill his covenant with Abraham. We have previously cited Joshua 21:43 as literal proof-text that God’s land promise to Israel (through Abraham) was fulfilled 3500 years ago.

A very beloved pastor (who goes through the Bible) cited a passage from Amos as evidence that God will still fulfill His promise to Abram which the pastor sees as yet unfulfilled:

“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11).

Amos was a prophet from the southern kingdom of Judah who was sent, by the LORD, to warn the northern kingdom, Israel, of their imminent judgement. The Book was written circa 766 B.C. (Samaria fell to the Assyrians within a generation; and Judah fell to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, 134 years later.)

Amos concluded his prophesy on a hopeful promise of restoration which was fulfilled by the decree of Cyrus to return all captive exiles to their homeland.

We need to have a clear understanding that the pre-exilic prophets — when speaking of a return from exile — were prophesying of the return from Assyrian/Babylonian captivity as so ordered by Cyrus, king of Persia (Isaiah 44:28).

I am a Covenant (Reformed) Theologian. It is Historic Christianity which is derided as Replacement Theology — precursor of the Holocaust — say pre-millennial Dispensationalists who are literal to a fault except for passages which don’t align with their eschatology (such as that cited in Joshua).

We — that is, Reformers — are accused of spiritualizing scripture. That is, to say, we take Old Testament prophesy and apply it to the ‘church’.

However, the whole of New Testament canon is spiritualized — from the Gospels to Revelation. That’s why the Jewish people reject it!

Take, for example, our passage from Amos. Though it was written to Israel almost 2800 years ago, James quotes it in Acts 15:16 as having been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

This is the manner of New Testament writers to quote from the Old Testament and conclude, this was to fulfill what was written by the prophets. And it is in agreement with our Lord’s claim that He came to fulfill the Law and Prophets (Matthew 5:17).

One more example before we leave this thread. In Romans 9:25, Paul quotes from Hosea 2:23 a prophesy that was spoken to the northern kingdom (Israel) about thirty years prior to the Assyrian conquest:

As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”

James, Paul and Peter (1 Peter 2:10) apply these passages to the Gentiles not as an allusion, but fulfillment of Bible prophesy.

If you have time, please study Revelation 12. It carefully summarizes the history of the ‘church’, and will help you understand its meaning.

The woman (Israel) was with child (v.1). The Serpent comes to devour the child (v.4). The woman gives birth to a man-child who will rule the nations, and be caught up to God and His throne (v.5). Michael and his angels are at war with the dragon who was cast out of heaven, and thrown down to the earth (v.7-9) — a fulfillment of Christ’s prophesy:

I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18).

The brethren overcome the Devil by the blood of the Lamb (v. 11). The dragon persecutes the woman who flees into the wilderness (as did the remnant who survived 70 A.D.), and the chapter concludes with Satan, so enraged with the woman, that he goes to make war with her children (the ‘church’) who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus (v. 14-17).

Keep in mind that Revelation (and the Bible’s Apocalyptic books) were written with allegory, metaphor and symbolism. A great way to witness to a Jewish neighbor is to give them a copy of Revelation. They will see ‘Daniel’ throughout the book and, hopefully, the Messiah as well. 

The date of Revelation, once again, will color your understanding of its prophetic message. The most widely cited reference in favor of the late-date is a quote from Irenaeus — a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John, the book’s author. Irenaeus suggests that John (or the vision) was seen during the reign of Domitianou. This has been understood more recently to be a reference to Emperor Domitian who reigned in the 90’s A.D. However, for 1800 years the ‘church’ believed this to be a reference to Domitious Nero, the Emperor who presided over a brutal persecution of the ‘church’ in the late-60’s A.D. — leading up to the prophetic destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age.

Church tradition teaches that Paul was tortured and beheaded by Nero in 67 A.D., and John’s cryptic reference to the Beast (Revelation 13:18) was understood to be Emperor Nero. For John to mention Nero by name would have meant instant death.

Incidentally, Paul wrote to seven churches during his ministry as John (in Revelation) addressed the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4). The Muratorian Canon documents that Paul wrote to seven churches in the like manner of John:

… the blessed Apostle Paul, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name … John too, indeed, in the Apocalypse, although he writes to only seven churches, yet addresses all.

If Paul died in 67 A.D. then the early-date of Revelation, without further debate, must be understood within the context of the time in which it was written as a warning to the ‘church’ of great tribulation. Indeed, as Josephus recorded, no city in the history of the world had suffered the catastrophic destruction that befell Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Prophesy of Christ fulfilled (Matthew 24:21).

With regards to great tribulation we do not preclude the loosing of Satan and his war against the saints.

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

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2 thoughts on “Revelation: An Historic View

  1. I would really enjoy hearing more on this topic. You’ve obviously studied this subject more than I have.

    Two reasons I have been content to remain uncommitted to any particular eschatological view point is that I am aware that prophecies can have multiple levels of fulfillment and that a precise picture of end time events isn’t necessary in order to live our life as Scripture commands. In the end, G-d will do as he wills, and it will be understood when He does. In the meantime we are to continue to be faithful to his precepts to the best of our abilities.

    I was reading about Elijah today in 1 Kings. What an extraordinary event it was when he challenged the priests of Baal to call fire down from heaven for the burning of a sacrifice. All day long they called out to their “god”, even cutting themselves to sacrifice their own blood to the cause — but nothing happened. Yet even when Elijah had his sacrifice for the One True G-d soaked with water, after he prayed, the LORD sent fire from heaven that “lapped” it all up. Now that’s power. And that is an unquestionable demonstration of the power of The Name — overwhelmingly superior to the false idols Israel had turned to.

    And yet, as soon as Elijah heard that Jezebel (swearing by the same false gods that had just been defeated) was after him to kill him, he was afraid and fled. Now Elijah was a phenomenal prophet of the LORD. He had just experienced one of the most powerful events recorded in Scripture. But he was afraid and ran away. It took more than 40 days and 40 nights for the LORD to chase him down (at the same time, making sure he was well-nourished) and even making an almost personal appearance to him (a strong wind, an earthquake, a fire, and then a low whisper) just to ask him, Elijah, what are you doing here?

    First of all, Elijah knew what was happening. He knew the LORD and knew his will. Secondly, he witnessed and participated in a powerful demonstration of the LORD’s sovereignty and supremacy. Yet, as soon as that evil woman threatened him, Elijah quaked in his boots like a motherless child, and ran as far and as fast as he could.

    What has this got to do with dispensationalism or Revelation or whatever? It means that whatever happens tomorrow, whoever tells us that we have to die (or go to jail, or pay a fine, or lose our rights, or whatever), we are still required to live as the LORD has commanded and ordained. Just because some powerful enemy, be it the government or whatever, is lording their authority over us and telling us we must pay the consequences for going against their edicts, the LORD still expects us to be faithful to Him, obedient to Him and honor Him in all we do.

    For every soul who died today, it was the end of the world. We really don’t need to look far to see apocalypse. It is enough to live as the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed One, the True Vine, the Great Shepherd calls us to live. I join with Paul in saying, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

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  2. I devote up to 8 hours a day in the Word because of a hunger and thirst to know God. So I expose myself to a lot of programs and websites that teach some things which are not kosher.

    There is one website in particular where the fellow is so fixated on Blood Moons that he won’t post any comment that disagrees with his end time’s scenario. A woman recently asked why he didn’t post her comment challenging his eschatology, and he replied that it was probably because she had nothing edifying to say.

    I wrote to him, “Sound doctrine is not edifying?” He is so spiritually vested in this deception that I’m afraid he just won’t listen. Instead, he devotes all of his energy trying to calculate when Jesus will return.

    Here’s a draft of my response to his Dispensational assertions:

    Jesus said not even He knows these things. Why, then, are some so rabid in trying to calculate a date that is secret only to our Father?

    According to the Rabbin when Scripture refers to the coming of the Lord it is speaking of His wrath and judgement which indeed took place in 70 AD.

    Jesus was answering the question of His disciples regarding the destruction of the Temple which, according to Rabbinic teaching, marked the end of the Jewish age. The historical record of Josephus is even more frightening than Revelation.

    The Blood Moon frenzy is a Satanic deception that takes our eyes off the Cross. We are called to preach the Gospel — not fanciful speculation.

    … and I might add what Jesus told His disciples after His resurrection when they asked about the restoration of the kingdom::

    It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority (Acts 1:7).

    We might well consider the Lord’s admonition with regards to idle speculation of things unknown.

    — End Draft —

    How a person lives their daily life in Christ should be more important than the occurrence of the next Blood Moon. We are taught in Scripture to beware the false prophets, gird ourselves and possess a discerning spirit. False doctrine needs to be exposed and challenged, and I write as I am moved by the Holy Spirit. May He grant me the wisdom to do so justly.

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