The Book of Revelation as the Epilogue of the
Bible: Integration Versus Disintegration
by Mark Mountjoy
Out of the twenty-seven letters of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation has the distinction of being the only one whose contents are deemed unnecessary, enigmatic and even deeply problematic and undecipherable. It is also the only book in the Bible where the majority of its internal implications have been given the least exposure to a proper analytical investigation and consequent light of day.
Now, in order for this letter to catch up with the other New Testament books it deserves such an audit and, in doing this it will be discovered to be rich with Pastoral implications for everyday Christian living and challenges that face the world-wide Church in the form of religious extremism, political radicalism and nationalism on every hand.1
In order to put the Book of Revelation in its proper perspective in the long history of the Bible, it is important to see it as the objective (not relative) epilogue and culmination of that narrative that began in the Book of Genesis.
A summary of this history is provided in the chart directly below.
In this essay I will attempt to demonstrate that the Atavist interpretation offers Christians an objective, concrete strategy with which to explore, understand and explain the New Testament's faith, hope and destiny, and that, in view of almost two thousand years of a philosophical approach that relies or assumes that the truth of Revelation may be relative, such is not the case, but has been the very reason past studies of this one book have delivered poor and disappointing results.2
The Book of Revelation as the appropriate epilogue of the New Testament can best be seen if a number of other considerations are understood and firmly in place. These are considered in the Bible study chart to your right.
First of all, we need to study and examine the whole Bible, from front to back. It is incorrect to study only a favorite book and leave out all the rest, so we start in Genesis and work forward towards the New Testament.
We encounter Adam and Eve and learn about the fall of mankind into sin, about the pre-flood world and the evils that beset it when angels came down and had hybrid children who were giants (Genesis 6:4).
We learn about the flood, Noah's ark and the destruction of air breathing animals, including almost all people during a forty day downpour when the windows of heaven were opened and simultaneously violent eruptions of subterranean liquids intensified the havoc (Genesis 7:11).
Afterwards Abraham was born in the region of Ur near present day Iraq (Genesis 11:1-32 and 12:1ff). He was called to give up his idols and travel west towards the eastern Mediterranean coast where he met the mysterious Melchizedek, the Jebushite king of Salem (Hebrews 7:1).
Abraham begat Isaac and Isaac begat Israel, and Israel begat twelve sons who, because of a famine in the Holy Land, ended up migrating to Egypt where over a period of four hundred and thirty years they became a populous people, but slaves under the pharaohs (Exodus 12:40-41).
Moses hears from God in a burning bush and leads the children of Israel outt into the Wilderness of Arabia where they wander for forty years because of disbelief and transgressions (Exodus 3:1-21 cf. Numbers 14:33-34). But after the death of Moses they continued under the leadership of Joshua and enter into the promised land where they establish settlements under the rule of judges (Joshua 1:13ff and Judges 2:6).
But after that, they demand to be ruled by kings (1 Samuel 8:1-15). This radical change of government led to the installation of Saul as the first king of Israel, but it did not go well (1 Samuel 13:1-15 cf. 1 Samuel 15:1-35).
The rejection of King Saul led to his death and a replacement by David of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 13:1-15:33). After King David's death Solomon became the king of Israel (1 Kings 1:28-53), but after him his son Rehoboam ascended to the throne but led the country wickedly and the kingdom divided north and south (1 Kings 12:1-33 cf. 1 Kings 12:26-33).
In the north, Israelite worship was reoriented away from Jerusalem to Shiloh, where idols introduced by Jeroboam the son of Nebat held sway (1 Kings 12:25-33,1 Kings 13:33). In the southern kingdom of Judah (Yehud) most of the kings were evil, but the worship was centered around Solomon's Temple, which became increasingly corrupt and detestable (Ezekiel 8:9ff).
God sent prophets to denounce Jeroboam and his successors, to little effect (1 Kings 13:1-2 and 2 Kings 17:1ff). Then after 200 years of denunciations God sent King Sargon II to inflict his wrath on the idolatrous nation and destroy Shiloh where they had set up alters to their various deities (Jeremiah 7:12).
Yehud Refuses to Obey God
Now Yehud, the kingdom of the south could have learned from what happened, but did not and suffered a like punishment under Nebuchadnezzar two hundred years later, ending with the Destruction of Solomon's Temple and Jerusalem in 587 B.C., and this is where the dreams and visions of the Bible prophecy countdown began (around) 587 and later, Daniel's night vision, in 553 B.C. (see, e.g., Daniel 7:1).
The era of Persia, the second kingdom of Bible prophecy brings us a step closer to the realization of God's calendrical goals in the Levitical ministry (Daniel 5:25ff). God did this by inspiring Cyrus to allow the Jews permission to rebuild the Temple and to establish Jerusalem as the capitol of the Jewish State once again (2 Chronicles 36:22 cf. Ezra 1:1-11).
But under the next power, after Alexander the Great, the Diadochi, Seleucus Nicator's descendent Antiochus IV Epiphanes put the Mosaic legislation and the Temple's framework into direct existential danger (1 Maccabees 1:1-50). This is where the Hasmonean rebellion and the heroism of Judas the Maccabee came forth and saved the day (1 Maccabees 2:1-31).
But from here the new Jewish dynasty and administration lost sight of many essential priorities and began their own apostasy toward Hellenism, but on their own terms. This process of deterioration continued downward to the reign of John II Hyrcanus and the forfeiture of the kingdom to the Romans and, eventually, the fourth kingdom power fell into the hands of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1-19).
Now, the Herodian situation set the stage for the life and times of Jesus. And it did so in these ways: by expanded boundaries of the Jewish State, but under the political realities of being a Roman client state. In its new role as one among many client states in the Roman Republic and empire Jewish longings for the Messiah and the kingdom of God intensified not only because of Roman cultural antagonism, but also because of Herod's severe and tyrannical domestic policies and conduct.
The country was limping on both feet with the Herodians in charge. The schizophrenic policy of promoting both Judean monotheism and Gentile idolatry was responsible for radicalizing tendancies that would one day blow the country entirely into pieces.
The Jews also began at this time to make some serious mistakes in their thinking about the fourth kingdom (which they, of course knew about). They began to think about the Roman Empire as the "Kingdom of Edom" even though Herod was the Edomite king of Judea only.2 Along with this belief in an Edomite Roman Empire, they believed the coming kingdom of God would destroy the Romans, not the real Edomite Kingdom which was first century Judea under the Herodians. Ironic, no?
Jesus also intimated the Judea was the fourth kingdom here. And he several times hinted that Judeans, as children of the kingdom, would be cast into outer darkness here. In other words, Judea, on it own self-righteous merits, would absolutely not receive the kingdom promises if Judeans rejected the person and work of Jesus, the Lord of glory (John 1:12-13 cf. Romans 10:2-4).
Now, from the resurrection of the Lord from the dead and the beginning of the Church, on the day of Pentecost in Acts no definite trend can be described in the country, but from Acts chapter 4 on and forward towards the Book of Revelation the Jewish nation goes in a decided direction towards militaristic tendencies along with the ready acceptence of spiritual ideas that either have nothing to do with Israel's heritage, messianic prophecies about Christ (e.g., Isaiah 53) or actually outright oppose the message of the Apostles of our Lord (1 Thessalonians 2:16). And it this trend that, ultimately, gets them into serious trouble as the nation moves ever closer to the sixth decade of the first century (1 John 4:4-6).
The epistles, from Romans to Jude defend against Jewish arguments, ridicule and jesting which are contrary to the revelation of God in Christ, through the Holy Spirit to and through the Apostles. When we dig into them we can get a sense of what was at stake and what the arguments were that tried to cast Jesus as false or the Gospel either as untrue or entirely unnecessary.
Denials ranged from rejecting the person and resurrection of Jesus, to disbelief in his Second Coming. False Gospels tended towards someone besides Jesus being Israel's hope to plans to participate in a holy war that had been envisioned by Israel's so-called 'Teacher of Righteousness' as long ago as the reign of King Jonathan Alexander Janneaus (103-76 B.C.).3
Revelation's Linear Narrative
One, the six Seals, the one Seal and the seven Trumpets that come out of it and the seven Bowls and the seven Thunders form a structure in and through which the stages and severity of judgment are dispensed against Judea and the Diaspora prior and during the Destruction of Jerusalem. The only exception to this is the implied place of the seven Thunders being sealed to be poured out apart from the A.D.70 imbroglio (Revelation 10:1-7).
Second and next, the fourth sea beast (who has to seriously be considered the heir of successful first century B.C. Hasmonean irredentism against the Seleucids) inflicts its image, mark, name and number on its loyalists during the civil war and siege which surrounded the takeover of the Second Temple and led to the abomination of desolation and end of the Levitical priesthood.4
Thirdly, the false prophet (or group of false prophets) who worked in tandem with the nationalists ultimately succeeded in deceiving up to three million people to expect deliverance at Jerusalem (Wars of the Jews 6.9.3:424-6.9.4:428), but these deceivers failed to have any of their grandios ideas about the defeat of the Romans materialize in any way, shape or form. Their sole purpose, in reality, was to entrap the people into believing that all the civil disobedience and chaos served some higher ideal of throwing off the Roman yoke and taking kingdom power according to expectations partly spawned by nationalist interpretations of Daniel 7:7-27, but it was all in vain.5
Fourthly, though Satan succeeded in inspiring the Jewish revolt, that same revolt failed to procure its stated aim: The independence of Judea from the Roman Empire. Instead, due to the audacity and violence of the Jew's effort they came out with even less than they had to begin; their social status was now lower than it was before.6
But when Satan was cast into the bottomless pit, the prophecy of Jesus contained in Matthew 12:43-45 would correctly intimate that a serious blowback was waiting in the wings and would be sure to demonstrate that the end of Judea was far worse than when it first stood up to demand its secession from Roman clienthood.
Fifth, when it is understood and accepted that Babylon the Great is A.K.A. first century Jerusalem and was, in one sense, the "holy city" (see Revelation 11:2) and a place to be greatly admired by a Jew like the Apostle John (see Revelation 17:6) the fluidity and constant instability of changing interpretations and lingering uncertainties characteristic of other interpretation strategies around the Book of Revelation ceases and desists.7
One could say that, according to Greek thinking, one way would be Aristotlean: where the truth cannot be directly observed or known, but it Platonian thinking, it could. The dominant views of the Book of Revelation almost all run along the lines of Aristotlean tendancies and reject that any particular thing (overall) can be ascertained from the Book of Revelation.
Six, now the little season of Revelation 6:11, the forty-two months of Revelation 11:2 and the one thousand two hundred and sixty days of Revelation 12:6 and the "time, times and half a time" of Revelation 12:14 and the forty-two months of Revelation 13:5 and the thousand years of Revelation 20:3 which would be followed by another little season (again, Revelation 20:3) requires some nuanced thinking, but it represents a definite time structure in the Book of Revelation, too.
In the overall structure of Revelation the little season of Revelation 6:11, the forty-two months of Revelation 11:2 and the one thousand two hundred and sixty days of Revelation 12:6 and the "time, times and half a time" of Revelation 12:14 and the forty-two months of Revelation 13:5 has to happen BEFORE Revelation 20 and includes the Seals, Trumpets, Bowls, but not the Thunders.8
In this same window the fourth beast does his work and the mark of the beast are all of one concern: Jewish nationalism's efforts to use military force to acquire the Holy Land, from top to bottom, from the hands of the Romans. The center of the revolt, from its very beginning in A.D.66 was Jerusalem and, shortly after the revolt was commenced the Temple became the center of actions that would lead to the termination of the Levitical priesthood and the eventual destruction of both the Temple and the city just short of four years later.
The beast and the false prophet use Jerusalem and the Temple to allure Jews and prosylites to continue with their religious obligations without cease in the midst of violence of arrows, swords and mayhem all around. In the Book of Revelation Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet oppose Jerusalem and seek to punish her (which, at first blush, seems not to make sense). How does it make sense that the Jews are against their own capital?
It makes sense that the Jewish nationalists are against Jerusalem when we read about the history of the fall of Jerusalem in the writings of either Josephus or the rabbis.9 The nationalist, we discover, were against Jerusalem because of their opposition and hatred of the Jerusalem Aristocrasy. According to the history of that time, the Zealots and Sicarii sought to punish the leadership of the city and to purge and purify it of all pro-Roman elements, whom they considered traitors.10
But, ultimately, Satan used the Beast and the False Prophet to punish the city, but the Beast and False Prophet (in their turn) are also punished with Destruction by the direct intervention of Christ in the aftermath of the destruction of the city (see Revelation 19:5-21)
In all events, Jewish messianism had within it the ingredient of a Messiah king and a prophet—two complimentary figures who would rule and reign, mutually governing the new kingdom of God. And this is one reason why in the Book of Revelation there is a beast and a false prophet working together to convince the people that deliverance from Roman servitude and clienthood was going to happen through signs and portents in Jerusalem and, therefore, the people needed to remain in the city in order to witness the promised, but bogus, outcome.
But, of course, these decisions and actions were the exact opposite to those issued by Jesus (Matthew 24:15-20) and the Apostle (Revelation 12:6 and 14).
And so, the Judeans basing their choices and actions on the recommendations of their leaders and prophets did not have the withal to escape from the city and its deadly violence, until it was too late to do so.11
Satan's Activities Along a Linear Continuum
Satan's activities in the Book of Revelation are outlined in five passages: Revelation 2:9, 13 and 29; 12:1-17;16:13; 20:1-3 and 20:7.
Revelation 20:7-15: Time, Interpretation and Outcome
The meaning of Revelation 20, as a whole, and how 20:7-15 should be interpreted, particularly and correctly depends greatly and invariably upon several key factors. For Jewish contemporaries of the latter years of the Apostles' ministries and those who survived the A.D.70 Destruction and the disappointments that followed, the time coming on harbored great possibilities: they still believed the Jewish State was favored by God; they were undeterred by the Destruction of the Second Temple; they saw in the catastrophe the same hope the Judeans had when Solomon's Temple was reduced to ruins at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
And so, for these late first and early and mid second century Judeans the prospects of Bible prophecy only could mean that they would soon and shortly get to witness and participate with fellow Israelites in combat confronting the Romans and coming away from that ordeal victoriously with renown and a brand new Place and everlasting kingdom under their promised messiah (Numbers 24:17).
But for the Christians, reading Revelation 20, generally, and the end-point of the chapter, particularly, evoked images representing entirely different possibilities. For one, the reintroduction of Satan into the world of Jewish messianic expectations was going to end in a certain and final disaster (Matthew 12:45).
Now, the very fact that the Holy Spirit chose Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 to describe Jewish efforts at reconfiguration, renewal and rebalancing said a mouthful:
It presaged a successful invasion of their own ancestral land right on the heels of the A.D.70 Destruction; it foretold that the land would be without bars or gates (Ezekiel 38:11); it signaled that the ordinary people not privy to those plans were caught by surprise (Ezekiel 38:13). For Christians the immediate future of post-Second Temple Judaea meant that God would put a complete stop to the ancient nation's existence (Ezekiel 38:14-16).
In other words, based on the content of the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 Revelation 20:7-15 means a Divine stop light.
Now, keep in mind how Revelation 20:7-15 is presently being utilized by traditional Christian eschatology to speak to some way off future end of time with a Second Coming and a literal bodily resurrection of all mankind and you can immediately see a definitive three way split in academic decisions between Jewish optimism of the past and early Christian confidence in the upcoming second century end of the Jewish State.
In the fourth century Nicene formulation Christians [unintentionally] highjacked the last 9 verses of Revelation 20 to support an end of time and history [Second Coming and bodily resurrection of mankind], but there is barely a thread of evidence of legitimacy when everything else in Revelation is considered in a credible historical context from chapter 1 up to chapter 20:1-6.12
See how the popular Nicene view of Revelation 20:7-15 collapses as soon as considerations about the six Seals, the one Seal and seven Trumpets, the seven Bowls and the seven Thunder judgments become a part of a Christian's objective thought processes, study structure and strategy of apologetics.
Without regarding the order of judgment instances (e.g., the Seals, the Trumpets, the Bowls and the Thunders) one could say that the seventh [final] trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ will rise in the future, but that all changes once it becomes clear that the seventh trumpet and the last trumpet are one and the same and the seven trumpet HAD to be sounded BEFORE the first bowl was poured out on the Zealots (in Revelation 16:1ff)!
And when one realizes that the seven bowls actually lead up to the stoning of Jerusalem by 100 lb stones (Revelation 16:17-21 cf. Wars 5.6.3:269-274) it becomes quite impossible to support a seventh and final trumpet completely out of turn in a distant and surreal future far and away from anything that happened in Jewish antiquity.
So the linear classifications of the Seals, Trumpets, Bowls and Thunders function as guides and control the interpretation of the Book of Revelation, not artificially, but organically. And they work like this:
Seven, the little season that follows the thousand years reign is (of necessity) different in time, but not in place from the little seasons that transpired before the thousand years reign. Simply put, Satan was a participant in the activities of the little season that saw Christians martyred before he was bound. He deceived the whole world about the Gospel, the cross and the resurrection of Jesus (Revelation 12:9 cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4). During the A.D.66 uprising Satan also was worshiped by the world because he gave power to the sea beast (Revelation 13:4). All these things necessarily happen before Revelation 20 even begins.
But Revelation 20:7 and the little season that emerges from Satan's release from prison (Revelation 20:7) have to represent brand new actions that should not be confused or entangled in events that happened before he was shut up in the bottomless pit. This means that this latter little season equals efforts at reveral of messianic fortunes back towards deception that plagued Judea in the first go round where circumcision, the Temple, the priesthood, Sabbaths, new moons, etc, where issues to be protected, defended and fought for, but this leads to point eight, below.
Eight, the final result of Satan's lies was, basically Hadrian's harvest of up to four billion people, if the rabbis are to be believed. This last incident led to the second century war that is commonly known as the final Jewish revolt against the Romans, or the Bar Kokhba revolt. Here the threat of Jewish messianic and nationalist expectations reach their very pinniccle and result in the Romans reacting very harshly in the name of preserving the Roman Empire from the existential threat Jewish longings suddenly presented.
Now, we would never get to this result unless there were firm categories and classifications of ideas that did not waiver or fade under outside imperatives that demand or insist upon arbitrary labels. So when we look back to, for example, Hebrews 11:11-12, where we read,
"Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable."
We can only marvel that Revelation 20:8 is, basically, screaming, that these forces that are unleashed after Satan was released are descendants of Abraham. That same idea in reinforced when we look at the Apostle Paul's words in Romans 9:27-28 where he writes,
"Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: for he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth."
The match and fit of a hand in a glove, in all cases, is remarkable! But the inquiry, very often leads nowhere near this and why? Because people bring things to the Bible and then want the Bible to be a springboard to echo back all the unfounded expectations that they bring to it, not what it says or supports about itself.
The New Heavens and Earth
Wherein Dwells Righteousness.
Based on this study and the strategies behind it, the Old Testament period of Bible history and all hopes of it continuing to exist ended in an all important war that started in A.D.132 and closed, in finality, in A.D.136. But this fact can hardly be used as a justification to regard New Testament realities a front and central place in our thinking about what we are now doing here. Is there a reason? We believe there are many reasons!
For example, if what is accomplished is anything at all it is certainly a foundation that can support and stand the weight of both local efforts and wide and long-range Christian planning to foster and support growing communities and clear Christian vision of the future and our role as ambassadors for Jesus Christ to mankind's societies in all parts of the world.13
With all that has been said and done, what we have left is the New Jerusalem, God the Father, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Church and the kingdom of God. The capitol of the kingdom of God, of course, is the new Jerusalem is where God is and where we expect to be after this life is over. The Spirit and the Bride (which is the living Spirit of God and the Church—Christians collectively) end the New Testament, not with a shut door (or anything like that) but with an open invitation:
"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Revelation 22:17 is nothing short of a four-fold invitation; this not a warning that after the apocalypse of the ancient Jewish State the Church has no reason to exist or that salvation after the day of the Lord is, somehow, a pointless exercise (see Acts 2:19-21). And accepting such an invitation necessarily means that people are going to become a new creation: Christians (which is exactly in line with the emphasis and purpose of the entire New Testament).
In other words there are two things one should bear in mind when considering this particular theology:
One, this is not the same outcome one would get with other rival views of Realized Eschatology. Some of those views explicitly and implicitly frown on any idea that there should or could be any legitimate Christian church after any of those facts. However, in the Atavist interpretation of apocalyptic developments the continuation of the Church (whether it clearly understood the implications of the disappearance of Israel in the first place, or forgot shortly afterward, makes no difference to the legitimacy of a Christian church in the eyes of God). We would not say Christianity, on the whole, is illigitimate if some parts of conventional theology are not necessarily accurate, which puts knowlege of every detail of history in the mind of God, but not in the domain of human memory (Isaiah 65:17)
Two, the possibilities and consequences of the Atavist interpretation of the Book of Revelation will not and cannot lead to existential oblivion: a ontological plight where the question, "Why are we here?" and "What comes next?" can't be answered. The paralysis of an ideological trap is the end-game of an idea, poorly thought out, that says, basically, the New Testament, the Church, and Christians are relics; a phenomenon of history. People who have erred in their studies will genuinely believe that we need not be bothered with these concerns in the here and now (which is where such studies led Israel Only people).
However, read and interpreted correctly, the Book of Revelation is full of the gems of Pastoral wisdom about the wages of sin, iniquity and trespasses that can lead any civilization (whether it be Jewish or Christian or any other kind) to disaster and ruin.14
It also says that God can protect his heritage in a number of complicated and even unlikely ways using man himself, natural and supernatural forces along with the refusal of his faithful Christian people to love their lives above any external threat that might prevent their keeping fidelity to Jesus Christ. It says that even if the whole world should turn against Christians, Christ is willing to obliterate foes whose numbers are in the billions in order to make sure what he purchased with his own continues uninterrupted, world without end (Acts 20:28 cf. Ephesians 3:21).
The question we have to entertain now is this: What do we need to do now to create and support a new generation of Christian leadership and new churches in our local communities? What are we prepared to sacrifice in order to commit to the futherance and success of the cause of Christ?
The first obvious step is being in spiritual relationship with God. In order to share with others we have that connection and be the difference and inspire a need to discover and explore who Jesus is and why he makes a big difference in our own life. And we have to be proactive and reach out to people with the Word of life. When people are attracted to a life of love, light and peace and when they want to be a part they are going to need to be introduced into an environment that reflects New Testament concerns, values and realities.15
These include attention to God as a central focus; celebrations around the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth as God's only begotten Son and discipleship and encouragement through teaching and preaching the word of righteousness and wisdom found in various forms in the Bible.
A schedule of services prioritizes the first day of the week which is (for obvious reasons) related to the eighth day. The eighth day is, first of all, suggestive of circumcision. The New Testament stresses a circumcision of the heart (Philippians 3:5). The first day of the week is the time when our Lord arose from the dead (Mark 16:9). This was also the day that the Church was founded (Acts 2:1) in the first century as well as the day they came together to celebrate the Lord's supper (Acts 20:7) and take collection (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Finally, the Book of Revelation was also revealed to the Apostle John on Patmos, on the first day of the week (Revelation 1:10). In the final analysis, the Book of Revelation is the epilogue, not only of the New Testament, but also of the Bible. And, as we have seen, it does not represent a mandate of the end of what Christ came to establish, but rather, the preservation of it from all dangers, individual and global.
For this reason an integrated and objective understanding of the book's dozen or so themes can help us combat disintegrating tendencies in ecclesiastic interpretations towards a meaningful view that supports and encourages Christian work to evangelize the world, unfailingly, into futurity and to manfully contend with claims which would destroy the integrity and constitution of the Church as a mandate from God for the social and spiritual well-being of mankind from the first century, in the intervening centuries, now and forevermore.16
1 "In practice, nationalism can be seen as positive or negative depending on context and individual outlook. Nationalism has been an important driver in independence movements such as the Greek Revolution, the Irish Revolution, the Zionist movement that created modern Israel and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Conversely, radical nationalism combined with racial hatred was also a key factor in the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany. More recently,[vague] nationalism was an important driver of the controversial annexation of Crimea by Russia." (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationalism). The concept of a race or nation and gender as "superior" to any other, in New Testament terms, is rendered null and void, what matters in God's eyes is an individual's being "in Christ" (Galatians 3:27-29 and 6:15 cf. Colossians 3:5-16).
2 "The Second Coming is a Christian concept regarding the return of Jesus to Earth after his "first coming" and his believed ascension to heaven about two thousand years ago. The belief is based on messianic prophecies found in the canonical gospels and is part of most Christian eschatologies. Views about the nature of Jesus' Second Coming vary among Christian denominations and among individual Christians.
A number of specific dates have been predicted for the Second Coming. This list shows the dates and details of predictions from notable groups or individuals of when Jesus was, or is, expected to return. This list also contains dates specifically predicting Jesus' Millennium, although there are several theories on when the Millennium is believed to occur in relation to the Second Coming." (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/predictions).
3 Under the so-called "Teacher of Righteousness" the Jews under the oppressive King Alexander Jannaeus and afterward under the rule of his wife, Sholomzzyon separated and formed a separatist sect which expected a Biblical war with Tigranes with an army they believed was up to three hundred thousand men. That war, however, never materialized, but the community that the Teacher of Righteous founded (the Qumran sect) lived on as a force to be reckoned with and became the likely "Scribes" the New Testament Gospel frequently speaks of. It was begun as an apocalyptic sect and played a key role in first century Jewish expectations of obtaining the promised kingdom of God by playing their part in the battle to victory against the Romans. But instead of seeing their hopes fulfilled they were destroyed in the second year of the First Jewish Revolt. See The First Messiah, by Michael O. Wise for an indepth study of this situation.
4 It seems improbable that the Nationalists wanted the Levitical priesthood to end, but rather that it continue under their program of innovation and restoration. Yet (as Josephus reports it) in the immediate confusion and opposition that their usupation and installment of Phannias aroused, the long tradition of High Priests came to an abrupt end almost at the very beginning of the First Great Revolt (Wars of the Jews 4.3.7:151-8:157).
5 In respect to Jewish nationalist interpretations and claims about Daniel 7:7-27 their ideas could only fail, and for this main reason: Jesus himself was the real federal head of the promised fifth kingdom and it was not possible that any human being could prevent what God was determined to fulfill. Even at Jesus' trial at the Sanhedrim he was careful to evoke Daniel 7:13 to announce his confidence that he (and not someone else) would be the man of war seen coming in the clouds to judge the Jewish nation (Matthew 26:64 cf. Matthew 24:29-31).
6 Where before the war the Jews enjoyed freedom and latitude, after the war the Romans reintroduced them to the status of slavery and involuntary constraints on their actions. In the Judaea Capta period renewed efforts to sustain the fight against Rome's grip only tightened and narrowed their options in life even further.
7 When people and institutions cannot clearly see that the Book of Revelation is talking about certain things, it seems difficult and arbitrary to commit to the idea that Babylon or any other thing in Revelation "means just one thing." It is only when we recognize that each thing really means one thing that we can establish a basis for a view which won't shift on the basis of a passing crisis or flight of fancy. And since, when the Book of Revelation was written the Jewish churches were in a state of emergency because of insurgent developments all across Asia Minor, the Diaspora and Judaea, it is highly unlikely that particular themes in the Revelation would have a litany of meanings the early Christians had to think about and decide on.
8 The reason the Thunders are separated from the sequence of events in the first century and relegated to events in the middle of the second century has to do with their being sealed until the mystery of God was finished (which mystery was complete upon the revelation that Gog and Magog represented (not a foreign Gentile foe seeking to occupy the Holy Land) but the apostate nation at the very end of its existence cycle on earth in what came to be its twilight years from A.D.132-136). In this interpretation the seven Thunders are being equated to the fire that came down from heaven to devour the multidudes of Gog in Revelation 20:9.
9 The Jewish effort to realize freedom from the Roman Empire only became a civil war when the Nationalists realized they had to overpower the pro-Roman Jerusalem Aristocracy, but the brutality of their efforts only caused moderate citizens of Judea to realize their own lives were in grave danger if these madmen ever succeeded in their aims (Wars 4.3.9:158)
10 In this highly unusual war the most impious, cruel and unmerciful people set themselves up as the judges, jury and executioners of everybody else (Wars 4.5.4:334-337). And Josephus notes that the effective punishment for every infraction, large or small, was death (Wars 4.6.1:363-365)
11 And yet it is not entirely correct to say that nobody fled, many did and were captured, tormented and killed, whilst other fled and became a part of the army of King Agrippa II in order to fight to save the Jewish State from the radicals. Others, like Josephus, fled safely to the Romans and, of course, the Christians fled to Pella under escort by Roman guards where other non-Christian Jews had taken refuge from the violence of the war.
12 The millennium of Revelation 20:5 and 12-15 cannot be removed from proximity of the end of the Jewish State without running into complications and difficulties with the prophecies of Daniel 12:1-4 and Jesus' prophecy of the return of Satan within his contemporary generation (Matthew 12:43-45). The eschatology that removes the resurrection from the end of Jewish State history is the same eschatology that mistakenly thinks the eschaton is about the fulfillment and cessation of the body over which Christ is the head and which the New Testament plainly envisions is a permanent salvific arrangement for mankind ((Ephesians 3:21; Hebrews 7:21 and 13:20 and Revelation 14:6-7).
13 In fact, this is what Christians have been doing for the past twenty centuries, but our [Atavist] knowledge of past situations means that we are not less responsible in this regard; it would not be right for Atavism to merely stand for an academic exercise, but not a meaningful contribution to Christian evangelistic efforts in the real world where people need the Lord and the salvation he offers.
14 The danger to the existence of any polity could easily take shape through the efforts of those individuals who deem themselves the "good guys" as happened in the Destruction of Jerusalem. The New Testament nowhere advises Christians to entertain grandios ideas of conquest, but advises believers against doing evil in order that good may result (Romans 3:8). The New Testament commands moderation in us (Philippians 4:5). Our holy Apostle also commanded us, not to do violence because we are Christians, but to endure suffering because we are Christians (1 Peter 4:15-16). Christians have no business being involved in lying, vandalism, theft, murder and striking and slandering other people under any circumstances whatsoever.
15 New Testament concerns, values and realities are furthered through the establishment of local churches and ministries of discipleship that are Christ-centered and oriented toward positive expressions of faith, fellowship and service to God.
16 The persistance of Christianity and its widespread appeal comes from the notion of God's love for mankind and for his sacrificial commitment to our spiritual and eternal well-being as iterated throughout the Bible. It is a great joy to be a part of something not contrived or sustained by the mechinations of man (2 Peter 1:16-21) and the end of the matter is not in man's ability or provenance to deny or withhold (Revelation 21:5-7).
Captions: Depiction of heaven. Source: moldovecrestina.md. Stop light. Source: dreamstime.com