The Semitic Background of the Book of Revelation

An Atavist Bible Standard

Semitic Background of the Book of Revelation RSZD

The Emergence of Christianity From

the Violent White-hot Crucible of First and

Second Century Militant Judaism

 

Introductory Remarks

 

Many Christians, scholars, and researchers have questions, doubts, and fears about whether the Book of Revelation truly belongs in the New Testament. They also wonder if it is a reasonable and clear description of 'things which must shortly come to pass'. At first, the Book of Revelation seems like a confusing mix of visions and metaphors, references and angels, demons, magic, war and violence, and huge, terrible events affecting many people. Those studying Revelation hope to figure out what message or meaning can be found in the midst of all this perplexing imagery.

The chapters of Revelation are like huge waves on a stormy ocean, going up and down, and then up again. They move quickly and wildly from one terrible disaster to the next, appearing to predict the end of a world that is talked about in depth but never clearly identified by name. It's as if the chapters are hinting at the conclusion of some unknown situation or setting.


In this essay, we want to give an answer that makes sense, even though it might be hard to believe. We will separate and name the different parts of the Book of Revelation, and show how they connect and what they lead to in the end. By doing this, we will prove that John was writing about the end of the only society he knew and was very familiar with: The Second Jewish Commonwealth, which was the Jewish nation that existed during his lifetime.

Semitic Background of the Book of Revelation CHART

The way these sections fit together, both separately and as a whole, gives a subtle but clear underlying meaning to what might otherwise seem like random ideas thrown together without any order or sense. It's not helpful or fair to assume the book is talking about the problems we worry about today, when it may actually be trying to record a specific series of events that were planned and carried out to bring the history of Jewish salvation during the Second Jewish Commonwealth to an end. If not for this book, the record of these events might disappear like a ghost or mist from the memory of God's new people.

For this reason, we think it could be valuable and instructive to approach this work by giving this final New Testament message a chance and examining its meaning through its different parts, as well as what can be reasonably understood from its clear sequence of events and its bright, triumphant, and optimistic conclusion.

The Seven Churches of Asia Minor 

The Book of Revelation starts by saying it's a message to seven Jewish Christian churches located along the western coast of the Anatolian Peninsula in Asia Minor. This area was first claimed by a leader named Antigonus Monophthalmus (382-301 B.C.), who had been a friend and general under Alexander the Great. But after Alexander died suddenly and there were brutal and bloody wars fought by his successors, Antigonus was defeated. This led to the land being taken over by Seleucus I Nicator and his descendants, known as the Seleucid Dynasty.1

As the Seleucid Empire started to decline, the region ANTIGONUS M KINGDOMbecame an important part of the growing Roman Republic. However, it still had a large population of Greek nationalists who were willing to fight, as well as Jewish Hellenists. These Jewish Hellenists based their religious beliefs and goals on their interpretations of prophecies in the Tanakh, which is the Jewish Bible. They were focused on Judæa and its capital, Jerusalem, as well as the famous holy place called the Second Temple, which had been recently beautified by Herod the Great.

In chapters 1-3, there are signs that the Christians were facing challenges, troubles, and hardships because of their loving commitment to Jesus. They were being persecuted by the local synagogues and were preparing for the end of the world.

In Revelation 1:9, John considers himself a partner of those churches, sharing in their experience of hardship and what he called the 'kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.'

All through the first three chapters, there are specific expectations of prophecies from the Book of Daniel about heavenly intervention. These prophecies were seen as necessary, coming soon, and real (Revelation 1:1, 3, and 7; compare with Daniel 7:13).

In chapter two, the people and places around the Christians are Jewish, not Roman (Revelation 2:9; compare with 3:9). It's important to note that Jesus calls the enemies of the Christians 'the Synagogue of Satan' two times. He would never talk about the Mithraic religion or Roman temples where they worshipped, burned incense, and made pagan sacrifices using these words or phrases. Also, Revelation 2:24-25 suggests that some powerful group that was in control would soon lose its power and have to obey Jesus in the near future.

In Revelation chapter three, the readiness for the nearness of the day of Christ is contrasted with the fact that some of the churches are not prepared for it (Revelation 3:3). They are cautioned that it will occur regardless and will completely evade their awareness. The only church whose members were found to be without fault was given the assurance that it would entirely avoid encountering the catastrophes that would soon befall the Jewish world (Revelation 3:10-11). Thus, Revelation chapters one through three encapsulate the introduction and the cause célèbre (the primary reason) that prompted the urgency and gravity of the succeeding chapters that quickly follow.

In Revelation 1:1, we learn that God the Father told Jesus Christ when the Second Coming would happen. This happened on the first day of the week (Revelation 1:10), maybe around the time of Hanukkah (based on the mention of the Menorah lampstand in Revelation 1:12-13) in late A.D. 61 or 62. No matter when exactly Revelation was shown to John, it had to be at least three and a half years before the war started (see Revelation 11:3-8).

In chapter one, Revelation 1:1, 1:3, and 1:7 stand out. In chapter two, verses 2:9 and 2:24-26 also show the same idea. These verses make it clear that a big change in power or civilization is about to happen, and the Christians who first received these letters are the main ones who will benefit. Revelation 1:7 also points back to Daniel 7:13, Matthew 24:30, and Jude 14, not Acts 1:9-11 or Acts 2:33-36. Many people think Daniel 7:13 is about Jesus going up to heaven, but it's actually about Him coming back with power and glory. This misunderstanding causes a lot of confusion and leads to getting the whole meaning of Revelation wrong. People even miss or don't take seriously the clear promise made to the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:11.

The Second Section: Chapters 4-5

In Revelation chapters 4 and 5, John finds himself in the lofty realms of heaven, where multitudes in the thousands upon thousands surround the Father and the Son to witness a sacred ceremony of epic and consequential proportions. In the preceding events, they direct their concerns to the accomplished passion of our Lord and the impending outbreak of retributions against the perpetrators who, on earth, are blissfully unaware of what is about to transpire, even while they remain at large. Meanwhile, the holy ones of the heavenly council have not forgotten the recent intrigues of Judæa against Him in whom no fault could be found.

Jesus is portrayed as a victimized seven-eyed lamb that has been slain, yet He is also the victorious Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He alone is deemed worthy to open the books and loose the seals, alerting us to the fact that the convocation was not without a single imperative purpose: to initiate intentional calamities that will begin to unfold in Revelation 6:1. To overlook or forget this is to abort what Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 collectively depict as the beginning of timed misfortunes designed to orchestrate the deconstruction of a world organized around the Second Temple and the very city where our Lord was crucified.

God’s Own ‘War Scroll’

The Third Section: Revelation 6-8

In Revelation chapters 6-8, four frightening events are shown. These events come on four horses of different colors. The horses are white, red, black, and green, and they are part of God's holy war. They race to the Holy Land to bring a series of tragic "Acts of God," which are punishments against a world that immediately (and rightly) thinks it is facing the great day of the wrath of the Lamb. The question is asked, "Who will be able to stand?"3

The Judæans themselves (or at least a strict part of that nation) had been planning a holy war, with the help of angels, for a very long time. This started after the murderous outrages of King Alexander Jannaeus, the Hasmonean, around 93 B.C. A badly damaged copy of their war plans was one of seven manuscripts found in the caves next to the Dead Sea in 1947.4

WAR SCROLL NEW

However, what the Jewish people planned wasn't always what God wanted. What we see happening in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 strongly suggests that the upcoming troubles are related to Judæa's failure to accept or respond correctly to the coming of Christ or to his warnings. Jesus warned that the Second Temple, the city, and the nation were in danger of failing and falling apart, even though Judæa had its own plans to force people to join the army and fight for Jerusalem to survive as a city separate from the Roman Empire. To put it simply, God's actions, not Judæa's desires, will lead to the nation suffering and many people dying. So, the consequences of the first four Seals start the story that will get worse as each disaster that follows makes the previous troubles seem minor in comparison.

The catastrophe against the Second Jewish Commonwealth began as follows:

The First Seal (Revelation 6:2): A white horse whose rider held a bow goes forth to conquer.
The Second Seal (Revelation 6:3): A red horse whose rider wielded a sword to unleash civil unrest.
The Third Seal (Revelation 6:5): A black horse whose rider had a pair of balances to cause the price of food to skyrocket. A penny would buy a measure of wheat, and three measures of barley would be sold for a penny, but oil and wine remained unaffected by these serious price fluctuations.
The Fourth Seal (Revelation 6:7): A green horse whose rider was followed by death and hell. A slaughter, hunger, and death by means of the sword, starvation, and beasts of the earth followed in his wake.
The Fifth Seal (Revelation 6:9): The cumulative atrocities from Stephen to the sixth decade of the first century cry out to God from under the altar in the Second Temple. The sense of urgency and the immediacy of the punishment for their untimely and brutal demise is clearly near.5
The Sixth Seal: This is an unknown but deadly event for us. It clearly happens at least three years before Gessius Florus crucified three thousand six-hundred Equestrian Jewish officials in A.D. 66. At this time, we are unable to identify what this occasion might be without damaging the timeline.6

Revelation chapter 7 is a truly controversial passage, particularly since the emergence of 19th-century Second Adventism and the rise of the self-styled Jehovah's Witness doomsday sect. Sectarian groups have tended to develop doctrines around this passage to bolster their exclusionary ideologies and claim the right to determine who has salvation and who does not, who is included and who is excluded.

However, the passage loses its coherence entirely if it is disentangled from its Jewish first-century setting and transplanted into the remaining years of 19th-century American religious expectations. It defies logic to appropriate Revelation 7's one hundred and forty-four thousand Israelites or its great multitude of Gentiles to conceive of their eluding God's wrath against the Jewish State. It inflicts an incredible amount of violence to conceive of these elect being chosen an entire twenty centuries removed from all the action that tightly defines the book of Revelation. Why not preserve and honor Revelation's inner integrity and complexity as a narrative deeply relevant to its first audience?

In light of Ezekiel chapter 9, and particularly verses 9:4-5, the sealing of the Jews and Israelites who embraced Jesus, the Apostles, and the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) makes perfect sense, especially considering what follows in chapters 8-16.

More About the Sixth Seal

Jesus has already released six Seals, starting with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and ending with the sixth Seal. The sixth Seal saw the sudden and unexpected collapse of the Jewish religious and political world. This major event happened in A.D. 66 at the hands of Gessius Florus. It should not be mixed up with the passing of the heavens and the earth, which happened when the Second Jewish Commonwealth defiantly reappeared and again disappeared completely seventy years later, in A.D. 136, because of Emperor Hadrian (Revelation 21:1).7

John's description of a big shake-up in the Jewish world, which he describes as if the universe itself fell down, might seem too dramatic or exaggerated. However, we have a similar situation from six hundred years earlier that we can compare it to. This event happened on the eve of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and is found in Jeremiah 4:20-28, which reads:

Destruction upon destruction is announced; the whole land is ruined. Suddenly, my tents are destroyed, and my curtains in a moment. How long will I see the battle flag and hear the sound of the trumpet? For my people are foolish; they do not know me. They are senseless children, and they have no understanding. They are skilled at doing evil but do not know how to do good.

I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; the heavens had no light. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away.

I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins CaveOpeningbefore the Lord, before his fierce anger. This is what the Lord says: "The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely."

Because of this, the earth will mourn, and the heavens above will grow dark. I have spoken and will not relent; I have decided and will not turn back.

This text suggests that something terrible and devastating led many Jews to run away from Jerusalem into the Dead Sea wilderness, where there are many caves and mountain hideouts.  But we still have the seventh Seal to deal with, and it will reveal its unpleasant and unwelcome contents in the next chapter.

The Seventh Seal Contains All Seven Trumpets

We need to think about time and timing. The Bible doesn't always tell us when one event began, ended, and another started. We are told these things would happen soon, but how long between events—whether it was years, months, weeks, or days—is often anyone's guess. However, in Revelation 8:1, we learn that there is silence in heaven for just half an hour, which is only 30 minutes. This short wait is very meaningful because it tells us that the seventh item in a series of seven Seals is delayed by only 1,800 seconds, which is not a lot of time at all.

So, this means that six disasters happened, and then the seventh one came. When it was opened, there were seven Trumpets inside, with a whole new set of terrible events. Revelation 8:6 gives a strong sense of quickness, and it is followed by the first Trumpet in 8:7, the second in 8:8, the third in 8:10, the fourth in 8:12, and another mention of speed in 8:13!

The fifth Trumpet, in Revelation 9:1-4, reminds us of Revelation 7:3. Here, time is described as five months of pain and suffering, with people wanting to die but not being able to. Again, Revelation 9:12 suggests that things are happening fast and that scary supernatural beings are coming from under the Euphrates River. There are two hundred thousand of them, all coming together and marching to the Holy Land to punish the people there for not turning back to God (Revelation 9:20-21).

The Seven Thunders—Put on Hold

The seventh Trumpet is interrupted by John's vision of the angel with the seven Thunders. In Revelation chapter 10, he saw another powerful angel come down from heaven. The angel was wearing a cloud, had a rainbow around his head, a face that shone like the sun, and feet that looked like pillars of fire. He was holding a small book in his hand. He put his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.

This means that if he was standing on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, his left foot was on the Holy Land and his right foot was in the Mediterranean. This shows he was facing south, towards Jerusalem, but away from Rome.

The angel's voice was as loud as a lion's roar. When he cried out, seven Thunders spoke. But just as John was about to write down what the Thunders said, he was told,

"Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down." (Revelation 10:4)

Actually, the Book of Revelation never says exactly what the seven Thunders represent. But we do know that whatever they stood for, they definitely did not happen in the first Jewish rebellion that Revelation mainly focuses on. What Gabriel said to Daniel in Daniel 12:4 seems to go against interpreting the seven Thunders as something that would immediately happen to Judæa. The angel's comments in Revelation 10:5-7 tell us clearly that God's mystery would be finished when the seventh Thunder was sounded. Yet in Revelation 16:17, when the seventh Bowl was poured out and Jerusalem was hit with stones, we see that the seven Bowls and the seven Thunders are completely different sets of events. This makes us think the seven Thunders finally hit the Hebrew state during the events of the second-century big rebellion under Simeon Bar Kokhba, not during the first Messianic wars that troubled Israel in the first century. The angel gave John a small book to eat. In his mouth, it was as sweet as honey, but when it reached his stomach, it was bitter (Revelation 10:8-10).

Lastly, in verse 11, John is told that he must prophesy "again" before many peoples, nations, languages, and kings. We understand this to mean that after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., John would have to preach to the Jews again. This is because the state's crazy desire to have a Messianic warrior kingdom was not satisfied or put to rest by all the misfortunes and tragedies that crushed their hopes in the A.D. 66-70 attempt, which is exactly what chapter 11 below will explain.

The First Great Revolt Begins

Revelation 11:1-2 stands out as unique and important because it does two things. First, it instantly connects events in the middle of the Book of Revelation with the main prophecies of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In particular, Matthew chapter 24 is well known for Christ's prophecy about the destruction of the Second Temple, which would happen along with natural disasters, famines, diseases, domestic turmoil, international conflict, and disrespect for holy things. That conflict took shape with the release of the four horsemen in Revelation chapter 6, as we have already seen. Moreover, we understand that what has happened to the Jewish nation is not without cause or reason. These events are not accidents of history but are intentionally orchestrated troubles meant specifically to bring the nation to its senses and to its knees before God's Son, Jesus.

The second thing we notice in Revelation 11 is that the freedom fighters, those in favor of change, and the robbers have the boldness to gather for war at God's Temple. This sacred building had an Outer Court, which includes the Court of Women, the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of Israel, and the Inner Court, which included the Altar and the Holy of Holies.

In just a few days, the crowds turned this building into a fortress where they would commit brutal and horrible acts for a full forty-two months, without anyone stopping them or talking sense into them. These decisions and actions are the same as the Abomination of Desolation.8

The Book of Revelation calls them 'Gentiles,' but some interpreters have carelessly assumed this probably means 'Romans.' However, the history of the Jewish war clearly tells us that Jewish forces finally succeeded in a The Altar RSZDspectacular ambush of the Romans at the Masada armory. Then they took the Antonia Fortress, cleared the Second Temple, and finally drove all Roman forces out of Jerusalem. This was the first time this had happened since the days of Scaurus, Hyrcanus II, Antipater, King Judah Aristobulus II, and Gnaeus Pompey, 129 years earlier.9 This means that the 'Gentiles' who occupy the Temple complex for just under four years are Jews, and only Jews.10

For the reasons we stated above, this chapter is central to our argument that the Book of Revelation is validated by a Semitic background, and only that. Every other scenario that interpreters can imagine takes away from, distracts from, and weakens the message by imagining that John was concerned about the Romans and their empire, capital, and civilization, when nothing could be further from the truth! If the fall of the Roman Empire was what John had in mind, then the Temple of God and the city where our Lord was crucified would be completely left out of the equation, plain and simple.

Roman civilization marched on, triumphantly, but chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation shows that the overthrow of the city was long overdue because of the irreverence of the people who were given responsibility for ceremonial rituals by Moses himself. By their own actions, they brought those sacred procedures to a dishonorable and underhanded halt during the First Great War.

Meanwhile, the kingdom of God, which was the main cause of the war and something Jewish nationalists believed belonged to them and would be given to no one else, came, without observation, in the midst of their mischief and atrocities in the Temple, around the city, and in the country (Revelation 11:15).11

Revelation chapter 11 also contains obvious and subtle clues that point away from Rome but definitely towards Jerusalem as the setting. The Temple of God is conspicuous, and so is the identification of the place as 'the great city where our Lord was crucified.'12  A lesser-known fact is that Rome had a population far above 70,000 people, but Jerusalem was a city that could easily claim this lower number of inhabitants (Revelation 11:13).13

The Kingdom of God Comes With Power!

At last, the kingdom of God begins, along with judgment, the time of the dead, and resurrection. These events match Daniel's prophecy about the end of the fourth kingdom. However, they don't really relate to the fall of Rome in the fifth century or the end of the eastern Roman Empire in A.D.1453 (Revelation 11:14-19 compared to Daniel 7:13-27).

This significant beginning coincides with the start of the Jewish war. It begins after God's two witnesses finish their three-year and six-month ministry. As the war progresses, things get worse until the witnesses are killed, and people exchange gifts to celebrate their deaths. Their bodies are left unburied, which goes against Jewish customs, but such actions become common during this war.

The Church, Not Mary, Fled to the Wilderness

Some religious scholars from various denominations have tried to connect the events described in Revelation 12 to the struggles Mary faced when she and Joseph fled Bethlehem to escape King Herod's wrath. However, historical records show that Mary had passed away long before the events described in Revelation.  So, what could these passages mean?

Some suggest it could refer to the Jerusalem Church seeking safety in Pella, as instructed by Jesus in the Gospels. The danger was imminent as Zealots gained power, leading to the Jewish revolt.

Various historical sources confirm the Jerusalem Church's escape as the city fell into chaos. Revelation 12 portrays the Jerusalem Church as precious and holy, not a wicked entity left behind. This contradicts the idea of a complete Rapture as some believe.

Understanding Revelation 12, we see the woman symbolizing the original Church in Jerusalem. The red dragon represents the forces opposing the Church during the revolt. The woman's three-year and six-month journey without her child indicates this isn't Mary's story but the Church's, with a mysterious segment translated to heaven at the start of hostilities.

As chaos unfolded in Jerusalem, Christians obeyed Jesus' warning and fled. After the woman and her 'son' found safety, Satan battled with the Archangel Michael, symbolizing the spiritual conflict over Jerusalem.

Finally, the events described in Revelation 12 align with Daniel's prophecy about the end times, not with later historical events like the sacking of Rome or the fall of the eastern Roman Empire.

In conclusion, while the woman and her 'son' find refuge, not all Christians are safe, as Satan continues to harass and destroy them.

A Description of the Jewish War
Forces and Their Modus Operandi

In Revelation chapters 13-14, the focus shifts to the Jewish war forces, portraying them in a rather unfavorable light. They're depicted as a chaotic and aggressive conglomerate, embodying impulsiveness and vicious intentions. Despite their quick thinking, they're also described as slow-moving and loud-mouthed. Drawing from Daniel 7:4-6, the author, John, envisions a beast that seems to harm itself due to its contradictory nature.

Moreover, this beast is believed to be empowered by Satan, and its supporters view it as unbeatable in war. However, this confidence ultimately proves futile as the beast faces defeat by Revelation 19:7-21. Revelation 13:13 seems to mirror the early days of King Solomon's reign, suggesting a false sense of permanence akin to the Temple and Aaronic priesthood, despite God's declaration of their impermanence (Hebrews 8:13).

In contrast, Revelation 14 introduces the holy ones standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb, contrasting their behavior with that of the beast. Those who resist the beast's influence are commended for their steadfastness in the faith of Christ, despite the extreme nationalism fueling the Jewish rebellion. Revelation 14:14 depicts the Church's offspring, previously mentioned in Revelation 12:5, participating in a grim depopulation event, likely set in Jerusalem or all of Judea.

The initial year of the war, meant to challenge Roman rule, quickly devolves into a devastating civil war, unprecedented in Jerusalem's history. Faced with famine, disease, and internal strife, the Jewish rebellion drags on, plagued by mounting misfortunes.

.21 

The next thing we note about the beast is that it is empowered by Satan and its admirers believe it to be invincible to losing a war.  They relay this feeling by asking, Who is like the beast and who can make war against him?  This notion may be because of the size of the army and the sense of purpose and bravery it felt for the mission before it but the important thing to note is that in all cases it floundered and failed by the time we reach Revelation 19:7-21.  Nevertheless, the circumstances of Revelation 13:13 seem to be designed to mimic the beginnings of the First Hebrew Commonwealth under King Solomon (as if the Temple and the Aaronic priesthood would survive, intact, into perpetuity and forevermore, in spite of God declaring that it was waxing old and ready to vanish. (Heb. 8:13).22   Revelation chapter 14 opens as if to contrast the beast the emerged from the sea in Revelation 13:1 with the holy ones who stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb (Rev. 14:1-5).  Who they are, who they are with, what they have done and not done and what they say with their mouths seems to be in opposition to the behavior of the beast. (Rev.13:5-6) Meanwhile, Revelation 14:8 initiates declarations against anyone accepting the mark of the beast and names the eternal consequences of those who do; standing steadfast in the faith of Christ against this extreme abberition of Jewish nationalism is the ‘patience of the saints.’ (Rev. 14:12)  In Revelation 14:14 the Church’s offspring, who was caught up to God in Revelation 12:5, is seen wearing a golden crown and holding a sharp sickle in his hand to participate in a ghastly depopulation event where the scene of this catastrophe in Revelation 14 is doubtlessly, Jerusalem if not all of Judæa itself, if we only go by the wording John uses when he says,

And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. (Rev. 14:20).23

The first year of the war, which was intended to repudiate Roman rule in the Holy Land, backfired quickly and became an intractable, internecine civil war.  Jerusalem had never seen anything like it, nor would it ever happen on this scale again.  But the storm was far from over, as misfortunes multiplied faster than the seditious could hope to respond.  Overwhelmed by famine, disease, and infighting the Jewish rebellion/ civil war drags on.

The Fifth Section: The Seven Bowls Readied

Revelation chapter 15 represents an interlude that tells us, in so many words, that some number of Christians were put to death for not acquiescing to receive the image, name, mark, or number of the Beast on their right hands or on their foreheads.
We know they are dead for the simple reason that John sees them already in heaven walking on a sea of glass and fire, happily triumphant with Christ their Lord and ours. Meanwhile, another round of judgments, more severe than the last fourteen, is ready to be administered to dash the Beast and his warriors against the jagged rocks of punitive Divine realities.

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.  2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”

And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.  And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth forever and ever.

And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. (Rev. 15:1-8).

As Revelation 15 pauses to reflect on the happy state of those Christians who were only recently martyred, it also portends that more severe measures are about to be inflicted upon those whose evil imaginations drive them to do evil in order to justify the Messianic ambitions they wish to achieve.

Revelation 16: The Seven Bowls

Just when the Beast thought he had his chance to successfully pursue prosecution of victory against Roman rule, Christians and the hated Jerusalem Aristocracy his bid was complicated by tragic and deadly, eerie and mysterious setbacks. Chapter 16 details let us know that the members of the Beast’s circle of devotees have succumbed to the idolatry of his leadership, his visage, and his persona.

For this sin, God inflicts them with loathsome and painful sores (Rev.16:2). The next thing that happens is an apparent red tide (Rev.16:3). After that, the rivers and fountains of water became blood (Rev.16:4).

And I heard the angel of the waters say, “Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be because thou hast judged thus.  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” (Rev.16:5-6)24

The reader will notice that, up to this point, nothing in the Book of Revelation narrative has in any way strayed off-topic or off course.  The people who were causing the Church’s problems in the far northwest in Asia Minor in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 are the same people who trudge forward in pain, despair, and hopelessness in Revelation chapter 16.

The once over-confident men who support the beast, in this chapter, are dashed against jagged rocks of Christ’s punitive realities which they can neither evade nor escape.  Revelation 16:2 and 16:3, 16:4-7 and 16:8-9, 16:10-11, and 16:12-14 walk us up to the promised Second Coming (Rev. 16:15).25  Here Jesus is clearly in charge of all the misfortunes, reversals, upheavals, and miseries the Jewish nationalists had to suffer and endure and to extract his promised Parousia from this, in order to put it clean out of the time frame conceived in the New Testament represents the greatest audacity, presumption, and error.  What he said he would do and when he said he would do it is couched in so many contextual circumstance that overlap that it guarantees failure and disappointment to assume such a prodigy will happen in any other context or at any other time.

Moreover, Revelation 16:16 tells us that some mysterious goings-on in northern Judæa, in and around the Jezreel Valley of Meggido ends up determing the outcome of the climaxing war that is converging on the great city.

Now, we know from Josephus that a Levite priest, John of Gischala, who is describes as an exceptionally evil person of some rank and standing during this war, is coming from this direction and hopes to get Jerusalem in his power and away from the hold of his arch-enemy Simon Bar Giora, who is vying also to be the promised Moshiach of the Tanakh, the ‘Lord and Savior’ of Jerusalem.26

The Seventh Bowl: Revelation 16:17-21

A long and brutal war, intended to resolve two issues and achieve a shining promise, converges into a disaster of monumental proportions: the largest and most famous shrine on the face of the earth has been a garrison, a shop of terror and tyranny, atrocities, sacrilege and bloodshed for over three years.  Now, by the inexorable will of God, the wheels of fate grind slowly and surely toward the fated climax where the city, sanctuary, and priesthood will forever pass into a sad and misty memory.  Jerusalem, she had served her purpose; the priesthood, it was decaying and growing old, the laws engraved on stones, they could not be kept and every impulse in this present war was to flout them to the nth degree.  An explosion of transgressions, arising from the mystery of iniquity, polluted every aspect of this war, at every turn, even as above two million pilgrims crowded into the doomed city to celebrate the Passover in the midst of flying darts and missiles and carnage all around!  Priests and pilgrims, going about their worship duties, were struck by darts flying overhead, yet the living went on with their duties like automatons oblivious to their grisly surroundings of purifying carnage and shocking cannibalism all around.

Ringing the city with his troops, Simon Bar Giora intended to keep any from Jerusalem from escaping to the Romans.  But within the Temple, John and his gang hope to get out and destroy the Jerusalemites and burn the city to the ground.  The pilgrims assume that the city will survive these troubles and it and they will live on to see happier days.

The walls of Jerusalem are so high that they offer everyone the false comfort that the Romans, even if they had wings of an eagle, would never be able to even fly in.  But the Roman weapons of war were catapults―state-of-the-art war-craft at that time.

Nobody realizes it, but the city is about to be bombarded with one hundred pound boulders that will breach the walls and lead to the city’s long overdue destruction in the autumn of the Jewish year 3830 or A.D.70.27

The Great City at the Brink

The description of the Great City has fired the imaginations of interpreters to think of many things―Rome, Constantinople, Christendom, the United States of America―even commercialism and big business, but nothing, on the foundation of Old Testament prophecy, or New Testament indictments would or could warrant this metropolis to be any place other than first-century Jerusalem.

The crimes with which she is accused are identical with what Jesus laid to her charge in Matthew 23:13-39; her sin of harlotry is attested in the Old Testament (Is. 1:21 cf. Ezek. 16:15-34), and again and again, she is said to be the killer of prophets (Luke 13:31-35, Acts 7:52 and 1 Thess. 2:14-16). 

She is being stoned for adultery (Lev. 20:10 cf. Rev. 16:21), but a Divine raging fire will lay her even with the ground (2 Thess. 2:4-10; Rev. 18:8-19).  The Jerusalem that Jesus knew was now extinguished; she perished by internecine hatred, intractable sedition, mass murder, and the flames of fire for having the blood of the righteous and the good on her hands (Rev. 18:24 cf. Luke 11:45-51).

The Seventh Section: The Aftermath

The dramatic events of the previous four sections (sections 3 through 6) encapsulate, in stark detail, all the events and chaotic circumstances that saw Jerusalem, the State Temple, and the Levitical priesthood fall and disappear from history and living memory.  Now she was but a dismal dream but the men and women who were her nemesis, if they were not killed by each other, or imprisoned by the Romans, lived on, cheering themselves up with vain thoughts about Bible prophecy, typology, and false hopes of a soon-to-come seventh-decade renaissance, the likes of what was witnessed at that renowned largesse of Cyrus the Great in the days of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel.  For this, the will to fight persisted and flared brightly in three hotspots across the nation: The Fortress of Machaerus, the Forest of Jarden, and the Fortress of Masada, this last being the location where the revolt was initiated in the first place.  Mass killings by these same elements plagued nearby Roman civilization in Crete, where 250,000 Romans were summarily put down, as well as many more innocent people in Alexandria, Egypt, and Cyrenaica.28  The impacts of the destruction of  Jerusalem clearly were not isolated in and to the Holy Land, but the mastery over the threat was eventually achieved by the determined Romans, nonetheless.

By the end of an additional three-year and six-month span of time after the city fell, Masada, too, caved into the oblivion of fate, the rebels taking their own lives and fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy and warning to the Apostle Peter found in Matthew 26:52: “He that lives by the sword shall die by the sword” (and see Rev. 13:10).29 

The Eighth Section: Reprieve and Reprise

In many ways Revelation chapter 20 is considered the most challenging part in the riddle, enigma, and mystery of the Book of Revelation.  Where does it commence, where does it fit, and when did it happen?  If it did not happen when will it happen? Another question that haunts Christians is this: Why would God bind then release such a malignant foe as Satan was, only to allow him to come back to deceive and doom mankind for a second time?

These questions are best answered and resolved by the decided sequence of the situations and circumstances that frame the Book of Revelation.  A definite framework holds its narrative in a stable shape; a decided orbit pivots around issues, events, and realities.  A definitive reprieve and reprise emerge from these careful considerations in real-time in first and second-century Jewish salvation history.  Other legitimate ways to discover how this chapter should be appraised can assist interpreters to make a balanced assessment of options that may prove realistic while others may have to be considered completely out of the question.30

With the kingdom of God already established when the war was barely initiated in A.D.66, the great city was wiped out in A.D.70; the Zealot’s sad suicidal Waterloo atop Masada blasted their hopes in A.D.73, so what remained?  What happened after their sound defeat was a direct uptick in Roman prestige and power and glory, all across the empire.  No longer saddled with the responsibility and headache of Judæa’s rebel demands and seditious and seemingly illogical holy war undertakings, the empire concerned itself with building monuments of victory, celebration, and renewed and stronger security measures.

In the country different developments were afoot: An intolerable Christian triumphalism and evangelistic zeal fanned Christian missionary zeal to a white-hot flame.  Nobody could escape the message that the Temple’s destruction had been long foretold and now it was a visible, obvious, and undeniable fact.  These efforts, therefore, led to Jewish conversions and rising alarm and concern among Jewish authorities that this threat to their wounded national institutions and their traditional culture should not go unchecked.

Seeking healing in Jesus’ name by Christians was made a crime and the New Testament was declared not to be Holy Scriptures.31  A benedictory prayer, the Nineteenth Benediction, was composed in order to dissuade Christians from attending synagogue services, where they often debated and (by Isaiah 53) persuaded rabbis that Jesus was indeed the Christ of Israel’s prophecy hopes.32  Other efforts were made to alert the Roman authorities that Christians were not truly Jewish and were designed to exclude the believers from the shelter that Religio lecita long afforded the Jews.33  

On the battlefield, Jewish enthusiasts attempted to set down new footprints, hoping to remind the Romans, in A.D.115-117, that they had not given up, but cruel and severe measures by Lusius Quietus African Roman general RSZDLusius Quietus put down these efforts and seemed to temper and dim Jewish hopes, at least for the time being.34

As the decades perdured toward the seventy-year mark Jewish instinct around Bible notions revived and lit up with ungovernable determination and zeal that now or never they must stake their very lives on what they as a nation had always supposed the prophecies of the kingdom of God would be and what those promises would bring. 

Coming out of the shadows (some say even from the Sambatyon River mud itself) in A.D.132, a young man, allegedly a descendant of King David, by the name of Simeon Bar Kosiba, was proclaimed to those Jews and Israelites far and near that he was a star ‘that fell from heaven.’  He alleged that he was sent to deliver Israel from its humiliation and miseries that it long endured with patient grit since the time when the Romans stepped in.  A leading rabbi of that time, Joseph Ben Akiva, seconded Bar Kosiba and christened him, Bar Kokhba, the Son of a Star, basing this moniker on the star prophecy of Balaam found in Numbers 24:17,

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near.  A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.”

Not only were events in the Jewish world indicative of a trend toward very realistic hopes of restoring the national State Temple, but rumors also ran amuck that the Roman emperor, Hadrian himself, had expressed a strong desire to allow the Jews to rebuild their lost sanctuary and devastated city (in reality he wanted the city rebuilt as a Roman city, Aelia Capitolina and when the Jews found out it was this instead of their Mosaic dreams they were furious).

So they invaded their own homeland and began to rebuild their city and Temple without Rome’s permission.  These two developments frightened Christians in a way we probably cannot now appreciate (but we can try to imagine what they were feeling hearing these alarming reports).  Why would they be frightened at the prospect of the Jews rebuilding Jerusalem and its Temple?  It would be because in Christian eyes the Temple-centered Jerusalem would never be built again, according to the assurance of Bible prophecy (Revelation 18:21-23).  This promise was understood to be a Divine edict, not because of ethnic hatred or rivalry, but because the era of the Temple and the need for animal sacrifices had served its purpose and was superseded by the altar of the Cross and the blood Jesus shed for mankind. 

If things could be brought back to pre-A.D.70 normalcy, that would at the same time mean that Jesus was NOT Israel’s Christ and the event of the Cross and Jesus' third-day resurrection was in vain.  Clearly, the implications of Bar Kokhba and a Third State Temple would be terrifying news to any Christian worth his or her salt!35

Besides the news of this, multitudes of Jews came from all over the world and thronged Jerusalem under the glowing prospect that Bar Kokhba was the long-awaited Messiah-king that Israel needed to challenge and destroy the Roman Empire, finally and at last.  We are told the city was quickly rebuilt, to the dismay of not only the Christians, but also of the Romans, and a war was declared that the Romans were, at first, not prepared for.

Admittedly, this Eighth Section is a debatable one simply because the text says that Satan would be bound for a thousand years and the stretch of time from the First Revolt to the Third Revolt is merely or approximately seven decades.  Literalists will fault this and reject this interpretation out of hand.  At the same time, non-literalist can claim that a different set of circumstances could as easily account for what Revelation 20 really means, where have we an interpretive advantage over either?

We believe the authority of Jesus, at every step, could justify shrinking the millennium into the lifetime of the generation of people he walked among.  To explain what that is and apply what that means, of course, we need to define, how long is a generation.

First of all, a generation in its widest Biblical sense could be roughly 107.5 years.36  

Second, Satan would be ejected from that generation and return, but when was he cast out?37

If we can determine at what point he was cast out, then at some point before the end of a 107.5-year mark we can look around and see if anything historically noteworthy arose around the affairs of the people of Jesus’ day.

If we can detect not only something completely singular but also unquestionably finalizing the Jewish State’s national existence, it will be fair (we think) to conclude that this mysterious chapter finds satisfaction no later than the rise and fall of Israel under the false claims, misrule, and rebellion of Simeon Bar Kokhba.

The obvious cross-reference of Revelation 20:8 with Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 strengthens the view that yet another strange Pyrrhic war by Israel and in Israel is the distinct subject of the 20th chapter of Revelation.  Ezekiel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog envisages a singular defeat, a catastrophic overthrow.  Under Bar Kokhba did this happen to the Romans (who the Jews would have seen as ‘Gog and Magog’) or did the defeat happen to Bar Kokhba and Israel itself?  History grimly attests that the initiation of the war and the defeat experienced by those who amassed in great numbers to win it belongs to Israel and to her sympathizers, just as Ezekiel had long ago foretold (Ezekiel 38:8-16).

Another reason we believe the second-century Jewish war is the answer to the end of the millennium is because of the way the armies are described.  When the Apocalypse says their number was ‘as the sand of the sea’ and that expression, in and of itself, is a signal that we are talking about the First People of God (see Romans 9:27).38  In addition, the idea that the destruction of this sinister effort was like unto Sodom and Gomorrah is a signal, too (See Revelation 20:9 cf. Romans 9:29).

Today we think of India and China as two countries possessing populations exceeding billions, but in the Bible days, Israel was such a nation-see Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 11.5.2:131-133.39

Finally, historically speaking, Jewish opposition against the Gospel, the warnings of Jesus, the miracles, inspiration, and claims of the Apostles, and Christian evangelism came to such an unquiet, catastrophic, and deadly end that the seemingly unlikely (but truthful) conclusion would be that the universal judgment was the sentencing of countless souls at the terminus of this strange and untimely end of the historic second-century Jewish State.  They had made light of, spurned or opposed a critical and serious turn in God’s course of action in their own salvific history and, hoping things would continue to be as they had always been, found themselves condemned, standing on the edge of oblivion and all that they hoped for and held near and dear faded and passed away forever.

The Ninth Section: A Semitic 

Destination and Epilogue

We have reached the last two chapters of the New Testament, and their meaning, (surprisingly or unsurprisingly), fits neatly into every theme insisted upon in the Christian Scriptures: That salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).  As Jesus was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel incarnated in Semitic flesh, sent to a chosen but apostate Semitic nation which possessed but abused Semitic institutions, this destination, reveals cumulatively, at that we have come, at last, to a Semitic destination.

Revelation 21:1 makes sense as the aftermath, not of Revelation chapter 18:24 or 19:21, but 20:15 if and only if we assume that Bar Kokhba was able to successfully (if briefly) rebuild and restore a Third Jewish Temple.  If he could make the ‘engine,’ however impermanently, then the earnest period following the downfall of the Last War is the triumphant result of what Jesus came to do, against the forces of death and hell, by establishing, permanently, his sacerdotal reign, for all time and eternity.40

Additional details in this chapter include:-

  • No more sea, the end of seditions and- national-revolutionary rage, which are finally quelled and over vs. 1
  • John sees the holy city - new Jerusalem vs. 2.
  • The God of Israel is the God of his new people - his Church vs. 3.
  • The experience of death, sorrow, crying and pain cease here - vs. 4.
  • Here all things are new and these words are true and faithful - vs. 5
  • Christ promises the thirsty the waters of life freely - vs. 6
  • He that overcometh shall inherit all things and Christ will be his God and he shall be his son - vs. 7.
  • Those who are barred from these environs are the fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolators, and all liars, whose place shall be in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death - vs. 8.
  • Twelve gates to the city have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel engraved upon them - vs. 12.  The twelve gates are made of twelve pearls - v. 21
  • The wall of the city has twelve foundations and engraved upon them are the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb - vs. 14.  Each of the twelve foundation stones is made of a precious rock--jasper and sapphire, chalcedony and emerald, sardonyx and sardius, chrysolite and beryl, topaz and chrysoprase, jacinth and amethyst - vss. 19-20
  • The city itself is 1,500 miles or 2414.016 kilometers, a perfect square - vss. 15-16.
  • The street of the city is made of gold, but of such a kind transparent as clear glass, which is unknown to this world - vss. 18 and 21.
  • There is no temple in this city and no need of either the sun or the moon to shine for the radiance of the glory of God and his Son is the light of it - vs. 22-23.
  • The final verse of this chapter reiterates what types of people will and won't be in this Semitic place (Revelation 21:27).
  • The 21 verses of Revelation 21 continue to describe the holy city as possessing ‘a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,’ flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb (vs.1).
  • In the middle of the street of it and on either side of the river there is a tree of life that bares twelve kinds of fruit and yields these every month, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations (vs. 2).

There is no curse there, but God and the Lamb are in it and his servants will serve him, as his face shall be seen and his name shall be in their foreheads.  Again, there is no night there and so no need for candles for God supplies the light and they shall reign forever and ever.

The Concerns of the Epilogue 

At Revelation 22:6 the concerns of the Holy Spirit switches from describing the eternal Tsion to assuring us that all of this is trustworthy and true and that their establishment as facts is swift to be settled:-

“And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.  Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:6-7).

In fact, within the next 16 verses that comprise the epilogue of this book, 7 verses specifically pertain to the idea that the return of Jesus, from the standpoint of when it was written, was shortly, quickly, at hand, close to the point it being too late to change, again, quickly, the Spirit and Bride say Come, and those who heard said, Come, Christ ends his testimony in the New Testament by saying,

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen” (Revelation 22:20a). 

To which John adds his final affirmation and benediction:-

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen” (Revelation 22:20b-21).

After all the doleful events outlined in Revelation, it is interesting that this, aside from Matthew 12:31-32, which makes speaking evil of the Holy Spirit unforgivable, Galatians 1:8-9 which protects the Gospel from perversion, 1 Corinthians 11:29 which holds sacrosanct the body and blood of our Lord. Likewise, Revelation 22:18-19 seeks to protect the Apocalypse by invoking imprecations and maledictions against anyone who would either add to or take from its contents, which means the book can only be abused and toyed with under the prospect and danger of a certain, incalculable and everlasting cost and loss.

And so, there is a four-fold line which the New Testament draws in the sand, bold lines of a forbidden zone over which we may not cross without peril now, and in the hereafter. 

Our investigation is done, but we encourage each one to pray and pursue this topic further, setting aside time for study and reflection on how the knowledge of the last days of the former legalistic Semitic age adds gravity, height, width, breadth, and depth to the enterprise we today call the body of Christ, the Church, and Christianity.  Indeed, it makes a big difference if the prophecies came true on time, or if they proved false and may be considered impossibilities and hollow platitudes and empty warnings in the hands of all succeeding Christian generations. 

We hope the evidence of a definite ancient Semitic background, context, and set in, through, and around the Book of Revelation demonstrates to the reader that the prospect that it failed to prove true or that it neglected to transpire is certainly not the case!

Endnotes

1 In the Treaty of Apamea the Seleucids was forced to give up Asia Minor, which fell to Roman allies. As a main result of the war, the Roman Republic gained hegemony over Greek city-states and Asia Minor and became the only remaining major power around the Mediterranean Sea. Source: Roman-Seleucid War wiki.

2 Now glorified at the right hand of the Father, Jesus, is the only one in heaven, on earth, or under the earth deemed worthy to take the book, which was sealed, and administer, in truth and justice, the terrible consequences found therein.

The scene roughly parallels what the Prophet Daniel saw in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar when he saw the Night Vision of ten thousand times ten thousand standing and lauding God as the judgment was set and the books were opened. (Dan. 7:10)

3 The correspondence between Revelation 6:12-17 and Jesus’s stark warnings to the daughters of Jerusalem in Luke 23:27-31 lassos the initial debacles of the Seals to the lifetime of Second Temple contemporaries, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

4 The Jewish faction that rejected Jannaeus’s leadership (and all Hasmonean leadership, thereafter) are known to us today as the Qumran community which produced the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.  The New Testament Gospels appear to identify their role as scribes (hence, ‘the Scribes’) and archaeological evidence suggests that their religious compound also possessed tanneries where religious texts were written and manufactured.  The Qumran scribes not only copied and produced Biblical texts, but they also considered themselves the only true Israel, and the ‘Sons of Light.’  This doomsday sect fomented interpretations and doctrines, notions, and superstitions about the identity of a Roman fourth kingdom and they had concrete ideas about how they and their colleagues, assisted by angels, would one day conquer the Romans, whom they identified (ironically) as the ‘Sons of Darkness.’  (See Hartmut Stegemann, The Library of Qumran, 1998).

The recovery of the so-called ‘War Scrolls’ reveals to us specific steps, strategies, and outcomes they believed would materialize once their war with the Roman Empire came to fruition, but it would never be, because in A.D.68, two years after the beginning of the Great War, the Romans completely destroyed their compound, exposing their religious aspirations and hopes to be mere flights of fancy, rather than Divine revelations.

Ultimately, however, the Book of Revelation, in chapter 5, shows God’s war scroll strategy and Jesus’ central role in directing the angels of heaven to frustrate Israel’s messianic ambitions, while orchestrating measures to bring the new and living way into full force, forevermore.  

5 See Acts 7:51-60; 9:1-2; Ro. 8:36; Gal. 4:21-31, and 1 Thess. 2:15.

6 There was a time when we assumed that the massacre of Jewish officials (recorded in Wars 2.14.9:306-308) matched this instance of judgment, but further reflection and consideration convinces us that the evidence points to something below the radar and, perhaps, in time evidence will emerge that makes better sense.

7 Cross-referencing, equating, or confusing events which happened before Jerusalem fell (Rev. 6:12-17) with events that happened after the destruction of the city was a settled fact (Rev. 19:1-4; 21:1) can only compromise the integrity of the narrative and jeopardize the direction, sense of and proper interpretation of the story.  If our timeline is true, the events in Revelation transpired literally decades apart from the events which happened from Revelation 20:11-21:1.

8 See Dan. 9:24-27; Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14 and 2 Thess. 2:1-12.

9 Tacitus, Histories, Book V. VIII.-IX, p. 191.

10 But although they are Jews, they are not behaving as Jewish people would, but instead, according to Josephus, they yearned to extinguish all religious regard for God and esteemed the greatest piece of wickedness to be the greatest good.

11 See Luke 17:20 and note that Jesus promised the Apostles the expected kingdom of God would indeed come in connection with the Jewish war - Luke 21:31.

12 See, e.g., Luke 9:31.

13 On the population of first century Rome see, e.g., Cambridge University Press Study, the Population of ancient Rome.

14 See three examples of these war-crime indignities in Josephus Wars 4.6.1:360; 4.6.3:383 and 5.13.1:531.

15 See Hyppolitus of Thebes on the death of Mary at Ephesus in A.D.41.

16 On the abandonment of the city also see Josephus’ Wars 2.20.1:556-557.  See Wikipedia references to Flight to Pella traditions here.

17 On Jewish Nationalist misteps see, Wars 2.19.2:517-4:529, and 3.2.1:9-21, 3.2.3:22, 3.7.12:181-185, and 3.7.33:316-34:331.

18 The notion that ‘bad’ Christians were left on the earth to face the music of the Great Tribulation while ‘good’ Christians were taken straight to heaven to miss the ensuing troubles entirely is not a rational teaching in light of the way Church is gloriously depicted and protected by the Romans in Revelation 12:14 and 16.

19 Tacitus Histories, Book V. XII.-XIII, p. 197.

20 Josephus Complete Works, Dissertation 3 Book 5 Chapter 13, 1006.

21 See, https://www.bible.com/bible/406/2CH.7.1-22.ERV

22 In regard to the ability or inability to ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ a wide application of Revelation 13:17 leads to interpretations centered around general economic access rather than cultic access to the Second Temple, which, if seen in the light of Matthew 21:12 would make a more precise interpretation of the connotations this chapter originally intended to convey. 

On the controversial issue of the cryptogram of Revelation 13:16-18, we believe that it, too, has deep Semitic implications.  See, for example, M.G. Michael, Observations on 666 in the Old Testament, 1999.  The danger, therefore, if considered in the overall context of the many ingredients that can be explored and discovered, will tend towards a clearer view of the odiousness and abject failure endemic in Jewish nationalism and the governmental ambitions of the ‘seditious.’  (note Josephus’s Complete Works, Wars of the Jews 3.8.6:386 and Martin Hengel’s The Zealots, where oddities like wounds, suicide pacts, and incantations make it even more certain that diabolical measures were instituted by Jewish fourth kingdom sophists to reach their impossible goal.  See, Hengel, The Zealots, The Names of the Jewish Freedom Movement, p. 67, 1989.

23  Compare this similar wording with Hebrews 13:13.

24 See bloody seas in sea fight and Mediterranean operations, in the Jordan, along the shores of the Dead Sea and the Sea of Tiberias.

25 See the promised Second Coming “as a Thief” (1 Thess. 5:1-4) is situated when the Destruction of Jerusalem was at the doors around Passover of A.D.70. 

26 See Wars of the Jews 4.9.11:566-571.  The Aristocracy’s fear that John would get among the people and also set Jerusalem on fire led them to hold a council to choose a leader to keep Jerusalem’s days from being numbered; this is expressed in the Book of Revelation as the fateful decision that will, ultimately doom the city to its destruction (See Wars of the Jews 4.9.11:572-12:577 and compare with Revelation 17:11-17).

27 On the bombardment of the city with one hundred pound bolders see Wars of the Jews 5.6.3:269-272.

28 Two hundred and fifty thousand Cretans were put to death by Jewish insurgents on the island (D. Mendels, Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism).

29 The consequences of these militant Jews living by the sword meant that they had to also die by it, too.  See Wars of the Jews 7.8.6:320-7.9.2:406.

30 An examination of Satan’s whereabouts in the Gospels, Acts, and the epistles eliminates the idea that he was ever bound before the A.D.70 destruction of Jerusalem.  See Lk. 22:3; Acts 5:3, 16; Ro. 16:20, 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 11:14; 1 Thess. 2:18, and Jas. 4:7 and 1 Pet. 5:8, also note Rev. 2:13).  

31 New Testament declared not to be holy or Scriptures (see Rabbi Akiba’s Messiah, the Origins of Rabbinic Authority, pp. 156-158).

32 First and early second-century Christians used Isaiah 53 with great effect to convince Jewish authorities that Jesus was indeed their Saviour, sacrifice, and Lord.  However, measures to put a stop to these developments were not long in coming.  A version of the text of the 19th Benediction (Birkat ha Minim) reads as follows: 

For the apostates (meshumaddim) let there be no hope, and uproot the kingdom of arrogance (malkhut zadom), speedily and in our days.  May the Nazarenes (ha-naẓarim/noṣrim/notzrim) and the sectarians (minim) perish as in a moment.  Let them be blotted out of the book of life, and not be written together with the righteous.  You are praised, O Lord, who subdues the arrogant.  Source: wikipedia.Birkat_haMinim

Christians refused to recite this benediction at the beginning of the Jewish liturgy and the strategy worked to separate them out of the Jewish community of faith, once and for all.

33 Religio Lecita was granted to ancient religions, of which Judaism easily qualified.  The Christians, however, could only claim the Church was the legitimate flower of Old Testament expectations, but the argument was disbelieved by conventional Jews and of no interest to Roman authorities.

34 Dio Cassius states of Jewish [second century] insurrectionists:

Meanwhile the Jews in the region of Cyrene had put one Andreas at their head and were destroying both the Romans and the Greeks. They would cook their flesh, make belts for themselves of their entrails, anoint themselves with their blood, and wear their skins for clothing. Many they sawed in two, from the head downwards. Others they would give to wild beasts and force still others to fight as gladiators. In all, consequently, two hundred and twenty thousand perished. In Egypt, also, they performed many similar deeds, and in Cyprus under the leadership of Artemio. There, likewise, two hundred and forty thousand perished. For this reason, no Jew may set foot in that land, but even if one of them is driven upon the island by the force of the wind, he is put to death. Various persons took part in subduing these Jews, one being Lucius, who was sent by Trajan.  Source Kitos War - Wiki

35 The Epistle of Barnabus plainly conveys the alarm second century Christians felt as they watched, in abject horror, the world they thought was gone forever, being built and restored, with sudden vigor and enthusiasm.  But they are told by St. Barnabus that the surreal phenomenon would not last, but would disappear as suddenly as it had appeared.  G. Alon writes of this crisis, 

The author of Barnabus found himself in a quandary about an event which upset his deepest beliefs.  So he tried to prove to himself―and to his readers―that it had all been foreseen, and that it would not last.  There were prophecies still to be fulfilled (he urged) showing that present events were merely a temporary aberration.  In any case (he said) neither holiness nor the Shekhina had ever dwelt in the Temple, and ancient prophecies tell us it will ultimately be destroyed forever.  So the hope of the Jews that it will be rebuilt is really meaningless.  The event that would fit all this most exactly would be a decree by Emperor Hadrian ordering the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  The prospect would excite eager anticipation among the Jews, but trepidation and dismay among the Christians.  The author of Barnabus sets out to allay the alarm in Christian ranks, as we have demonstrated.  To be sure, he speaks haltingly, because events seem to be going the other way.  But his faith buoys him up.  The Riddle of Hadrian, Epistle of Barnabus, The Jews in Their Land in the Talmudic Age, p. 451.

36 Four generations of Israelites in Egyptian captivity adds up to four hundred and thirty years - Exodus 12:40 cf. Genesis 15:13, and Galatians 3:17 means a single generation, in the widest possible Biblical sense is about 107.5 years.  But if a generation was only forty years that would mean they were in Egypt for only 160 years.

37 In the Parable of the Wicked Spirit our Lord clearly envisaged Satan’s career along a parallel that would meet its termination in the lifetime of the people who lived contemporaneously to him.  The house of Israel is presented in the Gospels as clearly possessed, here, here, and here.  But the situation after the Cross was not different than before the Cross―see Mark 1:13, Matthew 12:43-45, and Luke 22:3.  Events in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:3 cf. 5:16), circumstances in the epistles of Paul (Ro. 16:20; 2 Cor. 11:13-15 and Eph. 2:2), and threats in the Judæan epistles (Jas. 4:7, 1 Pet. 5:8 and 1 Jno. 4:4) make it clear that, far from being detained or imprisoned, Satan was in every way free.

Even in the Book of Revelation’s first section Satan is depicted, not as confined to the dungeon of the bottomless pit, but enthroned and actively ruling from Pergamos in Asia Minor (Rev. 2:13).  Thyatirans, not very far from his base, speak his depths, and on the eve of the destruction, he and his cohorts are up and ready to devour the mysterious manchild the moment he was born (Rev. 2:24 cf. 12:4)!  The entire 12th chapter of Revelation goes against any inkling that Satan was bound before the eve of the destruction, before the city fell, or before the armies of the beast were put down.  In Revelation 13:4 Satan empowers and is worshiped by the Sea Beast, and through Satan, the miracles that will entrap the Jewish pilgrims and proselytes are performed (see 2 Thess. 2:9-11 cf. Rev. 13:12-15).  Moreover, in Revelation 16:13, ahead of the stoning of the city, Satan was one of a trio of beings from whose month a frog was seen to emerge, so he was very much free ahead of the city's calamity.  Only after the city was no more was he apprehended and bound (Rev. 19:1-4 cf. Rev. 20:1-3).

38 By ‘first people of God’ we mean the people of the Old Testament, the first covenant, carnal Israel.  God presented the New Testament to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah,

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. (Heb. 8:7-9)

The New Testament is clear that God would take away the first in order to establish the second (Heb. 10:1-9).  And it is in the Apocalypse that the transition from the first to the second was completed, beginning with the seven Seal judgments and ending with the seven Thunder judgments against none other than ancient Israel itself (Rev. 6:1ff, cf. Rev. 10:1-7; 20:9).  

39 It is only since the demographic tragedies of A.D.133-136 that the Semitic children of Abraham have become a minor nation among the earth’s many ethnicities (as even Tacitus was aware of the ancient Israelite’s propensity for progeny).

He writes,

However they take thought to increase their numbers; for they regard it as a crime to kill any late-born child and they believe that the souls of those who are killed in battle or by the executioners are immortal; hence comes their passion for begetting children and their scorn of death. Tacitus, Histories, V.v.p. 183.  See also Hebrews 11:12 and Genesis 32:12.

40 According to King David and the Hebrew writer, Jesus is a priest ‘forever, after the order of Melchizedek’ (Ps. 110:4 and Heb. 5:5-6, 9-10; 6:20; 7:12*; 7:15-17, 21, 28 and 8:1-2).  In the truest sense, the Church is the Third Jewish Commonwealth and the Aaronic priesthood, which once held sway, has been completely eliminated (by right of war) making room for these new and permanent conditions promised and firmly established by our Lord Jesus Christ (see John 10:16 and Eph. 2;12-16 and 3:1-11; Heb. 10:1-9). 

The Book of Revelation, ultimately, is not purely about history (as such) but a testament about the way God established Christ’s kingdom by frustrating and subduing the world’s ambitions and putting his enemies under Jesus’s feet (Ps. 110:1).  This did not happen by destroying the Roman Empire, it happened by shaking, annulling, and destroying the Second Jewish Commonwealth: this is the story of the final book of the New Testament.

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