An Atavist Bible Standard
The Emergence of Christianity From
the Violent White-hot Crucible of First and
Second Century Militant Judaism
Questions, doubts, and fears about the legitimacy of the Book of Revelation as a valid part of the New Testament or as a sane and understandable representation of ‘things which must shortly come to pass’ bedevil Christians, scholars, and researchers hoping to ascertain what point can be made out of what seems, at first glance, to be a bewildering kaleidoscope or cacophony of visions and metaphors, allusions and angels, demons, sorcery, war and bloodshed, and gargantuan demographic tragedies.
Rising and falling, and rising again, like towering waves on stormy seas, the tumultuous chapters frantically lurch, spin, and sway from one fatal disaster to the next, seeming to portend an end of some unspoken milieu, which is described in great detail but not directly singled out by name.
In this essay, we hope to offer a credible solution, which in many ways is incredible, because it will at the same time isolate and identify the book’s sections, apparent flow, and final destination, proving, once and for all, that John was describing the disappearance of the only civilization that he was born in and was intimately acquainted with: The Second Jewish Commonwealth.
The logic of these sections, together and apart, lends a subtle, but undeniable underlying sense to what might otherwise be taken to be random themes strung together without either rhyme or reason. And it is unhelpful and unfortunate to assume upon the material contemporary woes with which we feel concerned, when, in reality, the book may intend to document a singular trajectory of events designed and orchestrated to bring Jewish salvation history under the Second Jewish Commonwealth to a close. This record might otherwise vanish like a phantom or a vapor from the memory of the new people of God.
To this end, we believe, it may prove to be both worthwhile and edifying to approach this work by giving this final New Testament message the benefit of the doubt and testing its meaning by its several parts and what can be reasonably construed by its evident sequence and brilliant, victorious and hopeful outcome.
The Seven Churches of Asia Minor
The Book of Revelation opens purporting itself to be a message to seven apparently Jewish Christian congregations situated along the western seaboard of the Anatolian Peninsula of Asia Minor. This was a former territory first claimed by the Diadochi leader Antigonus Monophthalmus (382-301 B.C.). He had been a companion and general under Alexander the Great, but after the untimely death of Alexander and the fallout from the brutal and bloody Diadochi Wars, his defeat led to the land falling into the hands of Seleucus I Nicator and his descendant lineage, the Seleucid Dynasty.1
As the Seleucid Empire began to wane the region became an important part of the ballooning Roman Republic, but it still contained a vast population of militant Greek nationalists, as well as Jewish Hellenists whose religious orientation and aspirations came from interpretations of prophecies in the Tanakh whilst their compass, was pointed to none other than Judæa and its capital, Jerusalem and the famed shrine, the Jewish State Temple, lately beatified by Herod the Great.
Now, indications in chapters 1-3 speak of challenges, troubles, and woes which beset the Christians around a loving commitment to Jesus, persecution by the synagogue, and a readiness for the end of the world.
In Revelation 1:9 John counts himself a companion of those churches who shared his experience of adversity and what he called the ‘kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.’
Throughout the first three chapters, there are singular expectations of Danielic prophecies of heavenly intervention understood as both necessary, near, and real (Rev. 1:1, 3, and 7 cf. Dan. 7:13).
In chapter two the social environment is Jewish rather than Roman (Rev. 2:9 cf. 3:9). For Jesus to call the Christian’s foes ‘the Synagogue of Satan’ in two instances is instructive because the Lord would never speak of Mithraic religion or Roman temples of worship, incense, and pagan sacrifices in this way or by these terms. Again, Revelation 2:24-25 portends that some established power arrangement will soon lose its grip and succumb to the will of Jesus in the then-impending future.
In Revelation chapter three the readiness for the nearness of the day of Christ stands opposite to the reality that some of the churches are not prepared for it (Rev. 3:3). They are warned that it will happen anyway and escape their perceptions entirely. The lone church in whose members no fault was found was given the promise that it would entirely escape facing the debacles soon to descend upon the Jewish world (Rev. 3:10-11). And so, Revelation chapters one through three encapsulates the prologue and the cause célèbre which occasioned the urgency and seriousness of the succeeding chapters that quickly follow.
In Revelation 1:1, for example, an information transaction in the Godhead tells us God the Father transmitted the ‘when’ of the Second Coming to the Son on the first day of the week (Rev. 1:10) perhaps sometime near or on a Hanukkah (as could be inferred from the allusion to the Menorah lampstand in Revelation 1:12-13) in late A.D. 61 or 62. Whatever the case, whenever Revelation was revealed to John, it had to be at least three years and six months before the beginning of the war (see Rev. 11:3-8).
Again, what stands out in chapter one is Revelation 1:1, 1:3, and 1:7 but in chapters two, verses 2:9, and 2:24-26 represent the same truth; in these verses it is clear that a change of civilization or power arrangement is waiting in the wings and the Christians to whom these letters originally came are the specific and primary beneficiaries. Revelation chapter 1:7 also harks back to Daniel 7:13 and Matthew 24:30 and Jude 14, not Acts 1:9-11 or Acts 2:33-36 where traditional beliefs insist that Daniel 7:13 speaks of the ascension, rather than the return of the Son in power and glory. This misunderstanding is the cause of massive disorientation and confusion and leads, ultimately, to the misinterpretation of the entire meaning of the book of Revelation where even something as glaring as Revelation 3:11 spoken as a definite promise to the church at Philadelphia escapes notice or is not taken seriously as a credible possibility under any circumstances.
The Second Section: Chapters 4-5
In Revelation chapters 4 and 5 John finds himself in the heights of heavenly realms where multitudes in thousands of thousands surround the Father and the Son to watch what is essentially a sacred ceremony of epic and consequential proportions. And in the preceeding there 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 happen, even while they are 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 seen as a victimized seven-eyed lamb slain, yet he is also the victorious Lion of the Tribe of Judah.2 He alone is found worthy to open the books and loose the seals and this alerts us that the convocation was not without a single imperative purpose: to initiate intentional calamities which will begin to unfold in Revelation 6:1. To overlook or to forget this is to abort what Sections 1, 2, and 3, and 4, and 5 together depict as the beginning of timed misfortunes that are 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
Revelation chapters 6-8 depict four terrors; these arrive on four horses of four different colors. They are agents of God’s holy war, riding on a red, black, and green horse. They race to the Holy Land to inflict a series of tragic Acts of God which are punitive measures initiated against a world that instantly (and correctly) suspects that it has come face to face with the great day of the wrath of the Lamb, and who shall be able to stand?3
Now, the Judæans, themselves (or at least an exclusivist section of that nation) had been planning a holy war, assisted by angels, for a very long time, since the murderous outrages of King Alexander Jannaeus, the Hasmonean (ca. 93 B.C.). A badly damaged copy of their war plans was one of seven manuscripts discovered in the caves adjacent to the Dead Sea, in 1947.4
Nevertheless, Jewish plans were by no means necessarily God’s will and what we see happening in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 are every indication that the upcoming commotions have everything to do with the failure of Judæa to accept or even properly respond to the appearance of Christ or to his warnings that the Temple, city, and nation stood in danger of faltering and failing (in spite of its own plans to enforce conscription and combat). The long story short is that God’s actions, not Judaea's ambitions, will lead to the nation suffering and a great number of people passing away. And so, the repercussions of the first four Seals inaugurate the drama that will increase in severity as each succeeding catastrophe makes itself an extenuating circumstance of the troubles preceding it. The debacle against the Second Jewish Commonwealth began as follows―
The First Seal: (Rev. 6:2) a white horse whose rider held a bow goes forth to conquer.
The Second Seal: (Rev. 6:3) a red horse whose rider wielded a sword to unleash civil unrest.
The Third Seal: (Rev. 6:5) a black horse whose rider had a pair of balances to cause the price of food to skyrocket to a penny for a measure of wheat and three measures of barley to be sold for a penny, but oil and wine remained unaffected by these serious price fluctuations.
The Fourth Seal: (Rev. 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 (Rev. 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 for us an unknown but deadly event; it clearly happens at least three years before Gessius Florus crucified Equestrian Jewish officials in A.D.66 and at this time we are unable to identify what this occasion might be without damaging the timeline.6
Now, Revelation chapter 7, is a truly controversial passage, especially since the advent 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 “own” the right to determine who has salvation and who does not; who is in and who is out.
But the passage makes no sense at all if it is disentangled from its Jewish first-century setting and set off into the remaining years of 19th-century American religious expectations. It defies logic to hijack 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 does 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 9:4-5 in particular, the sealing of the Jews and Israelites who embraced Jesus, the Apostles, and the Brit Chadashah make all the sense in the world, especially considering what comes next, in chapters 8-16.
More About the Sixth Seal
Six Seals have already been unleashed by Jesus, starting with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and ending with the sixth Seal which saw the sudden and unexpected collapse of the Jewish political universe; this major event was at the hands of Gessius Florus, happened in A.D.66 and must not be confused or entangled with the passing of the heavens and the earth which happened at the finalization of once-for-all-disappearance of the Second Jewish Commonwealth seventy years later, in A.D.136 via the agency of Emperor Hadrian (Rev. 21:1).7
At any rate, John’s description of a shake-down in Jewry as if the universe itself fell down might seem overblown, exaggerated, or unwarranted, if we did not have an antecedent situation six centuries prior in the events of Jeremiah 4:20-28, which reads,
Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. 21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.
I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
This text implies that something deadly and devastating led many Jews to run away from Jerusalem into the Dead Sea wilderness where such caves and mountainous dens are in abundance. But we still have the seventh Seal to reckon with and it will reveal its unpleasant and unwelcome contents in the next chapter.
The Seventh Seal Contains the Seven Trumpets
The question of time and timing has to be entertained. We are not often given a timetable when one event began, ended and another arose. We are told these things would soon take place, but the interlude between events in terms of if it was years, or months, or weeks or days seems, too often, to be anyone’s guess. But when we come to Revelation 8:1 we are told that there is silence in heaven for a mere half an hour—a mere 30 minutes. This brief wait speaks volumes because it tells us that the seventh item in a series of seven Seals is delayed only by 1,800 seconds, which is not a whole lot of time, by any stretch of the imagination.
And so, that means that six debacles came and went, and then the seventh came, was unpacked, and in it were seven Trumpets with a whole new battery or onslaught of existential unpleasantries. Revelation 8:6 has a strong sense of swiftness in it 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 a reiterated sense of quickness in 8:13!
Now, the fifth Trumpet, in Revelation 9:1-4, harks back to Revelation 7:3. And here, time is marked off as consisting of five months of pain and suffering, but a total willingness, but an inability to die. Again, Revelation 9:12 evokes immediacy and the approach of appalling supernatural entities from under the Euphrates River-bed to the tune of two hundred thousand all converging and marching on to the Holy Land in order to punish the inhabitants for their unrepentant posture towards God (Rev. 9:20-21).
The Seven Thunders—Put on Hold
For reasons unknown to us the seventh Trumpet is interrupted by John’s vision of the angel with the seven Thunders. In Revelation chapter 10 he saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed in a cloud, a rainbow about his head; his face shone like the sun and his feet were as pillars of fire. He had a little book in his hand and he put his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.
This tells us that if he was standing on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea his left foot stood on the Holy Land and his right foot was in the Mediterranean, which indicates he was facing south, towards Jerusalem, but away from Rome.
His utterance was as the loud cry of a lion and when he cried seven Thunders uttered their voices. But just as John was about to pen what the Thunders said, he was told,
Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. (Rev. 10:4)
In fact, the Book of Revelation never exactly says what the seven thunders represent, but we do know that whatever they stood for, they certainly did not happen in the first Jewish sedition that Revelation mainly focuses on. Gabriel’s comments to Daniel in Daniel 12:4 seem to militate against interpreting the seven thunders as something that would immediately befall Judæa, and the comments by the angel in Revelation 10:5-7 tell us plainly that the mystery of God would be complete when the seventh Thunder was sounded, yet in Revelation 16:17 when the seventh Bowl was poured out and Jerusalem was stoned with stones, but there we see that the seven Bowls and the seven Thunders are a completely different series of events. This leads us to believe the seven thunders struck the Hebrew state at last, in the events of the second-century grand rebellion under Simeon Bar Kokhba and not under the initial Messianic wars that plagued Israel in the first century. The angel gave John a little book to eat, which in his mouth was as sweet as honey, but when it reached his belly it was bitter (Rev. 10:8-10).
Finally, in verse 11, he is told that he must prophesy ‘again’ before many peoples, nations, languages, and kings. We interpret this to mean that after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70, John would be required to preach to the Jews again, for the complete end of the state’s mad ambition to have a Messianic warrior kingdom was not quenched, satisfied, or sated by all the misfortunes and tragedies that blasted their hopes in the A.D.66-70 attempt, which is exactly what chapter 11 below will detail.
The First Great Revolt Debuts
Revelation 11:1-2 stands out as unique and noteworthy because it does two things: It instantly connects events in the middle of the Book of Revelation with primary prophecies of Jesus in the Synoptics, Matthew and Mark, and Luke. In this order Matthew chapter 24 is best known for Christ’s prophecy of the Destruction of the Second Temple under conditions of natural disasters, famines, diseases, domestic turmoil, international strife, and sacrilege. That strife took shape with the unleashing of the four horsemen in Revelation chapter 6, as we have already seen. Moreover, we understand that what has befallen the Jewish nation is not without cause and not without its reasons. Nor do these developments happen as accidents of history, but are intelligently orchestrated adversities intended specifically to bring the nation to its senses and to its knees before God’s Son, Jesus.
The second thing we note in Revelation 11 is that the freedom fighters and those in favor of innovations and the robbers have the audacity to assemble for war at the Temple of God. This sacred structure 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 a matter of days, the multitudes transformed this edifice into a citadel, a fortress in which they will enact brutal and grisly atrocities for an entire forty-two months, unimpeded by any hand of caution or voice of reason and these decisions and actions amount to the Abomination of Desolation.8
The Book of Revelation calls them ‘Gentiles,’ however uncareful interpreters have taken this to mean, probably, ‘Romans.’ But the history of the Jewish war plainly tells us that Jewish forces finally succeeded in a spectacular ambush of the Romans at the Masada armory, then they took the Antonia Fortress, and then they cleared the Second Temple, and finally Jerusalem entirely of all Roman forces, and this for the first time since the days of Scaurus, Hyrcanus II and Antipater, King Judah Aristobulus II and Gnaeus Pompey, 129 years earlier.9 his means that the ‘Gentiles’ who occupy the Temple complex and do so for just under four years are Jews, and Jews only.10
This chapter, for the reasons we stated above, is pivotal to our contention that the Book of Revelation is validated by a Semitic background, and that only. Every other scenario that can be conceived by interpreters detracts, distracts, and dilutes the message by imagining John to be 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 in John’s sights, then the Temple of God and the city where our Lord was crucified would be completely exempt from the equation, pure and simple.
Roman civilization marched on, triumphantly, but chapter 11 of the book of Revelation shows the overthrow of the city was overdue because of the impiety of the people who were given custody of ceremonial rituals by Moses himself and, by their own hands brought those sacred procedures to an ignoble 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 was entitled to them and would be given to no one else, came, without observation, in the midst of their shenanigans and atrocities in the Temple, around the city, and in the country (Rev.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 Lesser known, but still a fact, Rome had a population far above 70,000 people, but Jerusalem was a metropolis that could easily claim this lower number of inhabitants (Revelation 11:13).13
The Seventh Trumpet is Blown and
the Kingdom of God Comes With Power!
Finally, the inauguration of the kingdom of God, judgment, time of the dead, and resurrection fit nicely into Daniel’s prophecy about the end of the fourth kingdom, but that could hardly be claimed as relevant to the sacking of Rome in the fifth century, or the end of the eastern Roman Empire in A.D.1453 (Rev.11:14-19 cf. Dan. 7:13-27). From this momentous inception of the Jewish war, which commences after God’s two witnesses finished their three-year and six-month ministry, the situation deteriorates to the point where the witnesses are killed and gifts were exchanged in celebration of their demise. Their bodies were left unburied (which, in Jewish sensibilities is considered necessary to be done on the same day, but if neglected such an omission is considered impious - Tobit 1:17), but such behavior is a notable and notorious feature of this war.14
The Church, Not the Theotokos, Flees
to the Wilderness During the War
Christian scholars of Orthodox, Catholic, and even Protestant stripes have tried to imagine Revelation 12 to be a throwback to the hardships the Virgin Mary had to face when she and her fiancé Joseph fled from Bethlehem to avoid the murderous rage of Herod the Great. But we know that Mary (whether she was still a virgin or not, makes no difference) was deceased by the Destruction of Jerusalem and even before the eve of the Destruction. It is said that she passed away 11 years after Jesus was crucified.15 If that report is true it would mean that she went to be with her Lord in A.D.41, 25 years before the Jews kicked off their revolt challenging Rome’s rule in the Holy Land. And so if Mary was already in heaven with the Lord, what could Revelation chapters12:1-6 and 13-16 mean?
Some interpret it to hark back to the time when wayward angels were originally expelled from heaven in the rebellion led by Satan in time immemorial, but this, too, does not fit the direction of the flow of the narrative of Revelation 11 and 12 and 13. An interpretation that may fit the facts we know may point to the Jerusalem Church itself making its way from the treacherous city to the safety of Pella, which numerous traditions from a variety of ancient sources (Jewish and otherwise) give us some helpful details.16
- In Matthew 24:16 our Lord was very definite that the Apostles should quit the city and even flee Judæa itself.
- Mark 13:14-20 reiterates the point of the immediate danger posed to the Apostles and ordinary Jewish Christians once the Zealots obtained power over the pinnacle of the political sitauation during their civil war against the Jerusalem Aristocracy and the Roman Empire.
- In Luke 21:;21-22 Jesus stresses the importances of believers avoiding and movement in the direction of Judæa itself, however, if the Olivet Discourse was really a 'Rapture' text how would such measures to avoid dangers during the tribulation make any sense? Obvioulsy neither the Apostles nor ordinary Christians were exempted from the scene by any sudden disappearance from the earth beforehand.
Now, concerning the actual refugee migration that did take place in history, Bishop Eusebius, St. Hegesippus, the Nazarene, and Epiphanius of Salamis all transmit to us valuable information about the escape from danger the Jerusalem Church made just as the insurgents were locking the city down and trapping unsuspecting and gullible inhabitants to perish in a domestic imbroglio fomented by their own countrymen, while these same countrymen prosecuted a stupefying litany of Pyrrhic victories against the Romans.17
To be noted, Revelation 12:1 depicts the Jerusalem Church as precious, pure, and holy.18 This is to be underlined because contrary to what some want to say, a wicked Church was not ‘left behind’ in the A.D.70 spectacle, but the same Church that fled the Jewish debacle in 66, returned in 70 to continue the line of Christian bishops all the way up to the time when the Church was destroyed by Bar Kokhba in A.D.133, the second year of the Second Jewish Revolt. So the complete Rapture of the Church (as some teach it) is untrue, but that is a discussion for another day and another time, not now.
So we can make sense of Revelation 12 if we understand that the Woman clothed with the sun and the crown of twelve stars is the original Church founded by the Apostles in Jerusalem. And the great red dragon can be understood as a contemporary first-century Satan casts down contemporary stars (angelic powers, Jewish rulers?) during the initial days of the revolt. And as things heat up and head towards the Zealot’s lockdown of the city, Satan tried to devour the Church’s offspring and destroy the Church itself in its Jewish cradle while also making every attempt to prevent people from leaving or deserting the futile and disastrous Jewish war cause. The interesting part of Revelation 12 is when the woman gives birth to a man-child and it is immediately caught up to the throne of God (BUT SHE IS NOT). The fact that her sojourn is only three years and six months (without her son) tells us this is definitely not the story of Mary and Jesus, but of the Church and some mysterious segment within it that God saw fit to translate directly into heaven at the beginning of the Jewish hostilities.
Just as word spread that the Second Temple esplanade was hosting tens of thousands of Jewish war-mongers after the route of the Romans, the Christians would have been prepared to flee the environs with just the clothes on their backs and shoes on their feet, as Christ had commanded them and warned them to do in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:15-20 cf. Mark 13:14-19).
After the woman was safely out of harm’s way, and her ‘son’ was translated and safely in the protection of the arms of God, Satan and his angels appear before the Archangel Michael and his angels to engage in titanic combat in the skies over Jerusalem (the context shows that this struggle was not a primordial one, but a contemporary phenomenon that happened when the Second Temple’s days were numbered). A record of this event, with slight variations, is preserved in both Tacitus Histories and in Josephus’ Complete Works.19 20 Finally, the inauguration of the kingdom of God, judgment, time of the dead, and resurrection fit nicely into Daniel’s prophecy about the end of the fourth kingdom, but that could hardly be claimed as relevant to the sacking of Rome in the fifth century, or the end of the eastern Roman Empire in 1453 (Rev. 11:14-19 cf. Dan. 7:13-27).
At the conclusion of Revelation 12 it is clear that though the woman’s new-born son is upon the throne of God, and she is in the safety of the wilderness, not all Christians are in either of these two places, as Satan realizes and seeks to harass and destroy them wherever he can find them (Rev. 12:17).
A Description of the Jewish War
Forces and Their Modus Operandi
Revelation chapter 13 finally approaches the direct subject of the Jewish war forces and does so in the most unflattering way possible. Remaining true to the spirit of the situation, it describes these militant wannabee victors as a monstrous amalgam, impulsive and of vicious intents; quick with its wits, but it is, at the very same time, slow of foot, spotted, and loud of mouth. Drawing from a well of motifs directly out of Daniel 7:4-6 John sees a beast that, essentially, cannot even help from inflicting harm upon itself (for these animals, in their natural impulses are contradictory in their passions from one another). In other words, this conglomerate being can only hurt itself and others as it seeks to exist and persist.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 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!
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.
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.
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).
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.