The Second half of the Revelation
Part Two: The Second Half of the Revelation: The Seventh Trumpet
And the City of God
- The Woman and the Dragon (Revelation Chapter 12) 112
- The Sea and Land Beast (Revelation Chapter13) 127
iii. The 144,000 and Six or Seven Angels (Revelation Chapter 14) 139
- The Seven Bowls of Wrath (Revelation Chapters 15-16) 147
- The Judgment of Babylon (Revelation 17-19) 154
- a) Chapter 17:1-15
- b) Digression on the Meanings of Babylon
- c) Digression on The Book of Daniel
- d) Chapter 17:15-18
- e) Chapter 18
- Armageddon and the Revelation (Revelation Chapter 19) 191
vii. The Millennium (Revelation Chapter 20) 206
viii. The City of God (Revelation Chapter 21-22) 221
- Conclusion 238
Appendix A 240
Appendix B 241
i : The Woman Pursued by the Dragon (Revelation Chapter 12)
The second half of the book, at least through Chapter 19, then, is to be included in the seventh trumpet. This appears from considering that the last three trumpets were to introduce three woes, the third of which is only introduced, rather than completed, by the opening of the heavens which concludes Chapter 11.
[12:1] The following
section is separated from the previous vision by the introductory phrase: “A great sign then appeared in heaven” instead of “then I saw,” which separates and introduces most of the previous visions. “Portent” and “wonder,” in the Revised and the King James versions respectively, are interpretations, in addition to translations, though they may be correct interpretations. This phrase “a sign in heaven” occurs one other time, when the seven angels with seven bowls of wrath are introduced opening Chapter 15, and here it is explicitly called “great and wonderful” (15:1). Here at the center of the work the great sign is:
…a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child, and she cried out in the pangs of her delivery.
The center of a great writing is worthy of special attention, often showing the principle around which the text is constructed. The center of the Revelation is a symbol, and so, a mystery that we have to ascend in order to see. It is not clear what we are being shown, and first, even whether it is an event to occur in the end times. Is the Messiah to again become incarnate after the seventh trumpet is blown (11:15)? Or is it some other offspring that is to rule humanity with a rod of iron (12:5)? The leading readings of what the woman is are 1. Mary; 2) Israel, 3) the true Church, and 4) the Bride (Aune, 1998, p. 680). The bride is of course a mystery, but to have somewhere to begin we say she is somehow both the body of the redeemed and wisdom or knowledge (Luke 7:35, Matt.11:19; Proverbs 3:17-18). Her offspring is thought either to be the Messiah or a future group of sons of Israel. The principal different readings depend on whether what we are being shown refers a) to the incarnation and crucifixion that occurred in the First Century or (b) to something that is to occur near the Second Advent. A third possibility is that 12:1-6 refers to the incarnation, while 12:7-17 refers to the subsequent apocalyptic appearance of the dragon upon the earth, when he is cast down from heaven onto the earth, and sees that his time is short. This might be the time between the crucifixion and the end times or it might be at the end times.
Chapter 12 is pivotal in the structure of the Revelation, because it connects the beast and dragon, and presents the woman that is contrasted with the mystery whore of Babylon in Chapters 17 and 18. Like the face of the vision of Jesus 1:16, she is clothed with radiance like the sun. The 66th chapter of Isaiah opens with the statement of the Lord: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (66:1). So the moon is beneath the feet of the woman, as a footstool, indicating her supremacy to it and rule over it. We have an old statue of Mary in the yard, and she is standing with the moon under her feet. This has something to do with the three aspects of the feminine symbolized by the moon. These are a) the chaste moon, or Diana, b) the moon of love, like the moon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and c) the Halloween moon, of Hecate and the things of night. The moon may indicate the realm of spirits as distinct from the angels of light. That the moon is under her feet is the same as the supremacy of man, through Christ, to the realm of the spirits (Luke 10:20). As the moon is illumined by the sun, and not the cause of its own light, so is this watery world of the night sky. Through Christ, the spirits are subject to the Apostles, and so the moon is beneath her feet in the vision.
[12:2] This very Chapter 66 of Isaiah presents the example from the prophets of Zion giving birth (66: 7-8).
Before she was in labor, she gave birth;
Before her pain came upon her, she was delivered of a son…
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
For as soon as Zion was in labor
She brought forth her sons.
Here it is also alike ambiguous whether the birth refers to those born after the incarnation, in the First Century, or rather to the new Israel of the Twentieth Century, approaching the second coming (Compare. 66:18-20). Scofield also cites Micah (4:10), of Israel in travail when she went into Babylon:
Writhe and groan (or: be in pain), o daughter of Zion,
Like a woman in travail;
For now you shall go forth from the city and dwell in the open country;
You shall go to Babylon.
There you shall be rescued,
There the Lord will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
If “open country” is like “wilderness,” the daughter of Zion goes into Babylonian exile as into the wilderness. It is again difficult to separate out the First and Second Advent in some of the prophecies, as noted above regarding the distinction of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. and the things to occur to Jerusalem in the end of the end times. Y. Collins, in Combat Myth, as cited by Aune (1998, p. 689), brings up reasons that the child here is not like the Messiah: The snatching away of the child occurs immediately after birth, 2) The ascension of Jesus is never described as a supernatural rescue from Satan, and 3) references to the cross and crucifixion are strikingly absent from the vision. The same word arpadzo– is used by Paul to describe the rapture (4:17 arpadzometha), suggesting that the snatching away of the offspring here might symbolize the rapture. But the story reminds of Herod awaiting the birth of the Messiah, his snatching away to Egypt, or rather, in the resurrection of Jesus, and the consequent persecution of the Christians.
The Baptist reading takes the image as describing something that is to occur in the end times, again referring to the “after this” or “what is to take place hereafter” as a principle that requires that no background or context be given, even if it is necessary to understand the martyrdom. Van Impe directs us to the dream of Joseph, in which he saw “the sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” The sun and moon here are thought to be his father, Jacob, and his mother, Rachael, though in the vision of the woman, these are of course different. Scofield too, in a brilliant note, identifies the twelve stars with the twelve tribes, from which twelve thousand are sealed (p. 1341; Rev. 7:4-8). The other things that are twelve in the Revelation are the gates, which are the twelve tribes, and the foundations, which are the Twelve Apostles (21:13-14). The two sets of twelve seem to converge into a single set, as they would if the reference were literally to 12,000 Christian Jews from each of the twelve tribes. Elsewhere, stars are the seven stars that are the angels of the seven churches, and shortly, in the same vision, stars are fallen angels, swept from heaven by the tail of the Dragon. But Van Impe reads the image as Israel, and the dragon’s pursuit of her offspring as a pursuit of the Jews yet to occur, worse than that in the Twentieth Century (1982, p. 163). This is difficult because of verse 17, which says that he then went off to make war on “the rest of her offspring, who are those who obey the commandments and testify to Jesus.” There is no reference to nationality. But this is either the Christians or both the Jews and Christians. While the construction does not require that the first of her offspring, the male child, be Christian if not the Christ, this reading seems most likely.
Van Impe predicts in this a future persecution of Jews (1982, p. 163). Schaeffer presents a reading of the woman as the nation of Israel, as distinct from the spiritual Israel, and identifies the male child with the 144,000, as Jews converted after the rapture. However, it does not seem that the Messiah is to be born again in the end times. Rather He was born already, and will be coming with the clouds (1:7; Acts 1:9), in the same way that he left (Acts 1:11). Hence, if the image is read as referring to the end of the end times, the reading that the child is not the Messiah is preferable, and it may be these 144,000 of the modern nation of Israel that are born in the end of the end times, or baptized Christian.
The most fundamental reason that Chapter 12 seems to refer to the early church and the birth of Jesus comes from the reading of what it means that the dragon was cast down from heaven to earth. By contrast, the beast of the following chapter ascends from the sea or the abyss (17:8). The casting down from heaven, so that the dwellers there rejoice, onto earth, so that the time has come for those who dwell there, seems to be a symbolic representation of what it is that occurs in the spiritual cosmos when the incarnation occurs. It is the beast that emerges from the sea that pursues the church in the end times, taking up where the dragon leaves off at the end of the chapter, or continuing this pursuit.
Our reading follows the more traditional, according to which the woman is Israel / Mary / true Church / Bride. The Messiah is born from the nation of Israel, and born to Mary as a representative of Israel. Yet this Israel, or the betrothed, comes to include Gentiles, and so is not the literal political nation of Israel, but the true church of God. This is the same as the Bride or New Jerusalem, seen coming down from heaven like a bride adorned for her husband (21:2) and it is this woman that is contrasted with the whore of Babylon. The ten horns and the Beast will also hate the harlot, i.e., the Beast will also persecute the whore of Babylon as well as the true church. Her offspring here are identified as “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (12:17). This seems to identify her as much as the text is willing to do, and so we have settled on Israel / Church. It seems that the vision in Chapter 12 describes the setting of the Revelation, by reaching back to give a symbolic description encapsulating what it is that occurred at the incarnation. So she is Israel, crowned with the twelve tribes, and she is the Church: not the visible, but rather the invisible Church that is mystically identified with mankind or the redeemed of mankind, and the womb of which those reborn are born. Hence she is the bride, and her offspring the Messiah. This seems consistent with, rather than opposite to, what Jesus said at John 12:37: “Now is the ruler of this world cast out.” This might mean “out of heaven,” though he is then loosed onto sea and earth.
It is interesting in this connection that the extreme cruelty, madness and degradation of the Roman emperors began at just about this time, when Tiberius retired to Caprae, nearly coincident with the crucifixion and resurrection. Tyranny to an extent never before seen enters the world right here, in a reign of terror unleashed because Tiberius fears assassination. The Romans were always brutal, and Augustus did not stop the slaughter of the innocents by Herod at the birth of Jesus. But a new line is crossed when Tiberius descends into lust and cruelty. This extreme would re-emerge and deepen, with brief respites, throughout the First Century in Caligula, Nero and Domitian.
The difficulty with the interpretation that the woman is the nation of Israel is that her offspring are the Christians (12:17). This would not be so difficult if, after the rapture of the Christians, many in the nation of Israel became Christian, though it does not seem likely that the nation as a whole would become Christian, so that her sons would especially be the Christians. Israel weeps to look on him who they have pierced, and it is at this time that Israel is persuaded, at the second coming, when his feet touch the Mount of Olives.
And another sign was seen in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth.
The dragon, with its seven heads and ten horns, is almost the same as the beast in the following chapter with its seven heads and ten horns, except that it has seven diadems on its heads, while the beast has ten diadems on its horns. Details like this can become crucial clues. A diadem is the band as that around the Tierra of the Persian King. Alexander wore this as emblem of his universal empire. When the beast is explained in Chapter 17, the explanation of this detail, that the diadems are on its heads, is left out. A diadem is different from a crown or stephanos, though not as a victory wreath is to a crown, but sometimes as a royal or sovereign crown is to a lesser piece of headgear, like a ducal coronet. It is sometimes a crown that is not sovereign, like the diadem worn in the kingship of Herod, granted by the Roman emperor (Josephus, Ant. Book XVIII c. ix). And here the diadem refers especially to what remains of kingships or nations under an empire. Isaiah writes (28:5-6): “In that day, the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people; and a spirit of justice to those who sit in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.” Caesar is offered a diadem rather than a crown by Antony, in order to thinly veil his assumption of royal authority, at the root of empire (Plutarch, Life of Caesar). Following Alexander and Caesar, the diadem becomes the symbol of the emperor. Gibbon writes:
…The pride or rather the policy of Diocletian engaged that artful prince to assume the diadem, an ornament detested by the Romans as the odious ensign of royalty, and the use of which had been considered as the most desperate act of the madness of Caligula. It was no more than a broad white fillet set with pearls, which encircled the emperor’s head…
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, XIII
Empire is of course different from kingship, each occurring at opposite ends of the cycle of regimes, one at the dawn, and the other at the dusk of civilization. Kingships are a paternal rule over a tribe, city or nation. Empire, though, is transnational, a rule over many kings. The crown symbolizes the wisdom or knowledge of one who would be worthy of royal office, similar to the halo that encircles the head of saints and angels. It is not clear what the diadem symbolizes. The title “King of kings” is derived for the Jews from the Babylonian or Persian king and reserved by the Christians for Jesus, for whom alone it may be fitting. When the one on the white horse comes in Chapter 19, he has many diadems on his head (19:12).
The Dragon is different from the beast and false prophet, but the defeat of the later two leads to the binding and final defeat of the former, described as occurring surrounding the millennium, before the beginning and at the end. The Dragon vision is of a different time scale than the beast and false prophet visions, covering millennia, and seven empires. It is the more fundamental political order of the worldly city or the principle of empire, finally defeated with the defeat of the seventh that is an eighth but belongs to the seven (17:11). Where Chapters 11 and 13 focus on the short period of the end, in their dramatic action, Chapter 12, depicting the incarnation and early persecution rather than the end times, addresses this more fundamental level of political being, again, something like the principle of empire itself, or how such a thing could come to be among men. The seven heads of the dragon seem to represent the seven empires, the last five of which are shown in the statue in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. There is an obvious, if rare, reference to things outside the “what is to be hereafter” framework of the Revelation, and it is somehow this one thing that was manifested in all these empires that is the dragon and sought to devour the Messiah.
[12:4] This dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, in order to devour the child when it was born. He was born, the “one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (19:15). While the saints will share in the rule of the rod of iron, the one who is to rule with a rod of iron can only be the Christ. The child is the Christ, and the woman is or is like Mary, the representative of Israel and the symbol of Church. Mary is the representative of Israel, a “type” of the church, if the Messiah is Jesus, and she represents the maternal Church. Not she herself, of course, but the Church fled into the wilderness, pursued by the dragon as the Christians were pursued by both Israel and Rome, in the early monastic movement. The attempt to devour her child also reminds of Herod, and Mary is said to have fled from Herod into Egypt or to the Jewish colony in Ethiopia. But here, “… her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” The crucifixion and resurrection are what is described, as the child is caught up to God. Here again, as is characteristic of the Revelation, a thing like the rapture or snatching away is the spiritual truth behind what appears in the world as persecution and martyrdom: the crucifixion. The image, speaking as does a dream, in spontaneous images, is able to present this historical event in this symbolic form. The woman in the wilderness is the Church as the widowed bride, in the period between the first and Second Advent. The 1,260 days are also 42 months or 3 ½ years. The scene covers many centuries, rather than describing something that occurs after the events of Chapter 11. It is the prelude to Chapter 13, and so to Chapter 11, since the two witnesses are killed by the beast after it ascends. The 1260 days may indicate that the nourishing of the woman in the wilderness and the preaching of the two witnesses is simultaneous. One wonders if this might not describe 1260 years through which the church continued before the burning of heretics and witches, and the corruption of the church which seems to have characterized the following four or five hundred years. In any case, because of the incarnation in the image, the time scale or scope appears vastly different from the previous visions. We are not being shown a simple temporal progression of what occurs after the events of the sixth trumpet blast at all. The vision of Chapter 12 appears not even to address the end times, since the incarnation will not occur in the end, but has occurred already. Again, since he is to return in the same way that he left, or is coming on a cloud, there will not be a birth of the Messiah in the end times. And so, the false Christ can be known because they were or will have been born.
What appears to occur in the text, then, is that the seventh trumpet contains the series of visions described from Chapter 12 on, and this first vision sets the context for what is to be shown: the dragon pursues the offspring of the woman. These visions are an unfolding of what has been shown already in outline in the seventh seal, as the trumpets unfold what is contained in the seventh seal. After the killing of one third of mankind in the second woe or sixth trumpet, the third woe or seventh trumpet is described and explained by a series of visions which may be numbered in various ways, but amount to somewhere between seven and ten. These are 1) the woman and the dragon, in Chapter 12; 2) the beasts that arise from the sea and land, in Chapter 13; 3) the six angels and the seven bowls, in Chapters 14-16; 4) the judgment of the great harlot, in Chapters 17-18; 5) the coming of the Word on a white horse and the binding of Satan, in Chapters 19-20; 6) And in Chapters 21-22, the new heaven, new earth and New Jerusalem. In our reading, it appears that Chapter 12, like the first five seals, sets the scene and provides the background or context for what is to occur with the sixth and seventh seals, the seventh containing the seven trumpets. The sixth and seventh seem to pertain to the last shabua, each describing 3 ½ years of the last seven year period.
[12:6] Again, a number of things are described as being of the duration 1260 days or three and one half years. The 1260 days in which the woman will be nourished in the wilderness is the same number of days as the 1,260 days that the two witnesses of Chapter 11 prophesy. It is also nearly the same as the time told to Daniel, the time, two times and a half a time that is the 1,290 days, the period from the time that the continual burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up (Daniel 12:11). In English, it is almost ambiguous whether these two, the taking away of the offering and the abomination, occur at one end as a terminus to an unnamed event 1260 days later, or whether there are 1,260 days between these two. It is also the same number of days as the “time two times and a half a time” that the saints of the Most High will be given into his hand, and the “42 months” in which the beast is given authority, when it is allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. It is also nearly one half the two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings concerning the question of how long the sanctuary will be given over to be trampled, before it is restored to its rightful state (Daniel 8:15), 1,150 days if the evenings and mornings are counted together, but double if they are taken separately. It is the other calculation in Daniel, of the seventy weeks of years or 490 years, that contains the most explicit suggestion that the 1260 days may be one half of a seven year period, or that there are two successive 1260 day periods, so that all these 1260 day events need not be understood as occurring simultaneously. The suggestion is as follows: The woman is nourished in the wilderness at the same period of time as the Gentiles trample the outer court of the temple. The witnesses preach at the same time, as is consistent with the reading that the two are the lampstands or churches rather than literally two individuals. A second possibility is that the 1260 days of the woman are years, while that of the two witnesses is days, the long and short periods.
It is in the following 1260 days that the beast will make war on the saints and conquer some, and this second half will begin with the desolating sacrilege and the martyrdom of the Christians from the churches of the East and West that preach in Jerusalem as the beast arises.
This period might refer either 1) to a period of years for days, some 1,260 from the time of some ancient event like the conquest of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. or the destruction of the temple in 70 A. D. to the beginning of the persecution of heretics in Medieval Europe, considered as a corruption of the Western church. or` 2) to a period of days, literally 31/2, from the time that a modern abomination occurs, or 3) to a period of years, such as the seven years in which Hitler committed the holocaust of the Jews, or 4) somehow to both the long period during the history of the Church and the short period during the seven year tribulation. The triangulation of the three images of this period of time given in days and months and years suggests the possibility that this is the period of the Christian Churches, from the fall of the temple to the end times. The difficulty is that 1,260 does not describe the number of years, as it would if the events of 1947-48 were to have occurred on the year numbered 1260, or perhaps 1310. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, counting 2520 years from the fall of the temple at 607 B. C., reason up to 1914, and say that Christ then began an invisible reign. This is also about the time that the British took the Holy land from the Turks, accidentally fulfilling the goal of the crusades a thousand years previous. And for the most part, no one noticed the significance of the event in this way. Our dating of the fall of the temple twenty years later, when Judah fell to Babylon in 586, plus 1260 x 2 = 2520 would bring one to the significant date of 1934. The seven worst years were 1938-1945, when the persecution of the Jews was unleashed. The persecution of heretics began about 1215, almost 1260 years after the death of Caesar, or the beginning of the Roman Empire in 44 B.C.. Now if there were a modern abomination, and the Gentiles in some present sense were to trample the outer court of the temple for a literal 31/2 years of 360 days, it would also appear that the prophecy were fulfilled. Again we are returned to the suggestion that we look for both a long and a short period, the long in which days are years, and the short, which is literally seven years of 2,520 days. Finally, the seven seals might cover seven 360 or 365 year periods, the trumpets seven years within the seventh period, and the bowls seven days within the seven year period.
Victorinus writes, regarding the 42 months or 1260 days that the Gentiles will trample the holy city: “Therefore their preaching is three years and six months, and the kingdom of the antichrist is as much again” (p. 354). This amounts to a seven year period, which is also discussed in the book of Daniel (9:27). Hippolytus cites Daniel:
And one week will make a covenant with many, and it shall be that in the midst (half) of the week my sacrifice and oblation shall cease. By one week, therefore, he meant the last, which is to be at the end of the whole world; of which week the two prophets Enoch and Elias will take up the half. For they will preach 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth, proclaiming repentance to the people and to all the nations.
The Baptist teaching is that the 3½ days is one-half of the seven year period that concludes the interrupted seventy weeks. The communication of time by angels is sometimes shockingly accurate and sometimes simply strange, apparently because angels do not always speak in terms of human conventions regarding time, according to which we mark off years and think of significances in terms of a number system based on tens, and different calendars. The revolution of the earth around the sun, or the annual cycle of the seasons, would seem to provide a solid or common basis for noting time. By presenting the time period in both days and times, is possible to double check, to see that “times” are years and days are literally days. The addition of 42 months further underlines the literal and lunar meaning of the period intended. What are literal days in the vision, though, may translate differently in our terms and what to us actually occurs.
The reading that the woman is Israel / Church and the male child the incarnation that has already occurred implies a symbolic reading of the seven years as also something like two periods of 1260 years, in which first the church is nourished in the wilderness, then at and after midweek, subjected to persecution. At the end of the long period might come the short period, of the most extreme persecution. And it is here that we hope that the rapture might occur, perhaps to be barely noticed amid the turmoil of the earthquake and people going off to captivity and war.
[12:7-17] War arose then in heaven, and Michael defeated the dragon, who with some of his angels was thrown down to earth. This is like the event described in the first half, at 9:1, when at the fifth trumpet a star fell to earth and was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. It may be the same or a similar event. It is extremely difficult to see what this means, and we are reminded that symbols refer especially to the unknown. Is this the same as the event symbolized by the dragon sweeping down one third of the stars of heaven (12:4)? He was not then cast down himself? When the dragon pursues the woman, he would seem to be on earth. Yet this is not said, nor is it clear when the woman seen in the sign about to give birth came to be on the earth. There is a confusion in Chapter 12 between the vision seen as a sign in heaven and the vision that shows what is occurring in heaven and on earth. Does the war in heaven, the defeat of Satan and the throwing down, precede his attempt to devour the child, and does the text not go back and reveal some of the depth of this occurrence? If so, then the casting of Satan out of heaven is what has occurred with the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and martyrdom. Hence, when the seventy return, Jesus says “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven” (Luke 10:18), and this is when the teaching is given that the spirits are subject to them (10:20). This is somehow related to the subjection of the spirits to his name. As Jesus prepares to go to be crucified, he says: “Now shall the ruler of this world be cast out…” (John 12:32). In the Revelation, a voice in heaven comments that now salvation and the authority of Christ have come, since the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down. They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of his testimony, and by their martyrdom (12:10-11). This event is then after the crucifixion from the time that Christians are first martyred. The antichrist presupposes the Christ, and arises as a reaction to the incarnation, a sort of opposite reaction or shadow cast by the incarnation, to use a Jungian turn of phrase. Heaven and those who dwell therein are to rejoice, but “woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, for he knows that his time is short” (12:12). The war in heaven would be a sort of spiritual warfare in which, for those who dwell there, the devil is defeated. The consequence of this is that there is no longer a place for these in heaven, and their effect is on those who dwell in the middle and lower regions of sea and land, in contrast with heaven. This throwing down is said to be done not only through the crucifixion, but the martyrdom, when “they loved not their own lives even onto death” (12:11). In the spiritual world of mankind, the gospel has defeated the alternate account, based on the primacy of worldly goods, self interest and power. It is interesting that Satanism, or diabolism, did not really exist among men at all until the incarnation. It arises as if provoked, and depends on what it hates, rather than its own principles, for its existence. The Lords prayer is reversed, rather than opposed by an alternative, etc. The account however of worldly goods, self interest and power has always existed, as have magic and witchcraft-like things, nearly as long as man remembers. Like incitement to reproduction, the love of worldly goods is in some sense natural, and does not usually need the support of cultivation, which generally tries to moderate these. The worldly teaching is advocated by some of the Sophists before Socrates, but comes back with a vengeance in Machiavelli and Nietzsche. It seems that the resurrection, by showing the way through death, has made salvation accessible to the people who inhabit the realm of air, a realm of spiritual things that are higher either than the things of sea or the things of land. The image of angels expelled from heaven is very difficult, but the result is that these affect the sea and land, that is, the middle realm of the soul and poetry, and the earthly realm of mundane matters of economics, politics, and the body. These realms are as though unaffected by the victory that occurred with the resurrection, but then impacted by the opposite reaction, when it becomes possible to consciously reject the things of light. Innocent paganism is different from post-Christian paganism. Pre-Christian atheistic philosophy, too, is different, as evident in the contrast between Thrasymachus and Machiavelli.
The basis of the interpretation of the meaning of air, sea and earth does seem to be this three part division of the places people dwell, or which part of the soul leads in our lives. Those who dwell in heaven set the things of the intellect highest, or the life of the spirit. Those who dwell in the sea follow first principles based on the heart, in the middle sense, the things of love and the things of honor. And those who dwell on earth set the enjoyments of the bodily comforts and pleasures first, in the end sacrificing love and honor to these things. In some sense, then, the devil and his angels were cast out of the higher realm through the incarnation and the martyrdom of the saints. The saints in some sense did reign, even for over one thousand years. The persecutions of the empire against Christians, which had occurred from Nero to Diocletian, ceased. The saints came to set the fundamental opinion of the East and West, and their way of life came to be honored as highest, for at least one thousand years following. So it is not impossible that this was the millennial reign of the saints. But the leading possibility is that such a thing is to come even more in the succeeding age.
The casting down of Satan seems to mean something like this: The example of the resurrection and the martyrdom, like the wisdom of Socrates in the face of death, is the example that demonstrates the virtue of the highest men, or that the high things are the things of virtue and not the things of power. While it may be said that Christ laid down his life from the beginning, and always dies for man, the example of the incarnation provides the particular, so that the argument, always true, is demonstrated in the occurrence. Salvation becomes available through the visible, as the image of God that we are is attracted to the son, his death and resurrection, something like a magnet, as Jung writes (Aion, p. 185). This is the gospel, the story of the incarnation, life, teaching, death and resurrection which as an example is like a magnet, drawing out the image of God in man, so that in bearing our own cross we follow him. It is also a theoretical demonstration. As a result of this defeat, a third of the stars of heaven enter into the earth and sea. By their rejection of the appearance of the Christ, the imagination as well as the politics of humanity becomes perverse, in a sense. Worldly ends govern things which ought, through beauty, serve the good. From what glimpse of this that we can muster, then, this sea and land appears to be the realm of the imagination, such as poetry and music, and the realm of the visible human world of the city and politics.
Unless the devil is cast down twice with some angels, the Michael section (12:7-10) seems to be a retelling of 12:1-6, or more precisely of what occurs in heaven and on earth when Salvation becomes available. The war between Michael and the dragon occurs after the child is born and caught up, but before the dragon pursues the woman on earth. The portents are seen in heaven, but it is not clear when the action shifts to earth– as though heaven and earth were together during the incarnation.
There are three similar images in the scripture. First in Daniel, in the account of the little horn that appears to be Antiochus, and a type of the beast, the growth of the horn is described in very strange terms, so that Scofield calls this “the most difficult line in all of prophecy” (1909, p. 912).
It grew great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host of the stars it cast down to the ground and trampled upon them. It magnified itself even to the host of heaven, and the continual burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown.
Here the stars cast down are like his prevailing over some of the saints. The example of fallen angels raises the possibility that the prevailing over the saints is not only over their bodies. The stars in the opening chapter are the angels of the seven churches.
But how is it that it is said “now woe to you, o earth and sea”? The metaphors are mixed. Those reading Chapter 12 as an end of the end times event may read that he is re-admitted, having once been cast out. Rather, we read that he is defeated in the crucifixion and resurrection, so that those who dwell in heaven are decisively freed of his reign, though those on earth, who dwell in the watery and the earthly, are even more endangered.
[12:13-14] Once he sees that he is on the earth, the dragon pursues the woman whose male child was caught up to God. “But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, two times and a half a time.” As Aune comments:
The precedent for this is the well known biblical association between the exodus from Egypt and the wings of an eagle, expressed in Exodus 19:4, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on Eagle’s wings and brought you to myself”…
Unless, too, the woman went twice into the wilderness, 12:14 is a description in more detail, of the same flight into the wilderness of 12:6. When two images are given of the same intelligible, it is possible as by triangulation to separate image from object, and see through to the meaning of the images. The true church is nourished in the wilderness, like Israel under Moses, or John the Baptist, rather than in the city, and this reminds us of the constant retreat into the desert of monastic communities even before the time of Jesus, as the Essenes and John the Baptist, to escape the corruption of the human world including its effects on religion. The eagle is a symbol of Rome, ironically suited to the relation of Rome and monasticism after Constantine. This protection of religion might also make one think of how the United States, borrowing from Rome the senate, republicanism and the eagle, has protected religion from the European persecutions of the nations of the Roman Empire, and especially as a refuge from the movements of Twentieth Century tyranny.
The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, and the earth “came to the help of the woman,” and “opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth.”
This section presents something like the following possibility: The serpent attacks the church with a stream of speech, in a theoretical undermining something like the Enlightenment of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century modern secular thought, for which the premises of History and natural history, Darwin, Freud or Skinner, Newton and Einstein, are knowledge, and the mysteries of faith appear to be at best fairy tales, and at worst, themselves the illusions of a “kingdom of darkness.” The river is modernity, and the earth opens up to swallow the stream of speech. It may be that science and history themselves, the earthly things, come to neutralize the attack on the church undertaken by the dragon when he lost the spiritual warfare and was thrown to earth. Superstitious mankind discovers to our amazement, through archeology and Biblical archeology, that there really was a Troy, a Crete, an Achaia, a Jericho and Babylon, etc. It is surprising how often common persons now doubt that the people in the Bible, even Jesus, ever really lived, just because they have become convinced that science knows the incarnation and resurrection to be miracles, and miracles to be impossible. The more we consider, the things of history and science are not contradicted, and even confirm the things of faith. We see for example that the order of the creation in Genesis– land, vegetation, birds and fish, mammals and man– is roughly accurate. This is an astonishing achievement, regardless of who wrote it. The order of the cosmos presents itself accurately in a seven part unfolding. There are many things about the Bible that are like this. By contrast with every other ancient poetic text, it is astonishing how rarely the Bible even seems to contradict the more stable truths of science, such as the Copernican universe, Lyell’s geology, and even Darwin. Meanwhile, the teaching of power and the tyrannical ordering of the soul have flowed onto the earth, in politics and economics, and into the realms of the images and poetry, if these are something like the realms of earth and sea. This, a rise of evil, occurs when the myth and tradition that once upheld the ethical law and the restraint of the animal in man, is undermined by science. Science even appears to suggest these, for example through the assumption that if God is a myth, the true good is to ignore justice and pursue power, or the various teachings from Darwin’s survival of the fittest that survival and reproduction, the animal ends, are therefore the true ends of man. These arguments assume what then seems to be demonstrated, as occurs also when neurology seems to teach that because neuron activity is discernable, we are therefore controlled by our brain cells. Socrates addresses these errors, as when joking that the reason he remained in prison rather than escape with Crito was because his arms and legs were bent in a certain way there on the bench (Plato, Phaedo, 98c). Indeed, it would be surprising if, when we are making choices, our brain cells were not doing something! But that we, as beings, cause anything is too difficult for this scientific philosophy, even as the principles that distinguish the many kinds of things become inaccessible, and all eventually appears to be reduced to a swirling and indiscriminate, and hence meaningless, soup of matter in motion. Galileo could not even explain why the ball he rolled, in his experiments on gravity, was one ball, a unity, or distinct being, let alone how plants might be living unities and animals move themselves. Does science know that word is not the cause of the intelligibility of things apparent to common sense? Rather, science ignores the intelligibility of things, even while assuming it, as Galileo could not have done his experiment unless the ball he rolled down the incline were one thing distinct from the other things around it. Thinking we knew what Genesis means, we think that Genesis, rather than our understanding of it, is undermined by science. What is gained, though, from the emergence of a science, is a purging of the air, as through the lightening of a thunderstorm. Mankind is freed from the superstitious understanding of the causes which allows, for example, the persecution of imagined witches. The air is not filled with spirits for us, as it was for Augustine and those of the Biblical age. But the spirits pertain to the soul, and evil enters the world or acts as a cause, through the error of the human souls. Though it is only a possibility, the event; the change in humanity in the West, and now most of the world, does correspond in symbol to the images shown here in lines 15 and 16 of Chapter 12.
[12:17] “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. “And he” [or: “I”] “stood on the sand of the sea.”
The woman is the mother of the offspring of God. The offspring of God are begotten, and this is in contrast to the created man, since begetting and making are different. We are born once by our mothers, and this is the Lord’s creating. We are then begotten, as John writes, of the spirit (John 1:13; 3:16), in a mystery that is the original of the image of baptism. She is the Bride because she is the mother of the offspring of God. The woman is the mystical Church because she is, or may be something like the body of humanity redeemed. The Church is somehow the representative of this, the womb of the redemption of humanity that is somehow the bride of the Lord. Those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus might be one group of Jewish Christians, or they might be two groups, the Christians and the Jews, or even all those who obey the commandments and love righteousness, including Islam. The Law might allow some to be aligned with the righteousness of the mystery while being not yet redeemed, to look for the Messiah, and to be known when he appears.
This is, or may be, the first of two suggestions that Jews and Christians are both together in the New Jerusalem in the reign of the Messiah, as though our second coming were the first advent of the Messiah for them, and all would then come to agree, as would occur were he seen coming on the clouds. The second place where the formula “those who follow the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” occurs is at 14:12, in the call for the patience of the saints. The second place where the Jews and the Christians seem to be together is said to be in the twelve gates and twelve foundations (21:12), if not in the identities of the twenty-four elders before the throne, if there were 12 from each, such as Moses, Abraham, Enoch, Malchizadek, etc. A third reason for the suggestion of Jews and Christians together is that the prophecies of the Old Testament really do refer to Israel, to the gathering from worldwide dispersion to a restored Israel at the center of world conflict. A fourth is the account of the grafting of the olive tree (Rom 11:17-24).
The last line of Chapter 12 is “And he stood on the sand of the sea.” There is a classic ambiguity in the text regarding whether estathen is to be translated “he stood” or I stood,” since the Greek for either is identical. If it is “he stood,” it is either the angel of Chapter 10 who straddles the sea or the dragon that stands on the sands of the sea, and then the beast emerges. If it is he, and he is the dragon, then it is as if he just emerged, and when the dragon comes on land he is the beast. But the Beast emerges from the sea or the Abyss, while the Dragon is an angel that fell down. If it is John who stood, then he is transported to the place where the Beast is seen to arise out of the sea. In either case, the line links Chapter 12 with Chapter 13, showing that the emergence of the Beast is fundamentally a continuation of the war of the Dragon against the offspring of the woman in Chapter 12. Here Van Impe reminds that the chapter divisions were added in the Sixteenth Century (1982, p. 171). Yet it is a distinct vision that begins with Chapter 13.
- ii: The Beast that Arises from the Sea
and the Beast that Rose out of the Earth
The vision is introduced “And I saw…:
… a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads.
[13:1-10] The twelfth chapter ends, and the thirteenth begins with the sea. This seems to be the same as the sea in Chapter 10, straddled by the angel. It also seems to be different from the many waters that are the peoples etc., though possibly the same as the sea in some other instances, as for example the sea containing the souls of the dead, with Death and Hades. It does not seem to be the same as the sea that is turned red like blood at the second trumpet and second bowl, which seems to be the literal sea. Henry Schaefer identifies it as the sea of humanity (class, 2010). The four beasts of the vision of Daniel “came up out of the sea,” (7:3), the lion with eagle wings, the bear with three ribs in its teeth, and then the leopard with four heads, before the fourth, the terrible beast. The beast of Revelation 13 may then come up out of the sea in the same way that these empires, of Babylon, Persia and Greece arose. In the interpretation to Daniel of one who stood there, this is synonymous with “four kings who shall arise out of the earth.” This sea may be something more like the collective unconscious in the Jungian sense, the “realm” of the soul or spirits rather than the earth and the body, which we hold subordinate in a Christian metaphysical context. Political powers might be said to arise from there, as all the human things belong to the middle realm, between the earth and sky. It is the soul of mankind, in one sense, but only as this soul of mankind is somehow the same as something more fundamental than man. There is a teaching in the eighth book of Plato’s Republic, that the kinds of government arise from these characters in the human soul, as, for example, when the one part, the appetites or spiritedness, is dominant among the citizens collected together, this makes up the propensity of a regime (VIII, 544d-e). A people is in part responsible for the tyranny of its rulers, though the people are the victims of bad government.
Isaiah prophecies: “In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan, the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea” (Isaiah 27:1). It is also the bottomless pit (17:8), the abyss, as was written at 11:7. When the witnesses “have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the Abyss will make war on them and conquer them and kill them.” The events of Chapter 11 are then in part posterior to some of the events of Chapter 13, which would then appear to reach back into the sixth trumpet to describe the emergence of the beast that kills the witnesses, before describing the beast in greater detail.
The interpretation of the beast is given later, in the seventeenth chapter of the Revelation, when the angel explains the mystery of Babylon. Of course, angels explain things cryptically, through yet other symbols:
…the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth, but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to perdition. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind, and give over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb….”
The blasphemous name on its seven heads is like the claim of emperors from Egypt on to be the son of god or to represent God on earth. This beast is described as being like a leopard with bear’s feet and a lion’s mouth. It is somehow like Daniel’s four beasts all together, or, as Aune notes, the first three, something like the culmination of human empire. It is fundamentally like a leopard, which is the beast that represents Greece in the vision of Daniel, and it is this beast in Daniel that has four heads, while the fourth beast in Daniel, the one with ten horns, has only one head. It is said that the combining of the beasts means that the beast of Revelation will combine the powers of the first three beasts of Daniel (Oxford, p. 1504). One wonders too if, as the Alexandrian empire combined the territories and crowns of Egypt, Syria, Babylon or Persia, and Greece, this beast will not combine these nations: the mouth of Babylon, the feet of Persia, into a Grecian sovereignty. There is presently a neo-Nazi party in Greece, which had been gaining from the bad economy, and this would be something like the leopard. Henry Schaeffer has suggested that the antichrist will be Greek or Syrian (Class, 2010), and it is difficult to compare and distinguish the Antiochus prophesies in Daniel from those concerning the antichrist, of which Antiochus is said to be a type. Aune (Revelation, p. 591) cites Lactantius, a writer of the late Third Century, writing that the “destroyer of the human race” will arise from Syria. An opinion with more scripture to support it is the teaching of Van Impe, citing Daniel 9:26: he will be of the people that destroyed the temple, Roman or Italian. Antiochus did not destroy the city and the sanctuary, but desecrated the temple, so that it was purified at Hanukkah. Hal Lindsey sees two Antichrists, one from the EU and one from the Jews (1973, p. 103). Britain, Norway, Germany, Spain, and even a corrupted United States are possibilities suggested, as well as the Islamic nations, and on occasion the communist nations, so that none but Australia and Switzerland are excluded from the suggested possibilities.
The seven heads and ten horns are somehow like the seven horns and seven eyes of the Lamb, which are the seven churches (5:6). So horns are something like organizations that manifest the powers in the world, whether of the beast or Lamb. In Chapter 8 of Daniel, Alexander is the horn and the king of Greece is the goat, so that the horn is the ruler, while the animal to which it is attached is the nation. While in the previous chapter, the seven headed dragon with ten horns appeared as a red dragon, here the beast seems to be distinguished from the dragon when it is written: “To it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.” The dragon is more something spiritual only, an angel and not a man, while the beast is an incarnate something, an empire or a man. The dragon probably does not have the likeness of a leopard with bear feet and a lion’s mouth, and so these two are distinct in their appearance. He is apparently able to influence the nations after the beast and False Prophet are defeated (20:8).
Aune writes: “There is wide agreement among scholars that the beast who is identified as the eighth king who, “is one of the seven,” (17:11) is Nero redivivus (Lohse, 95), (or “alive again”) but it is not immediately evident which (if any) of the seven (Revelation, lxii).” Why scholars should agree to such a thing is not at all clear. The teaching that the Revelation is some pamphlet against the then current Roman Emperor is reassuring, teaching that the events are not to come at all, and has an air of having been deduced from an assumption, rather than arising out of the particulars. For most, this reading must coincide with a very early date for the writing of the Revelation, not under Domitian but under Nero, since it is said that “one is,” or one now is. The reading otherwise must ignore the fundamental time outline of the text, according to which the sections following Chapter 4 address what is to come, and not what for John on Patmos occurred some thirty years prior. It is extremely awkward to stuff the Roman Emperors, whether Domitian, Nero, Vespasian or some other, into a series according to which these appear seventh. In the year 69, there were three brief emperors, and no one knows whether to count them, nor whether to begin from Caesar or Augustus. Even Van Impe falls into an explanation in terms of the emperors, with the seventh as future and Domitian sixth (1982, p. 237-238). Further, it seems that the vision is part of the seventh trumpet, which is preceded by the six trumpets, and the destruction of one third of mankind and the world. One beast, seven heads, one is, i.e., the then current Roman Empire; five have fallen, and one is to come for a short while: It is to be an empire of the stature of the first six, ruling over kings and over Jerusalem or Israel, as did Rome, Alexandrian Greece, the Median-Persian empire of Darius, Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon, Assyria under Sargon, and ancient Egypt. It is as though the prophetic spirit were especially interested when empires rule over Israel, or especially sensitive to events concerning or surrounding Jerusalem and the temple. In history, Rome was followed by the Turks and then the British, though these do not seem to fit the interpretation. The focus, if correct, is on Rome, the revived Rome, and Israel. We will take up these questions again below, in the comment on Chapter 17.
Again, horns are something like organizations dedicated or in service to the heads from which they spring. The Lamb appears in the throne vision with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into the earth, through the churches. The most revealing comment on the seven heads and ten horns of the beast is the relation of the ten horns to the ten toes of the statue in the first vision of Daniel (2:33, 42; 7:7; Van Impe, 1982, p. 162). Both the seven heads and the ten horns are explicitly said to be kings, and this helps those who have sought seven emperors to match, thinking that both must be successive rulers. But if the five are not particular kings, the next leading possibility would be that they are successive dynasties of ruling nations, even the nations or kingdoms that, because of their empire, also ruled over Jerusalem. And it would still be so that, when John was addressed, “one now is.” And it is obvious from Twentieth Century fascism what we might fear from the wrong kind of revived Rome. Jack Van Impe explains that there are seven world empires: Assyria, Egypt, and then the five from Daniel’s image, Babylon (2:37-38), Media-Persia, Greece, Rome and a revived Roman Empire represented by the feet of Iron and Clay. Hence, five have fallen, one, Rome, presently is, and another has not yet come. The woman who “is” seated on the seven mountains is Rome. The ten horns are identified with the ten toes, and the last world empire with the fourth beast that Daniel sees rise out of the sea. Further, the two legs of the statue in Daniel’s vision may be the eastern and western Roman Empires. If the analogy can be extended, the ten horns or ten toes would be five kings from the Western and five from the Eastern Roman Empire, in something like a European Union., perhaps including Greece and Russia. In Daniel, the four beasts that came up out of the sea are each distinct, the first like a lion with eagle’s wings; the second is like a bear; the third a leopard with four wings of a bird on its back, and four heads; and then the fourth. These are identified by Hippolytus as the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires. The four heads of the third seem to depict the four divisions into kingdoms of the empire of Alexander after his death. The fourth beast is described not as like any of the great carnivores, but only as exceedingly terrible, “with great iron teeth.” Iron is the fourth metal of the vision of the statue in the second chapter of Daniel. The angel explains to Daniel regarding the four beasts he saw rising out of the sea: “these four beasts are four great kings that shall arise out of the earth” (7:17). These are successive empires. The fourth kingdom shall be “different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth.” The ten horns, and the story that occurs regarding them (7:8), are then explained: “Out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them …different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings” (Daniel 7: 23-24). It may be in this sense that it is an eighth that is one of the seven. It is this one that Daniel saw destroyed when he saw “the Ancient of Days, one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13). It may be this one destroyed who devours “the whole earth,” who will think to change the times and the law. In his destruction, the impirium of the worldly is destroyed, the same as began in the impirium of Egypt and continued through the seven heads. A story is then told about this beast to which the dragon gave his throne. John [13: 3-4] writes:
One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying “who is like the beast and who can fight against it?
The relation of the dragon of Chapter 12 to the beast of Chapter 13 is similar in pattern to the relation between the Father and the Son, where the beast is like an incarnation of the dragon, given his throne and great authority. For this reason he is called the Antichrist, though the text of the Revelation does not use this word. But his is like a satanic religion. Men worship both together, as is the case with the father and the risen son. But men do not worship the beast because they think it is just or merciful, but because no one can fight against it– somewhat as people follow a fighting champion, only at war. He is in one way not opposable by men, and so it is said that those taken into captivity or slain will be thus. Yet, like a son of man, he is subject to mortal limitations, which is why his reign will only last a short while. Yet his being healed from a mortal wound is like a resurrection, and he continues to live:
[13:5-8] And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exert authority for forty-two months; It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given to it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the lamb that was slain…
The blasphemies are also mentioned in Daniel (7:25), and this again seems to mean that he will not pretend to be holy or righteous or pious, nor to be Jesus, but be openly Satanic. There the horn has “a mouth speaking great things.” and “In his own mind he shall magnify himself (8:25), and “he shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods” (11:36) and “magnify himself above all.” (11:37). This, that he appears openly, seems to be so that the multitudes following this are in part guilty, rather than simply deceived.
Those who dwell in heaven will not worship the beast, in contrast with those who dwell on earth. There is a revealing connection to “heaven” and “earth” in Chapter 12, and we see why those who dwell in heaven rejoice, though there is woe for those in sea and earth. Those with earthly concerns will submit to the necessity of the world rule, and not notice their submission to the dragon through the beast. As Paul (2 Thess. 9-11) writes:
The coming of the lawless one by the power of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish because they refused to love the truth and be saved. Therefore God sends on them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
The world rule, over every people, is established before the mark of the beast instituted by the false prophet. This world rule somehow coheres with the advance of the kings of the east and the gathering of the armies around Jerusalem, perhaps at some point in rebellion against the reign of the beast, as though he had set himself in the temple, so that the world need come against him there. Another possibility is that the world rule and the mark of the beast occur after the defeat of these armies of the north and east, as there would then be no competing powers.
If the heads are kings or empires, the mortal wound that is healed would be more like a revived Third Reich, or doubly revived Roman Empire. This would be the case if the Nazis were to take power in the new European Union. There is some question as to whether the trouble in the soul of Europe that led to the ideological tyrannies of the Twentieth Century has been resolved by the victory of the free West in World War II. A sinister under-culture remains, similar to the Nazis in America, and this takes an explicitly satanic turn in Norway. This may be what it means that he arises out of the sea: it is not out of nowhere, but out of a cultural development among humanity that the beast arises, just as Hitler arose amid a more general fascist movement, in a Europe primed for such a movement. The first thing we can do, then, is not to be a part of the people that calls for the beast or is indifferent to the ascent of this. We will take the example of the World War II generation, with the added assurance of hindsight.
In a sentence that the Oxford edition notes some ancient authorities omit, it is added: “Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them” (13:7). Daniel relates “And as I looked, this horn made war with the saints, and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints received the kingdom.” (7:21-22). “He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High…and they shall be given into his hand for a time, two times and a half a time (Daniel 7:25).” One wonders how this relates to the 1260 days in which the woman and her offspring are protected from the beast. The best guess, since protection is the opposite of being given into his hand, is that it is the second half of the seven year period, so that the Christians or Jewish Christians are protected in the first half, but then the Christians are martyred and persecuted in the second half of the seven year reign of the beast. The saints, and hence those endangered, are a group more broad than the 144,000 that are protected. Authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the lamb that was slain. There follows a call for endurance during captivity, and an apparent caution against armed opposition, which may for a time become futile. One begins to see what is involved in “to him who conquers.” That he will make war on the saints and conquer them for a while may refer not only to their martyrdom, but to spiritual warfare, as though the saints, like some of the angels, could yet fall. The martyrs are said to conquer when they persevere, and so that he conquers some might mean that some give in. This is again stated “He will wear out the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:25).
The character is likely to appear different at the beginning than it appears from the time that the witnesses are killed and the world rule manifest. Since he will speak words against the Most High, the deception of the beast will at least at some point not be to appear holy, but rather to present the more usual human deception, by which we are impressed with power, wealth, technical ability and success in worldly endeavors. It does not appear, then, that he will pretend to be the Christ returned. The character of the beast is most clearly described in the brief glimpse provided in the concluding section of the eleventh chapter of Daniel. His end may be descried in the seventh chapter (7:11; 26) and in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah. The section of the eleventh chapter of Daniel that is thought by Van Impe to refer to the character of the beast reads as follows:
And the King shall do according to his will; He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is determined shall be done. He shall give no heed to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women; he shall not give heed to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these; a god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. He shall deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god; those who acknowledge him he shall magnify with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and divide the land for a price.
Daniel 11: 36-39
Apparently, it will not be difficult to tell that the beast is the Beast. Like Nietzsche, he is an atheist who proclaims himself God, and yet in place of gods honors the things concerning the holding of power. His end reminds of the end of Hitler, where his body was burned and then the council sat in judgment (Daniel 7:11; 26). Hitler too could be said to have put down at least three of ten kingdoms that arose out of the Roman Empire, such as France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands, Norway and Finland and Denmark. He also killed many more than 144,000 of the Jews and others. It may even be possible that among the nearly six million Jews, there would be some 2.4 percent that are Christian. Yet, though the rule of Hitler was openly tyrannical for about seven years, it never became literally global, and while the Nazis rolled over Italy, including Rome, there was not yet much action centered around Jerusalem, as seems to be the case in the apocalyptic prophesies. The fear is of course that the roughly seven year period during the worst part of the reign of the Third Reich was only a foreshadowing of what is to come. This one is like a Hitler that succeeds, and the head with the mortal wound that healed would fit a miraculous return of Nazism. Here, the head of the revived Roman Empire, in Fascism (named for the Roman fasces), received what is like a mortal blow, and yet the fascist teaching is strangely resilient. It may be like the villains of modern film who do not die in the end, but come back for a sequel. No one can well explain the reason for the rise of Nazism in America, though it now seems clear that communism never was our most significant internal danger. But this is the sort of thing we are dealing with regarding the beast, and not some relatively pansy European liberal leading the E.U. by chance. In his rising, he may be undetectable. But in the example of the rise of the Third Reich, the world has seen what this looks like, and how it could ascend. Hitler, on an openly Nazi platform, took power by democratic means, winning a divided election with nearly forty percent of the vote, as the weak German Weimar Republic gave way to tyranny.
In the present context, world rule would of course be impossible in our age unless the sovereignty of the United States was overcome, and it is possible that a global weather catastrophe make universal rule from Europe somehow seem necessary. China, too, like the United States, would either prevent or must host any form of world rule, as would certain others, Russia, Britain and Israel. Van Impe reads Daniel 7:26 as implying that the antichrist will come from the European Union, since this is a revival of what was called the Holy Roman Empire, the Austrian regime of the middle ages. This line, “…The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary,” seems to imply that he is not to be a ruler or resident of Israel. It may mean that he is to be an Italian, like Machiavelli or like some “Catholic” mobster. Machiavelli wrote in his Prince of the beast and man in the preceptor Chiron the Centaur (XVIII), in intentional contrast with the divine man Christ. More can be learned about these things too from the classical study of tyranny, as in the eighth and ninth books of Plato’s Republic, and the work of Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli, p. 78). The “people who destroyed the temple” may have a very broad possible meaning, covering most of the globe in some sense or another, since Russia too derived her tradition of czars from Caesars, and is a part of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The United States imitates Rome in some ways, such as having a Senate. This must either be overcome or be the origin of the beast, if the beast is to be a literal world ruler. There is the clear implication of a warning against taking global authority even if this were handed to us by necessity. As the Roman Empire quickly led to the reign of the mad, self deifying emperors, so world rule would make political liberty impossible. Concentrated in one, it might quickly become a throne of madness. Perhaps such an event would be a national test of our commitment to republican government. In Rome, the principate was established when the republicans were killed off in the civil wars (Tacitus, Annals, I.i). But it would seem that as long as our constitution is in force, the world rule of any beast will be restrained. The nations discussed prophetically do not include the United States in any clear way, in part because the nation was not founded yet, and the entire region of the world unknown. One catches occasional glimpses of some nation helping Israel, in the four corners of the earth, leaping across the sea and on the “wings of eagles,” as He brought them out of Egypt (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 32:11). One would hope that it is somehow possible for us to avoid either complete isolation or the complete entanglement of our affairs in the fate of this other third of the globe. The Kingdom of the Beast (16:10) seems distinct from the nations at the four corners, though these are gathered for battle once or twice. Yet it is said that “authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” Democratic or republican government, though, may simply go into hiding, so that as Lincoln said, it “shall not perish from the earth.” Nations opposed to Israel do not fare well in prophecy, and there is a blessing on those that are helpful (Numbers 24:9). Islam accepts the books of Moses, and the whole of scripture, so that one wonders that these old brothers cannot manage to be neighbors or better friends.
[13:11-18] Then John saw another beast which arose out of the earth. The difference between earth and sea seems crucial here, though the beasts Daniel sees arise out of the sea are also seen arising out of the earth. The two realms are in contrast with the element of the air and the sky or heaven: Again, the sea is something like the source of myth and poetry in the soul of humanity, and of dreams, while the earth is more mundane and political, the world or the place of the actual regimes. What is said about the earth and sea would fit the matter if the first beast were something like Nietzsche, who did say that he was God, yet one who seeks political dominion, and holds a sort of spiritual dominion over modern thought. The second might be something like Hitler or Marx, although in identification with the false prophet it seems more like al Qaeda. And this may be the “foreign god” with whom he takes the strongest fortress: if Communism or some other in the future were to use the Islamic world against the West. That beheading is the favored Islamic method of execution is particularly ominous.
The earth beast “had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.” It is sometimes speculated that this might be like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, or that it ascends by pretending to be like a lamb or the Lamb. The Ram with two horns in Daniel is the Kingdom of the Medes and Persians, and so this would also be interesting if the false prophet were to arise out of Islam. Horns, we recall, are sometimes present kings, and the seven horns of the lamb are in one vision the seven churches.
“It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.”
This would be as if the followers of Hitler were to restore the Nazi regime, and honor the defeated fuehrer. Or it may be as the Nazi Reich presented itself, as a revived Roman Empire. Scofield (1909, p. 1342) writes:
Fragments of the Roman Empire have never ceased to exist as separate kingdoms. It was the imperial form of government which ceased; the one head wounded to death. What we have prophetically in Revelation 13.3 is the restoration of the imperial form as such, though over a federated empire of ten kingdoms; the “head” is “healed,” i.e. restored; there is an emperor again– the Beast.
Yet the restoration causes astonishment, which leads people to worship the beast, as though it were a literal resurrection. The earth beast is somehow in the presence of the first beast. Is it a religious ruler that speaks the things of rage and war, like a dragon? In fooling mankind, it “works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men.” By these signs, the land beast deceives “those who dwell on earth,” and in this deception, they make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
Scofield (1909, p. 1342) writes:
The many antichrists precede and prepare the way for the Antichrist, who is “the Beast out of the earth” of Revelation 13.11-17, and the false prophet of Rev. 16.13; 19.20; 20.10. He is the last ecclesiastical head, as the Beast of Rev. 13.1-8 is the last civil head. For purposes of persecution, he is permitted to exercise the autocratic power of the emperor Beast.
This is very interesting as a hypothesis, and may demonstrate the anomaly that we do not know just which beast the antichrist is, since the word Antichrist does not occur in the Revelation. If the hypothesis is wrong, to state just why it is wrong might be revealing. The idea of a political and ecclesiastical beast is related to the idea of two Babylons, political and ecclesiastical, with which we will also disagree, and find revealing, below. The Antichrist is not likely to honor another above himself, unless it is the dragon, but not a man, since he will say that he is God. The land beast does, though, seem to lead the religious worship of the sea beast. The beasts do not die until they are slain by the word in Chapter 19, and so we know that the sea beast is still alive despite the mortal wound. And what if he directed his own worship in disguise?
The image is made to speak, when it, the earth beast, was “allowed to give breath to the image.” This would describe television images of the fuehrer, though it may be some future hologram image. Would not a worship of Hitler through footage of his speeches be like this? All those who will not worship the image of the beast are to be slain. This is like Roman emperor worship and like Nebuchadnezzar’s attempt to force Daniel to worship their statues. This second beast, the land beast, is the one that causes all to be marked on the hand or forehead so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, which is the name of the beast or its number. It is here that the famous mark of the beast is foretold:
This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.
The mark is called a chragma, which can also be translated brand, as those associated with slavery or, cattle. The chragma is in contrast with the seal, a sphragida. This is the first of two things said to call for wisdom, before the angel’s interpretation of the image of the beast at 17:9. “Here is wisdom,” may indicate that the answer to the riddle in Chapter 13 is given in Chapter 17, in an account dominated not by sixes, but by sevens. We are seeing just now the emergence of technology which makes such a thing possible, to mark each one and require such a thing for any transaction: it is the application of the same technology that will be required, or is the logical conclusion of, modern banking with anti-fraud measures. This is one aspect of the prophecy that is a clear possibility for us, but was not apparent to readers in earlier times, and so could not have been imagined, beyond what is said in the Revelation. We see in this not only the astonishing capacity given to evil by modern technology but the increased importance that these new powers be kept in the hands of liberty and out of the hands of tyranny.
While the mark of the beast may be an actual number spun out of a name, the meaning becomes apparent in contrast with the seal by which the 144,000 have the name of the Lamb and his father written on their foreheads. The best clue so far as to the literal meaning of the marking and sealing is the passage of Ezekiel in which those are marked who “sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in” Jerusalem (Ezekiel 9:4). A mark on the forehead is what one sets his plans according to, and on the hand, that to which one sets his work. There seems to be no question of tricking the beast, as one would otherwise advise for example women and children to do if one were caught under the reign of one like Hitler. Because of this famous passage, and its elaboration in the next vision (14:9, 11), Christians will know enough not to take such a mark, and prepare for the consequences. Similarly it is hoped that avoiding the deception of the antichrist will be a matter of ethical common sense, rather than extraordinarily difficult. Yet those whose names are not written in the Book of the Lamb will be deceived.
One can see how the mark in the literal sense might be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as whole gangs in prisons now mark themselves this way on purpose. And what if one should name himself “Nero Caesar” because the name supposedly has such a number? One wonders if the strength of our prisons does not presuppose that such things as electricity will continue, or that there will always be fair weather. And this, incidentally, is a practical reason for the death penalty: we cannot be assured of our ability to keep these extremely harmful sorts in prison, nor do we owe to them this risk. The reason against the death penalty is also practical: errors can be made, and the powers can be abused, which cannot be remedied after an execution.
The common attempt to spin the number out of gammatria formulas which exchange numbers for letters is probably mistaken because such a calculation does not call for wisdom and intellect, but rather calculation, which is accessible to all, and may be, as logistikon, a faculty different from nous. In addition to Nero, the number was said to apply to “Titan,” Evanthas, Latinus, Reagan, Napoleon and others, and when the name does not fit the birth name, the birth name may be shuffled about until it does fit. Visa and Computer have also been suggested. These things seem at best fruitless and at worst harmful to persons like Reagan, to whom no apology is given when it becomes clear that there was never any reason to say such a thing. Reagan, together with the Pope John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev, dissolved the Berlin Wall and the most ominous aspect of the Cold War division. Aune (p. 769), citing Baukham, notes that Greek word for beast transliterated into Hebrew has the value 666, making the gemmatra identity a statement of the obvious. More interesting is the meaning of three sixes in the text, the sixth seal, trumpet and bowl, which seem too to fit together, addressing the Euphrates and the martyrdom.
In scripture, the phrase “number of his name” comes from the book of numbers (1:3; 20), where the Lord told Moses:
Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by families, by father’s houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head; from twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go forth to war, you and Aaron shall number them, company by company.
Each tribe is then listed “according to the number of names,” and the total is over six hundred thousand. But in each of the twelve tribes, or eleven since Levi is not numbered, there would be an individual with the three sixes as his number. If the tribe of Dan were numbered but not sealed, this would fit
But neither does this tell us what the number of the name means. More significant seems the fitting together of the lines “here is wisdom. Let him having intellect figure the number of the beast for it is the number of a man” (hode ha sophian estin, ho echon ton noun psaphisato) and then: “Here is a mind with wisdom” or even “Here is the mind having wisdom” (hode ho nous ho echon sophian, 17:9). Is the answer to the number of the name somehow in the account explaining the seven heads, ten horns, and the woman that rides in on him, seated on seven mountains? Perhaps the sixth head, sixth horn and sixth mountain? But it is said that he is “an eighth,” though “of the seven.” We will have a chance to revisit these things below, when taking up the section of the text that contains the interpretation.
- iii: Chapter Fourteen
[14:1-5] After the vision of the beasts from land and sea, John sees the Lamb with the 144,000 on Mount Zion, the holy hill of Jerusalem. Zion refers both to Jerusalem as a whole and to one of the four hills. Zion is the southeastern hill, distinct from Mount Mariah within the old city, now called the Temple Mount, and the Mount of Olives, the easternmost hill. It is thought, from Zechariah, that at his return his feet will touch the Mount of Olives, and separate sets of prophesies relate to Mount Mariah and Mount Zion. This is the prophesied appearance on Mt. Zion (Psalm 2:6), “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill,” and “the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before his elders he will manifest his glory“ (Is. 24:23; 28:16).
The identity and character of the 144,000 is a difficult question. Five distinct groups are recognizable: 1) those martyrs shown in the fifth trumpet; 2) the 144,000 of Chapters 7 and 14; 3) the multitudes from every nation, 4) the two witnesses, called the two olive trees; 5) those beheaded for refusing to take the mark of the beast. The latter three may be identical. Other groups which may or may not be identical are a) those raptured, b) the millennial saints beheaded, c) the rest of the dead that rise after the millennium, and d) those that return with Christ for the battle of Armageddon.
This chapter is very complex, as Aune and others note. It is full of ambiguity, and questions that challenge and deepen our understanding of the whole. After he saw the beasts as described in Chapter 13, he sees again those sealed in the sixth seal, the 144,000, who appear on Mount Zion. These are heard singing a new song before the throne, the living creatures and the elders, as appeared in Chapter 4. The questions surround images that depend for their interpretation on our reading of the whole of the Revelation. That is, the teaching of the section assumes an account of the whole that is not clear. But for this same reason, Chapter 14 is valuable in that it indicates that whole account, the whole which would be required to make the section clear. The 144,000 who appear on Mount Zion also appeared in Chapter 7 just before those who had come out of the tribulation. It is not clear whether they appear here as martyrs or as survivors. They appear with the Lamb on Mount Zion, rather than, as in Chapter 15, beside a sea of glass, or in heaven. Are these, who have conquered the beast and its image, the same as the 144,000 sealed? Or are these two different groups, the survivors protected from beheading for not taking the mark and those protected by the seal? All those whose names are not written in the book of life will follow the Beast (13:8), but the seal of Chapter 7 is different from the more general book of life. Do they appear in heaven with harps because they have just been martyred, or rather raptured? It is not clear whether the Lamb is shown as returned, nor whether the Lamb has returned to leave with them or has rather returned with them, on the clouds, as with all his saints (Zechariah 14:5), to conquer and reign with them. The chronological reading would seem to require the latter.
There follows a vision of six or seven messengers, six angels and one like a son of man, and then there is the harvest and the winepress. The connection of the six angels to the 144,000 is also not immediately clear. As Aune states the question, “Should the one like a son of man be identified with Christ or an angel, and does the harvest represent judgment or salvation?” The Lamb has just appeared on Mount Zion. Is he then shown coming on the clouds?
There may be a close relation between Chapter 14 and Chapter 13, continuing the same story. Hal Lindsey writes of the 144,000 that these have somehow managed to stay alive through the whole tribulation (1973, p. 197). Joel (3:5) writes: “For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, there shall be those who escape…,” or, in the New American translation:
Then shall everyone be rescued
Who calls on the name of the Lord;
For on Mount Zion there shall be a remnant, as
The Lord has said,
And in Jerusalem survivors
Whom the Lord shall call.
The 144,000 of Chapter 14 sing a new song that only they can learn. The sound heard from heaven that preceded the sound of many harps was the sound of a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and loud thunder, recalling the statements of the seven thunders, which was also inaccessible, or not to be written down. It may involve a union of Israel and universal Christendom, as these 144,000 are said to be Israelis, and chaste. The Jews currently reject celibacy. But the 144,000 are of a different and very high order: we should not feel left out if we cannot adjust our reading to include ourselves. Nor does it seem helpful, as the Witnesses do, to identify them with the aristoi of a certain group or sect, nor again are all the saints or all the saved identified with them. They are distinguished from the multitudes, those that are seen coming out of the tribulation. The multitudes are presumably not celibate.
A new song is written in Chapter 7, as it is sung by the four creatures and the twenty four elders. This song (7:8-10) considers developments from the crucifixion through the apocalypse:
Worthy art thou to take the scroll
And to open its seals,
For thou wast slain and by thy blood
Didst ransom men for God
From every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
And they shall reign on the earth.
There are, of course, priests of God who are not among the 144,000, and it is said that these will reign on the earth. If these are other than those beheaded, their reign on earth would be after the millennium. The song of the elders said that the Lamb was worthy to open the sealed scroll because of his conquest of death. The 144,000 sing their song before the elders, the living creatures and the throne. Those who appear beside the sea of glass in Chapter 15 also appear with harps or guitars, and sing a song, here called the “song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.” This is the song of the Old and New Testaments, or of the Jews and the Christians, different from the song in Chapter 14 that only the 144,000 can learn. This is another example of the union of things Jewish and things Christian that emerges as characteristic of the Revelation (12:17; 21:12-14). The word for song (odon) is similar to the word for “way,” and the word for harps (kitharodos) is the same as the word for guitars. Because their song is open, these seem to be other than the 144,000. They may be the multitudes who were seen with the 144,000 as coming out of the tribulation. A second possibility is that the 144,000 are gathered on Mount Zion for their martyrdom, and so these then appear in the following chapter beside the sea of glass.
He hears a “voice from heaven like the sound of many waters,” like a thunder and the sound of harps.” The sound is a part of a new song that they sing before the throne and the living creatures and the elders, and only these could learn that song. There may be a contrast with the sound of the wings of the locusts in Chapter 9. These are virgins, a celibate priesthood that follows the Lamb wherever he goes, somewhat as the wheels follow the faces of the living creatures in the vision of Ezekiel. “These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless.” This line, and the example of John, is among the main scriptures supporting the celibate priesthood. These are those made eunuchs for the kingdom (Matthew 19:12). The line is very similar to the answer recorded in the gospel of Luke (20:34), to the sophistic question of one’s wife in the resurrection:
The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. For they cannot die any more, because they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
“Age” here is used in a sense outside of time. In this sense it may be right to say that John, who was literally celibate, is, and was, a son not of the present age, but of the resurrection, or of the Kingdom. Peter and Phillip, who were married, may also be so, though they were not so literally, in that age. The most holy sort are singular, as apparently were also James, Andrew and Thomas. The Greek Orthodox custom allowing two orders of Priests, and some to marry, may be more suitable, and reduce the attempt to hide the lack of a husband or wife by entering the orders. Nor is it made clear that those in the resurrection will be reunited with loved ones, though this is not impossible either. And we who seek to marry look to them for the example that frees us from the body, and even for the liberty of the love in our marriages.
The celibacy of John and the 144,000 is literal, and no reason appears to alter our reading to obscure this possibility. Similarly, while they follow the Lamb and have the names of the father and the son written on their foreheads, there is no reason to obscure the possibility that they are literally 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes, of Jewish Christians. It is, again, possible that these Jewish Christians were among the 6 Million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust. But even if Hitler is not the beast, and only a precursor, still one sees something of what this event looks like. The thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth chapters fit together if, again, the tribulation caused the martyrdom while this precedes the seven bowls of Chapters 15-16, or at least the seventh bowl.
That the 144,000 are redeemed as “first fruits” would seem to mean that their resurrection was not preceded by a rapture of believers at 4:1. If these are the raptured, their rapture is also to be identified with their coming out of the tribulation. Jesus raised is called a first fruit. That the 144,000 are called “first fruits,” though, is somehow consistent with the one raised by Elijah, Lazarus, and those who rose at the resurrection of Jesus.
[14:6-13] But what happens is that the 144,000 appear with the Lamb, then six angels appear, surrounding one that appears as a son of man, that is, as distinct from an angel. The six surrounding the central figure makes the section of the angels shaped like a menorah. The first three appear flying in mid heaven with statements or messages. With the first, an eternal gospel is proclaimed, and with the second, it is announced that Babylon is fallen. Then the third angel issues the warning not to take the mark of the beast. This third establishes the connection of Chapter 14 with what has just been shown in Chapter 13. A blessing is announced on those who die in the Lord from this time forward, and this is difficult to understand. The one like a son of man is seen seated on a cloud, and an angel comes with a sickle, and another, coming “out of the temple” calls for the earth to be reaped. The human then appears with a sickle for the harvest, and an angel then calls for him to reap. Is this the same as the Lamb that was just seen on Mount Zion? Is the reaping of the harvest not a reaping of the Christians, in contrast with the winepress? Then another angel appears with a sickle and another calls this one to cut the grapes for the winepress, amounting to seven, and another series of sevens. These two, the fifth and sixth, come “out of the temple–”the latter explicitly out of the temple in heaven. The last angel comes out from the altar, and calls for the one with the sickle to gather the clusters of grapes, which are gathered and thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God. The winepress trodden outside the city is generally understood to be Armageddon, though Armageddon is not mentioned until the sixth bowl, and then as something that has not yet occurred, the same as the conquest of the army of the beast and capture of the beast and false prophet that occurs in Chapter 19. The text does not seem to intend to refer here to three Armageddon battles, but only one. Another possibility is that the winepress is the gathering of the harvest and the fall of Babylon both, the persecution of all Christians true and false, all at once.
Hal Lindsey recognizes what occurs in Chapter 14 to be two different harvests, a reaping, as of wheat, and another reaping that is a gathering of grapes for the winepress of the wrath of God. Chapter 14 is extremely difficult, with a depth and ambiguity of characters that is similar to the ambiguity of the rider on the first horse. It is possible that the harvest is that of the multitudes, while the winepress is the killing of those who follow the beast, and that these occur simultaneously.
The winepress is also mentioned at 19:15, where it is said in the future tense, of the one who appears on the white horse, Jesus at his return, that he will tread the winepress of the wrath of God the Almighty.” Our reading of Chapter 14 must aim at consistency with these other instances. Similarly, the winepress is related to the wine of the impure passion of Babylon, and the wine that Babylon is given to drink because of the blood of martyrs spilled (17:6; 18:6). The treading of the winepress in Chapter 14 is the same instance as that in Chapter 19. That the last three angels come out of the temple in heaven reminds of the bowl angels, and the judgment of Babylon in the seventh bowl.
In more detail, the first angel is seen flying in mid heaven “…with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and people and tongue.” It is said that Joachim of Fiore thought this to be some new account based on the Holy Spirit that was to replace the New Testament, based on the Son (Jung, 1978, p. 85). But the message is to worship God the creator of the four realms that are about to be struck. As Henry Schaeffer suggests, and we have related above, the message is not, as the Christians have taught, that the hour is coming, but that it has come, or is now arrived, and the bringing of this message is the office not of human witnesses, but of the angel. It is not the Christians but an angel that is to announce this, when the time arrives. With a loud voice, this one says “fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water.” These are the four elements to be struck in the first four bowls of wrath below. This may be said as a reminder that the creation belongs to the Lord as a vessel to its potter, since the wrath of the Day of the Lord is to be so terrible for the whole world, and the world is so beautiful. The eternal gospel may be the same as the gospel till this time, which is not only for the people of Israel, but for all people.
A second angel follows, saying in the past tense as an event that has already occurred, what will again be shown in the 17th and 18th chapters: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of her impure passion.” The fall of Babylon may be distinct from her drinking the wine cup, or the punishment of Babylon. The third angel then delivers a warning against taking the mark of the beast, and a call for the endurance of the saints, who are “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” The first three angels would then address three fundamental occurrences of the two millennia from the crucifixion until the present: the gospel, its corruption by Rome, and the cause for endurance, the imposition of the mark of the beast. Is this not in some sense the last commandment of the Bible, not to take the mark? Eternal torment is the lot of “any one who worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand.” This teaching is important, because under certain tyrannies, it is right to teach children and others to lie to avoid persecution. Here the rule of the beast is contrasted with the Nazi tyranny, to which it would have been prudent to lie. In this circumstance, the mark carries with it more earthly torment than its refusal, and may be something, like allegiance, which cannot in any case be given by children.
The warning here implies something about the time sequence, as though the time were at the start of the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation. There is a similarity of proportion between the sets of seven, where seals: trumpets :: angels : bowls. But the pattern of 4/3 that characterizes the seals, trumpets and bowls, appears reversed in the angels, which is more 3:4 or 3:1:3.
Here a voice is heard in heaven telling John to “write this:
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth. Blessed indeed, says the Spirit, “That they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
Is there some new permanence to deeds that was not so for those who died in the Lord previously? That our deeds follow us, if the soul is immortal, is related to the book of life (20:12), to be considered in place below. Aune cites a teaching from the Mishnah: at the time of a man’s death, neither silver nor gold nor precious stones nor pearls go with him, but only the law and his good works.” 1998, p. 839). Does this occur in some new way from this time forward? Could the same be said of those who die in the Lord after the crucifixion? Eternal life may then have entered into the world, and colored deeds of life, as are written in the book of each. But the voice here may refer to those at the harvest, or to those who die in the Lord after the seventh trumpet, the latter day saints. Interestingly, this is the only appearance of the singular Spirit as a character in the vision of the Revelation, as distinct from in the greeting and signing off, and when John is in the Spirit. Elsewhere, the spirit is present in the seven spirits before the throne, and in many vessels, such as are men and angels. The Spirit also speaks with the risen Christ to the churches.
This is the second of the seven blessings of the book of Revelation (see p. 18 above). The identity of the voice is a mystery, though it is followed by the voice of the Spirit and then a vision of “one like a son of man,” thought to be the Messiah, coming on the clouds. This is the closest that the description in the Revelation comes to his arrival on a cloud, as is elsewhere prophesied (Acts 1:9-11). It is possible then that this voice is a third example of the speaking of the Lord (with 1:8 and 21:6-8). The unidentified voice occurs also at 16:1 and 18:4-8. The other interjection is the one appearance of the rapture in the Revelation, when after the description of the three frogs in the sixth bowl, He, Jesus, says “behold, I come like a thief” (16:15).
[14:14-20] What is strange is that one like a son of man enthroned on a cloud, with a golden crown appears with a sharp sickle. Is this the same as the appearance on Mount Zion with the 144,000? The image is strange, because in contrast with our image of the grim reaper, the reaper is apparently the returning Messiah. It is possible that this one is in contrast with the Lamb on Mount Zion, as the Antichrist is also like a son of man and incarnates an angel. But that he is enthroned on the cloud, and has a golden crown seems to indicate that this one is rather the Messiah, coming with the clouds. Told by an angel that “the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” He swung his sickle, and the earth was reaped. This is a grain harvest, distinct from the grapevine harvest to follow. Another angel comes out of the temple in heaven, also with a sickle, and then the angel that has power over fire comes out from the altar and calls to the previous angel. The image is strange because the harvest of the wheat is an image of the gathering of the grain into the barn, an image of salvation. An example is “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers few” (Mt.9:37-38) and “look up, for the fields are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). The ripe grain would probably not occur as an image pertaining to those ripe for wrath, as are the grapes, although the grapevine is an image for both. Does the image here turn, and the harvest is of those who die at Armageddon, the unredeemed, to whom Jesus appears as a grim reaper? The winepress is that of the wrath of God, which those who take the mark will drink. So it seems that the harvest and winepress are separate because there are both martyrs and followers of the beast that are killed. The blessing on those who die in the Lord henceforth might be because these are killed by friendly fire, as might occur if there were humans on the side of the Lamb at Armageddon, making sense of that very strange blessing.
Mixing the metaphors of harvesting grain and vineyards, the angel of fire tells the angel that came out of the temple to gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe. The grapes are then gathered and thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God. The winepress is then “trodden outside the city,” reminding of the treading of the outside of the temple (11:1). Blood flowed from the winepress as high as a horses bridle for about 200 miles. This is thought to be a picture of the battle of Armageddon, and “outside the city” would seem to be outside Jerusalem. This impression is supported by the passage of Joel describing the winepress, in the context of the judgment of the nations around Jerusalem in the “valley of decision” (3:13-14). This valley is Jehosephat, just south east of Jerusalem, in the Kidron valley. Joel writes:
Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Go in, tread, for the winepress is full,
The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.
Later, when the one on the white horse appears in Chapter 19, it is said that he will tread the winepress (19:15), so that here the one like a son a man does seem to be the Messiah.
The relation of the harvest and the winepress to the seven bowls of wrath is difficult. If the winepress afflicts the followers of the beast, it would seem to occur after the first and fifth bowls, in which the followers of the beast do not yet seem to have been crushed. If it afflicts Babylon instead, it would seem not to occur until the seventh bowl. It seems to occur either after the seven bowls or to be another symbolic description of the same thing, culminating in the slaughter at Armageddon described in Chapter 19.
The winepress is familiar from the prophets, from Isaiah, and Joel. In Isaiah (63:1-6), the Messiah appears after the winepress:
Who is this that comes from Edom, in crimson garments from Bozrah,
He that is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save.”
Why is thy apparel red, and thy garments like his that treads the winepress?
“I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath;
Their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my raiment
For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
And my year of redemption [or of my redeemed] has come.
I looked, and there was no one to help;
I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
So my own arm brought me victory, and my wrath upheld me.
I trod down the peoples in my anger, I made them drunk in my wrath,
And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
This is quite terrifying, and it is perhaps done alone because vengeance does not belong to man, but to the Lord.
- iv: The Seven Bowls of Wrath
The vision of the six angels and the son of man is followed by another, the sixth or seventh vision included in the seventh trumpet. The seven bowls of wrath complete the wrath of God. Chapter 15 introduces the seven bowls with a vision of those who conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside a sea of glass mixed with fire. They have harps or guitars of God, and are singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. This song of praise to the Lord concludes: “All nations shall come and worship thee / For thy judgments have been revealed.” The Song of Moses (Ex. 15:1-18) was sung by Moses and the Israelis after the Egyptians were drowned at the parting of the waters.
After this, he looks, and the temple of the tent of witness in heaven is opened, and seven angels with the seven plagues come out of it. Then one of the four living creatures gives the angels seven bowls of the wrath of God. The temple was filled with smoke, and no one could enter it until the seven plagues were ended.
In this fifteenth chapter, points about the time sequence become apparent. Those who had conquered the beast and his image and number are seen standing beside the sea of glass, prior to the seven bowls. In 14:8, Babylon has fallen, past tense, before the warning not to take the mark of the beast. The sea of blood in the second bowl is compared to wine, and men are given blood to drink, as is their due for shedding the blood of saints and prophets. In 17, when the fall of Babylon reported by the second angel is described, the dwellers on the earth have become drunk with the wine of her fornication. She holds a cup of her fornications, and a call is given out that she repay double for her deeds. From Chapter 11 through Chapter 18, the same event is described from different angles. There is a huge and severe, worldwide persecution of Christians by the Beast, something like the attempt of Hitler to wipe out the Jews, but directed at the Christians as well. This may be something like divine retribution for the making of martyrs, as was done by the Church in the persecution of heretics and witches, which included the persecution of translators of the Bible and possibly of saints, even as Israel persecuted the prophets.
A word about divine retribution is in order, because people imagine God to be like a man with a will that is the cause of all things, and so would question why a just God would afflict the innocent for the crimes of the guilty. It is at least possible to suggest that it does not work this way, or that these things are impossible to understand from this assumption. That is part of why these things are hidden. It does not work in the way imagined, yet it does work, if in a more natural way, based on the human soul and the natures of human things. The sins of the Church in the making of martyrs set in motion the anti-Christian tendency of modernity and modern thought and philosophy. In America, this opened the way to liberty, but in Germany, the anti-Christian motion of modernity gave rise to communism and fascism, both the spawn of German “philosophy.” These may be two of the three frogs that lead to the gathering of the nations at Armageddon. The law causes the reflection of its opposite, and when Christ was made into a law, with opinion to be legislated as belief, the opposite was caused to develop in humanity. This opposite is extraordinarily cruel, with an upside-down ordering of the soul, aiming at an inversion of the kingdom on earth, and their adherents exercise their cruelties in a religious vigor that cannot be explained from their self-interest as rational, or even as animal. These then afflict the world, as Nazism and Communism afflicted half the globe, and radical Islam now afflicts the nations under Shari’ a law. It–the ideologies to come out of the West– is the natural result of the anti-Christian, inspired by the making of martyrs. That seems to be how divine retribution works, and not by some god who is puppeteer of fortune and hence responsible for the cruelties of man afflicting the innocent. The beast attacks the harlot. That is the key to Revelation. The Harlot is the worldly manifestation of religion, used as a cloak for human vice, though the affliction will likely be on anyone identifiable as Christian or biblical, even as the affliction of the Jews was against both the Jewish faithless and the Jewish faithful. Again, the rapture of the Christians prior to the bowls might appear from the worldly view to be persecution and martyrdom.
Chapter 15 is a throne scene, though the throne is not mentioned, and those who have conquered the beast are the final completion of the throne with the number of the martyrs for which the martyrs of the fifth seal wait. Those before the sea of glass may have been completed in the harvest of Chapter 14, or in the survivors that appeared with the Lamb on Mount Zion, showing the inner connection of the events in these chapters.
[16:1-11] A loud voice is heard from the temple telling the seven angels to pour out the seven bowls of wrath onto the world. This may be the voice of the Lord. When the first bowl is poured, “Foul and evil sores came upon the men who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.” The first bowl is like the first trumpet in that it affects the earth. As the fifth trumpet effects or torments all those that do not have the seal of God on their foreheads, with stings like that of a scorpion, the first bowl affects the followers of the beast, leaving them with foul sores. And like the second trumpet, the second bowl is poured onto the sea, “and it became as the blood of a dead man, and every living thing died that was in the sea.” And like the third trumpet, the third bowl is poured out onto the fresh water. In the trumpet, this was turned to wormwood, while here, the rivers and fountains of water became blood. An angel is heard to say to God, addressed as O Holy One, that he is just in these judgments, “For men have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, it is their due.” It is, to repeat, especially as a punishment for the making of martyrs, not only by the followers of the beast but by all mankind, that the judgments of the Revelation come. It is all mankind in the sense that the waters on which she is seated are “the peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (17:15). One would think it obvious that we ought never to have anything to do with religious executions. The altar voices agreement with the judgment (16:7).
Again, none of the calamities seem to recognize any other of the calamities as having preceded them. The text does not say, for example, that the remaining two thirds of the sea were destroyed, after the thing like a great mountain was thrown into it and one third of the waters turned to wormwood. When men are given blood to drink, it is not understood to be in place of wormwood, but in place of fresh water. It is not the blazing but the normal sun that is darkened, and no reference is made even to one third of mankind having been killed prior to the seven bowls of Chapter 16, though it is said that even after one third is killed, they did not repent, so that the striking of one third in the great battle described through the six trumpets is not the end, but only the beginning of the end. Yet it is possible that we are to understand that 1/3 of the world has been previously destroyed. The great tsunami was quickly forgotten in new concerns and new catastrophes, so that it is not impossible that the remaining 2/3 of the world simply continue with what is next.
As in the fourth trumpet, the fourth bowl affects the sun. But while in the fourth trumpet, the sun, moon and stars were darkened, here the sun “was allowed to scorch men with fire; and men were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give him glory.” This of course reminds everyone of the effect of human chemistry on the ozone layer, as the sun does appear to have become noticeably hotter or more burning in the past two decades. The fragility of the whole earth was of course not appreciated, as technologies are applied when there is a short term benefit, regardless of our knowing that consequences or harmful side effects cannot always be foreseen. But to return, the fifth trumpet would alleviate the fourth bowl somewhat, if it were to occur after the sun became blazing, and if it occurred before, the sun would have to be very hot indeed to penetrate the smoke of a large volcano, unless the smoke were understood to have dissipated. As after the sixth trumpet, so here, and after the fifth bowl, men still do not repent.
Like the fifth trumpet and the first bowl, the fifth bowl affects the followers of the beast. The bowl is poured out on the throne of the beast, “and its kingdom was in darkness; men gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores, and did not repent of their deeds.” The event of the sores is very similar to that described in the fifth trumpet and first bowl. Otherwise there is no explanation of the sores. Again, the bowls may cover the period of the three woes in greater detail.
[16:12-16] The sixth angel pours his bowl on the river Euphrates, “and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the Kings of the East.” This anti-exodus event seems to precede the scene described in the sixth trumpet, but could conceivably come after 1/3 of mankind was killed in the sixth trumpet. The four angels bound at the Euphrates and then released may be the three frogs and the free nations of the West. Isaiah writes: They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole earth” (13:5). The Euphrates was the eastern limit of the Roman Empire, near where the angel seen by Daniel straddled the river. Even here, then, in Daniel, the question involves the division between East and West.
Here another vision, introduced with “And I saw,” breaks into the scene of the sixth bowl:
And I saw, issuing from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet, three foul spirits like frogs; for they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.
This is not unlike the way that fascism, communism, and radical Islam are three ideologies, one possible effect of which is to gather the nations to come against Israel and perhaps all the people of the Commandments of the Bible, including the entire Christian West. The three frogs are each from one of the demonic characters, the Dragon, the Beast and the False prophet, providing a clue to the identities of these. The description of the third frog or demonic spirit as the “false prophet,” once conjectured to be Mohammed, makes more sense once Al Qaeda-like groups appear. Mohammed brought monotheism to the Arabs, and brought the Arabs and then the Persians to the God of Abraham and Moses. He is violent as a legislator, as is Moses, but he brought the law and justice to the Arab and Persian worlds, and so, as it appears, could not himself be the false prophet. Saint Paul was forbidden to go into Asia, and turned West (Acts 16:6), though Thomas preached in Parthia, or Iran. The missionaries do not penetrate the Arab world, so that these are polytheists when Mohammed arrives to convert them to the God of Abraham and Ishmael. There is some question about spreading Islam by the sword, and so forbidding free speech and religion, and some question of whether it sees itself as universal. Christian preaching is generally forbidden in the Muslim world, as it may be in Israel as well. Yet Islam itself follows the orders of chastity and peace, outdoing the West in purity of ethics in certain respects. Our old doctrinal differences, genuine as they are, look ridiculous and human in light of the genuine appearance of the diabolical in the political worlds. All that is needed for Islam to get along with other nations is the recognition that the God called Allah is the same as the God called Yahweh, or that the Jews and Christians worship no God other than God. Jews and Islamists have more in common with one another than they have with atheists and the polytheists of the East. That Jesus is the Messiah and God will be a bit more difficult, though Islam claims to accept the authority of the New Testament. Radical Islam is a kind of right wing fascism, different from the Nazi form in that it is apparently theistic, rather than atheistic, as are the other two frogs. There is some question as to whether the zeal of Muslims is not being used by something else, something other than Islam. Are the highest persons in radical Islam seeing themselves as obedient and dedicated to the Koran? Or do they use this as far as it will take them in a more secret and atheistic purpose of the destruction of the West, aiming at Islamic World rule? “He shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god,” though he himself will honor the “god of fortresses” (Daniel 11:38-39). This language is Machiavellian, although it is not clear that Machiavelli honored the god of fortresses. He seems to advise against relying on fortresses, which are for the weak who cannot meet the invader with an army in the field (Prince X). But then fortresses can be useful according to the times, as shown by the Germans and Machiavelli’s advice for withstanding a siege. Then to have one’s own arms is the strongest fortress or the true fortress (XX). The Psalms sing that the Lord is a mighty fortress (18:1-2; 31:3; 71:3; 91:2). The Machiavellian language is a deliberate comment on the image in the Psalms, replacing reliance on God with reliance on one’s own arms. But here the King James Version may have the better reading, substituting “forces” for fortresses, and we should await an appeal to the Hebrew original. Not having read Machiavelli, Scofield suggests that this means the forces of nature, and this too would be true in a sense. But it may be the god of “arms” or power in the politically relevant sense.
[16: 15] A voice breaks in to this vision: “(‘Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not be exposed!’). One question would be why this voice says this here, at the sixth bowl, rather than somewhere else. This is the closest reference to the Pauline teaching of the rapture in the entire text. And why especially here is there the caution to keep from being exposed? It may be that if one can keep from being exposed, he might be raptured, but otherwise, martyred. When a thief comes in the night and one has no clothing, he would wish first to dress and then go to oppose the thief, so that he would not be exposed. One awake might already be there, unseen by the thief, awaiting his arrival. In one famous story, when a thief arrived to pick the lock of the gate of a master, he put his hand through the wood of the gate to grab the wrist of the thief. The nakedness of the body, clothed for our appearance in public among humans, is also clothed from above. It is also on the basis of our sins that the diabolical can prevent us from helpful actions, and so repentance frees us for the service of the Lord. It may be well then to hide our faith, and to teach others to hide. “And they assembled them at the place which is called Armageddon.” The event described in the sixth trumpet, in which one third of mankind is killed, may be what follows here.
It is in the sixth trumpet and bowl that the Euphrates is mentioned, and, as we have suggested, what is like the rapture occurs at the end of the sixth, just before the seventh, in each case. The sixth seal, describing the sealing of the 144,000, and the seeing of those “who have come out of the Tribulation” may be simultaneous or continuous with the events of the tribulation described in the sixth trumpet and the sixth bowl. These are continuing accounts of the same thing surrounding the Euphrates. Opening the sixth seal, the four winds are held back, and these may be the same as the four angels bound at the Euphrates that are released (7:1; 9:13-20). The rapture seems to occur just before Armageddon, and just after the martyrdom at Jerusalem. Their gathering with him on Mount Zion, then the harvest and winepress, then their appearance with harps standing beside the sea of glass, opening Chapter 15, seems to indicate that they have already been raptured or martyred when the battle occurs. The martyrdom which completes the number of the servants of God, and has been the theme of the work, occurs in part preceding the rapture at the middle of the seven year reign, between the sixth and seventh of the trumpets and bowls, and then is completed in the seventh trumpet, under the order to take the mark of the beast. The seventh of the trumpets and bowls do seem then to occur after these have come out of the tribulation. The teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture is then in part verified by the mid-tribulation rapture: it is the seventh that is avoided, by those martyred and those mercifully raptured prior to the seventh.
The bowl of the seventh angel is poured onto the air. The air was also struck in the fourth trumpet when one third of the sky was darkened, and the fifth, when the sun and air were darkened with smoke from the shaft (8:12; 9:2). “A voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying ‘it is done.’” (16:17; 21:6). There follows lightening, voices, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake, “such as has never been since men were on the earth,” apparently outdoing the worldwide earthquake of the sixth seal, the explosion of Toga in 70,000 B. C. The Toga volcano is thought to have reduced the human population to a few thousand, from a few hundred thousand, dwarfing Santorini. Isaiah writes: “I will make men more rare than fine gold” (Is. 13:12). The “great city,” said to be Rome, “was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered great Babylon, to make her drink the cup of the fury of his wrath.” Jerusalem is now divided into four sections and three religions, though this splitting in the earthquake may be literal in the geological as well as the human world. The islands then fly away, no mountains are to be found, and the plague of great hailstones occurs, for which men curse God. There is a great similarity between the seventh bowl and the seventh trumpet, in the hail and earthquake. What may be an outright textual difficulty may appear in the similarity with the sixth seal, because there “every mountain and island was removed from its place (6:14), while here, also with earthquake and hail, “every island fled away and no mountains were to be found” (16:20). The most likely reading seems to be that there are two earthquakes, at the start of the sixth and the end of the seventh, the second one later, and even worse, than the first. The mountains may be leveled in the first, when the crust of the earth moves about, causing friction at the plates, where all the mountain ranges are. Another scenario would be a ripple in the crust of the earth, which floats on molten lava. The islands will disappear if the sea level rises, and enormous hail may result from great earthquakes. Great hail may also result in the burning of the atmosphere from the reentry of particles, as would occur from a meteor or super-volcano.
Rather than a series of twenty one successive judgments, the series of three Revelations show seven parts of a single event, which does have a chronological succession, though this is either hidden or is not the topic of what is shown. When each part of the world, earth, sea, freshwater and sun are struck, the picture seems to describe a single catastrophe in four different aspects. Then the fifth of each, the trumpets and bowls, describes something that happens to the throne of the beast, while the sixth of each describes the Euphrates, the gathering toward Armageddon, and the martyrdom-rapture, before the seventh describes the completion of the judgment. This seems to be why the voice breaks in at the sixth bowl saying he comes like a thief in the night: The rapture occurs between the sixth and the seventh, when the eastern nations move against Israel and the Antichrist martyrs the two witnesses. Babylon is then punished, as the land beast orders the mark and attacks every remnant of the people of the Biblical God.
The pattern of the text is not of disconnected parts, but an unfolding of parts within parts, the seven trumpets within the seventh seal, the seven images within the seventh trumpet, and six or seven messengers in the third and fourth images, then seven angels with seven bowls of wrath. Adding up the seals, trumpets and bowls, Van Impe writes of 21 Judgments, which are 19 if the sevens are included in the seventh. At the same time, there is a curious repetition of the first half in the second half, as if going over the same events detailing a different aspect, or perhaps the same aspects, as sea and land and freshwater, in a different event, or an unfolding of the event. There is a curious repetition of the pattern of the seals in the trumpets, in the sets of four and then three. Then there is the repetition of the aspects affected in the trumpets and the bowls. This is especially evident in the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpets and bowls. The Euphrates is the topic of the sixth seal and the sixth bowl. Earthquakes conclude each of the sevenths, the trumpets and bowls. It is not simply clear that for example the sixth trumpet occurs historically prior to the sixth bowl, and so on. That is, it is not clear that the events prophesied are always written chronologically in the book of Revelation. Nor is it clear that we are always shown images that refer to the same time scale, and there is no reason to assume so. The sixth trumpet may come after the sixth bowl, though it is not impossible that one third of mankind has already been killed when the Euphrates is dried up for the kings. In the trumpet, the four angels bound at the Euphrates are released, with 200 million troops, and they kill one third of mankind. In the bowl, the Euphrates is dried to prepare the way for the troops of the kings of the east. Is this after one third of mankind have been killed, and still prior to Armageddon? The sea turns to blood in both the second trumpet and the second bowl. Another pattern, evident from the similarity of the trumpets and bowls, is suggested: We can look for things in the comparison of the seals and the seven angels, and compare the two sets of fourteen things that are in the first and then the second half of the text. Does the first half follow events to their conclusion, with the end summarized when the ark is seen in the temple (11:19)? How then do the series of images that follow the ingestion of the small scroll relate to the two sets of fourteen of the first and second halves? Are they a part of the sixth and seventh trumpets, both containing them and being contained by them? And where does the seventh trumpet end? Chapters 17 and 18 are an elaboration of the fall of Babylon described in the second bowl. Does the judgment of Babylon occur after the seven bowls? Or is it not included in the seven, as the seventh? Does the arrival of the one on the White Horse and the defeat of the beast and the kings of the earth occur after the seventh bowl? Or is it not an elaboration of the fifth through seventh bowls?
One large question is whether we are shown the destruction of one third of the world in the trumpets and then the whole world in the bowls, or whether the unspecified extent of the destruction in the bowls refers to the same series of destruction over one third of the earth. There is, again, no acknowledgment in the bowls that a previous destruction has occurred, such as a saying that the remaining two thirds of the waters were turned to blood, etc. There is a recognition in the fifth bowl of the sores on the followers of the beast from the first bowl, but no recognition of sores given them previously, in the fifth trumpet. The only point preventing the reading that these destructions are the same is that the sun is dimmed in the trumpets but scorching in the bowls, though the kingdom of the beast is left in darkness. This would occur if the earth stopped spinning, or even wobbled, so that the sun went down at noon, etc. Otherwise, the reading of the two as describing the same event would be simply consistent, and even so, that they are nearly consistent seems to indicate something. The first beast kills the two witnesses in the sixth trumpet, so that the fake resurrection may occur in the middle, as the abomination, and the earth beast and the mark of the beast occur in the seventh trumpet.
To summarize, then: the chronological reading, though, assuming 21 consecutive judgments, is not consistent. The fact that an element is described in the text later than another element does not imply that it literally comes afterward in time. For example, at one point, those who refuse the mark of the beast are slain (13:15), at another there is the warning not to take the mark (14:9); At one place it is reported that Babylon has fallen, (14:8), while at another, the description of the fall of Babylon (17-18) is related. In Chapter 11, the two witnesses are slain by the beast but the beast, in Chapter 13 is shown first rising from the sea (13:2). In the bowls, the way is prepared for the kings of the East, while in the trumpet they have slain one third of mankind, etc. Similarly, while it is true that what is shown is what is yet to be, there is no principle preventing some of the images addressing large periods of time, the whole of what is to be from the time of John forward, providing the context of what is to occur at the very end. This appears to be what happens in Chapter 12, describing the birth of the Messiah, and in the first five horns of the beast, if this describes five previous empires over Jerusalem. What is chronological is that the events described after the letters to the churches are future to them, but even this does not exclude the possibility that it is the birth of the Messiah that is shown in Chapter 12, prior to and into the time of these churches. The four seals seem successive, but the four trumpets might be simultaneous, contained within the seventh seal.
A final parallel to look for is this: What if the seven years of years (2520 years), the seven years of the tribulation, and then a period of seven days, were telescoped like the seven seals, trumpets and bowls, where the latter sets of seven are contained in the seventh of the previous set? Seven ages, ending in seven years, ending in seven days, (or seven sevenths of a 365 year period and then seven years) would then be the time of the prophecy of the seals, trumpets and Bowls.
Finally, we should look, as Victorinus says, to what is occurring in each of the sets of sevens. The seals show the Four Horsemen, then the martyrs, a completion of their numbers, and then, in the seventh, the introduction of the seven trumpets. The seven trumpets show four tiers of destruction, then the locusts sting those without the seal of God in their forehead, in the fifth, answering the martyrs as in the fifth seal. Then in the sixth, an army is unleashed at the Euphrates to kill 1/3 of mankind and the two witnesses, apparently still within the sixth trumpet, are killed by the beast, before the seventh angel blows his trumpet. Then the temple in heaven is open, and visions are shown before the seven bowls are poured. The vision is of the mass martyrdom of those who would not worship the beast, who institutes the mark, apparently within the seventh trumpet. This is the completion of the number of the martyrs, the cause of the seven bowls, and the judgment of Babylon. The Lamb appears on Mount Zion, and prepares the final victory. The angels set the time as during the order of the mark of the beast, after the gospel has been proclaimed and before Babylon has fallen. The harvest and winepress occur, after the command not to take the mark of the beast, and then the seven bowls are delivered from the temple, completing the judgment. In the bowls, the first four again describe tiers of the creation that are struck, the earth, sea, freshwater and sun, before the throne of the beast is struck and his kingdom left in darkness, in the fifth. Then in the sixth, the nations are gathered to Armageddon. In the seventh the greatest earthquake of all time occurs and judgment is inflicted on Babylon, though not until the seventh. Chapters 17-20 then present the detail of these things barely outlined in the seven bowls.
II.v: The Judgment of the Great Harlot
[17:1-2] The Whore of Babylon is in contrast with the Bride and with the woman of Chapter 12, whose offspring are those who obey the commandments and follow Jesus (12:17). After the seven bowls, or included in the seventh, one of the angels that had the bowls comes and says to John: “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great Harlot, who is seated upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and with the wine of whose fornication the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” It is also a bowl angel that, in a parallel construction (Aune, p. 1020), says, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb (21:9), for which he is transported not to a desert but to “a great, high mountain.” Here the parallel construction clearly indicates the contrast intended. Here, to see the harlot, John in the Spirit is carried away into a wilderness, and this reminds us of the wilderness in the sign or portent seen in heaven in which the woman with the crown of twelve stars was nourished “in the wilderness” or “in the desert,” away from the face of the beast (12:5, 14). One wonders if the wilderness is not the same as that where the woman was to be nourished, or, whether this vision is seen in the same wilderness.
These are the two contrasting women of the Revelation, and the identification of the one as Israel-Mary-true Church leads to the obvious suggestion that the Harlot, the whore of Babylon, is an opposite woman, the secular city opposite the church / bride / woman, and possibly the false church. While some suggest she is the Roman church, and Van Impe suggests she is future, now emerging, ecumenical church (1982, p. 235), yet she seems more universal, so that these might participate in her, along with the Protestants who made martyrs and those for example prosecuting the witches in Salem. The woman must be broad enough to include “all those slain on the earth,” (18:24) as those slain by Jerusalem and even Athens: something like “the city,” as the authority by which these are slain. Incidentally, this too is why the whore of Babylon is not, or is not only, something that emerges in the seven year tribulation period. The fornication of the kings of the earth is past tense. It has been going on for quite some time. Herod, for example, is a king in fornication with Rome.
Leo Strauss has done much to recover the original meaning of the conflict between philosophy and the city. There is a conflict between the orthodoxy required to have a political unit and the liberty required for the pursuit of truth. Socrates, the philosopher, was put to death in democratic Athens for supposed impiety and the corruption of the youth (Plato, Apology, 24 b-c). The conflict between philosophy and the city is not unlike the conflict between Jerusalem and the prophets, between the temple and the Christians, and between Rome and the Christians. Yet, just as the image in the statue is the same through the five parts, so this empire thing is the same through each of the particular empires. The city of man, contrasted with the city of God, as by Saint Augustine is close to this in meaning, though the city is also, for the Greeks and the pre-Christian world generally, of higher dignity than it is for Augustine or the Christians generally. Virtue, education, and indeed love, flourish especially through, and just outside, the city. These empires are cities that have grown into universal empires, something quite different from the particular cities that make up the pre-imperial world. The ancient cites were kingships, but these expanded cities have become the kings of kings. Human worldliness enters a different manifestation in the empire, becoming Babylon, as she is seated on the waters that are the peoples (17:15). The Augustinian view of the city of man is conditioned by the example of a universal city, that is, Rome. Is Babylon then some particular universal embodiment of the city?”
Other particular possibilities include the 1) literal Babylon, where Daniel was taken, or Iraq, should it even now become a base; 2) Italy as a nation with Rome as its capital, in something like what occurred under Mussolini, or even 3) when Rome fell in the Fifth Century; 4) Rome as a religious organization, where the blood of martyrs is indeed also found, and finally 5) The United States as a nation, or something like secular liberal democracy. Equal to all these combined in weight is 6) some future city that persecutes the saints and embodies universal empire as Rome does. Something like this might occur if, as seems impossible, the Inquisition were to be somehow revived, so that the final generation manifests the errors of the past, and so is punished then for these. As we read through the text, we will indicate what readings might be supported by what appears.
[17:3-6] In the wilderness, John saw…
…a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurity of her fornication; and on her forehead was written a name of mystery; “Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
Another translation is “…a name: Mystery of the great Babylon, mother of whores and of the abominations of the earth.” The image as a whole is the mystery of Babylon. The mystery of Babylon is that the one seated on many waters (17:15) is also seated on the beast. There is a relation of the beast too to the waters, as these things could not come to be were it not from something in the people that admires and desires tyranny. The mystery is that the woman that is attacked by the beast entered riding on the beast, or conversely, that the woman that entered riding on the beast is to be attacked by the beast and the ten horns. The woman that is the Roman Church entered riding on the Roman Empire, even as the last living part of the Roman Empire. A fine example of what is intended by the text occurs regarding Nazi Germany: As a revived Roman Empire and a third German Reich, the Nazis attacked the Jews, and were beginning to expand their target to the Christians. The Communist regimes of Russia have especially attacked all theism, especially that of the Christians and the Jews. The Jews of the temple, who persecuted Christians, beheading James and throwing James from the pinnacle of the temple, could be called not truly Jews but a “synagogue of Satan,” so the Roman inquisition could be said to enter riding on the beast of universal Roman Empire. Yet when the beast, perhaps a revived Rome in some sense, persecutes religion, he will attack the Roman Church, and perhaps every other religion that is drunk with the blood of saints and martyrs. The Inquisition inspired the anti-Christian motion of modernity, which led in Germany to the atheistic totalitarian visions, which in turn attack all religion, but especially Rome. That is why the key to the mystery of the Harlot is that she enters riding on the beast, but the beast will attack her, and that is her judgment. The Messiah returned does not inflict the judgment and punishment of Babylon, but destroys the beast after the beast has attacked Babylon.
For this reason, we hold it to be of primary importance that the Church repent the Inquisition, and think these matters of the authority of opinion through more thoroughly. There is of course no Christian establishment of doctrine by law in Christian nations, in the sphere of political rule, and there is no reason the citizens should be forbidden the philosophic ascent, even through many errors, toward the truth. It is not at all clear that a thoughtful heretic or atheist is inferior to a thoughtless believer, in the sense of piety toward ancestral custom, which Christendom has in common with the idolatrous nations. The banishment of two things that are divine– Philosophy and love– are the reason for the error of the Babylonian authority. These banishments occur because man-made custom or convention cannot contain the truth of the Spirit, but can at best reflect it and be open to it. It is especially in America, following Roger Williams and the founding of Rhode Island, right through to the Declaration and the Bill of Rights, that the Christian religious problem is addressed with some success. But this would be a digression, and another history.
From beginning to end, the Revelation is about the martyrs, the making of martyrs and the reaction or result of the making of martyrs. The result is in a way natural, and it is stated in terms of divine judgment and the answering of the call of the martyrs for vengeance, in the fifth seal. Another way of stating the matter might be to say that the religious killings were an abomination deeper than could then be imagined by the persecutors, who in some cases may even have thought of themselves as fulfilling a religious obligation. Many mere humans were killed, along with a few who gave their lives for the faith at the hands of the faith. Men cannot do such things without the severest of consequences, which for the most part cannot be foreseen, nor can they be avoided in the natural order of things.
To men who do not see the diabolical, merely human things, and even unintelligent accidents, that oppose them, often appear to be diabolical. But when the diabolical appears, these things of mythic demonology appear as fairy tales. The projection of evil in the normal human factions is dissolved, and the commonality of the human things, if not the Christian things, appears more prominent. So suddenly, after the Second World War, all the races are friends, the veil is lifted and anti-Semitism dissolved, relativism flourishes because it allows us to accept other cultures, ecumenism arises in religion, and all the sects are better friends, etc. Like the imminence of death, the appearance of the diabolical has a way of putting things into the proper perspective. The Christian world has always tossed around the attribution of the diabolical. The suggestion is that, this having been false in almost every way and case, we ought learn something from this, and be more humble about such things.
[17:6-8] John relates that when he saw her, he marveled greatly, but that the angel asked him “Why do you marvel?” He offers to tell John the mystery of the woman and the beast that carries her. And it is here that the angel explains the beast, as was described in place with Chapter 13 above, beginning: “The beast you saw was and is not, and is to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to perdition.” The reason that the beast is not is not explained until the explanation of the punishment of Babylon. The reason may be that in attacking the Harlot, his character is revealed. Those who dwell on earth, and the names of whom have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will marvel to behold the beast because it was and is not and “yet is,” or is to come. This formulation, contrasting with He who is, was, and is to come (1:8), is said to mean that he “has returned from the dead” (Aune, 1998, p. 940). This seems to describe the marveling or wonder (13:3) caused when the mortal wound appears to have been healed (13:12; 14), or when something like an aping of the resurrection is displayed, leaving the impression that the beast is unconquerable. This would also fit a revived Nazi Reich, the beast having received its mortal wound in the Second World War. We are already amazed at the resilience of this defeated teaching. Fascism even arose on its own in one branch of modern music. But the scene may occur just as it is depicted, with an individual faking or performing something like a resurrection.
[17:9-10] Again, here for the second time, the angel says that something calls for intelligence and wisdom (Here, or this is for the intelligence and those having wisdom (ode o nous o echon sophian”). It is just a bit different from the similar statement introducing the number, “Here wisdom is, and for the one having intelligence (13:18).” The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated (17:9). These are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one that presently is, and one that is not yet come, and will remain only a little while, or, “when he comes he must remain a while.” The woman is seated on the heads of universal empire. She is somehow both Rome, that Rome that is when John is talking to the angel, and the five “universal” empires that have fallen. In reading Daniel, Van Impe counts these as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome: Empires that have ruled not literally over the whole world, but were universal in a sense, and ruled over Israel. The one that is to come will be a seventh and an eighth, as might fit either a revived Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy, different from ancient Rome.
[17:11-14] Cryptically, it is then said: “And the beast which was and is not, he is also eighth, and is of the seven, and goes into perdition.” This would fit, for example, if the German Reich, claiming to be a revived Rome, were itself revived, though other things would fit as well. The ten kings go along with the one head that is yet to come, for these have not yet been given a kingdom, but are to “receive authority” to reign with him for “one hour” (17:12). This would be something like a world empire divided into ten regions ruled as subject kingdoms, made out of tenths or regions instead of keeping the previous national divisions. The nations of Europe, though parts of the Roman Empire, had not yet been given kingdoms when the angel spoke to John. The Arab nations had not yet been carved out by the British, nor were the nations of the old Soviet empire quite so distinct. The eighth that is of the seven would also fit if the horn that is the beast put down three kings of the ten, leaving seven, of which he would be an eighth (Daniel 9:24). The head of the seventh empire is one of the ten kings of that same empire, and overcomes three kings, leaving seven, with himself as an eighth. He is then one of those he overcomes, or another holds office in the one of the ten, and he remains as emperor after the murders. If a “day” were also a year of 360 days, one twenty-fourth of a day, or an hour would indicate a period of fifteen days. If these are the same as the ten kings in the book of Daniel, the beast puts down three kings, and would then be an eighth of the ten that is of the seven successive empires (7:8; cp. 8:9-11). A revived Nazi Germany would also be an eighth as a revived Rome, if old Rome were sixth and Hitler’s Germany seventh. British fascism, as that addressed in Roger Water’s The Wall, is yet another possibility, as is American fascism. The liberty of thought and religion that is the American answer to the problem of church and politics allows an opening to fascist teaching that can only be overcome because the people choose against it. Similarly, there is nothing in our constitution to prevent the entire nation from becoming communist or Islamic, should we so choose, and are not otherwise persuaded. The experiment in self government means that we are responsible in private for the care of virtue.
One feature that the angel does not explain directly is that the dragon in Chapter 12 has diadems on his seven heads, while the beast in Chapter 13 has ten diadems on the ten horns, and a blasphemous name written on his seven heads (13:1). Our suspicion is that this is related to the different time scales of the visions of Chapter 12, with empires and many centuries, and Chapter 13, which we hope is no more than the literal seven years. Diadems are different from crowns (Stephanos). Crowns are mentioned in the letters to the churches (3:11), and belong to the twenty-four elders, as those crowns they cast before the throne (4:5, 11). A crown of the twelve stars is seen on the woman, (12:2). The reaper wears a golden crown (14:14) But the diadems are the same as the diadems when the rider on the white horse is seen in the nineteenth chapter. That the horns are ten kings who have not yet received royal power may be what this means, and it implies that the seven heads with diadems did receive royal power, although the seventh is yet to come, and is not, while the ten horns have yet to receive power. Yet if so, if diadems indicate royal power once given, why then would the seventh head in Chapter 12 be shown with a diadem? In Chapter 17, we are told, one “was, is not and is to ascend…” These ten are said to be “of one mind,” and to give their authority over to the beast, who is one of the seven heads of the dragon. True royal power is sovereign, and this may be why they wear diadems instead of crowns: Diadems may be subjected kingships. The diadems on both the antichrist and the rider on the white horse may indicate that specific nations are under them, even in the battle of Armageddon. This would fittingly describe some tyrannical empire of ten kingdoms, such as the Soviet Union once was, or as the Third Reich almost was, when it had conquered Poland, Austria, France, Italy, etc. But the ten seem not to yet exist, in contrast with the way for example that Greece and other nations that were once great still exist, though these have their power diminished (Daniel 7:12). But the ten are to arise “out of” the fourth beast of Daniel, which is the Roman Empire (Daniel 7:24).
To conclude, these, the beast and the ten kings, will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them (13:13-18; 17:14). This kingdom of the beast will attempt to wipe out all Christians in a purge that will be like the attempt of Hitler to wipe out the Jews. In this, he may persecute all associated with the Biblical God, not only the true Christians but all those who use the Christian things for worldly benefit. But the victory of the Lamb, shown as the rider on the white horse in Chapter 19, is what occurs.
Digression: On the Meanings of Babylon
Babylon is first the city where the language of man was confounded, after the first attempt to build a skyscraper (Genesis 11:1; 7). Its name means confusion, according to the Bible, though in the Sumerian language, it is said to mean “gate of God.” It was, even before Egypt and Assyria, the first empire, now called the Sumerian. Nimrod was the great grandson of Noah, through Ham and Cush. Egypt was an uncle of Nimrod, a brother of Cush (Genesis 10:6), though the Egyptian Empire may have come later. Of Nimrod, it is written, “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar” (Genesis 10:10). The eleventh chapter relates that as men migrated east, they “found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.” Enoch, the son of Cain, had settled the aria when Cain built the first city and named it Enoch for his son, prior to the flood (Genesis 4:17). The wheel originates in Sumer, apparently after the flood, over five thousand years ago, before 3000 B.C. And Abraham came forth from Ur of the Chaldeans” (Genesis 11:31). So it is fitting for all seven of the empires in the statue or five parts of the statue in the vision of Nebuchadnezzar to be named after Babylon.
Second, Babylon is the city that conquered and destroyed the two remaining tribes and Jerusalem, after the Assyrians had scattered the northern tribes. The fundamental prophecy of the fall of Babylon is of course that given by Isaiah (21; Jeremiah 50) and Daniel, foretelling the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians that resulted in the return of the Jews to Jerusalem by Cyrus in 539 B. C. Isaiah, about the time of the fall of the Northern Kingdom and the ten tribes to Assyria, foresees: “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon and all the images of her gods he has scattered to the ground.” In Isaiah, a watchman is to be set, and when he sees two riders approaching, he may know that Babylon has fallen (21:6-9). The Jews are then able, under Cyrus, to return to Israel and Jerusalem. So Babylon is at first the barbarian empire that prevents the return to the promised land, and then under Cyrus, the empire is the beneficent King of Kings who enables their return. Isaiah (47:7-9) prophesies regarding Babylon:
…You said ‘I shall be mistress forever…
I am, there is no one besides me;
I shall not sit as a widow
or know the loss of children’
These two things shall come on you in a moment, in one day…
The prophecy of Isaiah is of the literal destruction of Babylon, and this occurred. She is even to remain uninhabited, as also occurred (Jeremiah 50:3).
Third, Babylon is the mysterious Babylon of the Revelation. That Babylon is fallen is said in Chapter 14 (14:8), with the angel that is second of the seven. The Judgment is indicated in the seventh bowl, and so Chapters 17 and 18 are an elaboration of what was described in the seven bowls or seventh bowl. Prior to the second angel of Chapter 14, there was apparently no mention of the mysterious Babylon in either the account of the seals or the trumpets. One thing this means is that the rule of the Antichrist can be described without Babylon, which in turn supports the contention that the antichrist does not rule Babylon. His kingdom is struck in the first and fifth bowls, while Babylon is addressed in the seventh bowl. But his character is revealed when he attacks Babylon (17:16). The dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven diadems on its heads is likewise described in relation to the woman of Chapter 12, and the nature of the beast of Chapter 13 is explained in the description of the fall of Babylon. The beast and Babylon are two distinct organizations or powers, whose symbols are opposite as male and female, and this distinction is evident when the beast and the ten horns attack Babylon. What this Babylon is is of course the question of the next section.
Digression: The Book of Daniel on the Beast
The fundamental point in the reading of Daniel and the Revelation together is that the ten horns of Revelation 12-13 and Daniel 7 are the same as the ten toes of the statue seen in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. A second key, following Dr. Gaebeline, is that the five parts of the statue are the latter five of seven successive empires that make up the head of the beast, with the addition of Egypt and Assyria, the five are Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, Rome, and a revived Rome. A Third key may be to look for the two legs of the beast in two parts of the Roman Empire. It is the Jewish and Christian readings together, of Daniel and the Revelation, that is the key to Bible prophecy. One sometimes wonders if Daniel were not written concerning the Jews and the Revelation concerning the Christians pertaining to the end times.
Did the scepter not depart from Judah until Jesus came (Genesis 49:10)? There was no monarchy then, but Judah was the leading tribe. Still, what must the Israelites have thought of this prophecy when Zedekiah was blinded and Jerusalem fell to Babylon? Herod was near to the last king, although sovereignty had departed and been regained. The obedience of the peoples is given to Jesus when He brings the God of the Jews to the nations. The five empires are five that will rule over Jerusalem until the city is returned to Jewish sovereignty, as occurred in 1967. Van Impe calculates 2,553 years, and one should compare the Jewish calendar of 360 day years. The number is again very close to the 2,520 that is twice 1,260, converted into solar years.
The book of Daniel alternates between the story of Daniel in Babylon and the apocalyptic prophecy, presented as it arises in the context of the exile. The chapters of the book of Daniel that are not apocalyptic, Chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, are also connected with the apocalyptic Chapters 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 by providing points necessary to understand certain things in the apocalyptic prophecy. One meaning of “times” is given in Chapter 4, when Nebuchadnezzar is given the mind of an animal until “seven times” come over him, and this seems to be seven years. From this a “time” two “times” and a half a “time” seems to be three and one-half years. But the connection between the story and the prophecy appears especially in the comparison of the refusal of Daniel to eat the food and worship the gods of the Babylonians with the refusal of the latter day saints to take the mark of the beast. We note that it is Daniel, the one who was especially pressed to worship the Babylonian god, and who refused, or would not bow at peril of his life, that is the one who sees the Old Testament equivalent of the Revelation. It is also Daniel who, under the last Babylonian king, openly prayed when this was forbidden. In these two, Daniel shows examples of the first two clauses of the first Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, forbidding the government establishment of religion and allowing free expression. That Daniel is the one who sees the apocalypse as John did is something like the anomaly that it is the persistently questioning Job who enters the divine presence (Job 42:5-6) and intercedes for his friends. Daniel is a precursor of Western Liberty, a surprising example of the spirit of liberty outside of ancient Greece. His example is the example for the martyrdom of the Christians, and of those to be killed for not taking the mark of the beast. There is also a similarity of the coming through the fire of the furnace by the three and the coming through the fire of the conflagration. There is a connection with this insistence on political liberty and the circumstance of the end times. Josephus reports on a fourth sect among the Jews, following one Judas the Galilean:
These men agree in all other things with the Pharasaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty; and they say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man Lord.
Antiquities, XVIII, ii. 6
As Elaine Pagels makes clear, there is an unbroken tradition of religious liberty from Daniel in Babylon through the Jews under the Seleucids and the Maccabbean revolt of 164 B. C., through the Jews under Rome, after 63 B. C., to the Jews and Christians under Rome after the crucifixion. She cites Tertullian, “It is a fundamental right, a power bestowed by nature, that each person should worship according to his own convictions, free of compulsion.” This is an amazing statement for the Second Century, though evident enough to the common sense of the Christians prior to Constantine.
Also incidentally, the contrast between the two women is the reason that it is not right to require obedience simply, or why, for example, the Church should not require oaths of obedience of teachers in philosophy and the other human disciplines. In this light, we question the apparent teaching of Paul in Romans (13:1-5) that one must simply obey the governing authorities, and the apparent teaching of the Revelation, that one must never lie (21:8; 14:5). One must explain how we are to avoid acquiescence in the fornication of the kings of the earth with Babylon. What does Paul think of the refusal of Daniel to worship the God of Nebuchadnezzar and (his son)? Paul was killed by Nero along with Peter, and may soon have had to face the question of whether one should betray others upon command in a persecution. And when the Nazis asked “do you have any Jews hidden here,” how many risked their lives and lied to prevent horrible injustice? One is obligated in these cases to disobey, especially if one can get away with it, and maybe even if one cannot. The decision in the Nuremberg trials and again in the case of Mi Lai, in the Vietnam War, set a very fundamental precedent: Soldiers are sometimes obligated to disobey rather than commit the outrages of war upon command. Patriotism sometimes involves concern for the justice of one’s nation, for its own true good, rather than its apparent advantage. Commanders who enact justice in war appear to lose short term advantages, but gain in spirit and allegiance, becoming indomitable, other things being equal. Throughout history these are very rare, commanders who for example would not allow their soldiers to rape and pillage, and would protect the conquered people. Aristocracy and knights who are noble are rare. But obedience is not tenable as an absolute principle because of the cave, which even the light that enters into the world has not been able to dispel. It is for this reason, as we have argued elsewhere, that Jefferson and limited government is superior to Constantine, and the ignorance of Socratic philosophy to the belief that passes in the world for faith. In the teachings of natural liberty and knowledge of ignorance, Jefferson and Socrates both are consistent with the truth of the human condition, that human authority is fundamentally ignorant regarding the first things or the highest, or the most important things. We know, too, what John means by liars, and that this is different from always telling the truth to everyone. Those who betrayed others for gain would be the liars, even while telling the truth. Pastors and priests may be asked for lists of their parishioners, but then modern marketing has made this superfluous. As is made clear by the discussion that opens Plato’s Republic, we do not owe the truth about everything to any and all people.
[Daniel 1] Daniel is like Joseph, rising in the court of the foreign empire as Joseph and Moses rose to prominence among the Egyptians. Babylon has captured the Jews and the vessels from the temple. The effect of this will prove to be the destruction of the world rule of Babylon. As was prophesied by Jeremiah, Babylon had conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and taken most of the Israelis captive. Nebuchadnezzar commanded that certain of the outstanding Hebrew youth be educated in the Chaldean language (Daniel 1:4).
Though it is not clear that the liberal arts flourished in Babylon, Daniel might have had the opportunity to study and compare the epic of Gilgamesh with the story of Noah in the Torah. The youth are chosen as children “in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability to stand in the king’s palace” (1:4). He might have then been able to see what Abraham and Moses had done with the story since Abraham left Ur, since the flood story does not come from Egypt. Through this education, the four youths were given “learning and skill in all letters and wisdom,” by God. Daniel in addition “had understanding in all visions and dreams.”
Proscribed a rich diet, Daniel asks the chief eunuch, with whom he has become friends, if he might be allowed to not defile himself with the food of the King. The Eunuch states his fear that he will lose his head when Daniel appears thinner than the others. Daniel asks to be allowed to try eating only “pulse” for ten days. After the ten days, Daniel and his companions appear to be fatter than the others, and so Daniel is allowed to eat. It is not clear that the food of the king was dedicated to idols, but it is likely that the request of Daniel was in order to observe Jewish dietary laws. This is then the same as the conflict with Hebrew law that will emerge in a larger way when there is an attempt to force the companions of Daniel to worship the statue in Chapter 3, or to make Daniel worship none other than Darius for thirty days, as in Chapter 6.
[Daniel Chapter 2] The whole apocalyptic prophecy is encapsulated in the first image in the Book of Daniel, when Daniel interprets the dream of the King. The dream is of a statue that is a head of gold, arms of silver, midsection of bronze, and legs of iron and feet of iron and clay. In the first apocalyptic image of the book of Daniel, a stone cut out by no human hands smote the image on its feet of iron and clay. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. Daniel tells the King both the dream and its interpretation. Daniel tells his dream:
As you looked, a stone was cut by no human hand, and it smote the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces…But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth…
After describing this last kingdom, he interprets:
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.
(Daniel 2:34, 35, 44).
The stone reminds of the tablets first inscribed by the finger of God, the tables that were broken (Ex. 31:18). This is the beginning of apocalyptic prophecy, and a concise snapshot or capsule of the whole. Most simply stated, this is what occurs. The first sentence of the dream interpretation of Daniel reminds us of the last sentence, in some editions of the Lord’s Prayer: “You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the might, and the glory…” That is, we say “For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the Glory,” The phrase “king of kings” is the nearest ancient equivalent of “empire,” and we conclude the Lord’s Prayer by giving this authority over to God.
The rest of the prophecy in Daniel and the Revelation is an unfolding of this simple message. Babylon is both the head and the whole image, and this is a key to reading the Babylon of the Revelation. Rome is Babylon in the sense that each of the parts belongs to the man in the statue. It is also, like the Alexandrian empire, a universal empire that rules over Israel. The feet of Iron and clay are the manifestation of Babylon when it is struck. The feet and toes are of iron mixed with clay. This is interpreted as meaning that “it shall be a divided kingdom,” “with some of the firmness of iron in it,” though mixed with “miry clay.” The toes are partly strong and partly brittle, or, in the King James Version, broken. The Revised Standard Version then, for 2:43, reads: “As you saw the iron mixed with miry clay, so they will mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay.” Here, the King James translates “…they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men.” The Catholic New American translation has: “The iron mixed with clay tile means that they shall seal their alliances with intermarriage, but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay.” There is a similarity to mixed marriage, and the failure to dissolve racial divisions as the background to the end times. “One another” may also refer to the toes, and an attempt to unite the ten into one empire through mixed marriage, as in a European Union, which fails. Marriage customs, and with these marriages, have been especially destroyed in the modern West, due to the destruction of tradition caused in part by modern science. But “in the days of those kings” indicates that the ten toes are ten kings.
[Daniel 7] Some years later, after Nebuchadnezzar and Darius have passed, in the first year of Belteshezzar, Daniel sees four beasts arise “out of the sea.” These correspond to the latter four parts of the statue seen in the dream. The fourth is exceedingly terrible, has ten horns. The ten horns of the fourth beast (Daniel 7: 24), or ten kings that arise out of the Roman Empire, the ten kings of the diabolic empire in the Revelation, are the ten toes of the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar. Again, the identification of the ten horns and the ten toes is one of the keys to the reading of the ten horns, and hence the seven heads, of the beast in the Revelation.
Hippolytus, writing at the beginning of the Third Century, says:
As these things, then, are in the future, and as the ten toes of the image are equivalent to so many democracies, and the ten horns of the fourth beast are distributed over ten kingdoms, let us look at the subject a little more closely, and consider these matters as in the clear light of a personal survey.
The Fourth Century statement of Hippolytus appears shockingly prophetic, since there is nothing in the text to suggest that the people are sovereign in the ten, and every indication that they are monarchies. Then the nations which emerged from the Roman Empire became democracies, even all at once, following the American experiment. These are easy to number if one includes the new world democracies of Australia, the U. S. and Canada, though ten European democracies can be counted if these are Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Austria. Notice that as Hippolytus reads, kingdoms or “kings” are not monarchies but sovereignties, since these might be nations with a democratic regime. There was a time when democracy was known to be the worst and most unstable of the three forms. Yet, since the good forms of the other two, aristocracy and kingship, are so rare, what usually occurs is some form of oligarchy or tyranny. These can often be moderated by the introduction of a popular element and a constitutional way of hashing out the interests of the parts, securing these interests as an approximation of the common good. Hence, as Churchill said, democracy is indeed the worst of all forms of government, “except for those others that have been tried from time to time.” Among the actual forms, some near to the best are constitutional democracies.
Hippolytus is shocking for a second reason: the ancient Greeks present a descending order of regimes, Kingship-aristocracy, timocracy (based on honor), oligarchy, democracy, anarchy, tyranny, from Book VIII of Plato’s Republic. These kinds of regime are described in a different schema by Aristotle, adding clarity: rule by one, few, or many is divided according to whether the regime aims at the common good (Politics, III.5-7). Six forms result, though the descending order is implicit. This is the archetype of the kinds of constitution, and it is based on the kinds of souls found among mankind. At least since the myth of metals in The Republic, metals, gold, silver, bronze and iron, are associated with the various regimes and with the parts of the soul: the gold with reason or intellect that is her crown, the silver with the courageous spirit, and the baser metals with the third part of the soul. The noble lie told to the guardians by the rulers in the beautiful city is that these metals were literally mixed into the souls of the citizens of each class in the regime (Republic, 414c ff). Now, one strange thing about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and the interpretation given to Daniel is that, if anyone from the Greek or Western tradition were to take up the dream alone, they would begin with the comparison of the metals to the corresponding souls. The souls in which the gold is dominant are those in whom the pursuit of wisdom rules, the silver their spirited powers, and the bronze and iron, two different sorts of the baser metals, such as the aim at wealth or at the objects of the appetites, women and other things thought to be pleasures of the appetites we share with the other animals. Copper corresponds to the first age of metals in archeology, though Gold was first discovered and worked, and probably silver second. Then the alloys, bronze or tin, and iron, with the Iron Age beginning about the first millennium B.C. Lead too is an image of the baser metal of the soul. There at first appears to be no connection between the image seen by Daniel and the ancient Greek regimes. At the time of Daniel, the Jews had as yet little or no contact with the Greeks, and Plato had not yet written. The metals in Hesiod’s Works and Days do follow this order, the golden age coming first and then descending in some order through silver, bronze, Age of Heroes, then iron, and then a foretold sixth age that is very bad (Works and Days, 103-201). Jeremiah does write of the baser metals in analogy with the baser souls (6:28-30), while gold and silver are the metals refined through the fire (Zechariah 13:9; Proverbs 25:11-12). But suddenly in the interpretation of Hippolytus, the fifth regime reveals some connection with the kinds of government. The connection is made regarding the iron and clay, as the fifth and baser metal. But is there any reason to think Babylon related to gold, Persia to silver, Greece to bronze, Rome to iron, and these to the kinds of regime? The great democracies that come from the Roman Empire are clear to us to some extent, and some now compose the European Union. These would be something like the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Spain. All these can be said to come from the Western Roman Empire, and five of these may be in the ten horns. Five too may come from the East, as Russia, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, or now, Serbia, Macedonia and Croatia.
It is also a classical teaching to notice that one way in which tyranny arises is that it comes out of the degeneration of democracy. This was the case with the Weimar republic in Germany, though the tyranny in Russia came quickly from a monarchy. Something similar happened in Rome, after the introduction of the popular element near the end of the Republic. As in the famous account of Polybius, Rome descends from monarchy through aristocracy toward democracy, in a descending cycle of regimes, before arriving at tyranny, though in the reigns of the more descent emperors, the Empire or city of Rome might to some extent recover. The character of monarchy, and whether it is a tyranny, depends upon the character of the king or emperor. Tyranny and Kingship are first orderings of the soul, and orderings of regimes only secondarily.
Some detail is given here about these horns (7:8):
I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.
The eyes in the horn, and the mouth, remind a bit of the KKK hood, and the “speaking great things” is of course like Hitler or perhaps Nietzsche, or both. Nietzsche is the one to say that he was God. The four Zoa had eyes all over, as did the Lamb, indicating what for us would be a perception beyond our nature. There next occurs a vision of the throne, as begins the Revelation of things to come, and Daniel sees the judgment, and books opened (7:10). The one seen looks again like Hitler because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking…
And as I looked, the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
That their dominions were taken away but their lives prolonged means that while the Babylonian, Greek, Persian, Italian, nations had their empires destroyed, they continued as recognizable nations for over two millennia. All these have now re-attained sovereignty in the last two centuries. But the last beast is distinct from these in that its body is burned, and, unlike Germany after the Nazis, it apparently does not continue. The mouth speaking great things and the body being burned remind of Hitler, as does Isaiah 14, and we must consider whether Daniel is not the prophecy to the Jews regarding Hitler. While Hitler is probably really dead, Nazism is not, and next time may begin with the Christians. Though he was in power nearly ten years, his fury, and World War II, lasted about seven, from 1938 to 1945, and the exterminations about 3 and ½ years, beginning in 1941. He too shall “go forth with great fury to exterminate and utterly destroy many” (Daniel 11:44), and would “think to change the times and the law” (7:25). This may be the nearest to a prophecy of the holocaust in the books of Israel. Otherwise, the people of prophecy were strangely blindsided by the Holocaust: no one saw it coming until it was too late, in part because it is so unbelievable. It was once beyond the limit of the human imagination, except for that referenced symbolically in the books of the apocalypse.
Yet Germany too continues. While he caused the Jews to be marked, this was yet unlike the mark of the beast, which will bring damnation and allow one to buy and sell. Hitler too was stopped short of devouring the whole world, stopped by the allied nations, and not directly by the word of God. Yet an alternate reading is that the Roman kingdom did devour the “whole earth,” even more than Alexander, though neither conquered China, and Rome never reached India, not to mention America. Britain extended the Western empire over China and India, in the opium trade and tea wars. These two nations now contain 3/8 of all the people in the world. Yet Britain still did not quite literally achieve world empire, being limited by many other European empires. Britain ruled over the Palestinian authority and Jerusalem, from 1914 through World War II. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 stated the purpose of a Jewish homeland in Israel, and in 1948, both Jews and Palestinians were given land and a state, with Jerusalem to be an international capital. The Arab world attacked and lost, leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. Another war in 1967 led to the capture of Jerusalem by Israel. But here we move ahead of our logos.
In a separate vision introduced “Then I saw,” Daniel sees “one like a son of man” come on the clouds to be presented before “The Ancient of Days,” and he is given everlasting dominion and kingdom so that “all peoples, nations and languages should serve him.” (7:13-14). Daniel then approached one who stood there in the vision and asked the meaning of these things. In explanation, he is told that the four beasts are four kings that will arise “out of the earth” but that “the saints of the most high” will receive and possess the kingdom forever (7:15-18). The rest of the beasts are the first three, the Babylonian, Mede-Persian, Greek and Roman empires. The Oxford Bible note has the Mede and Persian separate and successive, and the fourth the Alexandrian. Yet one can discern the four wings and four heads, as the empire was split up after his death. Then one like a son of man is presented before the ancient of days. And to him was given dominion so that all nations, people and languages should serve him, an everlasting dominion and a kingdom that will not be destroyed. A son of man is a human being, as was Jesus, who is called the son of man, that is, among divinities, in contrast with an angel.
Here we have a summary again of the same apocalyptic snapshot as in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and the stone hewn by no human hand that fills the earth and becomes an everlasting kingdom is the same as the reign of the Messiah, and is also like the spreading of the word throughout the world. The dream of Daniel is an amplification expanding the vision of the King into greater detail about the same topic.
When the angel explains the vision, he says that the four beasts are four kings that will arise “out of the earth.” One of course thinks of the two beasts of Chapter 13 of the Revelation, how the first arises out of the sea and the second out of the earth. In Daniel, sea and earth seem to be equivalent, or, there is no clear difference between the two, for in the image, the beasts arise out of the sea, and then in the explanation, these arise out of the earth. When Daniel desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, as he looks…
…this horn made war with the saints, and prevailed over them, until the ancient of days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the most high, and the time came when the saints received the kingdom.
In explanation, the one standing there then says “As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on the earth…” The possibility arises that “out of the earth” means on the earth, so that the dominion of the sea beast in Revelation may not be “on the earth,” but rather a spiritual dominion, perhaps in the realm of thought, like that of Machiavelli or Nietzsche. The fourth kingdom, on the earth, will be different from all the others, and will “devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.” When Daniel restates the vision in posing the question to one who stood there, he adds that the fourth beast had “claws of Bronze,” which from the image of Chapter 2 would indicate that the parts harmful are Roman and Greek. He then (7:23-25) explains the horns:
As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, two times, and a half a time…
That he will think to change the times and the law is an important clue to the character of the beast as an ideological anti-Christianity, rather than the more usual thoughtless strongmen we get for tyrants. Hitler too intended, of course, to change the calendar. That he was seen to make war with the saints and prevail over them, and “shall wear out the saints of the Most High” is the first hint, and these lines are the first time this conflict, significant in the Revelation (13:7), is mentioned. He will “mislead if possible even some of the elect” (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). That they shall be given into his hand for a time, two times and a half a time” also enters scripture for the first time in this Chapter 7 of Daniel. It is thought to be, and hoped to be only 3½ years, half of seven years, but may also be half of 2,520 years, 1260, (or even 1,260,000, if each of 1260 days were a thousand years). In the following chapter, a period of 2,300 evenings and mornings is said to be the time until the sanctuary is restored. The restoration might be the beginning of the end times, but it is not a restoration following the abomination of the antichrist, since there is no temple at all in the New Jerusalem.
There is no necessity that the empire that devours the whole earth be dissolved into ten, but rather it is divided into ten. It seems here not to be the eleventh horn that itself devoured the whole earth, but that he is the offshoot of the ten nations that arise from this empire. We count the nations that came out of the Roman Empire, and few are kingships. These are nations such as Italy, Greece, France, Germany, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Britain, the U. S., Australia, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Spain remains a monarchy. If there were, though, suddenly a World Government established and divided into ten new regions, no one would think any longer of the European Union.
The Soviet Union was an empire that arose out of the Eastern Roman Empire in one sense, and has now broken into many nations, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldavia, Kazakhstan, and the satellites, Poland, Romania, Albania, etc.
That the little horn arises after the ten nations is similar to Israel arising as a nation later than the others from the dominions of the old Roman Empire, and fits with the theory of Hippolytus, that the antichrist is from Israel. The United States, too, is similar in that it is a new nation.
There is a cumulative effect of the successive empires, as each conquers the previous, and is included in the next. The exception is the Persian part of the empire of Alexander, not included in the Roman Empire. Will, then, the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian and Roman be included in the seventh head of the beast that is this empire?
But he will put down three kings, perhaps as Hitler took over Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland before coming against France, Russia and Great Britain. “But the court shall sit in Judgment” reminds one of Nuremberg, though this is not where the dominion of Hitler was taken away. The court also sat in judgment in the vision of the coming of the Ancient of Days and what is like the last judgment (7:26; Rev. 20:4), and so this seems more likely to be like the last judgment. The kingdom and dominion, apparently over the greatness of the kingdoms, will then be given to the “people of the saints of the Most High.” There is a default kingdom over kingdoms, which would appear to be Israel, except that “people of the saints of the Most High” might include “all peoples, nations and languages.” The Kingdom will be ruled through the saints of the Most High, or by Him through his presence in them. That this is described as a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15; Micah 4:13) might be explained as the rule of force over tyranny, preventing diabolic atrocities. Such rule is only sanctioned after this cruelty has emerged and been revealed and defeated.
In summary, a dual reading of Chapter 7 appears, according to 1) whether the little horn describes Antiochus and the coming of the son of man like the incarnation, or, 2) whether the little horn arising from among the ten describes the antichrist of the end times, the slaying of the beast synonymous with Revelation 19, and the throne and the receipt of dominion in the image like the last judgment, when books are opened, and the second coming, when the kingdom is to be received. In the explanation, it is clear that the fourth kingdom, with teeth of iron and claws of bronze, will devour the whole earth before ten kings arise from it. Then there is another, who will put down three kings. That the saints will be given into his hand, for a time, two times and a half a time indicates that this is the Beast of Revelation 13:5. This is in a different, unique sense, although the same might be said in some sense of numerous persecutions, of Antiochus, Herod, Nero, Diocletian, the medieval Inquisition or Ferdinand of Spain, Hitler, Stalin, and others.
[Daniel 8] Two years later, Daniel sees in a vision, recorded in Chapter 8, the Greek and the Median-Persian empire of Darius as a two horned ram and he goat, who is broken when he is strong, and replaced by four “conspicuous” horns, the four divisions after Alexander, the Ptolemaic, Seleucid, and those of Lysimachus and Cassander. Out of one of these comes a “little horn,” like the little horn that arose after the ten horns in Chapter 7. This little horn of Chapter 8 is reportedly Antiochus Epiphanes who came from the Seleucid dynasty and defiled the sanctuary in 167 B. C. The continual burnt offering is taken away, and it is said to be for two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings, or one thousand one hundred fifty days, almost three and one half years. Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, X. xi) writes that Daniel prophesied that from one of the parts of Alexander’s empire, a king would arise that would overpower the Jews and…
…spoil the temple, and forbid the sacrifices to be offered for three years time.” And indeed, it so came to pass, that our nation suffered these things under Antiochus Epiphanes, according to Daniel’s vision, and what he wrote many years before. In the very same manner, Daniel also wrote concerning the Roman government, that our country should be made desolate by them.
Josephus also writes 1296 days, just over the 1260 days. But was the offering not restored when the temple was purified and rededicated, as is celebrated in Hanukkah? The Oxford edition notes that the temple was purified on December 14, 164, having been desolated in 167, which may be 1,150 days or nearly the 3 or 3½ years. The reason for the difference between 2,300 and 2520, or seven years of days, may be that Chapter 8 refers directly to Antiochus, and through his example to the beast of the end times. By what they have in common, in different sizes, these examples, such as Antiochus, Nero and Hitler, show things about the beast.
One wonders why it would be stated this way, as evenings and mornings instead of days. In the explanatory section, the vision is said to pertain to “many days hence,” the “latter end of the indignation.” While possibly distinct from the end times, it “pertains to the time of the end” (8:17). The vision is not concluded with the statement that it is about the end times, but rather “pertains to many days hence.” Elements of apocalyptic prophecy then enter the description, for at the latter end of the rule of these four, which were replaced by the Roman Empire, a king “of bold countenance” is to arise, one who “understands riddles.” He will destroy many men, including the “people of the saints,” or Israel. This one will magnify himself, and even “rise up against the Prince of Princes,” but “by no human hand he shall be broken.” (8:25). This could not refer to the incarnate Jesus if the one who rises up is Antiochus, before the incarnation. Scofield writes that verses 24 and 25 are about the little horn in Chapter 7, though the phrase may refer to both.
[Daniel 9] The fourth apocalyptic image of Daniel is a visitation, rather than a dream or vision. The visit came in the first year of the reign of Darius, or just after the Babylonian has given way to the Mede and Persian Empire. Daniel has just now perceived in the Prophecy of Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2; Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10) that the time of the desolation of Jerusalem is to be seventy years. Desolate just means deserted, as Israel was before the modern emigration began. In the Babylonian conquest this desolation was not caused by an abomination, but was due to foreign conquest of the temple. Seventy years later, Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, as foretold by Jeremiah. The Edict of Return was issued in 538, while the prophecy of Jeremiah is dated 607 B. C., before the 586 fall of Jerusalem, about seventy years before the decree to rebuild under Cyrus. After a prayer of penance, Daniel is visited by Gabriel and told of the seventy weeks of years, apparently 490 years. A prince is apparently said to come in “seven weeks,” in the Revised Version, though the King James reads “seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks.” Nothing special appears 49 years later, in about 394 B. C., near the date of the execution of Socrates. Plato was then alive, though Aristotle was not yet teaching Alexander, who lived from 356-323. The second temple was completed in 515 or 16, and the walls in 443, some 91 years before the beginning of the Alexandrian conquest. Antiochus comes in 167 B. C., and the Messiah comes about 511 solar years later, which is near the 490, though not exact in either lunar or solar years.
There follows the section of Chapter 9 (9:24-27) describing the seventy weeks in a division of 7 / 62 / 1 weeks. An “anointed one, a prince” or in the King James, “the Messiah, the prince” was to come in 49 years, or seven weeks of years, and this does not yet make sense. Regarding the 69 weeks, Hal Lindsey includes the calculation of Sir Robert Anderson, converting 483 (69 x 7) lunar years and solar years into their common denominator of 173,880 days from the going forth of the word to Nehemiah to rebuild the temple (Nehemiah 2:8), in 444 or 445 B. C. to the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey, the first palm day (Lindsey, 1973, p. 100; Van Impe, 1998, p, 167), in about 32 A. D. The second anointed one is understood to be Jesus while the first anointed one that came after seven weeks or 49 years cannot then be Jesus. Both are translated Messiah in the King James Version. Scofield notes that three decrees to rebuild were issued, and the prophecy “undoubtedly refers to the last one,” though he was not then sure whether it was 454 or 444 that was the twentieth year of Artaxerxes (1909, p. 915.)
Then, after 62 weeks,
…an anointed one shall be cut off, and shall have nothing; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its (or his) end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war; desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.
The seventy weeks are divided into seven = 49 years; sixty two = 434 years; one = 7 years. In seven weeks, Jerusalem was to be rebuilt in “troublous times.” This was fulfilled, as Ezra and Nehemiah record. Sixty two weeks = 434 years, thereafter Messiah was to come. This was fulfilled in the birth and manifestation of Christ. Verse 26 is an obviously indeterminate period. The date of the crucifixion is not fixed. It is only said to be after the threescore and two weeks. It is the first event in verse 26. The second event is the destruction of the city, fulfilled in 70 A.D. Then unto the end,” a period not fixed, but which has already lasted 2000 years.
After 62 weeks, or x 7= 434 years, the people of the Prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. This is held to have happened in 70 A. D. when, under the emperor Vespasian, the general and future emperor Titus destroyed Jerusalem. The destruction, though, was not with a flood.
Does the difference between the figures 2520 or 2555 and 2300 relate to the difference between 167 and 586? Approaching the year from which Van Impe reasons to the entrance into Jerusalem, 167 + 220= 387, and 167 + 255= 422, Hence 2555 is almost 2300 from Antiochus. Is this a clue to relating the seventy weeks of years from the Persian restoration of Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, on one hand, to the 2520?
The final week is identified with the seven year reign of the Antichrist. “He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week,” the very 70th week we had expected from the 69. Van Impe expects this week to begin with a peace agreement for Israel to last seven years, which will be broken after three and one half years. The seven years are to coincide with the week, divided in half, that the witnesses preach in Jerusalem. It is thought that they, knowing the scriptures, preach against the Antichrist as he rises. He causes sacrifice to cease for the first half of the week. This is strange because sacrifice has not yet been restored. In order for sacrifice to be restored, it is said that the temple must be rebuilt. Then, upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” “Poured out” reminds us of the seven bowls in the Revelation. It is not said that this one is the same as the “Prince that is to come,” and the anomaly in the text, introducing the one who makes desolate as though he were another, is consistent with the two beasts of the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation. The ninth chapter of Daniel does not describe the second advent, as did the seventh chapter, but only ends “…until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” This line coincides with the eleventh line of Chapter 7 of Daniel, where the beast was seen slain.
None of the dates match up, if the anointed one cut off is the Messiah and the desolator the Antichrist. The Oxford notes say that the reference is to the desolation of Antiochus, though this does not fit an easy calculation of dates either. Other desolations occurred, when Pompey conquered Jerusalem for Rome in 63 A. D., and when the temple was destroyed in 70 A. D., though none of these are thought to be the desolation. As Scofield indicates, Jesus speaks of “the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel” as future, demonstrating that the events of the seventh week had not then yet come to pass (p. 1081). Van Impe reads the one cut off to be the Messiah, and calculates the days up to the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The final seven year period is thought to refer to the seven years that the Antichrist will hold power, and no account is given of the apparent suspension of the clock of the weeks of years for two millennia. This suspension is like the delay, until the number of martyrs is filled. The strong covenant made with many is thought to be a Middle East seven year peace agreement, and the prophecy is thought to allow for a two millennium leap to the last week. The reasons to think so are especially in Chapter 12 of Daniel. One half of the week is “a time two times and a half a time,” and the time between the cessation of sacrifice and offering to the desolation thirty days into the second half (Daniel 12:11). Also, the events are said to refer to the time of the end and are to be accomplished “When the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end” (12:7).
Van Impe reads the “people of the prince that is to come” as implying with certainty that the antichrist will come from the Italian people, and with equal assurance that he will head the European Union. This is possible, and may even be the best reading. Another possibility is that he come from the Jews, as in the reading of Hippolytus and others. Hal Lindsey writes of two antichrists, the beast and false prophet, from the E. U. and the Jews respectively (p. 103; Revelation, Chapter 13).
There is an interesting question which arises between the Christians and the Jews, which occurs from considering Maimonides The Days of the Messiah. It is a peculiarly Christian teaching that the Second Advent is a coming with the clouds, and hence the Messiah will not be born and grow up again in this age. This means that the Jews gathering in Israel are especially susceptible to a false Messiah, and the one born in this age who claims to be the Messiah would seem to be a false Messiah. As in the case of Rome, it does little good to warn them, because they will not admit such a reading. We are concerned about the rebuilding of the temple, because the Mosaic laws regarding animal sacrifice and the stoning of adulteresses and other violators of the especially severe Mosaic Law, would seem then to be required. Isaiah 66:3 seems to us to suggest that animal sacrifice be set aside, as does Hosea (2:18; note 117 below). It is presently forbidden for Christians to proselytize in Israel. One wonders if the killing of Christians will not again seem to some to be required by Mosaic Law, so that the temple might pick up where it left off, as when James, the most legalistic of the Christians, was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple. One sees the scenario of the end times developing where both the Jews and Rome are given a circumstance wherein they are called to renounce a fundamental error, regarding the Messiah and the Inquisition, and there will not be the ability to do this, simply because those able to do this have left the Jews or Catholics respectively. It may be a theme of the end times that the fundamental questions again are presented, and the characteristic errors of the ages brought to bear in a present circumstance.
Jack Van Impe is convinced on the strength of a single passage that the Antichrist must come out of the European Union, since he is to be of the people that destroyed the temple, and these are the Romans. Daniel 9: 26. “…and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” In the passage, the prince previously mentioned is the anointed one who was to come seven weeks after the call to rebuild Jerusalem. Hippolytus, a Third Century Bishop and anti-pope, writes that he will be from the tribe of Dan, and that he will deceive the Jews into receiving him as the Messiah (Treatise, 209).
For he will call together all his people to himself, out of every country of the dispersion, making them his own, as though they were his own children, and promising to restore their country, and establish again their kingdom and nation, in order that he may be worshiped by them as God…
One notes how close this reading is to what actually occurred, if Hitler was inadvertently the cause of the gathering of the Jews and the restoration of Israel, though he did not call, but chased them there, to return to Israel. Yet some future and more complete gathering might occur, with a false Messiah calling all Jews to return, into a trap. But the restoration of Israel seems to have occurred without the things foreseen by Hippolytus. Hippolytus next cites an apparently apocryphal prophet in support of his gathering theory: “He will collect his whole kingdom, from the rising of the sun to its setting.” The reasons given by Hippolytus for identifying Dan as the tribe of the Antichrist are generally not demonstrative, but rather, things such as that he will lead an army of noisy horses, etc. That is, they are not good clear reasons drawn from the prophecies regarding the tribe of Dan, and worse things might be said of Benjamin from the histories. The best of these is citing Genesis 49:17, where Jacob delivers oracles for each of the twelve tribes from his deathbed. After the famous Judah oracle, foretelling the birth of the Messiah from the line of Judah, it is written “…Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that the rider falls backwards…” This of course reminds of the curse on the serpent in Genesis, (3:15) “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.” Hippolytus presents little else beyond the tradition that this is the reason that the tribe of Dan is excluded from the 144,000 sealed in the seventh chapter of the Revelation. That the eleventh horn arising out of the Old Roman Empire could refer to Israel, as one of the newest of these nations, is a further interesting possibility. A part of the tribe of Dan was lost among the Ethiopian Jews, and is now being returned. There are, though, other suggestions, and no necessity either to these.
It is comforting that the nation of Israel has already been reestablished and the generation that did so passed, but it is important, we think, to teach Israel that he is coming with the clouds, because he is the one that was born two millennia ago. In speaking of the horns being like a Lamb, Hippolytus writes: “By the beast coming out of the earth, he means the kingdom of antichrist; and by the two horns he means that he will make himself like the son of God, and set himself forward as king.” We consider what would occur should the temple be restored, animal sacrifice resumed, adulteresses stoned, the preaching of Jesus banned, as at the fall of the temple, the Jews picking up where they left off when the temple was last destroyed. That is how such a thing might begin if Hippolytus were correct, the Antichrist from the tribe of Dan, and his rule an Israeli rule. The teaching of Jesus set aside the severity of the Law of Moses, and if he is considered false this teaching too will be rejected. This would make a mockery of the new tolerance for the Jews that has developed since World War II, and make the world regret that Israel had been supported, only to itself impose a racist or fascist universal dominion. Susceptibility to fascism, and immunity from fascism, need not follow race. This, though, might have something to do with education done rightly or wrong. It would then come from the quarter least expected, since the Jews before all are thought to understand the result of racial ideologies, and from a people who, with the Greeks, would have one of the better arguments for the superiority of a people. But, while there is some communism in the Kibbutz movement, there does not seem to be an Israeli fascism, some thought of atheism combined with racial superiority. To be the chosen people means something different. And the prophecy is one of some sort of guidance to the nations from Jerusalem during the millennium. But the pattern would then make sense, as it is in the overcoming of tyranny that royal rule can then be established on the basis of its defeat, and the universal dominion of the antichrist will prepare, if in a macabre way, for the universal dominion of the true Messiah from Jerusalem. The rod of iron makes more sense as the compulsion that prevents diabolical crimes and tyranny. The thought of a wrathful God, in the Revelation, long misapplied to mere human deficiency, makes more sense with regard to Twentieth Century tyranny.
There is very little detail about Rome, the fourth Beast of Chapter 7, except that the people of the Prince that is to come will destroy the sanctuary. It is not likened to a known animal, but is terrible and strong, with iron teeth, and has ten horns. The ten horns, ten kings that will arise out of this kingdom, do not characterize Rome at all in ancient history, but only make sense when the nations are left after the dissolution of the empire.
[Daniel 10-12] The last three chapters of Daniel record a single vision that is very strange because in parts it is a prophecy that is so detailed that it looks like post-diction, rather than prediction. Porphyry and others noticed this long ago (Scofield, p.1077). Something may have been inserted, perhaps discernable by following out the interrupted account of the angel Michael, as at 11:2 and 12:1. It is commonly said that the book of Daniel was written about 167 B. C., though it seems entirely possible that it was seen as written in the very years that are written in it, and passed on either orally or in unpublished manuscripts.
Josephus includes a story about Alexander which supports the contention that Daniel was written when it says it was written. When Alexander was approaching Jerusalem on his way to conquer Darius and the Persians, Juddua the high priest refused to swear an oath to serve Alexander, having previously sworn an oath to Darius. When Alexander was approaching Jerusalem, the high priest was in great fear. But then he had a dream, which told him to receive Alexander, and in the clothing usual for his office, rather than white robes of submission. He was dressed in purple and scarlet, with a golden plate engraved with the name of God. Alexander adored that name. Asked why, when all people adored him, he adored the high priest of the Jews, Alexander answered:
I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with his priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians.
(Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XI, viii. 3-5)
Alexander then offered sacrifice in the temple of the Jews. “And when the book of Daniel was shown him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended.” As a favor, Alexander was asked to allow the Jews to follow their own laws, and he granted this, though he soon died and Jerusalem fell under Ptolemy of Egypt, and later (198 B.C.) the Seleucids took over the area. The early opposition of the Jews to Hellenizing or Greek influence is conditioned not by access to the writings of Plato and Aristotle, but by Antiochus. The text that Alexander was shown may be that in Chapter Eight of Daniel, lines 1-7. One wonders, then, whether the Jews did not show him lines 8 and following, or warn him against magnifying himself exceedingly.
The apparent post diction characterizes Chapter 11, but not Chapter 8, and the brief section may have been added by the Jews for publication. But Chapter 11 has another characteristic that is related: The post-dicted prophecy of Antiochus is in turn a prophecy of the Antichrist. One flows insensibly into the other, beginning from the description of the desolation, when the continual burnt offering is taken away and the abomination set up (11:31). Van Impe writes that the little horn of Daniel 7 is the Antichrist, coming out of the fourth beast from amid the ten horns, while the little horn of Daniel 8 is Antiochus, out of the four horns of the third beast that is Alexandrian Greece. Antiochus is said to be not the beast himself, but an “archetype” of the beast (1998, p. 143). After the desolation of the temple, the descriptions of Antiochus and of the beast merge. There is a description of his character and thought (11:36-39), and then the section following “At the time of the end… The Oxford note interprets the events foretold here, but says that none of this occurred. These things, though, will be considered in connection with Chapter 19 below.
We return to an attempt to understand the harlot and her judgment. The woman seated on the beast is also seated upon many waters (17:1; 15). The angel says that the waters on which she is seated are “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” (17:15). Are these then the same as those who worship the beast (13:7-8)? She is seated on the popular opinion that also upholds universal empire, as when “every tribe and people and tongue and nation” excepting those named in the book of life, worship the beast (13:7-8).
[17:16] The ten horns and the beast will hate the harlot. This seems to be the key to the identity of the mysterious Babylon, and the reason that the nature of the beast is discussed here, rather than in the thirteenth chapter. Like the United States and like the Roman Church, the mysterious Babylon is hated by both forms of Twentieth Century totalitarianism. And like both, She is seated on a sort of universal popular opinion: secular democracy and popular piety. The ten horns and the beast will attack her, as Israel was attacked by the Nazis:
They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and giving over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman you saw is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth.
The woman is seated on the beast, on the waters that are the peoples, and on the seven hills or mountains. She is a city, one that has dominion over kings and one responsible for the blood of all those slain on the earth. This is thought especially to indicate Rome, but it could also mean the seven empires, Rome being the one that is, while Hitler or the Antichrist are yet to come, and to remain only a while. The eighth, then, might be the beast or the dragon conquered after the millennium.
[17:17] That God is using the beast and the ten horns is beyond difficult. For when Babylon is burned, if this is the meaning, just as it was for the Jews under Hitler, many are killed who had nothing to do with the inquisition, little girls dressed for Easter, perhaps, any who have not been sealed. We admit that this raises the question of faith, as to how there could be a God and yet these things occur. This has led many Jews to science and philosophy, and yet away from faith, in the middle third of the last century. And this may be part of why these things are foretold: we know God knows they are occurring. They have something to do with what is required in order that man be free to choose Him and his righteousness, yet man does it, and there is a sense in which it truly need not have been done: man freely does this, and we must be penitent for our species. Yet it reveals that He, the Lord, is Lord, and his people truly his people, because they are persecuted, and even by the beast. There is the teaching that we, the Christians, are the bait in the trap, leading him to come forth to be defeated, so that a new time can come to be, in which the fall has been overcome.
The United States does not have dominion over the kings of the earth, nor does Rome any longer, though when John was writing, this, the one that now is would have meant Rome if it meant any particular great city that had dominion over Kings. Jerusalem could not then have been referenced as one that “now is,” if we understand the sentence correctly, nor did that great city ever have dominion over kings or other cities as did the empires of Cyrus, Alexander and Caesar, or even as the empires of England, France, Spain, Holland and Portugal.
The Great City could also be the earthly kingdom, the city of man, although this does not have such dominion simply. The heart of the king may be as a spring of water in the hand of the Lord (Proverbs 21:1) and Kings might pray as Solomon did, for wisdom to govern the people of the Lord (1 Kings 3:9; Proverbs 14:24). In support of this, the Augustinian and more universal reading, it is written that in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of “all who have been slain on the earth.”(18:24). It is the earthly city of man, in which the earthly cities of Rome, Athens and Jerusalem participate, that is the mysterious whore of Babylon. It is connected with the beast through the topic of universal empire. Five have fallen, one is, and one is yet to come. So this conclusion does not exclude the possibility that a universal religious institution occur in the future, so that the whore is not identical with any institution yet founded, but that this future Babylon is somehow more than those past, an incarnation of the earthly city of man. The beast that is empire may be defeated in the defeat of a particular empire. One would not like to see some new world government setting up some universal church centered literally in Babylon, fitting the name, nor in Rome, fitting the seven hills. There is talk of some new ecumenical world religion, and it is not impossible that this is yet to come, and is the essential manifestation of Babylon. But the Bride is not something made by man.
For John, the worldly reign of the Roman Church was also yet to come. Did John ever suspect that it was even possible that Rome become the Catholic Church, or that the Church, attempting to hold political imperium, would make martyrs as the Roman Empire once did of Christians? The translators of the Bible, the Jews of the Spanish Inquisition, and many of the leading or most thoughtful Christians, as well as scientists, were burned alive by Christian Rome, even as, or worse than, the Christians were persecuted, by the Jews and then by Rome. Christians also persecuted the Jews, in the Spanish Inquisition and in Pogroms. It is fair to say that these actions were seated on general popular support, that is, it is the people, if misled, who give seat to this drinking of the blood of the saints and martyrs. Hence, the religious killings do not end with the arrival of Protestantism, but people continued to do these things until the enlightenment dispelled both faith and superstition. The numbers tortured and killed as heretics and witches by the Protestants as well, may be a part of the Rome wherein the blood of martyrs is found. The kings of the earth are said to have committed fornication with her, and the blood of saints and martyrs is found in her (16:6; 18:24). This particular is unlike the United States, though like many other possibilities. The U. S., ruled democratically, is, as Tocqueville notices, characterized by a soft despotism and a slow, drawn out martyrdom. Herod in his relation as king of the Jews toward Rome comes to mind as an example of a king in fornication with the Whore of Babylon, and the participation of kings in the inquisition, from Ferdinand of Spain to Henry of England, might be another example. For about three hundred years, or more, as it seems, the way to wealth and power was through the offices of the Church, and the royalty of Europe shared a tenuous co-Sovereignty with the universal Church of Rome. And this has been the cause of the Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and continuing monastic reform. The fornication of Kings with the harlot describes a form of idolatry, as when Hosea is wed to a harlot to show Israel what she is like in going after other gods (Hosea 3:1-5). “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Ibid, 6:6). The woman described as a Harlot may be related to the use of religion for profit, as the harlot uses the things that ought be things of love and beauty– when the bride and groom enter into the chamber and the harmony of Eden together– for the subject purpose of money and power. And even without prostitution, the emphasis on the animal parts of love in modern America has made the sound of bride and bridegroom more rare, as we too mix but do not hold together. But this is said of the iron and clay, the strong and the miry.
Babylon then seems properly to be a symbol because it points to something that is, yet is unknown. Rather than be identifiable as a particular empire or the Roman Church, it is somehow what is present in all seven, or the last five universal empires that are the whole statue seen in the Dream of Nebuchadnezzar. It is nearer to the earthly city addressed by Augustine, though just a bit more particular: these five empires are something, some one thing, and something with which the kings of the earth commit fornication in killing the martyrs. It is not synonymous with either the kings of the earth or the peoples or the merchants, but is seated on the peoples, nations and tongues, and is responsible for the deaths of all who are slain on the earth. It is almost like the cave in Plato’s allegory. It is the permanent dusky darkness of the human condition, related to the idea of original sin. One sees that Rome, as an extension of the Roman Empire, participates in this but is not synonymous with it. This thing– which includes the assumption that the empire can govern a man principally, and so, as we say, govern belief– is contrary to the first amendment of the U. S. Constitution. This is when “the city” as those following Leo Strauss discuss this, claims she is no widow, as though she were the Kingdom, ruled presently by the logos or the Christ. The truth is that this thing, the kind of universal empire that entered with Babylon and continued through the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, rode in on the beast, who in the end attacks her. It still seems that she is also conventional religion, in so far as this participates in the assumption that human government can take authority over belief. If each is an image of God, these things are, as Madison presents, owed not to any government, but rather to the Lord. Human government, under the principle of Babylon, assumes the authority of God, as though it were God or the rule of the saints in the kingdom. This is why the apocalyptic sections of Daniel are recessed with stories of how Daniel refused to worship the Babylonian God under either the Babylonians or the Persian Darius. The U.S. Declaration and Bill of Rights allow the people to “come out of her,” and so the U. S. founding may be at least potentially, outside the borders of Babylon.
Beginning at 17:8, the angel, then, tells the mystery of the woman and the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The key to the reading of the relation of these, and their identification, seems to be especially that the Beast will hate and destroy the Harlot (17:16). Hence, contrary to Luther, there is no suggestion that the Antichrist or the beast rules the mysterious whore of Babylon, though she enters riding on it, much as the universal church entered world domination riding on the Roman Empire, or these riding upon the principle of empire in all five or seven empires. This is evident in Chapter 16, where the kingdom of the beast is afflicted in the first and fifth bowl, while the fall of Babylon and her punishment are announced in the seventh bowl. Rather, the suggestion is that he persecutes her, much as Hitler persecuted the Jews and the Roman emperors persecuted the Church. Three or four possibilities have been suggested for the identification of the mysterious Babylon. These are 1) literally Babylon, the modern Iraq, 2) The United States, or Western liberal democracy; 3) Rome, and 4) the earthly city of man in general. And it could of course refer 5) to some dominion over the kings of the earth that has not yet arisen, or something beyond our imagination, as the medieval church would have been for John beyond imagination. Scofield notes that the possibility of a literal Babylon is contradicted by Isaiah 13:19-22, which says that Babylon will never again be inhabited (1909, p.1347). Victorinus writes, regarding the seven thunders, that among the things they might contain is “the overthrow of Babylon, that is, the Roman state.” It is Rome that most made martyrs. When the Roman Empire joined with the church, the political empire fell, and then the spiritual empire continued. The apocalypse is about world empire and especially about the making of the martyrs, and the cause of the wrath of God is especially the making of the martyrs. One suggestion is that Babylon is guilty of the blood of the martyrs that appeared under the throne at the fifth seal, while the Beast is responsible for the martyrs of the tribulation.
The Roman Empire continues through the Eastern and Western Churches, so that the martyrdom of the two witnesses is also related. The beast attacks both women, both the true and the false Church, going after every people related to the word of the Biblical God, apparently as a way of striking at God. Yet if he honors the god of fortresses rather than the god of his ancestors, he may in some sense not even know that God is.
One might begin with this by considering the significance of nothing or “the nothing” in Nineteenth Century German thinking, which says something like this: at the bottom of everything is nothing, and what is is due to a creative act of a will, a so-called “will to power.” Here, the sense in which both the Lord and the beast are to come is the topic of the work. The Lord was, present ruling at the creation, and will be in the end, because He is. The beast was in some similar or strange sense as well– not in the sense of a previous incarnation, but some sort of having been. In what way can it have been and be to come when it is not? It is said that those who dwell on the earth, whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will marvel to behold the beast because it was and is not and is to come. What will this look like? Why is the cause of wonder, evident to earth dwellers, particularly that it was and is not and is to come? This strange appellation of the beast is set in contrast to the name of God unique to the Revelation. Here, the Greek is more directly translated “that it was something (en ti), is not, yet now is.” Is it that Rome was, is not and yet returns that causes people to be so amazed that they follow? Or is it rather the false resurrection of a particular person? As discussed below, this may also refer to the beast with the mortal wound that was healed, as though he were not because he died, and yet somehow returns. Could he deceive even some of the saints by his apparent resurrection, even though he is followed as unbeatable in war?
Scofield, Van Impe, Lindsey and Macarthur present a teaching of two distinct Babylons, one religious, in Chapter 17, and one commercial, in Chapter 18. While this calls attention to the difference in the image between the two chapters, the distinction or the reading that there are two Babylons does not seem to be called for by the text. The text, rather, appears to challenge us to see the same thing through two different images. Scofield writes: “Two Babylons are to be distinguished in the Revelation, ecclesiastical Babylon, which is apostate Christendom, headed up under the Papacy, and political Babylon. Ecclesiastical Babylon is the great whore” (Rev. 17.1) and is destroyed by political Babylon (Rev 17.15-18), that the beast alone may be the object of worship (2 Thess. 2.3, 4; Rev. 13.5). The power of political Babylon is destroyed by the return of the Lord in Glory.
But Scofield has misread the attack of the beast and the ten kings. These are not a part of Babylon, but rather attack her. There is no suggestion that the political Babylon of Chapter 18 has attacked the ecclesiastical Babylon of Chapter 17, but rather, these are called by one name, and the commerce of the Tyre-like city in the literal reading of Chapter 18 is symbolic of the “ecclesiastical” Babylon. It is, again, rather the Beast and his armies that are struck in separate instances in the first and fifth Bowls of Chapter 16, separate from that addressing the fall of Babylon, after the third bowl warning not to take the mark. There is no suggestion in Chapter 16 that the kingdom of the beast is Babylon. The persecution of those refusing to take the mark of the beast is different than the complicity of Babylon in the blood of the saints through her fornication with kings. It is possible that Babylon is the persecutor of the saints throughout history, though this was also shown as pursuit of the woman by the dragon, while the beast is the persecutor of the tribulation. It, the beast with ten horns, attacks Babylon, and this, we argue, is key to understanding what is occurring. It is the basis for distinguishing the two, which otherwise merge, as in the Babylon statue of Daniel and the empires as heads of the dragon.
[18:1-3] “After this,” after the Mystery of Babylon seen in the image and explained in Chapter 17, another angel is seen coming down from heaven, not said to be one of the seven, but “having great authority.” We might look for Gabriel and Michael and archangels throughout the Revelation. The earth was made bright with his splendor, and he calls out in a loud voice, describing this Babylon and why it is fallen. She had become a dwelling place for demons and foul spirits and birds, and so it appears that she once was not such a dwelling place. The nations, kings and merchants have, respectively, drunk the wine of her impure passion, committed fornication with her, and grown rich “with the wealth of her wantonness.” She is then something different from the nations, kings and merchants, and something in whose idolatry or fornication the kings and nations can participate, as in allowing the making of martyrs while using the church and human religion for worldly wealth and power. It is interesting to follow the kings: while ten are ruled by the beast; many fornicated with the harlot. After digesting the scroll, John was to prophecy about peoples, nations, tongues, and kings (10:11). So the second half of the Revelation is especially political, concerned with nations, or as we say, foreign policy.
This universal corrupting influence upon nations, kings, and merchants from a number of countries might be said to describe either a nation like the United States or Rome, on their worst side. In the prophecy of Isaiah against Tyre, the commercial republic is said to have fornicated with kings (Is.23:17). Jerusalem too is said to have “played the harlot” with the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Chaldea (Ezekiel 15:26, 28; 23:3-5). The image occurs in Jeremiah (51:7-8), regarding the fall of Babylon to the Medes:
Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand,
Making all the earth drunken;
The nations drank of her wine,
Therefore the nations went mad.
Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken…
What does it mean for the kings of the earth to commit fornication with Babylon? The tree here is known by its fruit, as the effect is similar to idolatry, and the result is the making of martyrs. How is it then that Rome made martyrs? Is it the same as the way Israel made martyrs of the Christians, and the Christians of others? It is somehow the assumption of knowledge or supremacy that allows the city to persecute the saints and prophets of God? It assumes for itself possession of the first principle and what follows, or assumes that having in the scripture revealed principles, it also has what follows. One sees the wisdom of the Socratic revelation that divine wisdom is not the possession of man, but of “the God” (Plato, Apology, 23 a-b). What follows from this, Socratic ignorance, are the principles of Jefferson, though their conclusions were arrived at independently. Jefferson writes: “I doubt whether the people of this country would suffer an execution for heresy, or a three years imprisonment for not comprehending the mysteries of the trinity” (Notes on Virginia, XVII). Human government simply is not good at setting doctrine, governing men in their natural essence, or governing reason. The attempt to govern doctrine leads unavoidably to the exclusion of some instances of the Holy Spirit, the subjection of the image of God in man, on which it is said “you are gods…” These especially will not submit, and in the worst cases, the persecution of the saints of God occurs.
The presence of the divine in man requires that political rights are more fundamental than political duties, as distinct from spiritual duties. This seems to be more so regarding nations and states, though the theoretical question could only be resolved in the ancient city, if not the best regime, where interest and service coincide. That rights are prior to duties was for modern political theory based on self preservation, but the idea persists because the true natural principle in man is above man made governments and institutions of every kind. The very requirement of obedience or submission to the will of God requires absolute liberty regarding the rule of men. Daniel cannot obey Nebuchadnezzar and worship the Babylonian god, or stop praying for thirty days, because of a prior obedience. Madison writes that religious liberty is required due to our prior obligation: “What is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the creator, preceding civil society (Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments).” Socrates tells the Athenians that if he were told to cease philosophizing, he would have to obey the God rather than them (Apology, 29 d).
The modern solution is supposed to have been unimaginable to the ancient Greeks. Even Plato’s second best regime persecutes unorthodox doctrine. The thought that there not be religious orthodoxy upheld by the threat of death is apparently entirely modern, made necessary by Christianity. The separation of Church and State has been required as a practical solution to the peculiar difficulties of Christian Europe. But the Greeks considered the sovereign city, and the Greek polis, rather than the non-Greek nation or empire. Empire such as Babylon was considered inherently barbarous, as were the non- Greek cities. The polis is more natural, and nearer to the family, where duties may in theory precede rights. It is not impossible that the Greeks, had they considered the modern nation or nation-state, would have quickly thought of something like contract theory (Republic, II, 358e) and the purpose of government to secure rights. Christianity heightens the tension, though it is the same perennial tension: The rule of men in spiritual matters is, for almost all practical purposes, the rule of ignorance, while the cultivation of nature in these matters requires something like the recognition of the individual sovereignty of the divine image present somehow in each. Otherwise, men must attempt by custom to rule over the Holy Spirit, and this is not advisable. The precedence of rights over duties is in truth based not on the self-preservation of the body, but the life of the soul and mind. Montesquieu explains that political liberty consists in not being prevented from doing what is right, nor compelled to do wrong (The Spirit of the Laws, XI.3). The offended spirit of liberty is always this, that we are prevented from doing what we ought, and forced to do what we ought not. Liberty, then, is a right of doing what constitutional laws permit, since laws forbidding what are natural rights may be enacted, though these are not going to be constitutional.
The connection between the prophets oracles of literal Babylon and the Mystery Babylon of the Revelation is that Rome is the final empire on the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar, the head of which was Babylon, so that the image as a whole, including the legs, feet and toes of iron and clay, in some sense, the most important sense, is Babylon.
[18:4-8] John hears another voice, from heaven, saying “Come out of her, my people, …” so that they not partake in her sins and share in her judgment (18:4). This may be the voice of God, since it says “my people,” although line 5 says “for God has remembered…” This would leave Jesus and the Archangel Michael, if “my people” were Israel. But what is most likely is that it is the Christ, which means that “Come out of her my people” refers to the Christians. As 18:2 requires that Babylon was once not a dwelling place of demons and foul birds, so 18:4 requires that His people were once in her, and the suggestion is strengthened that in our age this was the medieval church. The call sounds like the exodus from the Church at the Reformation, and should the Inquisition again arise, it might be the best one could do to come out of the orthodox churches in order to avoid participating in such a thing. The matter may not be simply in the past. It may be that the sins of the past are again repeated in the end times, in a modern persecution, as impossible as this sounds. The Roman Church, through the counter-Reformation, has also been greatly reformed, so that these persecutions no longer occur. The inquisition as an institution still exists. Yet this, a new Inquisition, does not seem especially to be what is foretold, but rather, a persecution of the church that matches or doubles the medieval persecution inflicted by the Church:
As she glorified herself and played the wanton, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning / Since in her heart she says, A queen I sit, I am no widow, mourning I shall never see, so shall her plagues come in a single day, pestilence, and mourning and famine, and she shall be burned with fire; for mighty is the Lord who judges her.
The prophet Zephaniah (2:15) wrote:
This is the exultant city that dwelt secure
That said to herself: ‘I am, there is none else’
What a desolation she has become
A lair for wild beasts
Everyone who passes by her hisses and shakes his fist.
The church, of course, cannot be warned about such an event, because she cannot see herself in the account of the Whore of Babylon, little more than John himself could believe that such a thing as the medieval persecutions could occur. What we are saying too sounds incredible: That a persecution of Christians comparable to that of the Jews may occur, and this may be the result, causally, of the medieval errors. We do not think that a just God would do such a thing, but it may not make sense to think of the will of God that way. We are permitted to do political things, like entertain slavery, that bring about grave consequences generations later. In the nature of human things, there is a causal repercussion of what we do to every one of our fellow humans, aside from any direct or deliberate vengeful intention. For one who would strike at the Biblical God, the institutions of Christianity are especially exposed, because these appear.
[18:7] The assertion that she is a Queen and no widow reminds us of the assertion of Thomas Aquinas that theology is the “Queen of the sciences,” at the opening of the Summa Theologea (Question 1). Aquinas brought Greek philosophy into the Latin Medieval church, but, as for Clement of Alexandria, philosophy is approached as a “handmaid to theology,” rather than as a way of life. Revealed doctrine becomes the first principle of a syllogism that ends up sanctioning every authority. Wonderful it is to have Revelation, yet the difficulty is that we cannot read it or apprehend it, and so we both have and do not have it. The four corners imply that the earth is flat and not round. How do we know that God does not literally have a right hand, when this is stated in revealed scripture more clearly than any injunction to read with understanding? So then all who do not believe that God is corporeal are contrary to scripture, and heretics. The assumption of certainty, on the basis of revealed principles supported or buttressed the Inquisition and the killings of heretics. How do we know that an illiterate old woman who loves righteousness needs also to hold correct doctrine regarding consubstantiation in order to be loved by the Lord, and saved? Or the Muslim who for righteousness protects his Christian neighbors? Amid human ignorance, the church has a responsibility to free the people from doctrinal issues that cannot concern them, or to present a simple and believable faith. Following the recovery of Aristotle in the West, suddenly everyone must be a theologian in order to find heaven, be saved, or avoid damnation. The fact may be that humans do not know the truth about the divine, cannot read what is revealed, and do not have divine wisdom, which is not the possession of men but of the God. If so, then our mortal opinion ought go along with our humility, and our assumption of its supremacy be sacrificed continually. This is however impossible for the city, for men in the cave, or for tradition, which is required for man to live, and is the place into which created men are born. The city apparently must base itself on the assumption of knowledge which Socrates begins by destroying. The Socratic destruction is in order to prepare us not for the justifiable assumption of the possession of wisdom, but for the quest, or for fundamental inquiry regarding the first principle that may result in an ascent of knowledge. But the union of Christianity and Rome caused the union of the guiding church opinion with the power of opinion in the cave and city. While heresy is a concern of John, he did not foresee the conjunction of Christianity and the city. This conjunction, though, seems as necessary, in hindsight, as it was unforeseen by the early church. Introduce the terms of the true Messiah into the human condition as described in Plato’s allegory of the cave, and would one not expect soon to see men chained to viewing shadows of its image held up by other men before the fire in the cave? And if they would try to kill the man who leads up above (Republic 517 a), would they not also try to kill the prophets and the Messiah?
The vengeance of God on Babylon may include the punishment of Rome, if she has said “a Queen I sit,” and participated in the larger Roman making of martyrs. The Revelation is from start to finish about the martyrs. Modernity and Twentieth Century totalitarianism may have resulted from the inversion of the images, due to the hatred of the light, fueled by the anti-Christian ire of modernity, by hating its reflection in the Church and in law, because the Church caused people to be burned alive while claiming that it was the vessel of the Holy Spirit. This seems to have confused the world. Paul says that the law causes it’s opposite (Romans 7:7-12). We conclude something like this: that we ought not have made a religion of law out of the light. But this is almost unavoidable, given human nature and the true messiah. The persecution will be of the true woman and her offspring and the false woman that is or participates in Babylon.
As Aune reads Chapter 18, three speeches, by another angel, another voice, and a mighty angel, speak regarding three groups: all nations, the kings of the earth and the merchants of the earth. The voice says, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins…”. “Come out of her, my people” also reminds of the ascent from the cave in Plato’s Republic, if the city is the cave. In Biblical terms, the allegory of the cave is stated by Isaiah:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
A light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind,
To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
From the prison those who sit in darkness…
As Alan Bloom writes regarding speech generally, the word of the Lord in scripture is especially a light in the cave of human ignorance. This cave, though, involves our highest faculties and the opinion of the first principle, and is intended to describe the original condition of all of us–as could be expected of something like a fallen nature.
The assumption of political and divine authority by the Catholic Church ignores not only the Eastern Church and others, but the problem of the cave: that it is the permanent human condition, and cannot be transformed, at least by us. The church was told to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth until he comes (Matthew 24:14; Acts 1:8), or to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47), but was not especially told to rule the world as though he were here, or she were not widowed in the crucifixion, until his return. Nor was the church told to set up doctrines to be believed by law and root out heresy with the secular sword. The punishment of heretics was officially left to the kings of the nations, as in the circumvention of the prohibition against the church drawing blood. This involvement of the church with the kings may even be the fornication of the kings with the Whore of Babylon.
It is not that the Church, or the churches, are an entire failure. The conjunction ought to have been a great blessing, and in some ways, it has been. Violence and barbarism in war have in some ways decreased. Philanthropy and hospitals have spread across Europe and throughout the world. There is at least some escape from the dreary sorrow of the private despotisms that commonly characterize the family. The church is the only one to respond to the circumstance of the cave in any way that can directly affect the people generally, as at the crown of every household. This is so if the relation of image to object provides a ladder of ascent, awakening the soul to the mysteries. An analogy is in the following case: the church or the teaching of the Christians was, in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, frequently criticized for being “world-rejecting,” and was thought to ignore the “real existence” of the human body. Upon reflection, though, it is the church that introduced the whole idea of the hospital, which with modern medicine gives us the modern medical system. In history, the greatest teacher of charity regarding food and clothing for the poor, caring for the true needs of the body, have been the churches and the institutions of religion. The importance of the body is the ground of charity. The wealthy of the United States, and the Protestant missions, might easily be the second greatest teacher of charity. The two, the woman and Babylon, are both present in the human institutions, the worse the more it is denied, or the more the peoples and nations acquiesce in Babylon. The great modern rejection of Christianity under the banner of the needs of the body leads in theory to the life of the body, from self preservation and pleasure to power, or, to tyranny, which ends up destroying the body.
Yet, as the Salem Witch Trials indicate, the change to Protestantism does not solve the problem of the spirit of persecution and Christian orders. Augustine writes that both the regenerate and unregenerate are together in the church. In its sincerity, the church preserves the closest remnant of the teaching of the Apostles, against many errors. Its symbols and ceremonies, the food of the imagination, aligned toward the word of God, and the celebration of mysteries, awakening these things in the nature of the soul. Her achievement is a cultivation of humanity or an education of humanity unrivaled in extent by any organization in human history, except the education of the Jews and perhaps the Greeks. These educations make love and friendship more possible, as we seem to have noticed among these communities. The loss of these things in the Protestant world has left an impoverishment of the imagination and intellect, a void that may be filled by worse ways of spending time. Similarly, the secular world does not realize that something we can do to minimize drug addiction is to cultivate the genuine liberal arts. The Catholic Church participates in both the Harlot and the Bride, the Harlot the more it is unrecognized, and the Bride more in recent centuries, having greatly reformed in some ways. Not the change to Protestantism, but the teaching of religious liberty that is behind the First Amendment, is what seems to have ended religious persecution, and in only a small though expanding section of the Western world. The persecutions, it is important to remember, were very popular. She is seated on peoples, multitudes, nations, tongues. Outside the West, the nations do not believe in “tolerance,” but are “ethnocentric,” just as animals do not believe in animal rights. It is, as in the case of the crucifixion, we as mankind that are guilty of these things, and, as in the Stations of the Cross and Passion play, we participate in the sin of mankind. The Protestant churches too participate in both the Bride and Babylon. Even those attempting to be most scriptural add much without realizing this, and one sees how difficult it is to transmit the true teaching from Jesus and the Apostles. Prohibitions of beer and cigarettes, dancing like David, and of many things, without support or scriptural backing, are thought to be implied by misreading. Indeed, it may be because of these things that the witnesses have been held to be a torment to the world. These prohibitions may indeed be best, and it may be fine to have different characters and traditions develop, but let us be clear about the source of their authority, from outside the scripture, and among the things that Jesus did not think important enough to mention in recorded teachings. The only sins he rails against are those of the Pharisees.
That the Bible is the word of the Lord is not stated directly in scripture, and surely not as clearly as this is stated in the work of Mohammed, a medieval teaching nearer in time to the authorization of scripture than to Jesus. Jesus is more ancient than medieval. The teaching which gives absolute authority to scripture is a Protestant replacement for the authority of the Holy Spirit recognized by the Catholic Church. The Bible is often vastly superior to the authority of humans claiming the Holy Spirit to authorize despotic rule. It was a standard for the Reformation, once the word was printed and translated, or became accessible. Something occurred with the printing press that is like what occurred when Josiah found the book of the law buried in the floor of the temple (2 Kings 22). But the Bible says that the word of God was in the beginning (John 1:1). It is by speaking that the Lord creates, on each of six days, and three times on the sixth day. As Leo Strauss comments on the opening of Genesis: “We have no right to assume that God said it, for the Bible introduces God’s sayings by expressions like ‘God said.’ So there are many senses of “word of God.” The Bible was written only two and three thousand years ago, and the canon was of course not agreed upon until the Fourth Century. It is an articulation of the word that is always, but the articulation has of course come into being at a certain time. To give even the Bible divine authority may be an idolatry, to take a thing that has come to be to be worthy of the honor of the Most High. There are scriptures cited for the authority of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). Upon reflection, only the Old Testament was canon or “scripture” when these were written, so that although a teaching about the Christ is referenced, the New Testament as we have it cannot be what is referenced. The New Testament contains the word of God, but need not be without editorial errors or mistranslations in order to be or to contain the word of God. We must read and understand it in order to gain what access we have to this word, and be assisted. Nor should the Bible be used as a biology textbook. The concern with editorial errors, and even with historical accuracy, indicates a misunderstanding of what it means to say that every inspired word of scripture is the word of God, based on an unexamined assumption about what must be so if it is inspired. There is a difference between the narrated text and the text where God speaks, as in the two instances in the Revelation, or in the prophets. One reason for the teaching against idolatry is that we already have an image of the Most High that is not man-made. To try to know ourselves is to seek this image.
While it is true that the Bible is the word of God, we do not know what this means. Do we make an idol out of something that has come to be? A similar confusion can arise in Israel, with reflection upon the eternal Torah. One must accept Jesus as his “personal” Lord and savior? This too is true, and yet it is not in the scripture in just this way, but a teaching that arises in contrast to the impression of an “impersonal” savior. Yet how quickly could such a profession become a prerequisite for inclusion, or to avoid excommunication? The freest American sects– even those that are the source of the abolitionists and the rights of women– practice a vigorous ecclesiastical and political exclusion on a religious basis that is simply not there. If the authority claimed for itself and the obedience required by each of the Protestant sects were heeded, they must all renounce their disobedience and return to the authority of Rome. Similarly, if we deny that humans ought found Christian churches, we must be Catholic or Greek Orthodox by default. And would this not be better than by heredity? Soon popular opinion and the cultivation of reputation in light of this have become confused with the ministry of the word and the teaching of Jesus. He taught that adultery was sin, but also showed that we are all guilty. He shows the highest purity, and the deepest forgiveness. If one were to judge Christianity by what is seen on the television, it is a constant appeal for money with occasional teachings of various degrees of weakness. The imagination of divine control of fortune is harnessed to make money for the preacher. One wonders that the Christians do not do something about this, with our moralizing and inquisitions. But it is characteristic of the claim to authoritative opinion that it misses the mark anyway, and cannot suppress vice and viciousness as this would be done by a true prince. They slaughter scientist and Albigenses, while the most severe diabolism emerges unseen. Babylon is the necessary consequence of the fallen condition, in combination with the age of man. Yet the Bride is not without presence in the world. “The spirit blows where it will,” and not where human convention says it can or must. In practice, about 400 years must pass before the church explicitly corrects any error, as in the case of Galileo. In the mean time, to believe that the errors are errors is considered as though it were contrary to law, and those swearing oaths to follow the hierarchy in belief are obligated to believe what is not true. The Church must be able to repent, but is it theoretically or doctrinally able to repent? Pope John Paul II repented any omission of the Church regarding the holocaust, in 2003, and this may be the first time in history that the Church has been able to do this. The current Pope Francis has renounced the tolerance and influence of the Mafia, and considered the molestations to be a diabolic influence. In humility, must the church not leave off compelling oaths to obey in the face of such things? In scripture a lampstand is not so sovereign, and can be removed, and an olive branch cut off.
[18:9-20] The kings of the earth and the merchants stand far off in fear of her torment (18:10, 15). The merchants are identified by the mighty angel with the great men of the earth. (18:22). Seeing her judgment come “in one hour,” the kings lament, as then do the merchants and the sea traders (11-20).
One reason for the drawing out of such detail as to the cargo of the merchants and the things not ever to be found in her anymore would be to suggest the meaning of the mystery. Aune notes the similarity of phrase between 18:16 and 17:4, “dressed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.” The two Babylons of Chapters 17 and 18 are the same.
In these lamentations are particulars that might lead the reader to think of either the United States or Rome. If the U. S. were destroyed, as by the supervolcano under Yellowstone, the merchants would similarly stand off and lament, as would the merchants of these particular wares, many of which are used in the divine service. The merchants would then be like the moneychangers of the temple or the salesmen of statues of Diana at Artemis. Among their cargo is said to have been “slaves, that is human bodies,” as in the early history of the United States, and especially in ancient Rome. This line is more literally translated “and of bodies and souls of man.” In Greek, the word for bodies (soma) was also used for slaves. The Roman Church has never traded in slaves. It is a city and not a nation, in the age not of cities but of nations. And the United States has renounced slavery and made very few martyrs.
[18:21] A great millstone is taken up by an angel, who says, “so shall Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence.” In the prophecy of Isaiah of the fall of Babylon, the millstone and grinding refer to the work of slaves, into which Babylon is cast from her present luxury (Is. 47:2). It is also related to threshing out the grain (Is. 27:12). The millstone occurs elsewhere in the New Testament when Jesus addresses the punishment fitting anyone who would “cause one of these little ones who belong to me to sin” (Matthew 18:5; 18:1-14; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2). The meaning of the gospel passage seems generally to refer to all leading astray the children that belong especially to Jesus. Yet one is reminded of the molestation especially of male children by members of the priests, and the possible destruction of the church by lawsuits and the loss of authority that results from this. This circumstance was encountered by Rousseau, as related in his Confessions. It may have effected his separation from that education, and so affected the history of the West at a crucial branching of modern thought. While these things are a risk in all the helping professions, the priesthood seems to have attracted pedophiles and homosexuals because it offered the cover of celibacy to these deviant home lives, or granted a public persona and a great deal of trust and camaraderie to those who were not interested in raising a family. The use of the cloak to cover shames will occur so long as man is fallen, though it will be worse or better according to what we do. A revolution in honesty about these things, in our age, has allowed us to address a problem that is also much worse in our age. Something entered hiding beneath the “sexual revolution.”
One further note on this issue: It is an anomaly of Nazi and Klan “ethics” to hold an especial hatred for child molesters, attacking them in prison, though the same indignation is not exercised by them for even the murderers of children of some race or another. The white Anglo Protestant tendency of Twentieth Century American racism had always included Catholics among the persecuted groups, so that the elemental tendencies already appear. What is odd about this extreme vengeance is that on other issues, ethical purity has been replaced by racial purity. That is, Nazis do not especially care about ethical purity.
The things that will be in her no more, such as musicians and craftsmen, millstone and lamps, fit the Church, although the milling activity in a more literal sense reminds more of a commercial nation, as the U. S., while the voice of bride and bridegroom reminds more of the church. The removal of their lamp is what is threatened for the church of Ephesus, if they do not recover the love they had at first (2:5). This possibility is incomprehensible from the self-understanding of the Roman church: that a church might have its lamp removed, and that the church ought repent. Similarly, the final statement fits each in part, though neither completely:
For thy merchants were the great men of the earth, and all nations were deceived by thy sorcery. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who had been slain on earth.”
This last line reminds again of the earthly city in general, Rome or worldly political theory that guides the great men of the earth. Even here, one wonders if this city is universal enough to include literally everyone ever killed on earth. The first murder came before the first city. Is it the darkness of mankind? It is the merchants, though, of Rome or the ideals of the Roman Empire, who were the great men of the earth. Scofield notes the connection to Matthew 23:35, “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth,” from Abel to Zechariah. A logical difficulty in scripture occurs unless the Babylon of the Revelation, in its connection with Rome, is broad enough also to include the guilt of Jerusalem for slaying the prophets prior to Jesus, and indeed the guilt of mankind in the crucifixion. Both Jerusalem and Rome participate in Babylon. The connection between post Christian Rome and pre-Christian Jerusalem is the orthodoxy of the church and temple, claimed as the reason for killing the saints and prophets. It is stunning to think that John, having seen the persecution inflicted by the Roman Empire, could not imagine that Rome would become the church, and the church continue the tradition of the making of martyrs. The third level of development, when fascism revives the Roman image, could further not have been foreseen or imagined. And yet, when one attacks the other, the image is shown fulfilled.
This line may be another great clue wherein the text is self-interpreting. Can the merchants in the whole chapter, then, be read as the great men of the world, the Caesars and Napoleons whose ambition leads them to seek power and conquest? The corruption of the Church, in the age of the making of the martyrs by the Church, is attributed to the priesthood having become the principle way for men of ambition to rise in power and fortunes in the world. Babylon would then be, as Augustine suggests, the earthly city of man in contrast with the kingdom of God. As such, we might see how it could be guilty of all those slain on the earth. Cain, the first murderer, is also the first to found cities (Genesis 4:17). It is not the Church of Rome that is Babylon, but the earthly city, that same thing in all of the seven empires, in which the Church of Rome, and all the churches participate following, in the assumption of divine knowledge. The earthly woman that is contrasted with the heavenly woman, who is guilty of the blood of the martyrs and is to be attacked by the beast, is not a kingdom of the antichrist, but is the worldly city in general, in which worldly religion participates. When the beast attacks the people of the Biblical God, he attacks both the false and true, as much as these appear. This may even be the harvest and the winepress.
II.vi: Chapter 19
The vision of Chapter 19 seems also to be an elaboration of the winepress of the Lord, announced by the last three angels of Chapter 14. Its three parts are 1) the Hallelujah chorus, 2) the Revelation of the rider on the white horse, and 3) the disposal of the Beast and False Prophet The action follows immediately upon the destruction of Babylon in Chapters 17 and 18. The defeat and destruction of the Beast and false prophet is obviously distinguished from the fall and destruction of Babylon
The Hallelujah Chorus
[19:1-10] Next John hears what seemed to be the single loud voice of a great multitude, who praise God and the justice of the judgment of the Harlot. These announce, for the first time in the text, the marriage of the bride and the Lamb. This is another indication that these two women are to be understood in contrast to one another. The Bride is first mentioned just after the account of the judgment of the Harlot.
The loud voice says “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” The servants of God appear praising the Lord and agreeing that his judgments are just: “He has judged the great Harlot, who corrupted the world with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” The statement is past tense, clearly distinguished from the defeat of the Beast about to be shown. “Hallelujah,” they say again, “The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” Alleluia, from Hebrew, is said to mean “Praise ye Ja,” Or, “Let us praise God.” The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures worshiped God, who is seated on the throne, saying “Amen, Hallelujah.” “Amen,” spoken to voice agreement in both Greek and Hebrew, simply means “Truly.” Then a voice comes from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him great and small.” This raises the question of where the 144,000 are in the scene. Then John again hears what is like the voice of a great multitude and the sound of many waters, with the addition that it is also like many thunders (perhaps as many as seven). This voice says:
Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the almighty reigns
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
For the marriage of the Lamb has come,
And his bride has made herself ready;
It was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure. For the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
An earlier voice, or voices, said that God had begun to reign (11:17). The restoration of providence may be synonymous with the marriage of the Bride and Lamb. The Bride seems to be something like the true church or redeemed mankind, clothed with the righteous deeds of the saints, though it is important too that this is not written. Here an angel tells John “write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Those invited to the marriage supper may be different from the bride herself, but that these are blessed might suggest that these are the bride herself. If they are different from the Bride, a further extension of blessedness, including not only the Church but also her guests, may be indicated. John and the angel are called fellow servants. Then the angel said to John “These are the words of God.” And it is here that John fell down at the feet of the angel to worship him. The angel tells him:
You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
This scene is interesting in a number of ways. The angels are fellow servants with the men who serve god, indicating that the angels are not above us, and suggesting that the men are angels, or, as in the image, in heaven men become angels or like angels (21:17). We are revealed to be like angels in becoming what we are. Of the children, it is said that “in heaven their angels always behold the face of my father” (Matt. 18:10). One wonders if one’s own immortal soul were not his guardian angel. So the multitudes of angels into the sixth seal around the throne may somehow be related to the multitudes seen with palm branches (5:11; 7:9), though there are myriads of each. A second interesting point is that we are not to bow down before our fellow servant. A third is that the holy John himself has erred on this point, and been corrected, by an angel.
[19: 11-16] So, Babylon has fallen and is punished before Armageddon, and the scene that follows upon the invitation to the wedding is the feast of the birds and wild animals on the flesh of the armies of the beast.
Now for the third time, John sees the heaven opened. He has seen a door (4:1) and the vision of the throne and of the temple open in heaven (11:19). Here when he sees the heavens opened, he sees the son of man, Jesus the Messiah, and his army of saints prepared to come for the battle with the sea and land beasts, the Beast and the False Prophet. Something like this was foreseen amid the six angels of Chapter 14 (14:14-16), when one like a son of man came on the clouds. John sees, and says behold, a white horse! Without naming him, he describes him:
He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like the flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is the Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword, with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the almighty. On his throne and on his thigh he has a name inscribed: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Jude writes that Enoch prophesied: “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly…” Enoch wrote in the seventh generation from Adam. Zechariah too writes: “Then the Lord your God will come, and all the holy ones with him.” The many diadems on his head remind one of the ten diadems on the ten horns of the beast. This is a rare suggestion that there are certain nations with him for the battle. But, as the beast has ten horns with diadems, and these are sovereignties, so the word of God has sovereignties. He has a hidden name that only he knows, although his open name, in addition to faithful and true, is “The Word of God.” The name written on the white stone, received by him who conquers, is like this name in that it is known only to he who has it. As he appeared from the start, “his eyes were like a flame of fire” (1:14). The open name “word of God” is also in the opening of John’s gospel, though it would be more correct to say that John uses the “characteristic phrasing and diction” from the vision, rather than the reverse. The armies of heaven are those who washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, or who have been given white robes, and it seems significant that linen was just mentioned in relation to deeds or righteous actions. The white horses may symbolize the purity of the body and spiritedness of these, and they appear like the knights of the temple, as though the medieval knights dressed intentionally for the part. It is not said that those who come with him fight, but he conquers by the word. The sword that issues from his mouth was said to be two edged (1:16), and is elsewhere said to be the word (Ephesians 6:17), as the word both kills and brings to life. Yet it would be surprising if the literal meaning of the winepress were bloodless. That he will touch the Mount of Olives and tread the winepress is the only indication that his feet touch the earth. The rod or crook of iron presents a similar question, since, if it means what it says, it seems to suggest despotic and very forceful rule. The rod of iron may be the major obstacle to the attempt to argue that the messianic kingdom is not a world empire. The final name of the description, inscribed on his robe and on his thigh, indicates that he is the king of earthly kings and the Lord of other Lords. The rod of iron may be used in the destruction of diabolical evil, as the Nazis were once already defeated and pursued afterward, as the court sat in judgment. The saints are said to participate too in this rule with the iron rod.
Is this the appearance prophesied by Zechariah, when his feet split the Mount of Olives and the nations recognize him and mourn? The prospect of imminent defeat in the refutation of the beast might lead his armies to fall apart on their own, accomplishing the victory by his Revelation. This would be especially so if the beast taught, and even half believed, that He did not exist. The appearance of the one on the white horse contradicts that the beast is God, and this may cause his collapse, as though his power depended on this illusion. This is the smashing of the statue on its feet of clay by the stone cut by no human hand, which is the Word of God (Daniel 2:34-35; Scofield, p.1348).
At the latter end of their rule, when the transgressors have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance, one who understands riddles, shall arise. His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people of the saints. By his cunning, he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall magnify himself. Without warning he shall destroy many; and he shall even rise up against the prince of princes; but, by no human hand, he shall be broken (8:23-25).
[19:17-21] After the Revelation of the one on the white horse, an angel is seen standing in the sun. He calls all the birds that fly in mid-heaven to come to eat the flesh of all men, described as seven kinds: kings, captains, mighty men, horses, their riders, slaves and freemen. The list is very similar to that at the sixth trumpet catastrophe, where it is kings, generals, rich and strong, slave and free (6:15). Horses are added, and there are other slight changes from the people that hid after the earthquake. Has there been a devolution following the earthquake, so that the battle is literally fought with horses? The last word in the prophecy of Isaiah (66:24) is this feast:
And they shall go forth and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.
John saw the beasts and the kings of the earth gathered with their armies to make war on the “Him who sits upon the white horse,” and against his army. The battle is uneventful, or not described in detail. The beast and the false prophet are not killed but captured, and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire. The rest, the nations and armies that accompanied the beast and the false prophet, are slain with the sword that issues from his mouth, and “all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” This seems to be the same as the event of the winepress described in Chapter 14, where blood covers the ground to the height of the bridle of a horse (14:20).
Isaiah writes: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked” (11:4). An example of slaying with the word is in Hosea 6:5-6:
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets
I have slain them with the word of my mouth
And my judgment goes forth as the light.
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice;
The knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Elsewhere, at 2 Thessalonians 2:8:
And the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth
And destroy him with the brightness of his coming (parousias).
When Jesus returns at the battle of Armageddon he slays with the word, rather than with weapons. It is possible that the nations gathered against Jerusalem and the Antichrist become confused and destroy one another. While the word is not a literal but a symbolic weapon, the armies of the beast are literally slain. This may be related to how the Voice of God can be visible, or by His Word He creates. The divine does not need weapons.
The history leading up to the Revelation is described by the prophets in some detail. In an oracle against Babylon, Isaiah wrote:
…hark, and uproar of kingdoms
Of nations gathering together!
The Lord of hosts is mustering a host for battle
They come from a distant land,
From the end of the heavens,
The Lord and the weapons of his indignation,
To destroy the whole earth.
Then the stars, sun and moon are darkened, the earth shaken from its place, and men made more rare than fine gold (Isaiah 13: 10-13). Zechariah (14:2-5) writes:
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken…half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day, his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. And the valley of my mountains shall be stopped up, for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord your God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
It is “the Lord” whose feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, and here all Israel will see that the Messiah is the Lord. Zechariah (14:12-14) describes the plague that strikes the armies that come against Jerusalem:
Their flesh shall rot off while they are still on their feet, their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths And on that day a great panic from the Lord shall fall on them, so that each will lay hold on the hand of his fellow, and the hand of one will be raised against the hand of the other; even Judah will fight against Jerusalem…
And Joel (3:2) writes:
…I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into Judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it.
Jehoshaphat is traditionally identified with the Kidron valley, just east of Jerusalem. Armageddon is toward the coast, northwest of Jerusalem, about fifty miles. The sun and moon are darkened around this time, and there may here be the earthquake and plague that occurs with the seventh bowl. Already the followers of the beast have been smitten with sores in the first bowl, and scorched by the sun in the fifth bowl.
The mention of the beast when it is thrown alive into the lake of fire (19:20) is the first definite statement implying that the beast is alive following the mortal wound that appeared to be healed, or following Chapter 13. Prior to this mention, it was possible that the False Prophet was exercising the rule of the beast that appeared slain.
What has apparently occurred since the time that he appeared is that he has taken over ten nations, and rules a revived Roman Empire. When he becomes tyrant over the empire, he may be both the seventh head and an eighth horn. At the middle of the seven year period, there is a great persecution of Christians, and all the nations gather at Jerusalem for battle. Van Impe and others assert with assurance that he will enter with a seven year peace plan for the Middle East, and this peace will be broken in the middle.
And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week, he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.
It is especially the conclusion of Daniel that is thought to describe things regarding the reign of the beast. From the profanation of the temple and the abomination that makes desolate, it is said that he will magnify himself above every God. It is also said that he will honor not the god of his fathers but the god of fortresses, or “forces,” and will “deal with the strongest fortresses by the help of a foreign god” (11:39). This last part would fit if he were to use Islam against Christendom. He will give rule to those who honor him, and “shall divide the land for a price” (11:39). Van Impe reads the division of the land here in relation to the contemporary question of the division of Israel to include a place for the Palestinians who are able to live with Israel. Van Impe considers the last five lines of Daniel 11 (40-45) to describe the end of the beast:
“At the time of the end the king of the south shall attack him, but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind…He shall come into the glorious land. And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall follow in his train. But tidings from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go forth with great fury to exterminate and utterly destroy many. And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.
The statements regarding Antiochus in Chapter 11 of Daniel increasingly become statements about the Beast, just as occurred in Chapter 7. It is interesting to read this backwards, looking for the point at which this convergence might begin. The abomination of desolation is one such point, where the account of Antiochus merges into the prophecy of the Beast (11:31). He rules Egypt by conquest, and has as allies Ethiopia and Libya. Cush and Put may well indicate much of Africa. He does not attack, and so may be allied with, Edom and Moab, and one wonders if these are related to the Palestinians.
It may be safe to say that if the Ethiopians are with Gog coming against Israel, they revolt from Gog here, unless of course the beast is Gog of Magog. This is because the Ethiopians are with him when the king of the North rushes against him. Many will fall in what is a sudden or surprise persecution: “Without warning he shall destroy many”…(8:25) and the horn “made war with the saints, and prevailed over them.” (7:21). Again, what is foretold appears to be a mass martyrdom of the people of the biblical God, at the hands of the beast, when the kings of the East move their armies toward the Euphrates, and the king of the North also comes at him like a whirlwind. There will, though, be survivors, and some will escape.
He apparently has a sort of world government, but in the three frogs (16:13-14) we see from comparison to our world that there may be three ideologies that lead the armies to gather at Armageddon. It seems that what is written in Daniel (7:23), that the fourth kingdom would “devour the whole earth” might be ancient Rome, since out of this kingdom ten kings arise, before three are put down by the little horn. It is contradicted when all the nations come against him, though it may be that these revolt after the mark of the beast is instituted. Universal rule is suggested only by the statement in the thirteenth chapter of the Revelation, that authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and that all tribes, peoples, tongues and nations, would worship him, everyone who dwells on the earth, except those whose names were written in the book of life of the Lamb (13:7-8). This may be similar to saying that those with life in them will see through the things that captivate and deceive the lot of humanity concerned with money, power and worldly advancement. Its authority might be trans-political, something like the way modern science holds authority over nearly every people amid the political authorities, which are something different.
The gathering of all the nations (Zech 14:2) surrounds the question of Jerusalem:
Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about; it will be against Judah also in the siege against Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will come together against it.
Here we see again the Jews or tribe of Judah is against Jerusalem, and the possibility is increased that the beast controls Jerusalem. The eye of prophecy is especially sensitive to Jerusalem and to the martyrs, as though the window to the seeing of these things were through what occurs to Jerusalem and to the martyrs. The wonder is not that more is not seen, but rather that anything can be seen at all of these things.
There is surprisingly little detail presented in the Revelation regarding the battle in which the Beast and False Prophet are defeated. The prophecy of Ezekiel regarding Gog and Magog is read as referring to a pre-millennial battle, and as we will see, this looks very much like the battle concluded by the second coming in Chapter 19 of the Revelation. But Gog and Magog are mentioned in the Revelation only regarding the post-millennial battle, and this is described very briefly (20:7-10): Satan loosed deceives Gog and Magog, the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, and they again surround Jerusalem. Here, Jerusalem is, at the close of the millennium, “the camp of the saints and the beloved city.” By contrast, in the pre-millennial battle, there may have been the abomination in the temple. In the circumstances of Armageddon, it is a question central to our reading of the scene, whether, when the whole world comes against Jerusalem, the Beast is ruling there, rather than the saints. In the post-millennium battle, they are consumed by fire from heaven, and the devil is thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet were, where they apparently had been since the start of the millennium. So, while the Beast and false prophet are defeated here in Chapter 19, the Dragon is apparently not yet finally defeated. It is very to difficult to see what this might mean.
The battle of Gog and Magog after the millennium is distinct from the first battle, as it seems, and if we think the millennium will occur, we can consider how we are to distinguish the pre-millennial and post-millennial battles in the prophecy of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel (38-39). Fire from heaven is common to both, as Ezekiel writes “I will send fire on Gog and Magog, and on those who dwell securely in the coastlands, and they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 39:6). What is common to Chapter 19 and the prophecy in Ezekiel is the feast of birds and wild animals that is described as a sacrificial feast (Ezekiel 39:17; Revelation 19:17). It is difficult in prophecy to distinguish the things that pertain 1) to the incarnation, resurrection and fall of Jerusalem, 2) the pre-millennial wars surrounding the battle of Armageddon, and 3) the post-millennial truly final battle. The question draws us into a three dimensional picture of these great changes, and humbles us, we who study these things. As Jewish scholars have had difficulty separating the prophecies regarding the incarnation and the second coming of the Messiah, so Christian scholars will have difficulty separating out the pre-millennium and post millennium occurrences. The church, or, the people of Yahweh, will be different in the millennium, with the olive branch of the Jews and the respect of Jewish thought restored, and Gentiles included, from every sort of people.
After describing the restoration of Israel, Ezekiel is told to set his face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him.” The identification of Magog with Russia is not obvious, and needs to be demonstrated, because it is not the nation most obvious to the prophets themselves, to whom the utter parts of the north might mean the Assyrian, and the kings of the East, the Persian or even Babylonian. The Oxford note to Ezekiel 38 and 39 states: Since the foe from the north in Jeremiah (25.9) and Ezekiel (26.7) was Babylon, it is probable that the foe here described is a grandiose surrogate for Babylon…” The identification suggested (p. 1049):
…Gog, king of Magog, both unidentified, though the general location is to the north. Meshech, Assyrian “Mushku,” south of Gomer…Tubal, Assyrian “Tabal,” south of Beth-togarmah…Cush, Ethiopia, Put [with Cush, Ethiopia], Gomer, Assyrian, “Gimirrai,” Cimmerians in central Asia Minor (Gen. 10.2-3). Beth-togarmah, Assyrian “Tilgarimmu, east of the southernmost Halys River…
Tubal and Meshek are trading partners with Tyre (Ezekiel 27:13). They are elsewhere mentioned in the table of nations of Genesis 10. Magog, Tubal and Mechek are three of seven sons of Japheth, the son of Noah. The others are Gomer, Madai, Javan and Tiras, north of Israel and Mesopotamia. On the map printed in some Bibles, Javan is Greece; Gomer the area of the Ukraine, Tubal is placed south of the black sea, in Turkey, and, Tiras is the area of Yugoslavia, Hungary and Romania. They may easily have spread north from Ararat and around from there, to become the nations at the four corners of the world. The “Caucasian” Europeans are likely to be descendants of Japheth, rather than Shemites or Hammites, who would be the Semetic and African peoples respectively. Asian, Pacific island and American peoples are either unknown to Genesis, or derived from these. Scofield, (1909, p. 833) notes:
… That the “primary reference” in Ezekiel 38:2-3 “is…to the northern (European) powers, headed up by Russia, all agree. The whole passage should be read in connection with Zech. 12.1-4; 14.1-9; Mt. 24.14-30; Rev. 14.14-20; 19. 17-21. “Gog” is the prince of Magog, his land. The reference to Meshech and Tubal (Moscow and Tobolsk) is a clear mark of identification. Russia and the northern powers have been the latest persecutors of dispersed Israel…
Van Impe often states that a longitude line drawn north from Israel goes through the center of Moscow. He, Gog, is told that the Lord will “put hooks into your jaws,” as though he were the sea beast, and “I will bring you forth…Persia, Cush and Put are with them…Gomer (Cimmeria) and all his hordes; Bethtogarmah (Turkey?) from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes, many peoples are with you” (38:4-6). “In the latter years, you will go against the land that is restored from war, the land where people were gathered from many nations and now dwell securely” (38:8). Then, as Isaiah wrote: “In that day, the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.”
The destruction of Gog of Magog looks much like a description of the battle that is Armageddon in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation. This has been done so that He might vindicate his holiness before their eyes, and has been long prophesied (38:16-17). There will indeed be a great earthquake in Israel, and worldwide, and “all the men that are upon the face of the earth shall quake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down…every man’s sword shall be against his brother…torrential rains and hailstones, fire and brimstone…I will give you to the birds of prey of every sort and to the wild beasts to be devoured” (38:20-39:8). For seven years, the people of Israel make fires of the weapons, which we do not believe are literally shields and bucklers and such. For seven years they will be burying the corpses in a cemetery of Gog. Ezekiel is told to summon the birds for a sacrificial feast (39:17), the same as that in Revelation 19. “You shall eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth.” There follows in Ezekiel the measuring of the temple.
It is obvious that the world is not destroyed here, in one sense, since there is clean up work occurring for seven years. This seven years may extend into the start of the millennium.
Citing the Midrash Tehillim, Jack Van Impe and Hal Lindsey distinguish three phases of the battle. “There will be three different attacks against Jerusalem at the time of the end.” (Van Impe, 1998, p. 206). Van Impe considers the attack of Gog to be the first of these three waves. The first begins when Russia attacks Israel, and is “bombed back to Siberia.” Here Van Impe cites Joel (2:20, Ibid, p. 207). The second is indicated by Daniel (11:44), when the beast must turn back from a campaign in Egypt because of news that the armies of the east and what is left of Russia, the 200 million man army, is approaching. Van Impe then has him killed by Russia, and resurrected to rule for 3½ years in Jerusalem (Ibid, p. 207-208). A third phase is identified as the battle of Christ and the Antichrist that ends in Armageddon (Ibid, p. 209).
Van Impe’s reading is interesting for its detail, as well as for the explanation of how Daniel and the Revelation fit together. If the death of the beast at Daniel 11:45 is the death from which the mortal wound on one of the heads of the beast seems healed, and the second half of the Tribulation period were then to begin, with the Abomination, things would fall into place. It would make sense how the rule of the beast becomes worldwide and yet Russia and the Kings of the East come against Jerusalem, and why it is said after the end of Chapter 11 “At that time, there will be a time of trouble, such as there has never been since there was a nation (12:1). One would think that the time of the greatest trouble would have passed. But from the time the continual burnt offering is taken away to the abomination would be 1290, that is, thirty days into the second half of the tribulation, and those who wait and come to 1,335 days, 75 days into the second half, are called blessed. This, though, may conflict with the reading that none of the blessed will see the second half of the tribulation.
That “all the world” should come against Israel would make more sense if the Antichrist were to rule from Jerusalem, though we now see one third or half the world as though it were being gathered, as by the three frogs of 16:13, to do just this: to attack Israel. It has become imaginable that Europe would again come against Israel, if there were an attempt to impose a settlement of the wars with the Arab world, or, especially, if the Nazis were to reemerge. The resilience of the Nazis, or of fascism, as in the presence of various groups in the U.S from prison gangs to the Klan and Order and Aryan Nations, make this appear to be a possibility. We, too, hold that Europe has not overcome the spiritual tensions that led to the emergence of the Nazis in Germany. Europe is now shockingly atheistic, as the result of entertaining modernity, the torch of the Reformation, and philosophy. Greece has a fascist group called “Golden Dawn.” There is a dark undercurrent, evident in the persistence of archaic anti-Semitism as well as in the worst strains of modern art and music to emerge from there. Germany and England host a neo-Nazi punk movement, while Norway hosts a strain of Satanic heavy metal to make the American seem marginal and tame. Carl Jung teaches that the artists show what is emerging in the collective mind of a people, and Plato, that changes in music foreshadow changes in the regime (Republic, IV, 424c). Yet there is plenty of fine music too, both human and divine.
The nations are gathered from the four corners of the world, which would seem to include the United States, assuming that we are not in the third of the world that may have been destroyed. Scofield states: “Prophecy does not concern itself with history as such, but only with history as it affects Israel and the Holy Land” (1909, p. 918). For this reason, it is not clear what the United States might be doing in such a battle. Attempts to describe the role of America in prophecy seem to me a hoax. The United States, and indeed the allied nations, would defend Israel against such an attack, and so we might be included in the nations that are at the four corners of the world, gathering for such a battle. We might also join the other nations to come against the Antichrist. One can see all the nations very rationally moving toward the great gathering, and we could find ourselves there as soldiers, even as the just entered into the Second World War. And here we should recall the statement that if anyone slay or takes captive, he will be slain or taken captive (Revelation 13:10, citing Jeremiah 15:2). Is this a teaching of end times pacifism? That the United States come against Israel is not yet imaginable, and the hope is that we will continue to share the blessing of the nations that help, and avoid the curse of those who come against Israel (Numbers 24:9; Genesis 12:3; Deuteronomy 32:8-10). In this way, the beginning of these wars could only occur if the United States were no longer a power, as though some catastrophe, an earthquake, power outage or surprise attack had made us ineffective. And if this were to occur, one could see the elements remaining in the worldwide balance of power all working toward this event and this conclusion. Europe tends by itself toward fascism. The North East and East are Communist, and the Islamic world, oblivious to their inner conflict with atheistic communism, already intends the destruction of Israel. If we are still here, we as a nation would be much as we were in World War II, and this may be the third war of this series. Russia will not see this prophecy, and walk into its result, nor will the Arab world see the prophecy against he who harms Ariel, the “apple” of his “eye” (Zechariah 2:8; Deuteronomy 32:10). It would be wonderful if the Islamic world would see this and simply become a good neighbor. But Islam does not have access to the prophecies, or these are ignored. The Russians similarly do not seem to be able to see these prophecies, or, one would think, they might just not attack Israel, and avoid their own destruction. But this would be as likely an occurrence as Hitler seeing his own prophesied destruction and avoiding it: the ability to see these things is opposite the nations and characters that fall into them and bring them about.
It is possible that the end of the beast is described in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah. In the context of a taunting of Babylon, it is written (14:12-19):
How you are fallen from heaven, O Day star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the pit.
Those who see you will stare at you,
And ponder over you;
“Is this the man that made the earth tremble? Who shook kingdoms,
Who made the world like a desert
And overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?”
All the kings of the nations lie in glory, each in his own tomb;
But you are cast away from your sepulcher,
Like a loathed and untimely birth
Clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword
Who go down to the stones of the pit, like a dead body trodden under foot
You will not be joined with them in burial,
Because you have destroyed your land,
You have slain your people.
The conclusion of the prophecy against Tyre in Ezekiel also reminds of the death of one who said “I am God” (Ez. 28: 9-10):
Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who slay you,
Though you are but a man and no god,
In the hands of those who wound you?
You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
By the hand of foreigners;
For I have spoken, says the Lord God.
This prophecy is against Babylon and Assyria, but these prophecies open out into the foreseeing of the day of the Lord and the coming of the Kingdom. As Ezekiel writes (14:26):
This is the purpose that is purposed
Concerning the whole earth;
And this is the hand that is stretched out
Over all the nations:
One of the clearer summaries of what is here occurring is found in the Didache. The increase in iniquity will lead men to hate, persecute and betray one another, demonstrating the connection between lust and cruelty. “And then the world deceiver will appear in the guise of God’s son. He will work “signs and wonders” and the earth will fall into his hands and he will commit outrages such as have never occurred before. Then mankind will come to the fiery trial, “and many will fall away” and perish, “but those who persevere” in their faith “will be saved” by “the curse himself,” which may mean the one hung on the cross. Then there will appear the “signs” of the truth; first the sign of hands stretched out in heaven, then the sign of “a trumpets blast,” and thirdly the resurrection of the dead, though not of all the dead, but as it has been said: “The Lord will come, and all his saints with him. Then the world will see the Lord coming on the clouds of the sky.”
In the twelfth chapter of Daniel, the prophet is told that at that time, Michael, “the great prince who has charge of your people” will arise. It is the time of the worst trouble since there was a nation, but that his people will be delivered, “Every one whose name shall be found written in the book” (12:1). Apparently ignoring the millennium, he says that many in the earth will then rise, “some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (12:2). This may be the best scriptural support for reading the millennium as instantaneous. In a very hopeful note, Daniel is then told (12:3):
And those that are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever…
And when he asks “How long?” and “What will be the issue of these things,” he is told (12:9-10):
Go thy way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand…
One practical suggestion is to consider how we would respond to an attack on Rome, and the emergence of genocidal enemies of Israel and the free nations, which tend to be Christian. It is good policy, when two possibilities appear, to prepare for both.
Another is of course to consider how we will uphold the human character should civilization break down, and protect ourselves and others from the animal that will arise in man. In political theory, we consider the self interest that, as Hobbes and Locke imply, lies beneath all civilization. What will most men do, especially in our age, if the power goes out and there is no food? The earthbound vision of Hobbes is impressed by how thin the civilized character is revealed to be when most are put to the test, as by siege or civil war. Yet it is possible to remind us of the “better angels of our nature.” And here one can see the benefit of the liberal arts and the cultivation of the human character. After World War II, Jung wrote regarding the effect of the mob on individual restraint. We, however, can resolve to remain human, band together with others who make a similar decision, and guide our bands to uphold humanity when disasters occur. We can foresee these challenges, and, like the Pilgrims with the benefit of hindsight, take steps to prevent the worst of these things.
Another is regarding the mark of the beast, and how although it may seem sufficient to lie in giving allegiance, one suspects it may be worse for those who do take the mark, even in the world. They might escape torture to be altered and enlisted in the service of torture, only to suffer the sores and other things as bad as torture. We conclude that even children ought to be taught not to take the mark.
It is often said that prophecy is useless, since we cannot know what is to occur, but only see in hindsight that an occurrence was prophesied. One part of the answer to this is that when a prophesied thing occurs, we gain comfort, understanding and stability by knowing that it was foreseen, and is part of a larger picture, a bit more of the meaning of which might then appear. Imagine attempting to understand the horrors of the modern tyrannies with neither political theory nor the apocalyptic prophecies. Even if there were no connection between these two, holocaust and apocalypse, to know that such things can occur, that it is known that these things can occur, and are even prophesied to occur, is a great benefit. As is written in Daniel, “he will go forth to persecute many” and “wear out the saints of the Most High (7:25). Many Jews lost faith on the question of how the Almighty God could allow such a thing. Must he allow that the birth of his Messiah result in the slaughter of the innocents, as recorded in Matthew, was done by Herod (Mt. 2:16-18)? All that can be said is that in asking the question, we assume something about the divine that is not so, namely the he is such that it makes sense to ask why he allows them. What appears is that human suffering is more significant to us than to eternity, and the world yields a harvest from amid the thorns of accident and malice. It is apparently the work of man, through government, to protect the rights of the people from the self interest and malice of the people. This seems even to be the great work of civilization, common to every political order: crime fighting and the prevention of tyranny, as when the strong oppress the weaker. It is difficult to do this if the government is also engaged in things that are not its business, ruling the people as though it were God, or worse, using its authority and office to fleece the people or practice malice, harming the rights that government is intended to defend. And it is difficult to see these things even with the comfort of prophecy. There is a sense in which the Lord had not yet begun to reign, if it also must be said that it is because we rejected him or do not invite him to reign. Let us return the earth to the Lord!
Another part of the answer to the value of prophecy is the comprehensive picture of foreign policy accessible through the texts. It is at first useful to read so that one is not blown about by the winds of things said to relate to these matters. Yet the Bible does provide a background for understanding, for example why so much of world politics swirls around Jerusalem. The four thousand year history of these nations and their interrelations is accessible through the history and prophecy of the Bible. It is also significant that the statue is destroyed by no human hand, and earthly armies are not called to battle the beast, but rather, to refuse the mark and face martyrdom. The ridiculousness of those who arm themselves as though to fight for Jesus out of the Biblical prophesies is apparent. Much of this will happen as by necessity. Russia is not going to see the prophecy and simply avoid attacking Israel, or the people through education just not fall for tyranny and the beast. Nations will act as nations do, but it is a marvel that their development was foreseen. The sense in which we cannot influence these affairs indicates what limited things might be done by human action and foresight. Nations can also do what it is right for nations to do.
II.vii: Chapter 20: The Millennium
It is the twentieth chapter that presents difficulty of the millennium. Again, this is the only place in scripture where a thousand year reign of the saints with Christ is foretold. The difficulty would not appear if the thousand years were simultaneous with the events of the judgment of Babylon and the defeat of the earth and sea beast described in Chapter 19. But the impression is that the events are successive, and that when the devil is finally bound and thrown into the pit, the two beasts are already in the lake of fire, having been defeated in the winepress of Armageddon. And it is clear in what follows that the saints have already been beheaded. While James was beheaded by Herod Agrippa, these saints are those beheaded during the reign of the beasts, for refusing to take the mark. Here we are told for the first time that those killed in Chapter 13 were beheaded. We are eerily reminded of the method of execution favored by Islamic warriors against the United States and the West, and should they gain the power to do these things, they may have the intention to do them.
[20:1-3] John sees an angel descend holding a key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. This scene is similar to the fifth trumpet, when a star fell from heaven and was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit (9:1-2). The Beast that arises from the sea is also said to arise from the abyss. Here, the angel seizes the dragon, “who is the devil and Satan,” and “bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be loosed a while.” The loosing means he is able to deceive the nations.
[20:4-6] There follows a separate vision of those to whom judgment was committed, something like the 24 elders with 24 thrones (4:4). Jesus said to the Apostles that they would sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). With these, John sees the souls of those beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast nor received the mark on their foreheads or their hands. There follows the description of the millennial reign:
“They came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection! Over such, the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years.”
The reading of these two resurrections is crucial, and very difficult. The Baptist teaching assumes that all the saved are raised here to rule during the millennium, while the “rest of the dead” judged in the Great White Throne Judgment (Lindsey, 1998, p. 279) are those who are to suffer damnation. The “rest of the dead” would seem not to include the Twelve Apostles, if these are among the twenty-four elders, so that at least these are also alive with the beheaded during the millennium. It seems that those raptured, as we read, at the seventh trumpet, are not among the dead at all. Paul writes: then the dead in Christ shall rise, then we who are alive…” The place of those raptured in the Revelation of John may even be when He comes, at 19:19, “his army,” on the clouds with his saints (Zechariah 14:5). Do these too “share in the first resurrection,” if they are raptured and not martyred? The text does not address the raptured, but if the resurrection and rapture have occurred when those beheaded are raised, it would seem that they and the dead in Christ, raised just before them, are, according to the Baptist reading, not judged in the Last Judgment.
That some are saved during the millennium and judged at the last judgment would mean that the latter cannot be identified with the resurrection of judgment in contrast with the judgment of life. Those saved might somehow not die, but otherwise, these would be among “the rest of the dead,” though they would not yet have lived and died when those beheaded are raised. These may have been somehow in the earth and sky that fled away before the sea and Death and Hades gave up the dead in them (20:13).
The reading of this chapter has given rise to three distinct opinions in the division of modern theology called eschatology. In a fine summary by John E. Walvoord, “Some take it we are in the millennium now (a-millennialism); others expect it to come to pass in the future before Christ comes (post-millennialism); still others expect that Christ must return first before this kingdom can come (pre-millennialism). Aune associates these readings with different sects: Following Augustine, Catholic, Reformed and Presbyterian Churches hold a-millennialism, Lutherans hold a postmillennialism, while the pre-millennialists are the Dispensationalists (p. 1089) and the early Chiliasts. And so, if these things were obvious or easy to settle on from the text, these three different readings would not exist. The first two hold that the thousand years is symbolic, and not literally a thousand year period of time, while the Dispensationalists and the early chiliasts look for a literal millennium.
St. Augustine finds the key to this passage in the understanding that the first resurrection is spiritual, and not bodily, while the second is bodily, and not the resurrection of the spirit (City of God, XX. 6-9). Victorinus also writes: There are two resurrections. But the first resurrection is now of the souls that are by the faith, which does not permit men to pass over to the second death.” If this, the rebirth in life that baptism is, or is an image of, this “first resurrection,” then it could be understood that all Christians participate in the millennial kingdom. But this would mean that all these are those beheaded, in some symbolic sense. Augustine writes that the binding of the devil occurred with the spread of the church, following the crucifixion and resurrection. The binding of Satan occurred when the church began to spread (p. 43 above), and the first resurrection is the birth of souls out of the world. In the sixth section of his twentieth chapter, Augustine explains a line from the gospel of John, “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live…(John 5: 22-24). Augustine comments:
As yet He does not speak of the second resurrection, that is the resurrection of the body, which shall be in the end, but of the first, which now is. It is for the sake of making this distinction that He says, “The hour is coming, and now is.” Now this resurrection regards not the body, but the soul…For in this first resurrection none have a part save those who shall be eternally blessed; but in the second, of which he goes on to speak, all.
In John, Jesus goes on: “Do not marvel at this: for the hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear His voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (5:28-29). This famous argument, perhaps the most influential in the history of commentary on the Revelation, is worth citing at even more length than what follows:
…So there are two resurrections, the one the first and spiritual resurrection, which has place in this life, and preserves us from coming into the second death; the other the second, which does not occur now, but in the end of the world, and which is of the body, not of the soul, and which by the last judgment will dismiss some into the second death, others into that life which has no death.
…The evangelist John has spoken of these two resurrections in the book which is called the Apocalypse, but in such a way that some Christians do not understand the first of the two, and so construe the passage into ridiculous fancies.
City of God, XX.6-7
It seems that the ridiculous fancy to which he refers includes the belief in something like a bodily resurrection during a literal millennium, and literally not taking the mark of the beast.
But the first resurrection in Chapter 20 of the Revelation is not baptism. Rather, it is something different: the raising of the martyrs who refused the mark of the Beast.
One difficulty is that as angels can fall, it is apparently possible for some of the saints to be conquered or to fall. Baptism, then, or being saved would not prevent the second death with certainty, while the second death has no power over the martyrs beheaded and literally raised. This may be because of their literal victory in facing literal death, so that unlike the baptized as a whole, these can no longer become like fallen angels. This martyrdom would then be like a sacrament. Each of the sacraments are based on mysteries of the soul.
Augustine then cites the entire text of Revelation 20:1-6, and comments:
Those who, on the strength of this first passage, have suspected that the first resurrection is future and bodily, have been moved, among other things, specially by the number of a thousand years, as if it were a fit thing that the saints should thus enjoy a kind of Sabbath rest during that period, a holy leisure after the labors of the six thousand years since man was created, and was on account of his great sin dismissed from the blessings of paradise into the woes of this mortal life, so that thus it is written, “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Those who believe those asserting this are called Chiliasts or Millenarians, and Augustine adds “for I myself once held this opinion.” Irenaeus, for example, wrote:
For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded…For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8); and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end in the sixth thousandth year.
(Against Heresies, III, xxviii.3).
There is also the two days and the third day addressed by Hosea (6:2), cited previously as one of the rare scripture references to the millennium outside the Revelation. The thousand years is, according to Augustine, not a literal length of time at all, but indicates the completion of some development of the Church. This may be so, and still not solve the millennial difficulty. The millennial difficulty is that the saints are beheaded, come alive when Satan is bound for 1000 years, and then Satan is loosed again and comes out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth and gather them for battle, in what appears to be a separate gathering and a separate battle from the one in which the beasts from the sea and land are defeated. In this second battle, depicted as if coming after the seventh day or seventh millennium, Gog and Magog are gathered in great numbers after marching over the “broad earth” to surround the beloved city yet again. The battle is described in less than half a verse: “but fire came down from heaven and consumed them.” The devil is then thrown into the Lake of Fire “where the Beast and False Prophet were,” to be tormented forever. The last Judgment is separated from the Revelation of Chapter 19 by a thousand years of human history yet to come.
Consistent with the key points of St. Augustine, the other possibility regarding the millennial reign of the saints is that it literally is one thousand years and has occurred already, in the reign of martyrs such as John’s brother James and all the saints who did reign in the middle ages, and for some of us still do in some sense reign, as teachers and examples. Something like this is said in the Fatima vision, where the blood of the saints is sprinkled on the pilgrims making their way up the hill. The example of the martyrs may be what rules during the millennium. And with the sword of his mouth he might be said to have overcome those who would reject him, and even to have established worldwide recognition of himself as the leading figure in all of human history, with no other figure even coming close to the one or two billion followers of the Lamb. But then, as it appears, the beast and false prophet would have come already, and the battle in which they were defeated and thrown into the lake of fire would have already occurred. The mark of the beast would somehow refer to emperor worship, required in the Roman persecutions, and the name too fitted to Nero Caesar. And one would wish that the whole story of the apocalypse were only a bad dream, and that it is symbolically about purely spiritual warfare, or like the fate of Nineveh could be averted by our penance. Though it will call forth virtues unique to the end times, and allow a vast perspective, it is not a time we hope to be alive during (Amos 5:18). The Twentieth Century has shown that spiritual things have “literal” or political consequences never before imagined.
What Augustine seems to consider to be the millennium– the reign of the Church based on the rule of the martyrs of the first three centuries– is accounted for in the Revelation by the martyrs seen under the throne in the fifth trumpet. It may have been an impious error for the church to act as though she were not a widow, and to participate in the persecution that characterizes Babylon. Jesus told the Apostles, not to set up a spiritual authority over all the kings and nations, but to spread the gospel throughout the whole world, and then the end would come. It is a long way from “on this rock I will found my church” to the authority to beat ones fellow servants because the master is delayed, or to judge heresy and exercise the sentence of death. While he may have alleviated the spiritual difficulties that attend chiliasm, what did not appear to Augustine any more than to John is the possibility of the corruption of the church through the conjunction of church and empire.
The essay of Victorinus is concluded by a statement associating the millenarians with heresy: Therefore they are not to be heard who assure themselves that there is to be an earthly reign of a thousand years; who think, that is to say, with the heretic Cerinthus. For the Kingdom of Christ is now eternal in the saints, although the glory of the saints shall be manifested after the resurrection” (p. 360). The statement, though, may be a post Augustinian addition to the essay of Victorinus.
Nor does it seem that Satan is bound in Chapter 11, nor in Chapter 12, when the woman gives birth to the male child that is caught up to God, nor in Chapter 13 or anywhere until his beasts are defeated in Chapter 19. In our reading, this appeared to show in symbol the incarnation, resurrection, and the pursuit of the church while she is nourished in the wilderness. This might be consistent, though, if the binding were synonymous with the devil being cast out of heaven, so that while he is bound in heaven, he can be loose on earth, persecuting the church and deceiving the nations. It is possible that Chapter 12 and Chapter 20, the only two chapters that depict the dragon, go together as representing the same sort of time scope, different from all other chapters, more fundamental or more comprehensive, involving centuries rather than the lives of particular kings. But it is possible that both descriptions of Armageddon, the battle with the beast and the battle with Satan loosed, are simultaneous or semi-simultaneous, describing two levels of the same battle, even at a slightly staggered chronology and with an altered time scope, as has seemed characteristic of the text throughout. This altered time scope seemed to occur when the scene of the witnesses, their execution, resurrection and rapture, was immediately followed in Chapter 12 by what appears to be a symbolic representation of the incarnation, or the events of the First Century. Though the beast is defeated, it is not explicitly said that the Messiah returns to reign on earth in Chapter 19. Nor is it clear that his feet have touched the Mount of Olives (Zach. 14:4) in the image of the winepress
The impression that the events are successive may create the millennial difficulty. One possibility that preserves a smooth and coherent reading is to consider the reign of the saints as occurring not over one thousand years, but more instantaneously, between the beheading of the martyrs and the conquest of the beast, when the Messiah returns. The sea and land beasts may be the manifestation of the dragon, and so the dragon defeated in their defeat. This may be no more than to say we could have a more coherent reading if we got rid of the millennial reign of the saints, and better satisfy our expectation, if mankind did not have to wait yet another one thousand years after the defeat of the beast for the New Jerusalem to arrive.
And yet it would solve the difficulty that otherwise the Judgment Day appears to occur one thousand years after the “end times” or “end of days.” There seem to be two battles of Armageddon, and the figure of the beast, the one who brings the dragon into the world, or is the incarnation opposite the Christ, is not involved in the post-millennial, truly final battle. The New Jerusalem too would otherwise come one thousand years after the defeat of the beasts and the establishment of the millennial reign. The return of Jesus might even be another thousand years delayed, until the New Jerusalem after the millennium, and the millennial rule exercised through the saints of the first resurrection, those beheaded for refusing to take the mark of the beast.
The coming of the beasts might, then, occur at the same time as the final loosing of the Devil, and be encapsulated in it. Aune includes a piece from the work called Pistis Sohia, which purports to be a statement of Jesus:
Nevertheless, at the dissolution of the all, namely when the number of perfect souls is completed, and the mystery, for the sake of which the all came into existence, is quite completed, I will spend 1000 years, according to years of light, as king over all the emanations of light, and over the whole number of perfect souls that have received the mysteries.
One can see how this thousand years might be in heaven, and so be separate from the earth and earth time, so that relative to the earthly, the millennium is instantaneous. But that is the lesser of the two possibilities. The contradiction of the sequence of events seems still to prevent this reading. The resurrection of those killed by the beast for not taking the mark of the beast requires the binding of Satan. Satan is bound 1000 years, while those beheaded for not taking the mark, not of some emperor, but of the Beast, reign 1000 years, then after the thousand years Satan is loosed and gathers the nations for battle from the four corners of the earth, and is consumed by fire from heaven, before the resurrection and the Last Judgment. The battle of Gog and Magog, when Satan is again loose, could then not be the same as the battle in which the armies of the beast are slain by the word, though both might be described as fire coming down from heaven. In one, all the nations seem to come against the Beast in Jerusalem. In the second, Gog and Magog come against the saints in Jerusalem, just as though the saints had been there for one thousand years (20:9). Lindsey writes that the later are the ancestors of the former, which is possible and makes some sense. He also places the passage of Peter, saying that the elements are dissolved with fire, at the end of the millennium (1973, p.18). The final loosing of Satan is separated by one thousand years from the martyrdom of those who refused the mark. To read the millennium as simultaneous with the conquest of the sea and land beasts requires the ending for its beginning. The only consistent reading would seem to be the chiliast or literal.
That there is a spiritual resurrection is entirely consistent with the literal beheading of the saints, who may have already found this first resurrection in their lives, leading them to become saints prior to being martyred or beheaded in a separate incident. Are we to understand all those who die to sin to be killed for refusing to take the mark of the beast, as those beheaded for their testimony? For in a sense this could be said, and yet it is entirely possible, viewing modern politics and technology, that there will be such a mark and such a persecution, a literal order and beheading.
The beheading of the martyrs is different from the martyrdom described in Chapter 11, when the two witnesses are killed, also for their testimony. Both are killed by the beast, though it is not said that the witnesses of Chapter 11 were killed for not taking the mark of the beast, nor that they were beheaded, as in Chapter 13. It seems the leading possibility is that these two were the Eastern and Western legs of the Roman Empire, martyred in the sixth trumpet, separate from those beheaded for not taking the mark in the seventh trumpet. There was the additional possibility that the 1,260 days refer also to 1,260 years, or that the period of the Antichrist presents a seven year capsule of the broader history, and the recognition of Victorinus that two three and one half year periods are referenced, amounting to a total of seven years. The beheading of the millennial saints may occur not in the first but the second half of the seven year period.
Millennialism implies an astonishing circumstance: a thousand year period of human history is foretold in its outlines, yet is barely described in scripture. The earth is not wholly destroyed in the first battle of Armageddon, but is to be ruled from Jerusalem until the general resurrection. There are still independent nations, and the New Jerusalem has not yet come. Gog and Magog still exist at the four corners of the world, and after one thousand years, attempt to take Jerusalem again. This book, the Revelation, might be read during the millennium, as both prophecy and history, and the final battle prophesied then. The Lord, though, has begun to reign, and it is not clear in what way the rider on the White horse, having returned, will remain or abide in Jerusalem with all the resurrected saints. Because Satan has been bound, there may be no war, because the nations will no longer be deceived by him. Is it here then that the swords are beaten into plows, for nearly one thousand years, though not finally? Considered literally, a one thousand year period of restoration and development, after the example of the catastrophe of human civilization, might naturally prepare men to inhabit a city that literally comes down from heaven. Prudence would seem now to suggest a sustainable satellite made to endure a period when the earth is uninhabitable.
[20:11-15] The vision of the Judgment opens with a vision of the throne, as in Chapter 4. It is here a great white throne, and John sees Him who sat upon it. The earth and sky fled from His presence. Strangely, it is added “and no place was found for them.” This is similar to what was said when the dragon and angels were defeated and cast out of heaven, where “their place was no more in heaven.” John sees…:
…the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. And also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the book of life, by what they had done.
The books that are open are the books of the deeds of men (Daniel 7:10). The book of life (Daniel 12:1; Exodus 32:32; Malachi 3:16; Psalm 61:28; Isaiah 4:3) may record each of the souls that have through penance died and been born anew into Life. The book of life is a symbol for what we have written with the lives of our immortal souls. Enoch reads the “heavenly tablets,” which includes the “book of all the deeds of mankind, and of all the children of flesh that shall be upon the earth to the remotest generations” (Enoch, 81; 103; 47). After reading this, he blessed the Lord, creator of the works of the world, and said:
Blessed is the man who dies in righteousness and goodness
Concerning whom there is no book of unrighteousness written
And against whom no Day of Judgment shall be found.
The seven holy ones then tell him to declare to Methuselah and all his children that “no flesh is righteous before the Lord.” In the Revelation, those whose names were not written in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire, which is called “the second death.” But prior to this casting into the lake of fire, the sea, Death, and Hades also give up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done. Earth and Sky had already fled away from the presence, and it does seem to be suggested that there may be souls “in” these as well. It is not otherwise said that the living are here taken up, after the millennium. It is not impossible that some of the souls be saved out of purgatory, or the sea, Death and Hades, though this is doubted in a number of places. One wonders for example if here, in something like a purgatory, a pious Jew who saw the Christians kill his friends and family, and having heard we ought not to worship any created being, and thought the story about Jesus being the Messiah could not possibly be true, might be allowed to receive the Savior. If for this reason in life he were never born out of the world, still Purgatory might allow things to be seen in their proper light, if one were to look. We who praise our own attachment to tradition should understand the reluctance of other traditions to be abandoned for a savior and a sect, even without clear demonstration from the prophets. For who knows the secret science that the Lord imparted to the two on the road, and then to others (Luke 24:27, 32), when he opened the scriptures to them, and showed how they referred to him? Because he tied his foal to a tree, or because they parted his garments, we are to set aside the teaching that the reign of the Messiah is forever when he comes, or the teaching not to worship any created being? If the calculation of Van Impe were correct, concluding that Jesus rode his donkey into Jerusalem on the exact day foretold in Daniel, then this might have been guessable, if one first gets past the order to rebuild Jerusalem being identified with the order of Cyrus. From prophecy, the Essenes were expecting something more like the images of the second coming, a genuine war between the sons of light and sons of darkness. The logic of coincidences is not deductive, but rather like induction, it suggests a possibility. Humans almost always misunderstand the meaning of prophecy when applied to the particular event, the part that is “literal” and the part “symbolic,” or in what way each is so. Prophecy is particularly misunderstood, and fulfilled ironically upon, those attempting to use it for self interested purposes. One is reminded of the saying of Lao Tzu, on gazing into the pool of the ancient wise: “Who can sit calmly till the mud settles.” When prophecy is fulfilled, as when miracles occur, a symbol occurs in action. The blind are healed. It is symbolic in our lives, but for the man healed by Jesus, an image occurs in action, and he is also enlightened regarding salvation and the Messiah. That particular events surrounding a very significant event can be foreseen is different from knowing what this means, or how we should act in the face of it. How difficult would it be to separate the prophecies regarding the first and second coming, so that the fact that Jesus was killed would not seem to refute his claim to be the Messiah who reigns forever? For particular coincidences, we should now believe the Lord is incarnated, killed and raised? He did not establish the heavenly Kingdom, as it is said the Messiah will do. They do not see that he is not finished yet. Set aside the covenant through Moses, when setting aside the Torah and the Law has been the cause of so many evils that have come upon our nation? But to see that Jesus ought be worshiped as the son of God? To see that worshipping Jesus, is not idolatry, worshiping other gods, but rather is in the whole purpose of the creation? One wonders too about the philosophers of justice who similarly know that the eternal cannot become incarnate (Republic, Book III), and find in reason itself the logos and the light. Do these yet have a chance to see themselves and what they have become in the light of the truth, and choose the Messiah if that is the choice of their souls, given a clear view of the matter in its proper light? The statement that salvation is only through Jesus simply turns around, if it might also mean that any who do find the eternal way and logos have found him. It is difficult to see such figures as Socrates or Lao Tzu being in any way deficient as humans, let alone below every believing Christian. He has others that are “not of this fold.” Do we know that this does not mean that these others are not recognizably Christian by name in the world? If salvation means to be born out of the world, then these are saved. Some, those most identifying the way with their own way, will see this sort of universalism as a corruption, but the question is whether or not it is true.
Following the reading of C. I. Scofield, Jack Macarthur presents a reading according to which “The dead in these verses can refer only to those left behind at the first resurrection and who constitute those raised unto damnation” (Revelation, p. 431). The reading is based on John 5:29, where the “resurrection of “life” is distinguished from the “resurrection unto damnation.” But there is no basis in John or anywhere else for identifying these with the first resurrection and the post-millennial resurrection respectively. As the fourth of a seven part summary on the resurrection, Scofield (1909, p. 1228) writes:
“Two resurrections are yet future, which are inclusive of “all who are in graves (John 5:28). These are distinguished as “of life” (I Cor. 15:22-23; I Thess. 4:17; Revelation 20:4), and “of judgment” (John 5:28-29; Rev 20:11-13). They are separated by one thousand years (Rev. 20:5). The first resurrection, that “unto life,” will occur at the second coming of Christ (I Cor. 15:23), the saints of the O. T. and church ages meeting Him in the air (I Thess. 4: 16-17); while the martyrs of the tribulation, who also have a part in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4), are raised at the end of the great tribulation.
Van Impe too writes that the last Judgment “is only for those who’s names are not found inscribed in the book (see verse 15)” This is very strange, since it would again imply that from the literal text of the Revelation, without inserting a rapture of those other than the martyrs, that only martyrs are saved (20:5). There are two ways of escape from this conclusion. One might reverse the categories and say that all the saved are symbolically martyrs, having sacrificed the attachment to the earth, seeking not to save their own lives and entered with Christ into the grave. Another is to say that those who died in Christ and those alive at the rapture are not among the dead but are in these terms alive. “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended” (20:5). So it is explicitly stated that those other than the martyrs among the dead are raised at the end of the millennium. One wonders how this coheres with the teaching that the dead in Christ rise first, “then we who are alive…” (1 Thess. 4:16-17). That anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life were thrown into the pit would seem to imply that some names were here found written, and so these were not thrown into the lake of fire. The Scofield reading requires too that none born during the millennium be among those whose names are found in the book of life, which does not seem to be true. No one asserts this, but if some are saved, then the resurrection to judgment after the millennium is not only of the damned, and the separation by the one thousand years of the two judgments written of by John is an error. Of everyone who sees the son and believes in him, Jesus says: “I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
Yet there is ancient support for the thought that others among the dead and those then presently alive will be included when he gathers his elect from the four corners of the earth. The last two sentences of the Didache (16.6-7) reads:
…then the sign of “a trumpet’s blast,” and thirdly the resurrection of the dead, though not of all the dead, but as it has been said: “The Lord will come and all his saints with him.” Then the world will see the Lord coming on the clouds of the sky.
While it does not explicitly say that the living are here judged, those on earth and in the sky would seem to be those not dead yet, on earth, and those dead but whose souls are not in Hades, earth or sea, but in the sky, or, in heaven. They come before judgment at this time, when the “places” they are in fly away. There is otherwise no rapture here, and one is reminded again that the closest thing to a description of the rapture in the Revelation is the ascent of those killed for their testimony, described in Chapter 11. The rapture is replaced by martyrdom, and the rest of the dead are not raised till after the millennium.
Here is an argument: A) The dead are raised before the rapture; B) the dead are raised after the millennium, therefore c) the rapture comes after the millennium. But Paul says that the rapture occurs at the “seventh trumpet,” which is when the beast and false prophet are about to be defeated, prior to the millennium. The resurrection and thousand year reign of those beheaded for not taking the name and number is not the rapture, because the rapture occurs after the dead are raised (I Thess. 4:16-17), which does not occur until after the millennium. The only resolution that appears is that the martyrs are the dead said to rise before the rapture, while the general resurrection does not occur for a millennium after. This millennial paradox would also be resolved if, in literal terms, the millennium were instantaneous, rather than a thousand years from the earthly view. Could it be that the seventh trumpet lasts one thousand years? Or that the “dead in Christ” refers to the martyrs only? Or that there are multiple resurrections, as appears from the dead that were said to have risen at the crucifixion (Matthew 27:52; Henry Schaeffer).
But what is written by St. Augustine on the basis of this passage seems unsurpassed. Regarding the plural books that John saw opened, Augustine writes:
We must understand it of a certain divine power, by which it shall be brought about that everyone shall recall to memory all his own works, whether good or evil, and shall mentally survey them with marvelous rapidity, so as this knowledge will either accuse or excuse conscience, and thus all and each shall be simultaneously judged. And this divine power is called a book, because in it we shall as it were read all that it causes us to remember.
City of God, XX.14
It is commonly said that before our death our whole life flashes before our eyes. The wonder of the books and the book of life leads one to consider the significance of each thing regarding the soul, each action and each good thing we might have become, as though what we had been in our lives determined what our eternal soul would be, in its character and conformity with what is and what is true. And Jesus would teach them, that whatever we do to one another, we do to him (25:31-46), as though our own immortal good were secured when we love one another, but when we harm one another, in the light of truth we harm ourselves, or our true selves. Because the soul or the man is an image of God, our nature is this way, and we gain or lose the opportunity to participate in the eternal light, by our regard for others, and how this leaves a harmony or discord in the soul. And here he described how when the son of man comes in all his glory, he will separate the sheep and goats according to this principle. When we forgive others, we may be forgiven, but if we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven (Matthew 7:14-15). But robbers in truth lie in wait for their own blood, the light of the wicked is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken (Proverbs 1:18; Job 38:15). The saints intercede and petition the Lord with prayers for unrepentant sinners, and for the wicked, that they might cease to be, but what we have done is done, and this is what we have become, through the actions and the life in which our immortal souls have been engaged. If the soul or man is immortal, the wonder is not that actions, in their imprint, are retained, but that sins can be forgiven.
A clue to the millennial difficulty might be found in the promises to the churches. This occurs to me because Hal Lindsey has erroneously stated that Thyatira is promised that a remnant of these “will be co-ruler with Christ over the Kingdom that will be established for one thousand years on earth” (1973, p. 58). If this were true, it would demonstrate that some other than the martyrs beheaded by the beast are to rule with Christ during the millennium, but this is not demonstrated. Sardis is told that those who conquer will not be hurt by the second death, but there is no reason to assume that this exemption is true exclusively of the millennial saints, as all those raised later whose names are found in the book of life might also not be hurt by the second death.
Lindsey also writes: If a person does not receive Jesus Christ as savior by the time he dies, his name is blotted out of the book of life” (Ibid., p. 62). The text does not quite say this, because it is not quite true. If Abraham and Moses knew the Messiah by this name, it would be a miracle, though it is not impossible. To have one’s name written in the book of life is the birth of the soul out of the world, and a natural mystery that can occur without words. We hold that some even before Christ was born, are saved, as Abraham and Moses. “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Any others might find the logos without naming it this, though it may be rare and more difficult. The point is worth laboring, because it demonstrates the importance of genuine philosophy, or the openness of faith to genuine philosophy. We seek to have faith not in the walls of a man made prison, even with the names and colors of the Christ. In the second book of Plato’s Republic (357b), there is a famous distinction between things we seek because they are good for their own sake; things good for what comes out of them, and things good for both. There is some question about the effectiveness of faith chosen to avoid punishment, rather than for its own sake, or for both. Those, for example, who gave him clothing and food when they saw him naked and hungry, though they do not know to take his name, may not have their names blotted, while those who do take his name, waving it like a banner, but do not feed and clothe him when they see him, may. The reverse logic, though, is true: Those who do truly receive him, we think, will not have their names blotted out. A further question is whether some of the saints or the elect, those conquered by the beast, will have their names blotted out though they did receive Jesus while they were alive, and whether there is a purgatory, in which the souls, given the characters built up in their earthly lives, will be allowed to see the choice in its proper light. The Witnesses make this second chance a character of the millennium, and in the old Catholic imagery, this was thought of as purgatory. And if the soul is immortal, it would be a difficult thing to tell that it were impossible that it be born out of the world somehow after death. But these images refer to natural realities. We receive him and the spirit of truth enters our souls.
Another reason for looking in this direction is the strangeness of time in the other depiction of the dragon. The dragon appears in the twelfth chapter, the first chapter of the second half of the book, and this chapter seems to fill in the background for the events of the sixth and second trumpets by describing the incarnation, crucifixion and persecution of the early church. It concludes at the sands of the sea, and then the woe to these appears as a beast emerges from each, from sea and then earth. It is possible that Chapter 12 and Chapter 20 go together, both in that they depict an action done to and by the dragon and in being of a different time scale, outside and around the events on earth described in the rest of the end time story, providing something more like a thousand year context of the same events of the final century of the age. The concluding tenth of each would then be nearer to simultaneous the nearer the description came to the end. The saints beheaded, especially Peter and Paul, did in one sense come to life and reign, even about one thousand years, if one considers the extent of the medieval Church from Constantine into the middle ages until the start of the Inquisition, from 313 through till about 1215, and even to the present, in a sense. This is not beyond the possibility of symbolism, to present one who is dead but reigns through writing as having died and come to life, and this is one of the possible readings of the dry bones prophecy of Ezekiel, as depicting the new flowering of Israel as the resurrection of the Israelis.
We should not let pass the opportunity to address the strangeness of the image of our immortality. The dead are seen standing before the throne, books are opened, and the book of life. The dead are judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. Any one whose name was not found in the book of life is thrown into the Lake of fire. Then there is a new heaven and a new earth, and the Lord is present in the New Jerusalem, which is a light to the nations (21:24). The water of life is there, and the tree of life is given for the healing of the nations. These nations are outside the city, and yet are neither thrown into the lake of fire nor do they dwell there, only they are no longer deceived by the Devil. Does this not mean that the human world of births and deaths, of people neither saints nor demons, writing their deeds into the book of life, continue on when the new heaven and the new earth come to be? And is this not simultaneous with the life of the immortal spiritual bodies or the beings who lived, died, and were resurrected? There are no resurrected bodies in the picture of the New Jerusalem. Its walls are men, but there are not houses described. Since the walls are men, and the measuring allegorical, the lamp replaced by the Lamb, it is possible that the city is allegorical of the presence of God and the Lamb in the souls of men. It is right to say that this is more beautiful than the more literal depiction. There is a street, and a river, orchards, and gates that are never shut but that the clean may enter. “And his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be written on their foreheads.” And will there be sun and moon outside the city? This is very strange, because in the description, heaven and earth come together, and Jerusalem appears as both an immortal paradise and an earthly nation that leads the world out of the time of evils that we know and into a timeless age governed more directly by the divine.
The immortality of the soul seems not to be a thing that can be known for certain, but a teaching given to us in images, in which we have hope and faith, but not certain knowledge. Near death experiences provide common evidence enough, and if these occurred to some in ancient times, it would not be surprising if these should be enough to give rise to the hope and the belief in immortality, as among the ancient Egyptians. It will always be suspected that the teaching is a dream we tell ourselves because we are afraid to die, and there is a great courage in facing the possibility that immortality may be no more than dreams or images caused for the human imagination by the more mundane truth of the higher intellect. One way of presenting the question of the immortality of the soul is that in some sense, though we were not, we now are, and hope to be in the kingdom. It is difficult to see even how such a thing could be possible. We would be a strange cross section of the immortal, like the angels, and our coming to be would be a coming to be immortal. Immortality may not be the same as eternity, in the way that 2+2=4 is always the same, was and will be, or in the sense that the Lord is always the same. The past is unchangeable, but is no more, except as it lives on through the present. In one image, the soul dies and goes to heaven, as Jesus said to the thief crucified next to him: “This day, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus himself ascends somewhere, as does Enoch, so that his body has literally escaped. Must there not be some where or place to receive the body? It is also said that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom” (I Cor. 15:50) but we will all be changed, so that it is a resurrected body. “Flesh” here has an analogical meaning that is synonymous with soul, as in “the two become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Mat. 19:5), where we do not mean literally one body, but through the body, one soul, which is in part true literally. In another image, the body lies in the earth until the resurrection, and the kingdom is future: it was and is not now, but is yet to be. What is the relation of the yet to be to the eternal? If our deeds are written in the book of life, our eternal soul is shaped or affected by what we do here, at least for some, if not for all. If the souls are always, and immortal backward in time, one would think we would remember this, though we may have forgotten, as though having crossed some river of forgetfulness. In the images of reincarnation and of recollection, the soul is immortal backwards, or always, which would seem to include the past. If the soul is immortal, and this is always, it would seem to be so now, as well as in the past and future. Some think the soul immortal “only while it is alive,” and thus from the perspective of time, to be, yet only for a while. Hence the Joke implied by the saying that Plotinus became one with the first principle– four times! These are the difficulties thought encounters when we attempt to consider what we mean by saying that the soul is immortal. And what do we mean by soul? Modern thinkers often deny the existence or causal significance of the soul, so that we must say “it is that with which you are considering this!” or that with which you are denying. It is that which is considered in three parts, reason, the heart, and the appetites. Is this not part mortal, our changing thoughts and emotions, and something different from the immortal life or light in us? And which are we? One of its many meanings is your true self as distinct from that in us that is more ephemeral. So difficult is this to say that many give up, resting in the assurance that the immortality of the soul is an expedient fairytale. But Christian philosophy, if this is possible, genuinely takes up from start to finish the question of whether the soul is “to be or not to be,” setting aside the couch of the assurance either that we know immortality to be true in just such a way, as it is imagined, or that it is obviously a fairytale because of the ways in which the teaching might be useful or salutary. For it may in the end be even more difficult to show how such a thing could not be so, and we, with no part in us that is akin (Plato, Republic, 490b2-3; 532 c4-5), have access to things that are always. Human speech is said to be evidence of the immortality of the soul. Immortal life is likely to be an astonishing thing we do not expect and cannot imagine. But if we can know it, it may be indirectly, as in the metaphysics implied in the saying that the soul is an image of God. The possibility is that in the soul something rises as in the cosmos, and what rises is redeemed mankind. The body is redeemed, as mankind is redeemed. Particulars can be eternal, contrary to the expectation of philosophy.
And it is a good question, whether we will then be at liberty to pursue all sorts of studies, as Socrates imagined, speaking with the great minds of the ages (Apology 41 a-b), who would then have enough time for us, or perhaps to read the history of the earth, man and all things that have been, like an open book, in the sense that what has been is, and in certain unalterable way. Maybe it is as an instantaneous sharing in the knowledge of the Lord, including all that has been, the knowledge of all the beings that ever lived and what occurred to them. If the Lord is like that, it seems to us unimaginable to perceive and know that many particulars, as though what is must have trouble apprehending and being concerned with, for example, so many ants, etc.
There are two images of immortality that do not fit together. One is that immortality is attained, and another that it characterizes the souls from the beginning. Again, in one, the meaning of immortal life is the good and just, the bread that sustains the life in us is the word. In another, the souls of the evil are unfortunately also immortal.
The mystery of damnation is very difficult. The Apostles are sometimes inclined to intercede for the damned, in a high and rare sort of compassion which is sorrowful for the fate of the souls even of the wicked. Damnation can be understood from the equation of the elements 1) that the soul or spirit, or spiritual body, is immortal and 2) what we do to one another is done in truth to ourselves. The cruel then seal their own torment, and it is to their misfortune that the soul is immortal. In their compassion, the saints wish they might simply cease to be. As Mary says in the vision of Fatima: “This is hell, where the souls of poor sinners go.” This compassion, and the absence of vengeance, is, by the way, an indication that the vision of Fatima is genuine. As at the conclusion of the Epistula Apostolorum, it is questionable whether this intercession has any effect at all. There Jesus answers that the Father has so determined these things, and that he himself agrees.
II.vii: The New Heaven and the New Earth
[21:1-4] John next sees the new heaven and new earth, “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.” Earth and sky had fled from the presence as described at 20:11. There is no other description of the passing of the former heaven and earth, and it is not clear whether it is a complete or partial destruction. Augustine writes: “For this world shall pass away by transmutation, not by destruction.” (City of God, XX.14). This, though, would seem to be when the elements are dissolved with fire, as written by Peter. He sees the New Jerusalem, “coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” A voice from the throne is heard to say, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself will be with them.” As was promised, he will wipe away every tear (7:17; Is. 25:8). That He will dwell with man (Is.7:14) might be fulfilled if the Messiah were to return and reign.
[21:5-8] He who sat upon the throne then speaks, saying: Behold, I will make all things new.” He also told John to write this, for his words are trustworthy and true:
It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty, I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have his heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
This is the second of the two places, together with 1:8, where the Lord explicitly speaks directly. The river of the water of life (Isaiah 55.1) is shown flowing from the throne of God, and the Bride and Lamb too invite all to drink the water of life without pay, as the last word of the revelation (22:17).
That the first heaven and the first earth had passed away raises the question of the sense in which these pass away and the sense in which the earth “abides forever.” The new heaven and earth, after the passing of the old, comes not at the millennial reign, but after the thousand years, and it is this condition foretold in Isaiah (65:17-25), where the lion and ox will live together peacefully:
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
Here the new creation is not unfamiliar, but is like a restored or uprighted version of the old. People who build houses and plant vineyards will inhabit and harvest them, rather than have another inhabit and harvest them. There will be death, but in ripe old age, and even sin (Is. 65: 20-22).
[21:9-27] Next one of the angels that had the seven bowls of wrath comes and says to John “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” The phrase parallels the phrase “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great whore” (17:2; Aune, 1998, p. 1202). John is carried away in the spirit by the angel, to a great high mountain. Its radiance is like Jasper clear as crystal, a rare jewel. In the vision, “It had a great high wall with twelve gates.” Angels are at each of the gates, and the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were inscribed on the gates, three on each of the four sides of the wall. The wall also has twelve foundations, probably also three on each side, on which are written the names of the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb. One wonders why it is the tribes and not the patriarchs, and why these are not reversed, the foundations being the tribes and the gates the Twelve Apostles, where the Gentiles enter. The foundation of the Christian teaching is the twelve tribes, while the apostles are gateways of salvation. The tribes reminds of the 144,000 sealed, and the place of the nation of Israel in the City of God. This question points toward the meaning of gates and foundations. The foundations are of twelve different jewels, the gates each of a single pearl, and the street of transparent or glass-like gold. The wall, as well as the first foundation, is jasper, as was the radiance of the city (21:11, 18). The twelve gates and the twelve tribes may culminate the theme of Jewish and Christian together that is involved in the 144,000 from the twelve tribes, and in the grafting of the olive branches apprehended prophetically by Paul. The theme, as we have argued, is suggested by the formulation “those obeying the commandments and following Jesus” (12:17), and “Song of Moses and of the Lamb” (15:3). The suggestion is that the future belongs to messianic Judaism, or a Christian Israel moderated by penance for the execution of the Messiah and the example of the things that led to war prior to the millennium.
[21:17-21] One of the seven angels then gives John a measuring rod of gold, and tells him to measure “the city and its gates and walls.” The city is a cube, its length, breadth and height all equal, “12,000 stadia,” the number being the same as that of those from each of the twelve tribes that were sealed, multiplied by the cube of ten, one thousand. We recall from Chapter 11 that John was told to measure, but did not then actually measure. The measuring here is of the city rather than the temple. The city, the New Jerusalem has no temple or lampstand, and the lamp is the Lamb (21:24). The law has cultivated man, who through the ordeal has become holy, where he once was merely obedient. His civilization has become natural, and his civilized character divine. He also measured the wall of the city, 144 cubits, “by a man’s measure, that is, an angel’s.” This, again, is a suggestion that the men have become angels, or even that the angels are men, or the same as men except for not having had their immortal souls disturbed and cultivated by their incarnation. It even appears that the men, having become angels, are the walls of the city. 144 multiplied by the cube of ten would remind of the 144,000. There are no immortal souls described in the city, and it is not clear what the saints who came with him on the cloud and ruled during the millennium are doing in the city. Do they live there in immortal bodies, or live elsewhere? If the city of God is so much like the current earth renewed, are there simultaneously souls in heaven, in a condition that is not described? Or is the city a description of the heavenly condition? It is a city and not a garden, a post-civilized condition.
The stones adorning the foundations of the wall are also addressed by Isaiah (54:11-14):
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And lay your foundations with sapphires
I will make your pinnacles of agate,
Your gates of carbuncles, and your wall of precious stones.
All your sons shall be taught by the Lord
And great shall be the prosperity of your sons
In righteousness you shall be established…
The foundations have something to do with the presence of the Lord and with teaching.
Zechariah (2:1) saw a man with a measuring line, who, when asked, tells him that he is going to measure Jerusalem, to see what is its breadth and what is its length.” Another angel comes to meet an angel that spoke to him previously, and tells him to run and say to that young man that because of the multitude of men and cattle in her, “Jerusalem shall be inhabited as a village without walls, “For I will be to her a wall of fire round about, says the Lord, and I will be the glory within her.” Zechariah (2: 10-11) continues:
Sing, and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for lo, I come and I will dwell in the midst of you, says the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of you, and you shall know that the Lord of Hosts has sent me to you.”
Ezekiel (37:27-28) prophesies:
My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I, the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore….
[21:22] The name Emmanu’el means “God with us” (Is. 7:14; Ez. 48: 35). There is no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the almighty and the Lamb. There is said to be no sun and moon. Its lamp is the lamb: there are no churches or other lamps needed. One wonders how, cosmically, to imagine there being no sun and moon, but only the light of the presence.
[21:24] The next section of the description of the heavenly city concerns the nations, and seems to provide a window or clue to what is occurring:
By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, and its gates shall never be shut by day–and there shall be no night there; They shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.
As Aune, citing Strothmann, notes, this line presupposes the continuing existence of the nations and the presence of the New Jerusalem on earth (p. 1171). Interestingly, the time is an age of nations rather than cities, as before the Roman Empire, in the age of the ancient polis, before Christ. The key passages of the prophets describing the New Jerusalem and the nations are Isaiah 60 and Zechariah 14. Selections of Isaiah 60 are:
…darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising…
…who are these, that fly like a cloud,
And like doves to their windows?
For the coastlands shall wait for me,
The ships of Tarshish first,
To bring your sons from far,
Their silver and gold with them,
For the name of the Lord your God,
And for the Holy one of Israel,
Because he has glorified you
Foreigners shall build up your walls,
And their kings shall minister to you;
For in my wrath I smote you,
But in my favor I have had mercy on you.
Your gates shall be open continually;
Day and night they shall not be shut;
That men may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
With their kings led in procession.
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish;
Those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
The cypress, the plain and the pine,
To beautify the place of my sanctuary;
And I will make the place of my feet glorious.
The sons of those who oppressed you shall come bending low to you;
And all that despised you shall come bow down at your feet;
They shall call you the city of the Lord,
The Zion, the Holy One of Israel
(Isaiah 60: 2-3; 8-14)
Zechariah too, writes:
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the king, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the king, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
This circumstance in which there are nations appears from Revelation 21:24 to continue beyond the millennium and into the time of the everlasting Kingdom and the New Jerusalem. One is reminded of the description of Maimonides of the days of the Messiah. Maimonides writes:
Nothing in existence will change from the way it is now, except that Israel will have a kingdom. The text of the sages is as follows: There is no difference between this world and the days of the Messiah, excepting subjection to the kingdoms…which hinders us from acquiring the virtues.
(Pereq Heleq, Days of the Messiah, p. 166)
The law will be written on the hearts of men, and livelihood will come much easier, but there is no fundamental change in the nature of things, nor do the immortal souls appear dwelling on earth. It is as though what has changed is man, so that man comes into the presence of the Lord. “On that day, the Lord shall be one, and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9). Indeed, there is no God but God.
As in Isaiah 60:11, it is striking that there are still nations, and they have their own sovereignties. It is said that the nations that do not bring their offering to Jerusalem will be deprived of rain. If what is shown is the post millennium city in a new heaven and new earth, there are still nations, and perhaps some of the same nations that were. Perhaps even the words of Lincoln concluding the Gettysburg Address, that government of the people shall not perish from the earth, will continue true. To be playful: as an American patriot, one imagines a scene in which the supreme court, after a severe drought, decides 5-4 that it is constitutional for the United States to send their offering, since it is not so much establishment of religion as our free religious expression as a nation. Such an event is possible, unless the United States is the throne of the Antichrist, and destroyed. It is possible that we suffer a disaster and become politically irrelevant, or that we help Israel in the war, if neither are the throne of the antichrist. The nations come to Armageddon from the four corners of the world, and though the “whole world” is said to come against Israel, it is not necessary that all come to Armageddon as enemies, rather than as diadems of the word. But there is otherwise no suggestion that humans participate as armies in apocalyptic warfare, though we can participate in spreading the word.
At the conclusion of Isaiah, there is the suggestion that the offering of the nations is the return of the Jews to Israel. In a summary of prophecy, Isaiah (66:18-21) writes the saying of the Lord:
…I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands that afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory, and they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the Lord…to my holy mountain Jerusalem…just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. And some of them also I will take for priests.
There is an argument that the Kingdom of God is not a world empire, or that the rule of the nations from Jerusalem is more voluntary. Though there is the throne, the city is nowhere called a kingdom. The city is similar to the philosophic kingship in Plato’s Republic: it is the kingship of the Good, so that the regime is a kingship, although visible persons rule not in a kingship, but in an aristocratic republic. Yet it was said that he would rule the nations with a “rod of iron,” and this seems to mean forceful rule in the just suppression of what is really evil. The saints too participate in the rod of iron: “He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron” (2:27). This is left out of the description of the city at the end of the Revelation. World empire is what was destroyed, as in the first apocalyptic teaching, in Daniel’s interpretation of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, in which a stone cut by no human hand smashes the image on its feet of iron and clay. It is the same iron, and it is only after the destruction of the world by the principle that led to world empire that the City of God, guiding the nations, becomes possible. Isaiah (2:1-4; 11:6-9) writes:
It shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of mountains,
And shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall flow to it,
And many peoples shall come, and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law;
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And shall decide for many peoples;
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more.
Isaiah also writes (42:1-4):
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
My chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him,
He will bring forth justice to the nations.
…He will not fail or be discouraged
Till he has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands wait for his law.
Micah (4:2-3) seconds the statement of Isaiah, and adds that the Messiah will mediate disputes between the nations, somewhat as the U. N. is supposed to do today:
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem
He shall judge between many peoples,
And shall decide for strong nations afar off;
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more…
Here the Messiah is shown giving law and just rule to the nations, and this must be either in the millennium or in the New Jerusalem. If it is in the city, the meaning of new heaven and new earth is consistent with “the earth endures forever,” and what is destroyed is the surface, which may be total enough for man. The earth might still grow men, though they have become rare. But the old division in man after the fall may be gone, and the place of man different, with something healed. That is how fundamental a change is indicated.
That nothing unclean will enter the temple, but that there are still the nations means too that there is still the human world. The tree of life, in the next chapter, is given for the healing of “the nations.” The tree is like one grafted with twelve different fruiting branches, like those seen in ornamental gardens. Its twelve fruits are twelve like the Apostles, and the saying “leaves of the tree” makes one think of the leaves of a book or even the leaves of the great books, including the Bible. There are the writings of the Apostles currently known, John and Matthew, and works that may be by Thomas and some letters of Peter, and his teaching is preserved in the gospel of Mark, though we do not have twelve teachings of Twelve Apostles. These leaves are going to be different from the fruit of the tree of life, which, had they taken of it in the garden, would have made them not die, or live forever. It is in the promise to Ephesus that it is explicitly said that it will be granted to he who conquers to eat of the tree of life, and this would seem to be of the fruit. The leaves are the parts of this plant, and they are medicinal for the nations, which reminds us of the leaves of the book and of the great books of the pursuit of wisdom, or political philosophy. It is akin to prophecy in that it is critical of the highest worldly authority, the city and the human temples, by an appeal to the truth and what is right by nature. Because it flies between the actual human political things and the truth about what is best even for them, it is capable of being medicinal for the nations, devastated by what has occurred on the face of the earth.
At the opening of Chapter 11, in which the martyrdom of the two witnesses is described, John was also given a rod and told to measure “the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship there.” There he was told to leave out the outer court, since this was to be trampled by the nations, but now in Chapter 21, this large measure, said to be about 15,000 miles, would seem to include the outer court. The city is a cube, equal in its length, height and breadth (21:16). Its length and breadth and height are 12,000 stadia. While in Chapter 11, John is told to measure, in Chapter 21, the angel measures, also the walls of the city, which is said to be 144 cubits “by the measure of a man, that is, that of an angel.” As has been noted, this suggests that the angels are the same as men, or also sons of God (21:7). The number is again the same as the number of those sealed, if a cubit were the same as a thousand. The bride and the elect are identified only by this, while the multitudes are the servants of the bride.
The wall was built of jasper, and the city was “pure gold, clear as glass” The foundations, on which the names of the Twelve Apostles are inscribed, are adorned with twelve different jewels, and each is listed. The twelve gates, on which a name of one of the twelve tribes is inscribed, are each made of a single pearl. There are two separate Jewish traditions regarding the gates hewn out of huge pearls. The street, like the city, is pure transparent gold.
While in Chapter 11, John was told to measure the altar and temple, in Chapter 21 there is no temple seen in the city, “For its temple is the Lord God the almighty and the Lamb.” This of course does not mean that we are to take this mention of the temple as a clue to the date of the composition of the text. It underlines the reading that the Olive trees are the Christian churches, the Christian attempt to imitate the Jewish temple. The Jews expect the restoration of the temple in the New Jerusalem, and according to John misunderstood Jesus when he said “destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days.” He spoke of the temple of his body, as here the temple is the Lord and the Lamb. Nor is there any need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of the Lord is its light, and its lamp is the lamb. The churches in the opening section are the Lamp stands. The heavenly Jerusalem is where the intelligible light is received, and a literal one: that visible light or even the sun and moon will be replaced by invisible light, or the presence may result in literally visible light. Isaiah (60:19) writes:
“The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night, but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended. Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever.
Chapter 22: The River and Tree
The river of the water of life flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb, through the middle of the street or plane of the city. It is that from which we are offered to drink for free (22:17). Of the 144,000, it was said: …”and he will guide them to springs of living water.” The tree of life is “in the midst of its plane, here and there,” as though many trees are intended. The water and the tree are distinct as spirit and word are distinct. The water of life is told of in the story of the woman at the well (John 4:7-39):
If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water… Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. The water I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Enoch (48) writes:
And in that place I saw the fountain of righteousness,
Which was inexhaustible,
And around it were many fountains of wisdom
And all the thirsty drank of them,
And were filled with wisdom
And their dwellings were with the righteous and holy and elect.
The tree of life is that of which ones share will be taken away if he adds or detracts or from the words of this prophecy (21:19). To eat of the tree of life is one of the seven promises to him who conquers, in the first promise, to Ephesus. All seven characterize the New Jerusalem. The other promises were 2) to not be harmed by the second death, 3) that they be given some of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name, and 4) power over the nations and the morning star, 5) to be clothed in white garments and not have his name blotted out of the book of life, 6) to become a pillar of the temple, and have the name written of God and of the city and his own new name, the savior, and 7) to sit with his Father on the Throne.
Tree of life and river of the water of life are added to the description of what was seen by Ezekiel (47:12),
And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.
In Ezekiel, the tree of life is not yet explicitly shown as present in the city. The tree confers immortal life, as in Genesis, it is said, “Lest he put forth his hand and eat of the tree of life and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). The tree of life was not at first forbidden (Genesis 2:16). It has fruit that sustains us, beyond milk and grain. It is the same as the tree that was present in the garden, and not forbidden, though Eve reports to the serpent that the tree “in the midst” is forbidden (Genesis 3:3). She takes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and man is banished from the garden. Were it not so, all things may have never left the unity, which is restored at the wedding of Bride and Lamb. There is no separate tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the New Jerusalem.
One of the finest passages I have seen attempting to interpret the trees in the garden is that found in the Letter to Diogenes, describing to the emperor Hadrian (117-138 A. D.) “…what God has prepared for those who love him as they ought:”
(these) have become a paradise of delight, cultivating in themselves a flourishing tree, rich with all kinds of fruit, while they themselves are decked out (adorned) with a variety of fruits; for in this Garden a tree of knowledge and a tree of life have been planted. But it is not the tree of knowledge that destroys; it is disobedience that brings destruction. Indeed, there is a deep meaning in the passage of scripture which tells how God in the beginning planted a tree of knowledge and a tree of life in the midst of paradise, to show that life is attained through knowledge. It was because the first men did not use this knowledge with clean hearts that they were stripped of it by the deceit of the serpent. For there cannot be life without knowledge any more than there can be knowledge without genuine life, and so the two trees were planted close together.
The thought that it is not knowledge itself that is harmful, but disobedience…. That life is attained through knowledge, or as the proverb states, “by knowledge are the righteous delivered” from the folly of injustice toward a neighbor (Prov.11:9). The letter elaborates that knowledge without life is what is harmful, knowledge understood as ethically neutral science, and life as the aim at the good. Knowledge is spoke of in the prophecies in a different way:
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
The knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
There is no faithfulness or kindness,
And no knowledge of God in the land. (Hosea 4:2)
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge
Because you have rejected knowledge
I reject you from being a priest to me,
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I will also forget your children. (Hosea 4:6)
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).
Here knowledge is obviously different from that conferred by the eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The tree does not seem even to refer to ethical knowledge or political science. Solomon, in a dream, was told by God “Ask what I shall give you,” and Solomon asked for “an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil.” So he was given a wise and discerning mind (1 Kings 3:9-12) Socrates, famously, teaches that when we are immoderate, what we have is not knowledge but opinion, since it would be strange if knowledge were “dragged about like a slave.” If we truly knew what was good, we would choose it. So this is a different sense from that in which eating of the tree confers knowledge of good and evil. The effect is not that they suddenly study justice or the parts of the soul and the regimes, become wise or philosophers, know what to do or have political science. This need be said because the pursuit of knowledge involves the questioning of the authority of law, and a certain disobedience, to human if not also to divine authority, and the replacement of a trust and security with questioning and restlessness. But the effect of the tree of knowledge is the emergence of shame, our recognition that we are naked. Outside the marriage chamber, shame is felt before members of either gender, but is related to our sexual nature, its stimulus by sight or vision, and another sense of the word “know.” Hence, we wear clothing. This is a mystery that is with us daily, though no one understands it fully. Unless one’s nature has been preserved, the sight of the beautiful stimulates a usurpation that destroys the ordering of the thoughtless and uncultivated soul. The story of Gyges, in the Inquiries of Herodotus (I. 8-12) demonstrates this, when the sight of the Queen causes the compulsion of Gyges to murder the king and seize the throne. The ordering is restored through scientific knowledge, as when, in a later story, the physician of Darius is able to cure the Queen Atossa, able to treat a lump on her breast in the transcendence of our sexual nature and shame that occurs in science and medicine (Ibid, III.133). Still, it is as though the only immediate effect of the turning on of perception for these creatures is conscience, and the only activity of conscience shame, as though this were the only place in human life where intelligence is active or alive. In this way, the story is similar to the sense in which love sometimes seems to be the only way that most humans awaken at all, and most are incapable of romantic love. Beauty, says Socrates, is the only one of the intelligibles to be visible with any luster, due to the mysteries in which all souls were initiated prior to our incarnation (Phaedrus, 250b-c). It causes death, though, because now, in order to restore the harmony, the humans must ascend through death, or the sacrifice of penance, overcoming what is called original sin. It is as though the new intelligence were surprised to find it has a body, and a soul of animal appetites. The best thing written on the tree of knowledge and the tree of life may be that found in the work called the Gospel of Phillip, found in the collection at Nag Hammadi. In a very strange passage, the author makes clear that the death caused by the tree of knowledge of good and evil is the death of penance that leads to rebirth, caused by the law, so that the law, the Torah, is the tree of knowledge. The passage reads:
…This garden is the place where I will eat all things, since the tree of knowledge is there. This one killed Adam, but here the tree of knowledge made men alive. The law was the tree. It has power to give knowledge of good and evil. It neither removed him from evil, nor did it set him in the good, but it created death for those who ate of it. For when he said, “Eat this, do not eat that,” it became the beginning of death.
The death of the tree of knowledge is related to the way in which the law causes death, the death that leads to birth (Nag Hammadi Manuscripts, p. 144, Romans 7:7-25). Adam was told they would die in the day that they ate of it (Genesis 2:17), but as the serpent said to Eve, they did not literally die, but lost innocence. In this sense, the serpent tells the truth while God lies. But they do not really become like God, knowing good and evil, either, as Solomon was for a while after his prayer. Rather, they are to be acquainted with this divine perception of a dimension of reality they were not before acquainted with, seeing like angels while having a human body. The knowledge of the tree would then be the beginning of self-knowledge. For man it causes death in a symbolic, not a literal sense. The serpent works with the literal sense, not in which God spoke it, but the sense in which Adam and Eve understood it, since these are not wise but innocent. The Serpent uncovers the earthly truth hidden in the beliefs of the obedient. This belief, though, would have been sufficient for happiness, and is true in any case on the highest level. The disobedience of Adam made man aware of the body, and he hides himself from God, showing what must now be overcome for man to know himself, and again stand naked in the garden.
This, then, is the reason that the tree of knowledge does not appear in the New Jerusalem. Maimonides writes: “As for the tree of knowledge, The Holy One, blessed be He, has never revealed that tree to man, and will never reveal it. This is correct in as much as the nature of existence requires it” (Guide, II.30). This Tree is not some mysterious knowledge pursued, but rather, that presupposed by the human condition.
Still, the two trees are related in the Genesis story, in the midst of the Garden, and the tree of life is not forbidden. Only the tree of life appears here in the New Jerusalem. It is as though the tree of knowledge were no longer needed, and its effects are presupposed, though now, the victory of the Lamb and the martyrs is required in order to have access to the tree of life. Life means that the eating of the fruit of this tree, the very tree whose leaves are given for the healing of the nations, confers immortality, or is the same as immortal life. It also means the higher nourishment of the immortal soul, not what confers immortality but vivifies the life in us. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).
The fruit is not mentioned in the description of the city, but rather is only implied, in the Ephesian promise to him who conquers (2:7). Enoch writes: “Its fruit shall be for food to the elect” (Enoch 25). There is a connection to the eating of the Eucharist and drinking of the wine, and one thinks of the tree that is the cross. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is the beginning of self knowledge, in self perception that is the natural motion of the perception we call conscience, inseparable from our social or political nature. That the leaves of the tree of life are to be given for the healing of the nations appears in its most visible form, as a foretelling of the possibilities for medicine and genetics properly used, or as a prophecy of bodily healing, possibly from the poisons of a nuclear war. Genetic medicine might literally be a giving of the biological tree of life for the healing of the nations, even from nuclear poisons. It may also or especially be a prophecy of the place of political philosophy. The basis of the knowledge of good and evil, or the cause of the law, is the image of God that is man (Genesis 9:6). It is this image that lies asleep in the soul, but is what each most is, awakened through baptism, and fed by milk and grain, before fruit. The leaves of the tree of life are the pages of the Bible, and maybe also any other of the great books that reflect the eternal Torah. Enoch saw another mystery, that “books shall be given to the righteous and the wise, to become a cause of joy and uprightness and much wisdom” (Enoch 104). The liberty of the nations to bring tribute or not may indicate that, despite the rod of iron, philosophy will not be proscribed during the millennium, as it has been in the “age of grace.”
The tree of life appears elsewhere in scripture, as in the Psalm, but the most important instance is in the Proverb, which explains of Wisdom:
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
Those who hold her fast are called happy… (3:17-18)
Prize her highly and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her,
She will place on your head a fair garland;
She will bestow on you a beautiful crown. (4:8-9)
The statement in the Proverbs identifies the tree of life with wisdom. This is the source of the invisible crown. Another teaching is that the tree is the Torah, in the sense in which the Torah is identified with the eternal word. The pursuit of wisdom is the same as the quest for the apples of immortality. The fruit is the knowledge or the acts of oneness with God. Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me” (John 4:34). When we are able to serve Him, doing our work well, and the division is overcome. The unity of all things appears, not as though the things had lost their distinction, like a glass of water poured into the sea, but as beings with a place in the whole, moving as parts of one (being) that is the creation in union with the Creator. The good is seen when we participate in it, or, it may be visible, to the extent that it is visible, only from within it, when we are serving it, and then, like the plan of a master, not entirely. Socrates, too, is like a spirit working between God and man. We sense the Presence above us, and there is a prayer that He remain hidden while we serve, so that we are not harmed by the Presence. It is more accurate to say we are known by Him, than that we know Him or It, as the lesser thing, from within It, which of course cannot be called It, and barely can be called Him. Plato’s Socrates famously called the Good “beyond being,” (Republic, VI, 509b) whereas an “it” or even a “He” is a being. A contemporary formulation is “Beyond the difference between the personal and impersonal,” or a person and more, the original or cause of what it means to be, to be alive or to be a person. The vision of the good that completes philosophy comes in philosophic kingship, which is a participation in rule, if only of the highest sort (Republic 540a-b). Socrates was midwife, and we may work in this, even to assist the offspring of the Lord. This mystery, the tending of the garden of the Lord, is the goal of education, and the highest prudence, while the second highest sort is rule over the family, city, and nation involved in statesmanship and royal rule.
Finally, there is a teaching from a work attributed to Joseph of Arimathea, who begged and buried the body of Jesus in his own tomb. This Joseph reports things said by Jesus to the robber Demas, crucified next to Christ, to whom he said “This day you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus said to him:
And thou alone shalt dwell in Paradise until my second appearing, when I am to Judge those who do not confess my name…And He said to the robber, Go away, and tell the Cherubim and the powers that turn the flaming sword, that guard paradise from the time that Adam, the first created, was in paradise and sinned, and kept not my commandments, and I cast him out thence. And none of the first shall see paradise until I am come a second time to judge the living and the dead.
The robber puts on an incorruptible body in order to “go into paradise, where no one has ever been able to dwell.” Here, it is only in the resurrected body that we are able to eat of tree of Life, otherwise guarded by the Cherubim. Joseph may have heard this story, like his account of the betrayal of Judas, from “one of his disciples called John,” the fullest witness.
There is a history of consent in the marriages of Abraham and Isaac, to Sarah and Rebecca. Although both are chosen by the divine, their wedding waits upon the consent of the woman (Genesis 24:58). The same is evident in the Magnificat (Luke 1:38). This consent is a characteristic of royal, as opposed to despotic, rule, and is related to what is called “free will,” as well as to its image in political liberty.
She is the bride, the wife of the Lamb. The wedding of the Bride and Lamb is the most complete image of God in all of scripture. The deeds of the saints are the bright, pure fine linen of the garment of her wedding dress, which it was granted she be clothed (19:8). Paul wrote to the Ephesians (2:19-22; 3:18):
…So then you are no longer sojourners, but are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and the prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Israel is the bride of the Lord (Is. 62:2-5; 61:10; 49:18; 54:5, Jer. 2:2; 31:32; Ez. 16; Hos. 2:6) and through the Messiah, people of every nation are added, as was prophesied by Isaiah (66:18; 55:5; 49:6). The New Jerusalem is the bride (21:2), made up of redeemed mankind. Paul writes: But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother” (Galatians 4:26; Is. 54:1). The temple has become mankind in that when the Spirit dwells in us, we are in a sense members of His body and the bride, not as individuals but as collective mankind. She is the Church that is the womb of rebirth, and also wisdom, in whom we might participate, but who belongs to the Lord. Paul writes: “I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband…” (2 Cor. 11). The mystery is that man is somehow one with the creation, and in the wedding, redeemed man is of the body of the Lord, uniting all things in the restored harmony of the whole. Human marriage is an image of this most complete image of the divine, and its truth is related to the metaphysical truth by natural analogy. Human marriage is also like the invisible image, the knowing soul. Hence, there is the Song of Solomon. And it is strange that Christendom has not cultivated the love or eros that leads to marriage, but has generally suppressed all eros. Paul (Ephesians 5:25) writes:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by washing with the water of the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his own body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church…”
This had been the theme of his letter to the Ephesians, to which John would have had access, assuming that it was kept in the church there:
For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (1:10).
Heaven and earth are joined when the Lamb and Bride are wed. It is not said that the creation is wed to the Lord through this, as though the creation sprung from within him like Eve from the rib of Adam. The creation is one with the mystical bride that somehow is the body and the mother of redeemed mankind. The bride is the womb of the sons of God, the baptismal font. In a sense the creation is also the womb of the sons of God, but in this roundabout way, not as though the creation were the mother of created man, but of begotten man. Created man is begotten by parents but made by the Lord. The children of God, though, are made by their forbearers, shaped by tradition and law, but begotten by the Lord (John 1:13). Yet it is so in the same way that the trinity is so. In the Bride and Lamb, all things are united in Him. The most complete image of God in scripture is a trinity joined, or a quaternity.
The new name is related to the marriage: Isaiah 62:2-4:
The nations shall see your vindication,
And all the kings your glory;
And you shall be called by a new name
Which the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed forsaken
And your land shall no more be termed desolate
But you shall be called ‘My delight is in her’
And ‘your land married.’
[22:3-4] The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him. They shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. His face is singular, in a Johannine allusion to the identity of the persons of the trinity. And the throne is singular. There is a long history regarding the question of whether a man can see the face of God and live. To Moses, God says “you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live” (Ex. 33:20). God hides Moses in a cleft of the rock when he passes by, so that Moses is not harmed, and Moses wore a veil because of the brightness of his face after speaking with the Lord on Mt. Sinai. Yet Hagar, seeing an angel, says “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him? (Genesis 16:14). When Jacob wrestles with the angel, he calls the place the face of God, saying “For I have seen the face of God and lived” (Genesis 32:30; 33:10). On two other occasions, the angel of the Lord is seen, and those who see fear that they will die (Judges 6:22-23; 13:22).
That the saints will eat from the tree of life and see the face of God are things inconsistent with the mortal body, and contradicts the impression, made by the continuing of the nations, that the city is not in heaven but on the new earth. The mortal and immortal, heaven and earth, are joined in a way that was impossible after the fall, though it may have been possible in the garden. The garden is not quite on earth, as is evident from the contradiction between Genesis 2:4 and 1:26 as to which day man was made.
The city of God is shown from the earthly perspective, and this is similar to the second sentence of Genesis, where the heaven is set aside to discuss the “earth,” meaning here the visible realm, since what it refers to is prior to the dry land called “earth,” and it is clear that there is something above the firmament called Heaven, above that in which the stars are set, namely the waters above. This is shown by Maimonides (Guide II.30). However, when he writes of “out of nothing,” we wonder how he will answer when we ask him on which day was the water created? And is there not a heaven prior to the first day, just as there is an earth without form and void and a deep over which the spirit moves? Is this not addressed by John in the first three sentences of his gospel? And was part of the movement of the spirit of God on the face of the deep prior to another part of the movement, so that movement implies that time is present before the first day?
[22:5] That they have “no need of Lamp or sun, because the Lord illumines them” is a repetition of 21:22, and a place where one gets a glimpse of the intelligibility in the images. The lampstand, the churches, were an intermediate institution, no longer needed when the Lord is with us, but are here now because the Presence is hidden, or hides from us, beneficently. “And they shall reign for ever and ever.” This is the only mention, in the description of the city in the last two chapters, of the saints sharing in the throne.
[22:6] The text of the revelation in one sense ends at 22:5, and the angel begins the signing off or farewell section. First the angel testifies that the words of the prophecy are true, and that he has been sent by “the Lord, the God of the spirits of the holy prophets,” “to show his servants what must soon occur.” The ending parallels the opening, except that the opening followed the order of the delivery of the message, from Jesus and God through the angel to John, while the conclusion is less hierarchical. Some characters have been added to the farewell section: the (singular) Spirit and the Bride.
[22:7] At 22:7, the speaker is Jesus, saying, “Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” More literally, it says “the one keeping,” or, as was said, “those watching (1:3)” To keep the prophecy might also mean to pay heed to it. It may also refer to care for the text and the message of the Revelation. Or it may be that “those watching” is the better translation. This is the sixth of the seven blessings of the Revelation. What this means, though, is a question, once one thinks about it. The book commands us only to not take the mark of the beast, though to keep the book would also mean to obey the purity implied not only by the exclusions from the Kingdom here in Chapter 22, and also in the letters to the churches. “Come out of her” is another thing we are told to do (18:4).
[22:8-9] John is again the speaker from 22:8, before Jesus speaks again at 22:12. John testifies that it is he who saw and heard these things. He repeats that when he did so, he fell down to worship the angel, but was told that the angel is a fellow servant, and he should worship God. One significant addition from the very similar lines at 19:10 is “your brethren the prophets.” At 19:10, the angel said “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” John especially is himself among the prophets, so that again we say that John the apostle may have been the only one then alive who was able to receive the vision.
[22:10] When Daniel asked “What is the issue of all these things/” he was told that the words are “shut up and sealed until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9). John is told not to seal up the words of this prophecy, because the time is near. The Apocalypse of John may be the answer to the question of Daniel. Some of what occurs in the revelation may not yet have been set when Daniel saw, before the crucifixion.
[22:12-16] Astonishingly, Jesus delivers a brief summary and farewell address, until he appears:
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have a right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star.
The seventh blessing is a summary of the Christian knowledge of the human soul: Happy are those who through repentance join to the Christ through death to find the proper food for the immortal part of them that is our true being, and enter into the life of the city, the presence of the light, and the worship and service of the Lord.
The root and offspring of David is both the progenitor and the descendant. The Messiah is understood to have been before the Creation.
[22:17] Astonishing, too, is the farewell: “The Spirit and the Bride say “Come.” And let him who hears say “Come.” And let him who is thirsty come and let him who desires take the water of life without price.” The Spirit and the Bride are, again, as if persons of a quaternity, and him who hears also participates in the divine invitation to the water of life.
[22:18] Considering the warning not to change any words of the text, it is astonishing too that the modern readers are so ready to assume the work of many hands. It is “the tree of life and the holy city,” as at 22:14, from which one would lose his share if he took away anything, while to one who adds will be added the plagues.
[22:20] That he is coming “soon” is the last word from the divine in the Revelation, as it was almost the first word. For as we say in the Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
- ix: Conclusion
The Messiah and the coming of the beast are like two essential points in the time of earth and man, points that are so because of the way things are, and reveal the way things are. Then something else can come to be. It is for this reason that the reading of the Revelation is for all ages, not only for the Church of the end times as a warning. The prophesied event is the essential event, and reveals the permanent nature of things. It is because God is true and man in sin rejects God and justice that these things occur. The world we know will be gone, and so we know in every age that in this sense our works do not last, give or take a few thousand years.
To summarize, the teaching of this commentary has been: that John is the writer of the Revelation; that it is worth reading for its own sake, as well as for our worries about the future; and that the reading confers a blessing. It is addressed not to everyone, but to those already turned by the gospels, the servants. It is about the martyrs and the avenging of their martyrdom in the end times. The rapture, like the desolating sacrilege, is not directly addressed. The fourth chapter is a vision of the throne that continues throughout, so that the completion of the number of the saints or martyrs is a completion of the throne. The seals are of a different time scale than the trumpets, addressing centuries following the incarnation, up through the making of the martyrs seen in the fifth seal.
There is some conjunction of Jewish and Christian things foreseen, a re-grafting in of Israel. The Messiah will not be born in the end times, but is coming on the clouds, having already been born, died and resurrected. Israel may be set up to receive the false messiah, having missed the first incarnation, but will surely see the Messiah at the second coming, and then the two will agree. The two witnesses may refer not to individual prophets but, as the olive trees, to two bodies of the faithful, whether the Eastern and Western Churches or the Jewish and Christian. The two legs of the statue in the vision of Daniel correspond to the areas of the Eastern and Western Churches.
The twelfth chapter describes the incarnation and the consequent pursuit of the woman and her offspring, who are the Christians. This pursuit has led to the martyrs seen under the throne with the opening of the sixth seal. The worldwide earthquake destroys the present political orders, while the advances of civilization are retained, allowing after a profound silence for the emergence of the apocalyptic things concerning the Beast. The pursuit of the woman and her offspring is continued by the sea and land beasts of the thirteenth chapter, and provides the context. Meanwhile, there are survivors, and these gather on Mount Zion. The harvest and the winepress may be two different occurrences. The return is addressed in Chapters 14, 15 and 19, focusing on different aspects. The Beast is distinct from Babylon, and his kingdom is distinct. He attacks Babylon, and at the same time makes martyrs of the true offspring. The identity of Babylon is a mystery, but it is something like world empire, or the assumption made by the seven world empires, concluding with Rome and then the worldwide worship of the beast. The two books of Daniel and the Revelation together provide the Biblical apocalyptic teaching. Babylon is the whole of the statue seen by Daniel, named after its head. In the worst period of all human history, the beast will attack Babylon and make martyrs of the witnesses before the mark of the beast is required. This will continue in the martyrdom of what become the millennial saints: those who refuse the mark and are not conquered by the Beast. The extent of the world rule is not clear, since his control does not prevent the nations of the four corners of the world from gathering at Armageddon. Nor is it clear that the millennial reign of the saints is literal from the earthly point of view, though this does seem to be the most consistent reading. Babylon is contrasted with the woman that is the true Bride. The New Jerusalem is mystically identified with the body of the faithful, who have no church as we do now. No lamps are needed because the Lord is present. The marriage of the Bride and the Lamb is the most complete image of God in the scriptures, mystically including mankind in the throne. The harmony of the whole, lost from Eden, is restored in the union of God and His creation, through those not only created, but begotten, by Him and by the Bride. The saints even of this age are from this union, and are a foreshadowing or foretaste of the heavenly city. The new earth is like the former one in that there are nations. The story of their paying tribute indicates the difference, if the rod of iron indicates the similarity of the New Jerusalem to a world empire. The need for the rod of iron indicates the difference between the new condition and the simple imagination of perfection or of heaven, which remains the mystery that heaven has always been.
Appendix A: The Three Secrets of Fatima
- After she showed the children a terrifying vision of hell, she said to them: You have seen hell, where the poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”
- “The war [World War I] is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine and persecutions of the church and of the Holy father.
“To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the communion of reparation on the first Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace, if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the church. The good will be martyred, the Holy father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved, etc.
- After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of our Lady and a little above, we saw an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that our lady radiated towards him from her right hand; pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: Penance, Penance, Penance!. And we saw in an immense light that is God, ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a bishop dressed in white. ‘We had the impression that it was the Holy Father.’ Other Bishops, Priests, men and women religious going up a steep mountain at the top of which there was a big cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork tree with the bark; before reaching there the holy father passed through a big city half in ruins, and half trembling and with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Appendice B: The Apocalyptic Texts
Matthew 24; 13:39-43; 25, 26:29, 64
Mark 13; 9:1; 12:25; 14:25, 62
Luke 21; 17:20-37; 18:6-8; 22:18, 30; Acts 1:11
2 Thessalonians 2
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
2 Peter 3:8-13
Genesis 49: 1-2
Psalms 102: 25-26; 93:1-2
Isaiah 2; 9:7; 10:17-27; 11-14; 17; 24-27; 42:4; 49:6, 51:6-60-62
Ezekiel 36-40, 47
Amos 5:18-20; 8:8-10; 9:11-15.
Thomas # 51, 59, 113
Epistula Apostolorum 34-38
Abraham, 6, 9-10, 25-26, 66, 126, 150, 160, 163, 218, 235, notes 89, 92, 121
Acts, the Book of, 2-6, 12, 20, 36, 47, 51, 59-60, 83, 90, 115, 144, 150, 186, note 31
Acts of John, 3, 16, 17, 20, 36, notes 5, 11, 23
age, v, 1, 9, 21, 24, 30, 32, 37-38, 44-45, 50, 84, 93, 100-101, 112, 122, 134, 141, 166, 174, 184, 189-191, 204, 219, 224, 233, 240-1 notes 40, 71
ages, 20, 30, 32, 41-3, 46, 52, 54, 63, 66, 125, 154, 216, 221, 240
Akiva, Rabbi, note 123
Alvarez, Leo Paul s. de, notes: 16, 53, 104
Anselm, Saint, 50
Andrew, the Apostle, 2-3, 5, 14, 141, note 4
Anna, grandmother of Jesus, 76
Antichrist, 6, 20, 34-36, 41, 43, 44-45, 50, 72, 80-81, 87, 91, 99, 105-7, 109, 111,121, 128, 131, 134-7, 144, 152, 159, 161, 170, 173-7, 180, 191, 195, 201-2, 213, 226 notes: 65, 71
Aquinas, Saint Thomas, 185
Augustine, Saint, vi, 6, 26-27, 40, 43, 46, 107, 125, 155, 179, 187, 191, 208-11, 217, 221 notes 71, 106, 123, 130
Augustus, 11, 13, 116, 129, notes 9, 79
Aune, David, viii, 1-2, 15, 49-50, 53-4, 65, 69, 92-93, 104-5, 113-4, 123, 128-9, 139, 144, 155, 158, 186, 189, 208, 212, 222, 224, notes 1, 60, 131
Assyria, Assyrian, 29, 70, 129-130, 158, 161, 170, 182, 200, 203, note 71
Babylon, iii, 16, 25-6, 29, 41, 54-5, 62, 83, 93, 105, 107, 114, 116, 120, 124, 127-30, 136, 142-43, 145, 152-58, 160-168, 177-187, 189-193, 196, 200, 203, 207, 211, 240
Bacon, Sir Francis, 30
Balaam 57, 59, note 76
Balak, 59, note 76
Baptist, iv, vii, 28, 42, 67, 75, 115, 120, 122, 207-208, notes 15, 105
Bartholomew, the Apostle, 5
Baukham, Richard, vi, 43, 51-52, 54, 61, 83, 95, 102, 106, 137, notes 64, 77, 91
bear, 127-128, 130
3, 12, 28, 36-7, 39-41, 43, 48-9, 53-5, 58, 65-6, 69, 71-75, 82, 85, 90-2, 96-8, 100, 102, 104-107, 109-111, 113-118, 122, 126-136, 138, 141-2, 144, 148-151, 153-161, 164, 166-170, 172, 174, 176, 178-180, 190-200, 202, 204-6, 208-12, 216-8, 236-238, notes 65, 81, 112
Belgium, 133, 165-166
Benjamin, 16, 175
book of life, 61-62, 87, 131, 139, 144, 158, 177, 181, 198, 214, 216-220, 230
Bride, 3, 46, 62, 70, 113, 116, 118, 125, 155, 178-79, 187-188, 190, 192-93, 221-22, 228, 230, 235-238, 241, note 98
bronze, 32, 54, 57, 60, 65-66, 164, 166, 169-170
Calendar vi, 26-29, 33-34, 120, 161, 169
Caligula, 4, 6, 11, 116-17, notes 9, 65
Calvin, John, 42
Casey, Edgar, 33
Cerinthus, 14, 60, 211, note 28
Chiliast, 27, 40, 208, 210, 213
China, 134, 168
clay, 99, 130, 164-166, 179, 184, 194, 227
Collins, Adela Yabro, 114, notes 70, 75
cork tree, 242
Dan, 90, 136, 173-74
Daniel, vi, 20, 22-24, 28-30, 34, 38, 52-55, 60, 65, 67, 71, 73, 75, 79-80, 83, 88, 91, 99-102, 105-06, 108, 119-120, 123, 127-136, 149-150, 156, 158-177, 180, 182, 195, 198-199, 202, 205-06, 215, 228, 239, 241, 244, notes 42, 71, 85, 99, 102, 104, 111, 112
David, 7, 13, 26, 57, 61, 76, 188, 239, note 71
Death, 53-54, 77, 82, 127, 209, 215
Devil, 39, 43-45, 59, 86, 121-123, 200, 208-209, 211-213, 220, notes 106, 116
Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, note 85
Dionysius Exiguus, 26
Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, note 1
Domitian, 11-14, 36, 50, 116, 129, notes 9, 11, 99
dragon, 36, 39-40, 50, 101, 113-118, 121, 123-127, 129-131, 135, 150, 159, 161, 178, 182,200-201, 208, 212-13, 215, 219-220
Drewes, Christopher, 12, note 22
Drosnin, Michael, note 76
eagle, 66-67, 82, 123-124, 127, 134
earthquake, 22, 43, 75, 81, 87-91, 95-96, 98-99, 101-03, 105, 111, 121, 152-54, 196-198, 202-03, 241, notes 90, 103
Easter Island, note 124
Eden, 58, 179, 242, note 69
Edom, 145, 198, 199, note 76
Eleazar, Rabbi, note 123
Elijah, 10, 17, 72, 106-107, 142, note 91
Elizabeth, kinswoman of Mary, 2, 16, note 4
Enoch, 10, 16-17, 26, 28, 31,65, 72, 74, 85, 105, 120, 126, 160, 195, 205, 215, 221, 230, 234, 244, notes 47, 83, 120
Ephesus, 4-5, 13-16, 50, 54, 57, 90, 191, 229, 231
Exodus, the, 32-33, 123, 149
Exodus, the book of, 32-33, 50-51, 53, 60, 93, 97, 107, 123, 135, 165, 215, 244
ear, 57, 61-62
Egypt, 2, 11, 32, 70, 89, 92, 106, 115, 118, 123, 128-130, 134, 147, 158, 160-61, 163, 171, 177, 198-99, notes 4, 47, 43
eye, 3, 6, 8, 16, 40, 42, 48, 51, 61, 70, 73, 198, 201, note 107
Ezekiel, 23, 25, 53, 64-67, 75, 78, 92, 95,100, 102, 137, 147, 182, 200-202, 220, 225, 231, 244
Fatima, 33, 79, 82, 84, 87, 95, 211, 222, 240, 244, notes 46, 71, 134
fig tree, 21, 25
fire, 12, 33, 37-39, 46, 51, 54, 57, 62, 65, 72, 78, 82, 90, 92, 95-96, 100, 106, 135, 144-45, 147, 149, 162, 166-67, 178, 184, 195-96, 198, 200, 202, 208, 211, 213- 215, 217, 220, 222-223, 225, 243
France, 41, 133, 159, 165, 169, 178
Foresight, 207, note 124
gold, 55, 57, 62, 65, 89, 133, 144, 152, 156, 164, 166, 190, 197-98, 224, 226, 230
Germany, German, 21, 31, 45, 82, 84, 86-7 127, 133, 147, 149, 155, 157-59, 165-168, 181, 203, notes 40, 116
Greece, 128-30, 158, 161, 165-66, 169, 177, 201, 203
Greek, language and culture, vii, 6, 9, 15, 30, 40, 42, 50, 66, 68, 91, 98, 112, 126, 128, 120, 134, 141, 166-170, 177, 181, 183, 185, 189, 193, notes 1, 3, 11, 71
Greeks, iv, 5-6, 9-10, 59, 155, 166, 175-76, 180, 183, 187, notes 79, 115
Hades, 53-54, 77-78, 82, 127, 209, 215, 217
hear, hearing, 17, 19, 22-23, 51, 53, 57-58, 60, 62, 65, 69, 72, 81, 107, 209-210
Hebrews, the book, 1, 7, 26-27, 37, 54, note 72
Hebrews, the people, 26
Heidegger, Martin, 45
Herod Antipas, 4
Herod Agrippa, 5, 208
Herod, King, 6, 10, 13, 26, 115-118, 155, 161, 170, 179, 206, notes 43, 79
Hesiod, 50, 166
hindsight, v, vi, 17, 21, 30, 41, 82, 132, 185, 206
Hitler, Adolf, 23, 29, 34, 40, 43, 72, 102, 119, 132-3, 135-37, 142, 147, 159, 167-70, 176, 178, 180, 203, note 40
horn, horns, 8, 51, 54-56, 76, 98, 116, 123, 127-132, 135, 138, 158, 161, 165, 167, 169- 171, 175-180, 195, 198-199, 206
Hopi, 33, note 52
Hosea, 27-28, 174, 179, 196, 211, 231, 244, note 117
Irenaeus, Saint, 15, 27, 40, 42, 60, 211, note1
iron, 32, 85, 99, 113, 118, 130, 134, 164-166, 170, 176, 179, 184, 194-95, 228, 234, 242
Isaiah, 2, 22-25, 34, 50-53, 61, 65-66, 70, 76, 78, 86, 88-91, 114, 117, 127, 133, 145, 149, 152, 160, 167, 174, 180, 182, 186, 190, 196-97, 201, 204, 215, 223-228, 230, 236, 244, note 71
Jacob, 53, 115, 173, 228, 238, notes 76, 123
Jacob, Rabbi, note 123
Jahova’s Witnesses, 6, 28-29, 42, 108, 120, 139, 219, note 15, 87, 108
Jefferson, Thomas, iv, 8, 163, 183, note 115
James the Just, 4-6, 13, 50, 156, 174, note 79
James Zebedee, 2-6, 15-16, 141, 156, 208, 211
Jerusalem, vi, 3-6, 9, 11, 15, 20-23, 26, 28-29, 32, 34, 36-40, 43, 50, 52, 59, 61-62, 69-70, 73-74, 77-79, 88-89, 92-93, 97, 99, 104-108, 114, 116, 119, 125, 129-131, 133, 137, 139-40, 145, 151-152, 154-155, 160-161, 163, 168-169, 171-178, 182, 191, 196-206, 213, 215-216, 220, 224-231, 234, 236, 242 notes 65, 71, 79, 92, 119
Jew, Jews, Jewish, iv, 3-7, 10, 12-13, 22-29, 33-34, 39, 42, 49, 58, 60, 65, 67, 70-72, 75, 78, 90-92, 103, 105, 107-108, 114, 116-119, 124-125, 127, 131-132, 140-141, 146-147, 149, 155, 158-162, 165-170, 172-179, 183, 186, 198, 204, 213, 221-222, 225, 228, 238, notes 15, 42, 43, 71, 79, 89, 100, 116, 117, 121, 123
Joachim, Grandfather of Jesus, 75
Joachim of Fiore, 41- 44, 142
John the Apostle, See especially Chapter One.
John, The Gospel, 22, 42, 44-45, 49-50, 59, 63, 71, 75, 90, 102, 115, 120, 124, 143, 187, 207-208, 214-215, 217, 228, 231-232, 235, notes1, 28, 74, 79
1 John, 18, 49, 89, note 65
2 John, 5, 6, 49, 89, note 65
3 John, 1, 49, 89
John the Baptist, 2-3, 5-6, 16, 75, 104, 122
Joseph, the patriarch, 114, 162
Joseph, the tribe, 60, 90
Joseph, the father of Jesus, 2, 4-5, 75
Joseph of Arimathea, 233
Josephus 10, 11, 22, 117, 162, 171
Judah, 16, 75, 80, 119, 160, 174, 195, 197
Jung, Carl G., 44-46, 120-21, 126, 142, 201, 203, 244, notes 1, 12, 54, 56, 97, 98, 101, 107
Justin Martyr, 9, 40, 60, note 1
key, 44, 53, 56, 60, 74, 96, 105, 120, 147, 156, 160, 163, 176, 179-180, 206-07, 209, 223, note 46
keys, 52-53, 81, 164
King James Version, 66, 113, 151, 164, 172
Lamb, 3, 18, 20, 37, 50, 53-55, 57, 63-64, 67, 69, 75-77, 79, 81-82, 88, 91-92, 99-100, 106, 120, 127-8, 130-131, 134-136, 138-141, 143-144, 146-147, 153-154, 158-159, 166, 174, 191-192, 197, 209, 218, 221-223, 229, 231, 233-235, 239
lamp, 49-50, 54, 56, 95, 189, 218, 222-23, 228, 235, 239
lampstand, 49-50, 53-54, 56, 69, 105, 108, 118, 188-89, 235
Laodicea 5, 53, 56, 60-61, 163
Levi, 16, 75, 136
Lincoln, Abraham, 133, 225
lion, 65-66, 75, 80, 89, 96, 99, 126-129, 221
logos, 7-10, 15, 90, 167 178, 214, 217
Luke, 2-3, 7, 12, 15-17, 20-23, 25, 33-36, 41-42, 47-48, 50-51, 68, 70, 72, 83, 86-87, 103, 109, 113, 120, 140, 185, 189, 206, 213, 219, 233, notes 14, 68
Luther, 41-43, 179
Macarthur, Jack, 13, 48, 66, 180, 214
Maimonides, 16, 24, 26, 52, 64, 172, 224, 233, 237, notes 39, 42
Madison, James, iv 80, 106, 179
Malchizadek, 104, 125, note 92
Manna, 59, 61, 229
Matthew, the Apostle, 2, 15, note 3
Matthew, the gospel v, 2-4, 7, 15-17, 20-22, 25-26, 35-38, 47, 50-51, 65, 70-74, 79, 86-87, 104, 109, 140, 168, 185, 189-190, 192, 204, 206, 216, 227, 241, notes 3, 14, 65, 68, 69, 107
Messiah, 3, 7, 20, 23-24, 26-27, 37-39, 44, 51, 59, 71, 74-76, 78, 82-84, 104-105, 107, 111-115, 117, 124, 143-44, 149, 153, 156, 167, 171-174, 184-85, 192, 198, 204, 210-11, 213-14, 217, 221-222, 224-227, 234, 237, notes 39, 41, 42, 79, 89, 120
moon, 21-22, 26-27, 33, 35, 43, 63, 72, 86-87, 89, 95, 101, 112-114, 148, 195-196, 218, 223, 228
Mother Shipton, 33
Mount Mariah, 29, 103, 138
Mount of Olives, 39, 115, 138, 193, 195, 211,
Mount Sinai, 50
Mount Zion, 25, 39, 91, 103, 105, 108, 138-141, 143, 147, 150, 153, 238, note 89
Moses, 6, 10, 24, 50, 52, 54, 65, 104-106, 122, 125, 133, 136, 140, 146, 149, 162, 174, 214, 217, 222, 235, notes 79, 91, 93
Nag Hammadi Manuscripts, 231, notes 14, 68, 69, 74, 81
nakedness, 61, 150
Nero Caesar, vi, 4-6, 11-13, 39, 43, 115, 121, 128, 136, 161, 169-170, 210, note 9, 99, 65
Nerva, 14, 99
Nicolaitans, 56, 58-59
olive tree, 54, 55, 90, 105, 125, 138, 238
Patmos, 13-16, 18, 43, 49, 52, 67, 128
Paul, vi, 2, 4-5, 9, 12, 14-16, 20, 34-35, 43, 48-49, 53, 63-64, 68-71, 90, 99, 105, 114, 130, 149-150,161, 185, 188, 207, 216, 218, 222, 233-234, note 14
Pergamum 56, 58, 60
Peter, 2, 8, 12, 15-17, 20, 33, 37-38, 43, 48, 70, 140, 161, 218, 220, note 14
1 Peter, 20, 227
2 Peter, 1, 7, 21, 27, 37-38, 73, 209, 212, 227
Philadelphia, 56, 58, 60, 68, 70, 92
Phillip, 2, 5, 55, 140, 227
Philosophy, vi, 7-10, 31, 49, 58, 77, 82, 106, 121, 124, 146, 154, 156, 161-62, 184, 201, 217, 219-220, 227, 232-233, notes 40, 71
Plato, iv, 7, 9-10, 15, 32, 46, 49, 57, 59, 109, 123, 126, 133, 154, 162, 164-65, 170, 175, 178, 181, 184-85, 201, 217, 219, 225, 233, note 66
Poland, 90, 132, 158, 165, 168-69
Polycarp, 14, 15, 58, note 1
Portugal, 177, 240
Proverbs, vi, 57, 165, 177, 216, 232
Psalms, 7, 27, 59, 100, 138, 149, 213, 232
rainbow, 38, 64, 99
rapture, 15, 25, 35-37, 66-71, 73-74, 80, 87-88, 92, 97, 106, 108, 114-115, 117, 120, 138, 142-143, 147, 150-51, 207, 210, 215-216, 238, notes 71, 82
Rome, 4, 6, 11-13, 15, 34, 40-43, 46, 49, 58, 68-69, 79, 81-83, 105, 117, 122-123, 128-29, 132-142, 151, 154-158, 161, 163, 165-167, 172-174, 176-182, 184, 187-188, 190, 197-198, 203, 238
Rome, Republic of, 42, 79
Roman Empire, 9-11, 13, 36, 39, 43, 79, 83, 119, 123, 128-129, 131-134, 148, 155, 157-158, 160, 164-165, 167-170, 174, 178-79, 190, 196, 212, 223, note 99
Roman, 9-10, 12, 21, 39, 49, 58, 82, 115, 127-128, 133, 135, 154, 156, 168, 176-178, 183-184, 188-90, 210, notes 9, 15, 71, 97
Romans, iv, 11, 13, 58, 115-116, 1`73, 178, note 21, 79
Romans, the Letter of Paul, vi, 12, 57, 90, 105-106, 161, 185, 231, note 115
Romania, 165, 168, 199
Russia, 85, 98, 129, 133, 155, 165, 168-69, 198-201, 204, 242, note116
Russell, Charles Taze, 29, note 87
2 Samuel, Note 76
Sardis, 56, 59, 67-68, 217
Satan, 14, 39, 43, 58, 60, 71, 85, 113, 118, 120-121, 155, 198, 206-07, 209-121
satanic, Satanists, 8, 85, 120, 130-131, 201
Schaeffer, Henry, vi, vii, 21, 68, 114, 127, 142, 216
Scofield, C.I., vii, 62, 66, 73, 78, 107, 113-114, 122, 134, 150, 170-172, 175, 179-180, 190, 193, 199, 201, 214-215, notes 99, 111, 112
sea, 2, 33-34, 37, 53, 65, 69, 76-77, 87, 89, 94-96, 98-100, 102, 105-06, 111, 114-115, 117, 120-126, 129-131, 133-135, 138-142, 146-147, 150-153, 164, 167-68, 175, 188, 192, 197, 199, 206-07, 209, 211-213, 215, 218, 220, 230, 232, 238, notes 89, 96, 120, 124
sight, (the faculty) 57, 61, 77, 106, 134, 230-231
sight, (a spectacle) 63
silver, 88, 132, 143, 163, 165, 196, 224
Smyrna, 5, 15, 56, 58, 60
soul, souls, 8, 11, 32, 40, 42-46, 54, 56-57, 61,63, 65, 71, 77, 81-82, 85-86, 94, 96, 104, 111, 121, 123-124, 126, 131, 134, 143, 146-147, 165-166, 182, 185-186, 188, 192, 206-208, 211, 213-220, 222, 225-26, 230-232, 234, 237, 240, notes 71, 130
Spain, 5, 127, 165
star, 26, 61, 95-96, 120, 202, 206, 229, 236, notes 43, 76
stars, 27, 49-50, 53-54, 56, 86-87, 89, 95, 112, 114-115, 120-122, 148, 154, 158, 195, 202, 203
stone, iv, 7, 30, 59-61, 64, 86, 89, 98, 132, 143, 163, 167, 188-89, 193, 197, 200, 222, 226, 229, 233
stoning, 86, 174, note 79
sun, 21-22, 26-27, 33, 35, 39, 43, 63-64, 72, 86-89, 95-96, 99,101, 112-114, 119, 148, 150-53, 173, 194-196, 218, 223, 228, 235, note 52
sword, 15, 30, 40, 45, 53, 54, 56-58, 81, 83, 126, 134, 149, 185, 192-194, 199-200, 202, 209, 226-227, 233, 240
Syria, Syrian, 2, 49, 64, 127-128, 168, note 127
Temple, 3-5, 11-13, 15, 20-23, 25-29, 35-35, 43, 48-49, 54, 58, 60-61, 63-64, 72, 87, 102-04, 107, 110, 118-119, 127-128, 130, 133, 138, 141-144, 146-47, 150, 152, -156, 162, 168, 170-176, 187-88, 190, 192-93, 196, 198, 200, 222-23, 227-29, 234, note 79
Thomas, the Apostle, 2, 3, 5-6, 15, 44, 47, 57, 140, 149
Thomas, the book, 147, 157, notes 36, 68, 74
Trajan, 15, notes 9, 99
Titus, 13, 22, 171, note 4
Tree of life, 18-19, 21, 25, 57-58, 61, 218, 227- 233, 235-237, note 96
Tree of knowledge, 57, 229-231, 233
Tree in general 181, 213
Trees, 89, 96, 228-230
tree, the cross, 232
Tribulation, 20, 22-23, 26, 35-37, 54, 58-60, 63, 66-68, 70-73, 76, 79-81, 86-87, 91-92, 97, 101, 106-108, 110, 118, 138-142, 150, 153-1545, 179-180, 200, 215, notes 71, 82, 89
United States, 34, 81, 161, 164, 168, 178-79, 188-189
Usher, Bishop, 27
Van Impe, vi-vii, 21, 25, 27-28, 37, 41, 66-69, 72, 78-80, 104-105, 107, 110, 114, 125, 127-129, 132-133, 151, 154, 157, 160, 171-173, 176, 180, 196, 199-200, 213, 215, 245, notes 46, 71, 82, 99, 123
Victorinus, vi, 14, 49, 58, 63, 65-66, 75, 79, 87-88, 95, 98-99, 101, 103, 106, 108, 119, 153, 179, 207, 210, 212, note 100
Williams, Roger, iv, 156
wine, 42, 81-83, 142, 146, 154, 181, 196, 232, notes 15, 92
winepress, 39, 138, 141-142, 144, 150, 153, 190-194, 206, 211, 238
Wycliffe, John, 41, 43
Zechariah, 24-25, 39, 50-51, 54, 89-90, 105, 138, 165-190, 193, 195, 201, 207, 222-225
- Bible Texts
- Bible. The Pocket Interlinear New Testament. Edited by J. P. Green, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1979.
- Bible. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Edited by Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.
- The Catholic Study Bible. (The New American Bible). General Editor Donald Senior New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
- 4. Holy Bible, Rockford, Ill., 1881.
- The Holy Bible, Scofield, C. I. New York: Oxford University Press, 1909.
- Classic Works
- Anonymous 1. The Acts of John, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers edited by Roberts, A., and Donaldson, J. Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1985-1987. (Vol. VII, p. 563).
- Anonymous 2. The Acts of John in The Other Gospels, edited by Ron Cameron, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1982.
- Anonymous 3. Authoritative Teaching, translated by George W. MacRae, in The Nag Hammadi Library in English, pp. 278-283.
- Aquinas, St. Thomas. Summa Contra Gentiles.
- Augustine City of God. Translated by Marcus Dodds, D. D., New York: Modern Library, undated.
- Bettenson, Henry. Documents of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.
- Charles, R. H. The Book of Enoch. London: The Chaucer Press, 1966.
- Eusebius, History of the Church. In The Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, (no date).
- Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1952.
- 10. Hesiod. Works and Days. Translated by R. M. Frazier. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983.
- Hippolytus. In The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Edited by Roberts, A., and Donaldson, J. The Ante-Nicene Fathers Grand Rapids; W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Vol. VII, 1985-1987.
- 12. James M. R., ed. The Apocryphal New Testament. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1924.
- Josephus, Flavius Joseph. The Complete Works of Josephus. Translated by William Whiston. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1981.
- Justin Martyr Dialogue with Trypho. in The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Edited by Roberts, A., and Donaldson, J. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Vol. I, 1985-1987.
- Irenaeus, On Heresies, III. In The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Edited by Roberts, A., and Donaldson, J. The Ante-Nicene Fathers Grand Rapids; W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Vol. I, 1985-1987.
- Malachy, Saint. The Prophecies of St. Malachy,. Rockford, Ill: Tan Books, 1973.
- The Nag Hammadi Library in English. Translated by Members of the Coptic Gnostic project of the Institute for antiquity and Christianity, James M. Robinson dir. New York: Harper and Rowe, 1977.
- Plato. Apology. In Three Texts on Socrates, ed. by Thomas G. West. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press,1984.
- _____. Republic. Translated by Alan Bloom. New York: Basic Books, Inc. 1968.
- _____. Phaedo.
- _____. Meno.
- Seutonius. The Twelve Caesars. Translated by Robert Graves. New York: Penguin Books, 1989.
- Tacitus. The Annals of Imperial Rome. Translated by Michael Grant. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.
- Tocqueville, Alexis de. The Old Regime and the French Revolution. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. Garden City: Doubleday Inc., 1955.
- Victorinus. Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John. In Roberts, A., and Donaldson, J. The Ante-Nicene Fathers Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, Vol. VII, 1985-1987.
- Recent Commentaries
- David Aune, Revelation. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, TX: World Books, 1997.
- Baukham, Richard, “Revelation,” in The Oxford Bible Commentary, pp. 1287-1306.
- Brother Michael of the Holy Trinity, The Third Secret of Fatima translated by Gardiner, Anne Barbeau, Rockford, Ill; Tan, 1991.
- Cradock, Fred B, and Tucker, Gene M. “Bible,” in Microsoft, Encarta encyclopedia, 2004.
- De Conick April D. “What’s Up with the Gospel of Thomas?” In Biblical Archeology Review, Vol. 36 no. 1, 2010, pp. 28, 85-86.
- dc Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs. Jesus Freaks. Stories of those who stood for Jesus: The Ultimate Jesus Freaks. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Albury Publishing, 1999.
- Drewes, Christopher. Introduction to the Books of the Bible. St. Louis, Mo. : Concordia Publishing House, 1970.
- Johnson, Paul. A History of the American People. New York: Harper-Collins, 1997.
- Jung, Carl G. The Portable Jung. Edited by Joseph Campbell. New York: The Viking Press.
- ___________. Symbols of Transformation. Translated by R. F. C. Hull. New York: The Bollingen Foundation, 1956.
- Lindsey, Hal. Planet Earth: The Final Chapter. Beverly Hills, CA: Western Front Ltd., 1998.
- ___________. There’s A New World Coming. Santa Ana: Vision House Publishers, 1973.
- Macarthur, Jack. Revelation. Eugene, Oregon: Vernon L. Iverson Co., 1973.
- Mails, Thomas E. The Hopi Survival Kit. Arcana: Welcome Rain, 1997.
- McBirnie, William Stuart. The Search for the Twelve Apostles. Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1973.
- Reagan, David R. “What Year is it?” Lion and Lamb Ministries. http: // http://www.lamblion.com.
- Scofield, C. I. Notes, in The Holy Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1909.
- Strauss, Leo. Thoughts on Machiavelli. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958.
- Smith, William. In The Holy Bible, Rockford, Ill., 1881.
- Van Impe, Jack. Revelation Revealed Verse by Verse. Troy, Michigan: Jack Van Impe Ministeries, 1982.
- ____________. Final Mysteries Unsealed, Nashville: World Publishing, 1998.
- ____________. 11:59 and Counting. Jack Van Impe Ministries, 1983.
- Voegelin, Eric. The New Science of Politics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1987.
- Walvoord, John E Walvoord. The Millennial Kingdom. Grand Rapids, Mi.: Academic Books, 1959.
- Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. Revelation: Its Grand Climax at hand. Brooklyn, NY: U.S.A., 1988.
 Watchtower, Revelation, p. 179-180.
Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII, p. 213.
 In addition to the assumption of the literal reading of Chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis, the line thought to contradict Darwin is “each after its kind” in the creation of plants and animals in Chapter 1. So it is thought, one species cannot give rise to another. But Genesis does not describe how each is created according to its kind. It addresses the formal rather than the efficient cause. Darwin does not address the formal causes or the kinds, but rather assumes them, and shows that the temporal manifestations of the tree of life are changing, and emerging, rather than permanent. The Bible does not address extinction or evolution of kinds, except in the order of plants, sea creatures, birds and mammals and man, which again is amazingly in accord with Darwinian zoology. The opposition to Darwin comes to the Christians by accident: Those conservative opposed the new theories of Darwin and Mendel, and these also happen to be the readers of the Bible. The same occurred regarding Copernicus, until the thought became undeniable. The Bible, though, does not teach the opinions dethroned in these revolutions in thought.
 Carl Jung writes: “In the Roman liturgy, the font is designated the ‘uterus ecclesiae,’ the womb of the Church” (Collected Works, Vol. 9; The Portable Jung, p. 63).
 The metaphysical foundation of Jung is a sort of subjectivism, in which it is not clear that he distinguishes between the collective unconscious and Being, or between the archetypes and the light or forms. We hold that the archetypes of the human collective unconscious are knowledge, knowledge of the fundamental being or beings, in an “objectivist” metaphysics. The subjectivist metaphysics is like failing to distinguish between the Bride and God, which is ironically similar to what has been done traditionally by the churches.
 Jack Van Impe traces the revolution in the contemporary Protestant reading to a Dr. Gaebelein, who in 1890 began to teach that a revived Roman Empire would come into play during the time of the end (Final Mysteries Unsealed, p. 218). Victorinus (p. 358) presents an attempt to read the seven heads as seven successive Roman Emperors, but this does not quite work. Nero is the fifth emperor, Vespasian the ninth, Domitian, Nerva and Trajan the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth. While Scofield and Lindsey do not include this teaching of the seven heads as seven successive empires, with two prior to Daniel’s Babylon, the Catholic Gibbons or Baltimore Bible of 1899 contains the teaching (p. 289).
 Because of this aping, or similarity of pattern, it is possible from a Jewish perspective to consider whether Jesus is not this one who will be worshiped as divine and think to change the times and the law. This has never been what is thought. The basic Jewish understanding is that Jesus is deceived because the divine does not change shape or enter into the world, nor does the son of God become flesh. It is agreed that Jesus brought the world to recognize the God of the Jews, as was foretold. Christianity is an idolatry, violating the command not to worship other gods. One is tempted to say that if it appears as an idol, by all means do not believe the idol.
 C. G. Jung, “After the Catastrophe,” paragraph 412, Collected Works Volume 10, p. 200.
 Daniel 8:5. The he goat, thought to be Alexander, comes “from the west across the face of the whole earth without touching the ground.” This is strange, and not like what Alexander did, but more like something that could occur now.
 The Japanese power plant at Fukishima required that the electricity be kept on in order to avoid a meltdown. The backup generators were ruined by the flood, after the power went out in the earthquake. One wonders how many years the electricity must continue to be held on, and how many of these we have, even on the San Adreas Fault. Finally, one wonders whether mankind is not simply too stupid to wield these powers. We do not know that fracturing the earth will not cause an earthquake.
 Leo Paul; S. de Alvarez writes: Is not a fortress an attempt to fix an order? Fortresses are used by those who believe in an unchanging fundamental order to things…The modes of ordering arms to which he wholly gives himself would seem to be the true fortresses (The Machiavellian Enterprise, p. 108). Machiavelli does not cite this line of Daniel.
 The Baptists follow this concern in avoiding the ecumenical councils, which attempt to restore the unity of Christendom. Putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again seems to be the project, though as we have suggested elsewhere, the unity of the church already is, and is not something humans are now to establish or reestablish. That the denominations are not better neighbors is an embarrassment.
 City of God, XVIII, 41, p. 650: “…such a city has not amiss received the title of the mystic Babylon….” Yet Augustine calls the Devil its king, and as we shall argue, this is not quite true, or is an oversimplification.
 The projection of the shadow, or of our own baseness and sin, onto others is a Jungian thought (Aion, pp. 8-10, etc) that coheres with the teaching of Jesus about the log in the eye and the splinter seen in the eye of another (Matthew 7:1-5).
 This, then, is the background of the Bob Dylan song All along the Watchtower, applied as the Witnesses apply the image of the Watchtower, to a modern fall of Babylon that allows for the return.
 Ibid, p. 7.
 Elaine Pagels, The Revelation, p. 132. Are the modern words, nature and person, used in the original?
 Scofield (p.1063) explains, from Daniel 2: 28, “not necessarily possessing the inhabited earth, but divinely authorized to do so.”
 Scofield lists seven mentions of desolation in Daniel, of the sanctuary, by Antiochus (8:13); in Daniel’s time of exile (9:17); of the land (9:18); of the sanctuary in 70 A.D.; and of the sanctuary by the beast, (9:27, 11:31, and 12:11). The last three are due to the abomination.
 One is reminded of the question from A Fiddler on the Roof: “Could you not choose someone else, sometimes?” Similarly, Scripture is not only flattering to Israel, as a civil religion might be.
 Bloom, Alan. Plato’s Republic. Interpretive Essay, p. 407.
 In the Declaration, Jefferson assumes that the attacking of noncombatants in war is barbarism. But for the Romans, the slaughter of whole villages was sometimes done according to the advantage of war. To the Greeks, the Romans are barbarous.
 Increase Mather wrote a book that helped to end the Salem Witch Hunt. In it he argued that the “very operation of hunting for witches might be the work of the devil” (Paul Johnson, A History of the American People, p. 82-83). One sees in this a concrete example of the argument that the diabolical, while lacking the imagined mythic and temporal existence, might become real through the humans who somehow fall into it or become as if possessed by it, though it is not. The formula is: was, is not and is to ascend from the bottomless pit and go to perdition” (17:8). The harm is real, done by the humans, as for example in the killings of their own people when there was not even a civil war, in Germany and Russia, in the tyrannies of the Twentieth Century. The numbers for the Nazi killing of Jews in about four years is over six million, and over seventy years the communist tyrannies combined killed over one hundred million.
 There is no indication that Jesus has any regard for animals, though St. Francis seems to begin this movement. Jesus mentions the birds of the air, and their life without toil, but is not squeamish at fishing, as we are. The Jews do not practice sport hunting, but would do animal sacrifice, which we find abhorrent and unnecessary. In a prophecy of the Kingdom, where “they shall not hurt or destroy,” Isaiah 66:3 reads “Him who slaughters an ox will be like him who kills a man…” In a prophecy of the marriage of the Lord sand Israel, Hosea foresees: “And I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; And I will abolish the sword of war from the land” (2:18). The kindness of man toward animals seems to us to be an outward manifestation of the harmony within, and cruelty, of faction and inner division. The harmony of man and animals, or our more providential dominion, may be a hint of the millennium. How do we hope the Lord will be merciful to us, when we do not have mercy on a dog? In the first chapter of Genesis, the animals are not given to man for food, but rather, the plants are given to man and the animals.
 We have come to call this a “waste of Jesus,” when preachers use the ministry to uphold every convention of morality, and by this miss the life and the opportunity. An example is the attempt to make the scriptures teach temperance or complete abstinence from alcohol. The life animates even common morality, but not by being confused with it.
 Leo Strauss. “Athens or Jerusalem?” In Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, p. 152.
 The Book of Enoch, called 1 Enoch, is amazing in a number of ways. It is pre-Christian, and John and Jesus seem to have read it along with the prophets. A fragment was found among the Essenes at Qumran by the Dead Sea. In addition to the teaching of the revelation and the judgment, one is surprised to find many teachings familiar from the gospels, such as that the meek shall inherit the earth, the forgiveness of sins (Enoch 5), and the things regarding the Messiah and the new heaven and new earth (Enoch 45-47, 50-51). “He shall be the light of the Gentiles” (48) is another, though this is also found in the prophets.
 Islam does not realize its natural antipathy to atheistic communism and fascism, being like Christendom preoccupied with fraternal quarrels, as with the Jews and Christians. This is necessary because Islam does not understand the development of thought which has occurred in the history of the West. One wonders whether the one who brought the God of Abraham to the Arabs, Persians and others might not also bring the work of a careful, thoughtful reading of the Old and New Testaments, said to be taken as scripture along with the Koran.
 A partial solution to the problem of Israel would be to settle single plots for those who agree to allow Israel to exist– even linking them one by one, into a Palestinian state. This could be governed provisionally as a protectorate of the United Nations until the state attained maturity, so the people there are not policed by Israel. The division might be healed in one to three generations. The other part of the solution would be for the Palestinians to adopt the principles of non-violent opposition, following King and Gandhi. Israel is at war with those who vow to destroy her and act upon it, and there is little that can be done about this, except to beat them at war. We cannot always choose when we will go to war.
 Jack Van Impe cites Rabbi Akiva, Eleazar and Jacob and many other Jewish and Christian readers prior to Augustine.
 Easter Island is an example of what occurs to human civilization without foresight. Stuck on an island, this people seems to have consumed all the trees and flightless birds, rather than husbanding resources and discovering stewardship. Unless the last people sailed away, they seem to have died off in a civil war amid the building of the statues that mark their island for the ships at sea.
 2 Esdras; Epistula Apostolorum.
 Final Mysteries Unsealed, p. 168.
 This is the section of the Didache supposedly added by an editor to his mid Second Century conflation of two earlier sources (The Early Christian Fathers, p. 165). The Didache, assumed to be Syrian and Alexandrian, does not refer to any writings at all of John. This would be either because John had not yet written, at some time in the nineties, or because there was a gulf between the eastern churches and the churches at Antioch and Alexandria.
 The musician James Taylor writes: There’s a song that they sing about a place in the clouds…/ You can believe it if it helps you to sleep / But singing works just fine for me.”
 Saint Augustine, in his essay On the Immortality of the Soul, argues wholly on the basis of the participation of the soul in knowledge.
 Aune, pp. 1117.
 Ibid, 1166.
 The Narrative of Joseph, in Roberts and Donaldson, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII, p. 468-471.
 The first two secrets are printed from The Third Secret of Fatima, Brother Michael of the Holy Trinity, pp. 48-49. The third is from the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curi…/rc_con_cfaith_doc_2000626_message-fatima_en.htm 06/28/2000.