Why Not Try This? … Take a Closer Look at Revelation

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the Book of Revelation. But when I took on a special project to study Revelation 12 and see if there was evidence of Historicism, I discovered some amazing things that have given me more confidence than ever in the book of Revelation, the Bible in general, and the Adventist understanding of both. Here is the rather lengthy result of my study (my apologies that some of the Greek words and formatting got lost in the transition from research paper to blog)…

Historicism in Revelation?  

A Case Study of Revelation 12

In Its Immediate and Larger Contexts

By Dan Serns

Introduction

Does the Book of Revelation give a prophetic sweep of history from the days of its author until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Are there historical markers in the book that help us know where we are situated in the flow of history? Is it possible to faithfully and carefully study the text of Revelation, without superimposing our own presuppositions, and discover patterns of history written in advance from the days of John the Revelator until the return of Jesus? If the answer to these questions is “yes” then we have found evidence of historicism in the Book of Revelation.

What is historicism? It is the belief that “apocalyptic prophecy presents the course of history from the time of the prophet to the end of the world.” It “emphasizes the sovereignty of God and His control over history.”[1] The most ancient of interpreters of the Book of Revelation, Irenaeus of Lyon (130-202 C.E.), interpreted Revelation according to historicism.[2] “The list of prominent interpreters using the historicist approach for at least some part of Daniel or Revelation is quite impressive. Throughout most of history since the writing of Daniel, historicism has been widely used.”[3]

Unfortunately, historicism has also been abused. Some have used wild speculation to try to link every newspaper headline or current event to a piece of an apocalyptic prophecy or justified acts of violence based on their views of endtime events.[4] The Roman Church abandoned historicism during the Middle Ages[5] and most Protestant Churches followed suit after The Great Disappointment of 1844.[6] The most notable exception is the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “The historicist approach is part of the official faith of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”[7]

As a test case we will study Revelation chapter 12 to see if there is evidence of historical markers that give us a sweep of history from the time of the author until the return of Jesus Christ the second time.

  1. 1.      Exploration of Revelation 12
    1. a.      Overview of the Chapter

As John watches from the rocky island of Patmos (Rev 1:9), he is commanded to write what he sees in vision (1:19).[8] Revelation 12 opens with a picture in heaven— a woman, clothed with the sun, the moon under feet, and on her head a victory crown[9] of twelve stars. She is pregnant and about to give birth (12:1-2). But now another sign appears in heaven- a great red dragon with seven heads, ten horns and seven diadems of power and authority on his heads.[10] He stands before the woman ready to devour the male child who is about to be born (12:4). The child is born, is caught up to heaven, and will some day rule the nations with a rod of iron (12:5). The dragon now turns his anger on the woman, who is taken to the wilderness for 1,260 days where God has prepared a place for her (12:6).

John now seems to switch gears and provides us with a background so we can better interpret the symbols he is seeing. He tells us there was war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels (12:7). The dragon and his angels were defeated, resulting in their losing their place in heaven and being thrown down to earth (12:8-9). The dragon, who is also known as the serpent of old, the devil, and Satan, deceives the whole world and accuses the brethren (12:9-10). Loud voices in heaven tell us that salvation has come, the brethren overcome the dragon by the blood of the Lamb and their testimony, that there is cause for rejoicing in heaven but those on earth need to beware (12:11-12).

At this point John picks up the story where he left off in verse 6. When the dragon saw he was thrown to earth he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. Once again she was given a safe place in the wilderness from the presence of the serpent for a period of 3 ½ times (12:13-14). When the serpent tries to destroy the woman with a flood, the earth helps the woman (12:15-16). Finally, the dragon was enraged with the woman and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep God’s commandments and have the testimony of Jesus (12:17).

  1. b.      Explanation of Symbols

Revelation 12 has a number of symbols[11] that need to be understood. They are—

  • Woman (gunh, verses 1, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
  • Dragon (dra,kwn verses 3, 4, 7, 9, 13, 16, 17)
  • Seven heads and Ten horns (verse 3)
  • Male Child (a;rshn verses 5, 13)
  • 1,260 Days (verse 6)
  • The Lamb (avrni,on verse 11)
  • A time, and times and half a time (verse 14)
  • Serpent (o;fij verse 14, 15)
  • Earth (gh/ verse 16 is clearly symbolic; other uses seems to signify location)
  • Remnant (loipo,j) of her seed (spe,rma) (verse 17)

 

We will take the approach that the author intended us to know what the symbols meant so that we can understand the plan of redemption more fully and be better prepared for the return of Jesus.[12]

Dragon, Male Child, The Lamb. Some of these symbols are easily explained or clarified in the immediate context (i.e. Dragon = Satan- 12:9; Serpent = Satan- 12:9) or in the Book of Revelation itself (i.e. Male Child = Jesus, the Messiah;[13] The Lamb = Jesus[14]). Let us let the Bible help us understand what the other symbols represent.

Woman. A pure woman throughout the Old and New Testament[15]  represents God’s faithful people, His bride, His church.When the church apostatized it was compared with a corrupt woman.[16] The woman also reminds us of Eve, the mother of all living, through whom the Messiah was to come.[17]

Seven heads and ten horns. When Satan works here on earth he often uses agents to enhance his deceptive activities. We are told in Revelation 12 that the dragon represents Satan (12:9), and that he tried to kill Jesus as soon as He was born (12:4). The Gospels help us see that Satan worked through the Roman Empire to try to accomplish this. A Roman king killed all the male children of Bethlehem age two and under in an effort to annihilate Jesus as an infant (Matthew 2:1-18). A Roman governor later delivered Jesus to be crucified (Matthew 27:1-26; Luke 3:1; cf. Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18-19). The heads and horns on the dragon represent the Roman Empire and other political powers that have been agents of Satan. Seven heads and ten horns also appear on the beast John saw rising from the sea (Revelation 13:1) and on the scarlet-colored beast (Revelation 17:3). In the latter case the seven heads are explained as seven kings (Revelation 17:9-10).[18]

1,260 Days and 3½ Times. In Bible times there were 12 months of 30 days each,[19] for a total of 360 days in a year. 1,260 days are the same as 3 ½ times/years[20] (360 x 3.5 = 1260). These two time periods are the same time, not two separate time periods. This time period is so important that it appears seven times in the Bible— twice in Daniel (7:25; 12:7) and five times in Revelation (11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5)[21]— using the symbolism of days (1260), months (42) and years (3 ½). According to Daniel and Revelation this period of time would be characterized by three on-going activities— 1) a religious and political power based in Rome would persecute God’s true followers (Daniel 7; Revelation 11, 13), 2) the Bible (God’s witnesses) would remain in a state of obscurity (Daniel 12; Revelation 11) and 3) God’s church would find refuge in seclusion and hiding (Revelation 12).[22]

Throughout the Bible there are frequent links between a day and a year.[23] Many time prophecies in the Bible use the year-day principle where one prophetic day is equal to one literal year.[24] When we look at what is predicted to happen during the 1,260 days, and recognize the heavy use of symbols in Revelation we can realistically conclude that this time period is actually 1,260 years.

Earth. Revelation 12 uses the word “earth” as a location several times (12:4, 9, 12, 13). But in verse 16 the “earth” takes on highly symbolic activites. It helps the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing a river that the serpent throws out of its mouth. What might the earth symbolize in Revelation 12? We find clues elsewhere in Revelation. In the next chapter, Revelation 13, we see a beast arising out of the earth (13:11). Could this beast from the earth represent the nation that would help the woman at the time she needed it most? In Revelation 17 we find a scarlet-colored beast that arises out of the sea or waters (17:1f.) and we are told that the waters represent “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues (17:15). Perhaps earth, in contrast, might represent a sparsely populated area where a nation would be founded at the time God’s people needed protection the most.[25]

Remnant of her seed.[26] The underlying Greek expression for “remnant” found in Revelation 12:17 belongs to the same family of words used for “remnant” by Paul and frequently (though not always) used for it in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the LXX or Septuagint). The expression often carries the meaning of a group that survives a catastrophe and is used to restore or renew a tribe or nation.[27] The prophets Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, and Zephaniah speak of a remnant who survive overwhelming last-day disasters.[28] It is God who preserves the remant of His people[29] and causes them to stand on Mount Zion.[30]

“Quite obviously, the 144,000 are the end-time ‘remnant’ foretold by the Old Testament prophets. These 144,000, who are victorious over the beast (Revelation 15:2-5), are the same as the ‘saints’ in 14:12 who instead of worshiping the beast keep God’s commandments; and these ‘saints’ are the same as the people who keep God’s commandments in 12:17”[31]

  1. c.       Historical Markers

Now that we have identified the major symbols we will look to see if there are some historical markers embedded in Revelation 12.[32] It was not necessary for John to understand the entire prophecy given to him since he was simply instructed to write down the things he saw.[33]

Revelation 12

 

Historical Event(s)
Revelation 12:4b  the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. Just before Jesus was born, Satan through the agency of the Roman Empire, prepared to destroy Him
Revelation 12:5a  And she brought forth a man child… Birth of Jesus Christ
Revelation 12:5c  her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. Ascension of Jesus Christ
Revelation 12:6  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days

Revelation 12:14  And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

God’s faithful people, His church protected during a 1,260 year period when a religious and political power based in Rome would persecute God’s true followers, the Bible would remain in a state of obscurity and God’s church would find refuge in seclusion and hiding. The Dark Ages qualifies for this period of time, beginning in 538AD and ending in 1798AD.[34]
Revelation 12:16  And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.  Near the end of the persecutions of the Dark Ages many believers came to the New World (America) to find freedom to practice their beliefs.
Revelation 12:17  And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. After the Dark Ages God promises to raise up a remnant who will be faithful to all Ten Commandments and be guided by the testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit that inspires the Gift of Prophecy[35]

 

Here we see six identifiable historical markers, all in sequence from the days of John until just before the return of Jesus. But there are two additional issues that still need to be resolved if we want to claim that we have found historicism in Revelation. First, there is an apparent digression in the sequence in Revelation 12:7-12. These verses do not follow the historical flow of the rest of the chapter. And second, the sweep of history begins in the days of John but it does not quite reach to the return of Jesus. Let us see if there is any evidence in the text itself as to why we see this.

  1. d.      Revelation 12:7-12- The Center of a Chiasm

In the heart of chapter 12 we find what seems to be a digression from the regular flow of the passage. In verse 6 we read of the “woman” in the “wilderness” where “she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”[36] Then verses 7-12 go in a different direction. But in verse 14 we find almost identical language to verse 6 that tells us of the “woman” in the “wilderness” where “she was nourished for a time, times and half a time.” Was John simply taking a break to supply background information or did John have another purpose for inserting this apparent intermission?

Careful Bible students through the years have noticed that many Bible (and non-biblical) writers use a form of writing called “chiasm,” where the central idea of a passage is found not at the beginning or end but in the center, with similar, identical, or contrasting language and/or ideas flowing out from the center in both directions.[37]

Looking carefully at Revelation 12 we see that there is indeed a chiasm, with verses 7-12 forming the center, or heart of the passage. Notice the following word correspondences on either side of the center[38]

AA   Verses 1-3     “woman”, “child”, “dragon”

A   Verses 4     “threw”

   B   Verse 4     “to the earth”

      C   Verse 5                 “she gave birth to a son, a male child”

         D   Verse 6     “woman” “wilderness”

            E   Verse 6     “she would be nourished”

               F   Verse 6     “one thousand two hundred and sixty days”

                  G   Verses 7-12 Chiastic Center/Main Thought

A’   Verse 13     “was thrown”

   B’   Verse 13     “to the earth”

      C’   Verse 13     “woman who gave birth to the male child”

         D’   Verse 14     “woman” “wilderness”

            E’   Verse 14     “she was nourished”

               F’   Verse 14     “a time and times and half a time”[39]

AA’   Verse 17     “dragon”, “woman”, “rest of her children”

            Seeing the chiastic structure of Revelation 12 helps us understand why the author seems to interrupt the sweep of history after verse 6 but picks up where he left off in verses 13-14. It is because he wants us to see his primary point in the passage- verses 7-12- before he returns to the sweep of history in verse 13.

  1. e.       Revelation 12:7-12 A mini-sweep of history

Chiasms help us see major points the author is trying to convey. In verses 7-12 the curtain is pulled aside so we can see and understand the cosmic conflict that began in heaven. The devil, Satan, that serpent of old began his attacks in heaven (verses 7-9), continued them here on earth and focuses them particularly on Jesus faithful followers after Jesus is no longer on the earth (verse 10, cf. verses 5-6). He intensifies his attacks as he sees that time is short (verse 11-12). Is the author calling us to increase our vigilance as we see where we are living in the sweep of history? Is he inviting us to put all our trust in the Lamb and to be far more active in testifying for Him (verse 12) the closer we get to the return of Jesus?

On closer examination of verses 7-12 we discover a mini-sweep of history as the author records activities that go back in time long before his lifetime. Because of limited space we cannot explore in detail each historical marker but this is worthy of further study by the reader.[40]

Revelation 12:7-12

 

Historical Event(s)
Revelation 12:7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, The original rebellion in heaven by Satan.
Revelation 12:8  but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. Satan loses his battle and position[41] in heaven but not his access to heaven, probably just before the time of the creation of the world.
Revelation 12:9-10  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Satan loses his access to heaven and as a result he loses his opportunity to accuse “our brethren.” This happened through the life, ministry and death of Jesus while here on earth.[42]
Revelation 12:11  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Believers overcome Satan by looking to the blood of Jesus, the Lamb, shed at the cross. They are willing to die for Jesus, This indicates a time after the death of Jesus, the Lamb, and before the Second Coming of Jesus when believers will not experience death anymore.
Revelation 12:12  Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. The devil intensifies his efforts because he knows he has a short time before the final decisions of all are made and Jesus returns (22:11, 12).

 

            As we can see, the five events referred to in verses 7-12 are all sequential. This mini-sweep of history, from the beginning of the great rebellion in heaven until just before Jesus returns, is another indication of historicism in Revelation.

  1. f.       Verb tenses of Revelation 12

An analysis of the verb tenses of Revelation 12 in the original Greek language[43] (usually clear in careful English translations as well) gives us additional insight and confirmation of what we have discovered thus far. As John writes down the things he sees, he begins by describing events as present realities; then a few verses later he describes the same events and some that follow as past events. It is as if he is moving down a timeline as the events unfold. Note these examples—

The pregnant woman. In verse 2 John describes the pregnant woman using four verbs in the present tense in the Greek. Her belly holds a child, she cries out because she has labor pangs and is tormented to give birth. But by verse 5 John has moved rapidly down the time line and sees this and other events in the past, using three verbs in the aorist tense in the Greek.[44] She gave birth, the male child was caught up to God and His throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness.

Wilderness nourishment. Why did the woman flee to the wilderness? Verse 6 tells us that she fled so that she might be nourished (present subjunctive) for 1,260 days. When John returns to this time prophecy in verse 14 he states that she is nourished for a time, times and half a time, showing that what was hoped for in verse 6 is now a reality in verse 14.

Serpent attacks woman, earth helps, dragon attacks remnant. As John moves on in his description, these events rapidly move into the past as he employs nine verbs in the past tense (aorist in the Greek) to describe the events that follow. The serpent threw water out of his mouth in order to carry away the woman but the earth came to the woman’s aid when it opened its mouth and drank the river thrown out by the dragon. The dragon was angry and went off to make war with the remnant of the woman’s seed. Once again John has moved rapidly down a timeline to the last days of earth’s history where he looks back on events that were actually still future for him.

Chiasm Center of verses 7-12. John’s view in the chiastic center found in verses 7-12 is from the last days. He refers to the mini-sweep of history as having happened in the past in verses 7-11 using twelve verbs in the past tense (Greek aorist). There was war in heaven, Michael and His angels waged war and the dragon waged war, but the dragon was not strong enough, neither was a place found for him so he was thrown out and his angels were thrown out with him. John then heard a loud voice saying salvation has come because the accuser was thrown down. The brethren conquered and loved not their lives. In verse 12 John switches time to the present, using five verbs in the present tense. He says “Rejoice you who dwell in heaven but woe to you who inhabit the earth because the devil has great wrath, knowing he has little time.” It is as if John is looking back on these events from the last days, the same perspective he has by the end of the entire passage of Revelation 12.

  1. 2.      Revelation 12 in its immediate context (Revelation 11:19-14:20)
    1. a.      Seven Signs

Does the context of Revelation 12 give us any additional insight into historicism in the Book of Revelation?

Revelation 12 is part of a larger passage that begins with Revelation 11:19 and continues through Revelation 14:20.[45] The passage is introduced with a sanctuary scene (11:19) using the Greek verb o`ra,w (“to see” or “to appear”). Then throughout the passage seven “signs” are introduced, again using the same Greek verb each time but translated into English in a variety of ways as follows[46]

12:1           “A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman…”

12:3           “Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold a great red dragon…”

13:1           “…Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea…”

13:11         “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth…”

14:1           “Then I looked and behold the Lamb was standing on Mt. Zion…”

14:6           “And I saw another angel, flying in midheaven…”

14:14         “Then I looked and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one

 like the Son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp

 sickle in His hand.”

It is clear from even a casual reading of the last “sign” (14:14-20) that this is a description of the Second Coming of Jesus. When we look at the entire passage (11:19-14:20) we discover that it begins in the days of the author (the birth and ascension of Jesus- 12:1-5) and ends with the Second Coming of Jesus (14:14-20). This answers the question we had earlier as to why Revelation 12 was clearly a sweep of history that began in the time of John, the author, but did not quite reach all the way to the Second Coming of Jesus. When we look at the broader passage we see that it does indeed conclude with the return of Jesus, allowing us to see where we fall in the course of history. This is additional confirmation of historicism in the Book of Revelation.

  1. b.      Organization of the Passage

When we study this passage more closely we make additional discoveries that hint at historicism in the Book of Revelation. Here is how it is organized:

The first two signs (12:1-17) we have discussed in detail above. They clearly give a sweep of history from the time of the prophet up to the last days, with a chiastic center (12:7-12) that reinforces the sweep of history, letting us know that historicism is definitely a part of the Book of Revelation.

The next two signs (13:1-18) focus on the final two agents Satan uses in the last days. The first one, the sea beast (13:1-10) is clearly an amalgamation of the four beasts of Daniel 7 (verses 1-7, etc.) yet behaves as the Little Horn of Daniel 7 (verse 8, etc.). John wants us to study Daniel 7 so we can understand the nature of one of the agents of Satan in the last days.[47] In addition to the sea beast, a new power, the land beast (13:11-18) will emerge in the final chapters of earth’s history and work together with the sea beast to deceive the whole world. Most will be deceived (13:8).[48]

The next sign is an interlude, a common feature in Revelation to show that the final outcome for God’s people is assured.[49]

The last two signs (14:6-20) focus on the final message that goes to all the world which results in the polarization of the world into two groups— those whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life and all others (14:6-12)[50] — and the rewards of these two groups at the Second Coming of Jesus (14:14-20).  This section shows its internal unity and central idea through a chiastic structure[51] as follows[52]

A   14:6     “another angel”

   B   14:8     “another angel”

      C   14:9     “a third angel”

         D   14:12-13 (11-14)    Chiastic Center/Main Thought

      C’   14:14-15     “another angel”

   B’   14:17     “another angel”

A’   14:18     “another angel”

When the Seven Signs are briefly outlined this is what we find:

First two signs 12:1-17 Sweep of history with Chiastic Center
Next two signs 13:1-18 Two final agents of Satan- one old, one new
(Interlude sign) 14:1-5 (The outcome is assured)
Final two signs 14:6-20 Climax of history with Chiastic Center

 

  1. c.       The passage (11:19-14:20) as a microcosm of the Book of Revelation

Mervyn Maxwell and Jacques Doukhan each demonstrate that the Book of Revelation is organized in a chiastic structure.[53] Doukhan points out that the book’s chiastic structure is actually like a seven-branched menorah with Revelation 11:19-14:20 forming the central branch.[54] Evidently this passage is the center of the entire book, and is intended by the author to unlock keys to the rest of the book.

            When we look carefully we see that this is the case. The first half of the Book of Revelation (chapters 1-11) gives several sweeps of history (see below), just as the first two signs in this passage do (12:1-17), with a chiastic center that reinforces this idea (12:7-12). And the last half of the Book of Revelation (chapters 15-22) focuses on the climax of history,[55] just as the last two signs in this passage do (14:6-20), with a chiastic center that reinforces this idea (14:11-14).[56] The central three signs show the interaction of the final two agents of Satan in the endtimes (13:1-18), one old and one new, along with an interlude that assures God’s people of the final positive outcome (14:1-5).

  1. 3.      Revelation 12 related to larger contexts
    1. a.      Revelation 12 and the first half of the Book of Revelation

Revelation 12 has allusions that link back to the three “sevens” found in the first half of the Book of Revelation using the following connections— participants in the cosmic conflict (7 Churches), color and clothing (7 Seals), key words and a time prophecy (7 Trumpets).[57] The following table lists references to the allusions and links:

Allusions Revelation 12:1-6, 13-17 First Half of Revelation
Participants (in Cosmic Conflict)  

  1. “Woman”[58]– verses 1, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
  2. “Dragon”- verses 3, 4, 13, 16, 17
  3. The One who will rule with a “rod of iron” verse 5
  4. “Remnant” verse 17
Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3)

  1.  “Church(es)”[59]– 2:1, 7, 8, 11, 12, 17, 18, 23, 29; 3:1, 6, 7, 13, 14, 22[60]
  2. “Satan”- 2:9, 13, 24; 3:9[61]
  3. The Male who was to rule with a “rod of iron” 2:27[62]
  4. “Him/He that overcometh” 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21
Color & Clothing  

1. Woman clothed with sun- verse 1

2. Red[63] dragon- verse 3

7 Seals

1. Sun clothed with sackcloth- 6:12

2. Red horse- 6:4

 

Key Words

 

 

 

 

Time Prophecy

 

Tail- verse 4

Third- verse 4

Stars- verse 4

Cast to earth- verse 4, 13

A thousand two hundred and threescore days- verse 6; a time, times and half a time- verse 14

7 Trumpets

Tail[64]– 9:10, 19

Third[65]– 8:7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 9:15, 18

Star- 8:10, 11, 12; 9:1

Cast to earth- 8:5, 7

Forty and two months- 11:2

A thousand two hundred and threescore days- 11:3

 

These allusions are additional indicators that the first two of the Seven Signs (Revelation 12) serve as a microcosm of the first half of the Book of Revelation. Because we have already discovered historicism in Revelation 12 it should not be surprising to find historicism in each of the sequences of seven in the first half of the book.[66] Here is further evidence that this is the case, offered by Jacques Doukhan in Secrets of Revelation:

Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3)[67], [68]

  1. The prophet sees “what is now and what will take place later” (Revelation 1:19).[69]
  2. The passage compares the Seven Churches to seven stars, held in the Son of man’s right hand (1:16, 20). The ancients believed that the stars directed human destiny. God holding the stars in His hands amounts to His controlling their destiny.
  3. From the most remote times the number 7 has had symbolic value, serving as a symbol of totality and perfection. The Seven Churches thus can symbolize the totality of Church history, rather than simply specific churches. This explains why churches such as Colossae and Hierapolis, both mentioned in the New Testament, are not mentioned specifically in Revelation 2-3.
  4. The concluding statement of each letter, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” seems to address a larger audience. The letters speak to all the churches, and anyone may benefit from their content, a point explicitly brought out in the fourth letter to Thyatira. It contains the phrase “all the churches” (Revelation 2:23).
  5. As we progress from one letter to another we notice Jesus’ presence growing more and more intimate. Here is the sequence from the first church, Ephesus, to the last, Laodicea— “him who… walks among the seven golden lampstands” (2:1), “him who… died and came to life again” (2:8), “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them” (2:16), “Only hold on to what you have until I come” (2:25), “If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief” (3:3), “I am coming soon” (3:11) and finally “I stand at the door” (3:20).
  6. As we enter the third millennium we can look back and see that a prophetic interpretation is ever more relevant than we could have imagined.[70]

Seven Seals (Revelation 4-8:1)[71]

  1. God holds the scroll in His right hand, the hand that controls the course of history. All the seals must be broken before the scroll may be opened. It is thus only at the seventh seal that we shall understand the scroll’s purpose.
  2. The leitmotif “Come” which occurs in the seven seals, suggest a progression in time just as in the letters to the churches. Here is the sequence, from the first seal to the seventh— “Come” (6:1), “Come” (6:3), “Come” (6:5), “Come” (6:7), “How long?” (6:10), “has come” (6:17), and “silence” (8:1).[72]

Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8:2-11:19)[73]

  1. Transitions between the trumpets point to the completion of the events of one trumpet and announce the events of the next (Revelation 8:13; 9:12).
  2. Both the seals and the trumpets are subdivided into one group of four and another group of three.
  3. The final note of the last trumpet announces the coming of the kingdom of God.

 

  1. b.      The Relationship Between the  Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel

The Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) is more Hebrew than any other book of the New Testament. It contains more than 2,000 allusions to the Hebrew Scriptures, including 400 explicit references and 90 literal citations of the Pentateuch and the Prophets. With regard to textual citations, the Apocalypse is more faithful to the original Hebrew than to its Greek translation, the Septuagint.[74]

The Apocalypse alludes more to the book of Daniel than any other portion of the Hebrew Scriptures.[75] Doukhan points out a number of strong relationships between the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel.[76] For example:

  1. The name of the book “Revelation” or “Apocalypse” comes from a Greek word meaning “to reveal a secret.” The verb “reveal” is also one of the key words of the book of Daniel, occurring seven times.
  2. Daniel and Revelation both introduce prophetic visions.
  3. The “revelations of John” refer us back to the “secrets of Daniel.”
  4. The opening blessing of Revelation (1:3) echoes the final blessing of the book of Daniel (12:12-13).
  5. The expression John used to introduce and close his book (“I, John”- Revelation 1:4, 9; 22:8) echoes the expression that Daniel used seven times to introduce the apocalyptic visions (“I, Daniel”- Daniel 7:15, 28; 8:15, 27; 9:2; 10:2, 7).
  6. Both books have similar phraseology. And both have the same visions, the same themes, the same ethical implications, and the same prophetic perspective covering the same time span.
  7. Both books have a central vision (Revelation 12-14 and Daniel 7) that focuses on the time of the end and judgment.

George Knight points out that “In Revelation 10 we have a little book that is opened at the end of time. In Daniel 12 we have a book that is sealed until the end of time. And when it is opened knowledge shall increase.”[77] He goes on to show that the little book of Revelation 10 is the Book of Daniel, which unlocks an understanding of Revelation, particularly the central passage of Revelation 12-14.[78]

We have already seen how a study of Daniel 7 helps us understand features of Revelation 12 and the passage in which it is located (11:19-14:20). It is no accident that the clearest example of historicism in the entire Bible is found in Daniel chapter 2. No serious Bible student can miss the fact that Daniel 2 is clearly a sweep of history from the time of the prophet Daniel until the setting up of God’s eternal kingdom. Daniel 2 sets a pattern that is then followed by the apocalyptic visions found in Daniel 7-12.

The relationship between the two books has great implications for historicism. It is one more substantial indicator that when Revelation is studied we should look for sweeps of history that the Book of Daniel will help us understand. And this is what we have already found as we allowed the time prophecy in Revelation 12 (verses 6, 14) to be interpreted by the same time prophecies in Daniel (7:25; 12:7).

  1. Emphasis on the Return of Jesus in the Book of Revelation

Why did John use sweeps of history when writing the Book of Revelation? Perhaps it was because that is the way it was revealed to him by the angel sent from God (1:1). It could have been because he knew that a chiastic structure with sweeps of history in the first half of the book and an intensification of events in the last half would be better understood and remembered. Perhaps it was because John was a great student of the prophecies of Daniel and decided to organize the book in a similar way.

More than likely all these were reasons. But one of the greatest reasons would have been John’s desire that all believers in each age of church history have a grasp of the final outcome and have hope and courage to hold on through the unfolding eras of history.

At the very beginning and the very end of the book John lets us know, through mini-sweeps of history, that Jesus work for us and in us can help us live in the present and always to be ready for the return of Jesus.[79]

In chapter 1 he refers to the eternal God and then gives two mini-sweeps of history, one from Jesus’ perspective and the other from our perspective.

A   1:4     “who is and who was and who is to come” [present, past, future[80]]

   B   1:5-7     Jesus Christ…

“the faithful witness” [Jesus’ life]

“the firstborn of the dead” [resurrection]

“the ruler of the kings of the earth” [future]

                   Who loves us…

                        “released us from our sins by His blood” [past]

                        “has made us to be a kingdom, priests…” [past with present status]

                        “Behold, He is coming with the clouds…” [future]

A’ 1:8     “who is and who was and who is to come”            [present, past, future]

In the closing chapter John twice alludes to the importance of this message for his day all the way until the Second Coming of Jesus.

22:6     “things which must soon take place” [the prophet’s day]

22:7     “behold, I am coming quickly” [the Second Coming]

And again: …

22:10   “the time is near” [the prophet’s day]

22:11   “…the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness…” [the time of final decisions]

22:12   “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me”  [the Second Coming]

In the first chapter John writes about Jesus’ Second Coming in the third person. But by the end of the book he writes of Jesus’ Return in the first person, illustrating the need to move from the fact of Jesus’ return to the heart preparation for that return.[81] When Jesus finally says “Yes, I am coming soon” John cries out in response, in spite of the trials that he knows lie ahead for himself and all believers, “Amen, Come, Lord Jesus” (22:20).

Summary and Conclusion

We return to our original questions. Does the Book of Revelation give a prophetic sweep of history from the days of its author until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Are there historical markers in the book that help us know where we are situated in the flow of history? Is it possible to faithfully and carefully study the text of Revelation, without superimposing our own presuppositions, and discover patterns of history written in advance from the days of John the Revelator until the return of Jesus?

By taking Revelation 12 as a case study we have discovered that we can indeed find historical markers that give a prophetic sweep of history from the days of John until the Second Coming. We reached this conclusion by unlocking the symbols and finding historical markers, as well as by examining the verb tenses John uses. Looking closely at the chapter we have also discovered a chiastic structure, with a mini-sweep of history from verses 7-12 that confirms and adds background information to the sweep of history found in the rest of the chapter.

As we explored the immediate context of Revelation 12 (11:19-14:20) we found that the passage not only completes the sweep of history up to the Second Coming of Jesus but also reflects the organization of the Book of Revelation itself. The first two of Seven Signs found in the passage (Revelation 12) reflect in microcosm the sweeps of history found in the first three passages of the book (Seven Churches, Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets), while the last two of the Seven Signs (Revelation 14:6-20) reflect the climax of history in microcosm found in the last half of the book. Further exploration of the larger contexts of the passage gave additional confirmation that historicism is an integral part of the Book of Revelation.

The historicism found in Revelation 12 is not an isolated case but is actually a key to discovering related sweeps of history in the first half of the book and understanding the structure of the entire book. The relationship of the Book of Daniel to the Book of Revelation, particularly its central passage (Revelation 11:19-14:20), gives further evidence that historicism was intended by John just as it was by Daniel.

John’s opening and closing statements in Revelation (chapters 1 & 22) show us his passion that Jesus is coming soon and that the church of God from his day until the Second Coming of Jesus have a grasp of the trials and joys they would experience along the journey. The book is intended to serve as a guide throughout the Christian era to the close of time so believers can have an intelligent understanding of the perils and conflicts before them.[82] The closer we get to the return of Jesus the more clearly we can see that He is in control of history, and that He has given us apocalyptic prophecy to help us know where we stand in the flow of time. Truly “the time is near” (22:10). Those who love Him will continue to pray and live the prayer, “Amen, Come Lord Jesus” (22:20).

Bibliography

Arasola, Kai. The End of Historicism: Millerite Hermeneutic of Time Prophecies in the       Old Testament Sigtuna, Sweden: Datem Publishing, 1990.

Damsteegt, P. Gerhard. Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977.

Doukhan, Jacques B.  Secrets of Revelation: The Apocalypse Through Hebrew Eyes   Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2002.

Froom, Le Roy Edwin.  The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, volumes 1-4   Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1946-1954.

Holy Bible, various versions and Greek morphologies.

Holy Spirit, only one true version!

Knight, George R.   The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism   Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2008

Maxwell, C. Mervyn.  God Cares: The Message of Revelation for You and Your Family Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985.   

Nichol, Francis D. editor, and others.   The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Revised, Volume 7. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1980

_____. “History of the Interpretation of the Apocalypse.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7, 103-132.

Paulien, Jon. “The End of Historicism?  Reflections on the Adventist Approach to Biblical Apocalyptic.” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 14 (2003), 15-43; 17 (2006): 180-208. 

______. “Adventist Evangelism & the Book of Revelation: An Honest & Credible Look.” A series of presentations at Upper Columbia Conference Pastors’ & Literature Evangelists’ Retreat, 2000.

Pfandl, Gerhard, Principal Contributor.   The Prophetic Gift. Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for Jan-Mar 2009, 30-36. Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2008.

Shea, William H. Selected Studies in Prophetic Interpretation [Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1982] “Year-Day Principle, Part I”.

Stefanovic, Ranko. Revelation of Jesus Christ: Commentary on the Book of Revelation. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2002.

Tonstad, Sigve K.   Saving God’s Reputation   New York, NY: T&T Clark International, 2006

Vetne, Reimar. “A Definition and Short History of Historicism as a Method for Interpreting Daniel and Revelation.” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 14 (2003): 1-14. 

White, Ellen G.   The Acts of the Apostles. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1911.

______.   The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1911.


[1] “Actions of General Interest From the 1986 Annual Council- 1, Adventist Review (Jan 22, 1987): 19.

[2] Jacques Doukhan (Secrets of Revelation: The Apocalypse Through Hebrew Eyes  [Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2002], 17) points out that “Irenaeus of Lyon (130-202 C.E.) held this interpretation [“as a vision of things to come…historicoprophetic”]. Born only a few years after the appearance of the Apocalypse, this Church Father was the disciple of Polycarp, the martyr who met Yohanan [John] personally (see Eusebius Church History 5. 20. 6 [Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. 1, 238, 239]). The church, under the influence of Hippoltus and Origen, discarded the perspective during the Middle Ages for a more allegorical, spiritual, and moral interpretation, but it reappeared in the sixteenth century with the Reformers.”

[3] Reimar Vetne, A Definition and Short History of Historicism as a Method for Interpreting Daniel and Revelation (Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 14/2 Fall 2003): 9. For an extensive history of those who have used this approach see Leroy Edwin Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, 4 volumes (Washington, D.C. Review & Herald, 1946-1954).

[4] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicism_(Christian_eschatology). Accessed 5/15/2009.

[5] Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 1 & 2. See also Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 17.

[6] See Kai Arasola, The End of Historicism: Millerite Hermeneutic of Time Prophecies of the Old Testament (Sigtuna, Sweden: Datem Publishing, 1990). See also P. Gerhard Damsteegt, Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 57-77.

[7] Vetne, Ibid., 1. Vetne offers his preferred definition as “Historicism reads historical apocalyptic as prophecy intended by its ancient author to reveal information about real, in-history events in the time span between his day and the eschaton.” Ibid., 7.

[8] Each change of scene is frequently introduced by the Greek word ????, “I saw” Rev 1:12; 4:1; 6:2; 8:2; 10:1; 11:19; 12:1, 3; 13:1, 11; 14:1, 6, 14, etc.

[9] This is a crown of victory (????????) rather than a crown of authority and power (???????) as seen on the heads of the dragon (12:3)

[10] See fn. 9.

[11] The verses listed for each symbol indicate when their Greek root appears in the text.

[12] At the very beginning of the book a special blessing is promised to those who read, hear and take to heart (“keep” or act on) the message of the book. Revelation 1:3.

[13] This is clear from the context of Revelation 19:15; cf. 2:27 and Psalm 2:8, 9.

[14] This is clear from the context of Revelation 5:12, 13; 6:16; 7:9, 10, 14, 17; 14:1, 4, 10, etc. cf. John 1:29

[15] Isaiah 54:5, 6; Jeremiah 6:2; cf. the love affair between God and His people picture by the prophets Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, etc. 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32.

[16] Jeremiah 3:20; Ezekiel 23:2-4. Note the contrast between the pure woman of Revelation 12 and the prostitute of Revelation 17.

[17] Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 107-108.

[18] The Sea Beast of Revelation 13 is an amalgamation of the four beasts Daniel saw in the vision recorded in Daniel 7. Together the four beasts had seven heads and ten horns. Daniel was told that the ten horns represented ten kings. Daniel 7:24. “Kings” should also be understood as “kingdoms”. Daniel 2:28-29.

[19] Both Genesis and Revelation indicate the thirty day month used in Bible times. In Genesis we read that the flood of Noah’s day began on the 17th day of the 2nd month (Genesis 7:11) and ended on the 17th day of the 7th month (Genesis 8:4) or exactly five months. This is also recorded twice as 150 days (Genesis 7:24; 8:3), or five months of thirty days each. In Revelation we see that the “1,260 days” (Revelation 12:6) are linked in chiastic structure to the 3.5 times/years (Revelation 12:14), subdividing exactly into 42 months of 30 days each. This linkage will be further discussed below.

[20] “Times” is sometimes used in the Bible as an expression for years. In fact the New American Bible translates “years” in place of “times” in Revelation 12:14. cf. Daniel 4, particularly verses 16, 23, 25, 32.

[21] Mervyn Maxwell, God Cares, vol. 2 (Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 1985), 326.

[22] See also Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 111, 112, 97, 115.

[23] Genesis 5, 9; Numbers 14; Job 10, 32; Psalm 77, etc. See also http://www.historicism.org/Documents/YearDay.pdf.

[24] Damsteegt, Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission, 18-19, 24-25, 39, 66, 74; See also William H. Shea, “Year-Day Principle, Part I,” in Selected Studies in Prophetic Interpretation [Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1982], 56.

[25] Maxwell, God Cares, vol. 2, 323-324, 341.

[26] A number of Bible versions (RSV, NKJV, NAB, NIV, NEB, NASB, ESV) translate this phrase “rest of her offspring,” a very ordinary, generalized expression. On the other hand the KJV translates the expression “remnant of her seed” a term rich in significance in the Bible.

[27] Kittel and Friedrich, Theological Dictionary, 4:194-214. Gerhard F. Hasel, The Remnant: The History and Theology of the Remnant Idea from Genesis to Isaiah, Andrews University Monographs, Studies in Religion, vol. 5., 3rd ed. (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1980) quoted in Maxwell, God Cares vol. 2, 406-407, 419.

[28] Isaiah 4:2-5; Micah 4:7; Jeremiah 50:20; Obadiah 1:17; Zephaniah 3:14-19.

[29] Genesis 45:7; Isaiah 10:20, 21; 37:31, 32.

[30] Micah 4:7; Isaiah 4:2-5; Obadiah 1:17; Joel 2:32. See also Gerhard Pfandl, The Prophetic Gift Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for Jan-Mar 2009 (Boise: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2008), 30-36.

[31] Maxwell, God Cares, vol. 2, 407.

[32] The King James Version is used for this analysis of historical markers.

[33] Revelation 1:11, 19; 2:1, 8, 12, 18, etc. It is valuable to look for the intention of the author when studying the Bible. But those who believe what the Bible says about its own inspiration- that it was truly inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21) will also believe that sometimes the writers themselves did not fully understand the visions they were given (e.g. Daniel 8:27; 12:4, 8-9) and that only after a prophecy is fulfilled do we have a clear understanding of the prophecy itself (John 13:19; 14:29; Luke 21:31).

[34] For centuries commentators interpreted this time period in this or a somewhat similar way. See Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2, 531, 787; vol. 3, 253, 745; vol. 4, 394, 399.

[35] The two characteristics given mean that the remnant church or movement will keep all ten of the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17; 14:6-12; 19:10 and 22:8-9 indicate that this movement will arise as a result of prophecy, teach and preach prophecy, and have a prophet in it.

[36] The New American Standard Bible (1995) is used in this analysis.

[37] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiasmus. Accessed 5/15/2009. Three main purposes for writing in chiastic structure seem to be 1) to show the structural unity of the passage, 2) to guide the reader’s attention to the central idea, and 3) to illuminate similar or contrasting ideas by placing them equal distances from the center of the chiasm. Many careful Bible students see a chiastic structure for the entire Book of Revelation. The author of this paper has enjoyed discovering chiasms throughout the Gospel of Mark, where the center is often a question Jesus asked His hearers to get them to think about their life, and a chiastic structure for the entire Gospel of Matthew.

[38] The New American Standard Version (1995) is used in this analysis.

[39] Verses 15-16 have another mini-chiasm with identical or matching words as follows: serpent/dragon, poured/poured, river/river, out of his mouth/out of his mouth, earth/earth- with the center being “so he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.” These verses continue the sweep of history of the chapter and so are not discussed in detail here.

[40] The King James Version is used in this analysis.

[41] The Greek word for “place” (to,poj) can mean not only location but position. See for example John 11:48. There is evidence that Satan lost his position in heaven before he was ultimately excluded totally from heaven. See for example Job 1-2.

[42] See Luke 10:17-18 (“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.’  And he said unto them, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven’” KJV).

[43] Based on Scrivener NT Morphology (Bible Works 6 Computer program).

[44] The aorist tense (or aspect) emphasizes an event that happened in the past at a certain point in time.

[45] There are seven major sections in the Book of Revelation, each one introduced by a Sanctuary scene. (See Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 13-15, 25-26, 51-58, 77-80, 105-106, 143-147, 169-174188-192. This passage (11:19-14:20) is the fourth and central passage of the entire book. See below.

[46] The New American Standard Version (1995) is used in this analysis.

[47] Throughout history Bible students have identified historicism in Daniel 7, giving a sweep of history from the days of Daniel when Babylon, represented by the lion (Daniel 7:1-4) was ruling until the establishment of Jesus’ kingdom (Daniel 7:14, 26-27). John’s reference to Daniel 7 is another hint at historicism in the Book of Revelation.

[48] See Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation: 114-116.

[49] See for example the interludes in the Seven Seals (6-8:1, Interlude 7), the Seven Trumpets/Shofars (8:6-11:18, Interlude 10;11:14), the Seven Signs (12-14, Interlude 14:1-5) and the Seven Bowls (16-17, Interlude 17-18). Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 13-15, etc.

[50] The polarization of the world into two groups is a major theme of Revelation, particularly the last half. See for example, Revelation 13:8; 14:9-13; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27; 22:11-12.

[51] Space does not permit this paper to further develop this except to note that the chiastic structure shows an internal unity in Revelation 14:6-20 and echoes the chiastic structure of Revelation 12:1-17.

[52] This analysis utilizes the King James Version.

[53] See Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 13-15; See also Maxwell, God Cares, vol. 2, 54-62.

[54] See Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 13-15.

[55] Note for example the long time spans (e.g. “forty two months” 11:2; “one thousand two hundred sixty days” 11:3) referred to in the first half of the book compared with the short time spans (“one hour” Revelation 17:12; 18:10, 17, 19) referred to in the last half of the book.

[56] See Maxwell God Cares, vol. 2, 54-62.

[57] The King James Version is used for this analysis.

[58] The word “woman” appears only once in Revelation 1-11, as part of the message to the church in Thyatira (2:20).

[59] We have already seen that the woman is a symbol of the church. See section 1.b. above.

[60] These fifteen instances are the only times the word “Church” or “Churches” appear in Revelation 1-11.

[61] These four instances are the only times the word “Satan” (Greek Satana/j) appears in Revelation 1-11.

[62] The expression “rod of iron” appears only once in Revelation 1-11, as part of the message to the church in Thyatira (2:27).

[63] These two instances of the word “red” (Greek purro,j) are the only times the word appears in the New Testament.

[64] These three instances of the word “tail(s)” (Greek o`ra,w) are the only time the word appears in the entire New Testament.

[65] The word “third” (Greek tri,toj) is used in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th trumpets.

[66] When we understand what the symbols of Revelation 12 represent we see a very strong linikage between the history of the church outlined prophetically in Revelation 12 and earlier in Revelation 2-3. See table which indicates allusions between participants in the cosmic conflict (woman-church, dragon-Satan, The One/He who rules with rod of iron, remnant-overcomers).

[67] Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 25-50.

[68] The popular belief in some circles that the there is a major break between the Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3) which are thought to be in John’s day only, and the rest of the book (Revelation 4f.) which is thought to be only future, hinges on one verse while overlooking several important issues. Proponents of this view point to Revelation 4:1 which says “I will show you what must take place after these things.” Revelation 4-5 then describes a throne room scene in heaven where ultimately “every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea” is praising the One on the throne and the Lamb (Rev 5:13). This can only take place after the Second Coming of Jesus and the ultimate destruction of all the wicked as described later in the Book of Revelation and throughout the Bible. This allows for the Seven Churches to describe sweeps of history and then move into a description of a scene that takes place after the Second Coming, before returning for additional sweeps of history. See below. When belief in the immortality of the soul is rejected as non-biblical, and the Bible teaching on the resurrection is embraced (see http://www.truthaboutdeath.com/ Accessed 5/31/2009), we find it impossible for this throne room scene to take place before the Second Coming of Jesus. Further, Revelation 1:19 points out that the Seven Churches, which follow, concern both those things “which are” and “which will take place after these things”, showing that they have both current and future application while Revelation 4:1 points out that the throne room scene which follows is not current but only concerns “what must take place after these things” using the same Greek expression (meta. tau/ta) as found in the last part of Revelation 1:19 .

[69] See also Ranko Stefanovic, Revelation of Jesus Christ: Commentary on the Book of Revelation, (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2002), 15.

[70] Two additional evidences for historicism in the Seven Churches of Rev 2-3 are 1) the use of the prophetic utterance ???? ????? (tade legei) to introduce each letter. This expression occurs only eight times in the New Testament, seven of which are in Rev 2-3. In the Septuigent (LXX ) this expression is used to highlight the prophetic significance of what follows. In classical Greek it is used to introduce a new character to the story.  (see NET Bible comments on Revelation 2:1 found at www.Bible.org); and 2) the use of the expression “ten days” in the message to the church at Smyrna. An analysis of forty-two commentaries on this expression (http://historicism.org/Documents/Rev0210_Comm.pdf) concludes that there is no explanation of this phrase that is consistent with the rest of Scripture except from a historicist interpretation of the Seven Churches (http://historicism.org/Documents/Rev0210_Intro.pdf). 

[71] Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 51-76.

[72] “The Greek verb erchesthai is the technical term used in the Apocalypse to designate the return of the Messiah. The imperative form of this verb, erchou, translated in the breaking of the first four seals as “come,” also occurs in the conclusion of the book as a pleading prayer (Rev. 22:17, 20).” Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 59.

[73] Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 77-103.

[74] Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 9-11.

[75] Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John: The Greek Text With Introduction, Notes and Indices, 3rd ed. (London: reprint 1917), p. cliii. Quoted in Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation 12, 16

[76] Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation, 11-12, 105.

[77] George R. Knight The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2008), 29.

[78] Knight, The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism, 28-79.

[79] The New American Standard Version (1995) is used in this analysis.

[80] In this phrase John is not emphasizing the eternal nature of God or he would have used three forms of the verb “to be” (e.g. …who is and who was and who will be). Instead he is emphasizing the coming of Jesus when he switches verbs to say “is to come.

[81] Revelation 1:4, 7, 8, 10; 22:7, 12, 17, 20. See Doukhan, Secrets of Revelation,  200, 201.

[82] See Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, 578-585.

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