An Integration of Remaining Bible Prophecy

Outline

  1. Background
  2. The Church Age Ends
  3. The Transitional Battles
  4. Jesus’ Public Statement About the End Times
  5. Jesus’ Private (Olivet) Discourse to Peter, James, John, and Andrew
  6. The Millennium
  7. After the Millennium
  8. Appendix A: The Unique Identities and Destinies of Israel and the Church
  9. Appendix B: A Close Look At the Prophet Daniel
  10. Appendix C: Fads and Misconceptions About Bible Prophecy
  11. Appendix D: Three Prophetic Cities: Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem, and The Lord Is There

Background

This document attempts to integrate all remaining Biblical prophecies from both the Old and New Testaments. Though the writer is under no delusion that this is perfect or infallible, it is a sincere and studied effort. Too often we err in our interpretations because we are unaware of the complete scope of things, whether they have to do with Bible prophecy, other Bible topics, or even secular history. So it is worthwhile to gather all those details together and look for points of similarity as well as difference.

We should also be aware that prophecies are not always fulfilled or completed at a single point of time. For example, Daniel’s prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes hundreds of years before Jesus came, yet Jesus predicted another future fulfillment. This same principle will apply as we study events yet to come. We know, for example, that the church age has had many of the characteristics Jesus described for “the beginning of birthpangs”, but not all of them. And this depends further upon whether these “birthpangs” were directed at the church age at all.

An understanding of the separateness of Israel and the church (1 Cor. 10:32) is vital for understanding remaining Bible prophecy.1 The bulk of prophey is focused on the people and land of Israel. But most of what concerns the church is found in the Letters, with the remainder in the Revelation. So if, for example, we wanted to determine whether the church will suffer any or all of the final judgments, we would not look for this in the Old Testament or even the Gospels. Especially regarding the Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel, it was all specified for the people of Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the Temple (Dan. 9:24). The first 69 Weeks were for them, and so will be the 70th.

The church age ends not by a specific date or sign, but by an unknown number. As we can see in Acts 15:16 and Rom. 11:25, God began to turn away from the Hebrew-exclusive era to that of the Gentiles after Jesus returned to heaven. This transitional period ended at the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of the Temple, as will be noted later. So anything to do with the nation of Israel was halted, though not abandoned, and will be resumed once the church age ends.

God seems to focus on one group of his people at a time. He focused on the people of Israel, then interrupted that to turn toward the Gentiles. So when he shifts his focus back toward Israel, he shifts it away from the church. If this is accurate, then we should expect the church to be taken to heaven before the battle of Ezekiel 38 at the latest. But if there is an overlap as between the beginning of the church and the destruction of the Temple (about forty years), then we may indeed see this battle, which is followed by a period of seven years with no clear connection to the Seventieth Week of Daniel. However, if prophecies about the return of Israel to the land can apply at least paritally to the present time (since 1948), then the period of overlap may be nearly over.

Intended Audience

This document is intended for Christians familiar with Bible prophecy, especially the Olivet Discourse and the Seventy Weeks prophecy of Daniel 9.2 It also argues that the church will not experience the wrath of God (Col. 3:6, 1 Thes. 1:10, 5:9, Rev. 3:10, Luke 21:36). Please note that the phrase “the wrath of God” can also refer to the general attitude of God toward his enemies in this life, or to the eternal state of such rebels. To determine whether it means the specific time of God’s judgments or “the Day of the Lord”3 (Rev. 6:16-17, 11:18, 14:10,19, 15:1,7, 16:1,19, 19:15), we must consider the context. But regardless of which meaning one may choose, it is never directed at the church.

The Church Age Ends

The apostle Paul gave a sequence of events that mark the end of the church age. He called it The Departure, that is, the “snatch up” or removal of the Restrainer (John 14:2-3, 1 Cor. 15:35-58, 1 Thes. 4:13-18, 2 Thes. 2:1-12):

  1. The Lord will descend from heaven
  2. The archangel will shout
  3. The (last) trumpet of God will sound (ref. also Ex. 19:16-19, Num. 10:2; contrast with Rev. 11:15)
  4. Dead Christians will be raised in immortal bodies
  5. Bodies of the living Christians will be instantly transformed to immortal
  6. All are snatched away into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air
  7. This is a message of comfort and hope (no mention of any disasters or world leaders)

Who are “they” who say “peace and safety” in 1 Thes. 5:3, after which there is “sudden destruction”? Whoever is not “you” in the church. And the way we are not caught by surprise is by always being watchful and ready (Phil. 3:20), rather than by somehow knowing the exact date and hour. Keep in mind that Jesus directed his comments toward the people of Israel, not the as-yet unrevealed church (Rom. 11:25, 16:25, Eph. 3:6-9, Col. 1:26-27). So what he said about watching and being ready, as well as praying to escape (Luke 21:36), was for them and not the church. But of course, Christians of all times are to be eager to see Jesus return, and to live such lives that we will not be ashamed when he does; this is taught throughout the Letters.

The Transitional Battles

The geography and ethnic groups cited in these passages are identifiable and have the motivation expected of the era before the Tribulation. It is highly unlikely that this would be the case afterwards.

We do not know whether the church will be on earth to witness these things, as they may well take place before the enforcement of the seven-year treaty that marks the beginning of the Tribulation. There was an overlap between the beginning of the church at Pentecost and the end of the Temple in 70 a.d., so it is possible that the church may see these battles. However, though the duration of the battles is unknown and their relationship to the seven-year treaty is also unknown, they would still be a “sign” to the church that their Departure is very near.

So while this does not technically violate the signlessness of our Departure, remember that even the apostle Paul believed it could happen without warning in his own day. Otherwise he would have included these events in his sequential list given to the Thessalonians. In fact, the second letter was written to counter a forgery that claimed the Day of the Lord had already arrived (2 Thes. 2:1-2). They would not have been fooled if they knew the battles listed above had to happen first, and Paul does not make any mention of them there.

Jesus’ Public Statement About the End Times

When Jesus’ disciples remarked about the magnificence of the Temple, he told them that it would be destroyed to the point where not one block rested on another (Dan. 9:26b, Mt. 24:2, Mk. 13:1-2, Lk. 21:5-6). This was said publicly, while they were still on the Temple grounds (Mt. 24:1), and it was fulfilled by the Roman ruler Titus in 70 a.d. Everything else was said privately at a later time. It is possible that the prophecy about the people of Judea fleeing when they would see Jerusalem surrounded by encampments was at least partially fulfilled at this time, though it was largely only the Christians who escaped. And it should be noted that Titus did not set up any idol in the Temple, nor go into it and declare himself God.

Jesus’ Private (Olivet) Discourse to Peter, James, John, and Andrew

Mt. 24:3a and Mk. 13:3 tell us that the Olivet Discourse was given privately to Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. They asked three questions (Mt. 24:3b, Mk. 13:4, Lk. 21:7), after which Jesus gave a lengthy response:

  1. When will these things happen?
  2. What is the sign of your arrival?
  3. What is the sign of the end of the age?

General Introduction (Mt. 24:33)

Jesus gave his disciples certain signs to look for as the arrival of the Kingdom of God drew near. Remember that these were signs for Israel and concern the prophecies for Israel, rather than for the church. And it is the arrival of the Kingdom of God that the disciples asked about, which is preceded by the Day of the Lord. That Day will begin suddenly and without warning, while people are going about their daily lives.

Beginning of Birthpangs / Seal Judgments (Mt. 24:8, Mk. 13:8d)

The Tribulation / Seal and Trumpet Judgments (Dan. 9:26c, Mt. 24:14b)

The Great Tribulation / Trumpet and Bowl Judgments (Mt. 24:21)

After the Great Tribulation (Mt. 24:29a, Mk. 13:24a)

The Millennium

After the Millennium

Footnotes

  1. See Appendix A: The Unique Identities and Destinies of Israel and the Church
  2. See Appendix B: A Close Look At the Prophet Daniel
  3. The Day of the Lord: In general, this term refers to any period of time that is characterized by the direct and obvious intervention of God. References are Is. 2:12, 13:6,9, Ezk. 13:5, 30:3, Joel 1:15, 2:1, 11, 31, 3:14, Amos 5:18, 20, Obadiah 15, Zeph. 1:7,14, Zech. 14:1, Malachi 4:5, Acts 2:20, 2 Thess. 2:2, 2 Peter 3:10, and Rev. 6:17, 16:14. Some were fulfilled in the past. But since the past fulfillments were not always the same length of time, we cannot say with certainty that the future one(s) will be a certain length of time. And among the future ones, we can see that the beginning of this time is not as sharply defined as we would like.

Appendix A: The Unique Identities and Destinies of Israel and the Church

Taken from the author’s book Bible Prophecy: Foundation and Future

Bible prophecy interpretation depends upon whether or not Israel was to retain its identity beyond its dispersion in 70 a.d. Those who see Israel as having been abandoned forever by God will interpret all remaining prophecies as applying to the church (yet, curiously, they focus on Israel’s blessings and not its curses). But those who see Israel as having been given irrevocable promises by God interpret all remaining prophecies about Israel as literal.

So first we must know what God promised to Israel. In Jeremiah 31:37 we are told that God will never reject the people of Israel, in spite of all they have done, and in Ezekiel 36:22-23 it states very clearly that the purpose of God is to prove himself holy in spite of their habit of giving God a bad name among the nations of the world. We see in those passages, though certainly there are many others, that God is not yet finished with Israel, since his purposes do not depend upon the faith of its people. In fact, God states clearly that Israel has profaned his name and made him the object of scorn among the Gentiles. So the argument that Israel today is not the chosen people of God is invalid, since it has nothing to do with their merit. God has scattered them before but brought them back again, so there is no reason to presume that he will not do so in the future.

This doesn’t just concern the people, either, but also the land. The original land of Israel was determined by God Himself: “the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites” (Ex. 3:8, 13:5, etc.) This area is currently known as Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, part of Turkey, and Israel, including Gaza and the West Bank. God promised this area to Abraham’s descendants.

Clearly, then, the land of Israel belongs to God, and the people of Israel belong to God. In their present state of unbelief and hostility to their own Messiah, they must be purged and purified. But it will be by the hand of God, not the church or the Gentiles, since whoever comes against God’s people comes against him (Zech. 2:8). So while we are not obligated to support or condone what they are doing as a nation, neither are we to attack or condemn them— as if we or any other nation has a right to point fingers at others.

There is ample archaeological evidence of these ancient Hebrew cities, culture, artifacts, and language.A1 Yet there is no evidence for any such people as Palestinians; there is no coinage, no inscriptions, no language, nothing. It is often and loudly claimed that a so-called Palestinian people had prior occupancy, yet not even the Dome of the Rock was built until 691 a.d. A.C. Cresswell in his book Origin of the plan of the Dome of the Rock notes that those who built the shrine used the measurements of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,A2 which of course was preceded by Israel.

Now we must address the charge that none of the people in Israel today are true Jews by descendance from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but are Khazars and thus the fake Jews spoken of in the book of Revelation. Though this may be provable genetically for some of the people, it is not true of all of them. Neither is it true that all of them are atheists or Kabbalists or occultists. Yet God spares his people no matter how small the number (“remnant”), and it still remains that the land belongs to God. In addition, Gentiles were always allowed to convert to Judaism and given full rights as Jews (Isaiah 56:3-8). So even if the people of Israel today were proven to lack genetic descendance from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, this does not prevent them from being considered the people of God.

To answer yet another charge, the establishment of modern Israel by ordinary political means does not mean it isn’t a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Was God supposed to just have us all wake up one morning to see that there was a nation of Israel? How else would anyone accept that God had something to do with it? The fact that Israel’s existence in the future was predicted long ago is proof enough that this is of God, but Israel did in fact appear suddenly, per Isaiah 66:8.

For Christians who say that God can and has broken his promises to Israel due to unbelief, then what makes them think God will not also break his promises to churches whose people lack faith or keep indulging in sin? Many churches today are filled with corruption and worldly hedonism; they have relegated the Bible to myth or irrelevance in the modern world; they embrace all the depravity of the wicked and mock the few voices of rebuke and calls to holiness. If God can abandon Israel, then God can also abandon the church. Those who smugly say that God is finished with Israel should not think God won’t turn his back on them, too.

Having established the foundation of Bible prophecy as that God will not abandon Israel, it follows that the remaining prophecies about the people and land of Israel will be literally fulfilled. Israel and the church have separate destinies and purposes, as explained by both Peter and James in Acts 15, and by Paul in 1 Cor. 10:32 where he lists “Jews, Greeks (Gentiles), and the church of God”. Though there is but one Kingdom of Heaven, there are various “provinces” depending on when a righteous person lived.A3 If God can break his promises to Israel, he can break them to the church, and none of his promises would mean anything. Thus so-called Replacement Theology, whether the church replaces Israel or the church is absorbed into Israel and must obey the Levitial law, means that God does not keep his promises to glorify his name rather than ours. So everything we will read in the Old Testament applies to the people and land of Israel specifically, not to the as-yet unknown and unrevealed church.

Yet just as Israel has its own history and promises, so also does the church. It is only in the New Testament, especially the Letters,A4 where the “mystery”A5 of this new church is revealed. Not even the Gospels will tell us much about prophecies concerning the church, since Jesus stated clearly that his primary mission was to “the lost sheep of Israel” (Mat. 15:24). Neither will the events of Revelation be primarily about the church, which is never addressed as such after the seven letters in chapters two and three. The church is “not appointed to wrath” (1 Thes. 5:9) and has never shared in the guilt or prophecies of Israel. And no other righteous people from any other age before or after the church were promised the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5, Eph. 1:13–14). Unlike the church, Israel was never described as the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 4:12).A6

The church is a unique entity, neither Jew nor Gentile, without any detailed commands for sacred buildings or rituals. We share with Israel neither law nor priesthood (Heb. 7), prophecy nor judgment, risk of being disowned nor exiled and scattered. Since our salvation and righteousness are found not in ourselves but in Jesus, we can no more be taken from him nor choose to leave him than he could do such things to himself (1 Cor. 6:19b–20a).

One other important principle to establish is that there was no death or mortality before sin entered the world (Rom. 5:12). Therefore, death and mortality cannot continue after sin has been done away with, since they are part of the curse and that curse will end (Rev. 22:3). So whenever we encounter a passage of scripture that speaks of mortality, even if people live long and happy lives, we must conclude that the passage refers to a time before the curse is taken away. This is also true of the matter of final, personal judgment. If we read a passage about the judgment of the dead and the destruction of Death and Hades, then no one can be judged afterwards. Therefore, no one can die after that point, since they would never be judged and there is no place for them to go.

As another example, if we encounter a passage that speaks of the land of Israel, we must not apply it to the church. Or if we read about endurance to be saved, we know it does not concern the church, since we who are in Christ are credited with his righteousness, and it is a received gift rather than an earned wage (Rom. 6:14, 11:6, Eph. 2:8–9). And as noted earlier, we are not to suffer the wrath of God, for the same reason that we are only righteous because we belong to Jesus. This hardly means we do not suffer in this age of grace (Act 5:41, Rom. 5:3, 8:17–18, Heb. 11, etc.), but that this is not the wrath of God which will be poured out on the whole world (Rev. 3:10).

To summarize, let us list the points established so far:

Now when we examine any prophetic passage, we need to ask questions like these:

Appendix A Footnotes

  1. A pro-Israel source and an anti-Israel source.
  2. Book available at Amazon. See also Islamic Architecture
  3. This is a theological view known as Dispensationalism. See also The Israel of God.
  4. See Rom. 11:25, 16:25, 1 Cor. 2:7, Eph. 1:9, 3:3-9, Col. 1:26-27, 2:2, and 4:3.
  5. The word typically rendered mystery in most translations is the Greek word musterion, but this word means secret. That is, it is not a riddle we have to figure out, but something formerly hidden which is now revealed.
  6. Regarding Eph. 3:6, which states that through the Gospel both Jew and Gentile are united into one Body, it also states that this unity is found “in Christ Jesus”. It does not say that Gentiles are absorbed into Israel.
  7. The terms “saints” or “elect” refer to the righteous of any age; they are not unique to the church. That is, everyone in the church is a saint, but not every saint is in the church.

Appendix B: A Close Look At the Prophet Daniel

Taken from the author’s book Bible Prophecy: Foundation and Future

Though prophecies are scattered throughout the Old Testament, arguably the best-known and most remarkable of them are found in the book of Daniel. Much of its content has already come to pass, but not all, and not all completely. But the most important aspect of Daniel is that it gives a sequence, whereas the sequence or timing of the others are less clear. Since Daniel gives an overview of history in advance, we must have a good grasp of its content before considering any of the others. So this chapter will be all about the prophecies of Daniel.

An abomination in prophecy is understood to mean that an idol is set up in a holy place that belonged to another god (see Ezekiel 8 for example). Its purpose is to defile the other god’s temple. Its first use in the Bible is in Daniel 9:27, immediately after “he will put an end to sacrifice and offering”. The next two references are in Dan. 11:31 and 12:11 and include the phrase “profane the sanctuary”. To provide additional context for use of the word, apocryphal books (between the Testaments) also use it in the context of desecrating the Temple. Antiochus Epiphanes, who died in 164 BC, is the only historical figure to deliberately fill the Temple with unclean things, especially a statue of Zeus with his own face on it in the Holy Place.

So Daniel’s prophecy of the Abomination was indeed fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes. But Jesus, long after all of this, still spoke of the Abomination as referring to a yet-future event. Paul also spoke of the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thes. 2:3–4) entering the Temple and declaring himself God at some future time, and this certainly qualifies as desecration. Also, in Rev. 13:14 we are told that an image/idol will be made, which all people on earth will be forced to worship, though it doesn’t say it will be put into the Temple.

This is just one of many prophecies that seem to have a “now but not yet” fulfillment; that is, they are fulfilled in part at one time but fulfilled more completely at another time. So then the question is whether the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy was met in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. And it should be understood that a complete fulfillment must meet every criterion and detail without exception.

Please take a moment to read these scripture quotes for Jesus’ statements about events surrounding the future fulfillment of this prophecy. They are presented as lists for easier comparison.

Mat. 24:14-22

Mark 13:14-20

Luke 21:20-28

History shows that the people of Judea were indeed scattered among the Gentile nations, and that Jerusalem has been trampled by them throughout. Even today there is much Gentile control over Jerusalem and the Israelis are not allowed to build their Temple in its ancient location. And there have of course been many wars and many natural disasters in the last two thousand years.

But did anyone desecrate the temple in 70AD? Though it was burned and dismantled by the armies of Titus, he did not set up any idol in it. Neither did he take his place in the Temple and proclaim himself God, per 2 Thess. 2:3-4 and Rev. 13:1-8, 14-15.

Did the people of Judea flee to the mountains when they saw Jerusalem surrounded? There is no indisputable record of any mass exodus at that time to the mountains.B1 In fact, the Roman armies allowed people into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover but refused to let them leave, in order to put great strain on their resources and supplies during the siege.B2

Was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple “sudden” (1 Thes. 5:3, Luke 21:34)? Clearly not; the events leading up to the final siege did not happen in a day.B3

Did Nero, whom some identify as the final fulfillment of the prophecies of both Daniel and Revelation, die as specified in 2 Thess. 2:8 and Rev. 19:19-21? No, he committed suicide.B4 Neither did he or any of his associates cause the whole world (even if limted to the Roman Empire) to take a mark on their forehead or right hand and forbid commerce without it.

Did Jesus return in the clouds, accompanied by all the signs in the sky, and set up his visible earthly kingdom for a thousand years? This should have happened at or very shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD if that event marks the final fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy and Revelation. Yet the only way to claim it happened is to completely spiritualize it, and this is inconsistent with the claim that everything else, such as the destruction and the abomination, was literal and physical.

So while some aspects of the prophecy were fulfilled in 70 AD and others in the ensuing centuries, other important details have yet to occur. And we cannot presume that only the unfulfilled parts remain, since we have already seen that Jesus put events such as the Abomination in the future in spite of it having been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes in the past. So how much of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation remain is anyone’s guess. But we should note that the Abomination and fleeing Jerusalem is also seen in Rev. 12 and 13.

However, there are parts of the book of Daniel that have had many details fulfilled in the past. In fact, Dan. 2–7 and 11 have been the most perplexing aspects of the book to critics of Bible prophecy due to their detailed predictions of successive kingdoms. And it’s important for us to be aware of this, since some mistakenly hold all of it to be yet future and confuse it with modern events. We will now look at those, and then go back to look at another that has yet to be fulfilled.

Chapter 2 is Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue whose head was made of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, lower legs of iron, and feet of a mixture of iron and clay.B5 Daniel identified the head as Nebuchadnezzar himself, king of the Babylonian Empire. After him would follow a lesser kingdom (Medo-Persia, ruled by Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian), then another (the Grecian Empire, ruled by Alexander the Great), and finally one that would smash all others (Rome).

Chapter 8 is a vision about a goat and a ram, and the angel tells Daniel that the ram’s two horns represent the kings of Media and Persia. It describes the conquests of Alexander the Great (“the first king of Greece”), after whose death four of his generals would rule: Lysimachus, Cassander, Seleucus, and Ptolemy. The “little horn” coming later was none other than the vile Antiochus Epiphanes, who did not die in battle but from an infestation of worms.

It is the four generals who are described in detail in chap. 11. Ptolemy I was “the king of the south”. The “daughter” was Berenice (actually granddaughter, as her father was Ptolemy II), who was given in marriage to Antiochus II in a doomed plan to achieve political gains by intrigue and deception. After various raids and generations, this “king of the south” was Ptolemy IV and then Ptolemy V.

The “king of the north” was Antiochus III, who as prophesied was utterly defeated in 217 BC. The details fit historical record as with the Ptolemies, right up to the “contemptible person” Antiochus Epiphanes. It is he who is believed to have engineered the murder of “a prince of the covenant”, Onias III, the high priest. The first chapter of the apocryphal book 1 Maccabees details his plundering of the temple and other acts of savagery.

Again, though these things were indeed fulfilled in the past, we cannot dogmatically state that no future fulfillments remain. But neither can we presume that these alliances and military campaigns will be repeated in the future. In all the details of the remaining prophecies given in Revelation, there is no mention of the kings of the north and south and details that would connect them to future events. So though a future fulfillment is possible, it seems most unlikely.

But starting in verse 36 we read of “the king who exalts himself” who has “no regard for the gods of his fathers or the desire of women” and will instead “honor a god of fortresses”. We might still tie him in with the preceding discussion of Antiochus Epiphanes and the kings of the north and south, but these new details have no historical precedent. And they are tied in with chapter 12 which begins, “At that time…” and includes the resurrection of the dead.

So it seems that Antiochus Epiphanes is a very clear type or foreshadow of the ultimate future fulfillment in the Antichrist (popular name for the Beast in Revelation). Early in chapter 12 is where we see the phrase Jesus used, “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then”. And there has been much terrible suffering in the world since 70 AD, such that the fall of Jerusalem at that time cannot have been the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy.

But because of this overlap and duality, teachers of Bible prophecy must exercise restraint and caution in looking for modern fulfillments. All we can be sure of is that those things without any historical match will certainly take place.

Now back to chapter 7. The first half is a dream about four beasts, and the second half is the interpretation, focusing primarily on the fourth beast. Though the first three are described as a winged lion, a bear, and a winged leopard, the fourth is not compared to any known animal. It has ten horns, three of which are replaced by another horn. And the angel states that this beast will overcome the righteous for 3-1/2 years. The description of the fourth beast exactly matches that of Revelation (e.g. 13:1, 5-8, 17:12-13). And since none of this describes the situation of 70 AD, it must be yet future.B6

Now that we have a good grasp of all that was prophesied through Daniel, we can focus on the Seventy Weeks prophecy of chapter 9, since it lays out a clear sequence for all remaining prophecies about Israel. The first 69 of those weeks was marked as completed when Jesus came. Now seven years remain, divided into two halves at the point where the 7-year treaty is broken by the Abomination. So when we see this same event in the New Testament, we know that it marks the midpoint of the seven years, such that 3-1/2 years remain before the return of Jesus to the earth and the restoration of Israel and Jerusalem.

But we must not overlook the stated purpose of those Seventy Weeks: to end and atone for sin, begin eternal righteousness, seal up prophecy, and anoint/dedicate the Most Holy Place. But these things are all specified as applying to “your people and your holy city”, meaning the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. Thus the atonement for sin and end of all prophecy will not be completed until that final seven years ends. This is a very clear and focused prophecy to and about Israel and Jerusalem, rather than the church or the world at large. Certainly the judgment of the nations is included on other accounts, but this particular prophecy is very exclusive.

Appendix B Footnotes

  1. The city of Pella, where many Christians are thought to have fled before the siege, is at a fairly low altitude; see Elevation of the city of Pella
  2. The Battle of Jerusalem
  3. Destruction of the Temple
  4. Death of Nero
  5. It is commonly believed that the two legs represent some kind of division or separation, yet the statue also has two arms and two feet, without anyone presuming such separation. The significance of the statue is in the metals, not the structure, except for the feet as a mixture of iron and clay. Just as we do not separate the ten toes into two groups of five, so also we should not think that the two lower legs (curiously, the upper legs or thighs are never seen as a division either) represent any division. As for the feet and toes, the text states that the iron and clay represent a divided kingdom of strength and weakness, composed of a mixture of “seeds” (Dan. 2:41-43). Whether this mixture means a clash of cultures and ideologies, or even between humans and semi- or non-humans, the focus is on their inability to blend, not the reason for the inability. The division is between strength and weakness, not east and west.
  6. Additional historical data about Daniel include this document on Dan.8 and this document on Dan. 11

Appendix C: Fads and Misconceptions About Bible Prophecy

The Muslim Beast

One modern prophecy fad is to believe that the coming Beast will be the Muslim Mahdi (or Twelfth Imam). But can this be supported from scripture?

First of all, we need to distinguish between the Beast and the Antichrist. There are two beasts mentioned in Revelation: the First Beast and the Second Beast or False Prophet. The first is stricly political and will be the one possessed by Satan at the midpoint of the Tribulation, desecrating the Temple and declaring himself God. The second has to do with religion and would thus be the only one to qualify as an antichrist. This is the one who will demand that everyone worship the First Beast, and who will order the Mark to be enforced (see next topic).

So the only possible connection of Islamic prophecy to the end times would be to the False Prophet. But since no Muslim would pretend to be Allah, their Mahdi would not demand that the world worship anyone on earth. But will either of the Beasts be Muslim, even if not the Mahdi? After all, the method of execution for many will be beheading (Rev. 20:4). However, this one fact is hardly enough to identify the False Prophet as a Muslim. This is during the second half of the Tribulation, after the False Prophet has demanded that the whole world worship the First Beast, who has declared himself God. Thus the beheadings of Rev. 20:4 can have nothing to do with Islam. It may well be that beheading is simply the preferred Satanic method of execution.

Does scripture support someone of Muslim heritage who simply apostasizes then? That is, can we trace the lineage of either of the Beasts arising from either Islam or a nation that practices it? In the 70 Weeks prophecy of Daniel, we are told that there is a coming “prince”. It was to be the people of this prince that would destroy the Temple, which happened in 70 a.d. The Roman army often contained people of many ethnicities, but the lineage of those people does not necessarily apply to the prince himself. So who was the prince? The Roman general Titus. He was neither Arab nor Muslim, since Islam was not invented until the 600s a.d. While one might point to the Ottoman Empire as having ruled the general area out of which the Beasts might come, the Roman Empire was always ruled by Europeans. And the type or shadow of the Beast, Antiochus Epiphanes, was a Roman of Greek lineage. As for the False Prophet, nothing at all is said about his lineage or people.

But what did Jesus mean when he said in John 5:43, “I have come with the authority of my Father and you won’t accept me, but if someone comes by their own authority you’ll accept them.”? Many believe this means the Antichrist will be a Jew. Now since many Jews will reject the Beast when he desecrates the Temple, it could only apply to those who remain. However, Rev. 13:1 says the First Beast arises out of the sea, which symbolizes the non-Jewish nations. Rev. 13:11 says that the Second Beast arises out of the land, which symbolizes the people of Israel. Yet it is the First Beast who enforces the 7-year treaty.

There is a book by Phillip Goodman called The Assyrian Connection that proposes a Syrian (Micah 5:5) as the Antichrist. He argues that the Antichrist will arise out of the eastern leg of the old Roman Empire, an area presently dominated by Islam. But none of the passages to which he appeals clearly point to the coming Antichrist or to the then non-existent religion of Islam. Not even Antiochus Epiphanes, who first fulfilled the prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation, was Assyrian. Even so, the phrase “the Assyrian” could be an expression meaning “the Assyrian people”, just as we might say that “the American” is going to rise up against tyranny. More details and theories can be found at this article. (Disclaimer: I strongly disagree that Walid Shoebat was ever really a terrorist or is an expert on Bible prophecy. This article shows Shoebat to be not only no expert on prophecy, but a poor exegete.)

But perhaps the strongest argument against a Muslim Antichrist is that the present Islamic nations will be wiped out either early in the Tribulation or just before it starts; see Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38, and the Transitional Battles section of this document. In fact, all religions will be outlawed when the Beast declares himself God, including the ancient Babylonian religion (more details in following topics). The Antichrist will not be an atheist, but neither will he be identified with any former religion. Islam certainly is serving a Satanic purpose, and supplies the motivation for the Psalm 83 coalition against Israel, but it will not be a significant entity in the Tribulation, nor will the Antichrist or either of the Beasts be Islamic.

The Mark of the Beast

Revelation 13:17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

Revelation 14:9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand…

What is the Mark? The beast's name or number. It is not our personal ID. Even if the world went back to using beads for currency, this mark would still be required to do business. So technology doesn't matter, it's whether this Mark represents your willing citizenship in the Beast's kingdom.

How is the Mark given? Etched on the forehead or right hand. Why these two locations? The most likely reason is that it refers to the Beast's withered right arm and blind right eye (Zech. 11:17).

When is it given? After the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15). How do we know when the 7th trumpet has been sounded? Here are the judgments of the trumpets in order, by chapter and verse in Revelation. We will not see the Mark of the Beast until after all of those things have happened. So since not even the 1st trumpet has sounded, we aren't even close to seeing the Mark of the Beast.

  1. 8:6-7 (1) Hail, fire, 1/3 earth burned
  2. 8:8-9 (2) Blazing mountain, 1/3 sea destroyed
  3. 8:10-11 (3) Burning star Wormwood, 1/3 rivers embittered
  4. 8:12-13 (4) Heavenly bodies' light reduced by 1/3
  5. 9:1-12 (5) First woe on earth: Locusts from the Abyss torment enemies of God for five months
  6. 9:13-21 (6) Second woe on earth: Four Messengers, 200 million soldiers, 1/3 population killed
  7. 11:1-14 Temple measurements and two witnesses
  8. 11:15-14:20 (7) Third woe on earth: the two Beasts

Some people think that any and all references to beasts in the Bible can be applied to this context, such that pretty much anyone and anything can be called the Mark of the Beast. By this method, even Israel or Jesus would qualify. The foolishness of this idea is obvious, and is only being mentioned because there are actually people who think this is how the Bible should be interpreted.

The Two Witnesses

Rev. 11:1-12 describes them as individual human beings with miraculous powers, who wear sackcloth and prophesy for 3-1/2 years. This is the same description found in Zech. 4:3, 11, and 14. They are killed by the Beast during the 6th trumpet judgment, left in the center of Jerusalem for 3-1/2 days, raised back to life by God, and then taken up to heaven while their enemies watch.

Anyone and anything that doesn't match all these criteria is not either of the Two Witnesses. So it isn't Israel and the church, nor any random political leaders, nor the Old and New Testaments, nor any other off-the-wall candidate.

Blood Moons, Tetrads, and Shemitah Years

A "blood moon" is simply a lunar eclipse where conditions are such that the moon appears reddish in color. A tetrad is when four such eclipses occur in a row. A Shemitah year is so named for the command to Israel to let their fields remain unplowed every 7th year, so the land could rest. This is strictly for Israel, not anyone else, and none of the curses for failure to observe these years apply to any other nation.

None of these concepts are part of Bible prophecy. Phrases such as "the moon will turn to blood and the sun to darkness" are indeed found in scripture, but each context shows that they are not routine astronomical events, and usually also occur with the darkening or falling of the stars. One way all of these things could happen at once is during a volcanic eruption where the sky is blocked out, and another would be divine intervention. But the normal astronomical events cannot all happen at the same time.

Theories such as that promoted by Mark Biltz or Rabbi Jonathan Cahn leave out any tetrads that did not occur on a significant date in history, and not all of the ones that did were before the events they allegedly pointed to. This is cherry-picking the data and fudging the dates. They also lead us to wonder why the biggest events, such as the Holocaust, were not foretold by any such signs. See this article for details.

Scripture does say that the heavenly bodies serve as signs and to count off years, but this hardly means that every alignment of stars or every tetrad is a prophetic sign. So there is no reason to think that the latest astronomical alignments or phenomena are foretelling world events. One must be careful when connecting dots; they can't be connected randomly or on a whim.

Mystery Babylon

There are plenty of theories as to the identity of “Mystery Babylon”. But let’s look at the Biblical description and see what it actually says.

  1. She is in the desert (Rev. 17:3a) but sits on many waters (Rev. 17:1)
  2. She rides the red beast with 7 heads and 10 horns (Rev. 17:3b)
  3. She wears royal robes and carries a chalice holding the filth of her promiscuity (Rev. 17:4)
  4. She has written on her forehead a secret name, “Babylon the Great, mother of harlots and everything disgusting” (Rev. 17:5; the Greek says a secret name, not that the name is Mystery Babylon)
  5. She is drunk with the blood of the holy people and witnesses of Jesus (Rev. 17:6a)

After John sees this vision, the angel explains what it symbolizes. And since the angel does this, there is no reason or justification for taking the answers as symbols.

  1. The beast preceded the time of John, was not in power in his time, and will arise again from the Abyss (Rev. 17:8a), and is also the 8th king (Rev. 17:11)
  2. The heads represent mountains which are kings; 5 have fallen, one was currently in power, and one will come later (Rev. 17:9-10)
  3. The ten horns represent ten kings who have not yet come (Rev. 17:12a) and will hate and destroy the woman (Rev. 17:16)
  4. The many waters the woman sits upon represent many nations of people (Rev. 17:5)
  5. The woman represents “that great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18), who has gained wealth by trafficking in all sorts of goods as well as human beings (Rev. 18:11-13)

The angel does not give the meaning of the desert. It may simply mean the place where John saw the vision, but it could also refer to the site of the ancient city of Babylon in the plains of Shinar (Gen. 10:10), which is in Mesopotamia, in modern Iraq, about 30 miles south of Baghdad. See also Bible Atlas. It may also be related to a vision in Zechariah 5:5-11, where a personification of evil is carried to Shinar to be set in place. The city was built by Nimrod, who rebelled against God and established his own religion, which came to be the source of the worship of Horus and Semiramis, and their various names including Baal and the Queen of Heaven. So Babylon is both a literal city and the root of all false religion.

Who or what is the Beast/8th king? It could not be Rome, since Rome was in power in John’s day. Yet it had to exist before John, and so it is not any kingdom, state, or power that hasn’t existed in ancient times. And since it has carried the woman, it must be as old as she is. More clues will be gleaned from identifying the other clues.

Who are the seven kings? Five of them preceded the time of John, one was in power in his time, and one was yet to come. Ten legitimate Roman emperors preceded the time of John, and the eleventh in his time was Domitian. Further, it seems unlikely that the angel would be talking about a line of kings from a single kingdom. So the 7 kings represent kings and their kingdoms. Now we look for five empires before Rome, and the most likely were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. But who/what will be the final empire? All the kings have had something to do with the Beast, so what do they all have in common? They are all powers that ruled the known world. So the Beast will be the final world empire, with roots that go back to ancient times. There is nothing in the text to identify it as “the city on seven hills”.

Who are the ten kings? They will be from kingdoms that have not existed in the past, and they will be all of one kingdom, since the word for kingdom in Rev. 17:12 is singular. They will share their power with the 8th king for a short time, likely half the Tribulation.

Of what significance are the many waters? They represent the population of the world and are under the authority of the woman, not the beast. What has the beast “carried” since ancient times, and will throw off and destroy? The most likely answer is ancient Babylonian religion. We know that the Beast will do away with the worship of any god or king but himself at the midpoint of the Tribulation, so that is when religious Babylon is destroyed.

What is “that great city that has (in the first century) sovereignty over the kings of the earth”, that will still be in power during the Tribulation? It cannot be a country, but it has to be doing diplomacy around the world just like a country; that is, it’s a city-state. And it must also be guilty of shedding the blood of the holy people. So we can eliminate any modern city without ancient roots, such as New York or London. The only city-state that could qualify would be either the literal city of Babylon, or another city that has been the headquarters of a revived ancient Babylonian religion. Many believe the Bible predicts a one-world religion, but this is not the case; the only world religion will be to worship the Beast.

Has this city ever moved in the past, so we could justify saying that it is not the name of the city but its characteristics that identify it as an entity that existed in the first century and will exist again? We have a clue in Rev. 2:13, in the letter to the church in Pergamos, described as the city “where Satan has his throne”. This is where the priests of the Babylonian religion moved after their city was destroyed. Quoting Harry Ironside in Babylonian Religion:

When Christ came into this world the mystery of iniquity was everywhere holding sway, save where the truth of God as revealed in the Old Testament was known. Thus, when the early Christians set out upon the great task of carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth, they found themselves everywhere confronted by this system, in one form or another; for though Babylon as a city had long been but a mystery, her mysteries had not died with her.

When the city and temples were destroyed, the high-priest fled with a company of initiates and their sacred vessels and images to Pergamos, where the Symbol of the serpent was set up as the emblem of the hidden wisdom. From there, they afterwards crossed the sea and immigrated to Italy, where they settled on the Etruscan plain. There the ancient cult was propagated under the name of the Etruscan Mysteries and eventually Rome became the headquarters of Babylonianism.

The chief priests wore mitres shaped like the head of a fish, in honor of Dagon, the fish-god, the Lord of life-another form of the Tammuz mystery, as developed among Israel’s old enemies, the Philistines. The chief priest when established in Rome took the title Pontifex Maximus, and this was imprinted in on his mitre. When Julius Caesar (who was an initiate like all young Romans of good family) had become the head of the States, he was elected Pontifex Maximus, and this title was held henceforth by all the Roman emperors down to Constantine the Great, who was at one and the same time, head of the church, and high priest to the heathen. The title was afterwards conferred upon the bishops of Rome, and is borne by the pope today, who is thus declared to be, not the successor of the fisherman-apostle Peter, but the direct successor of the high priest of the Babylonian mysteries, and the servant of the fish-god Dagon, for whom he wears, like his idolatrous predecessors, the fisherman’s ring.

So the city may change names and locations, but its character as the headquarters of the ancient mystery religion remains the same. Remember that this is the woman and not the beast. The woman is the Babylonian religion headquartered in a city-state that has existed in one place or another over the centuries; the beast is the world government; the 7 heads are a line of world emperors; the 10 crowns are new kings of one world kingdom who hand their power to the beast. Keep in mind also that every kingdom has a king; every empire has an emperor. So though the Beast is a kingdom, it is headed by a man, whose names include “the son of perdition” and “the man of lawlessness”.

Appendix D: Three Prophetic Cities: Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem, and The Lord Is There

Taken from the author’s book Bible Prophecy: Foundation and Future

To compare The New Jerusalem of Rev. 21 (NJ) and the “city” of Ezekiel 40-48 called “The Lord Is There” (L), we must first calculate their respective sizes. No dimensions are given for the Jerusalem (J) of Zech. 14.

Converting cubits to miles:

The “Sacred District” containing the areas for L and the priests, Levites, and workers, measures a square of 25,000 cubits, or about 8 miles. The city itself is 5000 cubits or 1-2/3 miles square. The temple inside the District (but not inside L) is 500 cubits (including 50 cubits spaces around it) or .17 mile square.

The length, width, and height of NJ are all 12,000 stadia or 1400 miles. The wall is 144 cubits or 252 feet thick.

Similarities between NJ and L

Differences

Key Facts About J

Discussion

While all three are cities and there are some similarities, the differences force us to conclude that rather than three descriptions of one city, there are indeed three separate cities: The New Jerusalem, Jerusalem, and The Lord Is There. NJ and J have a river flowing from the city, while L has none; only the District temple has a river flowing from it. NJ and J speak of no day/night distinction, while L refers to “six working days” and the New Moon regarding the temple (Ezekiel 46). And of course, NJ is far too large to fit the descriptions of either of the other cities.

J and L exist after Jesus returns to the earth to set up his kingdom at the end of the Tribulation, and NJ descends from heaven after the Millennium. J and L are in times when people are still mortal, while the time of NJ is when “the curse is no more”. Nothing in NJ’s context limits the lack of curse to only NJ, and there is no reference to any more places for the dead or judgment seats for the dead to face. So J and L are during the Millennium, while NJ is after it.

The only other reference to a future Jerusalem is Isaiah 65:17-25, in a context where there is mortality, though in a time of great abundance and peace. This would seem to match the J of Zech. 14, except for the statement “new heavens and new earth”, which is mentioned in Rev. immediately before NJ descends from heaven. Yet the statement in Isaiah 65 does not say that this new heaven and earth precedes the restoration of Jerusalem, but that God “will create” them. Yet on the other hand, everything in that passage “will be”. But given the sequential character of Revelation as opposed to the other passages, it would seem that the order of events is clearer there and should carry more weight.

Chapters 1-24 of Ezekiel predict the captivity of Israel, chapters 25-32 predict the judgment of the other nations, chapters 33-39 predict the return of Israel to its land, and chapters 40-48 predict the Millennial Kingdom. Since all the fulfilled prophecies have been literal, there is no justification for treating the remaining prophecies as figurative or only spiritual.

One timing difficulty is the vision in Ezekiel 43:7 where God says from within the temple, “This is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever”. And to this day, the temple has not been built. Its stated purpose will be to shame the people of Israel for their former practices and defilement. It would seem unlikely that such a shaming and lesson for Israel would be perpetuated for eternity. And the sacrifices and festivals are not identical to those prescribed by Moses.

Another puzzle concerns the “prince” mentioned in chapters 40-48. Whoever this may be, this person will be mortal since the passages speak of his children. This person also does not perform the functions of a priest. Neither can this be King David, since David died long ago rather than being taken alive to heaven as were Enoch and Elijah. And David was promised that someone from his line would always be on the throne of Israel, so this person will be from his line.

© 2015 Paula Fether