The contents of Revelation were written regarding the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem. This book is actually John’s record concerning the prophecy of Jesus about the destruction of Jerusalem. It was written before 70AD. Once a person understands that the book of Revelation was written before the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem, then the contents of the book can take on a new form. Applying the use of imagery, signs and symbols it gives the reader, primarily the Jews a systematic view of how the end was coming to the age of the Old covenant.
Firstly, the fact that Revelation 11 speaks of the Temple as physically still standing.
“I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.” Revelation 11:1-2
Some scholars argue that the book of Revelation was written in 96AD, 26 years after the utter destruction of Jerusalem. If it was so then it is likely that John would have made mention of it in its content. Yet there is not one mention in the entire 22 chapters regarding the destruction of Jerusalem. This point not only bolsters the first presupposition, but it also points to the truth that Revelation was very likely written about the 70AD destruction which was about to take place.
The Days of Vengeance a classic book by David Chilton is a verse-by-verse commentary on the entire Book of Revelation. The feat of writing such a book is incredible and it gives a clearer picture than any commentator I know. It seems that his goal was not simply to comment, but to show, prove, and convince the reader of his particular presuppositions. They are:
1. That the Book of Revelation was written before 70AD
2. That the contents of Revelation were regarding the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem.
3. That the time-texts of Revelation should be taken literally, that Revelation 1-22 was written regarding things that were shortly to come to pass.
4. That Jerusalem and the Jewish religious system had become apostate and was seen by God as an adulterous whore, as Babylon, as the old creation, which was about to pass away.
5. That Rome, the Roman Empire and Nero Caesar were represented prophetically as a beast, which controlled commerce and all other aspects of life.
Chilton in his book also brings out a fascinating point, which he did not quite to emphasize. Some keys highlights that enable one to see some comparisons that was not uncommon from the Old testament regarding God’s act of judgment upon a nation that abandoned her covenant. The contents of Revelation parallel the contents of Ezekiel (20 point diagram from page 21)
1. The Throne-Vision (Rev. 4/Ez. 1)
2. The Book (Rev. 5/Ez. 2-3)
3. The Four Plagues (Rev. 6:1-8/Ez. 5)
4. The Slain under the Altar (Rev. 6:9-11/Ez. 6)
5. The Wrath of God (Rev. 6:12-17/Ez. 7)
6. The Seal on the Saint’s Foreheads (Rev. 7/Ez. 9)
7. The Coals from the Altar (Rev. 8/Ez. 10)
8. No More Delay (Rev. 10:1-7/ Ez. 12)
9. The Eating of the Book (Rev. 10:8-11/Ez. 2)
10. The Measuring of the Temple (Rev. 11:1-2/Ez. 40-43)
11. Jerusalem and Sodom (Rev. 11:8/Ez. 16)
12. The Cup of Wrath (Rev. 14/Ez. 23)
13. The Vine of the Land (Rev. 14:18-20/Ez. 15)
14. The Great Harlot (Rev. 17-18/Ez. 16, 23)
15. The Lament over the City (Rev. 18/Ez. 27)
16. The Scavengers’ Feast (Rev. 19/Ez. 39)
17. The First Resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6/Ez. 37)
18. The Battle with Gog and Magog (Rev. 20:7-9/Ez. 38-39)
19. The New Jerusalem (Rev. 21/Ez. 40-48)
20. The River of Life (Rev. 22/Ez. 47)
Essentially what Chilton demonstrates is that the book of Ezekiel is to the Old Testament what the book of Revelation is to the New Testament. Ezekiel laid out the coming destruction of Jerusalem (by the Babylonians) in the Old Testament and John used the same prophetic language to speak of the imminent coming destruction of Jerusalem in the New Testament. With that framework, the symbolism of Revelation is set in place and becomes simpler to interpret drawing the comparisons and seeing clearer the message.
Then Chilton quotes The Meaning of the Revelation by Philip Carrington (1931) about this Ezekiel/Revelation connection.
“The Revelation is a Christian rewriting of Ezekiel. Its fundamental structure is the same. Its interpretation depends upon Ezekiel. The first half of both books leads up to the destruction of the earthly Jerusalem; in the second half they describe a new and holy Jerusalem. There is one significant difference. Ezekiel’s lament over Tyre is transformed into a lament over Jerusalem, the reason being that St. John wishes to transfer to Jerusalem the note of irrevocable doom found in the lament over Tyre. Here lies the real difference in the messages of the two books. Jerusalem, like Tyre, is to go [be removed] forever.” (Page 21)
Another interesting thing to note about the book of Revelation is that the time-texts of Revelation should be taken literally, that Revelation 1-22 was written regarding things that were shortly to come to pass.
While all four ways of interpretation by different scholars would agree that parts of Revelation are symbolic and other parts are literal, each of the of the four systems takes a different stance regarding the time-texts. I discovered that using the time texts literally is the most reasonable approach.. If the time-frame described is taken as symbolic, then the contents and interpretations will strectch to any person and time zone. This will not make sense to its original reader. See below some verses taken from the book of Revelation with regard to the time-text mentioned:
“The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servantswhat must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,” Revelation 1:1
“The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the thingsthat must soon take place.” “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.” Revelation 22:6-7
“Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near.” Revelation 22:10
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Revelation 22:12
“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Revelation 22:20
Another key point to note about the book of Revelation is that Jerusalem and the Jewish religious system had become apostate and was seen by God as an adulterous whore, as Babylon, as the old creation, which was about to pass away. Upon a closer look at the book you will discover a reoccurring term the “great city”. John stated in his book “Great City” is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, yet literally speaking, this was the city where Jesus was crucified, therefore the “Great City” is a reference to Jerusalem. The great city which is also called Sodom, Babylon and the Whore is not the Papacy or the Roman Catholic Church but Jerusalem who had gave her allegiance to Rome for her commercial benefit. They rejected the Lordship of Jesus and declared in John 19:15 (NIV) “But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.” This is the spiritual adultery that the scriptures talks about over and over.
“Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified.” Revelation 11:8
The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Revelation 16:19
The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” Revelation 17:18
“Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe to you,great city, you mighty city of Babylon! In one hour your doom has come!’ …. and cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! … When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “‘Woe! Woe to you, great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’… [The Finality of Babylon’s Doom ] Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” Revelation 18:10, 16, 18-19, 21
At a point I was confused with this scripture because one renowned Prophet explained this previous verse as the destruction of the Twin towers that happened on Sept 11, 2001 during the terrorists attacks on US soil.
Like so many interpretations that come many American preachers this one is false as it does not take into account content and reader relevance. Why would John write a book so important to a Jew and did not mean for them contemplate about it because it would be fulfilled in 2000 years to come.
One final thing to note about the book is the identity of the beast. Just as we the symbolism of the “Great City” meant Jerusalem, the beast also has its own keys for understanding. One of the most convincing is the lineage of the Roman Emperors provided in the book of Revelation in prophetic format.
“They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.” Revelation 17:10-12
This passage, which is speaking of the line of rulers in Rome, tells us exactly how many rulers had already come, which one was currently in power, and that the next one would only last a short while. This rulership ancestry leads the reader to the conclusion that Nero was the Beast in reference here. The rule of the first seven Roman Emperor’s are as follows:
1. Julius Caesar (49–44 BC)
2. Augustus (27 BC–AD 14)
3. Tiberius (AD 14–37)
4. Caligula (AD 37–41)
5. Claudius (AD 41–54)
“Five have fallen…”
6. Nero (AD 54–68)
7. Galba (June AD 68–January AD 69, a six month ruler-ship)
“the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.”
Of the first seven kings of the Roman Empire, five had come (Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius), one was now in power (Nero), and one had not yet come (Galba), but would only remain a little time (six months).
The fact that Nero fits the description of the “beast” is well documented. According to Suetonius, he murdered his parents, wife, brother, aunt, and many others close to him and of high station in Rome. He was a torturer, a homosexual rapist, and a sodomite. He even married two young boys and paraded them around as his wives. One of the boys, whose name was Sporus, was castrated by Nero. As written in Historic books he was truly bestial in his character, depravity, and actions. He devised a kind of game: covered with the skin of some wild animal, he was let loose from a cage and attacked the private parts of men and women, who were bound at stakes. He also initiated the war against the Jews which led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD..
Nero’s persecution, which was initiated in A.D.64, was the first ever Roman assault on Christianity. Roman historian Tacitus (A.D. 56-117) spoke of Nero’s “cruel nature” that “put to death so many innocent men.” He records the scene in Rome when the persecution of Christians broke out: “And their death was aggravated with mockeries, insomuch that, wrapped in the hides of wild beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or fastened to crosses to be set on fire, that when the darkness fell they might be burned to illuminate the night.” Christians were crucified, beheaded, burnt alive, and used as torches to light the palace gardens. Historically, Nero is the one that persecuted Christians beyond all comparison. St. John’s banishment to Patmos (where he wrote the book of Revelation) was itself a result of the great persecution of Nero. The apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. The apostle Peter, who was crucified upside down, was another victim of Nero, .
So we can see from this brief summary that the book of Revelation becomes an interesting book to look into because of its content and for what purpose it was written. It was not never written to scare us but to encourage the church during the time of the great persecution of the hope they had after God had shown his final upon a people who all time life had rejected his goodness and considered themselves not worthy of His love. As Jesus said in Matthew 23:37 “”Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” The bible ends with the end of an age, the Mosaic age for us to enter the New age ushered by the New Covenant.