Is the Roadmap for Peace paved with good intentions but questionable theology?
Contact: Steven L. Sherman, 727-647-6467, http://lastdayscalendar.net
CLEARWATER, Florida, June 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- The United States of America has joined with the EU, Russia, and the UN in pressuring Israel to "trade land for peace." President Bush as well as many other well-intentioned Christian Americans have had their world view shaped by their denominational doctrines. I believe that it is critical for the future of our country and the nation of Israel to consider the evidence that challenges the notion that the book of Revelation (the Apocalypse) was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century.
"Preterist" means past in fulfillment. Preterists believe that most or all of Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled in Christ and the on-going expansion of His Kingdom. They claim that the Roman-Jewish War in the first century was the fulfillment of end-times biblical prophecy. Therefore, it is the Preterists' contention that the book of Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Therefore, the Roman Emperor Nero is interpreted to be the Antichrist and Jerusalem is Babylon. Although Jewish and Old Testament expectations are of a literal earthly reign of the Messiah, based upon their belief that God has finished with corporate national Israel, Preterists also believe that there is no need for a future literal Millennial Kingdom on earth.
If a strong case can be made for the dating of Revelation after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, then it would prove that the prophecies found in this letter to the seven churches in Western Asia are yet to be fulfilled.
I believe that there are four strong arguments for the later dating of Revelation. First, the Apocalypse itself indicates that it originated in the province of Asia in a time of severe oppression of Christians:
I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 1:9
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10
It the book of Revelation was written before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, then the prophecies concerning the coming persecutions of the followers of Christ had to occur during the reign of Nero. If Revelation was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, then the persecution of the Christians would have taken place during the reign of Emperor Domitian.
Kummel provides the following information on dating the Apocalypse of John (Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 466-68):
Prior to Domitian, the state religion did not direct itself against the Christians. Nero's mad acts against the Christians had nothing to do with the imperial cult and were confined to Rome. Domitian, on the other hand, laid claim to divine honors for himself as emperor during his own lifetime; there se for the first time the persecution of Christians by the state on religious grounds.
In the province of Asia, the imperial cult was promoted with special zeal. Under Domitian, Ephesus received a new imperial temple. The province of Asia was the classical land of the imperial cult at the time of Domitian.
I know where you live-where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-where Satan lives. Revelation 2:13
Pergamum was the famous site of the temple to Aesculapius who was the Greek God of healing. The city became the seat of Babylonian sun worship, a noble center of idolatry and demon controlled religions with splendid temples to Nature. People from all over the Roman Empire came to seek healing in this pagan temple and the shrine area was inhabited by thousands of harmless snakes. On the hills of Acropolis stood resplendent buildings, statuary, palaces and the great library as well as the temples and an altar of "Zeus the Savior." I believe that the book of Revelation was referring to the altar to Zeus when using the term the throne of Satan.
Antipas was martyred in Western Asia and not in Rome. The emperor cult did not reach Western Asia until nearly a quarter of a century after the fall of Jerusalem.
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Secondly, Nero never even visited the temple in Jerusalem. When revolts broke out in Judea and Jerusalem; Emperor Nero went to Greece on a pleasure trip, while Vespasian campaigned in Judea against the Jews.
Thirdly, the term "A Synagogue of Satan" is used in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9.
I know your afflictions and your poverty-yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Revelation 2:9
I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Revelation 3:9
While followers of Christ were still considered a sect of Judaism by the Romans, they enjoyed freedom to worship under Roman rule. The Jews did not have to display images of the emperor in synagogues or in the Temple. The Jews were also exempted from the loyalty test of having to bow before an image of the reigning Caesar. Since failing to bow before Caesar was not only an affront to the emperor religious cult but also viewed as political defiance and a traitorous act to the state, it was punishable by death.
During the siege of Jerusalem, Jewish Christians heeding the warnings of Jesus escaped from Judea when the Roman generals Vespasian and Titus withdrew to Rome after Emperor Nero's suicide.
"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city; for this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. Luke 21:20-22
After the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, non-believing Jews who were angered that the Jewish Christians fled from the Holy City, took the names of Jewish followers of Christ off of their synagogue rolls and turned the names into the Roman authorities. The Christian Jews were no longer protected from observing emperor worship and many were martyred. The synagogues of Satan did not arise until after the fall of Jerusalem.
Finally, there is an historical record which enables us to date Revelation. John, the writer of the book of Revelation, was "on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Rev 1:9). The Romans used the island as a penal settlement to which they sent political agitators and others who threatened the peace of the empire. According to Eusebius, John was banished to Patmos by the Emperor Domitian in AD 95, and released 18 months later under Nerva (HE III.18.1; 20.8-9).
The early historian Eusebius tells us that after Domitian's reign he was succeeded by Nerva. Under him the Roman senate decreed that those unjustly exiled could return to their homes and have their goods restored. It was then that the Apostle John "returned from his banishment in Patmos, and took up his abode at Ephesus, according to an ancient tradition of the Church." (Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius, Chapter 20, p. 103) This would have been around the year AD 96.
The account of the Christian martyr Antipas taking place in the province of Asia, the fact that Nero never even visited Jerusalem, the rise of the synagogues of Satan, and the historical account recorded by Eusibeus, all point to the book of Revelation being written during the reign of Domitian around AD 95.
It certainly does matter when the book of Revelation was written. Since it was not written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, theologians can no longer claim that Israel is the "Whore of Babylon" spoken of in the Apocalypse. It matters since many of the events prophesied in the book of Revelation are still yet to be fulfilled. It matters that we understand that God has not cast off the natural seed of Abraham forever. The nation of Israel does have a right to exist and the Jews have a divine right to continue to live in the Promised Land.
The biblical record and other historical documents bear evidence of the rise and fall of ancient nations. Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon each had their moment in history as world empires until they were punished for their treatment of the chosen people of God.
The fact that these once powerful nations were toppled from their positions as world powers after they turned against the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob might be chalked up to mere coincidence by those who deny the inspiration of Scripture. But for those of us who have ears to hear, we will view these events in light of God's promise to Abraham:
"I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:3
This promise has been fulfilled throughout world history. Spain was at its height as a world power in the 15th century until it expelled the Jews. The invincible Spanish Armada after being scattered by an English fire ship attack was battered by storms and limped back to Spain. Spain never recovered its position as a world leader.
Germany before World War II was at its height as the cultural and intellectual center of the western world. After its role in trying to annihilate every Jew in Europe, Germany lost over seven million people in the war and became a divided nation.
At the turn of the 20th century, "The sun never set on the British Empire." It controlled nearly one fourth of the world population and one fifth of the land mass of the earth. After being pressured by the Arabs, Britain reneged on its promise as stated in the Balfour Declaration to establish a Jewish State. The British severely limited immigration to Palestine, even to those Jews attempting to flee threatened Nazi annihilation. Shortly after, the mighty British Empire collapsed.
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19
An incorrect understanding of the dating of the book of Revelation not only impacts Jews around the world and has misled Christian leaders into pressuring Israel to trade land for peace, but will eventually cause the withdrawal of God's grace and protection of America according to God's covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:3).
To learn more about end times, THE LAST DAYS CALENDAR: Understanding God's Appointed Times is a "must" read. To learn more about the Appointed Feasts of Israel and their relationship to the return of Christ or to order this book on line, go to: http://lastdayscalendar.net. To order from the publisher by phone, call: 1 (877) 421-READ. To contact the author for a personal appearance, debate, or prophecy conference email: LDaysCal@aol.com or call (727) 647-6467.