Well. so its finally around the corner, 21 December 2012...the end of the world. In Russia its become a national obsession to such an extent that the Russian government had to call upon the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church to make public assurances that the world will not end. In America NASA has had to make public announcements that the world is not headed for catastrophe.  Our usual evangelical "end times" prophecy industry has also been very busy getting in on the hysteria. I note in our local Christian book shops Dr. Lemmer Du Plessis's book "2012 Die Laaste Uur?" (2012 The Last Hour?) fully endorsed by the major Pentecostal churches of the AFM, PPK, and Full Gospel Church. I can understand why they want to give it prominence for a big sales push....unsold stock will have to be removed from shelves in January 2013. Much like Hal Lindsey's nonsense book "1980's Road to Armageddon" did not sell too well in the 1990's.

I am writing this blog on this topic not to mock but to raise the serious issue of spiritual manipulation in the evangelical church. Prophecy in general and the book of Revelations in particular has become tools for emotional and spiritual manipulation. It makes for sensational preaching and for drawing TV audiences and book and DVD sales. So to help you in your own study of scripture let me give you a quick insight into what is really going on the book of Revelations that most preachers will not tell you:

The book of Revelations is not about the end of the world nor is it about the coming of world satanic government nor is it about the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. The book is about the Revelation of Jesus Christ and what He is doing in the heavens and on the earth. The Greek word "apokalypsis" from which we get "apocalypse" does not mean "destruction" , it means "revelation". But your typical preacher will not tell you what Jesus is revealing to John...he wants to talk about "destruction". So let me tell you what Jesus is revealing to John in his famous vision...

John got this vision before 70 AD when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 that the city and the temple would be destroyed and that generation he was speaking would see it. John was in prison on the isle of Patmos off the Turkish coast suffering under the persecution of Nero which lasted between 66-68 AD.  John the Apostle was ministering among the churches in Turkey when he was thrown in prison.  Jesus appeared to him and gave him visions of warnings to these churches of what was about to come on the earth but also as comfort that He Jesus Christ was on the throne and the world shaking events about to happen were His judgments but that ultimately His Kingdom would prevail.

The warnings that Jesus gave were to tell John that the two enemies of the Church, the Judaizers out of Jerusalem and the Roman world system persecuting them are going to be soon judged by Christ Himself coming in the clouds with the armies of heaven and destroying them. Jerusalem will fall and Rome will fall.  After this destruction there would be a New Jerusalem that will fill the Roman world with Kingdom of God, a new heaven and a new earth.  The Kingdom of God will prevail over the kingdoms of this world and nations will be discipled into the Kingdom of God. There are so many scriptures in Revelation that have this historical fulfilment of what I have just written that it requires a separate book, some of them I have written in my book but let me give you a small sample:
- John writes that the prophecies he is writing are "the things which must shortly take place" (1:) and warns "the time is near" (1:3. At the end of the book John says God sent His angel to show him "the things which must shortly take place." (22:6) which means that the early church which got this revelation were being warned of things that were about to happen that they were about to experience....not 2000 years in the future!
- In Rev. 13:18 John encourages his readers to calculate the number of the beast that is persecuting the church...his number is 666 and in other early manuscripts the number was 616. That means John's readers could figure out at that time who he was talking about. Remember John is in prison and if you want to smuggle something out of prison you don't write in plain sight the emperor Nero is a "beast". But in his readers using Hebrew gamatria can work out that Nero Caesar comes to 666 and in Greek comes to 616.
- In Rev. 17 he tells his readers that there have been 5 kings and one "now is" and the one to follow will only last a short time. The early Christian church readers could figure that one out as well, the five fallen were the Roman emperors, Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius and the one "that now is" was Nero and the one to come after that would only rule a short while was Galba who emperor for only 6 months. The important prophecy from John however was that the "beast" that now was, would only persecute the church for 42 months and then it would be over - which is exactly what happened from the start of Nero's persecution in 64 AD to his death by suicide in 68 AD.
- But John also prophesied in Rev. 11:2 the coming destruction of Jerusalem and said the armies coming against the holy city would trample it underfoot for 42 months. This happened exactly in the Roman invasion of Palestine from 66 AD to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
- In Rev. 12:6 John says of the Jerusalem church that they would be attacked by the great dragon and they will run into the wilderness where they will be protected for 1260 days until the war is over. This happened exactly as Jesus also predicted when He warned the Church that when they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies they must flee to the wilderness, which the early church did, fleeing to Petra across Jordan in the wilderness and then they returned to Jerusalem 1260 days later after the war was over to re-establish the church at the sight of the Upper Room.   

There are many more direct historical fulfilments of prophecy. But the critical importance of the book of Revelations to the early church was this: their world was about to be turned upside down. Judgment was coming upon both Jerusalem and the Roman world. The coming fall of Jerusalem would deal a devastating blow to the Judaizers in the Jerusalem church. Jesus twice in Rev.2 and 3 judges those that "call themselves Jews but are not, but are the synagogue of Satan". Paul had trouble with these false teachers and so did John and the churches of Asia. Their whole vision was that Israel and the Jews were the centre piece of God's Kingdom on earth. They expected God to restore the Kingdom to Israel. They wanted to bring the gentile believers into the Israel covenants.  The Jerusalem church under James was infected by this doctrine and even Peter in Antioch was scared of these brethren.

The restoration of the Kingdom of Israel under the coming of the Messiah was the central belief of these people and they were a major cause of the Jewish rebellion against Rome that started in 66 AD. They purposely started a rebellion so that the Messiah, the second coming of Christ which was expected at any day would come with the armies of heaven and destroy Rome and set up His kingdom in Jerusalem. Jesus warned against these false prophets and these false messiahs. When Jerusalem fell in 70 AD that was the end of Jewish influence in the Church. That was also the fulfilment of the prophecy of Rev. 16...Armageddon.  The armies of the world in the form of the Roman legions surrounded Jerusalem as part of God's judgment on Israel.

The other great collapse that was prophesied by Revelations was the fall of Rome, the whore sitting on the seven hills of Rev. 18.  This was to happen in later years. But the amazing prophecy of Rev. 21 and 22 was to follow.  John said he saw a new Jerusalem coming down from heaven... a city that was 12,000 furlongs on a side. That measures about 1500 miles a side. For the early church reading this they would understand what that meant.  That was the size of the Roman empire at the time. The implications was clear. A new world order was coming. The city of God was going to replace the city of Rome and its world empire...the kingdoms of the Roman world would become the kingdoms of Christ.  The gospel would go out into all the Roman world and they would come into the Kingdom.  In 325 AD the emperor Constantine formerly capitulated and acknowledged that Jesus is truly Lord over all the earth.

But as in all scripture such as the letters of Paul to his churches....there is a message to the contemporary readers of the time and there is a message to the Church through all the ages.  The same of the book of Revelations. There are incredible prophecies fulfilled during the time of the early church that was directed at them to comfort them during their coming time of persecution and a world turned upside down. But one thing stood out...Jesus is Lord over all, He rules from heaven and He has empowered His church to rule on earth as kings and priests. The spread of His Kingdom to all the earth is inevitable and unstoppable.

The contemporary evangelical Church ignores all this. Instead they preach the inevitable success of the antichrist and his coming world empire and they once again preach the heresy of the early church Judaizers that the Jews will bring in the Kingdom of God and that once again God will restore the Kingdom to an earthly Jewish kingdom.

The book of Revelations will once again in our day and age prove the opposite to be true. The current world Babylon system will fall and the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ will grow to fill the earth. And there will be no revived Jewish kingdom where Christ will be king...Jerusalem will once again come under judgment and be destroyed but this time never to be resurrected. Instead the New Jerusalem (the Church) will bring in a new heavens and a new earth where the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Back to Top