Daniel and Revelation —the most misunderstood and abused books in all the Bible!!
Daniel's prophecy was completely fulfilled by our Lord Jesus Christ in His virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death on the cross, and His ascension into heaven where He reigns and judges the world as King of kings and Lord of lords. The New Testament is the full and complete explanation of all the prophetic promises of the Old Testament.
Daniel 2 was fulfilled by Christ. The "great image" prophetic outline of Daniel 2 refers to the rise and fall of the empires of —Babylon (head of gold), —Medo-Persia (chest of silver), —Greece (torso of bronze), and —Rome (legs of iron with feet and toes of iron and clay) The "rock" which strikes the "great image" at its feet was fulfilled by our Lord Jesus Christ. His kingdom commenced at His baptism in the Jordan River . He was born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, and gave Himself as an offering for our sins. After His glorious resurrection, He ascended into heaven and began to reign on the throne of David as our Mediator, King, Lawgiver, and High Priest after the order of Melchisedek. The glory of His now invisible kingdom will be fully revealed at His coming in the clouds of heaven at the end of the world.
Daniel 7 was also fulfilled by Christ. The prophetic outline of Daniel 7 refers again to the rise and fall of the empires of — Babylon (the lion), —Medo-Persia (the bear), —Greece (the leopard), —Rome (the dreadful composite Beast). Rome with its "little horn" wages war against Christ, but because of the verdict of the judgment in heaven Christ's kingdom overcomes and defeats him.
Christ's kingdom has cast down all other thrones as the rightful ruler of the world. The "Son of Man" has been given "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." Christ's judgment of the nations began at His ascension. (see: Rev. 4 and Rev. 14) Satan's kingdom in Christ's day in the form of the Roman Empire's Herodian rule of the province of Palestine and Jerusalem is the "little horn" which makes war with Him, but Jerusalem is eventually "taken away" and totally destroyed in AD 70. Both the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire eventually fell apart as the barbarian and Muslim forces gradually devoured the empire.
In the proclamation of the gospel to all the world, every nation, tribe, tongue, and individual is being judged by the gospel for the verdict of either "life" or "death". The justification of repentant sinners is by God's unmerited grace alone through faith alone in the sinless life and atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sin-bearer for the sins of the world. In God's merciful forgiveness and acquittal of the repentant believing sinner, the verdict of the final judgment day is rendered in the present. Today is the day of salvation. The justified believer who trusts in Christ as his Savior and Lord to the end will not be ashamed at His coming in power and great glory when the unbelieving world will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. Daniel 7:9-11
Daniel 8 was fulfilled by Christ. The taking away of the "daily sacrifice " by the "little horn" was fulfilled in the crucifixion of our Lord. Christ is the true "daily", the eternal sacrifice for sin of which the Old Testament sacrifices were merely a shadow. Rome through her representative, Herod the governor of Palestine, is the "little horn" of Daniel 7 and 8. In Daniel's apocalyptic symbolism, Christ is the "sanctuary" or temple which was "cast down". He is the "truth" which was cast to the ground. He is the "daily", the sin offering, which was "taken away". The "sanctuary" was "restored" to its rightful state at His resurrection (Dan. 8:14 ).
And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered. Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed (restored). Daniel 8:9-14
Daniel 9 was fulfilled by Christ. The "seventy weeks" is a play on the "seventy years" of captivity spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah. Just as literal Israel would be restored at the end of the seventy years of captivity, so God's true spiritual kingdom of Christ would be restored and commence at the end of "seventy sevens" (70 x 7 = 490) or 490 years.
There were three commands to restore the kingdom of Israel after the seventy years of Babylonish captivity. These three commands of Cyrus, Darius, and Artexerxes to rebuild the nation of Israel are found in the book of Ezra. The last of these three commands was given in 457 BC. From this date to AD. 34 is exactly 490 years.
In the last "week" of the seventy weeks, Christ "finished the transgression", "made an end of sins", made "reconciliation for iniquity", brought in "everlasting righteousness", He "sealed up the vision and prophecy", and He was "anointed" as Messiah. He "confirmed" or ratified the covenant and then He was "cut of" by His atoning death on the cross. In the last week of the prophecy the despicable sin of the Sanhedrin in conjunction with Rome as the "desolator" against the Messiah would be punished by the destruction of their city. The most horrible crime, the true "abomination of desolation", in all of human history was the condemnation and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ by His own covenantal people.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. Daniel 9:24-27
Daniel 10 thru 12 was fulfilled by Christ .
Now regarding the King of the North and the King of the South in Daniel 10-12:
Daniel sets the background for his prophecy in chapters 2, 7, 8, and 9 as the four kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome which shall rule over the land of Israel unto the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Daniel 10 Daniel is told that Michael is battling to defeat the king of Persia so that the kingdom of Greece shall appear. After Persia is defeated the kingdom of Greece arises. But Greece will be eventually be divided into four parts and one of these factions is called the "king of the south" and the other surviving faction is called "the king of the north". This "king of the south" faction will fight against the "king of the north" faction. These two remaining factions of the divided empire of Greece fought back and forth until eventually the southern faction was defeated and the northern faction emerged as the dominant power which developed into the Roman Empire.
It is the fourth empire of Rome (see Daniel 2) which emerges as the dominant world power and rules the land of Israel at the time of Christ. It is Imperial Rome which makes war against the holy covenant and places the "abomination that makes desolate" and "takes away the daily".
Daniel 11:30......therefore he (the King of the North) shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.
31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice , and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits .
33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.
34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.
35 And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.
36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.
It is Rome in conjunction with the Jewish leadership who had "forsaken the holy covenant" (see verse 30) which conspire together to crucify the Son of God (take away the daily). The "daily sacrifice" in the temple service prefigured the atoning death of Christ who was to come into the world to be the true offering for sin (see Daniel 9:26-27)
So in brief summary, the "king of the north" represents the power which eventually emerged from Greece as the Roman Empire which in conjunction with the Jewish leadership makes war against the holy covenant and crucifies the Lord Jesus Christ. The murder of the Son of God was mankind's greatest sin in all of history and this sin is called the "abomination of desolation" and the "taking away of the daily". It is Christ who fulfilled all the terms of God's everlasting covenant in the final "week" of the "seventy weeks" prophecy as Christ was "to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." (Daniel 9:24).
It is Christ who in Daniel 12:1 is Michael, "the great prince who stands for the children of thy people" who at that time"stands up". The phrase "stands up" means for Him take action and to come into the world as the promised Messiah and fulfill His mission as Lord and Savior of His people. This is the message of Paul's epistle to the Hebrews. The great "time of trouble" began with the commencement of the Christian era and will end with the second coming of Christ.
The entire book of Daniel is thus a prophecy of the establishment of the "kingdom of God" and this is the record of the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Daniel has been completely fulfilled in Christ's doing and dying and ascension into heaven as King of Kings and Lord of Lord. He reigns in heaven as our Priest/King until He makes all His enemies His footstool.
These chapters depict in metaphor the great historic struggle to bring about the kingdom of God against the wishes of the evil kingdoms of this world as they make war with each other and the "prince of the host", Michael, the ruler (Hebrew: chief or great prince) of the angels. But in the "last days" Michael prevails over His enemies. Gabriel the angel tells Daniel that at the "time of the end" all these things will be accomplished. The "time of the end" and the "last days" began at the incarnation of the Son of God. Then the faithful remnant of Christ, spiritual Israel, will endure a time of trouble such as never before (see Dan 12, Matt 24).
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. Daniel 12:1-13 KJV
Daniel's book would be sealed up until the "time of the end". The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has completely unsealed the book of Daniel. The "time of the end" began with the proclamation of the inauguration of the kingdom of Christ by the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, Elizabeth, and the virgin Mary. It is Gabriel who sealed up the book of Daniel and it is Gabriel who unsealed the mystery of Daniel's prophecy! The "knowledge" which shall be increased is the revelation of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. The "mystery" of the gospel was fully revealed in Christ. Daniel is told "blessed is he that waiteth". Who will understand the meaning of these mysterious symbols? All of these mysterious numbers would be fulfilled in Christ.
Editor's note: Antiochus Epiphanes was not and never was a fulfillment of Daniel. This was the traditional interpretation of the Pharisees of Christ's day, but they were completely wrong about the restoration of the temple by the Maccabees as being the fulfillment of the "restoration of the temple". The leaders of Israel should have humbly accepted the rule of Palestine by the Greeks. God clearly told them that four kingdoms would rule over them and that the fourth beast, Rome, would reign over them until the "judgment was rendered in favor of the saints", not the third beast ( Greece ).
It is the fourth beast that committed the greatest "abomination" in all of human history!! It is the fourth beast and his "little horn", not the third beast, which cast down the temple (crucified Christ). It is the fourth beast and his "little horn" which made war with Christ for exactly 3 and 1/2 years or 1260 days at the end of which Christ was crucified. The New Testament witness is clear that Christ's ministry lasted for 3 and 1/2 years or 1260 days. At Christ's resurrection the "temple" was restored (Dan 8:14 ), the judgment was set and the kingdom and the greatness thereof was given to the saints (by faith).
In His atoning death, burial, and resurrection Christ pulled down the pillars of Satan's kingdom and exposed him for the liar and murdered that he was from the beginning. Christ's everlasting kingdom was established at His resurrection and the hour of God's judgment of the nations began (Dan 7, Rev 4, Rev 14). The judgment of the world was initiated at the anointing of our Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. His sinless life, atoning death, and glorious resurrection marked the commencement of the "last days". When our Lord cried out "It is finished", the walls of spiritual "Babylon" came tumbling down as the "everlasting gospel" went into all the world!! The "sealing" of all who personally repent and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ began at Pentecost. when the apostle Peter cried out,
"The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses......Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:13-21
Rome is the fourth kingdom. It is symbolized as having ten horns (a number of completeness) because Rome was an empire which was composed of many subservient conquered kingdoms over which Rome placed its own loyal governors. Rome now ruled in the place of the vanquished kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece mentioned in chapter 2 of Daniel. It is the Roman Empire in conjunction with the province of Judea ruled by Herod, Pontius Pilot, and the Sanhedrin (this constitutes the "Little Horn") which "stood up against the Prince of princes" (Daniel 8). It is Christ who fulfilled the final "week" of Daniel 9. The "abomination of desolation" was the crucifixion of our Lord by Rome in conjunction with the rulers of Jerusalem . That which was "determined upon the desolator" was the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. It was Rome which caused the "sacrifice to cease". Christ, after He "confirmed" the covenant for 3 and 1/2 years, was murdered by the "Little Horn". Rome thereby desecrated the "temple" and "caused the sacrifices to cease" in crucifying the Lord. It is Christ who said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." It is Christ, the "second Adam" who repaired the breach caused by the "first Adam". It is in Christ that all of the prophetic promises of God have reached their final "amen"!!
Finally Rome destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. The desolator standing in the "holy place" spoken of by our Lord in Matt 24 was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies of Titus in A.D. 70. The Lord thusly identifies Rome, the fourth kingdom, as being the "desolator" which not only cuts of the Messiah, but also then destroys the holy city after its rejection of the Messiah.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains....Matthew 24:15-16
I hope this brief explanation of the book of Daniel will give you some insight as to how to understand its mysterious symbolism as a shadow and precursor of the full revelation of the "mystery" of God in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This mystery is fully disclosed and unveiled in the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But Gabriel tells Daniel, "Only those who are wise will know what it means!!" Daniel 12:10 NLV.
And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God : but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. Mark 4:11-12
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery , which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: Romans 16:25-26
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery , even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. Corinthians 2:6-10
....he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will , according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him. Ephesians 1:6-10
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; Colossians 1:26-27
The Book of Revelation (see also: Revelation)
Chapter 1-3 Christ appointed the aged apostle John, now an exile on the isle of Patmos, to write "Revelation" in order to give hope and assurance to the suffering, persecuted evangelical Christian church. The Roman armies of Titus had destroyed the temple at Jerusalem in AD 70 in fulfillment of Christ's Olivet prophecy recorded in Matthew 24 and now the church needed to be assured that Christ was Lord of all in the "heavenly temple" and in complete control of the flow of history unto the day of His promised second coming in the clouds of heaven with all His holy angels. Using the same basic outline of history as Daniel and employing the same basic symbolism as Daniel, John points the believing evangelical Christians of every generation to the ultimate victory of the Lamb of God over the powers of Satan. The prophecy of Daniel has portrayed the history of Israel from its captivity in Babylon unto the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now John using the same apocalyptic symbolism as Daniel portrays the history of the Christian church, spiritual Israel, from Pentecost unto the glorious visible return of Christ in all His kingly glory to rescue His persecuted Bride, symbolically called the "144,000". So Daniel brings us to the time of Christ while John on the other hand brings us from the ascension of Christ to the end of the world and Christ's promised second coming. Christ's messianic redemptive ministry was for a literal 3 and 1/2 years or 1260 days while the church age is described as a symbolic "1260 days" or "42 months" witnessing for the gospel of Christ in the wilderness of this fallen sinful world.
The evangelical church of Christ must witness and suffer throughout her earthly sojourn of "1260 (metaphorical) days" at the hands of Satan's cruel and oppressive spiritual kingdom called "Babylon". John assures the suffering church that the persecuting demonic forces of Satan's kingdom will ultimately fail and will finally be destroyed by the "second death".
The great conflict between Christ and Satan is vividly portrayed in amazing apocalyptic "Day of Atonement", Yom Kippur symbolism. God's justification of repentant sinners by His unmerited grace alone through faith alone in the sinless life and atoning death of Christ alone as revealed in the Bible alone must be our constant mantra as we take the redemptive sin-atoning gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all the world.
Revelation begins its account by giving counsel and warning to the "seven" Churches situated in present-day Asia Minor. Throughout the entire history of the church the problems that are described in these churches can be found in every generation. These churches do not represent successive historical periods in history but rather symbolically represent the complete church in every age with the errors and problems of every age.
In speaking words of comfort, encouragement and even rebuke to the "Seven Churches", our Lord addresses the entire evangelical Christian church of every age. Jesus' warnings against sin and heresy strengthen us and warn us even today as we "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints". The Ebionite Gnostic heresies and false gospels which were brought into the infant church of the first century and vigorously opposed by the apostles are still the heresies of today. But now with the passing of time they have been venerated and given "respectability" by the "Man of Sin", the Papacy, which has usurped and taken over the Christian church.
With the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 the infant Christian church as the new Spiritual Israel needed assurance and encouragement to face the terrible trials and persecutions that lay ahead. By using metaphor and the covenantal symbolism of the Old Testament God begins to relate the prophetic future of the Church. The glorious triumph of the Lamb over the Dragon, Light over Darkness, and Spiritual Israel over Spiritual Babylon, the Pure Woman over the Impure Prostitute Woman are vividly portrayed using the allegorical symbols of the Heavenly Temple and the Creation Cosmology of the Old Testament.
The Symbols of the Heavenly Temple
The Judgment Scene: John opens to the full view of the church the true meaning of history. Through nearly 6,000 years of blood stained history, men have asked why has all this suffering been permitted. With fists raised to the God of Heaven, men have blamed the God of infinite love for all the heart rending suffering of the human family. In the Judgment scene of Revelation 4 we see God's answer to the challenge of who is to blame for all the carnage of history. What is "revealed" in the Revelation is how the "mystery of iniquity" came to be; how it has manifested itself in history; how God has dealt with it in the gospel of Jesus Christ; and how it will ultimately be justly destroyed by the "second death".
The earthly Temple in Jerusalem had been swept away in AD 70 by the armies of Rome exactly as Christ had foretold and so this prophecy of the apostle John exiled on Patmos begins by giving the Church a view of the events which are transpiring in the true temple of God, the Heavenly Sanctuary. He is shown the scene of the Judgment, which commenced with Christ's ascension into heaven and His enthronement as our Priest-King at "the right hand of the majesty on high". All the fallen Sons of Adam—every nation, kindred, tongue, and people are to appear at the arraignment before the Divine bar of justice which takes place in the "heavenly sanctuary".
Thus we have the Judgment scene—the unsealing of the Everlasting Covenant of God. In the everlasting covenant is revealed how God has handled the sin problem. First in symbols and shadows in the books of Moses—the first or "Old" covenant—and then in the reality of God's full and final revelation—the "New" covenant in the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.
He is shown the great throne of the Lord God Almighty who is the Ruler and Judge of heaven and earth. There are also the 24 Elders who are witnesses from the earth and we see the entire host of heavenly angels who continually worship God and praise Him who sits upon the throne. The 24 Elders are those who were resurrected during the great earthquake when our Lord cried out from the cross, "It is finished"!!!
Then the great Scroll of the Everlasting Covenant is brought forth. This Covenant pronounces blessings upon those who are righteous and curses upon the unrighteous. The Law of God, as found in the covenantal scroll, is to be the judgmental standard of righteousness. Our Lord fulfilled every requirement of the Law for us who so miserably fail to meets its holy standard of righteousness.
John beholds the glory and holiness of the scene and despairs that there is no hope for the fallen Adamic Family, only condemnation and doom. No one is found worthy and righteous enough to fulfill the demands of the covenant and look upon it. But then in the midst of the throne steps forth the Lamb of God who is not only the Son of God but the Son of Man as well. Because He, the Divine Substitute and Sacrificial Lamb of God is there, the throne becomes, not only the seat of justice, but is in fact the "mercy seat" or "propitiatory" or "place of reconciliation". As the Divine Substitute, Jesus has allowed the curses of the Law—the punishment which all sinners deserve (see the blessings and curses of the covenant in Deuteronomy 11:26-29) to fall on Him so that the blessings of the forgiveness of sin and Eternal Life might accrue to those who repent and put their trust in the blood of Jesus for their acceptance with God.
Jesus Christ, the Worthy One, standing in the throne reaches out to take the sealed covenantal scroll from the sacred hand of the Father. Then commences in Heaven the judgment of the world as the Gospel is proclaimed upon the earth to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people by His faithful sealed servants, the "144,000"—the symbolic number of Spiritual Israel, the Church.
Thus as the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed on Earth, the Judgment goes on in Heaven. All the world is being judged by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!! Those who believe and repent have their names written and sealed into the Covenantal Book of Life and become part of the redeemed community, symbolically called the "144,000". Those who are wicked and unbelieving receive the verdict of death and the "Mark of the Beast" and will ultimately be destroyed in the Lake of Fire prepared for the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Devil.
This Day of Atonement theme is the background of the entire setting of Revelation. This setting of the end-time Judgment of the world has one more motif which must also be explained before attempting to understand the meaning of the symbols of Revelation.
The Symbols of the Hebrew Apocalyptic Cosmology (World View)
The covenantal symbolic world view of the Hebrews of the Old Testament was this:
The Hebrews understood that the Heavenly Sanctuary or Temple of God in heaven was the center of the entire universe. The loyal covenantal people of God on the earth—the children of Israel—encamped around the earthly sanctuary, each tribe under its own banner. The earthly tabernacle was a symbolic representation of the heavenly.
1. The encampment on the East of the sanctuary was the encampment of Judah (the banner emblem of Judah was the Lion) and comprised the families of Judah, Issacar, and Zebulon.
2. The encampment on the South of the sanctuary was the encampment of Reuben (the banner emblem of Reuben was the Face of a Man) and comprised the families of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad.
3. The encampment on the West of the sanctuary was the encampment of Ephraim (the banner emblem of Ephraim was the Ox) and comprised the families of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.
4. The encampment on the North of the sanctuary was the encampment of Dan (the banner emblem of Dan was the Eagle) and comprised the families of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.
The earthly sanctuary, the sacred ark of the covenant, and the place of Atonement were situated in the very center of the encampment of Israel. In the heavens above the Earth was the true Throne of God. This throne above in the heavens and was portrayed in the Old Testament apocalyptic literature as a great heavenly Chariot with wheels on all fours sides and guarded by the four cherubim angels attending the chariot of God (see: Ezekiel Chapters 1 and 10). The stars in the heavens were portrayed as the angelic host surrounding the throne and they continually sang praises to the One who sits upon the throne.
The Throne of God in heaven is symbolically represented as resting upon a great transparent heavenly glassy crystal-clear dome. The angels did the bidding of God and carried out God's divine will in the affairs of man upon the earth. They executed the judgments of the Great Judge in Heaven. When a portent appeared in the heavens, events on Earth were sure to follow. Falling stars in apocalyptic symbolism were angels carrying out the commands of God. Comets were apocalyptic portents of Divine intervention in the affairs of man.
The great heavenly Sanctuary was the abode of the Eternal Judge, the King of Israel, the Lord God Almighty. The Temple on Earth was understood to be a mere copy or shadow of the great throne room in Heaven from whence the Judge and Lawgiver of Israel ruled and administered justice for the children of Israel. The Ark of the Covenant and the Shekinah glory with the covering Cherubim in the earthly tabernacle were a pattern of the true Throne of God in Heaven. Even the ancient pagan religions of the day believed that their temples on earth were patterns of things in the heavens.
The Israelite encampment had covenantally vowed to live within the terms of the covenant. Those who disobeyed or ignored the terms of the covenant were declared "unrighteous" and were "cut off" from the covenant community and disinherited from the promises and blessings of the covenant. The curses of the covenant fell upon the unrepentant transgressor of the covenant.
The four living creatures which surrounded the throne symbolized the angelic host who administered justice within the encampment. They had the faces of a Lion, a Man, an Ox, and an Eagle to show that they protected and carried out judgment within all four points of the compass within the encampment of Israel. (See: Exekiel chapters 1 and 10)
God punished Israel when disobedient to the covenant with the "four terrible covenantal curses"—Sword, Famine, Pestilence, and Wild Beasts of the Earth.
For thus says the Lord GOD: "How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem -- the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence -- to cut off man and beast from it? Ezekiel 14:21
Each of these four Cherubim "ruled" a fourth part of the earth and went to the four "corners" of the earth in judgment and justice. (see Ezekiel 1, Zechariah 6 and Revelation 6 and 7—the four angelic creatures who guarded the throne—each one successively with the face of a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. The "four horsemen" and the "four winds" also represent these four angelic creatures who do God's bidding.)
The symbolic rivers and fountains of waters nourished the Earth and gave life to the plants and animals and redeemed community living on the "circle" of the Earth.
In this symbolic paradigm the civilized covenantal "island" of the encampment of Israel was surrounded by the great chaotic rebellious "Sea", the dwelling place of the "lawless peoples" of the unbelieving Gentiles. Satan—the Lawless One, Azazel, the adversary of God—was the ruler of the unbelieving Gentiles from his great city, spiritual "Babylon".
This great city was the "seat of the Beast" and this city was nourished by the great "Euphrates River" which flowed into the city and gave life to the city. Satan was portrayed as the seven headed Serpent Dragon, the demonic Leviathan, who lived in the sea and ruled the chaotic lawless sea of peoples who were outside of the blessings of the divine covenant. God prohibited the "sea" of the Gentiles from overflowing into the land of Israel. He guarded the borders of the Promised Land and punished those nations who would invade the Holy Land of the Covenantal People.
Beneath "Babylon" was the allegorical demonic abode of the nether world, called the abyss, the bottomless pit, shades, or hades, the land of darkness and unclean spirits of wickedness and the land of scorpions, dragons, and locusts and all things unclean. These unclean spirits figuratively come forth from the underworld and stream out of "Babylon" and attack the Promised Land from the north. The armies of literal Babylon always attacked ancient Israel from the north, because the great desert which was situated between Israel and Babylon prohibited an attack directly from the east. Thus Babylon was always "The King of the North". Egypt however, the other enemy of Israel, was south of the Promised Land and always attacked from the south and was always "The King of the South".
To summarize, we find that the apocalyptic literature of the Bible depicts seven allegorical realms of the created order over which God ruled from the Throne Room of God sitting above the Creation—
1.) The Earth upon which the sanctuary encampment of covenantal Israel was situated.
2.) The Chaotic Sea surrounding the Earth.
3.) The Rivers and Fountains of Waters flowing through and nourishing the Earth.
4.) The High Heaven or Upper Firmament which surrounded the Heavenly Sanctuary of Yahweh was the abode of the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars.
5.) The Bottomless Pit or the Abyss over which the Seat of the Beast, "Babylon", was situated.
6.) The "River Euphrates" which nourished and gave life to spiritual Babylon.
7.) The Lower Heavens or Lower Firmament called the Air or the Atmosphere.
Having described the background of the ancient cosmology which is employed by the Apostle John for the Book of Revelation, we can better understand the allegorical symbolism which he, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, uses to describe the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
The opening of the "seven seals" and the blowing of the "seven trumpets" are Day of Atonement symbols depicting God's judgments upon the unrepentant inhabitants of the world. These judgments are meant to bring the world to repentance and salvation through faith in the Everlasting Gospel which is proclaimed throughout the world by God's witnesses the redeemed community called the "144,000", also called the "two witnesses" in Revelation 11.. The church witnesses for Christ throughout its earthly ministry of symbolic "1,260 days" or "42 months".
The question of the identity of the Seven Heads of the Beast of Revelation 12, 13 and Revelation 17 is one the issues that has caused a lot of discussion and confusion among evangelical Christians today.
1.) The Seven-headed Beast with ten horns is the Roman Empire. Satan is the power behind this seven-headed dragon-beast which persecutes the church throughout her earthly sojourn of symbolic "1260 days". The fall of the pagan Roman Empire is symbolized in Revelation 13 as its having received a "deadly wound". The deadly wound is "healed" however and from the ashes of the Imperial Roman Empire arises Papal Rome which is an "image" or pseudo-Christian duplicate of the pagan Roman Empire. The "pontiffs" of Imperial Rome were replaced by the "pontiffs" of Papal Rome. Now Papal Rome sits upon the seven hills of Rome and pompously claims to rule the Christian church from its Vatican Papal throne as the so-called "Vicar of the Son of God". (VICARIVS FILII DEI = 666)
Thus Pagan Rome is actually the first beast with seven heads and ten horns of Revelation 13 and Papal Rome, the Papacy, is the second beast of Revelation 13, not the United States of America as some mistakenly teach. The pope is the "false prophet", 666, who sits on the throne of Rome after the fall (deadly wound) of pagan Rome. The "1260 days" of Revelation are a metaphor for the entire Christian era rather than a literal 1260 years from A.D. 536 to 1798 as some mistakenly teach. The symbolism here is a metaphor for the entire Christian era from the ascension of our Lord to the end of the world, not a period of literal 1260 years as interpreted by those who mistakenly use the so-called "day for a year" principle to interpret this symbolism.
Christ ministered for a literal 3 and 1/2 years from His baptism to his resurrection. But the Christian church metaphorically in Revelation "prophesies" and proclaims the gospel to all the world in sack cloth in the "wilderness" for a figurative "1260 days" or "42 months". This numerical symbolism comes from the fact that Elijah was in the wilderness for 3 and 1/2 years fleeing from the false prophetess Jezebel; and also from the fact that Christ in His ministry on earth proclaimed the Kingdom of God for 3 and 1/2 years. The literal 3 and 1/2 years of Elijah and Christ's ministry on earth are replayed or recast in John's " Revelation" as symbolic themes for the wilderness experience of the Christian community from Pentecost to the coming of the Lord as the church wages spiritual warfare against "Babylon", Satan's spiritual kingdom.
2.) The lamb-like Beast is the "False Prophet", the apostate Roman papacy that heals the deadly wound that Pagan Rome receives in the collapse of the Empire. Thus Pagan Rome lives on as Papal Rome due to the ability of the "False Prophet", the lamb-like Beast, to breathe life back into Rome and causes all the world to worship the Roman Beast again, but now as Papal Rome. Make no mistake, the religion of Pagan Rome is the same religion as Papal Rome. The religion and gods of Pagan Rome came from the ancient Babylonian worship of Nimrod and Semaramis. The lamb-like Beast of the apostate Roman papacy has erected an exact duplicate or image to the first Beast of Rev 13:1. The Papal system of justification by infused righteousness rather than the imputed righteousness of Christ is a cleverly disguised system of justification by works. Every false religion of spiritual Babylon is a system of salvation by human works and merit rather than by faith alone in the sinless life and atoning death of Christ upon the cross of Calvary.
3.) Now to come to Rev 17 and the Seven-headed Beast with ten horns and the impure Woman who is sitting on the Beast. This woman is the "Woman with the Cup" as she was universally understood in John's day as being Venus the promiscuous goddess of "love" (fornication and prostitution through her temple prostitutes) and "wrath" who drank the blood of her enemies from her cup. The worship of this woman by Pagan Rome was taken into the apostasy of Papal Rome as the Virgin Mary cultus with her vestal virgins, the celibate nuns. Thus the papacy is here depicted as Babylon, the impure woman dressed in scarlet and purple with a cup of abominations.
"MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." Revelation 17:5-6
The Papacy through her Crusader wars and inquisition has spilled more blood that any other religious system in all the earth. Her perverted homosexual and adulterous "priests" and "popes" have filled the earth with her abominations and false doctrines. Every teaching and "Mystery" that Pagan Rome embraced re-appeared in Papal Rome but with "Christian" terminology. Thus the "Image to the Beast", Papal Rome, is actually a worship of the "Queen of Heaven"—Venus, Semaramis, Diana, or Isis and all the other gods of Rome in the form of the "canonized" Virgin Mary and the "Saints" who comprise the new Papal Roman pantheon of mini-gods to intercede for worshippers.
4.) The seven mountains or hills—Rome was universally recognized to have been built on the Seven Hills of Romulus. Rome is the city which rules over all the world (Rev 17:18)
5.) The seven heads symbolizes the seven original kings of Rome who ruled Rome (Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, Ancus Marcius, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and the last king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. The seven headed dragon represents Rome as the power that is "restraining" the manifestation of the "Man of Sin" to which Paul refers in 2 Thes 2. The meaning of the apocalyptic phrase "five have fallen, one is, and the other is yet to come" is a symbolic way to tell the apostle John that the reign of Rome is about to end, but it will still be some time in the future before they are "taken out of the way" (2 Thes 2:7) and replaced by the "eighth head"—the False Prophet—Papal Rome.
6.) After Imperial Rome is taken out of the way, the "False Prophet", the Papacy—the "eighth" head appears. But eventually the people who have been made drunken by the "wine" of her false teachings will turn upon this "harlot", Papal Rome, and will withdraw their loyalty to her and help effect her physical fall at the end of the age. This spiritual fall is brought about by the "loud cry" of the Angel of Rev 18 which is the giving of the Gospel to all the world in the Judgment Hour setting, warning all to "come out of her my people". This restoration of the gospel message which was begun with the Protestant Reformation and which is being completed today will lighten the entire Earth with the brightness of its glory.
The eighth head (Rev 17:11) is the "false prophet" or lamb-like beast of Revelation 13 which breaths life back into the mortally wounded seven headed beast, Imperial Rome. The seven headed beast is pagan Rome whose seventh head is finally slain or wounded (the Roman Empire falls). But the wound is healed as the "eighth" head which brings life back to the beast. The seven heads of the beast represent the Roman Empire. The apostle Paul predicted this deadly wound to the Roman Empire in 2 Thes 2:7-8:
"He who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the Lawless One will be revealed whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming."
The false prophet (paganized Christianity) then builds an "image to the beast" and brings Rome back to life as the Holy Roman Empire and is ruled by the "eighth head", the Papacy (the Harlot). Finally, however, the ten horns will hate the "harlot" or "false prophet" and "eat her flesh". The meaning of this is that the Papacy falls physically during the seven last plagues when God pours out His wrath upon the "seat of the Beast" (in 5th plague) and the "River Euphrates is dried up" (in 6th plague). These plagues are symbolic or allegorical. The Papacy is totally destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming.
The beast's description as "was, and is not, and will ascend out of the pit" refers to the healing of the deadly wound of the fallen Roman Empire to be revived as the Holy Roman Empire ruled by the "pontiffs" of the Papacy. The word "pontiff" means "bridge builder" or intercessor. The pontiff of Rome is the usurper of the true mediator between God and Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the Pope is the Anti-Christ, (Greek: anti = in the place of) the one who claims to be the "vicar" of Christ, the one who puts himself in the place of Christ.
The Seven Headed Beast is Imperial Rome which after its fall or "wound" is followed by the eighth head, Papal Rome. This explanation also fits perfectly with the Apostle Paul's description of the "man of sin" in 2 Thes 2. and also in Act 20: 28
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
The final proclamation of the Gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ's imputed righteousness will effect the spiritual fall of Babylon by "drying up the River Euphrates". The symbolism employed in this text is taken from the historical fact that when the literal kingdom of Babylon fell to the Persians (in 605 BC) the Euphrates River was diverted or "dried up", thus effecting the fall of the city to the armies of Medo-Persia. This river flowed under the walls of the city of Babylon, on through the center of the city, and again under the wall and out of the city. Cyrus diverted the flow of the river at night and while the people were celebrating and drunken he stealthfully marched with his army under the wall where the river normally flowed and he took the city by complete surprise.
In Revelation, John the apostle uses this historical incident symbolically to describe the "fall of Babylon", the Antichrist power which "sits upon the waters". The "many waters" is used to describe the unsaved and unbelieving nations and peoples which support and nurture spiritual Babylon.
In the Judgment Hour all will be judged by the holy Law of God, but justified by faith alone in the imputed righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. This message will be finally given in the latter rain power of the Holy Spirit and the end of Babylon and the world will come. The fourth commandment of the seventh day Sabbath in the holy Law of God will become a test for the people of the world. The people of God will have to choose between Satan's false Sunday Sabbath or the true Seventh day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments.
After the final invitation of mercy in the Gospel is either accepted or rejected by the people of the world, the seven last plagues begin to destroy the unrepentant world. The lost peoples of the world completely and totally withdraw their support and sympathy (symbolized by "the drying up of the river Euphrates ") from Babylon, the spiritual kingdom of the great Deceiver, Satan, and the apostate Papal Church which looks like a "lamb" but speaks like the "dragon".
Too late the people realize that they have been deceived by the lies of the false prophet (the Ecumenical Movement which unites all the world's religions to give honor to the false Christ and his false Sabbath), but they now turn upon the false priests and ministers who deceived them and vent their wrath upon these false shepherds. The "kings of the East" is the symbolic allegorical Cyrus, Jesus Christ and His people, who declare the spiritual fall of Babylon by proclaiming the 3 Angel's messages. It is the rejection of the 3 Angel's messages and the resulting 7 last plagues which effect the physical fall of Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots.
Even so come quickly Lord Jesus. Amen