Tomorrow: What do the Prophets Say? By A.J.L. Haynes
1. The Regathering of Israel
2. The Prophecy of Ezekiel
3. The Seventy Weeks’ Prophecy of Daniel
4. Other Prophecies of Daniel
5. The Downfall of Babylon the Great
6. The Consummation: Treading the Winepress
The writer prays that this booklet will expand interest in the historic fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures, and will be an aid in the interpretation of current events as Christians anticipate the Lord’s return with increasing expectancy.
The writer gratefully acknowledges the kind assistance of Dr. Alan Wares and Dr. George R. Dawe in the technical production of this booklet.
A.J.L. Haynes, 1977
Chapter 1 THE REGATHERING OF ISRAEL
If ‘prophecy is history prewritten,’ as someone has said, then it follows that we must look at the records of history to find prophecy fulfilled. This is the basic assumption of the Historicist interpretation of prophecy, which sees the fulfillment of much Biblical prophecy in historical events of the past twenty centuries, in contrast with the Futurist interpretation which places their fulfillment in the future, mainly in a supposed seven-year period following the sudden removal of the church from the world and preceding the return of Christ. While Historicists and futurists both expect the second coming of Christ to precede the millennium, the historicist interpretation was the one traditionally held by the church until futurism was propounded by Jesuit theologians in the latter part of the sixteenth century and was accepted and propagated by certain groups of evangelicals three centuries later. It is this observer’s conviction that present-day developments demand a re-assessment of evangelical thinking and teaching concerning the end times as revealed in the Bible.
We begin this study with a consideration of the restoration of the Jewish people to the land promised by God to their fathers, for we cannot accept the elimination of the literal fulfillment of the promises to Israel. Early in the twentieth century the possibility of such a restoration was denied by many scholars—historians, philosophers, statesmen, even theologians. They believed it very unlikely that a mercantile people like the Jews would turn from trade and finance, at which they excel, to the toil and limited returns of agriculture, particularly agriculture under the exactions of the Turkish government which had ruled Palestine since its capture in 1517. History has, nevertheless, over-ruled the scholarly pronouncements and the establishment of a Jewish state in the Holy Land is an accomplished fact. The name chosen at the inception of the new state in 1948—Israel—implies the unification of the nation that was divided in 982 B.C. with the rebellion of Jeroboam.
The reunification of Israel, which was prophesied by Ezekiel (Eze 37:15-23), has had little comment from popular authors on prophecy, yet these things were discerned and anticipated by the prophetic teachers of several generations ago. Among these was E.B. Elliot, whose four-volume Horae Apocalypticae 1 has been referred to as ‘the greatest work on any book of the Bible.’ This work, which ran to around 3,000 pages, was primarily an exposition of Daniel and the Revelation, but had something to say also about signs mentioned in Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel and Zechariah which indicate the nearness of the return of Christ.
In chapter 5, dealing with ‘our present position in the prophetic calendar,’ Elliot says: ‘With regard to our present position, we have been led as a result of our investigations to fix it at but a short time from the end of the now existing dispensation, and the expected second advent of Christ’. 2 After referring to many unfulfilled anticipations of the return of the Lord, in past centuries, and the skepticism they have aroused—a skepticism commensurate with that in ages preceding His first coming—the author considers signs of the times which ‘warrant a measure of confidence in our inference [of the nearness of the Second Advent] such as was never warranted before.’
They are signs which have drawn attention not from prophetic students only, but from the man of the world, the philosopher, the statesman; and made not a few even of the irreligious and unthinking to pause and reflect. Thus there is:
1. ‘The drying up, still ever going forward, of the Turkman Mohammedan power, or mystic flood from the Euphrates, (Re 16:12).
2. The interest felt by Protestant Christians for the conversion and restoration of Israel; an interest unknown for eighteen centuries, but now strong, fervent, prayerful. [sic] extending even to royalty itself, and answering precisely to that memorable prediction of the psalmist: ‘Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, the set time, is come. For Thy servants think upon her stones, and it pitieth them to see her in the dust,’ (Ps 102:13,14).
3. ‘The universal preaching of the Gospel over the world, agreeably with Christ’s own command; that sign of which Augustine said that could we see it, we might indeed think the time of the consummation at hand; and of which the result has been such that already, one might almost say, trophies of the enlightening and converting power of the Gospel have been gathered out of every nation and kindred and people and tongue, agreeably with the song of the blessed at the consummation, heard anticipatively by St. John in the apocalyptic vision of the palm-bearers, (Re 7$).
4. ‘The marked political ascendancy before the whole world, alike heathen, Mohammedan and Jewish, of the chief nations of the old Roman earth, as (conjointly at least with the mighty offshoot from England and the American United States) the central focus alike of commerce, science, and political power.’ 3
Although these were some of the signs expected before the coming of Christ at the Second Advent they were not complete. Mr. Elliot goes on to say: ‘At the same time some signs are wanting, even as I revise this a fifth time in 1861, especially the non-gathering as yet of the Jews to Palestine and predicted troubles consequent :whence a further presumption in favor of the later allocation of Daniel’s concluding 75 years, (Da 12:7, 11, 12 *). Supposing them at length added, and the other signs already begun continue manifest as before, and perhaps even yet more strikingly, so as to arrest the attention of the whole world.’
Note this candid acknowledgement of a fact in 1861 which led Elliot to suggest that the 75 years’ ‘extension’ of ‘the times’ mentioned in the last chapter of Daniel, would perhaps be exhausted before that consummation for which he looked. After referring to passages from Isaiah, Joel, ** Ezekiel and Zechariah, the author continues: ‘In summing up these several prophecies the first conclusion that we are, I think, irresistibly led to, respecting them, is that one and all refer to the same crisis of the consummation , that which is to be marked by the apostate nations’ last conflict against God’s cause and people; and to end in the Jubilean blessedness of a regenerated world. As to particulars, we must turn to each prophet separately.
1. ‘And first in Isaiah’s various prophecies, besides the generally-repeated notices of the gathering against God’s people and destruction of the Gentile nations, just as in the apocalyptic war of Armageddon, we have to mark that it is especially on Edom that one grand part of the curse is described as falling; whether the literal Edom or some enemy of Christ figuratively designated under that name... There is to be attendant on this some mighty revolution, involving the dissolution of all the then-ruling powers and systems of government, both religious and political. (pp. 125-126)
2. ‘In Joel we have to mark the name of the scene of conflict, viz., the Valley of Jehosophat. (p.126)
3. ‘In Ezekiel (Eze 38$, 39$) the fact seems clearly confirmed of the literal return at this time of the Jewish people . Also that the conjecture is suggested by his prediction that the King of the North who is to be prominent in the last great conflict against Messiah, having come up from the north like a tempest cloud with chariots and horses may very possibly be the Russian power; the terms Ros, Meshech, Tubal answering too well to Russ, Moscow, Tobolsk , not to suggest a thought to this effect... The scene of the great conflict and of the defeat of the enemy is said to be the mountains of Israel’... An awful idea of the slaughter is given by the statement that for seven years the restored Jews will be occupied in burying the dead and burning the spears and arrows (armaments) of the foe.
4. ‘From Zechariah’s prophecy we infer that the anti-christian enemies will form the siege of Jerusalem, after its being possessed and inhabited by the Jews of the national stock, now resettled in their native land and city: and that it will be at first taken by the besiegers and half the Jews will go into captivity: also that there is to be then some such supernatural interposition as in Re 19:11 (’The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee’ -Zec 14:5) and that in the destruction of the enemy ensuing there is to be both a mutual slaughter by the swords one of another, and the agency also of pestilence.
‘All seems sufficiently to agree with what we have inferred as probable from the Apocalyptic prophecy and (though with more uncertainty and doubt) from Daniel’s also; the effect that there is to be the destruction of some grand antichristian confederacy in the mountain-country very probably of Judah, with fearful physical convulsions attending, and the agency of fire and sword, immediately at, or before, the final conversion and restoration of the Jews and the commencement of the consequent glorious predicted times of universal blessedness. So that, as it seems to me, we shall probably not err in looking for nearly coincident occurrence of the two grand events following; viz., 1st, the homeward return of the Jews from their dispersion, in fullness and strength, like as when the mighty Euphratean stream, on the willows of whose banks the harps of their earlier captivity were suspended, was each day forced backward by the mightier influence of the tide of the southern ocean.
‘2nd, the gathering, and the destruction, probably in Judaea (sic), of some great anti-Jewish confederacy, including the powers of both the Roman and Greek apostacies; the spirit of infidelity giving of course its meet assistance to those of antichristian priestcraft and Popery. Thus, as already before against evangelic doctrine and evangelic missions generally, so now in fine perhaps against the evangelization of the Jews specially, and their restoration to the land of their fathers, it might seem as if there is to be the last and fiercest outbreak of these spirits of evil.’ 4
The return of the Jews to the Holy Land was still in the future when Elliott wrote in 1861. The organized movement of the return of the Jews to Palestine began in 1897 when the first Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland, under the leadership of Dr. Theodor Herzl; . Twenty years later, during World War I, Arthur Balfour, then Foreign Secretary of the British government, made the statement (since known as the ‘Balfour Declaration’) that His Majesty’s Government looked with favor on ‘the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.’ The following month (on December 9, 1917), Jerusalem was delivered from the Turks after being held by them for 400 years. (Cf. Ge 15:13-16 -the 400 years in Egypt-for an interesting parallel). In 1922 the League of Nations gave the Mandate to govern Palestine to Great Britain and in 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne settled the Near East situation so that the way was open for the return of the Jews. Sorrow and suffering were the lot of the returning people who then, as now, were still rejecting their Messiah. Many of them do not even believe their own ancient prophets. Then came 1939 and World War II, during which the Jews of Central Europe became the victims of Nazi antisemitism and about six million of them lost their lives. The Axis Powers seized Greece, Cyprus and Crete and General Rommel threatened Egypt from North Africa. It seemed for some time that the anitsemitic terror of Central Europe would eventually reach Palestine, but this was not to be. Halted west of Cairo, Rommel’s army was defeated and forced into a disastrous retreat and destruction. Out of the convulsion of World War II came the rebirth of the nation of Israel.
The restoration of Israel in 1948 was one of the most significant results of the two World Wars and afforded a remarkable illustration of the fulfillment of the prophetic parable of the two sticks in Eze 37:16-22. Shortly after World War I the Rev. E.P. Cachemaille had considered that the division of the nation which began in 982 B.C. might be healed by a simple legislative decision of the restored State. Actually, this decision was incidental to the choice of a name for the newly organized nation. After much discussion of this matter David Ben Gurion, the found and prime minister of the new nation, recommended that it be called Israel, which was done on May 14, 1948, when the new nation of Israel was proclaimed.
It is worthy of notice that the land now held by this nation is called Israel in the prophecy of Eze 36:1-12. Seven times in these twelve verses the name ‘Israel’ is linked with the topography of the land-mountains, hills, valleys, watercourses, etc. This too agrees with the present-day attitude of the inhabitants who call their land no longer Palestine, but Israel.
Immediately after its founding, the new nation had to fight for the land as in the days of Joshua, for neighbouring nations sought to destroy this apparition from the past. The enemies were defeated buy not destroyed and in 1956, with the Suez crisis, war broke out again and the nine-year-old nation was again victorious. Ten years later came the amazing ‘Six Days War’ during which Israel secured defensive boundaries as well as Jerusalem with its sacred sites, including that of the old temple. From the definite organization of Zionism in 1897, the significant period of seventy years elapsed in 1967. (Compare the seventy-year period from the destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. to its rebuilding in 516 B.C. by the returned remnant of the nation.)
The future attack upon Israel is foretold clearly in several passages of the Old Testament and has been carefully and fairly expounded by E.B. Elliott in the work previously mentioned. Consider how the nations have been prepared for that gathering together against Israel that was foretold by the prophets. Beginning with Western Europe about a century before the organization of Zionism, there broke out a terrible judgment (sic), the French Revolution (1789), which began in France but ultimately involved nearly all of Western Europe. In this great revolution the leaders of a sceptical philosophy reacted against Roman Catholicism and the politico-social system produced by it in Western Europe.
The morals and extravagances of those enjoying the favor of both the monarch and the church were well known to the people. Their oppression of the populace reduced to futility all opposition, and was the beginning of that ‘communism’ which has become the enemy of our twentieth century western civilization..(sic) A semi-atheistic society developed upon the charred remains of ‘Old France’ which has perished without repentance (and this writer would say, without hope). This condition has persisted to the present day, for since the beginning of the upheaval there has been not restoration of Old France; although this was the dream of Charles de Gaulle, it was a dream never realized. The revolution that began in 1789 developed in other nations of Western Europe and was followed by the Napoleonic wars, ending in 1815 at Waterloo. But twenty-five years of bloodshed did not exhaust this judgment (sic); revolutions and wars broke out in 1830, 1848, and 1870, to be followed by the devastations of World Wars I and II.
We now come to Russia’s preparation for the great climax of history. One of the great crises of World War I was the Russian Revolution of 1917. This developed from the same sceptical philosophy against the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Monarchy. From 1917, with the end of the monarchy, Russia has developed into the first great Communist nation and has continued now for over half a century. It is atheistic and quite consistently looks upon Christians and Jews as its enemies. It is of course opposed to Israel’s occupation of the Holy Land-indeed to its very existence. Russia, during the past fifty years, has risen to such power that it now challenges the United States for world dominance. In addition to a powerful army, air force and nuclear capacity, it now has a navy that rivals that of the United States and is increasingly seen on the great oceans of the world.
It is unnecessary to labour these developments, so I summarize a few well-known facts: (1) Russian warships are on Israel’s Mediterranean coastline; (2) Russian planes and pilots have flown within 180 miles of Jerusalem on the Egyptian border; (3) In 1971 Russian missiles were placed on the western bank of Suez: and (4) in the same year it was reported that ten to fourteen thousand Russian pilots and technicians were deployed on the Egyptian side of Suez. (These have since been removed.)
The comments, then, of E.B. Elliott in 1861 have been remarkably justified in the restoration of Israel and in the rising up of its enemies. Now we look ahead to the final effort to destroy Israel.
* Calculated on the basis of ‘a time’ equal to 360 prophetic days, or 360 years, which makes ‘a time, (two) times and half a time’ equal to 1,260 years. Thus 1,335 minus 1,260 equals 75 years.
** In Joe 3:1 we find a most explicit statement of ‘that time’ when God will restore the blessings of Judah and Jerusalem, and what He will do.
Chapter 2 THE PROPHECY OF EZEKIEL
There are several major sections of biblical prophecy that refer to the times leading up to the final conflict. In this chapter we consider the prophetic writings of Ezekiel, who lived about the sixth century B.C.
The starting point of Ezekiel’s forecast of the end of this age is found in Eze 33:21: ‘And it came to pass in the twelfth year of our captivity, * in the tenth month, in the fifth day of the month, that one that had escaped out of Jerusalem came to me saying, The city is smitten.’ Concerning this, Dr. Henry A.Redpath says: ‘From the moment that the news of the final fall of Jerusalem reaches the captives, the prophet’s tongue is set loose and he begins to speak of a resuscitation and resurrection’ ( The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel , 1907, p. 181) . 1
In Eze 34:2-10 we read of God’s condemnation of the ‘shepherds,’ the religious leaders of the nation, for their negligence to duty which had caused such suffering to His flock. Verses 7 to 13 should be compared with the first eighteen verses of the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel. (It appears that in this chapter of John, the Lord Jesus is quoting Eze 34:11-16 concerning Himself.)
Verse 11 is instructive: ‘For thus saith the Lord God; Behold I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.’ Note that the ‘good shepherd’ of Joh 10:11 is ‘the Lord God’ of Eze 34:11. (The Lord’s personal seeking of the individual sinner does not conflict with His regathering of the Nation of Israel.)
The time of these things is evidently the end of the age, for in verse 13 the Lord says: ‘And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.’ Further, the picture of verse 23 indicates the continuance of these events into the coming age: ‘And I will set up one shepherd over them and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.’ This declaration implies David’s resurrection and thus the age to come.
Ezekiel’s description of the final war of this age is mostly non-symbolic. We have the era of this conflict indicated first by the restoration of the land of Palestine (notice the emphasis on the land -‘mountains, hills, water courses and valleys’ -Eze 36:1-15); second, the regathering of the people, (36:24ff); third, the resurrection of the nation of Israel, (Eze 37:1-14); and fourth its integration, (Eze 37:15-22).
This prophecy has been at least partly fulfilled during this 20th century, and the program of restoration foretold in these scriptures corresponds with the stages of renovation since World War I. Between World Wars I and II began the regathering of the people of Israel, (Eze 36:24).
At God’s command, Ezekiel prophesies the ‘resurrection’ of the nation of Israel, (Eze 37:1-14) and in his vision the long-dead bones come together. This, though, is not the literal resurrection of the deceased generation of Israel, but the reorganization of the nation .
The integration of the nation was foretold by the prophetic parable of the two sticks. Ezekiel is commanded to take two sticks and to write upon them the names of Judah and Joseph (the latter stands for the ten northern tribes of Israel). These two sticks he then joins together and they become one. This acted prediction was fulfilled in 1948.
In the debate as to what they would call the new nation David Ben Gurion, the founder and first premier of the new state, said finally, ‘Let’s call it Israel.’ Thus when the formation of the state was announced the name borne by those returned from the ‘dispersion’ among the Gentiles became ‘Israel’.
The return of the Jews was not without opposition, and in view of this opposition and of the efforts of their enemies in the land to destroy them, it is amazing that Israel has taken root in that land. This is in accord with Ezekiel’s prediction: ‘And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited, and the waste places shall be builded; and I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and be fruitful...’ (Eze 36:10,11 ASV).
This progressive restoration of the land and people will evidently be interrupted by the terrible conflict described in chapters 38 and 39 but which, by the overruling of God, continues Israel’s restoration. Above all, the advent of Israel’s King, Messiah (the Lord Jesus Christ), destroys Israel’s enemies and gives the nation a widely extended homeland.
Through these two chapters there is the severest condemnation of Gog: ‘Set thy face against Gog... and say; Thus saith the Lord Jehovah; Behold I am against thee, O Gog,’ (Eze 38:2 ASV). This is not merely a warning, for there is no hope of repentance (as a nation) suggested or conceivable. Gog is doomed, the sentence has been pronounced.
There is a terrible picture here of the wrath of God against Gog. ‘And it shall come to pass in that day, when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah, that my wrath shall come up into my nostrils. For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken,’ (Eze 38:18, 19; ASV). In 1861 E.B. Elliott suggested that the great enemy of Israel ‘might well be Russia,’ (Horae Apocalypticae). This has been the conclusion of many evangelicals since Elliott’s time.
(1) Gog is described as a prince (or chief prince). The word ‘Gog’ means to be high (exalted) or to be gigantic in stature. He is of the land of Magog (Scythia) and he is described as the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, indicating his main sphere of authority. Twice it is indicated that he comes from ‘the uttermost parts of the North.’ There is only one great nation that can be so described at this time and that nation, Russia, since 1918 has officially adopted atheism, has threatened publicly to destroy Christianity and has shown a bitter hatred toward both Jews and Christians.
(2) ‘Rosh’ was understood to be the Russians, who classical writers from the second century B.C. have found in the mixed people ‘Roxolanoi’ dwelling between Tanais and the Dnieper and designated ‘Scythians’. Gesenius observes that it can scarce be doubted that the first trace of the Russians is given here.
(3) By ‘Meshech’ a northern people inhabiting the Moschian mountains bordering on Armenia is indicated. 2 They were a people regarded as the ancestors of the Muscovites who built Moscow.
(4) Tubal and Meshech are named together as sons of Japheth in Genesis 10, and six times we find them associated in the Old Testament. In the Assyrian inscriptions of the eighth century B.C. they are ‘Muskai’ and ‘Tuplai’. It is quite commonly held that the cities, Moscow and Tobolsk, commemorate the names of these two ethnic groups.
(5) Next we find, in Eze 38:5, a group: ‘Persia, Cush and Put with them.’ In the Septuagint this is rendered ‘Persians, Ethiopians, and Libyans.’ This is not suprising of Persia, bordering as it does on southern Russia. Ethiopia would not be able to defend herself against any major power that controls the Arabian Sea. Libya is already linked with Israel’s enemies, although only since 1970.
(6) Next we find ‘Gomer and his hordes.’ Here we must dissent emphatically from some commonly held views. Most of today’s writers on this subject assume that Gomer is Germany, so we must take time to examine these words of Scripture. This commonly asserted view is not the verdict of ethnology . The resemblance between the words ‘Gomer’ and ‘German’ is superficial, and the testimony of the Jews is decisively against it. They hold that Ashkenaz is the progenitor of the Germans. Thus the Jewish ‘dispersion’ among the Germans is called the ‘Ashkanazism.’
Testimony to the identity of Gomer and his descendants is abundant and, I submit, is conclusive. This testimony first appears in the Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions of the 8th century B.C. which have been discovered and translated in recent times. Thus we read, ‘In defending and maintaining his northern boundary, Esarhaddon achieved a success not the least among the triumphs of his brilliant career. The enemy that threatened from the north were the far-famed Kimmerians (to name them according to the spelling of the Greek authors)’ ( J.F. McCurdy, History, Prophecy and the Monuments, vol 2, p. 346). 3
Late in the 8th century B.C. the Cimmerians descended, probably over the Caucasus, into Armenia. Thence they spread southeastward and westward and came within the Assyrian sphere of influence, where they were know as ‘Gimirre’. Thus also they came to the knowledge of the Bible writers who have spoken of them as Gomer, (Ge 10:2; 1Ch 1:5; Eze 38:6). They were an Indoeuropean race, and were apparently aware of kinship with the Medians (Maidai), for in their southeastern division they allied themselves with the latter.
McCurdy’s view of the descendants of Gomer agrees with that of Smith’s Bible Dictionary (art. ‘Gomer’):‘ He is generally recognized as the progenitor of the early Cimmerians, of the later Combri and the other branches of the Celtic family and of the modern Gael and Cymry, the latter preserving with very slight deviation the original name.’ 4
Notice also A.R. Fausset’s Bible Cyclopaedia (art. ‘Gomer’):‘ The Cimmerians warred in northwestern Asia from 670 to 570 B.C....They are the stock of the Cymry (as the Welsh call themselves...originally they occupied the whole of the British Isles, but were driven back by succeeding invaders to the northwestern extremities, which their two divisions, the Gael of Ireland and Scotland and the Cymry of Wales occupy)... The Galations were Celts and so sprung from Gomer.’ ( by A.R. Fausset, Bible Cyclopaedia , page 259). 5
Much of interest and importance concerning this race will be found in The Passing of the Empires, 850 B.C. to 330 B.C. , by G. Maspero (edited by A.H. Sayce). The first reference to the ‘Kimmerians’ is on page vi of the Editor’s Preface. The first in the body of the volume is in Chapter 3: ‘A new race had arisen in their rear, that of the Cimmerians and Scythians, which issuing in irresistible waves from the gorges of the Caucasus threatened to overwhelm the whole ancient world of the East.’ This would be about 720 B.C. during the reign of Sargon of Assyria. Chapter 4 of this book which begins with the last years of Sennacherib, the Assyrian king who threatened Israel in the time of Hezekiah, contains many references to these Cimmerians. (pp. 342-344, 350-53, 369, 370 and 391-93). 6
Both Smith’s Bible Dictionary and Faussett’s Cyclopaedia indicate that these Cimmerians are Celts, and Fausset further identifies the Galatians as Celts. This last identification is supported in The Passing of the Empires , where mention is made of ‘the Cimmerians who since their reverses in Lydia and on Mount Taurus had concentrated practically all their tribes in Cappadocia.’ 7 The map on p. 329 of the same volume shows the Cimmerians occupying a strip of northern Asia Minor more than two thirds of its total length from east to west. In this region Paul reached them with the Gospel and alter wrote to them the Epistle to the Galatians.
Thus these Galatians of Asia Minor were evangelized by Paul the Apostle midway through the first century of this era, and they were recognized as of the same race as that occupying Gaul in the western part of the Roman Empire. This race, then, called by the Assyrians Gimmere and by others Cimmerians , Celts and Gauls , with ‘all its hordes’ will be among the enemies of Israel in that coming conflict foretold by Ezekiel.
It is scarcely necessary to state that the chief nation of this lineage is France. She is now one of the ‘Big Four’ and was raised to here present eminence from near disaster by one who, judging by his name, was himself a descendant of Gauls: Gen. Charles de Gaulle.
The identity of the present-day ‘hordes’ (or allies) of France I must leave to be decided by today’s rapidly breaking events. One would expect them to ethnically related to the French.
The last mentioned of these final enemies of Israel is ‘the house of Togarmah,’ (Eze 38:6). It seems clear that ‘Togarmah’ is the ancestor of the Armenians for to this day they call themselves the ‘house of Torgum.’ ( Lange’s Commentary on Ezekiel , page 362.) 8 There are ‘hordes’ related also to Togarmah which I suggest could be peoples of or near Asia Minor, possibly the Turks.
Now the reader is reminded that this chapter begins with the argument that the world has witnessed as a result of two world wars, the freeing of the Promised Land from the Turkish Moslem power and the restoration of over three million Jews who now constitute the nation of Israel. (Website Publisher’s Note: Today Israel’s Jewish population is closer to 4.5 million) This prophecy in chapters 36 and 37 of Ezekiel is essentially one with that in chapters 38 and 39 and the fulfillment of the former predictions indicates that the time is near for the fulfillment of the latter. That being so I suggest that Eze 38:8-12 deals with this very theme. ‘After many days...in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is restored [see margin of ARV]...upon the mountains of Israel, which have been a continual waste; but it is brought forth out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them... and thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell securely... without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.’
I suggest that in some not very distant crisis of the nations it will appear to the Russian leader (Gog) that there is no nation able and willing to oppose a Russian attack on Israel, just as no nation was willing to take such a risk when Hungary was invaded by Soviet tanks in 1956 or as Czechoslovakia was subdued in the same way in 1969. In such a case, would any of the nations go to the aid of Israel? Verse 13 of chapter 38 tells of ‘Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish with all the young lions thereof’ uttering what might be a challenge to Gog.
Up to 1945 there were many who thought that parts of the British Empire might so protest or challenge the invasion of Israel. So this writer thought at that time, but today it seems unlikely. In today’s psychological climate it seems doubtful that any nation would go to Israel’s defence. Really, this seems to be implied by this prophecy. It is Israel’s Messiah who defends His people and destroys their enemies, (Zec 14:1-4) though Israel will continue its recent record of military competence and valour as predicted in Zec 12:6-9.
I do not mean to imply by the above that the nations will sit still in peace while this conflict rages in the Near East. Far from it. One of the earliest of the prophets to whom was given the long-range predictions of the Bible was Joel. His short volume concludes with chapter 3, in which God reveals that when He brings back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem ‘He will gather all nations and bring them down into the valley of Jehosophat and will execute judgment upon them there.’ In verse 9 of this chapter we find the words: ‘Proclaim ye this among the nations; prepare war; stir up the mighty men; let all the men of war draw near.’ The conflict thus announced is plainly that which will be ended by the return of Christ. Other references to this final warfare we shall see as we proceed. The Lord Jehovah (as the Deity is named here in the ARV) asks the question, ‘When my people Israel dwelleth securely, shalt thou not know it?’ (Ezek.38:14). God has made no secret of His purpose to regather His people Israel and to restore them to the land which He gave their fathers some 34 centuries ago. The Russian leaders, with those likeminded, are blind to this fact, because of their atheism. So in their wilful blindness they will rush to the destruction of Israel, but it will be to their own destruction. There is, though, another side to this: ‘It shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring thee against my land, that the nations may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes,’ (Eze 38:16)
The wicked defiance of the Most High by Gog will bring upon him and his host a terrible destruction and its story will be told in the times that follow as the record of the Flood of Noah’s day has been told in the generations that followed that terrible judgment.
The descriptions of these two chapters of Ezekiel are truly sobering. Notice that the earthquake foretold is not the usual shaking of the earth, though this can be awful. This will be far more so, for the fish in the sea will shake at God’s presence, and the birds of the heavens. Verse 20 says that ‘all the men that are upon the face of the earth shall shake at my presence.’
The last part of verse 23 means that the nations will know through these events (of chs. 38 and 39) that the Lord Jesus is Jehovah. Here we come to the greatest single event of the future—the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven. ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him,’ (Rev.1:7).
The closing declaration of chapter 38 brings us to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are many Old Testament predictions of this event but of course in the Old Testament He is not mentioned by His New Testament designations, e.g., ‘the Lord Jesus Christ,’ etc. The word ‘LORD’ thus in capital letters represents the Hebrew name ‘Jehovah’ as in Ps 23, which actually begins, ‘Jehovah is my shepherd...’ Our Lord Jesus said ‘I am the good shepherd,’ identifying Himself as Jehovah, (Joh 10:11, 14, and 27-29). We find this truth declared also in Eze 34:11-16, which is related through chapter 35 to chapters 36 and 37.
The judgment of chapters 38 and 39 falls upon Gog and his armies in the land of Israel and the wreckage of the enemies’ equipment will be gathered and burned for seven years. Eze 39:11-14 tells of a future area of graves in the land. God says that He will provide a vast graveyard for Gog and hi multitude. Krushchev was reported as saying, ‘We will bury you.’ How strange will be the event; Israel will bury the hosts of Russian and her allies, and it will take several months to complete the task.
The writer stood again at Vimy Ridge in 1970 after 53 years. (A brother was killed defending the Ridge after it was taken by our forces in 1917). The number of graves in that area is appalling—those of the French who fell in earlier attempts to dislodge the Germans, those of the British and Canadians, as well as those of the German defenders. But the graves of Vimy will not compare in number with those in Palestine at the end of this age.
Eze 38:21 tells of the turning of the various nations one against the other: ‘every man’s sword shall be against his brother.’ This was often a means of God’s deliverance of His people. The final objective of the elaborate political preparation of these nations is to destroy Israel, and through their destruction to destroy faith in the God Who has promised them His blessing.
Eze 38:22 predicts judgment by ‘pestilence and blood... an overflowing rain.’ A great rain was one of the means by which Sisera’s chariots were put out of action in the famous battle of the Valley of Megiddo in the days of Deborah and Barak. It would do the same for tanks caught in that valley in these days. It mentions also ‘great hailstones, fire and brimstone.’ It may be that this is a prediction of nuclear missiles which may be by some means diverted from their intended targets to fall instead upon Israel’s enemies.
Eze 39:6 also mentions fire (’I will send a fire on Magog...’). Note that Gog, the great leader of the Russians, is ‘of the land of Magog,’ (Ezek.38:2, ARV).
This ‘fire,’ as I suggest of the ‘hailstones’ of Eze 38:22, may be from human weapons. ( I would expect that nuclear weapons would be used.) While Gog is striking at Israel, destruction falls upon his homeland. It predicts also such judgments upon the coasts (of the Mediterranean?). This may be a reference to the destruction of Babylon the Great (Rev.18). Note the foretold result of these judgments upon the nations and upon Israel.
Coming to the last verse (Eze 39:29) of this inspired predictive epic, we find one verse, only one, but one promising abundant (shall I say, limitless?) blessing to follow war, death and destruction. We come to the words: ‘I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah,’ a promise that parallels that of Zec 12:10 concerning the pouring out of the spirit of grace and supplication as a result of which ‘they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him...’ A greater Pentecostal outpouring than that which followed the Lord’s resurrection will heal Israel’s blindness.
We add to these two passages a third to prove that this is the true significance of this prediction. I refer to the second chapter of Joel, which speaks of the ‘Day of Jehovah’ (ARV). At that time there will be a terrible assault upon Jerusalem, and verse 20 tells of its repulse and the destruction of Israel’s enemies by Jehovah. In verse 20 there is predicted the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and not only on ‘your sons and daughters,’ but upon ‘all flesh.’ Verse 31 makes clear that these things are associated with the Day of Jehovah.
Then we shall understand the words: ‘For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?’ (Ro 11:15) I would say to those who are mystified by the charismatic movements of today that there is coming, certainly, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, indeed the manifestation of the Holy Spirit ten days after our Lord’s ascension, was the type and the prophecy of this far greater event (Eze 39:29; Joe 2:28-32; and Zec 12:8-13:1), emphasizing again that they are not veiled in parable or symbolism. What could be clearer than Zec 12:9: ‘And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.’?
* The twelfth year of the Captivity would be counted from 586 B.C., and thus be 574 B.C.
Chapter 3 THE SEVENTY WEEKS’ PROPHECY OF DANIEL
The writings of the prophet Daniel constitute another major section of biblical prophecy leading to the time of the end. Much of what was foretold by Daniel’s interpretation of the dream-image of Nebuchadnezzar (Da 2:31-45) has already come to pass, with world domination passing from Babylon (symbolized by the head of gold) to Medo-Persia (symbolized by the breast and arms of silver), to Greece (symbolized by the belly and thighs of bronze), and to Rome (symbolized by the legs of iron and the feet of iron and of clay). The same sequence of empires was symbolized in the vision of the four beasts that came to the prophet some sixty days later, (Da 7). The interpretation of the vision of the fourth beast with its ten horns and another horn ‘that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things’ (Da 7:20) will be considered later, along with the interpretation of the Revelation made to John.
Probably the most misunderstood and misinterpreted passage from Daniel’s writings is the prophecy of the ‘seventy weeks’,( Da 9:24-27). In Sir Robert Anderson’s The Coming Prince the claim is made that ‘history contains no record of events to satisfy the predicted course of the seventieth week.’ Elsewhere in the book the writer states: ‘If then the event which constitutes the epoch of the seventieth week must be as pronounced and as certain as Nehemiah’s commission and Messiah’s death, it is of necessity still future.’ 1
These assertions, however, are supported neither by Scripture nor by the consensus of commentators from the second century to the present.
Commenting on this passage early in the third century, Africanus wrote:
‘For in the Saviour’s time, or from Him, are transgressions abrogated, and sins brought to an end. And through remission moreover are iniquities along with offences blotted out by expiation; and an everlasting righteousness is preached, different from that which is by the law.’
Five centuries later, in England, the Venerable Bede commented:
‘No one doubts but that these words refer to the incarnation of Christ Who bore the sins of the world, fulfilled the law and the prophets, and was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows.’
In more recent times, Henry Cowles wrote concerning the same passage:
‘Seventy sevens of years... are cut off from the source of future time for thy people and thy holy city, at the end of which provision will be made for the full pardon of sin and for putting it utterly out of My sight as a thing shut up, sealed and covered; and to bring in a system of everlasting righteousness whereby pardoned sinners may both be accounted righteous and may become righteous before me.’
Auberlin writes in a similar vein:
‘The sacrifice by which this atonement for sin would be made is pointed out in the 26th verse by the expression, ‘Messiah shall be cut off.’ With this also is connected the expression in the 27th verse, ‘He shall confirm the covenant with many,’ and the prophecy that the sacrifices of the Old Testament, both with and without blood (’sacrifice and oblation’) shall cease.’
And F. Godet on the same theme:
‘In the midst of this notable week the Messiah disappears: for one part of the nation the covenant is confirmed and renewed by His death; but for the mass of the people, sacrifice is forever abolished...’
These views of Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks are summed up by E.B. Elliot in his Horae Apocalypticae :
‘For alike Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, and I may add too Tatian, all before the end of the second century, and Julius Africanus at the commencement of the third century, explained Daniel’s seventieth hebdomad and their abomination of desolation as having had their full accomplishment in Christ’s death and the consequent desolation of Jerusalem by the Roman armies; and as having no reference whatsoever to any desolation by the then future Antichrist.’ 2
This centuries-old trend of interpretation by devout and qualified expositors cannot be lightly brushed aside by mere assertions of futurist interpreters like the author of The Coming Prince . Let us look now at the prophecy itself, as a whole and in detail, to see just what is predicted in these four verses.
The prophetic vision came to Daniel as he was praying for his people and his city (which he speaks of as God’s city and people, v.19), and it concerned their restoration in preparation for the central crisis of history . It came as an answer to his prayer, foretelling the accomplishment of the outstanding purpose of God in connection with both the people and the City. In the light of the New Testament we know that from the despised Jewish remnant was to come the Deliverer of all nations, and outside the walls of the City was to be offered the ‘one sacrifice for sins.’ This was the supreme reason for the restoration.
The first verse of the prophecy sets a time limit to its accomplishment: within a period of seventy weeks from a certain event which to Daniel was still future, certain purposes of God were to be accomplished. Evangelical Christians generally agree that these seventy weeks were symbolic, for if ordinary seven-day weeks were meant, the period would have been designated as ‘one year and four months’ or as ‘sixteen months.’ On the basis of one week representing a [ week of years, i.e.- seven years], the period was to cover 490 years. During this period, six things were to be accomplished:
(a) ’To finish the transgression.’ In commenting upon this passage in the Hebrew text, Barnes writes:
‘The reading in the (Hebrew) text is undoubtedly the correct one but still there is not absolute certainty as to the signification of the word, whether it means to finish or restrain . The proper meaning of the word in the common reading of the text is to ‘ shut up, confine, restrain. ‘ It seems most probable that the true meaning here is that denoted in the margin (of the Authorised Version) and that the sense is not that of finishing but that of restraining, closing, shutting up. ‘ ( 1Sa 6:10; Jer 32:2, 3; Ps 88:8) 3
In each of these three references the same Hebrew word is used as in Da 9:24. The opinion expressed here by Barnes is decidedly supported by these references. In each case the word is rendered ‘shut up’ and in each case the context makes this the obvious rendering, so we take this prediction to foretell that sin should be ‘shut up.’
(b) ’To make an end of sins.’ Concerning this phrase, Barnes says: ‘The weight of authority is decidedly in favor of the common reading in the Hebrew text.’ Note that the reading referred to is not that of the Authorised Version, ‘to make an end of sins,’ but that of the Hebrew ‘to seal sin’ (so that it is removed from sight). Barnes adds further: ‘Thus in Job 9:7, ‘and sealeth up the stars,’ that is, He shuts them up in the heavens as to prevent their shining.’ This expression could well be compared with Isa 44:22: ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy... sins.’
(c) ’To make reconciliation for iniquity.’ One word in the Hebrew is rendered by the Authorised Version ‘make reconciliation.’ Its meaning is ‘ to cover .’‘ It is the word which is commonly used in reference to atonement or expiation.’ (Barnes) Thus there appears in these three predictions, a common emphasis: transgression was to be shut up , sin was to be sealed and iniquity covered . One is reminded of the words of the psalmist: ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered,’ (Ps 32:1).
(d) ’To bring in everlasting righteousness.’ This is a general statement that righteousness is to be established on the earth on a permanent basis, for it is to be ‘everlasting’. This concept of an enduring righteousness may be found elsewhere in the Old Testament; for instance, Isaiah writes: ‘My righteousness is near my salvation is gone forth... My salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished,’ (Isa 51:5,6). In Da 9:24 however, nothing is said about how everlasting righteousness is to be accomplished—whether through the repression of sin by strict law enforcement; by raising the ideals of humanity; or, as in the Christian system, by the imputation and impartation of righteousness. This prediction moreover, should not be separated from the preceding statement concerning the transgression, sin and iniquity.
The only righteousness acceptable to God was provided for all who would receive it 1900 years ago, when grace began to ‘reign through righteousness’ (Ro 5:21) from the beginning of the Church age ‘to the Jews first, and also to the Greek,’ (Ro 1:16). True, the Jews as a nation have not yet received their righteousness, nor can they while they continue to reject Him who is ‘Jehovah our Righteousness,’ but the fulfillment of this prophecy, ‘to bring in everlasting righteousness,’ does not require the immediate acceptance of this righteousness by that nation, nor does any part of this prophecy so imply. Anderson’s contention that ‘the close of the seventieth (week) was to bring to Judah the full enjoyment of the blessings resulting from that death’ has no support from this Scripture. It might be inferred from the prayer of Daniel which precedes this prophecy if we assumed that his petitions were granted , but they were not, except to a partial extent and for a limited time. This is shown by verses 16 and 17 in the light of Jewish history between A.D. 32 and 70. As to Judah’s ‘full enjoyment of blessings’ resulting from the death of the Messiah, this will certainly come to pass with the return of the Lord but it is not the subject of this prophecy, nor does the word ‘blessing’ even occur in this passage.
(e) ’To seal up the vision and prophecy.’ A common misconception is that this ‘sealing’ refers to a confirmation of the prophecy by the appearing, ministry and redemptive work of the Messiah but Daniel doesn’t use the word ‘seal’ in that sense; he uses it to mean the closing up or concealing the meaning of his prophecies. For example, ‘Shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end...,’ (Da 12:4); ‘the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end...,’ (Da 12:9). Another reference contains the same thought, though not the identical word ‘seal’,‘ Wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days,’ (Da 8:26).
So understood, this prophecy accords remarkably with the facts of Israel’s history. When the Jews rejected their Messiah, foretold by prophecy, prophecy became to them a closed book. Jesus recognized this as He prayed, even while hanging on the cross, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,’ (Lu 23:24). Afterward the nation in general rejected the gospel preached by the early church, and as it is written, ‘Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in,’ (Ro 11:25). This blindness has persisted to this day, as even a brief discussion with a Jew about messianic prophecies will show.
(f) ’To anoint the most holy.’ The commentary by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown suggests that this refers primarily to the most holy place but mainly to Messiah , as the antitype to the most holy place. Likewise certain sacrifices and oblations of the Mosaic law were called the ‘most holy,’ (Le 2:3,4,10; 6:17,29; 7:1,6; 10:12-17). As the author of the letter to the Hebrews points out, these were only types of the Messiah, who offered himself as the ‘one sacrifice for sins for ever,’ (He 10:12). So understood, there is an evident connection between the first three items of verse 24 and its end. Transgression was to be shut up, sin sealed, and iniquity covered by the offering of this most holy sacrifice.
Referring now to the anointing predicted here, it is a commonplace of exposition that the Messiah (’The Anointed One’) was to be the anointed Prophet, Priest and King in succession to those anointed dignitaries of the Old Testament. In the first recorded sermon of His ministry, Jesus left no doubt he considered Himself the Anointed One, for after reading the words of Isaiah, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor...,’ he declared, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,’ (Lu 4:18, 21). The anointing to which He referred had already taken place at his baptism when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and the voice of God the Father was heard from heaven.
In this verse that we have been considering, then, the whole prophecy of the seventy weeks is comprehended and its subject defined. It relates to the coming of Christ and His atonement for sin by the sacrifice of Himself. It has nothing to do with Antichrist. The following verses deal more specifically with the chronology of the seventy-week period, or the 490 years of the prophecy.
The starting point for reckoning the 490 years is given in verse 25 as ‘the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem.’ Inasmuch as there were several decrees made concerning the return of the exiles and their homeland, several dates have been suggested from which to reckon the period of the prophecy, but there is only one date which precisely meets its requirements, and that date is the date of the command of Artaxerxes which sent Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. The earlier decree to Ezra granted him widespread powers but said nothing about rebuilding the city of Jerusalem (see Ezr 7:11-26), even although it is probable that considerable building was done. Some years later, when Nehemiah inquired about the state of affairs in Jerusalem, he was informed about the survivors who had escaped deportation and exile and about the dilapidated condition of the walls and the gates, which was a cause of much distress to the inhabitants (Neh 1$). When he spoke of this to the king, he asked specifically to be allowed to go and rebuild the city walls. His request was granted, and soon Nehemiah journeyed to Jerusalem.
As the commandment of Artaxerxes meets the exact requirements of Daniel’s prophecy, we conclude that this must be the starting point of the seventy weeks. It was given in the month Nisan in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes (Ne 2:1) which, according to Sir Isaac Newton’s calculations, corresponds to the Spring of 444 B.C. At that time the ruler of the world empire appointed Nehemiah, this eminent Jew of his court, to rebuild Jerusalem. It was a well-publicized appointment, for ‘these things were not done in a corner.’
The rebuilding of the city is mentioned as being accomplished ‘in troublous times,’ and the inference is that it would be done within a period of seven ‘weeks’ or 49 years, the Jubilee cycle of the Mosaic law, (Le 25:8). This restoration of the city is mentioned only as a passing reference, the total length of time to the coming of Messiah being seven plus sixty-two, or 69 weeks of years, or 483 years. These were lunar years in common use during that period of world history. The lunar year was based on the movement of the moon around the earth (rather than on the earth’s movement around the sun, which is the basis for our calendar year), and consisted of about 354 days. A simple arithmetical calculation, multiplying 483 by 354 and dividing by 365, gives the number of solar years as 468. By subtracting 444 and adding 1, we arrive at the date A.D. 25. This is the year in which the Lord Jesus was baptized and began His public ministry.
Daniel’s prophecy (Da 9:26) predicts the subsequent death of the Messiah ‘ after three score and two weeks’ or after the total period of 69 weeks of years. Note that in this verse no hint is given as to how long after the 69 weeks His death is to occur. It is foretold only that sometime after 483 (lunar) years from the decree of Artaxerxes—not immediately upon its expiration, as futurist interpreters maintain—the Messiah is to be ‘cut off.’ This expression signifies death by violence or by divine judgment, so from Daniel’s point of view this prophecy was astonishing and appalling because following the appearance of Israel’s Messiah there was to be a mysterious calamity—He was to suffer death.
After the death of the Messiah, the next important event foretold in this prophecy is the destruction of the city and the temple. In connection with this there are three points of major importance to be considered:
(1) There is a close connection between Daniel’s prayer prior to the vision and the events predicted. His prayer reaches a moving climax in a petition that the city of Jerusalem might be raised from its ruins, that the temple be restored and the people regathered. The prophecy foretells the answer to his prayer: the city will be rebuilt, but once more both city and temple will be swept by destruction and left in desolation. Perhaps Daniel’s saddest memory was of the day, many years before, when the news came to him as an exile in Babylon, of the destruction of his beloved city and its temple. His devotion to that city is seen in his habit of prayer with his windows open toward Jerusalem.
(2) The construction of the verse implies that the desolation of city and temple is related to the death of the Messiah.
(3) Nothing is said as to the time when this destruction should occur except that it would be after the Messiah’s death. It could be soon after or long after, and even beyond the chronological limit of the 70 weeks.
The prophecy ends with verse 27 predicting the events of the seventieth week, which might be called ‘Messiah’s great week.’ There is nothing in the text to indicate, or even to suggest a break in the chronology between the 69th and the 70th week. Futurist interpreters nevertheless interpose a gap of centuries between the two periods asserting that the 70th week begins after the rapture of the Church with the appearance of Antichrist who will make a covenant with Israel under the terms of which their temple will be rebuilt. Suffice it to say that there is no hint in the entire 9th chapter of Daniel to justify such a mutilation of the Scriptures, and no precedent in the Bible for such juggling with the chronology of prophecy. We maintain, therefore, that the 70th week began immediately at the close of the 69th.
This whole prophecy concerns the long-promised Messiah: verse 24 foretells the works to be accomplished by the Messiah; verse 25 reveals the lapse of time to ‘Messiah the prince;’ verse 26 predicts the supremely important event of all ages, the death of the Messiah, with the subsequent destruction of city and sanctuary. In line with this, we understand the Messiah to be the subject of verse 27 also.
It is true that verse 26 refers parenthetically to ‘the prince that shall come,’ but it is his people , not he himself, who are to destroy the city and the sanctuary. This individual is not named or described (except as a prince); nothing to be done by him is foretold and he is mentioned only as the subject of a passing allusion. It is perverse exegesis indeed to ignore the divine Personage who is the dominant theme of this prophecy and to refer the pronoun ‘he’ of verse 27 back to the obscure ‘prince’ of the preceding verse.
It bears repeating, therefore, that the subject of all four verses of this great prophecy is the Messiah. In this passage there is the most definite prophecy in the Old Testament of the ministry and death of the Messiah, for the meaning of Psalm 22 was veiled until the crucifixion, and the Servant of Isaiah 53 might be understood to be Israel until its fulfillment made clear that it spoke of Jesus Christ. History also bears testimony to the fulfillment of the prophecy of verse 26 regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by ‘the people of the prince that shall come’ as having occurred in A.D. 70 when the Roman armies of Titus sacked the city and destroyed the temple.
The text of this prophecy goes on to say that ‘he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week,’ (v. 27). ‘Confirm’ simply means ‘to make strong’ —‘he shall make strong a covenant.’ This could mean the making strong, or confirming, an already existing covenant or of making a new strong covenant, both of which were done by the Lord Jesus. The word here translated ‘covenant’ occurs in the Old Testament more than 280 times and its equivalent in the New Testament 33 times. In the great majority of these cases it refers to a covenant between God and His people.
Isaiah records God’s statements concerning His servant, the Messiah: ‘I will... give thee for a covenant of the people,’ (Isa 42:6; 49:8) and his promise of ‘an everlasting covenant,’ (Isa 55:3; 61:8). This last reference occurs in the very passage that our Lord applied to himself at the beginning of his ministry. Jeremiah tells of a promised ‘new covenant,’ (Isa 31:31) which is interpreted in He 8:7-13 as a prophecy of the Messiah’s covenant. The Old Testament closes with a prophecy of the Messenger of the Covenant, (Mal 3:1) who is of course the Messiah. In the Epistle to the Hebrews a complete section is devoted to the ‘New Covenant.’ Finally, on the eve of his crucifixion the Lord told his disciples, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the many unto remission of sins,’ (Mt 26:28, RV). In what sense, then, did Our Lord confirm or make strong a covenant with many during the last week of years?
The Messiah made strong the Abrahamic covenant which is the Covenant of Promise that was not cancelled by the giving of the Law, as is evident from the statement in Galations: ‘...the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect,’ (Ga 3:17). It continued in effect between God and those that were ‘of faith’ in Israel, and still continues. This ‘covenant of promise’ was of grace and through faith and therefore dependent upon the sacrifice of Christ, even though that sacrifice was then still a future event. So Paul speaks of this covenant as having been ‘confirmed before of God in Christ .’
The question may arise as to how this confirmation of the covenant occupied the ‘week’ or seven years mentioned in Da 9:27. The answer is that the Old Testament predictions of the Messiah were God’s promises, and they belonged to that continuing ‘covenant of promise.’ Indeed, the coming of Messiah and his whole ministry was the most important element of this Covenant, and Matthew’s Gospel notes particularly the repeated fulfillment of these prophecies in the ministry of Christ. These fulfillments of the Messianic promises were part of the confirmation of the Covenant. It is expressly said of the Lord that He did confirm these promises: ‘...Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers,’ (Ro 15:18).
As these promises belonged to the Covenant of Promise, so in confirming the promises, he confirmed the Covenant. The meaning of the word ‘confirm’ here in Romans is similar to that in Da 9:27: ‘to make strong, firm, or sure.’
Some may ask, ‘What of the half-week, or three and a half years, following the crucifixion?’ Here it is sufficient to reply that the Scripture itself speaks of the Lord’s ministry continuing after His death. Peter at Pentecost ascribes the sending of the Holy Spirit to the Lord Jesus, and still later says to the Jews: ‘Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you,’ (Ac 3:26).
We may not be able to ascertain the events with which this week closed, but is should be noted that this prophecy does not mention anything occurring at the end of the 70th week. Adam Clark, however, dates the persecution which arose about the death of Stephen (Ac 7$-8$) as A.D. 32, and this would be at the end of the 70th week. This would place the turning to the Gentiles or the end of Israel’s special privilege at the end of the 70th week and would mark the end of that seven-year period with a heavenly vision corresponding to that at the Lord’s baptism.
The Messiah not only confirmed, or made strong, a covenant previously in force, but also made a New Covenant. This covenant is new in contrast to the Mosaic Covenant ( not the Covenant of Promise). The Bible tells us that Our Lord was ‘made of a woman, made under the law,’ (Ga 4:4). He lived under the law, fulfilling its demands and exemplifying its righteousness, but died under its penalty, ‘the just for the unjust,’ (1Pe 3:18). The Mosaic Covenant, which had been broken by Israel, was replaced by the New Covenant based upon Christ’s sacrifice. As the Messiah’s holy life under the law was necessary before he could offer a satisfactory sacrifice for sin, so it is evident from this that his covenant making occupied at least the first half of this week, and the Scripture declares, as we have already seen, that his ministry to Israel continued into the second half, that is, after his ascension. Furthermore, the Covenant of Promise that he confirmed is really the same as the New Covenant instituted by him. The Covenant of Promise with its basic sacrifice revealed, and its gracious provisions proclaimed, is the New Covenant.
Chapter 4 OTHER PROPHECIES OF DANIEL
Daniel’s tenth chapter describes a vision that came to him as a prelude to his final prophetic record in chapters 11 and 12. The vision was given to enable Daniel to understand what would happen to his people ‘in the latter days,’ (Da 10:14). It is important to note that ‘latter days’ in this prophecy is not equivalent to ‘time of the end’ (Da 11:40) which introduces the last conflict of the age.
In his vision Daniel saw ‘... a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with pure gold of Uphaz: his body also was like beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as flaming torches, and his arms and his feet like unto burnished brass, and the voice of his words like the noise of a multitude,’ (Da 10:5, 6). A comparison of this vision with the one described by John in Re 1:12-15 suggests that it was the Son of God Himself who spoke directly with Daniel, as He had done centuries before with Moses (Ex 33:11) and later with John. Note also that although the earlier prophecies of Daniel in chapters 2, 7 and 8, are veiled in symbolism, the final one, in chapters 11 and 12, is not symbolic but foretells in literal terms a series of future events.
This vision came to Daniel ‘in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia,’ (Da 10:1) which corresponds to 536 BC. At that time Daniel was told that the fourth king after Cyrus would be wealthy and powerful and would ‘stir up all against the realm of Greece,’ (Da 11:2). This was fulfilled precisely by Xerxes whose attack on Greece in 480 B.C. resulted in the destruction of the Persian power at the decisive naval battle of Salamis. The victorious Alexander the Great, ‘the mighty king... that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will,’ (Da 11:3) led the Grecian armies to further triumphs but died after a reign of twelve years and eight months. On his death his kingdom was divided into four as predicted (Da 11:4) and given to four of his generals whose quarrels in the subsequent power struggle eventually reduced their number to two: Ptolemy, who became king of Egypt, and Seleucus I, who became king of Syria, identified in Daniel’s prophecy as the King of the South and King of the North respectively.
From 301 B.C., when one of Alexander’s successors was killed at the battle of Ipsus in Asia Minor, until the battle of Pydna in 168 B.C., the kings of the North and of the South, known in history as the Seleucid and Ptolemaic dynasties, marched back and forth through Palestine, thereby involving the Jews (who had returned from exile in Babylon) in their wars. This period ended with the savage persecution of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes (not to be confused with Antiochus the Great), who is described in this prophecy as ‘a contemptible person, to whom they had not given the honor of the kingdom.’ (Da 11:21). Beginning his reign in 176 B.C., Antiochus captured Jerusalem in 170 and two years later intended to subjugate Egypt but was dissuaded form his purpose by ambassadors from Rome whose conquest of Macedonia at the Battle of Pydna ended the power struggle between Alexander’s successors. His ambition thus frustrated, Antiochus renewed his persecution of the Jews, desecrating the temple by sacrificing a sow on the altar, an act that foreshadowed the destruction of Herod’s temple by the Roman armies in A.D. 70 when the Jewish state was destroyed and more than a million Jews killed.
This action by Antiochus met with courageous resistance from the Jews under Judas Maccabeus in the following year and ultimately to an autonomous Jewish state in 143-142 B.C. Eighty years later, (63 B.C.) Rome became master of Palestine and subjected the Jewish nation to its dominion. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Roman armies of Titus, the city was rebuilt, but the rebellion of Bar-Cochba, a false Messiah, resulted in the slaughter of more than half a million Jews in a war that lasted three and a half year, during which time Jerusalem was once again destroyed. Hadrian, the Roman emperor, then had a temple to Jupiter erected on the ancient temple site, fulfilling for the third time Daniel’s prediction of the ‘abomination of desolation,’ (Da 11:31; cf. Mt 24:15).
The destruction of the Jewish state in A.D. 135 did not bring Judaism to an end. Although dispersed throughout the pagan empire, Jews were given the same civil and religious liberties as people of other faiths, including the privilege of Roman citizenship. It was only after the conversion of Constantine and the subsequent popular acceptance of a paganized form of Christianity that persecution of the Jews was resumed.
From this brief historical sketch we turn again to the final prophecy of Daniel, which introduces us to ‘the time of the end.’ This passage, Fro 11:40-12:3, brings us evidently to the end of this age, which will be by divine intervention, indicated here by the words, ‘at that time shall Michael stand...’,( Da 12:1). This passage speaks of God’s intervention for the deliverance of Israel as well as of the true Church. We begin ‘at the time of the end’ in Da 11:40 which introduces ‘the king of the south’ and ‘the king of the north.’
In our consideration of Ezekiel, chapters 37 and 38, we have seen that the main aggressor against Israel at the end is ‘Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal’ (Eze 38:2), and that he comes from the ‘uttermost parts of the North,’ (Eze 38:15). We are compelled therefore to conclude that ‘the king of the north’ here is the Russian leader.
Who then is ‘the king of the south?’ Da 11:5-35 outlines the history of the wars between ‘the king of the south’ and ‘the king of the north’ between 323 and 168 B.C. In that period these two were the kings of Egypt and Syria. If there is in this scripture any recognition of proportion, surely the king of the south cannot be the present-day ruler of Egypt. Who then would or could be a realistic opponent to Russia? As of now it is suggested that the United States is almost the only candidate for this responsibility, but some unexpected development could change the picture.
We will go on with a still more difficult question: Who is the one with whom the king of the south contends? My conviction is that the ruler who ‘shall do according to his will’ in Da 11:36-39 is no less than the ‘little horn’ of Da 7:8, 11, 21, 24 —the papacy headed by the reigning pope at that particular time. Compare these passages of Daniel.
No doubt there will be keen young moderns who will deride the idea of the papacy taking part in a war in Palestine. Why, they may ask, should the pope take part in a war? and why, of all places, in Palestine? The reply is that the Roman Church has had, and still has, a large part in wars and that this entity is much more than a religious organization. It is a state, indeed, a super-state. Its head, the pope, claims to be a sovereign superior to all others. This is not a mere emotional declaration evoked in public discussion, but is on permanent record in hundreds of volumes. It is also true that written in history there are recorded many instances of wars instigated by the papacy and urged on by it.
But what likelihood is there of Rome intervening in Palestine? History shows that papal Rome has shown no less interest in Palestine than did the pagan Roman Empire. It might well be argued that the papacy exceeded the pagan empire in this. Certainly it has done so in length of time, for the Empire spent some 775 years thus, while the papacy has spent some 1,360 years.
Anyone who doubts the interest of the Vatican in Israel’s promised land needs only to read the historical record of the crusades. Take for example the article on this subject in the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
‘The primary force which thus transmitted an appeal for reinforcements into a holy war to be fought in Asia Minor and Syria with Jerusalem as its ultimate objective, was the Church... The Papacy desires a perfect and universal church, and a perfect and universal church must rule in the Holy Land.’ 1
There were eight Crusades, the first beginning in 1096 and the last ending in 1291, a period of 195 years. The Sixth Crusade was led by the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire and while the Emperor was thus engaged, the Pope was involved in a crusade against the Emperor’s domains.
Turning now to the symbolic predictions of Daniel’s prophecy, we have the vision of the fourth beast described in Da 7:7 and in Da 7:19-21. There are shown to Daniel the dreadful activities of this beast, its ten horns and the ‘little horn’ with its strange eyes, mouth, look, and its ‘war with the saints of the Most High.’ In Da 7:24 we find some interpretation. The ten horns are ten kings, and another shall arise after them which shall subdue three of the ten. Da 7:25 says that this little horn shall ‘speak great words against the Most High... wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws,’ and the saints shall be given into his hand for a mystically designated period.
We go now from this Old Testament ‘unveiling’ through Daniel the ‘greatly beloved’ seer of Israel to that of the beloved apostle of the Church, John. In Revelation there is a beast mentioned twelve times in Re 13$-14$. This beast is said to have a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies (Re 13:5). ‘He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God... it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them,’ (Re 13:7). Compare this description with that of the ‘little horn’ mentioned above. Notice that Da 7:25 reveals that the ‘little horn’ of the fourth beast shall (1) ‘speak great words against the Most High,’ (2) wear out the saints of the Most High,’ (3) ‘think to change times and laws,’ and (4) ‘they shall be given into his hand.’ Of the beast of Revelation 13 it is said that (1) ‘there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies,’ (Re 13:5-6), (2) ‘and it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations,’ (Re 13:7); (3) ‘and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life,’ (Re 13:8).
The vision and interpretation given to Daniel reveals the little horn of the beast doing the things described in Da 7:25 but the vision given to the Apostle John (Re 13:5-8) declares that the Beast does them. It appears then that the little horn grows up to dominate the beast and even to become the beast.
The argument, summed up, is this: the king of Da 11:36-39 must be the little horn of Da 7:8, 11, 20, 21, 25, —the horn grown to be the beast of Revelation 13. Further, verses 36 and 37 correspond with what we have seen concerning the little horn of Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation 13.
Let us project, as far as we can discern it from the present, the cast for the last act of this staggering drama. WE have seen in our study of Ezekiel 38 and 39 the very plain aggression of Russia against Israel. Will that be the first move? It does not seem so in Da 11:40. It appears rather that the Roman power moves first, that the king of the south (the U.S.A.?) moves next, and then Russia strikes.
Such a conclusion is supported by the historicist interpretation of Revelation. ‘Three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, for they are the spirits of devils (demons), working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty,’ (Re 16:13, 14). The next verse (Re 16:15) is an interjection, warning of the nearness of the return of Chris, and verse 16 resumes the subject of Re 16:13, 14, ‘And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.’ The following verse (Re 16:17) announces the pouring out of the seventh vial, but the sequel to verse Re 16:16 is found in Re 19:19, ‘And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army,’ (that is the Lord Jesus and His people).
It is beyond contradiction that Ezekiel’s prophecy locates the center of the final crisis of this age in the land of Israel. This is supported by the preceding prophetic books of Jeremiah (Jer 30$) and Isaiah (Isa 29$) and the following books (in the order of our Bible) Joel (ch. 3), Micah (ch. 4) and Zechariah (Zec 14$). The Valley of Megiddo (or Armageddon) saw the victory of Deborah and Barak over their enemies. It saw the wounding of the last faithful king of Judah, who was brought back to Jerusalem to die. As we have seen in the Old Testament, Jerusalem will be surrounded at last by her enemies, but it would not be strange in this twentieth century, which has seen such an expansion of battlefields (e.g., the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic and two world wars), if finally all of the Holy Land should be involved in the Battle of Israel. This would include the battlefield of Armageddon and the area around Jerusalem.
Here, I believe, we find what may be a clue to some things which seem to be indicated in the study of Gomer (the Cimmerians), mentioned in Eze 38:6 and later in history called Gauls. The leading nation of this race would be the French, who were the main allies of the papacy for most of its history—indeed the French king was called the Eldest Son of the Church. In addition, this nation was the most enthusiastic for the Crusades. Glancing back at Ezekiel 38, Gomer is not mentioned until verse 6, and Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are enumerated before her. This suggestion is that probably France will invade Palestine in support of the papacy.
Chapter 5 THE DOWNFALL OF BABYLON THE GREAT
Now we come to a feature which is quite different from what we have considered up to this point. Those earnestly concerned with events that accompany the end of this age and the return of our Lord Jesus may be surprised at what is revealed of the coming destruction of ‘Babylon the Great’ in the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation. In contrast to the fantasy of futurist teachers who look for a rebuilding of the literal Babylon in Mesopotamia, the historicist sees Babylon the Great as the dreadful reality of which the Babylon of Daniel’s day was only a type. Accepting the testimony of the Scripture, we notice that the seventh vial is poured upon the air and a great voice comes out of the Temple, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ (Re 16:17). There are lightnings and voices and thunders and an unprecedented earthquake, the great city is divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fall and Babylon the Great is remembered in the sight of God ‘to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath,’ (Re 16:19).
Note that the judgment of Babylon is one of the items here, but announced only, with no explanation or details. The next chapter (17) fills in these details: ‘there came one of the seven angels that had seven bowls, and spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters; with whom the kings of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication,’ (vs. 1, 2).
There are only two women presented in the seals, trumpets and vials of the Revelation. One in chapter 12 is mentioned nine times in verses 1, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17. She is identified to a certainty by the enmity of Satan against her, in verses 4, 6, and 13, and is seen again in Re 19:7-9, but with her afflictions over and glorified forever. She is the Bride of the Lord Jesus, the Church of God. The other woman is described in Re 17:3, 4, 6 as arrayed in fine garments and ‘drunken with the blood of the saints.’ She is called a harlot and also ‘Babylon the Great,’ a woman and a city.
There is a marked contrast between the two women. Of the former it is written: ‘Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready,’ (Re 19:7). Note also verse 9, ‘Write, blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb,’ and later on: ‘And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband’ (Re 21:2). As we find the harlot linked with a city of evil memory and notorious wickedness, so in contrast the former woman is linked with the heavenly Jerusalem and is the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., the Church.
The early Protestant leaders maintained that this evil woman, Babylon the Great, is a symbol of the Roman Catholic Church, but their testimony has been rejected by many and forgotten by others. We must clearly distinguish this older view form that held by the presently popular futurists; it is important to note that ‘Babylon the Great’ is not a city to be built (or rebuilt) in Mesopotamia. It is doubly symbolized as a woman and a city. That city is Rome, which was the centre of the ten kingdoms symbolized by the ten horns on the fourth beast mentioned in Daniel 7; in Revelation she is pictured as a woman associated with the beast and the kings of the earth. Instead of the fulfillment of this prediction coming after the Rapture and at the end of the supposed seventieth week, this, her last and most detailed description, is followed immediately by the account of her destruction. This description requires considerable information and explanation of the beast because he and the woman are so closely related.
Sometimes we are shown a double meaning in the symbolism, e.g., in chapter 17:9, 10: ‘The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come: and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.’ Rome has been the famed seven-hilled city of Western Europe, and besides this Rome, by the time of Constantine, had been ruled by Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs, Military Tribunes, Military Emperors and Absolute Monarchs—seven successive political heads from her beginning to A.D. 476.
Besides these marks of identity, we find there are ‘ten horns’ which stand for ten kingdoms which, when John saw these things, were still to arise. They began their rise after the fall of the Western Empire in A.D. 476 and have been an obvious fact in the history of Western Rome until the present, for there are today in this area that number of states. (Lists of these kingdoms made fifty years apart show how constant this number has been. Note that in counting these, nations east of the Adriatic should be excluded except for Yugoslavia, for these would be in the Grecian area. Nor should nations north of the Danube or east of the Rhine be counted, for the Romans consolidated their Empire south of the Danube and west of the Rhine.) These ten kingdoms were to arise in Western Europe, i.e., Rome proper, for what was long called Eastern Rome was actually part of the third kingdom of Daniel’s vision, i.e., Greece, the history of which continued though its world ‘dominion was taken away,’ (Da 7:12).
The harlot is also identified as ‘that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth,’ (Re 17:18). This last expression illuminates the symbolism. This New Testament rival and enemy of the people of God stands in relation to the New Testament church as Old Babylon stood to Judah prior to the destruction of that kingdom in 586 B.C. She it was who brought about what Luther called ‘the Babylonish Captivity of the Church.’
Concerning the angel’s announcement, ‘I will show thee the judgment of the great harlot,’ (Re 17:1) the event to which this passage refers must be of the greatest importance for, as we have seen, two chapters contain the identification and the terrible judgment of this system, not to mention the prior notice in Re 14:8 and the indication of its time in Re 16:19. It seems sad indeed that many of the thousands of evangelicals on this continent are anticipating that supposed secret coming of the Saviour and are utterly unaware of this staggering destruction which appears to involve the heart of that homeland of European civilization which has such historic links with the New World.
So we come to Rev. 18. There seems to be seven declarations in this section. The ‘revealing’ of this section (as in most of this book) is by symbolism of this same kind we find in chapter 13 concerning the beast, the false prophet, and the image of the beast. To these three entities is added, in chapter 17, the harlot. It is suggested here that chapter 17 identifies the harlot and chapter 18 narrates the action of this chapter, i.e., her destruction.
‘An angel of great power’ comes down from heaven and his glory lightens the earth, Re 18:1, 2. AS noted earlier, this is symbolism; we ought not to expect to see a literal angel at this point nor to hear his mighty cry, ‘Babylon the Great is fallen.’ The fulfillment in the past of such symbolism would lead us to expect the coming upon our race of the conviction that the Roman Catholic Church is the very opposite of what she claims to be: spiritually she is unclean, vicious and wicked. We do not say this of Roman Catholics, who are not thus described. The Roman Catholic laity are ‘the faithful’ but Roman Catholic authorities do not consider them to be ‘the Church.’
‘A voice form heaven’ says ‘come out of her, my people,’ (Re 18:4-8). This must be the voice of the Son of God calling His own. His voice is heard by those who are His and ‘they follow Him,’ (Joh 10:27). This reminds us of the Reformation when just such an impression fell on those who heard the preaching of the reformers and recognized the message of Jesus Christ the Savior in their testimony. Thus there was an exodus from the Church of Rome, and, sharply distinct from her, the Protestant Church came into being. Still there is no trace of repentance in this Babylon, for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as a queen and am no widow and shall see no sorrow;’ she is obdurate, but she cannot escape God’s judgment. ‘Her plagues come in one day, death and mourning and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire.’
The authoritative voice says the term of this judgment is ‘one day’. This, judging form the prophetic scale used in this book and in Daniel, would stand for a year, but the swiftness of this destruction so impresses the onlookers that they say in is ‘in one hour,’ (Re 18:10, 17, 19). This on the above scale would indicate two weeks. The concluding declaration of this section, ‘she shall be utterly burned with fire,’ shows the terrible finality of God’s judgment upon her.
The kings of the earth (Re 18:9, 10) are the rulers (or ex-rulers) of the Roman world (Western Europe) which, in fulfillment of Daniel chapters 2, and 7, have ruled the Western world under the headship of the Pope form about A.D. 600 till the Reformation—some of them until today. They have had a guilty and luxurious relationship with this ‘woman.’ They mourn and lament over her as they see ‘the smoke of her burnings,’ but there is no whisper of repentance on their part.
In Re 18:11-17 we have the dirge of the merchants of that world, involved in ‘big business’ relationships with the whole world. The bombing of Western Europe in World War II could be witnessed by ‘big business’ with the anticipation of profiting by the rebuilding that would follow. The scene at which these merchants stare is of such horror that no thought of recovery occurs to them. ‘No man buyeth their merchandise any more.’ They are impressed by the aspect of finality in this judgment. Re 18:12-16 recount the commodities of trade which shall be found ‘no more at all’ in that ‘great city.’ Re 18:17 concludes this section, ‘For in one hour so great riches is come to naught.’
The next section (Re 18:17-19) draws attention to the maritime community—‘shipmasters’,‘ the company in ships,’ ‘sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off and cried when they saw the smoke of her burning...[they] cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city... for in one hour is she made desolate.’
It seems that He who speaks in verse 4 saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues’ also reveals or narrates these scenes to the Apostle John from the words, ‘Come out of her, my people,’ to the end of verse 20.
‘A mighty angel,’ perhaps the same angel who speaks in the first verse of this chapter, casts a stone like a great millstone into the sea, and says, ‘Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all,’ (Re 18:21). This becomes the theme of the lament addressed to Babylon in the following verses, (Re 18:22, 23) ‘the voice of harpers, and of musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman of whatever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; and the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; the voice of a bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee.’ Finally at the end of verse 23 we read, ‘By thy sorceries were all nations deceived,’ and in verse 24, ‘In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.’ It is suggested that ‘the earth’ here means the Roman earth—that part of the world under the dominion of Rome. Note the reference to ‘that great city’ about twelve times between chapters 11:8 and 18:21. This is not merely the city of Rome, but the Roman world, prophetically not less than the area of Italy; perhaps more, possibly Western Europe.
This view is warranted by the famous edict of Carcalla about A.D. 212. This was the extension of Roman citizenship to the people of the Roman world. This was done to involve the population of the Empire in the heavier taxes of ‘the citizens.’ It accords with our speech, to be specific, Rome the city must be distinguished from Rome the Empire and Rome the Church.
The destruction of Babylon the Great, predicted in Revelation 18, must precede the assault on Jerusalem and the destruction of the beast and the false prophet. It should be remembered, too, that the prophecy of Daniel’s 70th week was completely fulfilled by the Lord Jesus. In a sense it had a double fulfillment, depending on whether the seventy-year period is measured in solar years form the decree of Cyrus mentioned in Ezra, or in lunar years from the decree of Artaxerxes in 444 B.C. No fraction of the 70th week remains for Antichrist to fulfill. Indeed, the very idea of his sharing this solemn and sacred week of years with the Lord Jesus is grotesque.
Chapter 6 THE CONSUMMATION: TREADING THE WINEPRESS
From the scene of destruction described in chapter 18 (Re 18$) we turn to a cry of triumph voiced by a great company in heaven, saying, ‘Alleluia, Salvation and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication,’ Re 19:1, 2. Before we leave the prediction of Babylon’s destruction, however, we should note this surprising feature, that in this prophecy there is no mention of the head of this system. In the preceding chapter (17) he is mentioned nine times, but in chapter 18 not at all. The beast has vanished. Will he flee from the scene of his age-long usurpation? Will he leave Rome after an association of more than 1300 years? Does he discern at that time some indication of coming judgment? We will leave this question in abeyance while we follow the details of the vision of Rev. 19, where the beast appears once more in Re 19:19-21.
Verses 1-4 of chapter 19 close the record of the judgment of Babylon the Great (Re 19:1-4). Chapters 17 and 18 have become history and chapter 19 begins with the declaration of the just judgment of God upon this hitherto powerful system.
Then in Re 19:7 there is the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb, described in Re 19:8, 9. This is obviously the point in time when the true Church, the Bride of Christ, is united to the heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. The present writer agrees most heartily with the premillennial conviction that ‘the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord,’ (1Th 4:16, 17).
When this event takes place, it is the Lord Himself who descends. Compare this with the revelation of the Lord mentioned through Ezekiel: ‘they shall know that I am Jehovah,’ (Eze 38:23) and ‘The House of Israel shall know that I am Jehovah their God,’ (Eze 39:22). This is a revelation, not merely to Christians but to Israel and to all mankind.
Commenting on 1Th 4:16, Bagster points out the word keleusma , translated ‘shout’ in the KJV, has the meaning of a military command (cf. also Ellicott’s commentary and Weymouth’s translation of this passage). 1 The military tone of the passage is further emphasized by references to the ‘trump of God’, which Paul mentions elsewhere in connection with the resurrection of believers, ‘The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,’ (1Co 15:52). The Lord Jesus Christ also referred explicitly to this glorious event, ‘Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see that Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect...,’ (Mt 24:30, 31). No secret coming and snatching away of believers by our Lord Jesus Christ will fit these predictions.
Returning to Revelation, chapter 19, this sequence of events begins at verse 6 with the concluding note of thanksgiving for the destruction of the harlot and in verse 7 takes up the theme of the marriage of the Lamb, i.e., the return in glory of the Lord Jesus, the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the translation of the redeemed waiting on earth. The event thus summarized in verse 7-9 is clearly nothing like an elopement, but is the most public manifestation of the Son of God and His glorified people.
He is identified in verse 13 by his ‘vesture dipped in blood’ -pointing back to his sacrifice-and by his name, ‘the Word of God.’ ‘The armies of heaven follow him,’ the redeemed of all ages, coming not only from earth but also from heaven. Verse 15 identifies the coming conflict when he will tread the winepress of the fury and wrath of Almighty God, (cf. Isa 63:1-6; Joe 3:12, 13; Re 14:17-20 and Re 19:15). This event is anticipated in Re 14:18b-20 and its fulfillment given in more detail in chapter 19. God himself is revealed (in the Old Testament passages referred to) as the one who treads the winepress; the Son of God, the Second Person of the Godhead, to whom has been committed all judgment (Joh 5:22) is the one who accomplishes it.
In the agricultural life of Israel the gathering of the grapes and treading them in the winepress was the last of the autumn activities and, from references to it in Scripture, one of the most joyous. Here it is used symbolically of the great Battle of Armageddon to which the Son of God leads the redeemed from heaven and those just translated from the earth. The prophetic treading of the winepress is, at first sight, dreadful.
Dreadful also has been the appalling amount of bloodshed during this twentieth century-two world wars, large-scale massacres by the Communists in Russia and later in China, the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews, the Korean War and the Vietnam war, to say nothing of briefer conflicts such as the Six Day war in Israel and the war between India and Pakistan. One writer suggests that Armageddon may be an era of wars, which sounds plausible in view of the increase of aggressive nationalism. The final conflict of the ages, however, will be distinct from anything this world has yet seen.
The psalmist foretold the world-wide conspiracy against God when he wrote about the counsel of kings and rulers ‘against the Lord and against His anointed, saying ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us”,( Ps 2:2,3). The armed might of nations and the fury of atheistic propaganda does not deter God; instead he laughs and then turns his own fury upon the rebellious people who will be given to the Son of God when he comes to execute a shattering judgment upon those who have refused to acknowledge God.
The intensity and magnitude of the final conflict staggers the imagination, but the outcome is not in question. It is described in Re 19:11-21, where the incarnate Word of God, followed by the armies of heaven, comes to ‘smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God,’ (Re 19:15). The angel’s summons to birds of the air to feast on the flesh of mighty men, of horses and riders (Re 19:17, 18) recalls Ezekiel’s prophecy of the same event after the battle described in chapters 38 and 39, when it will take seven months to bury the dead in the valley of Hamon-Gog. Even Satan is bound and imprisoned for a thousand years, after which he is defeated and destroyed in a final rebellion that ends like an atomic holocaust, with Satan thrown into the lake of fire to join the beast and the false prophet.
If these events overwhelm the imagination, how much more so the description of the new heaven and the new earth that ends the Revelation. No more sorrow; no more pain; no more death-nothing that is evil or the result of evil.
The aim of Biblical prophecy is not to arouse vain speculation about the future, but to authenticate the message of the prophets as the Word of God when what has been written comes to pass. It leads the serious student of prophecy to the pivotal point in history upon which everything depends-the crucifixion of Christ as an atonement for sin without which all mankind would end in the lake of fire. He died, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God. The final choice is with the individual-with you and me-as to whether we accept His sacrifice and become identified with Him in death and resurrection, or continue in our own way until it is too late to choose, and the only alternative is ‘the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death,’ (Re 21:8).
1. Horae Apocalypticae, E.B. Elliot, published by Seeley, Jackson and Haliday, 1862.
2. Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. IV, 5th Edition, 1862. p.224.
3. Page 240.
4. Page 127-129.
1. The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, Dr. Henry A. Redpath, published by Methuen & Co., 1907. Page 181.
2. Dictionary of the Bible, Dr. William Smith, published by S.S. Scranton & Co., Hartford, Conn., 1901. pp. 548, 549.
3. History, Prophecy and the Monuments, by J.F. McCurdy III Edition, published by McMillan & Co., London, 1898.
4. Dictionary of the Bible, Dr. William Smith, page 341.
5. Bible Cyclopaedia by A.R. Fausset, published by Funk & Wagnalls, N.Y., 1892, page 259 (Gomer).
6. The Passing of the Empires, 850 B.C. to 330 B.C., by G. Maspero, edited by A.H. Sayce, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1900, pp. 342-343.
7. The Passing of the Empires, page 474.
8. Commentary on Ezekiel, by Lange, published by Charles Scribner & Sons, 1868, page 362.
1. The Coming Prince, by Sir. Robt. Anderson, published by James Nisbet & Co., 1915, pp. 17, 76.
2. Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. IV, 5th Edition. p. 304.
3. Notes on the Book of Daniel, by Albert Barnes, published by Routledge, Warne & Routledge, 1860. p. 128.
1. Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Vol. VI, 1961 edition. p. 772 (Crusades).
1. Analytical Greek Lexicon, Samuel Bagster & Sons, London. p. 228.