"Before it is complete it must undergo the heat of the oven. The furnace of affliction silences the wicked desires of my flesh and refines me like gold." - Yaakov Brown
"HaShem thy G-d is in the midst of you (plural: ethnic Israel), A Mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you (plural) with great joy, He will engrave His love upon you, He will rejoice over you (plural) with singing.” –Zephaniah 3:17
An examination of Revelation 14.
14:1 Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.
The phrase, “Then I looked”, makes a clear distinction between the previous vision and the present one. While a number of metaphorical terms are used in this vision, there is also a sense of the literal and a physical connection between the Lamb and the land.
Because so many claim that the Mt Zion in question is the heavenly mountain, it’s important to note the reasons why it may not be. First, whenever Yochanan refers to the heavenly location he says “in the heavens” (4:1; 8:1), here however he simply says, “I looked and behold”, due to the lack of further qualification it’s more natural to read this as taking place on earth. Second, elsewhere in Revelation, when referring to Messiah as the Lamb in the heavens, Yochanan qualifies the position of the Messiah by using terms such as, “At the centre of the throne (5:6; 7:17), and, coming down from heaven (10:1)”. In fact, the heavens aren’t mentioned until verse 2 of the present chapter, where a counterpoint to the present location is used to show the persons of the G-d-head in conversation. Finally, the 144,000 are representative of restored ethnic Israel who had received the seal of G-d for their protection on earth (7:1-8), they have not yet died, but are being protected on earth because they bear the name of the Father and the Son on their foreheads, the seal of their salvation, security and identity.
It’s significant that the Lamb is seen, “standing” on Mt Zion. This is a prophetic indication of Messiah’s descent to the Mount from which He ascended. At the time of His ascension the messengers who appeared to the talmidim (disciples) said, “You will see Him return in the same way that you’ve seen Him go” (Acts 1:11).
The apocryphal Jewish writings of 4 Ezra say something similar concerning the coming of the Messiah:
“Whom the Most High is keeping many ages and by whom He will deliver His creation (i.e. the Messiah) will stand on the summit of Mount Zion. Yes, Zion shall come and be seen by everyone, prepared and built, just as you saw the mountain cut out without hands. But he, My Son, will reprove the nations who have come, for their ungodliness.” –4 Ezra 13:26, 36-37
The unity of the G-d-head is written in the first verse in order to lay a foundation for the remainder of the vision. The Son (Lamb), The Father (Name) and the Spirit (Seal: Ephesians 1:13) are the present authority over the 144,000 (representing righteous ethnic Israel). A correlation can be made here between the seal of the forehead and the Tefilin shel Rosh (Prayer box of the head): this prayer box contains key texts of the Torah and is therefore a symbol of the Messiah as the Word of G-d, and of His authority over the life of the believer. This allusion to the G-d-head is illuminated further by the sevenfold Spirit of G-d represented in the seven messengers of verses 6-20. In fact the entire chapter conveys a conversation between the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the Sevenfold Spirit of G-d. In other words, “They” have a conversation within the G-d-head (One: Echad) concerning the redeemed, future punishment, the perseverance of the set apart ones, the harvests and the judgement
These 144,000 are the same ethnic Jews mentioned in Revelation 7:4, metaphorically representing the righteous remnant of the Jewish people.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. 3 And they sing a new song in the face of the throne and in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the land (Eretz Israel).
The seemingly contradictory use of the singular, “voice” and the plural, “they” is easily explained given the prior reference to the unity of the G-d-head (v.1). Each of the metaphorical phrases that begin this verse are references to the voice of G-d (Ezekiel 43:2; Revelation 1:15; Job 37:5; Psalm 104:7; Jeremiah 10:13; 1 Samuel 16:23), thus G-d the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (they), sing a new song. We must note that the voice (Hebrew: Kol, meaning voice, sound etc.) was, “like” the sound of harpists. Therefore the, “they” doesn’t refer to harpists but to the voice that sounds like harpists.
Therefore the G-d-Head (They) sing the new song. The song is sung in the face or presence of the throne in the same way that Yeshua the Lamb is present within the G-d-head before the throne. G-d being outside of all things is also present within all things. Notice that while the elders are present, they can’t learn the song; it’s an intimate song between the G-d-head and redeemed ethnic Israel (144,000). Only G-d and the 144,000 can learn this special song.
Some find it difficult to see G-d as a singer. The following scripture is an illuminating and inspiring example of the reality of G-d’s ability to sing. It is in fact G-d Who created music for our enjoyment.
“HaShem thy G-d is in the midst of you (plural: ethnic Israel), A Mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you (plural) with great joy, He will engrave His love upon you, He will rejoice over you (plural) with singing.” –Zephaniah 3:17
Only the redeemed Jewish believers are able to learn this song. The song seems to be connected to their being purchased from the land, like the songs of Moses and Miriyam it’s a song of victory, redemption and praise. A song sung by the Messiah to His Jewish brethren, who in return sing it back to the Father, the Son within each of them crying, “Abba” by the Ruach ha-kodesh (Holy Spirit).
4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among humanity as first fruits to G-d and to the Lamb. 5 And no guile was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
The metaphorical language regarding purity (who have not been defiled with women) can be
understood as referring to the fact that this redeemed remnant have not defiled themselves by
whoring after other gods. Fornication is a common biblical metaphor for idolatry (Ezekiel 16, 23;
Hosea 1-5). This is in stark contrast to verse 8, where Babylon’s idolatry is likened to whoring.
These Jews have been purchased separately from the remainder of humanity, this is why they alone
are able to learn the song. They are, “blameless” not in the sense that they are without sin, “for all
have sinned and fallen short of the glory of G-d” (Romans 3:23), but in the sense that their heart
motivation is to keep G-d’s Instruction (Torah) and follow the Lamb diligently. We should take pause
to consider what it means to follow the Lamb wherever He goes, this is the devoted action of one
who is enamoured with the Messiah. May we all emulate this type of devoted love! What a beautiful
paradox, we are sheep being led by a Lamb Who is our shepherd.
Some have suggested that Revelation 14:1-5 is describing 144,000 male Jewish infants. As proof they
site the fact that the 144,000 are “virgins” (Rev 14:4), who “have never spoken a lie” (Rev 14:5).
However a closer look at the text of Revelation 14 proves these assertions to be untenable.
“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among humanity, being the first fruits unto G-d and to the Lamb. And in their mouths was found no guile (dolos: trickery, deceit, guile, subtlety): for they are blameless before the throne of God.” –Revelation 14:4-5
We can agree that these 144,000 are virgins. However this isn’t evidence of infancy. My wife and I
were virgins when we married at 21 and 22 years of age respectively. Furthermore, Jewish tradition
required virginity prior to marriage and no ancient Jewish marriage took place prior to Bar Mitzvah
age (12 years). Therefore the fact that they are virgins is not valid proof.
The second proof offered, that of there having been, “No lie found in their mouths” is simply a
mistranslation and a misunderstanding of what being blameless before G-d actually means in
Biblical terms. The Greek word, “dolos” which is often translated as, “lie” has a wealth of greater
meaning that is better suited to the context. It can mean, “Trickery, deceit, guile, subtlety”. The
better translation follows the same usage as John 1:47 and should read:
“And in their mouths was found no guile (dolos) for they are blameless before the throne of God.”
Neither being devoid of guile nor being blameless are proof of infancy. Nathaniel was without guile
and yet an adult (John 1:47) and both Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, the parents of Yochanan the
Immerser, are called blameless (Luke 1:6). This is clearly not intended to infer that they’re sinless, for
we are vulnerable to sin from our conception, which is the point at which conscious life begins for
every human being (Psalm 51:6; Isaiah 49:1; Hosea 12:3; Luke 1:41-44).
“For all (not some) have sinned and fallen short of the glory of G-d.” –Romans 3:23
Therefore there is no reason to believe that these 144,000 Jewish males are infants.
The number 144,000 is perfectly rounded and like many other numbers in the Tanakh (OT) it has a
symbolic rather than literal meaning. There are 12 tribes and 10 Instructions (commandments) upon
which Judaism finds it’s ethnic and spiritual foundation in G-d. In addition the 12 tribes are
represented in the 12 talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua. 12 squared equals 144 and 10 cubed (unity of
G-d 3 as echad/one) equals 1000: therefore the fulfilled nation of Israel multiplied by the fulfilled
Instruction of G-d equals the redemption of ethnic Israel and the resurrection of all humanity unto
judgement. 144 x 1000 = 144,000. The number of Jews sealed therefore, is a symbolic way of saying
what Rav Shaul/Paul the apostle says in Romans 11:25-27.
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brother, so that you may not be conceited: ethnic Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all of ethnic Israel will be saved. As it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion (That is out of the East);
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.” –Romans 11:25-27 (Isaiah 59:20, 21; 27:9; Jer. 31:33, 34)
It’s significant that redeemed ethnic Israel is referred to as the “First Fruits” because G-d has continued to perpetuate His redemptive plan for humanity throughout earth’s history, first to the Jew and also to the nations (Romans 1:16). It was to ethnic Israel that G-d gave His covenant promises at Sinai and it was to ethnic Israel that G-d gave His renewed covenant at Shavuot (Pentecost: Acts 2).
Many fail to remember that the New Covenant was not made with the nations but with ethnic Israel.
“’Behold, days are coming,’ declares HaShem, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,’” –Jeremiah 31:31
6 And I saw another messenger flying in mid heaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; 7 and he said with a loud voice, “Be in awe of G-d, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”
Messiah prophesied that the Gospel would be preached in all the earth (Matthew 24:14), and then the end would come. This messenger heralds the completion of the spread of the Gospel to every nation, tribe, language and people of the earth and then proclaims the hour of G-d’s judgement according to the prophecy of Yeshua.
The word, “Gospel” means, “Good News” or, “True report”. Here the addition of the word, “eternal” ensures that the reader understands that Yeshua’s Gospel which bears the fruit of eternal life is intended. Because in the Hebraic view eternity is a circular or spherical concept and refers to the past, present and future, the Gospel is proclaimed from before the creation of the world and into forever (Romans 16:25). The greatest of mysteries revealed.
The words of the messenger are fearful to those being lost, however, they make perfect sense to those being redeemed. This is a final warning, and a familiar refrain. The phrase, “Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea” reflects the G-d of the beginning.
“For in six days HaShem made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore HaShem blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” –Exodus 20:11
“Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who guards truth forever;” –Psalm 146:6
8 And another messenger, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”
The phrase, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great” combines the prophetic verses of Isaiah 21:9 and Daniel 4:21 and is repeated in Revelation 18:2. Babylon epitomizes humanity’s propensity for evil: from the beginning of the Bible Babel (Genesis 11) is the location of humanity’s first collective attempt to usurp G-d’s authority. Isaiah 14:12-16 depicts the king of Babylon as a stand in for Satan. Whatever our conclusion regarding who Babylon refers to, we must be consistent in applying our interpretation to the other places where she is mentioned: Revelation 16:19; 17:5; 18:2; 10, 21.
Babylon may be meant literally, although Jeremiah prophecies that Babylon’s desolation will be everlasting (Jeremiah 25:12; 50:1-51:64).
Some suggest that Babylon refers to Rome because it was known as the city set on seven hills (17:9) and was the subject of Jewish Apocrypha (2 Baruch 11:1; 67:7). Also, rabbinic writings such as the Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs 1:6.4 says, “One calls Rome, ‘Babylon”. Rav Yechiel Lichtenstein, when commenting of 1 Peter 5:13, says, “Rome is called, ‘Babylon’ since it’s always described as the worst kingdom.”
Babylon may also refer to the wicked world system seeded by Satan and governed by the beast.
The wine refers to the life blood of idolatry and sin and is pictured here as having caused the nations to become blind drunk in their lust for temporal pleasure and self-deification.
9 Then another messenger, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives its mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of G-d, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy messengers and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Those who have willingly submitted themselves to the beast and received its mark will have added to their idolatrous drunkenness, the wine of G-d’s wrath, which, unlike the watered down wine of idolatry, is poured out in full strength from the cup of G-d’s anger.
The fact that the mark of the beast must be received by those who bear it reflects the spiritual nature of the mark. This is yet another proof of the mark’s non-physical nature, the mark is a mark of the consciousness, a false belief in a false deity that governs the entire being of its willing recipient and consumes the thought pattern of the bearers mind. The mark then is a system of belief, a spiritual assent to idolatry, a type of anti-salvation. This text reminds us again that it is not G-d Who sends people to eternal punishment but it is people who choose to go there.
Note that the punishment and suffering of the wicked happens in the presence of the holy messengers and the Lamb. All things exist in G-d, therefore part of the price of salvation and justice is that G-d will secure a place of punishment (Pit) for Satan and his messengers and the wicked, within Himself for all eternity. This is why it is said that the wicked will be, “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy messengers and in the presence of the Lamb.” We know that this is not a reference to Gehenah because the context denotes the final judgement and uses the Greek terms which convey eternity.
12 Here under these circumstances the set apart ones persevere, those who keep the Torah (Instructions) of G-d and their faith in Yeshua.
In other words, “You may suffer temporarily, at the hands of the evil One for your refusal to worship the beast and receive its mark. You will need perseverance, the Torah (G-d’s word) and your faith in Yeshua will be your strength.”
Perseverance is not the result of human effort but a gift of G-d to the set apart ones (those who have received Messiah’s free gift). Our perseverance is Messiah in us, He can be relied on to give us the strength we need at the appropriate time.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the L-rd from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow with them.”
The phrase, “Blessed are the dead who die in the L-rd” is a familiar New Testament teaching.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from the heavens with a command, with the voice of the archangel and with the shofar of Hashem, and the dead in Messiah will rise first.” –1 Thessalonians 4:16
“For if the dead are not raised, not even Messiah has been raised; and if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Messiah have perished. If we have hoped in Messiah in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” –1 Corinthians 15:16-19
The added phrase, “from now on” infers that those who perish during the reign of the beast will find rest in death due to their being freed from the torment of the beasts reign and their presence in paradise with Yeshua.
The Holy Spirit agrees with the voice of the Father in saying, “so that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow with them.”
The Mishnah says something similar:
“In the hour of a person’s departure, neither silver nor gold nor precious stones nor pearls accompany that one, only Torah and good works.” –Avot 6:9
14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.
Verses 14-20 echo Joel 3:9-13 and Isaiah 63:1-6, using grape harvesting and wine pressing as a metaphor for judgement and describing the fury of G-d as He tramples out the blood of the wicked peoples of the earth. Judgement is also symbolized by the harvests of Jeremiah 51:33 and Hosea 6:11.
Yeshua tells a mashal (parable) about the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:39-42) in which two harvest processes are alluded to. First the messengers of HaShem collect the tares which are burned on the fire, then they collect the wheat and bring it into the land owner’s barn. The wheat represents those who are redeemed through Messiah Yeshua and the tares are the wicked who refuse G-d’s mercy. The order of these processes is reversed in the last verses of this chapter, however the effect is the same.
Verse 14 begins with a Messianic reference from Daniel that Yeshua used to describe Himself (Matthew 24:30-31; Mark 14:61-62), “Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13). This same title is used in Ezekiel 95 times. It’s interesting to note that Daniel means “Judged by G-d” and Ezekiel means, “Strength of G-d”. The context is illuminated by these names, Yeshua has come in the strength of HaShem to judge the nations with the wrath of G-d. Once again Yeshua is seen with the imagery of the cloud which leads Israel out of bondage and a crown denoting His absolute authority over the earth.
15 And another messenger came out of the temple, shouting out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.
The messenger here is an attribute of the sevenfold Spirit of G-d. Therefore Yeshua is not subordinate to the calling out, rather He is in conversation with the Father and one with the messenger.
In Yeshua’s hand is the sickle that will harvest the righteous wheat. The barley (First Fruits) have already been harvested, that is, the 144,000. The remnant of ethnic Israel. Now the earth will be harvested of the righteous among the nations who remain.
Notice that the term, “reap” is used of Yeshua’s action whereas the term, “collected” is used of the action of the messenger in the following verses. Yeshua reaps what He has sown but the messenger with the second sickle collects together what the enemy has sown. The former is gathered into the barn of eternal life, the latter is trampled out in wrath. The former reaps and keeps, the latter collects and throws out (into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth).
17 And another messenger came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle.
Yet another attribute of HaShem, a messenger of the sevenfold Spirit of G-d. This time holding the sickle of wrath.
18 Then another messenger, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.”
The last of the sevenfold messengers arrives bringing the fire of judgement born of the sacrifice of Messiah and the prayers of the saints from the incense altar of the heavenly temple. The instruction is given to the Spirit of judgement and the grapes of the lifeblood of the wicked inhabitants of the earth are harvested.
19 So the messenger swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of G-d. 20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.
The grapes are trampled outside the city, correlating with the uncleanness outside the camp of Israel’s wandering and with the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, 12), whose name means, “YHVH judges”. Also known as the valley of Hinnom (Matthew 5:22) where the human sacrifices of idolaters were made and the perpetual burning of refuse desecrated the land.
The graphic description of blood flowing 6 feet high for 200 miles alludes to the all-encompassing judgement of G-d. There will be nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.
The Midrash Rabbah sites a similar judgement following the Bar Kosiba revolt (135 CE):
“They (The Romans under Hadrian) slew the inhabitants (of Betar, after Bar Kosiba, its defender, had been killed) until the horses waded in blood up to the nostrils, and the blood rolled along stones of the size of forty se’ah and flowed into the sea a distance of four miles.” –Lamentations Rabah 2:2:4
© Alastair Brown 2015
The dragon has no firm place to stand, the wet sand beneath his feet prophecies the sinking (temporary) nature of his power.
An examination of revelation 13.
Revelation 13 continues the previous chapter’s vision, using metaphorical language to prophecy future events relating to the kingdoms of the earth and their rulers, as manipulated and powered by Satan (The Dragon/Serpent). Therefore we must be careful not to impose overly literal ideas upon the text which is clearly intended to be understood as symbolic language. We should also maintain a Hebraic foundation in interpreting the Greek text, remembering that it is the thought behind the text that strengthens its meaning. A Jewish writer, writing in English, intends a Hebrew meaning; likewise, Yochanan the Jew writing in Greek, intends a Hebrew meaning.
Verses 1-8 share their context with Revelation 11:7 and 17:24, placing them in correlation with the four beasts of Daniel 7. The first beast is a composite of the four beasts of Daniel, and like the dragon it shares the ten horns and seven heads of the last beast of Daniel 7:7: however, unlike the dragon this beast also resembles the remaining three beasts because it’s described as being like a lion, a bear and a leopard (Daniel 7:4-6). It comes up out of the sea (Daniel 7:3) speaking arrogant blasphemies (Daniel 7:8, 20, 25), and it has authority to act for 42 months (Daniel 7:25). All of this is illuminated by the prophet Daniel himself.
“This is what he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, different from all the other kingdoms. It will devour the whole earth, trample it down, and crush it. 24 The 10 horns are 10 kings who will rise from this kingdom. Another king, different from the previous ones, will rise after them and subdue three kings. 25 He will speak words against the Most High and make weary the holy ones (Righteous ethnic Israel) of the Most High. He will implement change of religious festivals and laws (specifically the festivals and laws of Hashem given to Israel), and the holy ones (Righteous ethnic Israel) will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time (3 ½ years). 26 But the court (heavenly) will convene, and his dominion will be taken away, to be completely destroyed forever. 27 The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people (Righteous ethnic Israel), the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey Him.’” –Daniel 7:23-27
Many scholars see (and I agree) the text of Daniel 7:23-27 to have been fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes IV between 168 – 164 BCE. He changed, “religious festivals and laws” banning the use of the Hebrew language, desecrating the temple by offering a pig on the altar in place of the daily sacrifice and requiring Jews to forsake the G-d of Israel and worship false gods by keeping pagan festivals, or, be put to death (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). All this took place over a three and a half year period, “Time, times and half a time”. Eventually the Maccabees recaptured and rededicated the Temple, an event that is now remembered in the Chanukah festival which Yeshua celebrated in Jerusalem (John 10:11). This is of course true, however, as previously stated, the cyclical nature of Jewish prophecy allows it to have multiple fulfilments.
Added to this is the fact that Yeshua reinstated the Daniel prophecy during His earthly ministry (Matthew 24:15) and confirms it’s current validity through His prophet Yochanan, thus renewing Daniels prophecy in the words of His unveiling (Revelation), meaning that a new fulfilment of the Daniel prophecy is imminent.
The four beasts of Daniel are four kingdoms reflected in the beast of Revelation 13:1-8, which for the modern reader can be understood as commonwealths, political collectives or fiscal union between nations. Most scholars agree that these four kingdoms were represented chronologically in the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. If this view is correct, then the beast of Revelation 13:1-8 will be either a literal re-emergence of the Roman Empire, or a collective of nations that perpetuate the same brutality and immorality of the Roman Empire.
However, due to the metaphorical language used, there can be no certainty as to the exact interpretation. If we are to be humble servants of Messiah, we must consider the possibility that even within His unveiling He holds back the perfect clarity of the Olam Habah (World to come).
13:1 And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.
The dragon stands on the sea shore between the land and the sea, whereas the Mighty Messenger of chapter 10:2, stood firmly with His right foot on the sea and His left foot on the land. The difference between the two figures is significant. The Mighty Messenger (Who I believe to be Yeshua) has authority over all creation, Sea and Land: He has firmly established this authority without compromise, His right foot planted firmly on the ocean (the sea, seen in Hebrew literature as a metaphor for sheol) representing the fact that He has overcome the power of death, and His left foot firmly planted on the earth (the womb of humanity), indicating His authority to resurrect the dead unto eternal life. On the other hand, the dragon is seen in a place of compromise, standing between the land and the sea on the sea shore: he is neither in full control of the sea or the land, showing that his authority is limited and compromised. The dragon has no firm place to stand, the wet sand beneath his feet prophecies the sinking (temporary) nature of his power.
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten crowns, and on his heads were blasphemous names.
The beast coming up out of the sea represents the resurrection of a great empire, an empire of death and destruction as symbolised by the Hebraic metaphorical view of the sea (sheol).
Notice that the crowns of this beast are on its horns, whereas the crowns of the dragon (chapter 12) were on his heads. The authority of the dragon (heads) holds power over the strength (horns/kings) of the beast. This is why the beast is said to have blasphemous names on its heads (a Hebrew idiom meaning that he spoke blasphemies against G-d): these seven blasphemies reflect the fruit of the rulers pictured in the seven heads of the dragon.
This beast, which represents a resurrected kingdom (10 collected nations under one ruling nation) will have among its leaders, 7 prominent leaders who openly blaspheme against the G-d of Israel. It is important that we understand that their blasphemies will not be against the generic idea of a monotheist deity (e.g. Allah: an ancient Babylonian feminine moon deity now worshipped by Muslims) but specifically against the G-d of Israel.
2 And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.
The beast is likened to the four beasts of Daniel (Daniel 7:4-6), described as being like a lion, a bear and a leopard.
The lion is fierce and merciless in desiccating and devouring its prey, this also reflects the nature of the evil one. The bear likewise is difficult to subdue and its insurmountable strength defeats almost every other forest creature. The leopard is not only brutal in tearing apart and dragging off of its victims, it’s also known for its speed and agility in attacking its prey. These things have been and continue to be true of many kingdoms of the earth.
Satan (the dragon) will be the ruling spiritual authority behind this empire. Thus, “And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.”
3 I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast;
The imagery of the slain head of the beast is a parody of the Lamb that was slain (Rev. 5:6), a rebellious counterpoint to the glorious and eternal work of the Messiah. However, unlike the eternal life-giving victory of the resurrected Messiah, the beast’s temporal resurrection will end in eternal death.
Some believe that the head mentioned here is the head of the resurrected Roman Empire, Rome itself. If this is the right interpretation then the fatal wound would be considered to be the fact that Rome was torn apart and fatally wounded and is now resurrected as a world power. I’m not convinced of this interpretation.
What is certain, is that a specific power within the empire of the beast (Which is a collective of nations) will rise to rule the earth, it will be a surprise to the nations because they will have presumed that this particular city or country would never have held any kind of universal authority again due to its past defeat and present condition. As a result, the nations of the earth will be in awe of this country’s ability to resurrect itself economically and militarily and will seek to follow its formula for success.
The phrase, “whole earth” as in the previous chapters, refers to all those who aren’t followers of Yeshua.
4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”
While in many ways this means that the people of the nations will worship Satan, in reality this worship manifests itself in much less obvious ways. The nations will honour the ancient empire which the beast has been resurrected from for the reasons mentioned. They will also look to and honour the specific nation which rules over the new universal empire. They will recognise that no nation has the strength to defeat this nation and its empire in war and will therefore submit themselves to its rule.
The phrase, “Who is like the beast” is in itself a rebellious blaspheme, a parody of the name given to HaShem’s angel Michael (Who is like G-d: Exodus 15:11), who defeated the dragon in the second heaven (Rev. 12). In other words the nations are saying, “There is no G-d but the beast, this new great nation and ruler are G-d alone”.
5 There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against G-d, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven.
It’s important to remember that the authority is given to the beast by the dragon, who in turn has been allowed authority from G-d. Ultimately G-d is in control (Isaiah 45:6-7; Job 1:12; 2-6).
Within the metaphorical language we find literal terms, this is a clue to interpretation. Just as the metaphorical idiom, “Time, times and half a time” is used to describe a season, the literal number 42 months is used to describe a literal period which is applied to the metaphorical beast and its rule.
The complete nature of the beast as symbolised by its seven heads, is reflected in the fullness of its blasphemies and its uncompromised rebellion against the G-d of Israel: so much so that it utters blasphemies against G-d’s name on earth and against His dwelling place in the heavens. This is the futile temper tantrum of a defeated enemy, who, unable to go into the heavens any longer, must satisfy himself with making as much noise as possible within the confines of the earth and its atmosphere.
7 It was also given to him to make war with the set apart ones and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.
The set apart ones (holy ones) are ethnic Israel, as alluded to in Daniel 7:25. The reality is that although the beast will not be allowed to wipe out ethnic Israel, it will be given temporary authority to make war against her and overcome her for a specific preordained period of time.
Additionally the beast will be given (ultimately by G-d) temporary authority over all the nations of the world.
8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear.
All the non-believers who dwell on the earth at that time will worship the beast (Nation and ruler), however, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will not worship the beast (Nation and ruler).
The security of our faith in Messiah was recorded before the world was created and made sure in the blood of His sacrifice (Rev. 5:6-12).
The first reference to G-d’s book of life in the Tanakh (OT) is found in the book of Exodus. It is part of a dialogue between Moses and G-d regarding the redemption of Israel:
“Now if You would only forgive their sin. But if not, please blot me out of the book You have written.” Hashem replied to Moses: “I will blot out whoever has sinned against Me from My book.” –Exodus 32:32-33
We see from this text that the book of life belongs to G-d Himself and that our eternal security is not reliant on us but on Him. Therefore we can be assured of our eternal security in Messiah and our place in the Olam Habah (World to come).
The prophet Daniel also refers to the book of life:
“At that time Michael the great prince who stands watch over your people will rise up. There will be a time of distress such as never has occurred since nations came into being until that time. But at that time all your people who are found written in the book will escape.” –Daniel 12:1
The, “Book of life” is the “other book” of Revelation 20:12. Its name in Hebrew is, “sefer chayim” and is spoken of in the Psalms:
“Add guilt to their guilt;
do not let them share in Your righteousness.
Let them be blotted out of the book of life
and not be recorded with the righteous.” –Psalm 69:27-29
The term, “Chayim” has plural intensity which indicates eternal life, thus, “Chayim” rather than, “Chai”. The book of life is referred to several times throughout Revelation and is often used as the counterpoint to the negative fate of those whose names are not written in it (Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12). It is also referenced in Rav Shaul’s letter to the Philippians:
“Along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers whose names are in the book of life.” –Philippians 4:3b
“If anyone has an ear let him hear”, is a quote from the gospels, a familiar refrain used by Yeshua as a counterpoint to the Tanakh’s prophecy that those who reject the Messiah would be “Ever listening but not hearing, ever seeing but not perceiving” (Isaiah 6:9).
The phrase “If anyone has an ear let him hear”, is recorded in the gospels and throughout the book of Revelation (Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:23; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29). This specifically refers to those who are a part of the community of faith, followers of Yeshua. It’s a type of secret code phrase for believers, a reassuring wink from the Messiah which says, “You guys know what I’m talking about”.
10 If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he will go; if anyone is destined for the sword, with the sword he must be killed. This is for the perseverance and the faith of the set apart ones.
This quote from the Tanakh (OT) reflects G-d’s instruction to Israel via the prophet Jeremiah prior to her temporary exile:
“If they ask you, ‘Where will we go?’ you must tell them: This is what the Lord says:
Those destined for death, to death;
those destined for the sword, to the sword.
Those destined for famine, to famine;
those destined for captivity, to captivity.” –Jeremiah 15:2
This simply means that for a set amount of time, those who follow Messiah will suffer according to the will of G-d, but will not be completely destroyed.
The unveiling of this truth to the community of believers is, “for the perseverance and the faith of the set apart ones.” We are not to be fearful but prepared. We take comfort in the fact that this is for a limited time and that the outcome for the believer is eternal life.
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.
The first beast represents both Empire and False Deity, whereas the second beast is a man (v18), born of the city and empire of the first beast. He is intrinsically related to the evil empire and receives his power from it via Satan.
This beast comes out of the earth as opposed to the sea. The earth is the womb of human life, therefore this beast is born of a woman just as the Messiah was. However, unlike Messiah, this beast is seeded by the beast of the sea (sheol), born of the abyss and is therefore the antithesis of the Messiah Yeshua. Hence he is known as the Anti-Messiah (1 John 2:18) and the false prophet (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10).
This beast has two horns like a lamb. He is compared to a lamb because he is an individual who on his own may seem placid, however his voice has the dark power and presence of evil (dragon), fuelled by Satan himself. The lamb imagery also relates to the fact that, “For many will come in
my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:5). His horns of strength are that of his supernatural power and the deity (Satan) whom he serves. He is the man who separates himself from the Torah (2 Thessalonians 2:3-10) setting himself up in G-d’s sanctuary above every god and calling himself god.
“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man who separates himself from the Torah is revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in G-d’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is G-d.” –2 Thessalonians 2:3
Yeshua citing Daniel 9:27; 11:31, 12:11, prophesied concerning this beast when he said:
“So when you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place.” –Matthew 24:15
This abomination will occur in the rebuilt temple of Revelation 11.
12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.
The second beast has all the authority of the empire he has risen from and he will give glory to the first beast (the fatally wounded city/nation and its false god).
13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.
The signs he performs are specifically formulated to mirror those of the prophets of Israel, in particular Elijah, and the miracles of Yeshua.
In keeping with the sub-narrative of Israel’s escape from Egypt, we see that the Pharaoh employed magicians to replicate the miracles of G-d’s servant Moses (Exodus 7:11; 22; 8:7). The miracles of the second beast then, are likened to the demonically powered miracles of the magicians of Egypt and represent limited supernatural power. However there is one significant miracle, the miracle of bringing fire down from heaven (The earth’s atmosphere) which mimic’s Elijah’s miracle and represents judgement. Thus the beast even attempts to deceive the earth into believing that it is he who is bringing the final judgement.
This should read as warning to those who have a nominal or secular faith based on second-hand knowledge of the Scriptures. Yeshua warns:
“For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many” –Matthew 24:5
14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which were given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who has the mortal wound of the sword and has come to life.
This infers that the false god that the beast names himself for may well be a false representation of the true G-d of Jews and Christians. This can be seen in the faith claims of many nominal believers today, who worship a god (Whom they consider to be the Judeo Christian deity) who approves of homosexuality and abortion. The beast may well be a perverted idea of G-d loosely based on selected Scripture, like many of the false gods created in the minds of human beings.
The important thing to remember is that a life devoted to Messiah will not be deceived, those of the earth are those who are not followers of Messiah.
The miracles of the second beast were done on behalf of the first beast as a parody of the two witnesses (11:4). All that he does is in opposition to the G-d of Israel.
The image that the second beast asks the people of the earth to set up may represent an idol constructed as an inanimate object. This would make the following verses a further miraculous event.
15 And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be murdered.
To add to the rebellion of the Satan, the second beast is given the power to breathe life into the image of the first beast and give it life and a voice, in a parody of G-d’s creation (Genesis 2:7). The instruction of the image of the first beast will be a final solution (holocaust) of those who don’t worship it. One can’t help but see a direct correlation to the false deity Allah and the Islamic myth concerning a twelfth Imam, the Muslim Messiah (Anti-Christ).
16 And he makes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, 17 and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Revelation 20:4 tells us that being given the mark is a choice:
“They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
The mark then must be willingly received in order to be effective, this begs the question, “If it’s a physical mark how will a Christian avoid receiving it by force? After all, the text says that all are made to receive the mark.” The answer is, it can’t be a physical mark and is therefore a mark symbolizing mental assent and the submission of the governing of the body (forehead) and the actions (Right hand, strength and action) associated to that same act of submission. This is a parody of the physical symbols of the tefilin and the submitting of the righteous to the G-d of Israel and His Messiah. It’s also a parody of the marking of the 144,000 Jews of Revelation 7:2-3. It’s strange to me that so many scholars interpret 7:2-3 to be a metaphorical mark, a spiritual marking of the righteous, and yet they don’t give a second thought to the same interpretation being applicable here.
Some say that the mark must be physical because it is required for the act of buying and selling, however this can be explained as simply as the refusal of beast worshippers to sell to or buy from believers.
The mark then, is the act of receiving the mental belief (Greek) and lordship (Hebrew)—forehead—of the beast and its false prophet (2nd beast), and applying this belief to every action (right hand).
18 This requires wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.
Both the Greek and Hebrew languages assign numerical values to the characters of their respective alphabets. Each letter of a word and in this case a man’s name, can be added, multiplied, divided, squared and manipulated using any mathematical equation in order to come to the sum of 666. As a result there have been countless attempts by enumerable scholars, soothsayers and fortune tellers (All claiming to be G-d fearing Christians), to determine and even solidify the name of the beast.
The key to this last verse of chapter 13 isn’t the number, or the ability to calculate it; to the contrary, the key is the phrase, “This requires wisdom”.
Every generation has seen the rise of an anti-Christ, however, the Anti-Messiah is yet to come. We are counselled to be wise, understanding that names can have numerical value but remembering that the timing of the revelation of the name of the Anti-Messiah is in G-d’s hands and is therefore subject to the greatest wisdom of all, “The fear of the L-rd”.
Further still, we must consider that the number 666, being that it is given as part of a metaphorical text, is to be calculated as a metaphor. If this is the correct understanding, then the number 666 represents the trifold affirmation of the failure of this individual to reach perfection (7), he is truly the antithesis of Yeshua. Messiah then could be seen as the number 888 (based on the numerical value of the Greek name Iesous), conveying the threefold affirmation that He is “Kadosh, kadosh, kadosh (Holy)”, beyond perfection (7 representing perfection and 8 representing a new beginning beyond perfection).
What is important is not that we’re able to unequivocally confirm the name of the beast and the kingdom from which he rises, but rather that we should be aware of the meaning of these symbols so that when we see them all coming together around us on the earth, we can act accordingly.
One thing is certain, none of these events are within our control. When we try to predict and theorize outside of the plain meaning of the text, we are in danger of idolatry. G-d is in absolute control of all these things and His Son is our peace.
© Alastair Brown 2015
 I’ve chosen the Greek Iesous (888) over the Hebrew Yeshua (386/380) and Yehoshua (385/391) because in keeping with the Greek text the number must correspond to the Greek formula based on the Greek number 666
The only thing that can silence the accusations of Satan is the death and resurrection of Messiah.
An examination of Revelation 12.
Chapter 12 begins to unpack allegorically what the synopsis of Chapter 11 explained literally. There are key differences between the two chapters that give us clues as to how we should interpret the respective texts. Chapter 11 begins with Yochanan receiving a measuring reed, which is an indication of physical interaction during a personal encounter with G-d or an envoy/messenger, and the subsequent direct relaying of information, whereas chapter 12 begins with, “A great sign appeared”. A sign by definition is a symbol or representation of something or someone else, this is a clear direction to the reader to consider this section of text to be an allegory/sign of something or someone else.
Scholars debate various passages of the book of Revelation, often based on either the literal or allegorical interpretation of the text, however, almost all agree that chapter 12 is to be interpreted allegorically. What remains is that we interpret the symbolism correctly. Yochanan the Jew is not using pagan myth as a foundation for what he’s seeing, to the contrary, his vision is well grounded in the Tanakh (OT) and he continues to allude to the Exodus, the theme which has been the sub plot of the entire book from the very beginning.
Yeshua often told mashlim (Parables) and then explained or unveiled them only to His talmidim (disciples).
His (Yeshua) talmidim (disciples) began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of G-d, but to the rest it is in mashlim (parables), so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. “Now the mashal (parable) means this:” –Luke 8:9-11
We know that the Revelation is the Unveiling of Yeshua to His faithful servants, recorded by the prophet Yochanan, Yeshua’s beloved talmid (disciple). Revelation 12 follows this same pattern of teaching, first giving the mashal (sign/parable) (verses 1-6) and then unveiling it to the Ecclesia—Community of believers (verses 7-15).
For example, in verse 6 the number 1260 days is used to describe the woman’s time in the wilderness. In the previous chapter this number was used in a literal sense referring to the allotted time of the prophesying of the two witnesses, this is qualified by the context of chapter 11; however in this chapter the same number is part of the sign/parable which is subsequently qualified in the unveiling of the sign/parable. Verse 14 explains that the number 1260 days is to be understood metaphorically as, “a time and times and half a time” according to the vision of the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7: 25).
For those who argue otherwise, it’s important to note that neither the 42 months nor the 1260 days of chapter 11 are metaphorical according to the p’shat (plain meaning) of the text, whereas the idiom, “a time and times and half a time” is in itself a metaphor/mystery that is only interpreted otherwise if the context denotes a remez (hint) at another meaning.
12:1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; 2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labour and in torturous pain and about to give birth.
As previously stated, the sign indicates metaphor and allegory. The Hebrew recognizes the messianic prophecy of Isaiah in these first few verses:
“HaShem Himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call
His name Immanuel (G-d with us). –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 7:14
It is noteworthy that this is a, “great/mighty” sign. It is unmistakable, a sign that spans generations from ancient times past and into the future, it can’t be contained except in the pages of the heavens. This seemingly mysterious woman is no more mysterious to the Jew than Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Lea, the matriarchs of Israel. Her description is rich with Hebraisms and Tanakh references, so much so that to any believer of Yochanan’s time well versed in the Tanakh (The only Bible available to believers up until some 30 years prior to the writing of Revelation) could see plainly what outsiders could not. Thus, Yeshua’s Unveiling/Revelation is intended for the faithful, those who invested time in the teaching of the Apostles and the reading of the Torah, Ketuvim and Nevi’m (OT).
So, who is this woman? She’s a sign to the nations. She’s seen in the heavens because her destiny is secure in the arms of HaShem and His heavenly armies. She’s a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6; 60:1-3), clothed in the sun. Her feet are secured upon the symbol of the Messiah, the moon. Upon her head is a crown of twelve stars, she wears the authority of a nation of twelve tribes. She is with child, a child who we soon learn, is the Messiah Himself. She’s known great suffering and trials, the Greek word translated, “pain” is used most often to describe torture and torment. Hence she screams not only due to the birthing process but also because of her great suffering.
A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
This reference couldn’t be clearer. Israel’s greatest rabbis agree that the words of Solomon’s Song are an allegory for G-d’s love relationship with ethnic Israel.
“Who is this that arises like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun,
majestic as the stars in procession?” –Shir Ha-Shirim/Song of Songs 6:10
These words are attributed to the friends of the groom, and being friends of the groom they’re also friends of the bride. The Shulamite bride is Israel and the Groom is G-d Himself.
The symbolism of the sun, moon and stars is also a blatant allusion to Joseph’s dream:
“Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars (+1=12) were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” –Genesis 37:9-10
The sun and the moon are Jacob (Israel) and Rachel, the Patriarch and Matriarch of ethnic Israel and the eleven stars are the tribes of Israel less one, Joseph, who makes twelve.
At Revelation 21:12-14 the number twelve refers to the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles, all Jews. This is yet another affirmation of the number’s correct interpretation.
HaShem speaks of Israel as His bride/wife numerous times throughout the Tanakh. Unlike many earthly husbands, G-d is never unfaithful, even when His wife is faithless He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).
“For your Maker is your husband--
HaShem Shaddai (Almighty) is His name--
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the G-d of all the earth.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 54:5
“I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge Hashem.” –Hosea 2:19-20
2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labour and in torturous pain and about to give birth.
This is the beginning of the antithesis to the great mourning of Israel’s failure to birth salvation, which is recorded in Isaiah 26:17-18:
“As a pregnant woman about to give birth
writhes and cries out in her pain,
so were we in your presence, HaShem.
18 We were with child, we writhed in labour,
but we gave birth to wind.
We have not brought salvation to the earth,
and the people of the world have not come to life.”
This failure is answered by G-d with the promise of a Son, the deliverance of the ethnic people of Israel and the return of her land.
“Before she goes into labour,
she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
she delivers a son.
8 Who has ever heard of such things?
Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day
or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labour
than she gives birth to her children.
9 Do I bring to the moment of birth
and not give delivery?” says Hashem.
“Do I close up the womb
when I bring to delivery?” says your G-d.
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her,
all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 66:7-11
“Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion,
like a woman in labor,
for now you must leave the city
to camp in the open field.
You will go to Babylon;
there you will be rescued.
There Hashem will redeem you
out of the hand of your enemies.” –Micah 4:10
Who is this woman? The answer is undeniably, “Ethnic Israel” the Jewish people. She is NOT the extended Israel of post replacement theology rhetoric (now known as Extentionism, Supersessionism and so on). She is NOT the Church as spiritual Israel. She is ethnic Israel. Anyone who says otherwise is perpetuating a satanic lie that has defiled the Church for far too long. They bring judgement on themselves.
It’s worth noting that up till this point The Woman (Ethnic Israel) hasn’t given birth. This means that she currently represents ethnic Israel prior to the birth of the Messiah.
3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon (Taniym/devourer, tormentor) having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven crowns.
The second sign, the Dragon is Satan (The Adversary). His appearance in the heavens (the second heaven, not the third heaven from which He was originally cast out), denotes his role as prince of the air (Ephesians 2:2).
The red colour of the dragon symbolizes torment and intent to destroy and torture. The whore and beast of Revelation 17: 3-4 are also red/scarlet for the same reason. The colour red is associated to the Hebrew name, “Edom” which literally means, “Red” and is born of the root Adamah (earth). Esau, who is called Edom because of his sin in despising his birth rite (Genesis 25:30), is known for his rebellion against G-d and his offspring become the objects of G-d’s judgement (Isaiah 34:5-6), thus the Dragon is seen as one who resists the purposes of G-d.
In keeping with the underlying Exodus narrative, Yochanan is also alluding to Pharaoh’s role in seeking to enslave and destroy Israel:
“Speak, and say, Thus says HaShem Elohim (G-d); Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of
Egypt, the great dragon (Taniym) that lies in the midst of his rivers, which has said, My river is mine
own, and I have made it for myself.” –Ezekiel 29:3 (See also 32:2)
There are also a number of other passages from the Tanakh that refer to the Dragon and associate him with other symbolically evil beings such as Leviathan and Rahav (Psalm 74:13-14; Job 26:12-13; Isaiah 27:1).
The seven heads and ten horns symbolize authority and established rule (temporary). This corresponds to the beast with ten horns in Daniel’s vision:
“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns.” –Daniel 7:7
“He gave me this explanation: ‘The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.” –Daniel 7:23-24
The dragon therefore will be the power behind a future (fourth) kingdom that will have ten kings/rulers representing a unified government and complete power of the kingdoms of the world (as opposed to the kingdom of G-d). The number of heads not only represents the completeness of the Dragon’s evil nature but also the fact that he is difficult to kill, each head defending the others.
4 And his tail sweeps away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
The Greek is present tense, “sweeps”. This indicates what the dragon does rather than what he has done. Therefore this is not a reference to Satan’s original casting out of the third heaven (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:11-15), but a reference to the battle in the heavens that will be further explained in verses 7-9. Daniel 8:10 attributes this action to the little horn of his vision.
The stars are the dragon’s messengers, who number a third of the messengers of the heavens (angels are likened to stars in a number of biblical passages including Isaiah 14:11-15). In metaphorical terms this shows how little power Satan has in relationship to the remaining angelic host, not to mention his miniscule position when standing before the G-d of creation.
His tail sweeps the stars away because it’s in the wake of his defeat that his messengers fall. Both Satan and his messengers have become the tail and not the head, what power was allowed him in the second heaven has now been taken from him. This is the last descent prior to his judgement, he is now bound on earth within its atmosphere (the outer limit of the first heaven).
And the Dragon (Taniym/devourer) stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.
The woman, represented by Miriyam (of Judah), is about to birth the Messiah Yeshua. Like Pharaoh before him, Herod sought to devour Israel’s Messiah (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:13-18).
Satan has sought to devour ethnic Israel from her conception, he continues this act of rebellion by seeking to prevent her reconciliation through Messiah. He will be found wanting, unable to affect a victory.
5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to G-d and to His throne.
Yochanan leaves no room for confusion, the child is a, “son” and a, “male”. He is described using the Messianic title, “shepherd all the nations with a rod of iron” meaning that he has been given absolute authority of creation by G-d Himself, to be the Shepherd of all nations. This is of course a quote from the Tanakh:
“I will surely tell of the decree of HaShem:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’” –Psalm 2:7-9
Unlike the tyrants of earth, Messiah will shepherd the nations with the iron rod of firm justice. The shepherd uses a rod to fight off the enemies of the sheep and bring them to submission. For the sheep on the other hand, He uses a staff (Crook) to guide them and in cases of danger, to hook them around the neck and pull them free.
There is no doubt that the child is the Messiah Yeshua. Yochanan sees no need to describe every detail of His life, after all he is relaying a sign/parable and not a detailed account of the life of Messiah. Thus Yochanan shows the earthly birth and ascension of the Messiah, summing up His earthly ministry from start to ascent. Of course Yeshua’s earthly ministry is not yet complete, He is coming to reign.
It is of note that the Son is caught up to the third heaven and the throne of HaShem, He plays no direct part in the events that follow, which occur in the second heaven. This is yet another affirmation of the Almighty G-d and His power, so far beyond that of the devil, that He need not exert Himself in defeating the evil one.
6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by G-d, so that there they would nourish her for one thousand two hundred and sixty days (3 ½ years, 42 months).
This exodus of sorts mirrors the type set for it in the Exodus from Egypt, however it’s not the exodus from Egypt because the Messiah has been born. Therefore it first conveys the escape to Egypt of Miriyam, Joseph and Yeshua following Herod’s attempt to kill the baby Yeshua (Matthew 2:13-14), and secondly the dispersion of ethnic Israel into the nations following the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
Notice that the purpose of this wilderness experience is nourishment. The Greek text says, “they” would nourish her”. The “they” in this case is G-d the Father, Son and Ruach Ha-Kodesh. We know from the unveiling of this sign/parable in verse 14, that the 1260 days is a time, times and half a time, which is an undetermined metaphorical period that began at the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and continues till this day.
7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon (Taniym/tormentor).
Verse seven begins the unveiling or explanation of the sign/parable of verses 1-6. We are first shown the guardian warrior of Israel in the heavenly realms, Michael (Who is like G-d? 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Yehudah 9). He has a history of defending ethnic Israel and warring on her behalf in the name of HaShem; he continues this role here in the final conflict of the heavenly realms.
In Daniel 10:21 Gabriel (Mighty One of G-d) tells Daniel about, “Your prince”, Michael (Who is like G-d?). “Your” is plural referring to ethnic Israel. Michael is the guardian of Israel who fights alongside Gabriel for her good according to the will of HaShem, the G-d of Israel.
“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the children of your people (Ethnic Israel), will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people (Ethnic Israel), everyone who is found written in the book (Rev. 20:15; Matthew 24:21), will be delivered.” –Daniel (The L-rd is my Judge) 12:1
The Dragon (Taniym/devourer, tormentor) and his messengers waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.
Satan had been cast out of the third heaven (Ezekiel 28:12-19; Isaiah 14:11-15) but had been allowed to come before G-d in the second heaven to accuse the sons and daughters of HaShem. Now, following the birth, death and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua, the Devil is about to be cast out of the second heaven as well. This means that Satan was cast from the second heaven following the ascension of Messiah over two thousand years ago and has since been seeking to destroy ethnic Israel and her offspring. However, as we will soon read, his time is short.
The Dragon is not even strong enough to defeat one third of G-d’s heavenly armies.
9 And the great Dragon (Taniym, tormentor) was thrown down, the serpent (Nachash/tempter, deceiver) of old (Genesis 3) who is called the Devil (Slanderer) and Satan (Accuser), who deceives (Tempter) the whole earth; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
This verse describes the Dragon from beginning to end, the various names used convey aspects of the Devil’s character, and each attribute is reflected in the evil actions of the Adversary of G-d’s people.
a.) Dragon: The Tanakh conveys this title by comparing the evil one to animals that metaphorically represent the actions of the Dragon:
1.) Rahav: Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 39:10; Job 26:13
2.) Leviathan: Isaiah 27:1; Psalm 74:14; 104:26; Job 41:1-34
3.) Behemot: Job 40:15-24
4.) Tanym: Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 74:13; Job 7:12
b.) Serpent: Nachash, present in the Garden of Eden, a tempter and deceiver (Genesis 3)
c.) Devil: Greek, “Diabolos” means slanderer or accuser, which corresponds to the Hebrew Satan (Accuser) Job 1-2
d.) Satan: Adversary/Accuser
e.) Deceiver (of the world) Rev. 20:2-3
f.) The Accuser of our brothers: Satan continues to falsely accuse the Jewish people today and extends his accusations against the Messianic Jewish and Gentile believers
The Greek is correctly translated, “earth” here because the context denotes a counterpoint to the heavens.
Yeshua reflects on this event (and perhaps the original casting out of Satan) in Luke 10:18.
On earth Satan continues his temporary role as devourer, deceiver, accuser, tempter and adversary:
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” –1 Peter 5:8
10 Then I heard a loud throng (voices) in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our G-d and the authority of His Messiah have come, for the Accuser (Satan) of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, he who accuses (satan) them before our G-d day and night.
The text uses the plural, “our” therefore the heavenly voice is in fact heavenly voices joined in unity. This unified throng are the messengers/angels of HaShem. We know this because the martyrs are not in heaven but beneath the altar in Avraham’s bosom. Some have said angels wouldn’t call believers their brothers and sisters, however Revelation 22:9 suggests that angels consider righteous human beings to be fellow servants of HaShem, which denotes a type of sibling connection in Messiah.
The only thing that can silence the accusations of Satan is the death and resurrection of Messiah. Those who have accepted this gift of salvation through the washing of Yeshua’s sacrificial and life giving blood can no longer be accused because the blood of Messiah has both covered and removed their sin, past, present and future.
“31 What then shall we say to these things? If G-d is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against G-d’s elect? It is G-d who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Messiah who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of G-d, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” –Romans 8:31-36
11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
The brothers and sisters of faith who are being proclaimed by the throng are spoken of in the past tense as having overcome, not by their own strength but because of the sacrificial death and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua (The Male Son and Shepherd), and because they did not relent in bearing witness to His saving work. They were martyred “Al Kiddush Hashem”, to sanctify The Name of G-d.
Martyrdom, contrary to the modern Islamic lie, is not the act of intentionally killing yourself for a holy purpose, rather it is the act of holding to your commitment to Messiah in the face of death. The former is the sinful action of one who puts G-d to the test, the latter is the righteous action of one who values life but considers eternal life in Messiah to be of greater value. For an example of true martyrdom see Acts 7:59-60.
12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them.
That is the angelic host of HaShem.
Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil (Slanderer) has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
Satan has always known he could not continue to resist G-d forever, however in this event he sees that his power has been diminished further and that the next step down for him will be into eternal punishment (20:10). Therefore he realizes that he has little time left and is utterly and helplessly angry, resulting in wrath toward all creation.
13 And when the Dragon (Taniym/tormentor, devourer) saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. 14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the face of the serpent (Nachash/tempter, deceiver).
Though Satan continues to persecute Ethnic Israel he is not allowed to destroy her completely. G-d Himself protects her and keeps her as a remnant for the sake of His Own Great Name. Ethnic Israel is lifted up on the wings of, “The” great eagle, representing G-d Himself.
“Like an eagle that stirs up her nest,
That hovers over her young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.
Hashem alone guided him (Ethnic Israel),
And there was no foreign god with him (Ethnic Israel).” –Deuteronomy 32:11-12
Notice that this act of protection, strength and deliverance is a feminine act of G-d, He is seen here as a mother protecting her young.
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.” –Exodus 19:4
“Yet those who wait for HaShem will renew their strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 40:31
Notice that she (Ethnic Israel) will experience a time of nourishment and protection away from the fierce anger of the Serpent. Some see a yet to be future physical protection of ethnic Israel.
15 And the Serpent (Nachash/tempter, deceiver) spewed water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. 16And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon (Taniym/tormentor) spewed out of his mouth.
The spewing forth of water by the Serpent is an act of persecution toward Ethnic Israel and at the same time an act of obstinate rebellion against G-d. The name, “Serpent” is used to connect this act to the Serpent of Genesis who births rebellion on the earth. The Serpent sees the correlation to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and attempts to counteract the miracle of the Red sea by drowning Israel as she escapes the bondage and threats of the enemy. However, the earth herself is employed by G-d to consume the waters, thus emulating the escape from Egypt and causing Israel to once again come to deliverance through a symbolic immersion like that of the Red sea. One might also see an attempt by the evil one to make a pretence of foiling G-d’s promise to never again destroy the land with a flood, regardless, his attempt is thwarted.
17 So the Dragon (Taniym/tormentor) was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the Instructions of G-d and hold to the evidence of Yeshua.
If the Greek, “entole” is to be understood as Torah, then the rest of the woman’s (Ethnic Israel’s) children are Messianic Jews. They, “keep the Torah (Instructions) of G-d and hold to the evidence of Yeshua”. However, in John 13:34 Yeshua uses the same term to describe His commandment to love and in Matthew 12:28-31 Yeshua uses entole to explain the two commandments that are the sum of the Torah and a guide for every believer, therefore it seems reasonable to interpret the present passage to refer to all followers of the Messiah Yeshua who have been spiritually born of Ethnic Israel through the Ethnic Jewish G-d Messiah Yeshua. This does not mean that the Church is Israel, to the contrary it shows a clear distinction between Ethnic Israel (The Woman) and those who are spiritually born. Israel continues to have a G-d given ethnic imperative to exist as a separate entity from the nations, this is essential to the outworking of G-d’s kingdom on earth. The alternative would make G-d a liar. Thank G-d, “Who cannot lie” (Titus 1:1-3) that ethnic Israel remains and will remain at His coming! Am Y’srael Chai! Baruch HaShem!
The dragon stood on the seashore.
In order to call forth the two beasts (13:1, 11).
© Alastair Brown 2015
It’s important to note that throughout the Tanakh and within rabbinical thought, numbers are seen as having both literal and metaphorical meaning. There is no need therefore to hold extreme positions where we require numbers to always be metaphorical or on the other hand always literal.
An examination of Revelation 11.
Revelation 11:1-14 both continues and concludes the interlude of the previous chapter in preparation for the blowing of the seventh shofar, which is the catalyst for the reign of G-d and His Messiah on earth.
This chapter of Revelation takes us from a place of preparation in anticipation of the seventh shofar, to an overview of the remainder of the book of Revelation. From verse 11 onward the writer changes to the past tense, as if all these things had already happened, however, with the exception of the anti-Messiah Antiochus Epiphanes (215 BCE – 164 BCE), there is no correlation to past events. Yochanan is speaking of events that will happen in his future with such assurance that he considers them to have already happened. This certainty is born of the consuming of the scroll and the subsequent stomach ache. Yochanan now continues with the task of prophesying according to the command of G-d through the voices of the thunders.
Seeing this chapter as a synopsis of the remainder of the book helps us to understand its role as a summary of future events and eliminates confusion over the tense usage and the chronology of the reign of G-d and His Messiah on earth.
a.) Verses 1-2: Yochanan is tasked with measuring the earthly temple (3rd physical earthly temple) with the exclusion of the court of the Nations. This is symbolic of G-d’s protection of the temple service and the Jewish people in the last days.
b.) Verses 3-6: The preaching of the two witnesses who come to challenge Israel and the world. Their subsequent deaths, followed by a miraculous resurrection, are the catalyst for the redemption of the remnant of Israel (The Jews, ethnic Romans 11:25).
c.) Verses 7-10: Details the first mention of the Beast and his emergence from the abyss. He is allowed a temporary victory, resulting in the death of the two witnesses.
d.) Verses 14-19: A first outline of the final triumph of the Messiah and the initial part of His reign. We then observe the rising up of the nations and their defeat, the judgement of the dead and the final establishment of G-d’s kingdom and of His Anointed One Yeshua the Messiah.
These events are explained succinctly here as an outline for the remainder of the book of Revelation.
11:1 Then there was given me a measuring reed like a staff (approx. half a metre); and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of G-d and the altar, and those who worship at it. 2 Leave out the outer court of the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread underfoot the holy city for forty-two months (3 ½ years).
The meaning and symbolism of the act of measuring is found in the visions of the prophets Ezekiel, Zechariah and Amos (Ezekiel 40:3-6; Zechariah 2:1-5; Amos 7:7-9).
“In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was taken, on that same day the hand of HaShem was upon me and He brought me there. 2 In the visions of G-d He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city. 3 So He brought me there; and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a line of flax and a measuring reed in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway.” –Ezekiel 40:1-3
Ezekiel’s vision of measuring took place while he was in exile with the house of Israel, as a promise of future restoration. Yochanan is in the same position, exiled on Patmos while the remainder of Israel has fled the land of Israel following the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Rome (70 AD). Yochanan’s vision, like Ezekiel’s, is a promise of restoration, both physical and spiritual (eternal).
“Thus He showed me, and behold, Hashem was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. 8 HaShem said to me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then HaShem said, ‘Behold I am about to put a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel.
I will spare them no longer.
9 “The high places of Isaac will be desolated
And the sanctuaries of Israel laid waste.
Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’” –Amos 7:7-8
Amos’s vision prophesies destruction and desolation against Israel.
“Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 So I said, “Where are you going?” And he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is.” 3 And behold, the messenger who was speaking with me was going out, and another messenger was coming out to meet him, 4 and said to him, “Run, speak to that young man, saying, ‘Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. 5 For I’ declares HaShem, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” –Zechariah 2:1-5
Zechariah’s vision speaks of protection and of G-d coming to dwell among His people. G-d Himself will be a wall of fiery protection around Jerusalem.
Therefore measuring is used in a number of ways in the Tanakh:
1.) It’s used in preparation for destruction and desolation.
2.) It’s used in preparation for building and restoration.
3.) It’s used to designate an area and its people for protection and reconciliation.
While it’s true to say that all three meanings find some correlation in the events that follow, the primary meaning here is linked to the sealing of Rev. 7:2-3, which is a sealing of protection and identification (of the Jewish people) as a precursor to Israel’s reconciliation to G-d. Yochanan is instructed to measure the designated area of G-d’s protection over those who are faithful among the Jewish people. This is further inferred by the instruction not to measure the court of the nations which refers to those who resist both G-d and His purposes for His chosen people Israel (ethnic), the Jewish people.
Notice that the prophet is commanded to measure not only the temple and the altar (of sacrifice) but also those who worship at it. The purpose of the measurement is not to protect stone buildings but to defend the people (here specifically Jews who will become Messianic following the testimony of the two witnesses, their death, resurrection and ascension) who will become part of the body of Yeshua’s temple, both individually and corporately.
The, “someone” who gives Yochanan the measuring reed is most likely the Mighty Messenger of Revelation 10, Who is the nearest humanoid representative of HaShem in the text. A Messenger is inferred by the correlation to Ezekiel’s vision, where a man/messenger brings a measuring reed and is seen standing at the Temple gate:
“Behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a levelling line
of string made from flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.” –Ezekiel
The Psalmist speaks of the declaration of the glory of G-d as a measuring line that reveals the Word of G-d. This links the measuring of the Temple to the Messiah, Who is Himself the goal of the Torah (Romans 10:4) and the living Word made manifest.
“Their (The heavens) measuring line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of
the world. In them hath He (G-d) set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of
his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run his course. His going forth is from the end of the
heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. The
Instruction of HaShem is perfect, restoring the soul: the testimony of HaShem is sure, making wise
the simple. The precepts of HaShem are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of HaShem is
pure, illuminating the eyes. The fear (Awe) of HaShem is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of
HaShem are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much
fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is Your servant warned: in
keeping of them there is great reward.” –Tehilim/Psalm 19:4-11
The Temple of Verses 1-2:
The temple of verses 1-2 is the third earthly temple which has yet to be built. At some point in the future Israel will have re-established the sacrificial system, hence the text refers to the altar of sacrifice which is to be measured by Yochanan. The fact that this is an earthly temple is also qualified by the trampling of the outer court by the nations (Something that doesn’t occur in the heavens). This should not be confused with the time of the nations spoken of by Yeshua (Luke 21:24), which covers the last several thousand years since the destruction of the temple by Rome in 70 AD. In the context of Luke 21:24 Yeshua gives no reference to the number 42 months or to any of its correlations (3 ½ years, 1260 days, time, times and half a time).
The present context uses the phrasing 42 months rather than the idiom, “time, times and half a time” (Daniel 7:25, 12:7), because the text is describing a literal 42 months of rather than a metaphorical period. A metaphorical interpretation is unlikely because there has been no temple in Jerusalem for thousands of years, nor does the Church (who are referred to individually—1 Corinthians 6:19—and corporately—1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21—as the temple) qualify as the temple of verses 1-2, because the context shows a sacrificial practice (something that from a Messianic perspective, was spiritually completed at the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Messiah). Additionally, there is a clear distinction made between the temple and it’s worshippers (Who we understand as being located in the land of Israel) and the Gentiles (not Jews); these distinctions are almost exclusively made throughout Scripture to show Israel (ethnic) as separate from the unbelieving nations (Gentile Christians don’t qualify for either group). It is also of worth noting that unlike the following chapter where the allegorical symbolism is called a, “sign”, the present text simply records an ongoing conversation with G-d (through His emissary). Therefore this temple is not metaphorical or allegorical. We know that Yochanan is referring to a temple yet to be built because the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed some 20 years prior to the writing of the Revelation. This makes sense because like the prophet Zechariah, Yochanan is in exile with the knowledge that the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed.
It’s important to note that throughout the Tanakh and within rabbinical thought, numbers (in this case, 42 months, 1260 days, 3 ½ days) are seen as having both literal and metaphorical meaning. There is no need therefore to hold extreme positions where we require numbers to always be metaphorical or on the other hand always literal. The context itself will qualify the correct interpretive method for the number in question. This is why we interpret the same number used in verse 3 (1260 days) to be metaphorical in the following chapter. It’s the prophetic platform and the greater meaning behind it (3 ½ is half complete—7) that links the various forms of the number 3 1/2, rather than their interpretation.
A wider understanding of the temple as a physical entity and a spiritual concept is helpful for contextualizing events in order to come to a logical interpretive conclusion.
The temples mentioned in the Scriptures are as follows:
1.) Solomon’s temple 1st (1 Kings 5-8)
2.) Z’rubabel’s temple 2nd (Haggai 1-2; Ezra 3:4-13)
3.) Herod’s temple, known as the rebuilt second temple (Matthew 21:21, 24:1-2; John 2:19-20)
4.) A future physical temple in the days of the Anti-Messiah, this is the temple referred to in verses 1 and 2 (Daniel 9:27, 11:45, 12:7; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1-2)
5.) A future temple in the days of the Messiah (Ezekiel 40-48; Zechariah 6:12-15)
6.) The heavenly temple (Rev. 7:15, 11:19, 14:15-17, 16:17)
The noun temple is also used figuratively in Scripture:
1.) The community of believers (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21)
2.) The physical body of a believer (1 Corinthians 6:19)
3.) G-d and the Lamb in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22)
The picture of the nations defiling the temple and trampling on Jerusalem is a familiar one:
“O G-d, the nations have invaded Your inheritance;
They have defiled Your holy temple;
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.” –Psalm 79:1
“Your holy people (Ethnic Israel) possessed Your sanctuary for a little while,
Our adversaries have trodden it down.” –Isaiah 63:18
Speaking of the abuse that the nations will bring against Israel Yeshua says:
“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the nations until the times of the nations are fulfilled.” –Luke 21:24
This has been Israel’s experience perpetually through the centuries, however, in the present text we are reading about specific future event, a time when the opportunity for salvation among the people of the nations has come to an end. This is also the time Shaul/Paul spoke of when he said, “a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the nations has come in then the whole of Israel (ethnic Jews) will be saved.” Romans 11:25.
The trampling of the outer court and the city of Jerusalem may be a reference to the Anti-Messiah Antiochus Epiphanes who, along with his army, imposed great suffering upon the holy city and her people for approximately three and a half years circa 168-165 BCE. These are events that Yochanan was all too familiar with, events that were celebrated by Israel during the extra biblical feast of Chanukah (Feast of Dedication). One of the customs of this celebration is the giving of gifts to celebrate the destruction of Antiochus and his tormenting of the people of the land (Eretz Israel). The practices of Chanukah illuminate 11:10, where we see people of the land (of Israel), Jews, celebrating the deaths of the witnesses who had tormented Israel by giving gifts. The 3 ½ year historical reign of Antiochus doesn’t negate the future fulfilment of a final desecration of this type. Hebrew prophecy has a cyclical rhythm that allows for repeated fulfilments.
The three and a half year period is half of seven and symbolizes the inability of the nations to complete their goal of destroying G-d’s people and their worship practices. This number corresponds to the 1260 days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6), which is 30 days x 42 (According to the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar) and is also linked to the idiom, “time (1 year), times (2 years) and half a time (6 months)” of Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 (Rev. 12:14).
The number 42 is the number of the encampments of Israel in the wilderness, that is, Israel camped in 42 places during their sojourn (Numbers 33:5), it’s therefore a symbol of a temporary sojourn that envisions an eternal promise, that being the future time when G-d will dwell with His people in the New Jerusalem. That temple is outside of time and space and is revealed in the final verses of this present chapter, a temple that is G-d Himself.
Therefore the Daniel passage is the marker for qualifying the meaning, both literal and metaphorical, of the length of time for the trampling of the holy city by the nations, the prophesying of the two witnesses, the woman’s stay in the wilderness, and the Beast’s limited exercising of authority. All of these events leave the power of the enemy insufficient and fallen far short of the completion found in the number representing G-dly perfection and fulfilment (seven).
3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days (3 ½ years of 30 day months), clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the L-rd of the land.
The two witnesses are commonly thought to either be a metaphor for the Tanakh (OT) and the Gospels (NT), or the literal return of Elijah and Moses. However, both interpretations have their problems. A metaphorical reading can’t answer the death and resurrection of the two witnesses, nor can it properly qualify the subsequent conversion of those who see these events. With regard to the literal interpretation Moses doesn’t qualify for this role because the witnesses are killed and the Scriptures allow for a human being to die only once prior to the judgement (Hebrews 9:27, yes, even Lazarus died eventually and will be judged). We know the two witnesses did not come down from heaven like the messengers of previous chapters, however we’re not told where the two witnesses come from. We are told that they are reflected in the two olive trees of Zechariah’s vision and in the Menorot that stand before the L-rd of the land, which is a reference to the title given to HaShem (Zechariah 4:2, 3, 14).
Zechariah 2-4 show that the two olive trees are the, “anointed ones” (The two anointed positions in Israel are that of King and Priest: where a King was not in power the Governor of the time held the anointed position that a king would usually hold), those being Joshua the High Priest and Z’rubabel the governor of Israel (Haggai 2:2) who lived at the time of the return from exile and the building of the 2nd temple (Ezra 5:1-6:16). Joshua the High Priest is a type for Messiah (G-d with us) and it’s worth noting that Z’rubabel, whose name means, “pressed out for anointing” was absent from the story of the dedication of the 2nd temple (Ezra 6:16). These two figures died and were buried and are therefore types for the two witnesses rather than the witnesses themselves.
The symbolism of the olive trees is clear, the trees provide the oil for the temple Menorah and that oil is produced by the crushing of the olives. The two witnesses will be crushed (killed) and as a result will act as a catalyst for the provision of oil (The Ruach ha-Kodesh Holy Spirit) for the living temple Menorah of the people of Israel (ethnic Jews). There are two Menorot because having yet to die the witnesses have dwelt with Yeshua (outside of time) in the reflected light of HaShem’s heavenly Menorah (That is the sevenfold Spirit of G-d Himself) and having been given a ministry of witness on earth to the Jewish people they also reflect the earthly Menorah of the Jewish temple.
The two witnesses are clearly two literal people who, at G-d’s command, will become prominent as preachers in Jerusalem in the last days. We’ve determined that Moses can’t be one of the two witnesses. We’ve also agreed that the two witnesses must be human beings who have not yet tasted death. This leaves only two possibilities, Enoch (Dedication: Genesis 5:21-124; Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (My G-d is YHVH: 2 Kings 2:1, 9-12).
The names of these two men correspond with the anointed olive trees of Zechariah’s vision in this way:
Enoch, whose name means, “dedication” stands in the place of Z’rubabel, who was not able to be present at the dedication of the 2nd Temple. This is a redemptive undertaking on the part of Enoch.
Elijah, whose name means, “My G-d is YHVH” is surely a representative of the Messiah, “YHVH with us”. He is also said to come before the return of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6).
5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
While it’s true that G-d can manifest any miracle He chooses in the lives of His servants, it’s unlikely that the fire from the mouths of the witnesses is literal fire. There is no physical correlation with any of the miracles of the prophets or the miracles of Yeshua. The one Scriptural reference that best identifies the fire from the witness’s mouths is found in the book of the prophet Jeremiah:
“Therefore, thus says HaShem, the G-d of hosts,
‘Because you have spoken this word,
Behold, I am making My words in your mouth fire
And this people wood, and it will consume them.’” –Jeremiah 5:14
Therefore, the fire is the word of G-d’s judgement in the mouths of the witnesses and those who seek to harm them fall prey to the hand of G-d’s wrath as spoken by the witnesses. Meaning they may die in many different ways based on the judgements spoken against them by G-d’s word in the mouths of the witnesses.
6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the land (eretz) with every plague, as often as they desire.
The ability to shut up the sky and prevent rain reflects the miraculous works of G-d through the prophet Elijah and the ability to turn the water to blood and strike the land with plagues refers back yet again to the plagues of Egypt (the land of bondage). These miraculous powers are important because they reflect the miracles that were intended to bring Israel to repentance and deliver her from bondage.
The fact that the miracles performed by Moses are mentioned does not in itself qualify Moses as a witness. Similar miracles are referred to in the previous chapters, those being delivered by angels (who are clearly not Moses). The purpose of the correlation to the miracles of Egypt is not to identify Moses (who died and was buried and is therefore awaiting the resurrection), but to remind the reader that the subplot of Messiah’s revelation is the freeing of Israel from bondage to slavery in Egypt, here shown as slavery to sin.
7 When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their L-rd was crucified.
There will be a set time for the testimony of the two witnesses and they will not be harmed until they’re finished, it is G-d that determines the time. The Beast, who, like the demonic hordes before him comes up out of the abyss, seems to be the same as the Anti-Messiah/Son of perdition (1 John 1:7, 2:18-19, 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Rev. 13:1-18; 14:8-11). This makes sense because the Beast’s form is spiritual from the Abyss and inhabits the humanoid form of the Anti-Messiah who is a physical person.
The death of the two witnesses is marked by the desecration of their bodies. Jewish tradition requires prompt burial, the leaving of the bodies on the land is considered by Jewish tradition to bring a curse on the land. Added to this is the fact that these events are taking place in Jerusalem, the holy city, where Jews are living and looking on, thus compounding the effect of the desecration. This is the type of treatment given to false prophets and vile rulers. The blood of these tzidikim (righteous ones) cries out to HaShem from the ground (Genesis 4:10: Deut. 21:1-9).
The city of Jerusalem, “where also their L-rd was crucified” is figuratively likened to Sodom and Egypt. This is a reference to the sinful, debauched lifestyle of many in Israel and the bondage that it brings them under.
Isaiah the prophet rebukes Israel with these words from G-d:
“Hear the word of HaShem,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the instruction of our G-d,
You people of Gomorrah.” –Isaiah 1:10
While the phrase, “their L-rd was crucified” could refer to the two witnesses, it’s more likely that it refers to the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem, in other words, the Jewish people.
9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.
The Gentiles who are present in Jerusalem will prevent any would be faithful Jews from burying the bodies (This brings to mind the Hassidim who collect body parts from the land following suicide bombings in Israel, in order to honour both G-d and the bodies of the victims).
10 And those who dwell in the land (Eretz Israel-Jews) will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the land.
The Greek, “ge” meaning, “soil, region, land, earth” is best rendered in terms of its Hebrew equivalent, “eretz” meaning, “land” and in this context refers specifically to, “Eretz Israel”, the Land of Israel.
A distinction is made here between the Gentiles of the previous verse and the Jews of the land. This is why the phrase, “those who dwell in the land” is used, it is synonymous with the Jewish people. The Am ha-aretz (people of the land). This means that many Jews will celebrate the deaths of what they perceive to be false prophets because of the plagues and resulting torment that the witnesses have prophesied over the land of Israel in order to bring her to repentance. This emulates the extra Biblical celebration of Chanukah, where gift giving is prominent. Remembering that Yochanan wrote in the first century AD, we must be careful not to attach modern Arab customs to this section of the text.
11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from G-d came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. 12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. 13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the G-d of heaven.14 The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
“The breath of life from G-d” is a reference to the creation of Adam (Genesis 2:7). This is significant because G-d is about to bring to completion a new creation, which is secured in the Olam Habah (World to come).
“Then HaShem G-d formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” –Genesis 2:7
The resurrection of the witnesses causes great fear in their enemies because it demonstrates the reigning power and authority of G-d (1 Corinthians 2:14, 4:20, 6:14, 15:54-57). The ascension of the witnesses in the clouds reflects their Messiah’s ascension (Acts 1:9-11) and affirms their connection to Yeshua, Who Israel had mourned (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7). It’s also interesting to note that the 3 ½ days corresponds to the 3 ½ years of Messiah’s earthly ministry.
This resurrection miracle and the signs from G-d that follow are the catalyst for the redemption of Israel (Jews, ethnic) which was prophesied by Shaul/Paul the Apostle in Romans 11:25. Notice how the response of the people of the land (Jews) differs from that of the pagan nations of Rev. 9:20-21. The people of Israel understand these events to be signs from G-d and give Him glory as an act of contrition and repentance.
The phrase, “gave glory to G-d” is only used in Revelation to describe those who are either already in or are coming in to right relationship with G-d (Revelation 1:6; 4:9; 11; 5;12-13; 7:12; 15:4; 19:1, 7).
This mass repentance of the Jewish nation will dissolve the blindness of centuries of Jewish objection to Yeshua’s status as Messiah and will usher in the resurrection of the dead, the judgement and the Olam Habah (World to come).
The phrase, “coming quickly” is a reference back to Rev. 10:6, which tells us that following the sounding of the seventh shofar time will be up, “there will be time no more”.
15 Then the seventh messenger sounded (the seventh shofar); and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our L-rd and of His Messiah; and He will reign forever and ever.”
The Messianic kingdom promised at Revelation 1:5-8 and 6:10 is now being made manifest. The judgements and other events that bring about the overthrow of the world system begin here and continue through chapter 19, coming to a head at Revelation 19:6 with the words, “Hallelujah, HaShem the G-d of Heavens armies has begun His reign!”
16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before G-d, fell on their faces and worshiped G-d, 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O L-rd (YHVH - Merciful) G-d (Elohim - Judge), the Almighty (Shaddai – Guardian of Israel), Who is and Who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
The cry of the 24 elders differs from their former praises in that they have removed the, “and is to come” from the Hebrew idiom denoting G-d’s eternal nature. This is because, “He has come” and, “there is time no more”, therefore He is and was!
The phrase, “Have begun to reign” doesn’t mean that G-d was not already King of the Universe, it simply refers to the manifest reign of G-d’s Kingdom on earth and the restoration of all things.
18 And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the set apart ones and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the land (Ha-eretz Israel).”
Verse 18 is a drash on Psalm 2 juxtaposing the wrath of G-d against the futile wrath of the nations who rage against Him and His people Israel (ethnic). The final phrase doesn’t refer to those who destroy the earth but to those who destroy the land of Israel (Eretz Israel).
“Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against HaShem and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
HaShem scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” –Psalm 2:1-6
19 And the temple of G-d which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.
This temple is the original form upon which the earthly temple (mentioned in verses 1-2) is modelled. The Ark of the Covenant is the symbol of G-d’s covenant promises to Israel and the representation of His guidance, mercy, glory and presence with her.
The earthly Ark (Exodus 25:10-22; Hebrews 9:4-5) is thought to have either been moved by Shishak King of Egypt or destroyed by the Babylonians, however, extra Biblical Jewish tradition says that it’s, “Hidden in its place” –Talmud, Yoma 53b
It is recorded that when the first Temple was destroyed, either Jeremiah (2 Maccabees 2:4-8) or an angel/messenger (2 Baruch 6:5-10) rescued the ark with its pot of manna, and both the ark and the manna are being kept for the days of the Messiah, when G-d’s people will eat manna once again.
The sighting of the Ark of the Covenant means the revealing of the heavenly holy of holies, which means G-d is revealing His hidden glory. This is an allusion to the fact that G-d is about to fulfil the promise He made through Jeremiah, saying that the people of Israel would no longer yearn for the return of the Ark of the covenant (physical earthly Ark) because G-d Himself would live among them.
“It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land (Ha-eretz Israel),” declares HaShem, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of HaShem.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of HaShem,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of HaShem; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.” –Jeremiah 3:16-18
The G-d of Israel (ethnic Jews) has come to judge both the Land of Israel and all the earth in power, and unlike Sinai where the mountain was covered in cloud to protect Israel from His glory, this time the entire earth is the mountain and He is appearing with unveiled face. Hence, “there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”
The fullness of His glory will be made known to humanity and we will all stand before His unveiled face. Those who’re in Messiah will experience His radiant glory in the same way a shivering child experiences the warm light of the sun, and those who have rejected G-d will experience His glory like a fiery furnace in a waterless desert.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” –1 Corinthians 13:12
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” –1 Corinthians 13:18
© Alastair Brown 2015
“Surely HaShem G-d does nothing
An examination of Revelation 10.
This chapter, like chapter 7, is a type of interlude. Chapter 7 however, is an intermission that reveals the seed of a plot thread which will find its fulfilment in chapter 14, whereas chapter 10 is more of a preface to the seventh shofar. Both these chapters provide waiting periods for the reader between the sixth and seventh elements (Seals, Shofrot), showing the need for patience in anticipating the revelation of G-d and its completion.
Chapter 7 begins, “After this” whereas chapter 10 begins, “Then”, which emphasises the fact that where chapter seven had stepped out of chronology and into the future, chapter 10 simply pauses within chronology. Unlike chapter 7 which is a self-contained intermission, chapter 10 begins an interlude that lasts until chapter 11:14, at which point the second woe has passed. From 11:15 we are introduced to the transitional seventh shofar and the subsequent future judgements poured out from the 7 bowls.
Regardless of chapter and verse headings—which are not present in the original Greek text—we’re able to appreciate the rhythm of the writing and the purpose of the interludes. We are being prepared for what is coming, anything that remains hidden from us is kept secret for our good and is not for us to search out. The unveiling of Revelation is a gift from Messiah to the Ecclesia, however, even in this unveiling there are things that He gives only to His prophet (Yochanan), and like Shaul/Paul(2 Cor. 12:4), they are things that are between the prophet and his Master alone.
10:1 I saw another mighty (Gibor) messenger coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs (The Greek text reads, “feet-podes”, however Hebrew has one word that combines legs and feet, Raglayim) like pillars of fire;
Like the angel Abbadon, this mighty angel has come down from heaven to serve G-d’s purpose over the earth. However, rather than being given authority, as Abbadon was (an angel receiving permission), this angel clearly has authority. Abbadon was given rule over a single element of the outworking of G-d’s plan, whereas this angel, by placing his feet on land and sea and having come down from heaven, shows that his authority is over all creation.
The phrase, “another mighty angel” is proof in itself that this angel is not the mighty angel of Revelation 5:2 (Who is most likely Gabriel, “My mighty One of G-d”). Therefore we are being presented with another angel who is, “Mighty” but isn’t Gabriel. There are no other angels among the arch angels or the 7 angels of the presence who bear names that denote the title, “Mighty”, therefore we must look elsewhere to determine the identity of this messenger.
One of the keys to identifying this mighty angel (messenger) is in the symbolism presented by his body and clothing. The symbols here offer parallels to Israel’s escape from Egypt.
Clothed with a cloud:
This symbolic clothing has three clear Scriptural meanings:
1. The Cloud of the Angel of HaShem is said to have guided (Exodus 13:21-22) and protected (Exodus 14:19, 24) Israel as she escaped the bondage of Egypt.
2. G-d makes the clouds His chariots (Psalm 104:3).
3. Messiah was engulfed in cloud at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5; 24:30), which reflects the impartation of the Torah at Sinai.
A rainbow was upon his head:
As discussed previously, the rainbow is full of meaning, the primary meaning being that of representing G-d’s covenant promise never again to destroy the earth by flood (Gen. 9:8-13). It is a symbol of the work of the Messiah, Who by His sacrificial death and resurrection has bridged the gap between G-d and humanity. It is also symbolic of the sevenfold Spirit of G-d, being the result of the refraction of white light as it passes through water crystals in the atmosphere.
Ezekiel describes the likeness of the glory of the L-rd like this:
“There was a radiance around Him. 28 As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” –Ezekiel 1:27-28
Thus Ezekiel combines the first two elements of cloud and rainbow.
His face was like the sun:
Practically speaking, the rainbow is caused by the radiant light of the Angel’s face, which shines like the sun, as its rays move through the cloud. Yeshua’s face is said to radiate this way at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2).
His legs like pillars of fire:
Hebrew uses the word, “Raglayim” to denote both legs and feet, context confirms that the Hebrew is the more accurate reading. The Greek text here uses the Greek, “podes” meaning feet, however, feet can’t be, “pillars”, therefore the Hebrew, “Raglayim” is a better choice. This verse is evidence of one of two things: the Greek scribes of the New Testament were either conveying a Hebrew author’s (John) best guess at the Greek equivalent term, or, they were translating a Hebrew original text into Greek. In either case a Hebrew meaning is the intention of the author.
The phrasing, “pillars of fire” is a clear reference to the Exodus:
“HaShem was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” –Exodus 13:21-22
This should be of great comfort to us His people, with whom He is continually present.
We should take note that the fire of the Angel’s legs and feet is symbolic of the affliction of G-d’s Ecclesia (people, both Jew and Gentile) and the refining of His Spirit among them upon the earth.
Israel’s escape from Egypt has been used as a clear foundation for the unravelling of the events of the book of Revelation. We have just read of the many plagues in Revelation that emulate the plagues of Egypt, we now see a figure like that of G-d’s Angel, “Ha-Malakh HaShem”, Who lead Israel from Egypt into the wilderness and protected her from her enemies and her from returning to her old way of life in the land of bondage.
Surely the angel Gabriel received the title, “Mighty” as a reflection of the, “Mighty G-d” whom he serves. Therefore the only other Angel (Messenger) that can bear this title is the Angel of HaShem, Who is the “Malakh shel El-Shaddai”, the Angel of G-d Almighty.
The Angel of HaShem and HaShem Himself are indistinguishable in a number of Tanakh passages (Genesis 16; 22; 24; 32; Exodus 3; Numbers 22; Judges 2; 5; 6; 13 etc.) It seems probable that in many instances in the Tanakh the Angel of HaShem is in fact the manifest presence of the Messiah (acting outside the bonds of time and space). Therefore there is no reason to discount the view that this mighty angel is the Messiah simply because Messiah is not referred to as an angel in the book of Revelation.
“The G-d before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
The G-d who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil,
Bless the boys;” –Genesis 48:15
On the other hand, the Hebrew view holds that the Angel of HaShem or the Angel of HaShem’s presence is a separate entity within the divine court. What is clear is that each of the symbols that make up this angel’s appearance, are direct representations of G-d Himself and denote His presence and participation in the words and actions of this mighty angel. If this angel isn’t Yeshua, he is most certainly the manifest representation of both The Father (G-d) and the Son (Yeshua, G-d with us).
2 and he had in his hand a little scroll which was open.
This scroll is called, “little” for a reason: it’s not the scroll of seven seals but rather a little/small part of the whole story of G-d. This scroll is open to Yochanan and needs not have any seals broken from it. Given that this scroll is taken from the Angel by Yochanan and that what follows is his consuming of it and prophesying to the nations, it seems likely that this scroll contains the writings of Yochanan; those being John’s gospel and the Revelation. This means that Yochanan is to bring to the nations the gospel of repentance and salvation along with the prophetic consequences of refusing it.
He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices.
His right foot on the sea and His left on the land signify His authority over all the earth. His voice is loud because it is heard throughout the earth and even to the heavens where the thunders respond. G-d’s voice is likened to that of a roaring lion throughout the Scriptures (Hosea 11:10; Amos 3:8):
“HaShem roars from Zion
And utters His voice from Jerusalem,
And the heavens and the earth tremble.
But HaShem is a refuge for His people
And a stronghold to the sons of Israel.” –Joel 3:16
Yeshua is the lion of the tribe of Judah, a Messianic title from the Tanakh.
“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open thea]" > book and its seven seals.” –Revelation 5:5
“Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?” –Genesis 49:9
The seven peals of thunder uttered their voices
Both the cloud and the peals of thunder are traditional images from storm theophany (manifest meeting between G-d and man: Psalm 18:6-15; Psalm 29).
There is a direct correlation between the voice of HaShem and the sevenfold thunder, as clearly presented in Psalm 29:
“ The voice of HaShem is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
HaShem is over many waters.
4  The voice of HaShem is powerful,
 The voice of HaShem is majestic.
5  The voice of HaShem breaks the cedars;
Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
And Sirion like a young wild ox.
7  The voice of HaShem hews out flames of fire.
8  The voice of HaShem shakes the wilderness;
HaShem shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9  The voice of HaShem makes the deer to calve
And strips the forests bare;
And in His temple everything says, “Glory!” –Psalm 29:3-9
Therefore, the seven thunders are the voice of The L-rd, G-d of Israel (HaShem).
4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them.”
Yochanan clearly understood and intended to write down what the thunders had spoken, however he is instructed not to write them down, meaning that they are not to be communicated to humanity. While this finds a correlation in the book of Daniel (Daniel 12:4-9), it is different in that there is no indication as to when the things spoken by the thunders will be revealed.
There are times when a prophet receives intimate words from HaShem that are between HaShem and the prophet alone. Shaul/Paul had a similar experience, which is recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:4.
5 Then the messenger whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer,
Here the messenger is compared to the messenger of Daniel 12:
“I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people (Ethnic Israel), all these events will be completed.” –Daniel 12:7
However, what the Angel of Revelation 10 swears is quite different from the oath of the angel of Daniel 12. The Angel of Revelation 10 doesn’t swear concerning a period of waiting (a time, times and half a time), rather He says that, “There will be time no longer”, there will be no further delay, the time is now. That being in the days when the seventh messenger sounds his shofar.
7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh messenger, when he is about to sound (the shofar), then the mystery of G-d is complete, as He preached to His servants the prophets.
The mystery of G-d complete, as preached to His servants the prophets is the fullness of the gospel of Messiah given to all people for the purpose of salvation and judgement. This mystery is established in Messiah and is revealed through Israel (Ethnic) according to Romans 11:25:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Nations has come in;”
Can a mystery be known? Shaul/Paul says it can, “I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery”. This is a promise to Paul’s Jewish brothers and sisters (brethren).
This mystery is further clarified in Romans 11:25-36, 16:25; Ephesians 1:9-10; 3:3-11 and Colossians 1:26-27. The completion of this mystery includes the redemption of the entire remnant of ethnic Israel and the resurrection of the dead (Romans 11:15).
Preached to His servants the prophets: refers to the prophets of the Tanakh who received the gospel in its foundational form to pass on to future generations.
“Surely HaShem G-d does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.” –Amos 3:7
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of G-d rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Messiah as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” –Hebrews 11:24-26
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise;10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is G-d.” –Hebrews 11:8-9
8 Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, “Go, take the scroll which is open in the hand of the messenger who stands on the sea and on the land.” 9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 I took the little scroll out of the messenger’s hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.
The voice from heaven is that of the Father G-d.
The correlation between this text and that of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:8-3:11) is profound, however the prophet Ezekiel is given a scroll that is to be eaten and spoken to the children of Israel, whereas the scroll that Yochanan will consume is to be prophesied to the nations of the earth. The scrolls of both prophets bring a bitter outcome for those who refuse the sweetness of its salvation. The outcome for Israel was to be sent into a bitter but temporary exile, the outcome for those of the earth that reject Yochanan’s message will be a bitter and eternal exile.
The sweetness of the scroll is associated to the Scriptures themselves (Jeremiah 15:16; Ezekiel 2:8-3:3; Psalms 19:10). I’m reminded of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) celebrations, where candy is laid out for the children and following the Torah readings and the celebration dance of the remembrance, the children are invited by the Rabbi, to gather as much candy as they can carry.
“The fear of HaShem is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of Hashem are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.” –Psalm 19:9-10
“How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” –Psalm 119:103
In ancient times we would teach our children the characters of the Hebrew Aleph Beit by writing the letters on a slate using a mixture of flour and honey, if the child identified and pronounced a letter correctly he was allowed to lick the letter from the plate. This was a kinetic, tactile, sensory lesson that was intended to help the child identify the intrinsic value of G-d’s word.
Many today would call the passing on of G-d’s word a manipulative religious practice, however, it’s not manipulation to introduce a child to truth. It’s equally true to say that by failing to teach our children the truth about G-d we leave them vulnerable to being manipulated by others. If radical Islam can teach hatred and secular philosophy can seed doubt, and if the subjective masses are free to allow their children to float unaided in a sea of nihilistic uncertainty, then how much more right do we have as servants of G-d, to teach our children the sweetness of His Word.
Like the gospel itself, the scroll is sweet salvation to those who receive its words and repent and the stench of death to those who refuse the merciful offering of G-d’s grace.
“For we are a fragrance of Messiah to G-d among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life” –2 Corinthians 2:14-17
The prophet Yochanan like many prophets before him, will experience grief and anguish when his words of hope and warning are rejected by the enemies of G-d. Hence the scroll becomes bitter in his stomach.
It’s important to note that Yochanan is told twice to, “take the scroll”. After the first instruction to, “take the scroll” Yochanan approaches the Angel and asks Him to give the scroll to him. The Angel responds, “take it”. The gospel and the calling of G-d are held out to every believer in the open hand of Messiah, however, a drink not drunk will leave us parched, a gift unwrapped will remain a mystery and the unapplied word of G-d will benefit no one. We have been offered the sweet word of HaShem, if we are to speak it, we must first eat it, digest it and allow its energy to strengthen every part of our being.
“The work of G-d is this, to believe in the One Who He has sent.” –Yochanan 6:29
11 And they said to me, “You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
I’ve rendered the opening phrase literally here. “They said to me”, meaning the seven thunders uttered to me; that is, the sevenfold thunderous voices of G-d.
Yochanan has prophesied to Israel and to the Ecclesia (G-d’s people, both Jew and Gentile), he must now prophesy again to the tribes, nations, clans and rulers of the earth (non-believers), the words of redemption and wrath.
“For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; however, mercy triumphs over judgment.” –Yaakov 2:13
© Alastair Brown 2015
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