Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Logic of Christianity 15: Revelation is True until Proven False

As I was working on my Ph.D. thesis at Purdue University, analyzing the Book of Revelation from a Burkean standpoint, a scholar asked me:  “Surely [in this day and age], you don’t still believe in predictive prophecy, do you?”  The answer is: Yes, I do.  This fifteenth blog post in this series is focused on demonstrating that Revelation’s prophecies have been and are coming true. 
As I point out in my book ArguMentor, “Miracles and fulfilled prophecies are proofs that do not necessarily rely on ethos [and, hence, are logical, relying on logos].  However, ACCOUNTS of miracles, absent substantiating evidence, do again rely on ethos.  It is generally advisable in argumentation not to rely excessively on ethos, unless both parties in the dispute are willing to stipulate that the individual (or individuals) being relied on for ethos is in a position to know the truth of a matter.”  How would one go about proving that Paul met Jesus via a Bat Qol, on the road to Damascus?  How would one prove that he survived a venomous snakebite unscathed?  How would one prove that Peter miraculously escaped from prison?  How would one ever prove that Jesus was born of a virgin, or that he walked on water, changed water into wine, fed 5000 with two fish and five loaves of bread, raised Lazarus from the dead, and performed numerous healings?  Conversely, how would one ever disprove those things?  One just has to TRUST the person/s relating the account.  Of course, in the case of the gospel accounts of miracles, apostles and eye witnesses were willing to die instead of recanting their testimonies—if one believes the “accounts” of their deaths.  How would one prove (or disprove) these accounts?
Prophecies, on the other hand, can be tested; they are not substantially reliant on ethos.  We have alluded to some of the prophecies from the Old Testament that point to the coming Christ/Messiah—prophecies that helped to prove Jesus’ messiahship.  We argued, in the post entitled The Logic of Christianity 14:  The Parousia is True until Proven False, that Jesus’ own major prophecy regarding the Parousia should be given the presumption of truth.  So, we now turn to the major book of prophecy in the New Testament to see if it may be given the same presumption of truth.  In Revelation, John predicted:  the Parousia, a seven year war between the Beast and the harlot Babylon divided by two periods of 3 ½ years (“time, times, and half a time”) each, the Fall of Babylon, the Battle of Armageddon, Casting the Beast and False Prophet into the Lake of Fire, Casting the Dragon—chained—into the Abyss for 1000 years, a corresponding 1000 year Reign of Christ and his Followers on Earth, the Release of the Dragon after the 1000 years, the Rise of Gog and Magog, the Battle of Gog and Magog, Casting the Dragon into the Lake of Fire, the Destruction of the Old Heavens and Old Earth, and the Creation of the New Heavens and the New Earth, inhabited by the New Jerusalem.


Before I begin to discuss the fulfillment of these prophecies, I begin with an internal summary of the syllogistic chain I have called the Logic of Christianity.  We are nearing the conclusion of our presentation of the Logic of Christianity.  If as:
1.       The Logic of Christianity 1 observes, “faith” is a logical continuum, stretching all the way from believing that something is “barely possible” to the firm conviction that something is “almost definitely” true, and as:
2.      The Logic of Christianity 2 argues that, in order to build “faith,” we build (rhetorical/logical) arguments in terms of what Aristotle calls a “syllogistic chain,” with one argument built on top of another, and as:
3.      The Logic of Christianity 3 argues, there have been four logical explosions in the history of man, and the Renaissance was the one that began to undo faith in Christianity—culminating in Modernism, which taught us to “doubt” everything (thus, opposing all religious faith)—but that Postmodernism (around 1950) taught us to “doubt” Modernism, thus, leaving us with “faith” in probable truth (and reviving the possibility of religious faith), and as:
4.      The Logic of Christianity 4 argues (as the 4th link in the syllogistic chain), the universe exists as a result of the “action” of an “agent,” and as:
5.      The Logic of Christianity 5 argues, that agent acted using the agency of LOGOS in the formation of the universe, being motivated by both a self-actualization purpose and a social purpose, and as:
6.      The Logic of Christianity 6 argues, the most “logical” contemporarily viable candidate for the agent who formed the universe is the one single god who is acknowledged as God by the world’s three major world religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—the God of Abraham, and as:
7.      The Logic of Christianity 7 argues, Christianity (of the three religions) best meets the Koranic suggestion that Abraham’s son (whom God asked to be sacrificed) is to be replaced with a “great sacrifice,” encompasses Isaiah’s view that God has “no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats,” and further presents Jesus as Isaiah’s suffering servant who was led to the slaughter like a lamb, and as:
8.      The Logic of Christianity 8 argues, Jesus’ Transfiguration in the presence of at least one Immortal (Elijah) answers the logical need for proof that Jesus was perfect, and not punishable by death (the wages of sin), but by subsequently dying anyway, he paid the price for the sins of all of Adam’s children, and as:
9.      The Logic of Christianity 9 argues, Jesus’ Crucifixion was maximum justice for any sin known to mankind, not for Jesus’ own actions, but for the actions of any human that has ever lived, and as:
10.   The Logic of Christianity 10 argues, Jesus’ Resurrection completes the cosmic circle of the logic of eternal life that began with the very first man, Adam, and as:
11.  The Logic of Christianity 11 argues, there are no credible proofs that the Resurrection never happened, and as:
12.  The Logic of Christianity 12 argues, the most credible communication God ever made with man—in His own handwriting (the Ten Commandments)—claims that God created the universe, and as:
13.  The Logic of Christianity 13 argues, presumption demands that Creation is true until proven false, and as:
14.  The Logic of Christianity 14 argues, since Jesus is God’s Son, and must not be capable of making errors in his own prophecies, presumption demands that his prediction of the Parousia is true until proven false, then we may turn to the rest of the Bible, to establish that the other parts are also true until proven false, and to establish that Christianity is a logical worldview.

So, now, we turn to the prophecies included in the major book of prophecy in the New Testament, Revelation.  Did John, the author of Revelation, make huge mistakes, as some claim?  Among the important Revelation scholars, Adela Yarbro Collins (Crisis and Catharsis:  The Power of the Apocalypse.  Philadelphia:  Westminster, 1984) views Revelation historically as "something less than absolute bedrock."  She tries to present Revelation as a "perceived crisis" discussion.  She writes:  "It is not because I believe that the author of Revelation was intentionally deceptive or that he was a psychopathic personality.  It is rather because he was a human like the rest of us."  Her historical quest leads her to a quite difficult position--an inconsistency.  On the one hand, she cites external evidence for "a date [of writing] of about 95 or 96" under the reign of Domitian.  On the other hand, she knows that "[t]here is insufficient evidence to warrant the conclusion that Domitian persecuted Christians as Christians."  She points out that many interpreters see Revelation as a response to this situation:  Domitian was persecuting Christians, even forcing them to worship the emperor.  She says this entire scenario is false.  Yarbro Collins claims the crisis addressed in Revelation is more perceived than real.  This is frustrating.  A more elaborate dramatistic analysis is possible if, as I suggested in the previous post, scholars revisit the dating of Revelation.  More historical consistency may be found by dating the writing in 69 A.D. (which the Book of Revelation, itself, claims as a date of authorship).  A more consistent and elaborate dramatistic analysis of Revelation is what my book (Revelation:  The Human Drama) attempts to accomplish.
John’s Own Dating of the Book of Revelation.  Virtually every Revelation scholar weighs in on the claim that the seven or eight-headed beast of Revelation is Rome.  The heads are kings.  Five have fallen.  In terms of dating the book, the book claims to be written during the reign of the sixth head.  Hence, calculations ensue to determine the date of the book.  It is difficult to see how the head count could begin before Julius Caesar.  If Julius were head one, head six would be Nero who died in 68 A.D.  Since Julius was never officially an emperor, it seems more likely that Augustus is head one, and that Galba who reigned only in 69 A.D. is head six.  Since Tiberius was the first Emperor following Jesus birth, he might be head one in which case Otho who reigned only in 69 A.D. is head six.  Skip Tiberius as head one and you have Vitellius who reigned only in 69 A.D. as head six.  How many heads may be skipped before this clue of John's becomes meaningless?  It appears that John is claiming that the book is being written around 69 A.D.  There certainly are elaborate ways of making Domitian equal head six, but it seems much easier to conclude that 69 A.D. is the date John claimed to write.  Yarbro Collins is incorrect in dating the writing of Revelation in 95 or 96 A.D., according the Book of Revelation.  She relies on the speculations of individuals who wrote much later than the cataclysmic events that Revelation predicts.
The Parousia.  Among the prophecies Revelation advances, this one has already been considered somewhat.  I commented in a previous post, “John, the author of Revelation, writing in 69 A.D., (within the ‘lifetime’ of some who heard Jesus’ prophecy), indicates that the time is ‘near’ or ‘short’ for the fulfilling of the apocalyptic prophecies (Revelation 1:3, 12:12).  Jesus repeatedly states: ‘I am coming (ERCHOMAI) quickly’ (Revelation 3:11, 22:7, 12, and 20).  If John wrote Revelation in 69 A.D., and Jesus’ Parousia occurred sometime between 70 and 73 A.D., then the fulfillment of Jesus’ Coming/Parousia being near/short/quickly, from John’s perspective, would be accurate indeed!
Revelation and Daniel.  What I did not mention in the earlier post regarding Revelation and the Parousia was the extent to which Jesus’ own prophecies and John’s Revelation prophecies tied themselves to the prophecies of Daniel.  Revelation certainly has elements that are prophetic in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets.  Jonah and Haggai may be the only Old Testament prophetic books not cited or alluded to in Revelation.  John refers most frequently to the books of Daniel and Ezekiel, followed closely by Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.  Jesus is quoted in the gospels as alluding to a prophecy of Daniel concerning an "abomination of desolation" that would be in control of the Temple in Jerusalem.  The Gospel of Luke interprets the prophecy as a promise that armies would surround Jerusalem before the (then present) generation passed away."  In the view of R. H. Charles, the first Beast of Revelation 13 “is the Roman Empire" which he equates with the fourth beast of Daniel.  He further finds in a survey of Jewish and Christian exegetes from the Hellenistic period that "from 30 A.D. onwards Jewish exegesis universally and Christian exegesis generally took the Roman Empire to be the fourth kingdom in Daniel." 

a.       Daniel 9:24-27 speaks of seventy weeks of years pertaining to the coming of the Messiah/Christ.  During the first sixty-nine weeks of years (483 years) from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem, the city--including its walls--would be rebuilt (9:25) and the messiah prince would be "cut off" (9:26).  [A couple of such decrees to rebuild Jerusalem, recorded in history, are mentioned here, but there are other possibilities.]  1.  If the starting point of Daniel’s prophetic calculation was the decree of Cyrus recorded in Ezra 1:1-4, which occurred in 536 B.C., 483 years brings us to 53 B.C.  2.  If the starting point was the decree of Artaxerxes recorded in Nehemiah 1 and 2, which occurred in 457 B.C., 483 years brings us to 26 A.D.  Both of these dates approximate the lifetime of Jesus, so when Jesus (in Matthew 24:15), at approximately the year indicated by the Artaxerxes calculation, speaks of Daniel’s “abomination of desolation” occurring in the future, he is effectively arguing that the Daniel prophecy is in the process of being fulfilled within the lifetime of his audience.  In (Daniel 9:27) the last week of years, "a desolator on the wing of abominations" would come--a figure which Mark 13:14 identifies with Jesus' prediction of the fall of Jerusalem within a generation (Mark 13:30).  In the "middle" of that last week (the final seven years), the desolator (?) "shall cause the offering and sacrifice to cease" (Daniel 9:27).  Dividing the final seven years in the "middle" leaves two periods of "three and one-half years" each--one before the cessation of sacrifice and one following the cessation of sacrifice.  Daniel concludes in 12:11 with the words:  "And from the time the daily [sacrifice] shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, a thousand two hundred ninety days [= roughly, three and one-half years]," after which will come qeytz (a word which means "end" but is easily associated, for plays on words, with the verb "to awaken," cf. Ezekiel 7:6).  The various interpretations of Daniel by Old Testament scholars need not be traced in this instance.  The early church clearly interpreted Daniel in terms of the fall of Jerusalem.  Thus, the reference to something happening in the middle of the last week of the seventy weeks of years is tantamount to the ultimate brink of the end (the Parousia?).  If the "great city which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also their lord was crucified" (Revelation 11:8) is an unmistakable reference to Jerusalem, as several scholars believe, the identification of the significance of Jerusalem's doom for John's audience is supported.

Syncretistic tendencies have been identified by Revelation scholars as the porneia (fornication) of which John accuses Jezebel and Babylon.  Perhaps syncretistic tendencies are an important rationale in John's choosing "Babylon" as the name of the harlot.  John appears to be greatly influenced by the book of Daniel.  The heroes of Daniel are the young men who resist syncretism, once they have been carried away into "Babylon."  They refuse to eat Babylonian food (Dan. 1:8) on the grounds that they would be defiled (summolunô in LXX) by (the syncretistic? act of) eating the king's food.  This is possibly the verse that John had in mind when he spoke in 14:4 of the "virgins" who were not defiled.  John uses the cognate molunô (defiled).  The Babylonians attempt to assimilate the young men into their religion by renaming the young men with Babylonian names, often associated with Babylonian deities. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are renamed respectively Shadrach, Meshach, and Aved Nego (Abednego).  Daniel is renamed Belteshazzar.  Daniel is determined to resist the law outlawing prayer to his God, even if it means incarceration with lions.  The other three young heroes are determined to resist pagan worship, even if it means death in a fiery furnace.  These heroes are models of anti-syncretism.  Even John's literary style in many ways imitates this thoroughly anti-syncretistic book.  (Incidentally, Belteshazzar is a name that philologists cite as evidence for a later date for the book of Daniel, because the "t" should not be in the spelling.  However, if the Jewish scribes who resisted syncretism added the "t" to the name Belshazzar in order to avoid the association of the hero Daniel with the Babylonian god, Bel, in the same way that the scribes added an extra "y" to Jerusalem, making it Yerushalayim, thus avoiding a pagan deity association, then the misspelling of Belshazzar is further evidence of an anti-syncretistic sentiment related to the book of Daniel.)
Daniel and Revelation’s Seven-Structure (“Time, Times, and Half a Time”).  The language in Revelation 11:2-3, related to the "forty-two months" = "a thousand two hundred sixty days" (= three and one half years) corresponds to Daniel 9 and the times of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.  In fact, the "three and one-half years" of the testimony of the Witnesses (11:3) and the "three and one half years" of the trampling of the city by the Gentiles (11:2) have overwhelming significance themselves.  They appear to be either one or both halves of the "last week of years" described by Daniel in chapter 9.  The historical fact that the Jewish-Roman War from 66 to 73 A.D. lasted an exact SEVEN YEARS (or in Daniel’s terminology a final “week of years”) which occurred within the same generation as Jesus’ audience, when he predicted the Parousia, and which was constantly filled with “wars and rumors of wars” (Mark 13:7), and which concluded in two segments of “time, times, and half a time,” from John’s Revelation prophecy, there is stunning accuracy to support the prophecies of Daniel, Jesus, and John.
Babylon (Jerusalem) is Fallen!  Yarbro-Collins is wrong, not only in her dating the writing of Revelation, but also in her identification of Babylon as Rome.  The execution of Jesus had been accomplished by means of an alliance between the Jewish High Priestly party and the local representatives of the Roman Empire--Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate.  It was common knowledge among Jewish leaders that the High Priestly family was indebted to Herod's family for its prestige and power.  Antipas' father, Herod the Great, had deposed the then-current (Hasmonean) High Priestly family in the years preceding Jesus' birth.  In its place Herod (the Great) had installed a High Priest from among the Jews of the Babylonian Diaspora (those Jews who had been "carried away" into Babylon in the sixth century B.C. and who had not yet returned to Palestine).  It is probable that the term "Babylon" in Revelation and I Peter is a code word for this High Priestly family and/or Jerusalem, the city controlled by the (Babylonian?) High Priestly family.  Yarbro Collins argues that John's use of the term Babylon provides evidence for a later date.  Unfortunately, her reasoning is circular.  She points out, "Most commentators agree that 'Babylon' . . . is a symbolic name for Rome."  This is circular reasoning since most commentators also place the date of writing at 96 A.D.  To her credit, Yarbro Collins observes:  “Most of the occurrences of Babylon as a symbolic name for Rome in Jewish literature are in the Apocalypse of Ezra . . ., the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch . . ., and the fifth book of the Sibylline Oracles.  . . . [T]he context makes it abundantly clear . . . Rome is called Babylon because her forces, like those of Babylon at an earlier time, destroyed the temple and Jerusalem.”  This is an interesting and valuable observation which pertains to the interpretation of the term Babylon.  But, in her greatest use of circular reasoning, Yarbro Collins concludes, "It is highly unlikely that the name would have been used before the destruction of the temple by Titus.  This internal evidence thus points decisively to a date after 70 C.E." Has Yarbro Collins completely missed the point (she personally implied) that since Babylon is never associated in Revelation with "destroy[ing] the temple and Jerusalem," Babylon in Revelation is not Rome?  Babylon in Revelation is called a harlot.  J. Massyngberde Ford points out, "The harlot . . . is also a Jewish OT theme depicting Jerusalem . . . and there is no clear indication that Babylon is Rome as in the Christian Sibyllines."  If, as Ford understands, the harlot Babylon is faithless Jerusalem, John is continuing his rejection of the villains' nomenclature.  Thus, he renames "the holy city" (11:2) in which the "Lord was crucified" (11:8), "Sodom and Egypt."  If he refers to Jews who dwell in Judea, he calls them the "inhabitants of the land" and leaves off the words "of Israel" (in the same way that the “inhabitants of the land” in Genesis 34:30, 50:11, Numbers 14:14, 32:17, 33:52, 33:55, Joshua 2:9, 7:9, 9:24, Judges 1:33, etc., refers not to the Israelites, but to the pagan inhabitants of the land of Israel).

·         Revelation 17:6 identifies Babylon as being "drunk from the blood of the saints and from the witnesses [martus] of Jesus."  Revelation 18:24 claims that "in her was found the blood of the prophets and of the saints, and of all those having been slain on the earth/land."  The only specific city accused elsewhere in the New Testament of "killing the prophets" is Jerusalem (Matt. 23:29-39; Lk. 11:47-51; 13:33-34).  In the Old Testament, Ezekiel 22:2ff. calls Jerusalem the "city of bloodshed" who "brings on herself doom by shedding blood."
·         Ezekiel 16:13 calls Jerusalem "a queen."  In Revelation 18:7, Babylon calls herself a "queen."  Both are actually harlots, according to their respective "prophets."

·         Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8 speak of God giving Jerusalem/Israel/Judah a certificate of divorce.  Ford sees the scroll with seven seals as a specific type of bill of divorce (Ford, 92-94).  The progressive opening of these seven seals, as God progressively moves towards divorcing Babylon/Jerusalem is described in Revelation chapters 5-11.
·         In Ezekiel 16:29, Jerusalem increased her harlotry to "Babylonia, a land of merchants."  In Revelation 18:3, the kings of the earth/land commit porneia with Babylon and the merchants of the earth became rich with her.
·         Jeremiah 4:16 speaks of armies coming to destroy Jerusalem.  Jeremiah 6:1 urges people to "Flee from Jerusalem."  In Revelation 18:4, God's people are warned to "come out of her."
·         Ezekiel 16:37ff. warns Jerusalem the harlot that all of her lovers will gather against her and strip her naked.  Revelation 17:16 reports that the ten horns of the beast "will hate the harlot and will make her desolated [erêmoô] and naked and will eat her flesh and will burn her with fire."
·         Not only will Babylon be left desolated in the previous verse, but also in 18:16 and 19.  Likewise, the Septuagint/LXX of Daniel 9:27 leaves Jerusalem "desolated," and Matthew 24:15, predicting the destruction of Jerusalem, refers to Daniel's abomination of desolation, at which point Jesus urges those in Judea to "flee."

6.      The Battle of Armageddon.  During the years immediately preceding the destruction of the temple, John refers to Jerusalem as "Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified" (Revelation 11:8).  In this period, John writes of "the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan" (2:9).  At this time, John calls Jerusalem "the harlot Babylon" (as J. M. Ford interprets) and exults in her gory destruction.  Since John cannot refer to the Battle of Jerusalem, he gives the battle a new name:  Armageddon.  The word Armageddon is translated into the Greek from the Hebrew har məgiddô (הר מגידו).  The word Har is translated into English as “mountain.”  The word məgiddô is spelled in the Greek translation (LXX) of II Chronicles exactly as it is spelled in Revelation.  Here is the account of the Battle of Megiddo from II Chronicles 35:20-25:  “After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him. But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, "What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, so that He will not destroy you." However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo. The archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, "Take me away, for I am badly wounded." So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers.”  Note, however, that Megiddo is not a mountain—but a plain.  The only mountain associated with the Battle of Megiddo is Mount Zion (or Jerusalem) where Josiah died.  John is continuing to refuse to refer to Jerusalem as Jerusalem or Mount Zion (a term he uses to refer to the 144,000 Christians).  So he refers to Mount Zion as Mount Megiddo.  The Battle of Armageddon took place from 66 to 73 A.D.  Jerusalem was annihilated (in the same way that Josiah was killed and his kingdom was destroyed in 609 B.C.  Revelation is true in it’s prediction in 69 A.D. that Babylon the Great (understand: Jerusalem) would fall near/short/quickly.

7.      The Destruction of the Beast and the False Prophet in the Lake of Fire.  What is the Lake of Fire?  For many individuals, it is just a synonym for Hell.  But, most don’t realize that, before Revelation, no one ever spoke or wrote of a Lake of Fire.  John coined the phrase.  For John, as for other Jews of his generation, a concept of a whole from which parts spring up and to which they return is the concept of the Nehar di-Nur (the "stream of fire").  This is not quite yet, however, a “lake of fire.”  Louis Ginzberg states:  "Thus there are angels who spring up daily out of the stream Dinur (='stream of fire'; comp. Dan. 7.10); they praise God, and then disappear.  Out of every word uttered by God angels are created."  Is John familiar with the "stream of fire"?  He does not mention this stream, but he describes a "lake of fire" into which the Devil and his angels are thrown.  I believe that not only is John familiar with the "stream of fire," he even adds a twist to the concept:  A stream keeps on flowing, but a "lake" is the end of the line.  (The Lake does not allow water or fire to flow out of it; if something or someone is cast into the “lake” of fire, it will never ever reemerge.)  Later Jewish writers speak of souls passing through the river of fire where "the wicked" are "judged."  Whether these Jewish writers originated the idea of a river of fiery judgment or picked up on John's "lake of fire" is uncertain, but their concept does seem to demonstrate the ease with which fiery judgment and the stream of fire may be connected.  The stream of fire is a magma anecdote--the whole in which God's "words" exist in their "essential" nature before and after becoming "angels" (= parts).  In Revelation 19:19, the kings of the earth assemble for war with the Messiah/Christ, after the harlot (=Babylon=Jerusalem) has been destroyed, and the Beast is at that point thrown into the lake of fire.  Remember the seven heads of the Beast who were seven kings:  Beginning with the first in the Caesarean family, Julius Caesar, if Julius were head one, head six would be Nero who died in 68 A.D. 
The seventh head (currently reigning as John wrote) would be Galba who reigned only in 69 A.D. or Otho who reigned only in 69 A.D. or Vitellius who reigned only in 69 A.D. 
Vespasian who became emperor after these 3 short-lived emperors in 69 A.D. was the eighth head—Nero come back to life!  Caird comments:  "Since the main trait of the monster's character is that it wages war on God's people, the emperor who best fits the specifications is Nero.  His suicide in A.D. 68 could have been regarded as a deadly wound.  . . . Only with the accession of Vespasian did the monster come to life again.”  Vespasian was Nero's general whom Nero sent to besiege Jerusalem, and who in 69 A.D. became emperor after the Roman civil war which followed Nero's suicide (in 68 A.D.).  With Caird, I find Vespasian to be the best candidate for the head which "seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed" (Revelation 13:3).  No other candidate for emperor could more clearly have represented Nero-returned-to-life to the Jews in 69 A.D. than did the general whom Nero sent to attack Jerusalem.  Whether this eighth head was Otho, Vitellius, or Vespasian, however, there was no longer a true “Caesar.”  When Nero committed suicide, the last of the Caesarean dynasty died.  Vespasian represented a new family on the throne—The Flavian dynasty.  Nero was the Beast whose name meant “666.”  An Aramaic document of Nero's reign from the Wadi Murabba'at, in Jordan, contains the required spelling for Nero Caesar which would equal six hundred sixty-six in either Aramaic or Hebrew.  (In Aramaic and Hebrew, letters stood for numbers—similar to the way Latin letters do in Roman numerals.)  With the death of Nero, the entire Caesarean dynasty of emperors (the Beast) could be thrown into the Lake of Fire.  The dynasty never returned.  The other individual (besides the Beast) who was thrown into the Lake of Fire, at this point, was the “False Prophet” (Revelation 19:20). I explain in Chapter Four of my book Revelation:  The Human Drama, specifically with respect to "priestly" terminology, John's "false prophet" is probably a high priestly reference.  John’s description of the "second beast" is probably also a reference to the high priestly family.  His "image of the beast" and the name "Babylon" are probably also high priestly references.  With the destruction of Jerusalem, the entire (Babylonian) high priestly family that had usurped the high priesthood (with the help of Herod the Great) was destroyed—never again to preside over any sacrifices in the Temple (which was also destroyed).  With this destruction, the False Prophet/Babylon/image of the Beast could be thrown into the Lake of Fire.  Revelation is true until proven false. 
The Dragon in the Abyss/Bottomless Pit.  In Revelation, the dragon is progressively defeated.  First, he (the dragon) is cast out of heaven (Revelation 12:9-10).  Apparently, this occurred when Jesus died and paid the price for the sins of humanity.  There is, therefore, no longer any room for an “accuser” in heaven.   Then, he is chained and confined in the Abyss for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3).  Then, before the End, he will be released from the Abyss for a period of time for his last battle—of Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:3, 7-9).  Finally, at the End, he is cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10).  The Abyss is not Hell.  It is not a place that no one can ever escape from.  Revelation 11:7 speaks of the Beast who comes up from the abyss "conquering" God's two witnesses--i.e., killing them.  If he can come up from the Abyss, being confined to the Abyss is not a final judgment situation.  It is only a temporary quieting of his activities.  Which of his activities are quieted?  “Deceiving the Nations” (Revelation 20:3 and 8). 

9.      Thousand Year Reign.  Caird writes:  "We return therefore to the question raised by the very first sentence of the Revelation.  What did John think was 'bound to happen soon'?  Certainly not the End, which was at least a millennium away."  Which prophecies did John expect to happen near/short/quickly?  The Parousia?  (Yes.  See the previous post— The Logic of Christianity 14).  The Fall of Jerusalem?  Yes, it is a historical fact.  History records it in almost as much gory detail as John prophesied.  The beginning of the 1000 year reign (The Millennium)?  Yes.  The destruction of the Beast and the False Prophet in the Lake of Fire?  Yes.  The imprisonment of the Dragon?  Yes.  The End of history?  No.  There is a cyclical plot in John's description of the reign of the Messiah.  The messianic reign begins on the heels of the Battle (of Armageddon) in which a woman (the harlot Babylon) is destroyed (16:16ff.), and it ends with a Battle (of Gog and Magog) which the "new Jerusalem" wins.  It begins with a preliminary defeat of the dragon, with his being imprisoned in the abyss (20:3), and ends with the ultimate defeat of the dragon, his being cast into the lake of fire (20:10).  Having destroyed the harlot Babylon in the battle of Armageddon, the Lamb and his bride celebrate and rule the earth in 19.1-20.6.  The beast and the false prophet (Rome and the Jewish High Priesthood) are cast into the lake of fire.  The dragon/Satan is confined for a thousand years to the Abyss.  The Christian martyrs are resurrected and reign for one thousand years with Christ.  Since the significance of confining the Dragon to the Abyss was to curtail his activities of “deceiving the nations,” it is interesting to note that (despite successive world empires—Babylonian, Mede-Persian, Greek, and Roman—for hundreds of years), with the Fall of the Roman Empire, world empires vanished for a thousand years.  Calculate the thousand years from the death of Nero in 68 A.D. to 1068 A.D. or from the Christianizing of Rome under Constantine in 313 A.D. to 1313 A.D.  Either way, you are brought to the Renaissance.  For the thousand years prior to the Renaissance--as my professor of Ancient Greek Poetry at Indiana University, Willis Barnstone (nominated four times for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry), first brought to my attention—Christian literature dominated the world and secular literature was progressively destroyed “FOR A THOUSAND YEARS.”  Furthermore, there was a thousand year gap in the military atrocities of the great world empires.  For example, “During their first war with Carthage, a Roman fleet with 100,000 men was lost in a single day. Rome responded to this catastrophic loss by calmly sending in more troops and continuing the war for another decade and a half. Over the course of the second Carthaginian War, Rome suffered nearly 400,000 casualties without batting an eye. The Roman Empire wasn't really interested in outwitting its opponents -- it just outlasted them. If Rome had a problem, it kept throwing troops at it until it stopped causing trouble.  When the Roman Empire fractured, Europe's economy became increasingly localized. Without an intercontinental tax base and a healthy division of labor, giant standing armies became artifacts of a bygone era. This sudden lack of fiscal infrastructure also left the scores of kings and princes who filled the Roman power vacuum strapped for cash. Sure, they probably would have wanted to roar through the continent with a million men, legion style; they just didn't have the money to pay such huge armies.  Most leaders responded to this problem by introducing a feudal system; they divided and distributed their land holdings, dealing out plots for military service. Since very few of them had all that much land to begin with, this kept the armies relatively tiny -- even the most massive military forces of the latter stages of the era had well under 20,000 soldiers. Most armies were basically just large mobs. As such, warfare in the Dark Ages was defined by quick skirmishes fought between tiny forces. There were no campaigns, no decade-long struggles” (  And, what about Jesus and his martyrs reigning?  According to an even antagonistic source,, “Christianity may have grown from about 1,000 believers in 40 C.E. to about 5-8 million in 300 C.E. – just 260 years. That would require a growth rate of 40% per decade, as shown by this table:
Number of Christians, given 40% growth per decade
. . . That really is tremendous growth.”  According to

Growth of the Church in Numbers.

Estimated Christians
First century
Second century
Third century
Fourth century
Fifth century
Sixth century
Seventh century
Eighth century
Ninth century
Tenth century
Eleventh century
Twelfth century
Thirteenth century
Fourteenth century
Fifteenth century
Sixteenth century
Seventeenth century
Eighteenth century
A current pie chart of the world’s religions, supplied by looks like this:

I think that we can historically say that not only Revelation’s prediction that Jesus’ witnesses “lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4), but also that Revelation’s prediction that the God and Christ “shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15, 22:5) came and is coming true.

10.  Satan’s Release after the Thousand Years.  Revelation 20:7-15 describes the final events of humanity's earthly existence.  After the thousand years, Satan is released to raise one final army to fight against the camp of God's people, the city he loves.  Once again, he “deceives the nations.”  In my third blog post in this series, “The Logic of Christianity 3:  The Four Logical Explosions of Human History,” I pointed to the writings of the atheist John Thomas Didymus, and his article “Failed End-of-World Predictions of Jesus’ Coming:  Montanists and the Ecumenical Council (1000 AD)”:  “The Ecumenical Council sitting in 999 declared solemnly that the world would end on January 1, 1000 A.D. That was the signal for mass madness. On the last day of the year, St. Peter's at Rome was filled with a crazed mass of people, weeping, trembling, screaming in fear of the Day of the Lord. They thought that God would send fire from heaven and burn the world to ashes . . . .  But New Year came and passes [sic] and nothing happened.”  (Article Source:  I credited that 1000 A.D. event (or lack of an event) for shocking the world into the Renaissance (a logical abandonment of the teaching of the Church), because the Church had relied on the Book of Revelation (aka, the Apocalypse) in predicting that Jesus’ reign on earth would last 1000 years.  Certainly, the Ecumenical Council believed that John’s Revelation was predicting that the BEGINNING of the 1000 year reign and the 1000 year imprisonment of the Dragon (aka, the Millennium) would be during the First Century A.D.  The impetus for the Renaissance began when Christians’ faith in the end of the world did not materialize at the time they expected it.  Not only did the Renaissance bring with it a rebirth of humanism, but also a new rise in “nationalism.”  According to, ”Just as the turmoil of the Later Middle Ages had cleared the way for sweeping economic, cultural, and technological changes in Western Europe, it likewise produced significant political changes that led to the emergence of a new type of state in Western Europe: the nation state.”  Is it mere coincidence that Revelation predicted a millennium in which the Dragon (who raised up world powers) would be inhibited in his “deceiving the nations” only to be released at the end of the thousand years to “deceive the nations” again?  Yet, this happened!  As cited earlier, “Rome suffered nearly 400,000 casualties without batting an eye.”  By contrast, as noted earlier, during the millennium following the Roman Empire, “warfare . . . was defined by quick skirmishes fought between tiny forces. There were no campaigns, no decade-long struggles.”  But, once the thousand years were concluded, the deceiving of the “nations” begins again.  From the Hundred Years War of the 14th and 15th centuries to the War of Roses to the Italian Wars to two World Wars of the 20th Century, it is clear that nationalism and attempts at creating new world empires have been rising.  Revelation’s predictions are, once again, true.  The Dragon has been released.

11.  The Battle of Gog and Magog.  So, now we look to the future predictions of Revelation.  Satan's final world powers, Gog and Magog, are destroyed by fire.  Who are these entities?  We don’t know, but we may speculate.  What about Gog and Magog?  What about the surrounding of the beloved city?  Now, Hal Lindsey, you may try your hand.  These were futuristic for John.  The symbols used are much more ambiguous and, thus, open to speculation.  Christians can surely supply interpretations that acknowledge the strength of the Contemporary-Historical method and yet preserve the expectant hope for the future triumphant return of Christ.

12.  The End of Satan, Death, and the Old Earth.  Satan and all whose names are not found in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire.  Death itself is thrown into the lake of fire.  The epilogue, chapters 21 and 22, describe the new heavens and new earth in which the Lamb and his bride will spend eternity.

These final two prophecies have not, to the best of my knowledge, yet been fulfilled.  But, what does that prove?  It proves only that the world is continuing to exist.  It does not prove that it will always continue.  Revelation is true until proven false.