Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Apocalyptic? #34: After Armageddon—Disney, Daniel, Jesus, and John

 


The Biblical Pattern of “Overview-Followed-by-Details” 
and Even Longer-Term Prediction

From the very first chapters of the Bible, there is a literary pattern pertaining to history.  Genesis provides, in chapter one, a rapid-fire synopsis of creation events, followed, in chapters two and three by a more detailed explanation of day six, explaining the situation in which the first female (Eve) was brought into being and the circumstances that led to the command to “Be fruitful and multiply.”  In chapter one, the six “days” of creation are presented rapidly, sequentially, from the creation of mass and light energy to waters and firmament to land and vegetation to seasons and years to elemental-then-advanced animal life to God’s crown of creation, man, both male and female, to whom He commanded: “Be fruitful and multiply.”  Then, in chapters two and three, Genesis backs up to the sixth day—even after the part of day six in which He creates the beasts, cattle, and creeping things—and focuses more intently on the creation of Adam, bringing Eve, and the Fall, and then projects far into the future, in apocalyptic fashion, by God “put[ting] enmity Between [the serpent] and the woman, And between [the serpent’s] seed and her Seed; He [the seed of woman] shall bruise [the serpent’s] head, And [the serpent] shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15 NKJV).


By way of comparison, in now-closed Disney attractions, the “Universe of Energy” at EPCOT visually traced the same rapid-fire sequence from a secular perspective--starting with the “Big Bang.” If you search online for “youtube universe of energy,” in a very short span of time near the first of the video, you will view a sequence of events that many scientists believe occurred over a period of 13 to 14 billion years, but which is very similar in sequence to the Genesis 1 account.  What you are viewing is Disney’s visual interpretation of the origins of the universe, according to secularly-accepted views in physics.  If you search online for “youtube living seas preshow film,” you will view a more detailed sequence from a secular perspective of the development of the seas, the eventual visibility of the sun, moon, and stars, and the beginning of life forms (plant to animal), which is very similar in sequence to the Genesis 1:9-22 account, providing further details skipped over by the Universe of Energy exhibit.  Disney, thus, provides a representative anecdote for understanding the “biblical pattern of overview-followed-by-details.” 


Returning to the bible, in layer upon layer of apocalyptic chronological sequence, Jeremiah begins, counting from the year Nebuchadnezzar became king of Babylon and, subsequently, captured Daniel and his fellow-Jews and carried them away into Babylon.  Jeremiah 25:12 (NKJV) prophesies: “Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,” says the Lord“and I will make it a perpetual desolation.  Jeremiah 29:10 (NKJV) states: “For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place [i.e., Judea].” Counting seventy years from when Nebuchadnezzar became king in Babylon (in 605 B.C.) brings us to 535 B.C.  The Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon (the land of the Chaldeans) and freed the Jews from exile in 538 B.C. 


The proverbial seventy years may have been considered an overview for Daniel, realizing that he is living near the end of the prescribed “seventy years,”
for the process of “return[ing] to this place,” the land of Israel.  Daniel considers the proverbial seventy years in order to prophecy concerning seventy sabbatical years, i.e., 490 years.  Daniel 9 describes in greater detail than Jeremiah regarding that process of “return[ing] to this place,” i.e., the land of Israel: “I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2 NKJV).  Daniel, however, receives an updated and more detailed prophetic explanation in Daniel 9:24-27 (NKJV):


Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint [same Hebrew root as Messiah/Christ] the Most Holy.

“Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem UNTIL MESSIAH the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.
“And after the sixty-two weeks
MESSIAH SHALL BE CUT OFF, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”

 

Notice that, in Daniel 9:2 (cited above) the seventy years of Jerusalem’s desolation would not be the last of Jerusalem’s desolations, according to Daniel 9:27.  Daniel points to another, future abomination of desolation in Jerusalem.

 

A total of 69 (7 + 62) weeks of years (or 483 years) would be needed to “finish . . . transgression [and] to make an end of sins” (which Jesus did), to “make reconciliation . . . [and] bring in everlasting righteousness” (which Jesus did), and “to anoint the Most Holy” (Jesus).  Daniel is told to begin counting the 69 weeks of years at the “going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem.”  But which command to do so?  According to https://letgodbetrue.com/bible-topics/index/prophecy/cyrus-decree-to-rebuild/:

 


In the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we find four royal commands issued by Median and Persian kings that could possibly qualify as the “commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” The first command was by Cyrus in Ezra 1:1-11. The second was by Darius in Ezra 4:24 and 6:1-12. The third was by Artaxerxes in his 7th year in Ezra 7:7-26. The fourth was also by Artaxerxes in his 20th year in Nehemiah 2:1-8.

 

Without becoming endlessly bogged down by debates among these possibilities, I simply observe that, of these commands, the command of Artaxerxes in his 20th year (Nehemiah 2:1-8), for example, occurring approximately 456 B.C., when added to by the 483 years of Daniel 9, brings us to 27 A.D., near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  The final one “week of years”= 7 years (“in the middle of” which He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.  And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate), Jesus in his Olivet discourse expands and provides details: “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place . . . .” (Matthew 24:15, et. al. NKJV). 

 

Jesus then, knowing that he is living near the end of the prescribed “seventy weeks of years,” puts a time limit on when this final week of years will occur: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34, et. al. NKJV). 

 


John, in Revelation, then, realizing that he is living near the end of the prescribed “generation,” writes in much greater detail of things that must happen soon.  John repeats his consciousness of the “what must SOON take place” throughout Revelation.  John predicts that the "time" is "near" (Revelation 1:3, 22:10), that Jesus is "coming soon" (Revelation 3:11, 22:20), that the dragon’s "time is short" (Revelation 12:12), and that these things “must soon take place" (Revelation 22:6).  As I have demonstrated in previous blogposts, John’s and Jesus’ predictions concerning all that was prophesied to occur up through the Battle of Armageddon were amazingly precise!  Even though I have not previously taken the opportunity to mention the more minute detail about the Plague of the Sun Burning in Revelation 16:8 (NKJV), “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire,” I find that it is mentioned by Josephus in terms of the Samaritans in Mt. Gerazim, prior to the Battle of Armageddon:  The Roman armies under Vespasian’s commander Cerealis killed 11,600 Samaritans on Mt. Gerazim by laying siege to the mountain.  Josephus writes: “[T]he Samaritans, who were now destitute of water, were inflamed with a violent heat (for it was summer-time, and the multitude had not provided themselves with necessities) insomuch that some of them died that very day with heat,” the rest of them being slain by the Romans (Wars III.VII.32).

John, furthermore, does not stop with the first half of the week of years (=3 ½ years) that concluded with the end of the Battle of Armageddon and the “end to sacrifice and offering” as prophesied by Daniel.  He writes of the second half of the week of years (=3 ½ years), and then continues to project history for more than 1000 years into the future.


Is There Human History on Earth “After Armageddon”?

Revelation 20:9-15 does not seem to allow time for ANY human history on Earth (at least, on the first Earth) following the Battle of Gog and Magog. Instead, it moves, rapid-fire, from sending down fire to consume Gog and Magog to casting the devil into the Lake of Fire (where the Beast [Nero] and the False Prophet [Jewish High Priests] already were) to God’s judgment throne at which time God cast Death and Hell into the Lake of Fire, along with all whose names were not written in the book of life.

By contrast, there are at least 3 ½ years of human history on Earth following the Battle of Armageddon, until the “war” is over.  Then, there is that bothersome millennium, during which time (although the Beast [Nero] and the False Prophet [Jewish High Priests] had already been cast into the Lake of Fire), the dragon-serpent-devil-Satan was only “bound” and “cast into the bottomless pit.”  Many Amillennialists, as their name implies (even if that name was coined by Premillennialists in an attempt to discredit this school of interpretation), want to eliminate the millennium from Revelation altogether. Therefore, many Amillennialists equate the Battle of Armageddon with the Battle of Gog and Magog.  That equation is impossible.  The prefix A- before the term “millennium” is a prefix of negation (as in, there is NO millennium).  It compares to the A- prefix in Atheism (as in, there is NO God).  Nevertheless, the “millennium” figures prominently in Jewish teaching concerning how long the Messianic Kingdom will last, plus in Revelation itself, plus in the history of the interpretation of Revelation.  The topic of the millennium deserves its own blogpost, which I shall provide in the future.  For the present, we shall consider the remaining 3 ½ years.


Josephus’s Interpretation of Daniel’s 3 ½ Years

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) appear to be either one or both halves of the "last week of years" described by Daniel in chapter 9.  In the "middle" of that last week, 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).  Perhaps the Semitic play on the words "end" and "awaken" has Burke's "reidentification" sense, in which the “end” and the “beginning” meet.  Alpha meets Omega.  The “first” meets the “last.”  At any rate, it is clear that Daniel saw a thousand two hundred ninety days (= roughly, three and one-half years) period of time FOLLOWING what John will call “Armageddon.”

Josephus’s Use of the Term Desolation: Josephus is well-aware of Daniel’s prophecy of a coming desolation.  He describes the desolation of the countryside of Judea:

[The Romans] had cut down all the trees that were in the country that adjoined to the city for ninety furlongs [=11 miles] . . . those places which were before adorned with trees and pleasant gardens were now become a desolate country every way . . . its trees were all cut down . . . now . . . as a desert . . . all signs of beauty quite waste (Wars VI.I.1).

 

After the fall of Jerusalem, Josephus comments:

 

[T]his was the second time of its desolation . . . the king of Babylon conquered it, and made it desolate . . . .  It was demolished entirely by the Babylonians . . . to this destruction under Titus . . . .  And thus ended the siege of Jerusalem” (Wars VI.X.1).

 

Josephus’s Use of the Terminology Three and One-half Years:  Josephus offers the “example [of] Antiochus . . . Epiphanes . . . this city was plundered by our enemies, and our sanctuary made desolate for three years and six months” (Wars V.IX.4). 

Josephus fixed the exact date when “’the Daily Sacrifice’ had failed and had not been offered to God” along with his statement to the Jews—“Who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them,--and particularly that oracle which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city?” (Wars VI.II.1).  William Whiston, whose translation of Josephus we are using, in his footnote commenting upon this passage in Josephus finds it:

[R]emarkable [that] . . . Daniel’s prediction . . . [was precisely accurate:] the Romans “in half a week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease.” Dan. ix.27; for from the month of February, A.D. 66 [when the war began] . . . to this very time, was just three years and a half.


What Happened, Then, in Those Final 3 ½ Years? 

According to Daniel 12:  qeytz (a word which means "end" but is easily associated, for plays on words, with the verb "to awaken)."  The “end” of the Jewish state, but, I think, the “awakening” of many faithful Jews and Christians then in the grave (i.e., the first resurrection, according to Revelation 20:5-6).  Many unbelieving Jews would flee to the fortified mountains that remained in Judea as possible refuges.  John writes: “Then . . . every mountain . . . was moved out of its place. And the kings of the [land] . . . hid themselves . . . in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’” (Revelation 6:14-16 NKJV).  The church that had fled Judea at Jesus’ and John’s warnings would have their “covenant” “confirmed (via Rapture?).  According to Daniel, “Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week.” Nevertheless, in the spirit of the Biblical Pattern of “Overview-Followed-by-Details,” now that I have offered you a quick overview, I will supply the details in the next few blogposts, à la Disney, Moses, Daniel, Jesus, and John.

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