The 1000 Years: Four Charts and a Couple Ancient Quotes


I appreciate all the feedback I’ve received after posting a presentation on the 1000 years of Revelation 20 earlier this month. In case you didn’t see that presentation, I’ll summarize by saying that I’ve come to believe that the “1000 years,” a.k.a. “the Millennium,” covered the time period between the First Great Revolt (AD 66-73) and the Second Great Revolt (AD 132-135). The text in Revelation 20 is certainly challenging, and I’m not finished thinking through it.

The last two weeks I had the privilege of further discussing this topic with Pastor Michael Miano (of Blue Point Bible Church in Long Island, New York) on his radio program, The Hairy Ticks Variety Show. In last Tuesday’s episode, we referred to three charts that I created in an effort to continue thinking through these things and to hopefully see more clearly what the text is saying. In this post I would like to share those charts along with one additional chart (“The Order of Events in Revelation 20:4”), a couple of quotes from early church authors, and an interesting observation from a friend about “Gog and Magog.”

Outline

A. Four Charts
         1. The Reign of the Saints – Spiritually Versus on Thrones
         2. The Order of Events in Revelation 20:4
         3. Contrasting the “Short Time” (Rev. 12:12) & the “Little While” (Rev. 20:3) of Satan
         4. Deceiving the Nations to War (Satan Led This Effort Twice)
B. Two Quotes from Early Church Writers
1. A quote from Eusebius (Attributed to Luke)

         2. A quote from the Apocalypse of Paul
C. An Observation from a Friend about Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39 and Rev. 20:8)

A. Four Charts

1. The Reign of the Saints – Spiritually Versus on Thrones

Saints Reigning Prior to AD 70

Saints to Reign After AD 70

The saints were reigning (spiritually) after the Day of Pentecost. These texts seem to reveal that Christ first returned in judgment, the beast was defeated, the resurrection took place, and the saints inherited the kingdom. Then the saints sat on thrones to judge.
“After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words. “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. 11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame” (Daniel 7:7-11).
23 “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth,
trample it and break it in pieces. 24 The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute[a] the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.
Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. 26 But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. 27 Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him’” (Daniel 7:23-27).
27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” 28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:27-28).
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods” (Matthew 24:45-47).
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matthew 25:31).
“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” (I Corinthians 6:23).
“If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2:12).
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nationsHe shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter’s vessels shall be broken to pieces‘ – as I also have received from My Father” (Revelation 2:26-27).
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21).
“…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6). “…You have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).
Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:4-10).

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. …they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4-6).

It was not my intention to leave out any passages which could be placed in either column in the chart above. If you can think of any additional passages, please let me know and I’ll try to edit them into the post. To be clear, I acknowledge that Christ was already reigning well before AD 70 (e.g. Acts 2:29-36) and I believe He still reigns today (e.g. Revelation 11:15). This chart is simply about when the saints, especially the martyred ones (Rev. 20:4), would sit on thrones with Him to reign and judge for 1000 years.

Regarding the timing of “in the regeneration” (Matthew 19:28), I’ve noted the parallels between this verse and Matthew 25:31.

[1] “So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel'” (Matt. 19:28).

[2] “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matt. 25:31).

If Matthew 25:31 was fulfilled in AD 70, which is most likely a consensus view among preterists, then the same is true of Matthew 19:28.

2. The Order of Events in Revelation 20:4

(Which came first – the mark of the beast or the 1000 years?)

(Note: In the “Time Frame” column, I compared my view with the Transmillennial view [red font], the view that the 1000 years took place between the cross and the Jewish-Roman War)

PASSAGE

TIME FRAME

NOTES

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them…” (Rev. 20:4a). AD 70 –>
(My view)

(AD 30 –>)(Transmillennial view)

As the chart above reflects, my understanding is that before these thrones were set up, Christ returned in judgment, the beast was defeated, the resurrection took place, and the saints inherited the kingdom.
“…And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands…” (Rev. 20:4b). AD 66-70
(My view)AD 64-68? AD 66-70?(Transmillennial view)
I’m basing this time frame on my understanding that the beast of Revelation was Israel and the Zealot movement, and that this was the 42 months of the beast’s authority (Rev. 13:5). See this ongoing series for more details. Rev. 13:4-17 describes the enforced worship of the beast, his image, and his mark. I have not yet posted on this in my series on the beast.
“…And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4c). AD 70 – 132
(My view)
(AD 30 – 66)(Transmillennial view)
Those who were especially singled out to reign with Christ for the 1000 years were those who had been martyred (beheaded) for refusing to worship the beast. Rev. 15:2-4 portrays them as victors and overcomers.*

*The Transmillennial view says that the 1000 years began around AD 30, ended around AD 66, and then the “little while” of Rev. 20:3, 7-10 took place from AD 66-70. However, I would respectfully point out that, if it’s acknowledged that Rev. 20:4 draws directly from Rev. 13:4-17, then this position has those souls being martyred after the 1000 years ended. Thus, they would [1] first reign for 1000 years and [2] then be martyred by the beast, which appears to be the opposite order of what we see in Revelation 20:4. In order to reconcile this view with the text, it would seem necessary to demonstrate that the mark, image, and worship of the beast was enforced (upon penalty of death) prior to AD 30, but of course this is not possible and I’ve never seen anyone attempt to do it.

In my opinion, this view excludes the very people (the martyrs) who were explicitly named in Rev. 20:4 from participating in the 1000 years. On the other hand, I believe the text shows that the saints were beheaded first (AD 66-70) and then reigned with Christ (after AD 70).

3. The “Short Time” (Rev. 12:12) & the “Little While” (Rev. 20:3) of Satan

(Are they the same or are they different?)

Revelation 12:7-12

Revelation 20:3, 7-10

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them[a] in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[a] the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

In Rev. 12:7-12, Satan was cast out of heaven and came “down” to the earth and the sea, having great wrath. In Rev. 20:3, 7, Satan was cast into a bottomless pit and later released from his prison in the bottomless pit.

I made this chart in response to someone’s comment that the “short time” of Rev. 12:12 and the “little while” of Rev. 20:3, 7-10 are identical. My conclusion is that they are very different.

What about Satan’s fall from heaven (Luke 10:18) and his judgment (John 12:31) spoken of by Jesus in the gospels? These statements may very well be parallel to Revelation 12:7-12. “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Did Jesus mean that this had already happened when He made these statements, or that it would happen almost immediately (perhaps at the time of the cross)? Or was Jesus stating that this would happen at the end of the old covenant age, i.e. closer to AD 70? In the case of John 12:31, it seems to be a reference to what would happen at the end of the age since it’s coupled with “the judgment of this world” (compare with II Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2, Eph. 6:12; etc.). My understanding is that that world was judged at the end of the old covenant age (around AD 70).

4. Deceiving the Nations to War (Satan Led This Effort Twice)

(Note: The time frames in the middle column of this chart reflect my understanding.)

PASSAGE

TIME FRAME

NOTES

“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9). Prior to the First Great Revolt (AD 66-73) When John wrote Revelation, Satan was presently deceiving the whole world.
For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). The First Great Revolt (AD 66-73) The nations were being deceived into joining a tragic battle.
“He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:2-3). After the First Great Revolt (AD 66-73) or at least after Jerusalem fell in AD 70 Satan was captured and bound so that he could not deceive the nations during the upcoming “1000 years.” What kind of deception was he prohibited from carrying out during the 1000 years? Was it “deceiving to war”? I think so, because that’s what he did before the 1000 years, and that’s what he would do again –briefly – after the 1000 years.
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:7-8). The Second Great Revolt (AD 132-135)

After the 1000 years, Satan was released and briefly allowed to deceive the nations to war a second time.

Rev. 20:8 speaks of the effort to deceive the nations “to gather them together to battle.” This very closely mirrors what took place leading up to the First Great Revolt: “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of Almighty God” (Revelation 16:14). There are those who would say this was recapitulation, i.e. restating the main points of the same story. However, I believe it’s clear in Revelation 20 that the nations were deceived to war before and after the 1000 years. So that would mean the same story wasn’t told twice, but rather there were two different stories.

B. Two Quotes from Early Church Writers

1. Eusebius

I recently came across an interesting quote from Eusebius (AD 263-339), known as “the father of church history,” concerning the timing of the 1000 years in relation to the resurrection of the dead. What caught my eye is that he attributed a teaching to Luke, the author of the book of Acts, that the resurrection of the dead would come before the “1000 years.” This doesn’t prove anything, but it’s insightful when it comes to how the very early church may have viewed the sequence of the 1000 years in relation to the resurrection. Speaking of Luke, Eusebius wrote (“Church History,” Book III, Chapter 39.11-12):

“The same writer gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Saviour, and some other more mythical things. To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures” (emphasis added).

2. Apocalypse of Paul

The Apocalypse of Paul, part of “the New Testament Apocrypha,” proposed the same sequence for the 1000 years. This book states (chapter 21) that the destruction of the first earth (II Peter 3:10, Revelation 21:1) would come first and then Christ would rule for 1000 years. This is supposed to be Paul’s testimony of what he heard when he was caught up to the third heaven (II Cor. 12:1-4):

“And [the angel] brought me down from the third heaven, and led me into the second heaven, and again he led me to the firmament, and from the firmament he led me unto the gates of heaven. And the beginning of the foundation thereof was upon the river that watereth all the earth. And I asked the angel and said: ‘Lord, what is this river of water?’ and he said unto me: ‘This is the Ocean.’ And suddenly I came out of heaven, and perceived that it is the light of the heaven that shineth upon all the earth (or, all that land). And there the earth (or, land) was seven times brighter than silver. And I said: ‘Lord, what is this place?’ and he said unto me: ‘This is the land of promise. Hast thou not yet heard that which is written: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth? The souls therefore of the righteous when they are gone forth of the body are sent for the time into this place.’ And I said unto the angel: ‘Shall then this land be made manifest after (lat. before) a time?’ The angel answered and said unto me: ‘When Christ whom thou preachest cometh to reign, then by the decree of God the first earth shall be dissolved, and then shall this land of promise be shown and it shall be like dew or a cloud; and then shall the Lord Jesus Christ the eternal king be manifested and shall come with all his saints to dwell therein; and he shall reign over them a thousand years, and they shall eat of the good things which now I will show thee.’”

I haven’t come across any quotes from early church writers stating that the 1000 years would take place before the resurrection of the dead or before the destruction of the first heaven and earth, but if you find any please feel free to share them.

C. An Observation from a Friend about Gog and Magog

Revelation 20:7-8 states that when the 1000 years would expire, Satan would be released from his prison and gather the nations, “Gog and Magog,” to battle. There was some discussion under my last post as to whether or not the gatherings of “Gog and Magog” in Ezekiel 38-39 and in Rev. 20:8 refer to the same event. I do not believe they are identical references. As this post reveals, I believe Ezekiel 38-39 was fulfilled during the days of Esther. Ancil McBarnett, who I was able to meet this year and last year at the Blue Point Bible Church conference, agrees and had this to say:

“Ezekiel [38-39] happened during [the time of] Esther. Revelation seems to refer to that to register a similar occurrence on a wider scale. The big clue is Ezekiel describes a war after the people were displaced and then return and then this war took place. In Revelation it’s the same. It describes a war after the people were displaced [in] AD 70, then returned, [and] then this war took place” (Ancil McBarnett, Facebook, April 21, 2018).

In other words, the “Gog and Magog” attack of Ezekiel 38-39 took place after the Babylonian exile, while the “Gog and Magog” attack of Revelation 20:7-10 took place after the Roman exile. That’s the idea anyway, and personally it makes sense to me.

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The Beast Empowered by the Dragon (Revelation 13:1-2)


This post continues the series, “The Beast of Revelation Was Zealot-Led Israel.” The introduction and outline to this series can be seen here. So far in this series we have examined the four kingdoms of Daniel 2, the four beasts of Daniel 7 (and the little horn), and Revelation 11.

Revelation 13 is probably cited more often than any other chapter when it comes to “the beast” of Revelation, and rightfully so. As you may have noticed in the introduction to this series, 46 percent of the verses in the book of Revelation (16 out of 35) which speak of a beast are in Revelation 13. This chapter actually speaks of two beasts, [1] the one briefly introduced in Revelation 11:7 and [2] a second beast which works closely with the first beast and is later called “the false prophet” (Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10).

The first eight verses of this chapter (Revelation 13:1-8), as well as verse 18, describe “the beast.” We already saw that this beast was responsible for hunting down and killing the two witnesses in Jerusalem. Here we will see that this beast:

-rose up out of the sea
-had seven heads
-had 10 horns with 10 crowns
-had a blasphemous name
-had body parts of a leopard, a bear, and a lion
-received its power, throne, and authority from the dragon (Rev. 12)
-had a mortally wounded head that was healed
-received worship
-was admired for its victories in war
-had authority to continue for 42 months
-blasphemed God, His name, His tabernacle, and His saints
-warred against and overcame the saints
-had authority over every tribe, tongue, and nation
-worked closely with the second beast, later called “the false prophet
-was represented by an image, a mark, a name, and a number

Verses 11-17 describe a second beast that:

-came up out of the earth (also translated “land”)
-had two horns like a lamb
-spoke like a dragon
-worked in the presence of the first beast
-directed those in the land to worship the first beast
-performed great, deceiving signs
-oversaw the creation of an image to the first beast
-granted power to give breath to the image, which could speak and cause people to be killed
-allowed buying and selling only for those who had the mark, number, or name of the first beast

Revelation 13:1

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.”

John was “on the island that is called Patmos” when he recorded his prophetic visions (Rev. 1:9). Patmos is in the Aegian Sea, which “is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea” (Wikipedia). Did John see the beast rise up out of that sea? Recall that Daniel saw “the Great Sea” stirred up (Daniel 7:2) and all four beasts coming “up from the sea” (Daniel 7:3). So Daniel clearly saw the beasts rising up out of the Mediterranean Sea. The Babylonian, Persian, and Greek kingdoms all formed to the east, north, and south of the Mediterranean Sea. The western border of the Judean kingdom was also the Mediterranean Sea.

The term “sea” can represent Gentiles or nations, as it does in Revelation 17:1, 15. (See also Psalm 65:7; Isaiah 17:12-13, 57:20, 60:5; Jeremiah 6:23; Luke 21:25.) As we saw in our study of Revelation 11:1-2, it was not only the Romans in John’s day who were “Gentiles.” The Idumeans and Galileans were also considered to be Gentiles. In Wars 4.3.2-4, Josephus spoke of large multitudes from various regions that “crept into Jerusalem” as the Jewish-Roman War was about to begin, and these multitudes followed the lead of the Zealot movement. The three main Zealot leaders, Eleazar ben Simon, John Levi of Gischala, and Simon Bar Giora, were Galileans. When Simon came to Jerusalem in April 69 AD, he brought an army of 40,000 with him, including many Idumeans (Wars 4.9.3-12).

Revelation 13:1 describes the beast as having seven heads. This is the same number of heads that the dragon (“called the Devil and Satan”) also had (Rev. 12:3, 9). John provides more details about the seven heads in Revelation 17:9-11, and he singles out one of the heads in Rev. 13:3. So when we cover those verses we will explore who the heads were and what roles they played. I believe they were heads of the Zealot movement, some in the decades prior to the Jewish-Roman War and others during the war.

This verse also describes the beast as having 10 horns (Rev. 12:3). Again, this is the same number of horns that the dragon had. John likewise gives more details about the 10 horns in Revelation 17:12-17 than he does in Revelation 13, so we will have that discussion later in this series as well. In the meantime, please feel free to refer to a post I wrote in July 2016 in which I propose that the 10 horns were 10 Jewish generals who were given authority in December 66 AD (Wars 2.20.3-4).

Our study of Daniel 7 also discussed the three horns that were plucked out by the little horn – details that are not found in the book of Revelation. If you read that part of the series, you’ll recall that I proposed that the little horn was Eleazar ben Simon and that the three plucked horns were [1] Ananus ben Ananus [2] Niger of Perea, and [3] Joseph ben Gorion. Their deaths are recorded in Wars 4.5.2 and Wars 4.6.1.

Revelation 13:2

Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.”

Here John describes the beast as having the traits of the first three beasts that Daniel saw come up from the sea in Daniel 7:3-6. There are a couple of things to notice about John’s description:

1. The animals are listed in reverse order compared to how they were listed by Daniel.
2. The leopard trait is most dominant, representing the beast’s body. Only the feet and the mouth of the beast are like a bear and like a lion.

leopard-lion-and-bear

Photo Source

In Daniel’s vision, the lion represented Babylon (Daniel 7:4), the bear represented Medo-Persia (Daniel 7:5; 8:20), and the leopard represented Greece (Daniel 7:6; 8:21-22). In John’s vision, these same animals are listed in reverse order, referring to Greece, Medo-Persia, and Babylon, respectively.

[The leopard = Greece]: As John saw the beast of his own time period, he also looked back into Israel’s history and first saw the kingdom which had most recently held dominion over Israel – Greece. That kingdom was represented in almost the entire body of the beast: “Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard…” It’s no surprise that the Greek trait was most dominant in the Jewish beast of John’s day, considering that Greece/Macedonia was the kingdom which had held dominion over Israel as recently as 323 BC – 142 BC. The Greek language was dominant in the Roman Empire, and was the language into which the Septuagint was translated and the language in which most of the New Testament was written.

A Greek influence was also seen near the beginning of the Jewish-Roman War. When Vespasian captured part of Galilee in the summer of 67 AD, he “sat upon his tribunal at Taricheae, in order to distinguish the foreigners from the old inhabitants; for those foreigners appeared to have begun the war.” Some of those foreigners were from Hippos, which was “a Greco-Roman city” in the Decapolis that was “culturally tied more closely to Greece and Rome than to the Semitic ethnoi around” (Wikipedia). Josephus said that “the greatest part of [those foreigners] were seditious persons and fugitives, who were of such shameful characters that they preferred war before peace.” Most of the other foreigners were from Trachonitis and Gaulanitis, in the region of Batanea near Persia (Wars 3.10.10).

batanea

Photo Source

[The bear = Medo-Persia]: Only the feet of the beast were “like the feet of a bear.” It may be that the sicarii of John’s day best represented the Persian trait of the beast. The sicarii worked with the Zealots in rebelling, making war, and destroying Israel. As Josephus wrote about this group:

“And then it was that the sicarii, as they were called, who were robbers, grew numerous. They made use of small swords, not much different in length from the Persian acinacae, but somewhat crooked, and like the Roman sicae, [or sickles,] as they were called; and from these weapons these robbers got their denomination; and with these weapons they slew a great many; for they mingled themselves among the multitude at their festivals, when they were come up in crowds from all parts to the city to worship God, as we said before, and easily slew those that they had a mind to slay. They also came frequently upon the villages belonging to their enemies, with their weapons, and plundered them, and set them on fire” (Antiquities 20.8.10).

As we saw in the section just above, a good number of the foreigners that “appeared to have begun the war” (Wars 3.10.10) were from the region of Batanea, very close to Persia.

[The lion = Babylon]: Only the mouth of the beast was “like the mouth of a lion.” Mark Mountjoy of Atavist Bible Church said the following in a conversation in New Testament Open University:

“The Babylonian trait can be seen in the mouth of the Lion and can be explained by extreme pride and arrogance (big and pretentious talk – Wars 4.3.1:121-124) around the architectural beauty and security of Jerusalem (and in Josephus this attitude is attributed to John of Gischala – see Wars 4.3.1:126-127).”

Pride is what marked the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon (Daniel 4:37). Here is the quote from Wars 4.3.1 that Mark referred to above, which describes what happened when John Levi escaped from Gischala (in Galilee) and came to Jerusalem in November 67 AD:

“Now upon John’s entry into Jerusalem, the whole body of the people were in an uproar, and ten thousand of them crowded about every one of the fugitives that were come to them, and inquired of them what miseries had happened abroad, when their breath was so short, and hot, and quick, that of itself it declared the great distress they were in; yet did they talk big under their misfortunes, and pretended to say that they had not fled away from the Romans, but came thither in order to fight them with less hazard; for that it would be an unreasonable and a fruitless thing for them to expose themselves to desperate hazards about Gischala, and such weak cities, whereas they ought to lay up their weapons and their zeal, and reserve it for their metropolis… But for John, he was very little concerned for those whom he had left behind him, but went about among all the people, and persuaded them to go to war, by the hopes he gave them. He affirmed that the affairs of the Romans were in a weak condition, and extolled his own power. He also jested upon the ignorance of the unskillful, as if those Romans, although they should take to themselves wings, could never fly over the wall of Jerusalem, who found such great difficulties in taking the villages of Galilee, and had broken their engines of war against their walls. These harangues of John’s corrupted a great part of the young men, and puffed them up for the war.”

In this regard, we can also note that Eleazar ben Simon, the Zealot leader who was in Jerusalem for the entire war (until he was killed in April 70 AD), was known for his “tyrannical temper” (Wars 2.20.3). A man like that may also very well have had a mouth like a lion.

Mark Mountjoy provides this summary of the Greek, Medo-Persian, and Babylonian traits of the beast (New Testament Open University; January 24, 2017):

“Here are some fascinating tid-bits: The Zealots correspond to the leopard traits of the beast. As thorough-going Hellenists they warred against each other just like Alexander’s generals fought tooth and nail after he died. Leopards hunt at night and are swift and stealthy. The Sicarii correspond to the bear traits. The small knife they carried and were infamous for (and even named after) came from Persia (the bear). Unlike the Zealots (who were swift and prone to infighting), the Sicarii were slow and, after the initial wins in Jerusalem, retired to Masada for the duration of the war. I would say that John Gischala and his initial leadership of the beast corresponds to the Babylonians. His boast about the Romans being unable to fly over the walls of Jerusalem even if they had eagle’s wings (Wars 4.3.1:121-127) makes one think of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride for the grand architecture and gardens of Babylon. And John Gischala, (like Belshazzar) went into the Holy Place and used God’s utensils and the priestly oil and wine in a sacrilegious way (Wars 5.13.6:562-565).”

[The dragon gave its power to the beast]: In the last part of verse 2 we see the statement that “the dragon gave him [the beast] his power, his throne, and great authority.” This statement takes us back to Revelation 12, where John saw “a great, fiery red dragon” that had seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads (Rev. 12:2) just like the beast (Rev. 13:1). That dragon had his own angels (Rev. 12:7), was kicked out of heaven (Rev. 12:8), and was cast to the earth (Rev. 12:9). He was also called “that serpent of old”, “the Devil,” and “Satan” (Rev. 12:9).

Notice that the dragon’s primary activity was accusing the brethren: “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down” (Rev. 12:10). This trait is another strong indication that the dragon gave his power, throne, and authority to a Jewish beast rather than to a Roman beast. The following Scripture passages demonstrate a repeated pattern among the Jewish authorities of accusing Jesus and His followers during the New Testament period (my thanks goes to Steven Haukdahl for initially sharing a similar list with me):

Matthew 12:10, 27:12, 27:37;
Mark 3:2, 15:3-4, 15:26;
Luke 11:54, 23:2, 23:10, 23:14;
John 8:6, 18:29;
Acts 22:30, 23:28-29, 24:2; 24:8, 24:13; 25:5, 25:11, 26:2, 26:7

Also note that Peter gave the following warning to his readers: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Interestingly, the prophet Zephaniah said this about Jerusalem in his day: “Her princes in her midst are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave not a bone till morning” (Zephaniah 3:3). The Judaizers in Peter’s day, who were like “natural brute beasts,” apparently were known for bringing “a reviling accusation” against God’s people, which even the angels would not do (II Peter 2:11-12; Jude 8-10).

When the Zealots gained control of Jerusalem during the Jewish-Roman War, they displayed this same trait by frequently bringing accusations against the people, even killing those whom they merely suspected of having any sympathy toward Rome (Wars 5.1.5). During the Zealot siege of early 68 AD, the Zealots, with the help of the Idumeans, set up “fictitious tribunals and judicatures” to falsely accuse their enemies:

“And now these zealots and Idumeans were quite weary of barely killing men, so they had the impudence of setting up fictitious tribunals and judicatures for that purpose; and as they intended to have Zacharias the son of Baruch, one of the most eminent of the citizens, slain, – so what provoked them against him was, that hatred of wickedness and love of liberty which were so eminent in him: he was also a rich man, so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects, but also to get rid of a man that had great power to destroy them. So they called together, by a public proclamation, seventy of the principal men of the populace, for a show, as if they were real judges, while they had no proper authority. Before these was Zacharias accused of a design to betray their polity to the Romans, and having traitorously sent to Vespasian for that purpose. Now there appeared no proof or sign of what he was accused; but they affirmed themselves that they were well persuaded that so it was… So two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias in the middle of the temple, and slew him…” (Wars 4.5.4).

After the Zealots eliminated the prominent men whom they considered to be threats, Josephus described how they suspected, targeted, and accused anyone and everyone:

“…and indeed there was no part of the people but they found out some pretense to destroy them; for some were therefore slain, because they had had differences with some of them; and as to those that had not opposed them in times of peace, they watched seasonable opportunities to gain some accusation against them; and if any one did not come near them at all, he was under their suspicion as a proud man; if any one came with boldness, he was esteemed a contemner of them; and if any one came as aiming to oblige them, he was supposed to have some treacherous plot against them; while the only punishment of crimes, whether they were of the greatest or smallest sort, was death” (Wars 4.6.1).

The Roman siege of Jerusalem began in mid-April AD 70. As it heated up, Simon and John worked together in the most sinister way, falsely accusing people of plotting against them, attempting to betray Jerusalem to the Romans, or attempting to flee to the Romans. Josephus says that they passed these victims back and forth between each other:

“For the men that were in dignity, and withal were rich, they were carried before the tyrants themselves; some of whom were falsely accused of laying treacherous plots, and so were destroyed; others of them were charged with designs of betraying the city to the Romans; but the readiest way of all was this, to suborn [hire] somebody to affirm that they were resolved to desert to the enemy. And he who was utterly despoiled of what he had by Simon was sent back again to John, as of those who had been already plundered by Jotre, Simon got what remained; insomuch that they drank the blood of the populace to one another, and divided the dead bodies of the poor creatures between them; so that although, on account of their ambition after dominion, they contended with each other, yet did they very well agree in their wicked practices” (Wars 5.10.4).

Josephus recorded many other instances of the Zealots and Jewish leaders accusing their enemies, including the following examples: Wars 1.5.3; 1.9.2; 1.10.1; 1.12.4-5 (“accused the brethren”); 1.16.7; 1.22.3; 1.23.1, 3, 4; 1.24.6, 8; 1.26.2-5; 1.27.1-3, 5-6; 1.29.2-3; 1.32.4, 6; 1.33.4; 2.2.1, 4-6; 2.6.1-2; 2.9.5-6; 2.14.3, 5; 2.21.2, 7; 4.4.3; 4.5.4; 4.6.17.2.1; 7.3.3; 7.10.1; and 7.11.1-3.

In the next post we will look at Revelation 13:3, the mortal wounding of one of the beast’s seven heads, and the healing of that wound. I will also present an overview of the Zealot movement, the movement which I believe was led by those seven heads.

All of the posts in this series can be found at this page.