Unlocking the Four Visions
As we saw in Part 3, the period referred to “a time, times, and half a time” (also as ‘1,260 days’, ‘42 months’, half ‘a week’ of years,1 and ‘three years and six months’) is referred to by John five times, by Daniel twice directly and twice indirectly,2 by Jesus once, and by His brother James once. These eleven references are undeniably very significant Biblically.
Many today, especially the millions of readers and viewers of the Left Behind series, think it will be a literal time period sometime in the future but their view is based entirely on a simple misreading of Daniel 9:27 regarding the 70th Week.3 However, as I established in Part 3, this period is a metaphor for the last 2,000 years, apparently ending when Israel regained Jerusalem in 1967. ‘Apparently’ because, although, they regained sovereignty…:
…their general, Moshe Dayan, handed back the jurisdiction of the Temple Mount to the Waqf, the Muslim council, as a sign to the Arab League of Israel’s peaceful intentions… It is therefore quite possible that until Israel has regained full control of the Temple Mount…, Jerusalem is still being ‘trodden underfoot by the Gentiles’.4
How does this understanding now help us to understand Revelation? Let’s use this key to unlock the four visions in Chapters 11, 12, 13, and 17 and see if they were being fulfilled over the last 2,000 years. We’ll start with the easiest first, Chapter 12.
In Part 2, the FCJT Approach5 established the woman as unbelieving Israel who was to be ‘nourished’ in the wilderness for three and a half years (v. 6 & 14) after rejecting Jesus as her Son.6 Daniel describes this as ‘a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time’7 during which ‘the power of the holy people’ would be ‘shattered’.8
Isn’t that exactly what happened to Israel over the last 2,000 years? They wandered powerless in the wilderness of the peoples from 70 AD until May 14, 1948, when “all the nations” in the United Nations restored Israel as a sovereign nation. All that time, as in the time of Elijah, God was judging Israel and the gospel was going to the Gentiles in ‘all the nations’. With sovereignty they regained the power to defend themselves again but have yet to turn back to God.
The first beast was given ‘authority over every tribe and people and tongue’ and ‘to make war with the saints and to overcome them’ for three and a half years (v. 7). Daniel adds this is when he “will wear down the saints” and “make alterations in times and in law”.9 The second beast causes the people ‘to make an image to the beast… And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed’ (v. 15).
Following the FCJT10 approach, we are able to identify the first beast as the feral state which had also manifested in Daniel’s four beasts.11 Any state can go feral when, instead of serving man to impartially administer justice, it abandons its God-given function and instead claims everyone’s highest allegiance. It happened in John’s day – the Romans poured out libations and burned incense to Dea Roma and every emperor, from Augustus onwards, as Rome’s living image. The Romans also wore down the saints and changed the solar calendar, adding our months of July and August in honour of Julius Caesar and Augustus, and imposed their law on every nation they conquered. But then what?
Emperor-worship didn’t stop after the Romans any more than feral states did. While today we don’t pour out libations or burn incense to an effigy of our political leaders, we are giving them ‘worth-ship’ whenever we value them above God by accepting their demands above His. The phenomenon manifested throughout the last 2,000 years and reached a crescendo in the 20th Century: consider Stalin’s USSR, Hirohito’s Japan, Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany, Mao Zedong’s China, Kim Il Sung’s North Korea, and Pol Pot’s Kampuchea, et al. Not only did these antichrists ‘overcome the saints’, they caused the deaths of over 270 million people of virtually every nation.12 What of the 21st Century? We need to keep an eye on dictators for life such as Xi Jinping in China and Vladimir Putin in Russia but, as I see it, the greatest threat will come from an empire that’s 1,400 years old, has 1.6 billion adherents, and controls 57 nations – Islam. Their long-dead prophet-emperor still speaks through ayatollahs, imams, and mullahs.
Over the last 2,000 years, the second beast was also to impose the infamous mark of the beast. Did that happen? Certainly did in John’s day. The word he used in Greek, charagma, was the imperial seal bearing the name of the relevant emperor and the year of his reign – the one pictured here was used in Alexandria, Egypt, in 5-6 AD and bears the name of Augustus and the number 35, the year of his reign). These seals were impressed on documents to authorise the bearer to buy and sell in the markets of the Roman Empire and every 1st Century Jewish teenager knew this.
Where John lost us 21st Century Gentiles, but not our 1st Century Jewish teenager, was where he took this well-known everyday article and combined and contrasted it with the four metaphorical marks of ownership that God places on the right hand and forehead of all of His people. See Exodus 13:9 & 16 and Deuteronomy 6:8 & 11:18.13
Rather than explain it all here, I’ll be writing another article re the coming of the microchip for digital ID. Let me just say now that the mark of the beast has been around for the last 2,000 years – the microchip is not it – and we simply haven’t recognised it but we obviously need to.
My favourite theologian N.T. Wright says of this vision:
People find many books puzzling, but the Bible is often the most puzzling of all. People find many parts of the Bible puzzling, but Revelation is often seen as the most puzzling book of all. And people find Revelation puzzling, but the first half of chapter 11… is, for many, the most puzzling part of all. (There are some other strong contenders for this dubious distinction, but chapter 11 can hold its own).14
Let’s see how the FCJT15 approach solves the puzzle. Jerusalem ‘has been given to the nations’ to occupy, to ‘tread underfoot’, for three and a half years (Rev 11:2); the two witnesses are to prophesy there for three and a half years (v. 3) and they are to be killed by the beast after three and a half years (v. 7). So what does this mean and why that length of time?
We’ve just established that the beast is the feral state which, in John’s day, manifested in Rome as described in Revelation 13 and throughout the last 2,000 years, especially in the 20th Century in the USSR, Japan, Italy, Germany, China, et al. In Revelation 11, however, it manifests in Israel at the end of the three and a half years to silence the two witnesses. In other words, after the Jews regained Jerusalem in 1967. So where were the witnesses throughout those 2,000 years?
As I detail in my Silencing the Witnesses: Jerusalem & the Ascent of Secularism, the two witnesses are personifications of ‘the Law and the Prophets’, recognisable by the allusions to Moses and Elijah and also seen by Zechariah.16 As Jesus taught in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, if Israel won’t trust Jesus’ testimony, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). These two witnesses certainly have been testifying to Israel over the last 2,000 years so our rediscovered key fits in the lock. What do we find when it opens up?
While the Law and the Prophets testify in remarkable detail that Messiah was to die and be raised on the third day17 and exactly why, the Law also bears witness to every sin in Israel:
“Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you.”18
This is why Jesus warned His Jewish listeners:
“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.”19
Notice, Jesus anthropomorphised the Scriptures20 recording the Law as ‘Moses’ and added, “it is these that testify about Me”.21 The Prophets also testify, highlighting wherever the Law is being broken, so together the two witnesses have continued to point to Israel’s desperate need of atonement and, unless they come to Jesus, they have no means of atonement – that was forever destroyed with the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. As the Letter to Hebrews predicted just before the Temple was destroyed, ‘whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear’22 and that included not only the sacrifices, as in Daniel 9:27, but the altar and the Temple itself.23
Accordingly, all that was left for unbelieving Israel was the curse of the Law, which John describes in Revelation 11:6. If you haven’t read about it recently, take the time and read Leviticus 26:14 ff. and Deuteronomy 28:15 ff. for yourself. Don’t these two passages describe the last 2,000 years of Jewish history? That’s what John is telling us all.
So how did the beast kill the witnesses? When Israel became a nation in 1948, they decided to be a secular state. For the first time ever in their 3,500 year history, they didn’t renew the covenant after being restored and/or revived. Compare this with Joshua’s time in 1406 BC and 1381 BC, Jehoiada’s time in 835 BC, Hezekiah’s time in 715 BC, Josiah’s time in 622 BC, Ezra and Nehemiah’s time in 444 BC, and Judas Maccabee’s time in 164 BC.24 Every time then, the people re-dedicated themselves and their nation to God and the Mosaic covenant but not this time. When they finally regained Jerusalem in 1967, they left the two witnesses lying dead in the street, unmourned and dishonoured, as we see today.
The two witnesses will, however, be resurrected, vindicated before Jesus returns as huge numbers in Israel will turn to Him. Paul wrote that there has been ‘a veil’ over Moses for ‘the sons of Israel’25 until they accept Him as Messiah:
…to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.26
This is happening in our day in increasing numbers – in 2017, it was reported there were 20,000 Messianic Jewish believers in Israel27 – so we should watch for this.
This is the fourth vision mentioned in Part 328 and the beast which carries a woman, Babylon the Great, in the wilderness is the first beast of Revelation 13. This becomes evident when God judges it in Chapter 19 – there are only two beasts and not three. When we understand Babylon the Great properly, we’ll see that the beast has been carrying her for the last 2,000 years too and one day soon will turn on her, as in Revelation 17:16. This is a whole new study which I cover in my forthcoming book, Kingdom Come: Justice for All.
If we will only turn away from our 21st Century Gentile mind-set and scholarly confusion, we can readily learn what would have already been known by a teenager in John’s 1st Century Jewish audience and cross the marsh of Revelation on rock-solid stepping stones. To properly understand four of John’s major visions, we need to grasp their timing:
(i) The ‘three and a half years’, predicted by Daniel and John and explained by Jesus, is not a literal future time but a metaphor for the last 2,000 years.
(i) It was called “the times of the Gentiles” because it was prefigured by Elijah’s three and a half year drought on Israel during which he helped the Gentile widow.
(ii) It began with the Crucifixion in 30 AD when Jesus sent the Twelve to make disciples of “all the nations” and its end is to be seen in two major events: the gospel reaching every nation and Israel regaining Jerusalem. After 2,000 years, we are living in that time.
(iii) John the Baptist fulfilled Elijah’s first metaphorical return before Jesus’ first coming and Elijah’s second metaphorical return is to be seen in the restoration of “all things” to Israel, especially Jerusalem, before Jesus’ second coming.
(iv) The appearance of this time period in:
- Revelation 12 reveals what has been happening to unbelieving Israel over the last 2,000 years and why Israel’s restoration in our time is so significant.
- Revelation 13 reveals what has been happening in “all the nations” over the last 2,000 years whenever we worship our ’emperors’ and leaders, political or religious, instead of Jesus. This reached a crescendo in the 20th Century and the most obvious threat in the 21st Century can be seen in Islam.
- Revelation 11 reveals that God did not leave Himself without a witness in Israel, that the Law and the Prophets had been testifying to them for the last 2,000 years, and they are being increasingly vindicated today as Jews increasingly turn to Jesus.
- While this time period is not mentioned in Revelation 17, it is the beast of Revelation 13 that has been carrying Babylon the Great over the last 2,000 years and will destroy her soon so we should keep watching for that to happen soon.
We can therefore now discard inaccurate understandings of these four visions, applying them properly to our times and what lies ahead for you and me.
Lastly, all this illustrates that if we Gentiles want to better understand God and His ways, we should leave the trajectory taken by Gentile church leaders in the 4th Century when they separated themselves from 1,500 years of prior Jewish revelation and instead take seriously Paul’s warning:
But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles… if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.29
We Gentiles must ‘not be arrogant toward the branches’ and gratefully accept ‘the rich root of the olive tree’ into which we have been grafted which includes the Jewish ‘oracles of God’,30 i.e. their Hebrew Bible and our Old Testament, as well as their history of God’s covenants,31 and the extraordinary concepts, metaphors, and prophetic dramas in their festivals.32 For example, instead of studying church history for various ‘atonement theories’, we should study instead Yom Kippur, Israel’s annual audio-visual given to explain to us all God’s revelation of atonement.
I’ll be writing more on this in the days to come.
Hitler By Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1990-048-29A / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5783006
Hirohito: By Unknown author – Unknown, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89154618
Stalin: By U.S. Signal Corps photo. – http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3a33351, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11194847
Mussolini: By Martianmister and Vps – Unknown, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27591722
Castro: By Warren K. Leffler – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID ppmsc.03256.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12635646
Zedong: By неизвестный (unknown) – http://sarbaharapath.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Mao2.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=70869121
Hebrew writing:By see en:Aleppo Codex; scanned by http://www.aleppocodex.org – http://www.aleppocodex.org, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9663094
Jews for Jesus: By AntanO – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65199850
- Daniel’s 70th Week is cut in half and both halves are important – the first is literal, being the three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry in Israel, the second is our metaphorical “times of the Gentiles” when He ministers to them.
- Daniel’s 70th Week of years is cut in half.
- They think the subject of the verse, ‘he’, refers to the Antichrist making a Middle East peace treaty but the subject of the previous verse, v. 26, is Messiah the Prince and still is in v. 27 – the Antichrist won’t be making a seven-year peace treaty for Israel nor allowing them to rebuild the Temple to offer sacrifices and then stopping them after three and a half years. The ‘he’ should be capitalised because it’s Jesus. As I show in my book Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws (pp. 102-106), the 70th Week is prefigured by Creation’s seven days (Gen 2:2), Noah’s receiving seven days’ warning to enter the ark (Gen 7:1 & 4), Jacob’s working seven years for his brides (Gen 29:20 & 28), Joseph’s storing seven years’ of grain for the famine (Gen 41:29), the seven days of the red heifer’s ashes ritual (Num 19:19. Explained in The Red Heifer’s Ashes), and the seven years building Solomon’s Temple (1 Kin 6:38).
It was in the midst of Messiah’s Week, after He had ministered to Israel for three and a half years, that Jesus introduced the New Covenant for us all, rendering the entire sacrificial system unnecessary. Crucifying Him was Israel’s worst ‘abomination that causes desolation’ (Slouching Towards Bethlehem, pp. 265-280) and was the reason for their nation’s ‘complete destruction’ in 70 AD by ‘the people of the prince who is to come’ i.e. the Romans, led by Titus who was then elevated from conquering general to emperor of Rome.
- Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws, p. 125.
- First Century Jewish Teenager
- Explained in my Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws: The Mystery of Israel’s Survival.
- Dan 12:1
- Dan 12:7
- Dan 7:25
- 1st Century Jewish Teenager
- Dan 7:3-7
- Details in my Slouching Towards Bethlehem: The Rise of the Antichrists.
- Explained in my Gotta Serve Somebody: The Marks of God & 666.
- Revelation for Everyone, p. 97.
- 1st Century Jewish Teenager
- Zech 4:3 & 14
- Luke 24:44-57
- Deut 31:26, emphasis added
- John 5:45
- John 5:39
- Heb 8:13
- John 2:19-22
- Silencing the Witnesses: Jerusalem & the Ascent of Secularism, pp. 217-237
- 2 Cor 3:13-14
- 2 Cor 3:15-16
- The Four Visions
- Rom 11:13, 17-18
- Rom 3:2
- Rom 9:4
- Col 2:16-17