Destruction of Creation and the End of the Millennium- #4
As I suggested at the close of the previous article, what I want to do now is to take a brief look at another text in Revelation that, while it does not specifically mention the passing of heaven and earth, it is patently parallel to the three texts examined in our earlier articles. That text is Revelation 11:15f:
“And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, ‘We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast; because thou hast taken thy great power, and did reign. And the nations were wroth, and thy wrath came, and the time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, the small and the great; and to destroy them that destroy the earth.’ And there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there followed lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
Here is the Day of God’s Wrath, in judgment of the persecuting “great city,” the city where the Lord was crucified. This is the Day of the Lord’s Wrath of chapter 6:12f. It is the Day of the Lord’s Wrath of Revelation 16, the Wrath against Babylon, the city that killed the prophets.
I think there is little doubt that Revelation 11 is directly parallel with Revelation 20 and that Great White Throne Judgment. And most scholars agree with this. For brevity I will refrain from citing a list of those scholars. Be sure to read each of the previous three articles in this series to see the evidence for this correlation: #1 #2 #3
What comes at the judgment of the city– at the Great Day of the Lord– of Revelation 11 and Revelation 18-20?
☛ Vindication of the martyrs
☛ The marriage – (Although the marriage is not explicitly mentioned, the time of the kingdom is the time of the wedding in the Tanakh (Isaiah 62; Hosea, etc.). I take note of this because unfortunately, there are those who have adopted what I call the “Missing Elements Hermeneutic.” By this I mean, as Sam Frost has stated several times lately, that when a given text does not contain given specific words (that he personally demands to be present) that the text cannot be speaking of AD 70 or the end of the Old Covenant age. This is a horrible specious and false hermeneutic).
☛ Judgment of the nations– 11:15f / 20:10f, and compare of course, Matthew 25:31f.
☛ The kingdom – The New Creation
☛ Salvation– 19:1-2. The time of the resurrection is patently the time of salvation.
☛ Entrance into the MHP– 15:8f– 16:17– The New Creation– The End of the Millennium!
To delineate between these two chapters would take some extremely powerful evidence, and to this date I have seen no such evidence. In fact, few attempt to make such a distinction.
So, what we have then is a perfect symmetry between Revelation 11 and Revelation 20. Thus, since Revelation 20 posits the judgment, the rewarding of the dead, the vindication of the martyrs, the kingdom / New Creation at the end of the Millennium, that demands that Revelation 11, and its depiction of those identical tenets occurs at the end of the Millennium.
Now, since Revelation 11and Revelation 20 are patently parallel, this demands that even though Revelation does not explicitly mention the passing of heaven and earth, nonetheless, the passing of “heaven and earth” did occur at the time of that judgment in AD 70.
This is confirmed by a look at the final text in Revelation for us to examine in our study of the passing of creation and the Millennium, that speaks of the passing of creation, Revelation 6:12f:
“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and 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! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Now, there are several critical tenets to be gleaned from this text:
★ This Day of the Lord is in response to the prayer of the martyrs for vindication. That means that unless we can find a way to divorce this prediction from Jesus’ paradigmatic discussion of the vindication of the martyrs in Matthew 23, that this Day of the Lord was to be at the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem in AD 70.
★ The language of “de-creation” used to describe that Day of the Lord is taken from some key OT prophecies that also predicted the destruction of “heaven and earth.” Specifically, the text draws directly from Isaiah 34 and the prediction of the fall of Edom, which took place in approximately BC 583 at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. The prophet Malachi looks back on the destruction of Edom, even echoing some of the precise language used there (Malachi 1:2f). Now, since Edom had already perished in the time of Malachi, that is definitive proof that the language of Isaiah was metaphoric, figurative language that is not to be understood literally. That is virtual proof that the language of Revelation 6:12f is likewise metaphoric and does not describe a literal, visible, coming of the Lord at a destruction of material creation.
★ The language of, “The kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,” is taken from a critical OT prophecy of the last days.
This language is taken from the time of warfare. For instance, when the Midianites invaded Israel, the people fled and hid in the rocks and the caves (Judges 6). Later, when the Philistines invaded Israel, the people once again hid in the rocks and the caves (1 Samuel 13). Much later, in predicting the invasion of Israel by Assyria, the Lord said that at that time, the inhabitants of Israel would cry to the mountains, “Fall on us” as they ran to the hills and hid in the caves (Hosea 10:8).
The point is that the language of hiding in the rocks and the caves was typical language to describe a time of carnal warfare. Now, needless to say, this cannot be speaking of an end of time coming of the Lord that is over “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” or there would be no time to run to the hills! And what good would it do to hide in the caves?
Not only is the language of running to the hills taken from a time of warfare, this very language in Revelation 6 is a direct citation of Isaiah 2:10-21. This is a “last days” prophecy (Isaiah 2:2f), of the Day of the Lord, when the Lord would arise “to shake the earth mightily” (2:19). Now, what is so significant about John’s citation of Isaiah is that Jesus also quoted from the identical verses from Isaiah 2, in Luke 23:28-31. There, in a prediction of the impending fall of Jerusalem, Jesus quoted from Isaiah 2, again, the very verse that John cites in Revelation 6! The question therefore is, since Jesus applied Isaiah 2 to AD 70 then since John quoted from the very verse that Jesus applied to AD 70, upon what grounds would we radically change Jesus’ application in Revelation to an end of time event?
So, Isaiah 2 foretold the Day of the Lord when the Lord would “shake the earth.” Revelation cites that prophecy and along with language from other Day of the Lord prophecies such as Isaiah 34, prophecies that are demonstrably metaphoric, predicted the Day of the Lord and the destruction of creation.
We thus have John predicting the Day of the Lord’s Wrath for the vindication of the martyrs, that Jesus said would occur in the judgment of Jerusalem. We have John citing Isaiah 2 and the very verses that Jesus applied to the coming judgment of Jerusalem. (And I should note that Isaiah 4:4 also places that judgment at the time of the vindication of the martyrs). And we have John quoting the metaphoric language of the Day of the Lord against Edom, that is prima facie demonstrably not an end of time Day of the Lord. This means that the destruction of heaven and earth in Revelation 6 cannot be referent to an end of time destruction of literal, material creation.
★ This is the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath, which is to be conflated with Revelation 11, 16 and 20. The Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation 6 is for the vindication of the martyrs. The Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation 11 is the time of the vindication of the slain prophets. The Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation 16 is the time of the vindication of the prophets and saints. And in Revelation 20 the earth and heaven flee away, which is indicative of the Lord’s Wrath. There is clearly no justification for divorcing Revelation 6 from chapter 11, 16 and 20.
Now, since the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation 6:12f is the answer to the prayer of the martyrs for vindication, (and comes after they received their robes) then since the vindication of the martyrs (after they had been seated on their thrones) occurs at the end of the Millennium in Revelation 20, that means that the Great Day of the Lord in Revelation 6, 11 and 16 occurs at the end of the Millennium.
★ There is much, much more in Revelation 6 that could be examined and demonstrated to apply to the Lord’s coming in vindication of the martyrs in AD 70 but this is sufficient.
Now, the thing to notice here is that at this vindication of the martyrs Creation is destroyed. Just as the mountains fled away and the islands were no more in chapter 16, here we have the “cosmic” destruction of creation, the sun is darkened, the moon blacked, the stars fall. And this is what happens in chapter 20 when “earth and heaven” fled away at the Day of the Lord and the Great White Throne Judgment. And of course, in chapter 20, to reiterate the point just made, that means that Revelation 6, Revelation 11 and Revelation 16 all depict the destruction of creation at the end of the Millennium.
A final note here: One cannot fail to see that these verses are a direct echo of Matthew 24:29-30:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Here we have the deconstruction of creation language of Revelation. This is the language of Revelation 6. This is “cosmic destruction.” And yet, most Amillennial and Postmillennial commentators recognize that we have here typical apocalyptic language, the language of the Tanakh, that was never intended to be taken literally.
Sadly, in one of many, many dramatic and drastic on-going changes in his eschatology, former preterist Sam Frost, who until very recently admitted that Matthew 24:29f referred to the Lord’s coming in AD 70, he just recently, on a FaceBook discussion, flatly denied that Matthew 24:29f referred in any way at all to the Lord’s coming in AD 70. He also now says that he is “reconsidering” his long held view that Babylon of Revelation was Old Covenant Jerusalem. This is just stunning, not to mention unwarranted and sad. But, regardless of whether one abandons the truth or not, the undeniable reality that every futurist view must face is that in Revelation we have a three-fold destruction of creation. We have the Day of the Lord’s Wrath, We have the vindication of the martyrs. And this is precisely what we find in the Olivet Discourse.
Now, since Jesus said that ALL, not some, but all of the things foretold in Matthew 24 would take place in his generation, this means that, just as 24:29f suggests, “creation” was destroyed in that generation. Not only that, but, in the Discourse we have the vindication of the martyrs promised by Jesus in chapter 23. And, we have the Day of God’s wrath: “The be the days of vengeance in which all things written must be fulfilled.”
Since, as we have seen, Creation is destroyed at the end of the Millennium, that means that Matthew 24:29f, Revelation 6, (Revelation 11), Revelation 16 describe the Lord’s coming at the end of the Millennium. That is, unless one wishes to posit the multiple destructions of literal heaven and earth at the coming of Christ. But, does each of these text predict a different coming of the Son of Man, to destroy creation and vindicate the martyrs? Do we have four, three, two or one comings of the Son of Man to vindicate the martyrs? Jesus is clear in Matthew 23 that he only anticipated one such vindication, one such avenging of all of the blood shed on the earth, from Creation onward.
And, a closer look at the concept of the coming of the Son of Man vindicates this claim. So, we will do that in the next installment, so stay tuned as we continue to discuss the destruction of creation and the end of the millennium!