The Beast from the Land

Just as the Beast from the sea was in the image of the Dragon, so we see another creature in Revelation 13 who is in the image of the Beast. John saw this one "coming up out of the Land" (13:11), arising from within Israel itself. In Revelation 19:20, we are told the identity of this Land Beast: he is "the False Prophet." As such, he represents what Jesus had foretold would take place in Israel's last days: "Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. . . . Many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many" (Matt.24:5, 11). The rise of the false prophets paralleled that of the antichrists; but whereas the antichrists had apostatized into Judaism from within the Church, the false prophets were Jewish religious leaders who sought to seduce Christians from the outside.

It is important to remember that Judaism is not Old Testament religion, but rather a rejection of the Biblical faith altogether in favor of the Pharisaical, Talmudic heresy. Like Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Unification Church, and other cults, it claims to be based on the Bible; but its actual authority comes from the traditions of men. Jesus was quite clear: Judaism denies Christ because it denies Moses. Orthodox Christianity alone is the true continuation and fulfillment of Old Testament religion (see Matt. 5:17-20; 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Luke 16:29-31; John 5:45-47; 8:42-47).

The Jewish false prophets had the appearance of a lamb (Rev. 13:11), as Jesus had warned (Matt. 7:15); but they "spoke as a Dragon" (Rev. 13:11). How does the Dragon speak? He uses deceptive, subtle, seductive speech to draw God's people away from the faith and into a trap (Gen. 3:1-6, 13; 2 Cor. 11:3; Rev.

furthermore, he is a liar, a slanderer, and a blasphemer (John 8:44; Rev. 12:10). The Book of Acts records numerous examples of Draconian false witness by the Jews against Christians, a major problem for the early Church (Acts 6:9-15; 13:10; 14:2-5; 17:5-8; 18:6, 12-13; 19:9; 21:27-36; 24:1-9; 25:2-3, 7).

The Jewish leaders, symbolized by this Beast from the Land, joined forces with the Beast of Rome in an attempt to destroy the Church (Acts 4:24-28; 12:1-3; 13:8; 14:5; 17:5-8; 18:12-13; 21:11;24:1-9;25:2-3, 9, 24). They led Israel in worship of the Emperor (Rev. 13:12); and, in the service of apostasy, the false prophets even performed miracles (Rev. 13:13-15). Jesus had warned that "false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, the very elect" (Matt. 24:24). Again, Acts records instances of miracle-working Jewish false prophets, including the fact that, as Jesus had foretold (Matt. 7:22-23), some of them even used His name in their incantations (Acts 13:6-11; 19:13-16).

The Jewish leaders enforced submission to the Emperor. Indeed, their charge against Christ Himself was that He was a rival to the all-embracing authority of Caesar (John 19:12-15). Similarly, they organized economic boycotts against those who refused to submit to Caesar as Lord, going so far as to put them to death (Rev. 13:15-17). The Book of Acts is studded with incidents of organized Jewish persecution of the Church (Acts 4:1-3, 15-18; 5:17-18, 27-33, 40; 7:51-60; 9:23, 29; 13:45-50;

14:2-5; 17:5-8, 13; 18:17; 20:3; 22:22-23; 23:12, 20-21; 24:27; 26:21; 28:17-29; cf. 1 Thess. 2:14-16).

The New Testament gives abundant testimony of this fact. The Jewish hierarchy was involved in a massive, organized attempt to destroy the Church by both deceit and persecution. In pursuit of this diabolical goal, they united in a conspiracy with the Roman government against Christianity. Some of them were able to perform miracles in the service of Satan. And this is exactly what is told us of the Beast from the Land. The False Prophet of Revelation was none other than the leadership of apostate Israel, who rejected Christ and worshiped the Beast.

There is an interesting reversal of imagery in the text. The Book of Job has prepared us for John's prophecy, for it too tells us of a Land Beast (Behemoth, Job 40:15-24) and a Sea Beast (Leviathan, Job 41:1-34). But John's visions expand on Job's descriptions of these dinosaurs, and the order of their appearance is reversed. First we see Satan as the Dragon, the true Leviathan (Rev. 12); then comes the Sea Beast, who is in the Dragon's image (Rev. 13: 1); finally, trailing behind and serving them, comes the Land Beast, in the image of the Sea Beast. By thus showing the Beasts appearing in reverse order, John underscores his point: Israel, which was to have been a kingdom of priests to the nations of the world, has surrendered its position of priority to Leviathan. Instead of placing a godly imprint upon every culture and society, Israel has been remade into the image of the pagan, antichristian State. Abraham's children have become the seed of the Dragon (John 8:37-44).

During three years of ministry in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul continually suffered persecution because of "the plots of the Jews" (Acts 20:19); in describing his conflicts with them, he called them "wild beasts" (1 Cor. 15:32). The Jewish Beast was the early Church's most deceptive and dangerous enemy, and Paul strenuously warned the Church about these Judaistic seducers:

For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed (Tit. 1:10-16).

TABLE OF NUMERALS IN USE DURING THE BIBLICAL PERIOD

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Source: J. D. Douglas, ed., New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press; Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1982), pp. 842-43.

A king who has founded a city, so far from neglecting it when through the carelessness of the inhabitants it is attacked by robbers, avenges it and saves it from destruction, having regard rather to his own honour than to the people's neglect. Much more, then, the Word of the All-good Father was not unmindful of the human race that He had called to be; but rather, by the offering of His own body He abolished the death which they had incurred, and corrected their neglect by His own teaching. Thus by His own power He restored the whole nature of man.

St. Athanasius, On the incarnation [101

THE GREAT HARLOT (Revelation 17-19)

The Book of Revelation presents us with two great cities, antithetical to each other: Babylon and New Jerusalem. As we will see in a later chapter, the New Jerusalem is Paradise Consummated, the community of the saints, the City of God. The other city, which is continually contrasted to the New Jerusalem, is the old Jerusalem, which has become unfaithful to God. If we knew our Bibles better this would be immediately apparent, for most of the language describing "Babylon" is taken from other Biblical descriptions of Jerusalem. Let's consider some of the information John provides about this evil city.

First, we are told that she is "the great Harlot . . . with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication" (Rev. 17: 1-2). This striking picture of a Harlot-city fornicating with the nations comes from Isaiah 57 and Ezekiel 16 and 23, where Jerusalem is represented as God's Bride who has turned to The people of Jerusalem had abandoned the true faith and had turned to heathen gods and ungodly nations for help, rather than trusting in God to be their protector and deliverer. Using language so explicit that most modern pastors won't preach from these chapters, Ezekiel condemns Jerusalem as a degraded, wanton whore: "You spread your legs to every passerby to multiply your harlotry" (Ezek. 16:25). John saw the harlot sitting in a wilderness, a symbol we have already considered at length as an image of the Curse; moreover, the specific picture of Jerusalem as a harlot in a wilderness is used in Jeremiah 2-3 and Hosea 2.

The Harlot in the wilderness, John says, is seated on the Beast (Rev. 17:3), representing her dependence upon the Roman Empire for her national existence and power; from the test-

of the New Testament there is no doubt that Jerusalem was politically and religious y "in bed" with the pagan Empire, cooperating with Rome in the crucifixion of Christ and the murderous persecution of Christians. Developing this aspect of the symbolism further, an angel tells John more about the Beast: "The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while" (Rev. 17:9-10). The "seven mountains" again identify the Beast as Rome, famous for its "seven hills"; but these also correspond to the line of the Caesars. Five have fallen: the first five Caesars were Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius. One now is: Nero, the sixth Caesar, was on the throne as John was writing the Revelation. The other . . . must remain a little while: Galba, the seventh Caesar, reigned for seven months.

The symbolic name given to the Harlot was Babylon the Great (Rev. 17:5), a reminder of the Old Testament city which was the epitome of rebellion against God (cf. Gen. 11:1-9; Jer. 50-51). This new and greater Babylon, the "Mother of harlots," is "drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus" (Rev. 17:6). Later John tells us that "in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth" (Rev. 18:24). That statement has a familiar ring, doesn't it? It comes from a passage we have considered several times before: Jesus' condemnation of Jerusalem.

Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall all the righteous blood shed on the earth. . . . Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! (Matt. 23:34-37).

Historically, it was Jerusalem which had always been the great harlot, continually falling into apostasy and persecuting the prophets (Acts 7:51-52); Jerusalem was the place where the prophets were killed (Luke 13:33). We cannot grasp the message of Revelation if we fail to recognize its central character as a covenantal, legal document; like the writings of Amos and other

Old Testament prophets, it represents a covenant lawsuit, charging Jerusalem with breaches of the covenant and declaring her judgment.

John records that the "ten kings," the rulers subject to the Empire, join with the Beast against Christ: "These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the Beast. These will wage war against the Lamb" - and what is to be the outcome? "And the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful" (Rev. 17: 13-14). John assures the Church that in their terrible and terrifying conflict with the awesome might of imperial Rome, the victory of Christianity is guaranteed.

At this point the focus seems to shift. Just as the war between Caesar and Christ is heating up, John says, the peoples of the Empire "will hate the Harlot and will make her desolate [cf. Matt. 24:15] and naked, and will eat her flesh and burn her up with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the Beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled" (Rev. 17:16-17; cf. 18:6-8). Jerusalem had committed fornication with the heathen nations, but in a.d. 70 they turned against her and destroyed her. Again, this picture is taken from the Old Testament prophets who spoke of Jerusalem as the Whore: they said that just as a priest's daughter who became a harlot was to be "burned with fire" (Lev. 21:9), so God would use Jerusalem's former "lovers," the heathen nations, to destroy her and burn her to the ground (Jer. 4:11-13, 30-31; Ezek. 16:37-41; 23:22, 25-30). It is noteworthy, however, that the Beast destroys Jerusalem as part of his war against Christ; early historians report that the Roman leaders' motive in destroying the Temple was not only to destroy the Jews, but to obliterate Christianity. The Beast thought that he could kill the Whore and the Bride in one stroke! But when the dust settled, the scaffolding of old, apostate Jerusalem lay in ruins, and the Church was revealed as the new and most glorious Temple, God's eternal dwelling place.

John tells us that the Harlot "is the great city, which has a kingdom over all the kings of the earth" (Rev. 17:18). This verse has thrown some interpreters. Even though all the other signs point to Jerusalem as the Harlot, how can she be said to wield this kind of worldwide political power? The answer is that Revelation is not a book about politics; it is a book about the covenant. Jerusalem did reign over the nations. She had a covenan-

priority over the kingdoms of the earth. It is rarely appreciated sufficiently that Israel was a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6), exercising this ministry on behalf of the nations of the world. When Israel was faithful to God, offering up sacrifices for the nations, the world was at peace; when Israel broke the covenant, the world was in turmoil. The Gentile nations recognized this (1 Kings 10:24; Ezra 1; 4-7; cf. Rem. 2:17-24). Yet, perversely, they would seek to seduce Israel to commit whoredom against the covenant — and when she did, they would turn on her and destroy her. That pattern is repeated several times, until Israel's final excommunication in A.D. 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed as God's sign that the Kingdom had been transferred to His new people, the Church (Rev. 11:19; 15:5; 21:3).

Since Israel was to be destroyed, the apostles spent much of their time during the last days warning God's people to separate themselves from her and align themselves with the Church (cf. Acts 2:37-40; 3:19, 26; 4:8-12; 5:27-32). This is John's message in Revelation. Jerusalem's apostasy has become so great, he says, that her judgment is permanent and irrevocable. She is now Babylon, the implacable enemy of God. "And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird" (Rev. 18:2). Because Israel rejected Christ, the entire nation has become demon-possessed, utterly beyond hope (cf. Matt. 12:38-45; Rev.

Therefore, God's people must not seek to reform Israel, but to abandon her to her fate. Salvation is with Christ and the Church, and only destruction awaits those who are aligned with the Harlot: "Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4; cf. Heb. 10:19-39; 12:15-29; 13:10-14).

And so Jerusalem is destroyed, never to rise again: "And a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea [cf. Luke 17:2], saying, 'Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer' " (Rev. 18:21). But "Jerusalem" is still standing in the twentieth century, is it not? How was it destroyed forever in A.D. 70? What this means is that Israel, as the covenant people, will cease to exist. Jerusalem - as the great city; the holy city — "will not be found any longer." True, as we have seen from Remans 11, the descendants of Abraham will come into the covenant again. But they will not be a distinct, holy nation of special priests. They will join the peoples of the world in the saved multitude, with no distinction (Isa. 19:19-25; cf. Eph. 2:11-22). Thus Jerusalem, which left the covenant religion and turned to a demonic cult of sorcery, witchcraft, and state-worship, will be forever ruined. What was once a paradise will never again know the blessings of the Garden of Eden (Rev. 18:22-23).

God's people had been praying for Jerusalem's destruction (Rev. 6:9-11). Now that their prayers are answered, the great multitude of the redeemed breaks out into antiphonal praise:

"Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great Harlot who was corrupting the earth with her fornication, and He has avenged the blood of His bondservants on her." And a second time they said, "Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever" (Rev. 19:1-3; cf. 18:20).

Contrary to the expectations of Rome, the destruction of Jerusalem was not the end for the Church. Instead, it was the full establishment as the new Temple, the final declaration that the Harlot has been divorced and executed, and God has taken to Himself a new Bride. Judgment and salvation are inseparable. The collapse of the ungodly culture is not the end of the world but its re-creation, as in the Flood and the Exodus. God's people have been saved from the whoredoms of the world to become His wife; and the constant token of this fact is the Church's celebration of Communion, the "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:7-9).

But there is another great feast recorded here, the "Great Supper of God," in which the scavengers of the earth are invited to "eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great" (Rev. 19:17-18) — all the enemies of Christ, those who refuse to submit to His rule. For He is riding out on His war-horse, followed by His army of saints, conquering the na tions with the Word of God, the gospel, symbolized by a sword proceeding from His mouth (Rev. 19:11-16). This is not the Second Coming; rather, it is a symbolic declaration of hope, the assurance that the Word of God will be victorious throughout the world, so that Christ's rule will be established universally. Christ will be acknowledged everywhere as King of all kings, Lord over all lords. From the beginning of Revelation, Christ's message to His Church had been a command to overcome, to conquer (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21); here, He assures the suffering Church that, regardless of the fierce persecution by Israel and Rome, Christ and His people will be victorious over all enemies. The destiny of the Beast, the False Prophet, and all who oppose Christ's lordship is death and destruction, in time and in eternity (Rev. 19:19-21).

The first-century Christians, surrounded by persecution and apostasy, could easily have been tempted to see their generation as the End. The great testimony of Revelation was that these things were not the End, but the Beginning. At their worst, the Beast and his co-conspirators are merely fulfilling the decrees of the sovereign God (Rev. 17: 17). He has ordained their every move, and He has ordained their destruction. The nations rage, but God laughs: He has already set up His King on His holy mountain, and all nations will be ruled by Him (Ps. 2). All power in heaven and earth has been given to Christ (Matt. 28:18); as Martin Luther sang, "He must win the battle." As the gospel progresses throughout the world it will win, and win, and win, until all kingdoms become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever. We must not concede to the enemy even one square inch of ground in heaven or on earth. Christ and His army are riding forth, conquering and to conquer, and we through Him will inherit all things.

And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes area flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written which no one knows except Himself. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh he has a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev. 19:11-16).

Who, then, is He Who has done these things and has united in peace those who hated each other, save the beloved Son of the Father, the common Saviour of ours, Jesus Christ, Who by His own love underwent all things for our salvation? Even from the beginning, moreover, this peace that He was to administer was foretold, for Scripture says, "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles, and nation shall not take sword against nation, neither shall they learn any more to wage war" [Isa. 2:4].

St. Athanasius, On the incarnation [52]

THE KINGDOM OF PRIESTS (Revelation 20)

There are three main systems of interpretation regarding the Millennium, the "thousand years" of Revelation 20. The Premil-lennialists say that this passage teaches that Christ will return and resurrect Christians before (pre-) the Millennium, which is to be a literal 1000 years with Christ reigning in Jerusalem as a political, earthly ruler of the nations. The Amillennialists say that there is not and will never be a "millennium" of any kind on earth; instead, they say, Revelation 20 refers to the state of Christians who have died and are now "reigning" in heaven. The say that the Millennium refers to the period between the First and Second Advents of Christ; the Millennium is going on now, with Christians reigning as kings on earth.

Which of these three positions is correct? As I have tried to show throughout this book, the answer is of more than casual significance for our practical attitudes and actions in working for God's Kingdom. As I have also tried to show, the answer is given throughout Scripture. Postmillennialism - the eschatol-ogy of dominion — is the message of the whole Bible. It is time now, however, to show that it is taught in Revelation 20 as well.

How To Survive The End Of The World

How To Survive The End Of The World

Preparing for Armageddon, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Strikes, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Every Other Threat to Human Life on Earth. Most of us have thought about how we would handle various types of scenarios that could signal the end of the world. There are plenty of movies on the subject, psychological papers, and even survivalists that are part of reality TV shows. Perhaps you have had dreams about being one of the few left and what you would do in order to survive.

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