Rev, OT mosaic
One of the great facts about the Book of Revelation is that
the entire book from beginning to end is a mosaic of quotations from and
allusions to the rest of the Bible. (Along these same lines, cp also Arthur
Gibson's scholarly article and compilation, "701 Quotations in the Apocalypse",
published in The Testimony.)
In the rest of Scripture the citation of or allusion to
earlier parts of the Bible is normally (even eagerly!) taken as an inspired
instruction as to how such a passage ought to be interpreted.
The amazing facts are that (1) these quotations and allusions
are remarkably dominant in the Apocalypse (scarcely a verse lacks one or more),
but that (2) to a large extent the "continuous-historical" (CH) interpretations
resolutely ignore most of them, eg:
The enormous number of OT quotations in the Apocalypse leads
to this thought: If we can determine what patterns are to be found in most, or
all, of the OT prophets, then we may expect to find the same or similar patterns
- Rev 6:12-17, an obvious prophecy about the establishment of the Kingdom of
God (cp v 12 with Eze 38:19 and Joel 2:31; vv 13,14 with Isa 34:4; v 15 with Psa
2:2 and Isa 2:10,19; and v 16 with Hos 10:8) is often interpreted as
Constantine's overthrow of Roman paganism in the fourth century!
- Rev 6:13,
with its pointer to the "fig tree" (Jer 24:1-10; Hos 9:10; Mic 7:1; Joel 1:7;
Mat 21:9; 24:32,33; Luk 13:6-9; 21:29-31), is generally overlooked as having
anything to do with Israel.
- Rev 9:1-11: The great locust invasion is
obviously borrowed from Joel's prophecy about Israel in the Last Days, yet it is
usually interpreted on CH principles as being fulfilled by Mohammed and the
Saracens in the 7th century!
- Rev 11:8: The great city where the Lord was
crucified is (again, according to CH) not Jerusalem, but Rome!
- Rev 11:11:
This resurrection from the dead supposedly (according to CH) took place in
France about 1790!
- Rev 12:10: "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the
kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ." The Kingdom of God? Or
Constantine's elevation to power (c AD 320)?
To Christadelphians, certain patterns in the OT prophets are
These patterns are all to be found -- in large measure -- in
the Book of Revelation.
- The importance of the Abrahamic promises regarding the Land of
- The importance of the Davidic promises regarding the throne of the
Lord in Jerusalem.
- Israel's return to its own Land in the Last Days, its
repentance and turning back to God.
- The establishment of the Kingdom of
Another clear pattern emerges from the most general look at
the OT prophets:
1. ISAIAH pronounces Divine judgments upon ten Arab nations
(Isa 13-23), led by the "Assyrian" (Isa 8; 10; 30; 31; 36-39) -- also called the
king of Babylon (Isa 14:4,25) -- who threatens Jerusalem.
2. JEREMIAH is predominantly about the impending Babylonian
captivity of Jerusalem. Great judgments are proclaimed against Babylon (Jer 50;
51), along with her allies Edom, Moab, Philistia, etc (Jer 25:15-26; Jer
3. EZEKIEL likewise speaks of an attack upon Jerusalem by
Babylon, aided by its allies the Arab nations round about (Eze 25). Egypt is
also condemned because it does not help Israel (Eze 29-32). Edom is esp to be
judged for its hatred of Israel (Eze 35; 36).
4. DANIEL describes -- as part of an image the head of which
represents Babylon -- a Last Days confederacy of ten kingdoms of mixed, or
mingled, iron and clay (Dan 2:41,43). In Heb the word "mixed" is the same as
"arab". It is this confederacy of ten kings which will be smashed by the "little
stone", Christ, just before the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
5. JOEL describes, under the figure of a locust invasion of
Israel, an attack upon the Land by a group of nations intent upon a "holy war"
(Joel 3:9, AV mg). (One Heb word for "locust" looks very much like "arab"!) The
nations which are actually named are Tyre, Zidon, Philistia, Egypt, and
6. AMOS promises God's upraised hand in judgment upon Syria,
Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab -- for their violence against
7. OBADIAH singles out Edom for special vengeance from the
8. MICAH warns that the Assyrian, from the land of Nimrod (Mic
5:5,6), will tread down God's palaces, but that he will in turn be destroyed by
9. ZEPHANIAH pronounces judgments upon Philistia, Moab, Ammon,
and the Assyrians.
10. ZECHARIAH, which is quoted often in Rev, promises Divine
judgments upon the Philistines (Zec 9:5,6), as well as Egypt (Zec 14:18,19) and
the Canaanites (Zec 14:21).
In all the above, the initial fulfillments plainly are
patterns for a Last Days fulfillment.
Here is one theme common to almost all the OT prophets: Divine
judgments in the Last Days upon Babylon/Assyria and its Arab allies
(approximately ten in number: cp Gen 15:18-21; Psa 83:6-8; Dan 7:7 with Rev
12:3; 13:1; etc). Given the tremendous extent to which Rev is a mosaic of the OT
prophets, does this provide a key to the Last Days interpretation of
It is understandable that in 1860 (when the Ottoman Empire
ruled over all the Middle East and there were no independent Arab nations) even
as fine a Bible scholar as John Thomas -- who expected the return of Christ
within a few years, at most -- would not have appreciated all the implications
of this particular theme. But it is much less understandable if, in the 21st
century, diligent and serious Bible students still cannot see the common threads
which link these OT prophets to the Apocalypse... or, seeing them, will not draw
the logical conclusions.