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Bible Articles and Lessons: R

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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 in Revelation.

To Christadelphians, certain patterns in the OT prophets are superficially obvious:

  1. The importance of the Abrahamic promises regarding the Land of Promise.
  2. The importance of the Davidic promises regarding the throne of the Lord in Jerusalem.
  3. Israel's return to its own Land in the Last Days, its repentance and turning back to God.
  4. The establishment of the Kingdom of God.
These patterns are all to be found -- in large measure -- in the Book of Revelation.

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 44-49).

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 Edom.

6. AMOS promises God's upraised hand in judgment upon Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab -- for their violence against Israel.

7. OBADIAH singles out Edom for special vengeance from the Lord.

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 God.

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 Rev?

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.

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