Revelation Part 1: The Dating

     This begins a
short series on the wonderful book of Revelation. The lessons in this series
are as follows: the dating, the timing, the martyrs, the millennium, and the
bride. All of these lessons will be for the purpose of arguing the following:
“The Revelation that was seen by John was written prior to the destruction of
Jerusalem and found its full fulfillment in the overthrow of Judaism in AD70.”
While this proposition may seem intimidating and, perhaps, threating to some, I
encourage you to read the following lessons with an open heart and mind –
trusting only in God and not man. As mentioned, our first lesson will be on the
dating of the book of Revelation.

     Why is the dating of Revelation important?

     While the dating
of books of the Bible may seem like a non-important task to some, the date that
a book was written can often times reveal interesting facts about the life
situations of the original audience and can help to interpret certain texts.
This is especially true for the book of Revelation. If Revelation was written prior to AD70, then the idea of it
being a discussion of the events pertaining to the destruction of the temple
would be, at the very least, possible. However, if the book of Revelation was
written after AD70, then any idea of
a total fall of Jerusalem fulfillment will be thrown out the window because
John indicated that his book contained things past, present, and future
(Revelation 1:19). It is for this reason that this essay has been written: to
put forth a reasonable amount of evidence for a first century fulfillment of
the book of Revelation.
     Our plan of attack

     There are several ways that we can
approach this vast subject, and some of them will have to wait for a future
essay (ex: “The Martyrs”). We will establish the dating of the book of
Revelation by examining chapter eleven and noticing similarities in the book
with the Olivet Discourse. These seem to be some of the more simple and concise
options, and they will serve our purpose well until we can further develop our
arguments in future assignments.
     As seen above, we
will not rely on outside evidence of any kind because it is not necessary. Our
sole authority will be internal evidence found within the book of Revelation
and the rest of the Bible. For those who may say that the rest of the Bible is
not “internal” evidence, simply ask yourself if the same God authored it all. I
believe that He did, and it is for this purpose that I do not feel any
hesitation to allow all of scripture to aid in interpreting itself.
     For this study,
we are not concerned with debunking other positions. Instead, we will allow the
power of our arguments to do the talking, and we will be glad to answer any
questions at another time.
     Revelation 11

     Keep in mind as
we enter this text that the book of Revelation is dealing with things that were
past, present, and future. Revelation 11 comes after the opening of the seven
seals and the blowing of six of the seven trumpets. In fact, chapter eleven
contains the blowing of the last trump – the seventh one – at the time of the
judgement and resurrection of the dead (Revelation 11:15-19). That being said,
when would the seventh angel blow his trumpet? “In the same hour there was a
great earthquake, and a tenth of the
city
fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the
rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:13). After
this, the seventh angel blew his horn. After what? After part of the city fell.
What city is under consideration? As we move back through the text, we will see
that they city who’s fall determined the time of the judgement, was none other
than Jerusalem.
     “Then I was given
a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and
measure the temple of God, the altar,
and those who worship there. But leave out
the court which is outside the temple
, and do not measure it, for it has
been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two
months
” (Revelation 11:1-2, emp. added).
     What temple is
under consideration? It is a temple that would be trodden under foot for
forty-two months. It is a temple that was in the “holy city.” Having said this,
there are only two possibilities for those who take an early date: Jerusalem
and the church. If one takes a post-AD70 date, then the only possibility for
the identity of the “holy city” and the “temple of God” is the church – because
the Jerusalem temple would have been destroyed for some twenty-five years.
However, the New Covenant temple of the church is not an earthly building, but
a spiritual one (I Peter 2:5; I Timothy 3:15). Since the holy city of the New
Covenant is spiritual in nature, it would be impossible for anyone to stomp on
it for three years – much less destroy what God said would never pass away!
This leaves us with one option: the holy city is Old Covenant Jerusalem and the
temple is the one that burned in the fires of divine judgement in AD70.
Jerusalem is called the holy city in Nehemiah 11:1, 18; Isaiah 48:2; 52:1; Daniel
9:24; Matthew 4:5; and 27:53.
     This leads us to
one conclusion concerning the date of Revelation: it had to be written prior to
the fall of the temple in AD70; however, that is not the only evidence from
this chapter that we can present (not that we have space to present it all!!).
In Revelation 11:8, John wrote, “And their dead bodies will lie in the street
of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified
(Revelation 11:8, emp. added). Where was Jesus crucified? It is no surprise
that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. “Nevertheless I must journey today,
tomorrow, and the day following; for it
cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem
” (Luke 13:33,
emp. added).
     Olivet Discourse Comparison

     Space simply does
not permit us the ability to draw every possible comparison between Matthew 24,
Mark 13, Luke 21, and, John’s version of the Olivet Discourse, Revelation.
However, we can present enough to, hopefully, satisfy our proposition. So, what
is the Olivet Discourse? It is a speech given by Jesus to His disciples concerning
the fall of Jerusalem. The disciples had a few questions, and they are listed
below.


“Then Jesus went out and departed
from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the
temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things?
Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that
shall not be thrown down.” Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the
disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things
be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
(Matthew 24:1-3).

“Tell us, when will these
things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
(Mark 13:4).

“So they asked Him, saying,
“Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when
these things are about to take place?”” (Luke 21:7).

     Jesus then
proceeded to give a thorough answer that contained this statement: “But
when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is
near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are
in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.
For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be
fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-22). He also said, “So you also, when you see these
things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to
you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place”
(Luke 21:31-32).
     Why is this
important for us? If we can find correlation between the Olivet Discourse and
the book of Revelation, then we will know that Revelation is also a book
dedicated to the fall of Jerusalem, and, therefore, has a pre-AD70 date. This
also, as you may have already noticed, will go towards our argument in the next
essay on the timing of the fulfillment of the prophecy. Now, keep in mind that
we won’t be able to draw every comparison (you should try to do that!), but we
will give enough. Let’s begin! Our argument will mainly focus on the first six
of the seven seals as seen in Revelation 6:1-12. Notice how the six seals
correspond to the signs of the fall of Jerusalem in Matthew 24.
                The First
Six of Seven Seals
1.      
Revelation 6:1-2; Wars
2.      
Revelation 6:3-4; Nation Against Nation
3.      
Revelation 6:5-6; Famine
4.      
Revelation 6:7-8; Death and Pestilence
5.      
Revelation 6:9-11; Persecution
6.      
Revelation 6:12-17; Earthquake, Cosmic
Disturbance, Tribulation
                The Olivet Discourse
1.      
Matthew 24:6; Wars
2.      
Matthew 24:7; Nation Against Nation
3.      
Matthew 24:7; Famine
4.      
Matthew 24:7; Death and Pestilence
5.      
Matthew 24:9; Persecution
6.      
Matthew 24:7, 29, 21; Earthquakes, Cosmic
Disturbance, Tribulation.
     Just to demonstrate the force of this
quick comparison, notice these two passages in particular.

“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”
(Matthew 24:29).
 “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” (Revelation 6:12-14).

    
Conclusion

     We have shown from two sources in
Revelation, that the earlier date is favorable in comparison to the late date.
As mentioned, more evidence will be provided for this along the way. In our
next essay, we will focus on the time statements given in Revelation in order
to draw another comparison between the Olivet Discourse and Revelation: the
predicted contemporary fulfillment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *