Since October 2015, we have been going through the ‘Book of Revelation’ at The Blue Point Bible Church (www.bluepointbiblechurch.org). The goal of our time spent in this writing by the Apostle John to the 7 churches of Asia Minor is to come to an understanding of the details that ‘Revelation’ intends to make clear.
More often than not, the ‘Book of Revelation’ is spoken of as a “confusing book”, however that was not the intention of the writer at all. Instead, utilizing proper hermenuetics such as “audience relevance” and “time statements”, we are given a barrage of details that originally intended to make things clear, rather than confuse us.
As a congregation that understands the ‘Preterist View’, it has been exciting to spend time in ‘Revelation’ and see the details being explained with clarity. As the pastor who has the privilege to research, understand, and preach these details, I can account for my personal growth in understanding the text, as well as testify to the the praises of others in regards to the text becoming clear and understandable.
You can listen to our sermons at the following link:
I must admit….my preaching through ‘Revelation’ has been different than the preaching I have heard before on the writing. I have heard mostly “Futurist” messages on Revelation, therefore spending time immersing myself into the 1st century through works by Dr. Don K. Preston, Ed Stevens, Duncan McKenzie, among others has been quite intriguing. Spending time researching and seeing the details flow naturally has truly been amazing.
In recent weeks we have begun talking about the dragon, the beasts, and “Mystery Babylon”. We have noted the dragon to be Rome, and then allowed freedom in “interpreting” who or what the “Sea Beast” and “Land Beast” are- simply noting that the context must tell us who they are, not our hyperactive imagination or the newspaper. In the last week and in weeks to come, I have been specifically detailing who “Babylon” is- not to mention that ‘Babylon’ can not be interpreted to be anything other than 1st century Jerusalem- if you are using Jesus’ teachings and the ‘Book of Revelation’ to form your view.
As I spend time in the 1st century details, I have noted- there is a lot to learn, and surely a lot to teach. Therefore, for the next couple blogs I will share sort of ‘highlights’ from my studies in the time of the Roman-Jewish War.
Transporting ourselves to the time of A.D. 66 requires that we understand the scene at that time. We have the historical writings of Josephus, Taticus, Tertullian, among others to glean from. Also, various video documentaries have been made available through the internet. One that I have been watching, and which gives interesting insight to the historical Caesar Nero is found at the following link:
It appears that Nero being called “the beast” denotes his behavior that was displayed early on. He was Rome’s youngest ruler, and his pride and abuse of authority was prevalent. Beginning in A.D. 59, with the murder of his mother, Nero made it abundantly clear that he was not to be opposed, and he planned to rule as his own ‘god’. In A.D. 62, Nero married his mistress Poppaea Sabina, and so began his working with and showing compassion to the Jews. Surely, uniting the Jews and Nero was not a “glorious thing”, one might say this was the “unleashing of the beast” for a short time. (See, Revelation chapter 20)
“The Neronic persecution was a very dark time for the Church, and even though it was short-lived (only two years – AD 64-66), it was extremely intense and killed the majority of the remaining Christians. And it was the “eve of destruction” for the Jews.” – Ed Stevens, The Final Decade Before the End
Reading through Tacitus’ writings from the 1st and 2nd century give us the cruel details of Nero’s persecution of the Christians as he falsely blamed them for variety of crimes (which was the “Great Tribulation”):
“And in their deaths they were made the subjects of sport; for they were wrapped in hides of wild beastz and torn to pieces by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set on fire, and when day declined, they were burned to serve as nocturnal lights.”
As Ed Stevens notes in his writing, “The Neronic persecution was merely the “eve of destruction for the Jews. Their ruthless butchery of Christians only provoked the King of Kings to cut short the persecution, rescue His saints, and avenge His martyrs by pouring out His full cup of wrath upon their persecutors.”
As the Jews and Rome continued persecution against the Christians, a fatal move was made. In A.D. 64, Nero’s wife Poppaea, secured the position of procurator of Judaea for her friend’s husband, Gessius Florus, who would later prove to be harmful to the Jews. By A.D. 65, Nero’s pride began to be his downfall. During, the year A.D. 65, in a fit of rage it is said that Nero killed his wife and their unborn child by kicking and stomping her to death. He began to be worse than prideful, he began to be paranoid concerning his authority and support in Rome.
After Nero’s wife was killed, it is likely that Nero’s attitude changed toward the Jews. Couple this with the rise of Jewish unrest and rebellions in Judea, it would seem the time had come for the tide to turn against the Jews. This “fornication” of Jerusalem and Rome was coming to an end- it was time for the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord.
Interestingly enough, the BBC video series I shared above, also has a show on the rebellion, which I have yet to watch, but you can watch it at this link:
Spend some time reading through Revelation chapter 6-9, chapter 11, as well as chapter 12. Reading the Apostle John’s vision in line with understanding the historical events at that time surely gives us glimpse of these events that is “true and reasonable”. Amen?
As you read through Revelation chapters 17-18, you should become increasingly aware that this applies and only applies to 1st century Jerusalem.
“And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication with her and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning (Revelation 18:9)”.
What we know from history is that Nero killed himself, this seemed to be the last days of the Roman Empire, and the emperors to follow him did not reign as he did, However, Vespasian would resurrect the kingdom, and he and his son, Titus, would lead a campaign against Jerusalem (harlot Babylon). Not one stone would ,be left standing upon another of the Temple, and the city of Jerusalem was completely ransacked and burned in fulfillment of all that Jesus Christ said would happen in those “last days”.
All the dragons, beasts, and whores that stood against the saints were judged and destroyed in the events of 67-70 A.D. That is essentially the story behind the ‘Book of Revelation’ or what is properly known as the ‘Revelation of Jesus Christ’.
It is in the details of the ‘Book of Revelation’ that we come to understand how Christ was “revealed” in glory, bringing the rewards of the righteous and the wicked, while some of those standing there were alive (Matthew 16:27-28).
Let me conclude this blog by exhorting you to continue studying out these details. There really is so much to study and to unearth as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Peter 3:18).
If you want to read further about Nero Caesar, the “red beast” of the 1st century, simply Google his name. I found the Wikipedia article about him to be quite interesting and insightful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nero
If you study out the original context of the “Book of Revelation” it becomes more and more clear that the details contained within the writing are intended to offer clarity, not further confusion. Any ‘interpretation’ that is outside of the historical context and mindset of the 1st century is simply a false understanding/ teaching. Guilty indeed of ‘adding’ as well as ‘taking away’ from this prophecy, see Revelation 22:18-19.
In the ‘historic understanding’ of the ‘Book of Revelation’ we find application that is useful and fruitful, rather than wild and embarrassing speculation (as offered by many “Futurists”). The lesson for us is clearly that when the ‘beasts’ and ‘dragons’ of the world, come against “the Lord’s anointed” their plans will always be frustrated and fail. And, more than likely destruction will come upon their own heads.
“They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:19)
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano
Blue Point Bible Church