The Seven-Headed, Ten-Horned Beast of Revelation 17


Series: “Little Gems from Our Study of the Book of Revelation”

In a recent post,The Harlot of Revelation 17 and Its Relationship to Old Covenant Israel,” we examined the first six verses of Revelation 17. There we were introduced to “a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (verse 3). In that article, we mainly discussed the harlot who sat on this beast. In this article, we will take a closer look at this beast and the significance of its seven heads and ten horns.

This is the same beast as the beast from the sea, which John saw in Revelation 13:1-10. That beast also had seven heads, ten horns, and a blasphemous name (13:1). Just as the whole world marveled and followed him (13:3), here in Rev. 17:8 we see that “those who dwell on the earth will marvel” at the beast.

The Beast’s Seven Heads

The angel tells John that the beast’s seven heads represent two things: “seven mountains on which the woman sits” and [2] “also seven kings” (verse 9). In his book,Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary),” Steve Gregg quotes from David S. Clark, who says,

“We had the beast located geographically on the seven hills, which meant Rome. Now we have him located in history to tell us what period of Rome we are dealing with. And there is no period of Rome’s history that will fit this description but the dynasty of the Caesars.”

Kenneth Gentry, in his book, “Before Jerusalem Fell,” notes (p. 163) that the Coin of Vespasian (emperor of Rome from 69-79 AD) discovered by archaeologists pictures the goddess Roma as a woman seated on seven hills. First-century Rome used to celebrate a feast called Septimontium, the feast of “the seven-hilled city.”

Rev. 17:10 provides a remarkable time marker for when this was written: “There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time.” The following chart shows the first 10 emperors of the Roman Empire, who reigned until the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. The first five are the ones who had fallen by John’s day, and the sixth is the one who was presently reigning when John wrote Revelation:

Order of Emperors Name of Emperor Length of Reign Notes/Details
#1 Julius Caesar October 49 BC – March 44 BC “Perpetual Dictator”
#2 Augustus January 27 BC – August 14 AD -time of Jesus’ birth
#3 Tiberius August 14 AD – March 37 AD -time of Jesus’ ascension
#4 Caligula March 37 AD – January 41 AD Murdered
#5 Claudius January 41 AD – October 54 AD Assassinated
#6 Nero October 54 AD – June 68 AD Committed suicide
#7 Galba June 68 AD – January 69 AD Murdered
#8 Otho January 69 AD – April 69 AD Committed suicide
#9 Vitellius April 69 AD – December 69AD Murdered
#10 Vespasian December 69 AD – June 79 AD Destroyed Jerusalem

Although some historians do not consider Julius Caesar to be one of the emperors, Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) was one who did, and the above list reflects his own in Antiquities of the Jews (Books 18-19, 93 AD). Numerous Roman historians contemporary to Josephus agree, including Dio Cassius and Suetonius (70-135 AD), who wrote Lives of the Twelve Caesars and De Vita Caesarum. It’s also noteworthy that Julius Caesar was appointed as “perpetual dictator” in 42 BC.

According to the above list, then, Nero was the “king” of whom John said “one is” (i.e. “he is reigning now”), and Galba was the one who had “not yet come.” Galba reigned only six months, and he is the one of whom the angel said “he must continue a short time.”

There is no barrier to this interpretation in the fact that John uses the term “kings” and not “emperors.” Tiberius was referred to as a king in John 19:15 and Claudius was referred to as a king in Acts 17:7. Both were Roman emperors.  One may also note that the chart above indicates more Roman emperors than were referenced by John. Kenneth Gentry quotes J. Russell Stuart, who spoke on this matter in his book Apocalypse:

But why only seven kings? First because the number seven is the reigning symbolic number of the book; then, secondly, because this covers the ground which the writer means specially to occupy, viz., it goes down to the period when the persecution then raging would cease (Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell, p. 163).

Nero began persecuting Christians throughout the Roman Empire beginning in November 64 AD. This persecution only ended upon his death in June 68 AD. This was 3.5 years later, fulfilling Revelation 13:5-7, which said that the beast would make war with the saints and overcome them for 42 months.

The Beast’s 10 Horns

John is then introduced to 10 more kings in verses 12-13. He is told that the beast’s ten horns are “ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the beast.” Some have thought these 10 kings to be the very ones listed in the chart above, since all 10 of them reigned (or had begun to reign, in Vespasian’s case) before Jerusalem’s destruction. However, John wrote that in his day they had “not yet received royal power,” so this view is eliminated.

Another more likely view is that these 10 kings were the rulers of the 10 senatorial provinces of Rome who were empowered by Nero to assist him in carrying out his campaign of persecution against the saints. Revelation 17:14 called this campaign making “war with the Lamb.” Jesus took it personal when His followers were persecuted and martyred. This was also true when Paul (formerly Saul) was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). When he was knocked to the ground on the road to Damascus, a voice from heaven said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5).

The Global Glossary on the Greco-Roman world says there were 10 Senatorial Provinces in ancient Rome: They were “areas that were governed by Roman pro-magistrates; there were ten senatorial provinces, eight of which were led by ex-praetors and two of which were led by ex-consuls.” Wikipedia lists these 10 Senatorial Provinces, as they existed in 14 AD, as follows: [1] Achaea [2] Africa [3] Asia [4] Creta et Cyrene [5] Cyprus [6] Gallia Narbonensis [7] Hispania Baetica [8] Macedonia [9] Pontus et Bithynia [10] Sicilia. One Biblical mention of a Roman provincial ruler is in Acts 18:12-17, where we are told of Gallio the “proconsul of Achaia.” In Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas had direct contact with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7). See here for more information on the Senatorial Provinces of the Roman Empire, and how and by whom authority was distributed.

The above quotation from Wikipedia lists the 10 provinces of Rome as they were then named. Steve Gregg lists them by names that would be considered more modern (p. 456): Italy, Achaia, Asia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, Spain, Gaul, Britain, and Germany. As seen in this map, Israel/Palestine belonged to the province of Egypt. Indeed, the Roman Empire was the world at that time, as can be seen by Luke’s description of Caesar Augustus’ decree “that all the world should be registered” (Luke 2:1; cf. Acts 2:5).

Roman Empire

Photo credit: http://gbgm-umc.org/UMW/corinthians/empire.stm (Original source: David Camden)

In Rev. 17:15-17 the angel explains to John why the harlot was shown sitting “on many waters” (verse 1). John was told that they represent “peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.” Steve Gregg shares this quote from David Chilton (pp. 416, 418):

Jerusalem could truly be portrayed as seated on “many waters” (i.e. the nations) because of the great and pervasive influence the Jews had in all parts of the Roman Empire before the destruction of Jerusalem. Their synagogues were in every city, and the extent of their colonization can be seen in the record of the Day of Pentecost, which tells us that “there were Jews staying in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5).

In verse 16, we are told that the 10 horns (kings) would join the beast in hating “the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire.” Steve Gregg points out that this very same turn of events was predicted for Jerusalem just before it fell in 586 BC for playing the harlot (pp. 418, 420):

I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure… I will gather them from all around against you and will uncover your nakedness to them… And I will judge you as women who break wedlock or shed blood are judged; I will bring blood upon you in fury and jealousy… They shall burn your houses with fire…and I will make you cease playing the harlot (Ezekiel 16:37-41).

It’s probably no coincidence that the word “desolate” is used in verse 16, just as it is used in Rev. 18:17, 19 and also in Daniel 9:27 and by Jesus in Luke 21:20. In each case it’s used concerning first century Jerusalem, the “house” that Jesus said was left desolate (Matthew 23:38).

We also know from accounts provided by Josephus (a Jewish historian) and Tacitus (a Roman historian from the same time period) that a number of kings from surrounding provinces joined Vespasian and Titus in Rome’s war against Israel from 67-70 AD. At the very end of July 70 AD, on the exact same day that Jerusalem was burned in 586 BC, the Second Temple was burned to the ground. Josephus remarked that from a distance the entire city of Jerusalem appeared to be on fire. In fact, during August and September 70 the rest of the city was set on fire and leveled to the ground.

In Rev. 17:18, the woman is identified as “the great city” and is said to have “dominion over the kings of the earth.” The designation “great city” was first given to Jerusalem in Revelation 11:8, where it was said to be the place “where also our Lord was crucified.” It’s repeated here in these chapters as a reference to Babylon the Great on at least seven occasions (16:19; 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21; cf. Rev. 14:8). Steve Gregg quotes from David Chilton on why it’s fitting that Jerusalem was known as “the great city” (p. 422):

If the City is Jerusalem, how can it 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 did possess a Kingdom which was above all the kingdoms of the world. She had a covenantal priority over the kingdoms of the earth.

Lamentations, written shortly after Jerusalem fell the first time in 586 BC, begins this way: “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave.” Interestingly, the great city in John’s day says, “I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see” (Rev. 18:7). Also when Jeremiah prophesied of Jerusalem’s soon coming destruction in his day, he wrote:

And many nations will pass by this city, and every man will say to his neighbor, “Why has the Lord dealt thus with this great city?” And they will answer, “Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and worshiped other gods and served them” (Jeremiah 22:8-9).

Jerusalem apparently was great in the political sense as well, though. As Kenneth Gentry writes (Before Jerusalem Fell, p. 171),

Jerusalem housed a Temple that, according to Tacitus “was famous beyond all other works of men.” Another Roman historian, Pliny, said of Jerusalem that it was “by far the most famous city of the ancient Orient.” According to Josephus, a certain Agatharchides spoke of Jerusalem thus: “There are a people called Jews, who dwell in a city the strongest of all other cities, which the inhabitants call Jerusalem.” Appian called it “the great city Jerusalem.” …More important, however, is the covenantal significance of Jerusalem. The obvious role of Jerusalem in the history of the covenant should merit it such greatness… Josephus sadly extols Jerusalem’s lost glory after its destruction: “This was the end which Jerusalem came to be the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificance, and of mighty fame among all mankind (Wars 7:1:1)… And where is not that great city, the metropolis of the Jewish nation, which was fortified by so many walls round about, which had so many fortresses and large towers to defend it, which could hardly contain the instruments prepared for the war, and which had so many tens of thousands of men to fight for it? Where is this city that was believed to have God himself inhabiting therein? It is now demolished to the very foundations” (Wars 7:8:7).

J. Stuart Russell makes another observation regarding the phrase “kings of the earth” used in verse 18. Not only is this expression found throughout Revelation, he says, but it’s also in Acts 4:26-27. There “Herod and Pontius Pilate are identified by the very same expression. Plainly, then, in Acts the expression means ‘the leaders or rulers of the Land’ (i.e. of Israel). If that is the phrase’s meaning here in verse 18, then Jerusalem surely can be said to be the city that reigns over the rulers of Israel” (Gregg, p. 422).

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This article is adopted from our study of Revelation 17 (Part 2), and is also featured in The Fulfilled Connection (TFC) Magazine.

Both Jews and Non-Jews Belong Equally to “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16)


In Galatians 6:16, the apostle Paul concluded his letter to the Galatians with an expression that he never used anywhere else:

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

Who belongs to this group that Paul refers to as “the Israel of God”? Who is excluded?

Argument #1: Only Jewish Believers Are the Israel of God

Some insist that Paul could only have been speaking of Jews, believers in particular. The following quotes are representative of this view:

“The Israel of God refers to Jewish believers in Jesus Christ, to those who are spiritual as well as physical descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:7) and are heirs of promise rather than of law (Ga 3:18). They are the real Jews, the true Israel of faith, like those referred to in Romans 2:28, Ro 2:29 and Ro 9:6,7″ (John MacArthur, Galatians. Chicago: Moody Press, p. 210).

“This controversial verse, with its expression, unique in the New Testament, ‘the Israel of God,’ has been misinterpreted as teaching what Replacement theology wrongly claims, namely, that the Church is the New Israel which has replaced the Jews, the so-called ‘Old Israel,’ who are therefore now no longer God’s people. But neither this verse nor any other part of the New Testament teaches this false and anti-Semitic doctrine” (D. H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary: Clarksville, Md.: Jewish New Testament Publications).

H/T: Steve Thomas, “Christian Zionism – Deconstructing the Myths – Biblically – One at a Time” (Facebook)

In one article, Arnold Fruchtenbaum claims that “the Jewish believer” differs from “the Gentile believer,” and that “four lines of biblical truth” form the basis of what he calls “the Messianic Jewish distinctive.” One of these lines is “the Doctrine of the Israel of God,” in which he says the term “Israel” is used narrowly: “It should be pointed out that the term Israel is never used of Gentiles, whether they are believers or not, nor is it used of the Church; it is used only of Jews.” According to Fruchtenbaum, Paul makes a distinction in both Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 6:16 between “Israel the whole composed of all Jews; and Israel the elect, composed of all believing Jews.” In Galatians 6:16, he claims, believing Gentiles are “the them” and believing Jews are “the Israel of God” (Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, “Jews, Gentiles, Christians,” Ariel Ministries).**

Thomas Ice agrees with Fruchtenbaum that “the New Testament consistently differentiates between Israel and the church,” adding that these are “two peoples” of God. When it comes to the term “Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16, they insist that Paul is speaking of “believing Jews in contrast to unbelieving Jews called ‘Israel after the flesh’ (1 Cor. 10:18)” (Thomas Ice, “Israel / Church Distinction: The Fourth Foundation,” Rapture Ready).

Argument #2: All Followers of Jesus Are the Israel of God

Then there are those who, like myself, believe that “the Israel of God” must include all who belong to Christ, Jews and non-Jews alike. In Paul’s day, both Jewish and non-Jewish believers were walking according to the rule named in the previous verse: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15). If Paul used the expression, “the Israel of God,” to only mean Jewish believers, then the following passages would be untrue:

[1] “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him” (Romans 10:12).

[2] “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

[3] “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:9-11).

If only Jewish believers were “the Israel of God,” but non-Jewish (i.e. Gentile) believers were locked out of this privilege, then there really would be a distinction between Jews and Greeks in Christ. There really would be favoritism and partiality, based on race or ethnicity.

A similar problem exists when the claim is made that all ethnic Jews are God’s chosen people. There’s no doubt that those who belong to Christ are God’s chosen people, as these passages reveal:

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being chosen according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:12-13).

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10).

Those who teach that all Jews are God’s chosen people sometimes fall back on the idea that God has two chosen peoples (one based on race, and one based on faith). This, however, also makes nonsense of Romans 10:12, Galatians 3:28, and Colossians 3:10-11 (quoted above), for it places Jewish Christians (aka Messianic Jews) into two chosen groups. It says that they are [1] chosen because of faith, and [2] doubly chosen because of race. Meanwhile, according to this view, non-Jewish Christians (aka “Gentile Christians”) are only part of one chosen group. Unlike Jewish Christians, they are only chosen because of faith. They allegedly don’t have the same overlap of blessings that Jewish believers do, because they are not of the Jewish race. This also creates favoritism, partiality, and distinction, contradicting the teachings of Paul.

Being a part of the Israel of God is the privilege of all who abide in Christ, because Jesus is true Israel, God’s chosen One. This is developed further in two earlier posts at this site:

[1] “Why I Stand With Israel,” outlines how Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, and John demonstrated that what was once said of national Israel is now said of Jesus.

[2] God also promised that He would one day make a new covenant with the house of Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-34). One way that we see this fulfilled is when Paul, in Ephesians 2, declared that the household of God, His holy temple, the one new man of Jews and Gentiles together, was being built on the foundation of the apostles, who were also known as “ministers of the new covenant” (II Corinthians 3:6). See “God’s Promise of a New Covenant to the House of Israel.”

The Myth of An All Jewish Israel

There’s an idea prevailing in the Christian Zionist movement today that Israel was, and was always meant to be, exclusively Jewish. This idea is applied to ancient Israel, as if God’s promises made to ancient Israel were for Jews only, then and forever. This idea is also applied to modern Israel, saying that the land belongs only to Jews, etc. However, even in ancient Israel, many non-Jews were joined to Israel. Besides the non-Jews who were among Jesus’ ancestors (Matthew 1:1-17), there are numerous other examples. Here are just two:

And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send [the children of Israel] out of the land in haste… Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed multitude went up with them also…” (Exodus 12:33-38).

And in every province and city, wherever the king’s command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them” (Esther 8:17).

Ever since Jesus was obedient to the point of completing His work on the cross, the Israel of God has everything to do with Him and nothing to do with being outside of Him. People of all nations are included. As Paul taught, no one who is in Christ is any longer “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.”

Thomas Schreiner’s Excellent Summary of Galatians 6:16

Thomas Schreiner offers some excellent thoughts on why Paul’s epistle to the Galatians as a whole mandates that there is no separation between Jewish and non-Jewish (Gentile) believers when Paul speaks of “the Israel of God” (Schreiner is an author and professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary):

The key question in Galatians is whether one must become a Jew and be circumcised to belong to the people of God. Must one receive circumcision to belong to the family of Abraham? The false teachers argued that circumcision and observance of the law were required to be part of Abraham’s family. But Paul has argued throughout the letter that circumcision is unnecessary and that those who put their faith in Christ belong to the family of Abraham. When he speaks of “the Israel of God” at the conclusion of the letter, where he rehearses the major themes of the letter, he is driving home the point that believers in Christ, members of the new creation, are the true Israel.

Such an interpretation fits with the whole of the letter, for believers in Christ are the true sons of Abraham [Gal. 3:29]. But if they are Abraham’s children and belong to his family, then they belong to the Israel of God. It would be highly confusing to the Galatians, after arguing for the equality of Jew and Gentile in Christ (3:28) and after emphasizing that believers are Abraham’s children, for Paul to argue in the conclusion that only Jews who believe in Jesus belong to the Israel of God. By doing so a wedge would be introduced between Jews and Gentiles at the end of the letter, suggesting that the latter were not part of the true Israel. Such a wedge would play into the hands of his opponents, who would argue that to be part of the true Israel one must be circumcised.

Instead, Paul confirms one of the major themes of the letter. All believers in Christ are part of the true Israel, part of God’s Israel. This fits with what Paul says elsewhere when he says believers are the true circumcision (Phil 3:3). Since believers in Christ are the true family of Abraham and the true circumcision, they are also part of the true Israel.

–Thomas Schreiner, Commentary on Galatians, pp. 382 – 383

Amen. Let’s also not forget that Galatians is where Paul contrasts earthly Jerusalem and the Jerusalem above, saying that one was in bondage and about to be cast out, but the other (“the Jerusalem above”) is free and is the mother of God’s people (Galatians 4:21-31).

Christopher Gowan (Associate Editor of The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood) interacts with Schreiner’s conclusion, agreeing with it and expanding upon it in an article titled “Context Is Everything: ‘The Israel of God’ in Galatians 6:16” (4-page + PDF). It’s worth reading as well.

A Question

Finally, I have a question for those who would insist that Paul was speaking only of Jewish believers when he referred to “the Israel of God.” Paul’s use of this expression implies that there was an Israel during his time that was not of God, which would have been national Israel (as a whole, minus the remnant of believers). It’s often insisted today that modern Israel is a continuation, or a restoration, of national Israel, which was wiped out by the Roman armies in 70 AD. If that (pre-70 AD) Israel was not of God, then why is national Israel today allegedly “God’s chosen people”, “the apple of God’s eye,” a nation that we must bless and support unconditionally, etc.?

Paul did make a distinction in Galatians 6:16, but it wasn’t between Jewish believers and non-Jewish believers. It was between “the Israel of God,” those who belong to Christ, and the Israel that was not of God, those outside of Christ. The Israel of God today still has everything to do with God’s chosen One, Jesus Christ.

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**When Fruchtenbaum claims that only Gentile believers made up the “them” of Galatians 6:16, he is basically saying that Jewish believers were not walking according to the rule that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation” (verse 15). Supposedly, only Gentile believers were walking according to this rule. In effect, Fruchtenbaum puts all the Jewish believers in Paul’s day into the camp of the Judaizers, who Paul said were in danger of falling from grace (Galatians 5:4).

“[Ancient Israel] Was Merely a Type, a Shadow of the Spiritual Realities of a Better Day” (Louis Berkhof, 1951)


Louis Berkhof (1873 – 1957) “was a Reformed systematic theologian whose written works have been influential in seminaries and Bible colleges in the United States and Canada and with individual Christians in general throughout the 20th century” (CCEL). Berkhof taught at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1906 – 1944, and served as its president during his last 14 years there. Wayne Grudem called his Systematic Theology, published in 1932, “a great treasure-house of information and analysis…probably the most useful one-volume systematic theology available from any theological perspective.”

Nine years before his death, in 1948, Berkhof watched modern Israel become a nation. Three years later, in 1951, he published a book with a long title: The Kingdom of God: The Development of the Idea of the Kingdom, Especially Since the Eighteenth Century.Here’s a quote from that book, concerning ancient Israel and the emergence of a modern nation with the same name. What do you think of Berkhof’s statement here? I find myself agreeing with him:

“The theocratic nation itself was merely a type, a shadow of the spiritual realities of a better day, and therefore destined to vanish as soon as the antitype made its appearance. The restoration of the ancient theocracy in the future would simply mean the recurrence of the type – to what purpose? – and not at all the establishment of the Kingdom. It should be borne in mind that the beginnings of the Kingdom of God existed long before the theocracy was established, and continued to develop, and even after it lost its national existence. And the founding of the Kingdom in the new dispensation was in no way dependent on the fortunes of the Jewish nation” (Louis Berkhof, The Kingdom of God…, pp.170-171).

Of course, Berkhof didn’t say that the Jewish people were “destined to vanish,” only national Israel along with its previous significance. As we know, God created “in Himself one new man” from Jews and Gentiles who trust in Him (Ephesians 2:15), and God has kept a remnant from among the Jews (Romans 9:27, 11:5).

At least two earlier posts here also address this topic:

[1] “Why I Stand With Israel” shows how Isaiah, Matthew, Luke, and John all demonstrate that what was said of ancient Israel in the Old Testament is now said of Jesus. In other words, Jesus is Israel, and it’s no surprise that Paul calls Jesus’ followers “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16).

[2] “Galatians 4 Shows That Isaiah 66 Is Not About Modern Israel” deals with a passage (Isaiah 66) that many say predicted Israel becoming a nation “in one day” in 1948. It shows that Isaiah instead predicted the birth of the Church, the downfall of earthly Jerusalem, and God’s embracing of the Jerusalem from above.

The Harlot of Revelation 17 and its Relationship to Old Covenant Israel


Series: “Little Gems from Our Study of the Book of Revelation”

The following study was published yesterday in The Fulfilled Connection (TFC) Magazine, and is adapted from our study of Revelation 17 (Part 1):

In Revelation 17, John was shown a woman known as “Babylon the Great”, “the mother of harlots,” and “the great city.” This woman/city has been interpreted in various ways, from the Roman Catholic Church, to New York City, to modern Iraq, to the church in America, etc. This article will discuss a number of reasons why “Babylon the Great” was first century Jerusalem and old covenant Judaism. In doing so, we will look at the first six verses of Revelation 17.

The fall of Babylon was first announced in Revelation 14:8, and Revelation 11:8 identified “the great city” as the place “where also our Lord was crucified,” which, of course, was Jerusalem. Revelation 17-19 describes Babylon’s fall in more detail. This is then followed by a description of the bride, the wife of Jesus, who stands in contrast to the harlot. Note how the following passages deliberately contrast each other:

A. Revelation 17:1: “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters.’”

A. Revelation 21:9: “Then came one of the seven angels which had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.’”

B. Revelation 17:3: “And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names.”

B. Revelation 21:10: “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.”

In Revelation 17:2, Babylon is prosecuted for its sexual immorality, by which “the dwellers on earth” and “the kings of the earth” were made guilty. Notice that the reference to “the kings of the earth” here is distinct from the reference to “the kings of the whole world” in Revelation 16:14, where that reference was to the provincial kings of the Roman Empire. In an earlier 3-part series, I discussed 20 instances in Revelation where the phrase “those who dwell on the earth” refers to first century Israel rather than to everyone on the planet (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). 

Verse 3: John then sees a woman sitting on a scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns. One of my previous articles, “Ten Fulfilled Prophecies Concerning the Beast from the Sea,” makes the case that the beast was Nero in the specific sense and the Roman Empire in the general sense. The fact that the woman is sitting on the beast suggests a very close relationship between the woman and the beast, who are both distinct in their identity. On this topic, I wrote the following elsewhere regarding the woman (Jerusalem) riding the beast (Rome):

In what sense might Jerusalem have sat on the beast that would ultimately turn on her and destroy her (Rev. 17:3, 9, 16-18)? Israel had enjoyed a good relationship with Rome until the Jewish revolt began in 66 AD, and Judaism was recognized as a valid religion within the Roman Empire. Josephus wrote of this relationship, “It seems to me to be necessary here to give an account of all the honors that the Romans and their emperors paid to our nation [Israel], and of the leagues of mutual assistance they have made with it” (Antiquities, 14.10.1-2). The Jews frequently took advantage of this relationship to induce persecution against Jesus and His followers (Luke 23:2; John 18:28-31, 19:15; Acts 4:27, 16:20, 17:7, 18:12, 21:11, 24:1-9, 25:1-2). W.H.C. Frend even writes that “the promptings of orthodox Jews in the capitol had something to do with” Nero’s decision to begin persecuting Christians in 64 AD (The Rise of Christianity [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984], 109; quoted in Kenneth Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell, 2002, p. 63).

Kenneth Gentry suggests that the beast was the color scarlet for any of the following reasons: [1] The robes worn by Roman emperors were red in color [2] Rome, led by Nero, was responsible for shedding much blood among God’s people [3] Nero was famous for his red beard.

Verses 4-5: The woman wore purple, scarlet, gold, jewels, and pearls. She had in her hand a golden cup “full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.” Her forehead proclaimed that she was “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” According to Todd Dennis, the founder of the Preterist Archive,

…the description of the harlot’s attire (purple, scarlet, gold, jewels, and pearls) was nearly identical to the ephod worn by the high priest (Revelation 17:4; cf. Exodus 28:5-21). The golden cup she held was likely symbolic of the temple vessels, the greatest part of which were gold and silver, according to the Jewish historian Josephus (Wars 5.4.4). On Aaron’s forehead was the inscription “Holy to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36). The harlot’s forehead, on the other hand, bore the title “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (Rev. 17:5).

In Jeremiah’s day, Judah (with its capital of Jerusalem) was prosecuted because it had “played the whore with many lovers” and “polluted the land with…vile whoredom” (Jeremiah 3:1-2). Like Israel in John’s day, Judah prior to its fall in 586 BC had “the forehead of a whore” (verse 3).

Duncan McKenzie’s article has helped me to understand that “Babylon the Great” here was more than just a physical city. It was also a religious system full of abominations, old covenant temple-based Judaism. In Revelation 18 God commands His people regarding Babylon, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). We know from Revelation 1 that John’s immediate audience didn’t live in Jerusalem, but in Asia Minor. So this was not a command to flee from the city of Jerusalem.

God’s message was about breaking completely free from old covenant temple-based Judaism. Babylon represented not only Jerusalem, but also the unfaithful community which had rejected Jesus and the new covenant. Both physical Jerusalem and temple-based Judaism were judged and destroyed in 70 AD. In Daniel 9:26-27 we see that it is on “the wing of abominations” that one comes “who makes desolate” (see also Rev. 17:16, Matt. 23:38). This was related to the destruction of “the city and the sanctuary” (Daniel 9:24). The abominations of the earth (land) were the apostate practices of old covenant Judaism.

As mentioned earlier, John was shown a contrasting picture of two women: the harlot of chapters 17 and 18, and the bride in chapter 19 clothed with “fine linen, bright and pure…the righteous deeds of the saints” (see verses 1-8). One (the harlot) persecuted the other (the bride, Christ’s Church). What is most fascinating is Paul’s own contrasting of two women in his epistle to the Galatians:

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor. For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? ”Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman (Galatians 4:21-31).

Just as Paul wrote in Galatians 4, we see in Revelation that God casts out and destroys the harlot (Revelation 18:21), but the bride inherits the Lamb as her husband.

Verse 6: The woman is said to be “drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” This same charge was laid upon those of “the earth” in the previous chapter (Rev. 16:1), where it was said that “they have shed the blood of saints and prophets (16:4-7).” In chapter 18 we also see that “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24), and that the “saints and apostles and prophets” were told to rejoice over her destruction (18:20). Who was responsible for shedding all the blood of the prophets, apostles, and the saints, according to Jesus, and who would receive judgment as a result? The answer can be found in Matthew 23:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets’” Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate (Matthew 23:29-38).

The harlot is not a 21st century entity, but was the first century old covenant community. As God’s people, those of us who are in Christ today have the privilege of being part of the pure woman, God’s bride.

Comparing Matthew 24 and I Thessalonians 4-5


Today a Facebook friend, Chris Palios, shared a chart comparing Matthew 24 and I Thessalonians 4-5. I’ve seen this comparison before, and his post was a good reminder that I’ve been meaning to post it here as well. As Chris said, the similarities between these two passages are fascinating.

While it’s still popular to view Matthew 24 as yet unfulfilled, there are plenty (and even more in church history) who recognize that Jesus was prophesying there concerning Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD and other events which would take place within His own generation. [A detailed study on the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21) can be seen at the top of this page.] However, among those who view Matthew 24 as fulfilled, some believe that I Thessalonians 4-5 speak of future events. Here is the well-known passage that speaks of the resurrection of believers, which others take as being about a “rapture”: 

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:15-18).

As I’ve promised Steve (who posted a 3-part series here as a guest last year), a deeper study on the resurrection of believers is still in the works. For now, though, here is a chart showing the strong similarities between Matthew 24 and I Thessalonians 4-5. The relationship is so close that I don’t believe it’s possible to view one passage as being fulfilled in the first century AD and the other as not yet fulfilled:

Statements Regarding Jesus’ Coming Reference in Matthew 24 Reference in I Thess. 4 or 5
1. Christ Himself returns Matthew 24:30 I Thess. 4:16
2. From heaven Matthew 24:30 I Thess. 4:16
3. With a shout Matthew 24:30 I Thess. 4:16
4. Accompanied by angels Matthew 24:31 I Thess. 4:16
5. With the trumpet of God Matthew 24:31 I Thess. 4:16
6. In clouds Matthew 24:30 I Thess. 4:17
7. Believers are gathered Matthew 24:31 I Thess. 4:17
8. At an unknown time Matthew 24:36 I Thess. 5:1-2
9. He will come as a thief Matthew 24:43 I Thess. 5:2, 4
10. People unaware of coming judgment Matthew 24:37-39 I Thess. 5:3
11. Judgment comes as travail upon an expectant mother Matthew 24:8 I Thess. 5:3
12. Believers are to watch Matthew 24:42 I Thess. 5:4
13. Warning against drunkenness Matthew 24:49 I Thess. 5:7

The Jewish Heritage of Many Palestinians


“If we investigate the origins of the Felahim [Palestinians], there is no doubt that much Jewish blood runs in their veins.”

-David Ben Gurion, (first) Prime Minister of Israel (1948 -1953, 1955 – 1963)

The more I learn about the different groups involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the more interesting the whole situation becomes. There’s also plenty of irony to be discovered in the claims and policies of Zionists, Christian Zionists, and the Israeli government. For example, wouldn’t it be ironic if some Palestinians are more Jewish than some of the Jewish citizens of Israel?

Introduction 

It’s no secret that Israel has billed itself as “a Jewish State” for decades. Of course, this idea has created a dilemma, to say the least, for Arabs, Bedouin, and other non-Jews living in Israel and the Palestinian territories. How do non-Jews fit into “the Jewish State of Israel”? (For a parallel, imagine if America was called “a Caucasian State.”)

The ideal of “a Jewish State” apparently runs along ethnic/racial lines more than religious lines. According to Wikipedia, 43% of Jews in Israel identify as secular, and 47% of these secular Jews (i.e. 20% of all Jews in Israel) are Atheists. Only a slight majority of Israel’s Jews consider themselves to be religious.

Israel’s aim to be a Jewish state is instead a battle drawn up along ethnic lines. However, as was pointed out in an earlier article (“Who Are the Jews in Israel Today?“), a case can be made that a significant percentage of Jews in Israel are descendants of Gentile (non-Jewish) converts to Judaism centuries ago. Not only are many Jews in Israel non-religious, but many are also non-Semitic. Yet they are more than welcome in “the Jewish State.”

Another irony is that many with a Jewish background are destined to be excluded from “the Jewish State” – because they are identified as Palestinians. It’s shameful that this exclusion – of all Palestinians – is fervently supported by the Christian Zionist movement.

Hillel Fendel’s Article in Israel National News

There’s a lot to consider in the following article published in Israel National News in 2009 (“Arabs of Jewish Descent in Israel“):

Up to 85 percent of Arabs in greater Israel stem from Jewish ancestors, it is estimated. Some of them want to become fully Jewish, but most are scared to even talk about it.

“In our search for the lost Ten Tribes in India and Afghanistan, we seem to have forgotten to look for their descendants in our very own backyard.” So says the narrator in a new film about the efforts of a former hi-tech pioneer named Tzvi MiSinai to search out the Jewish roots of Israel’s Arab enemies – and to inform them of their Judaic heritage.

MiSinai has spent about a half-million shekels, he estimates, on these efforts. They include visiting dangerous places deep inside Palestinian Authority-controlled territory, hearing the stories of Arabs who remember observing Jewish customs, and distributing literature to Jews and Arabs alike.

One Arab says his father told him the secret of his family’s Jewishness on his deathbed, while another one, on the backdrop of a photo of the saintly Cabalistic sage Rabbi Abuchatzeira on his wall, says their roots have been known in his family for generations. Wrapping what apparently used to be kosher tefillin on his arm, he says, “My father used to do this, and he taught us to do it whenever someone was sick or in trouble.”

The Jews Who Didn’t Leave

It is generally accepted that most Jews left the Land of Israel after the failed Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE. Yet many remained, and of these, many are still here, after having been forced to convert to Islam. “It turns out that a large part of the Arabs of the Land of Israel are actually descendants of forced converts to Islam over the years,” says Rabbi Dov Stein of the nascent Sanhedrin rabbinical council. “There are some studies that say that 85 percent of the Arabs in Israel are descended from Jews; others say there are fewer.”

Ben-Gurion Agrees

The claims are not new. Early Zionist leaders David Ben-Gurion and Yitzchak Ben-Tzvi wrote in a book 100 years ago: “If we investigate the origins of the Felahim, there is no doubt that much Jewish blood runs in their veins.” The authors implied that these Jews loved the Land so much that they were willing to give up their religion. The reference is probably to an edict in the year 1012 by Caliph el-Hakim, who ordered the non-Muslims to either convert or leave the Land of Israel. It is estimated that 90 percent of the Jews chose the former, though many continued to practice Judaism in secret. The decree was revoked 32 years later – apparently too late for about 75 percent of the converts.

Tzvi MiSinai continues to convince Arabs in Judea and Samaria that they are likely Jewish. The film shows him passing through the Gush Etzion checkpoint and distributing  pamphlets both to Israeli soldiers – “so that you’ll know who you’re checking here” – and to the Arabs waiting there – “so that you’ll know who the majority of you are.” Asked by an Arab if he is from the peace movement, MiSinai answers, “Yes, yes, peace, so that we can live together as one nation.”

The Sawarka Bedouin Jews

One place where MiSinai has apparently found very strong Jewish roots is in the Bedouin tribe known as the Sawarka. There are about 3-4,000 of them throughout the Sinai and the Negev, and they “are all Jewish,” says a tribal leader in perfect Hebrew. With his face camouflaged for the cameras, the Bedouin says, “They had no choice but to convert; this was centuries ago… I remember my mother and grandmother wouldn’t light fire on Sabbath, and they had a special mikveh…”

Others, in a Bedouin village east of Hebron, also remember burning a small piece of dough (reminiscent of the Biblical command to separate a small piece of dough when baking bread), lighting candles at graves, and tearing clothes and sitting shiva for seven days, and not three as is Muslim practice.

Even today, ritual circumcisions are carried out after the seventh day of birth.  Many homes in some of the Arab villages have doorpost indentations for a Mezuzah, with a scroll placed in some of them.

In another village just south of Hevron, Muhammed Amsalem – a descendant of Spanish Jews – told Aharon Granot of Mishpacha magazine that everyone in town knows he and his clan are Jews: “Our elders tell us that our forefathers came to this land during the [15th century] Spanish Inquisition, via Morocco. They settled in Ramle. Then the Mamluks forced them to convert to Islam, and they moved to the South Hevron area.”

Amsalem says they decided to reveal their Jewish roots after the 1967 Six Day War when they learned that a Jewish community had been reestablished in Hevron. “But the Jews saw we had no knowledge of their religious practices and refused to accept us… If the Jewish community would be willing to receive us today, we would join them with great enthusiasm.”

In the area of the South Hevron Hills, half of the Arabs are aware of the Jewish origins. They used to talk about it openly, though no longer. One man who recently publicized a silver Chanukah menorah that had been passed down to him from his father and previous generations was hung by terrorists by his feet for six weeks, leaving him with permanent injuries.

Genetic Studies Back Claims

At the Hadassah Medical School labs, Prof. Ariela Oppenheim of Hebrew University performed an international genetic study that backs up conclusions of Jewish-Arab genetic similarities. “We found that despite the dispersion of Jews around the world for 2,000 years, they essentially kept their Jewish continuity,” Oppenheim said. “In addition, we found that the Jewish population is surprisingly close, genetically, to the Arabs living here in Israel.”

She said that the study shows that both the Arabs of Israel and the Jews are descended from the Kurds of Aram in Babylon – the birthplace of the Patriarch Abraham. 

“It’s clear that we’re all from the same family,” Oppenheim concludes. “Most unfortunately, however, there are conflicts even within families, and sometimes brothers fight as well. I wish this is what will bring the Redemption, but I’m very sad to say that I don’t think so.”

Some Want to Return to Observant Judaism

South of Hevron, in Yatta, there is a large formerly-Jewish presence – and some even want to return to active Judaism. It is widely known there that half the residents are of the originally-Jewish Mahamra clan – a name that means “winemaker,” a trade that is forbidden according to Islam. “The people in these areas converted to Islam later in history,” MiSinai says, “and therefore more customs and knowledge and artifacts have been preserved.” These include Jewish stars over the entrances to homes, while in at least one house, the family has hidden a mezuzah and tefillin in creative hiding spots. One man pulled out a small Hebrew booklet of Psalms and Tanya with which he says he continues to secretly pray.

Miro Cohen, a Jew from Tekoa, in eastern Gush Etzion, is very friendly with the Arabs in a nearby village known as Kawazbe – a name that he and they agree is merely a corruption of Kuzeiba, the original name of the famous Bar Kokhba.

“These people are the descendants of Bar Kokhba,” Cohen declares. One Arab sitting with him can count his ancestors eight generations back, ending with a grandfather named Kawazbeh.  Another village elder says openly that his grandfather was a Jew who converted to Islam. Some of the residents want to return to Judaism; they don’t call it converting, because they are “already Jewish.”  On the other hand, Arabs with the name Kawazbeh have been arrested for terrorist activity against Israel.

Other areas where Arabs of Jewish descent reside are Kfar Anzah in Samaria, Samoa in southern Judea, villages in the Tel Arad area, and more. Rabbi Stein says, “We know that up to about 200 years ago, the Galilee village of Sakhnin was a Jewish town, with an active synagogue. The Turks pressured them to convert to Islam, but the people there know that they are of Jewish origins.”

Rachel Avraham’s Article in the Jewish Press

There are also a number of things to consider in the following Jewish Press article published on January 6th, 2015 (“Most Palestinians in Judea and Samaria Were Formerly Jews“):

As a journalist, I was always very skeptical what the origins of the Palestinian people are. Some have argued that the origins of the Palestinians date back 1,000 years. Others claim that the ancestors of the Palestinians came much more recently, during the late Ottoman and British Mandate periods. And still others allege that the roots of the Palestinian people in the Holy Land are ancient. So what are we to believe?

The American archeologist Eric Cline reported in his book, Jerusalem Besieged: “Although some would disagree, historians and archeologists have generally concluded that most, if not all, modern Palestinians are probably more closely related to the Arabs of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, and other countries than they are to the ancient Jebusites, Canaanites, or Philistines. The major movements of those Arabs into the region occurred after 600 CE, more than 1,600 years after David and the Israelites had vanquished the original inhabitants of the land.” This fact is confirmed by Sherif Hussein, the Guardian of Islamic Holy Places of Arabia, who stated that the Palestinians ancestors had only been in the region for 1,000 years.

Numerous scholars have reported that following the Black Plague and Crusades in 1517, only 300,000 people were left in the Land of Israel, of whom 5,000 were Jewish, and that many of the ancestors of the modern Palestinians came in the late Ottoman and early British Mandate period. During the British Mandate period alone, 100,000 Arabs from neighboring countries immigrated to the Holy Land.

However, after conducting intense research into this issue, another story for the origins of the Palestinian people has appeared which further reaffirms Jewish attachment to the Holy Land. A Palestinian living in Jerusalem who wishes to remain anonymous has confessed in an exclusive interview that this persons’ family origins are 100% Jewish and that this person’s father’s family were Cohanim. He proclaimed: “Most of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria are former Jews. The Ottomans converted them by force. My family converted to Islam in the early 1900’s.”

This Palestinian explained that the town where this person originally came from and the seven surrounding villages had a Jewish majority up until the early 1900’s: “My grandparents tell me they were born Muslim. The entire town which is Islin and the entire collection of towns near Beit Shemesh were Jewish. The entire towns around us used a Jewish judge known as Khawaja Kakum, who was a rabbi.”

The Palestinian noted that in the late 1800’s, the Ottoman Empire started to pressure the local population to accept Islam, after Herzl informed the Ottoman Sultan of the Zionist movements’ intentions. This resulted in the Sultan going crazy and making sure that would not happen, although he did refrain from issuing a formal edict of conversion: “The Ottoman soldiers would arrive, investigating and making sure everyone was Jewish and that would involve a humiliating act. The locals would have to bring all of the fancy rugs so the soldiers could use them. They had to fix hay mixed with sugar for the horses of the Ottoman cavalry. And then, the locals had to cook food for the soldiers. They were forced to mix yoghurt with lamb in a dish known today as mansaf.”

The Palestinian noted that Bayt Itab, which was near Beit Shemesh, was inhabited by Sephardic Jews: “A particular family in the town began holding Friday prayers on both Friday and Saturday, so the Ottomans would be fooled into believing that they were not Jews. Now Beit Shemesh, another nearby town, had mostly Jewish families that would later on become Palestinian, except for one family.”

“Many Jews would never believe this but if you visit Zora; you will see the tomb or grave of Samson the Great,” the Palestinian noted. “You would learn that Palestinians used to glorify this man in this town. Whenever someone dies, Palestinians used to sing in sadness for him: ‘Oh my G-d, why have you taken him, he has never displaced his grandmother or given advice to a Muslim.’ Why would Muslim Palestinians sing folk songs like that?”

“One of the folk songs for children goes: ‘By the G-d of Moses, don’t make me lose my way,’” the Palestinian explained. “Why not Muhammed? Also, the local comments reflected in the entire Palestinian community used the term ‘he’s a Cohen’ to reflect someone who is wise or who could see stuff others could not see. Most Palestinians don’t know what a Cohen is. Why do they use the term ‘he is a Cohen’ to describe someone with G-d given knowledge?”

While such statements go contrary to pan-Arab propaganda and the standard Middle Eastern history books taught across the globe, this Palestinian is not the only one to make this claim. According to the Jerusalem Post, Tzvi MiSinai conducted research into the Jewish roots of the Palestinian people and discovered that 90% of the Palestinians have Jewish roots: “And what’s more, half of them know it.” He noted that many Palestinians maintain Jewish customs, including mourning rituals, lighting Shabbat candles and even wearing tefillin.

Misnai is not the only researcher to believe this. Genetic studies conducted by Hadassah Medical School found that the Jewish population is surprisingly close genetically to the Palestinian population, implying that many of them have Jewish blood in them. Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion evidently agreed that most Palestinians have Jewish roots, according to Arutz Sheva: “If we investigate the origins of the Felahim, there is no doubt that much Jewish blood runs in their veins.”

…Caliph El Hakim forced all of the Jews of the Holy Land to either convert to Islam or leave the country in 1012 and the Crusaders massacred numerous Jews in the Holy Land in the late medieval period. He maintains that until the British Mandate period, the influx of Muslims into the Holy Land was minimal and most of the locals had Jewish roots.

“When General Allenby, the commander of the British military forces, conquered Palestine in 1917/1918, only a few thousand Muslim Arabs resided in the Holy Land,” Mandelbaum writes. “Most of the Arabs were Christians, and most of the Muslims in the area either came from Turkey under the Ottoman Empire, or were the descendants of Jews and Christians who were forcefully converted to Islam by the Muslim conquerors.”

However, despite the massive influx of Muslims into the Holy Land during the British Mandate period, the Palestinian interviewed proclaimed: “I don’t know of a Palestinian family who does not have a Jewish story to their history. Just like Jews were forced to convert to Christianity in Spain, they won’t ever go back, but it would be helpful to remind us publicly of whom we were and what we were, to show that we must connect as humans.”

This Palestinian explained that both sides made mistakes in the years leading up to Israel’s establishment and afterwards. The Zionist movement did not recognize the Palestinians as having Jewish roots in their family while emphasizing that both sides suffered from anti-semitism and the Palestinians themselves also very much looked down on the newcomers from Europe. But this Palestinian hopes that this information can help bring the two peoples together at the very least to pursue peace in the future: “Unless we study our past, we won’t move forward to the future.”

About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel’s Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media.”

Conclusion

Whether “most” Palestinians have a Jewish background, or only a minority of them do, this information adds further irony to the Israel/Palestinian conflict. The Zionist/Christian Zionist agenda sidelines Palestinians, some of whose ancestors were ethnic Jews, but embraces those currently identified as Jews, even if they have no Jewish blood. It should be pointed out that plenty of Jews are opposed to the Zionist agenda. See this post, for example: Dueling Jewish Perspectives on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.

Followers of Christ, in particular, should have nothing to do with an agenda that sidelines or oppresses anyone. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians,

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

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Here are two more articles dealing with this subject:

[1] “The Shared Genetic Heritage of Jews and Palestinians” (at Patheos Blog)
[2] “The Lost Palestinian Jews” (at The Jerusalem Post)

Day Trip to Cincinnati, Ohio and the Underground Railroad Museum


At the very end of last spring, on June 17th, my wife (Jasmine) and I made another day trip, this time traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio and back in one day. Cincinnati would normally be a 3-hour drive from where we live (Bowling Green, Ohio), but that day it took at least five hours due to a tanker leaking toxic chemicals and I-75 being shut down north of Dayton, Ohio. Just like we did on our day trip to Columbus, Ohio in May, we stopped for lunch at an African restaurant.

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In Columbus we had Somali food, which is East African, but in Cincinnati we tried some West African food at a Senegalese restaurant. Teranga Restaurant is on the north side of Cincinnati, and as one can see from their parent website the owners also run a grocery/supply store, a hair shop, currency exchange services, and a travel agency.

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From there we headed to downtown Cincinnati and visited the Underground Railroad Museum. If you visit Cincinnati, we highly recommend visiting this place. Free parking is available in front of the building, which is in a great downtown location near the Ohio River. The Underground Railroad Museum covers the history of the slave trade in America, and also shines the light on modern slavery around the world, including human trafficking, child labor, etc. It was a highly educational experience, and we could have learned/seen even more if we had more time. Here are some pictures from our visit to this museum:

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After spending time at the museum, we walked around the nearby parts of downtown Cincinnati.

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We then walked across a nearby bridge to Covington, Kentucky.

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(facing Covington, near the entrance to the bridge)

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(facing Cincinnati while on the bridge)

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(facing Covington)

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(facing toward Cincinnati on the left and toward Newport, Kentucky on the right)

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(facing Cincinnati)

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(Covington)

For those who appreciate unique forms of public transportation, the Cincinnati area features an amphibian taxi, the Newport Ducks. It runs along the Ohio River…

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…and on land:

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(Photo Source: Newport Aquarium)

After walking back to Cincinnati, we drove back over the bridge to Covington.

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(Another bridge from Cincinnati – Newport, Kentucky can be seen on the right side of the photo.)

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We then concluded our time in the Cincinnati area by driving over to Newport, Kentucky, just east of Covington.

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Herods and Other Rulers of Judea: 1st Century AD


For several years I’ve been interested in the history of the 1st century AD, and recently I came across two resources put together by Michal Hunt at Agape Bible Studies. The first resource lists the rulers in Judea during the first century (and some from the late 1st century BC), prior to Judea’s destruction by Roman armies in 67-70 AD. This includes the Herods, Prefects, and High Priests during this time period, along with dates and the corresponding Roman Emperors.

Rulers of Judea (Source)

Roman Emperor   Ruler in Judea High Priest
*Boethus Family  +Ananus Family
Date of High Priest
Augustus
29BC-14 AD
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Y

Herod the Great
37 BC – 4/1 BC
 
 
 
 
Archelaus (son of Herod) ruled after his father’s death but was deposed by the Romans in 6 AD. Herod’s sons, Herod Antipas, Herod Philip and Herod of Chalcis, ruled the Galilee and other territories
-Ananelus
-Aristobulus (Hasmon prince and brother-in-law of Herod = murdered
-Jesus, son of Phabi
-Simon son of Beothus*
-Matthias son of Theophilus*
-Joseph son of Elam
-Joazar son of Boethus*
-Eleazar son of Boethus*
 
(Romans now approve appointment of the High Priests)

37 BC

36 BC
 

?
?
??

?
4 BC
4 BC?

  ROMAN   ANNEXATION   OF   JUDEA
 
 
 
 
 
Tiberius
14-37 AD
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Caligula
37-41 AD
R
O
M
A
N

P
R
E
F
E
C
T
S

-Coponius (Prefect)
6-9 AD
-Ambibulus (Prefect)
9-11 AD
-Rufus (Prefect)
12-14 AD
-Gratus (Prefect)
15-26 AD-Pilate (Prefect)
26-36 AD
-Marcellus (Prefect )
36-37 AD
-Marullus (Prefect)
37-41 AD
-Jesus son of See
– Annas son of Seth +
(in Greek = Ananus)
 
 
 
-Ishmael brother Phabi I
-Elezar sons of Annas+
-Simon son of Kamithos
-Caiaphas son-in-law of Annas+
 
-Johathan, son of Annas+
-Theophilus, son of Annas+
-Simon son of Boethus*
5/6 AD
6-15 AD
 
 
 

 15-16 AD
 16-17 AD
 17-18 AD
 18-37 AD
 

 37 AD
 37-41 AD

 41-? AD

Claudius
41-54 AD
-Herod Agrippa I
41-44 AD
-Matthias son of Annas+  ?-44 AD
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nero
54-68 AD
-Cuspius Fadus (Prefect)
44-46 AD
-Tiberius-Alexander (P)
46-48 AD
-Ventidius Cumanus (P)
48-52 AD
-Marcus Antonius Felix
(Prefect) 52-59 AD
-Porcius Festus (Prefect) 59-62 AD
-Albinus (Prefect) 62-64
-Gessius Florus (Prefect) 64-66 AD
-Elionaius s. Kantheras
-Joseph son of Kami
-Ananias son of Nebedaeus
-Ishmael son of Phabi II

-Joseph Qabi
-Annas son of Annas+
-Jesus son of Damnaius
-Joseph b. Gamaliel

-Matthias s. of Theophilus
-Pinhas of Habta

44 AD
?
47-58/59 AD


59-61 AD

 61-62 AD
 62 AD
 62-63 AD
 63-65 AD

65-67 AD
 67-70 AD

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1998, revised 2007 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Six different Herods are mentioned in the New Testament. Kenneth Berding at The Good Book Blog speaks further of their roles in first century history, concluding with this brief summary:

Herod the Great: Christmas story

Herod Archelaus: Joseph [went] to Nazareth instead of Bethlehem because of him

Herod Antipas: Killed John the Baptist

Herod Philip: Ruled area north and east of Galilee

Herod Agrippa I: Eaten by worms

Herod Agrippa II: Trial of Paul in Caesarea

Many of these different Herods, Roman Prefects, and High Priests are also mentioned in the writings of Josephus, including his famous War of the Jews (75 AD). The early church father, Remigius (437 – 533 AD), informs us that Herod Agrippa II protected a community of believing Jews in Pella (in modern Jordan) when they fled from Judea and Jerusalem in 67 AD in obedience to Jesus’ words (Matthew 24:15-20, Mark 13:14-19, Luke 21:20-23):

“[F]or on the approach of the Roman army, all the Christians in the province, warned, as ecclesiastical history tells us, miraculously from heaven, withdrew, and passing the Jordan, took refuge in the city of Pella; and under the protection of that King Agrippa, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles, they continued some time.”

—————————————————————————–

The second resource from Michal Hunt features a timeline of major events between 30 – 70 AD:

TIME LINE AD 30 – 70 (Source)

YEAR (AD) EVENT
30
  • Yeshua the Nazorean [Jesus] is executed by the Romans. Three days later He rises from the dead. 40 days after His Resurrection He ascends to the Father.
  • Fifty days after the Resurrection (ten days after the Ascension), on the Jewish Feast of Weeks (called the Feast of Pentecost by Greek-culture Jews) God the Holy Spirit descends upon and indwells the disciples waiting in the Upper Room. It is the Second Great Pentecost and the birth of the New Covenant Church.
33 – 34 Stephen is martyred. Christian persecution by Jews intensifies
35 Peter is Bishop of Antioch for 7 years
37 Roman Emperor Tiberius smothered to hasten his death
41 Emperor Caligula assassinated and succeeded by Claudius
42 -67
  • Peter goes to Rome to establish the headquarters of the Universal (Catholic) Church
  • James the Just is Bishop of Jerusalem
43
  • Roman Emperor Claudius initiates conquest of Britain.
  • Paul’s conversion
46 – 67 Paul’s missionary journeys
49 – 50 Council of Jerusalem
54 Emperor Claudius poisoned by his wife and succeeded by her son Nero
59 Nero orders the death of his mother
60
  • Nero murders his wife and marries Poppaea, a Jewish sympathizer.
  • Queen Boudicca’s revolt in Britian
62
  • Parthians revolt against Rome.
  • James Bishop of Jerusalem martyred
64 Great fire of Rome. Rome begins persecution of Christians
65 Nero murders his pregnant wife Poppaea
66
  • Roman procurator of Judea, Gessius Florus, murders 3,600 Jews (crucifying about 2,000) in May. May-Oct. Christians flee Judea.
  • Jewish Revolt against Rome begins with massacre of Jerusalem Roman garrison in Oct.
  • Roman gentiles of Caesarea kill 20,000 Jews
  • Jewish army defeats and massacres the Roman garrison at Masada
  • Gentiles of Damascus, Syria massacre 10,000 Jews
  • Roman occupied cities across Judea, Samaria, Egypt, Syria,and Asia attack Jews.
  • Roman General Cestius Gallus’ army defeated in Nov. and driven out
  • Jews fight each other; 3 different factions. Each leader claims to be ‘messiah.’
  • Numerous earthquakes
67
  • General Vespasian and son Titus come across the Euphrates River; arrive in Judea from Syria with 4 Roman legions to destroy the Jewish revolt.
  • Revolts against Rome in Gaul and Spain
  • Peter and Paul executed in Rome (some time between 64-67?)
68 – 69
  • “The Year of Four Emperors” Nero commits suicide and is succeeded by Galba, Otho, and Vitellius who is succeeded by General Vespasian. Vespasian is named Emperor by Roman Senate
  • Roman army destroys Qumran (community where Dead Sea Scrolls found)
70
  • General Titus begins siege of Jerusalem in March. It lasts 3.5 months. The 9th of Ab: the Temple and Jerusalem are destroyed by the Roman army. Jewish historian Josephus estimated the dead of Jerusalem at 1,197,000.
  • Jews who survive revolt are sold into slavery

Why I Believe Israel Is the Apple of God’s Eye


Israel is the apple of God’s eye. This was true during the days of David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. It’s also true now, but of whom exactly is it true?

Two Passages Where God Said Israel Was the Apple of His Eye

Zechariah 2:8 is a well-known verse, often quoted by Christian Zionists with reference to modern Israel (as does this Christian ministry), and typically as a way of saying that Christians are bound to stand in loyalty to the nation of Israel:

For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.

Looking back at the history of ancient Israel, God did indeed refer to this nation as the apple of His eye:

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye” (Deuteronomy 32:7-10).

Of course, Deuteronomy 32 is overall a lament concerning Israel, where God

[1] speaks of “their end” in the days of “a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith” (verses 5, 20, 28-29; see also Matthew 17:17 and Philippians 2:14-15)
[2] denies that many within Israel are even His children (“They are not His children…“; verse 5)
[3] goes on to prophesy of a time when Gentiles would rejoice with His people over the avenging of the blood of God’s servants (verse 43; see also Matthew 23:35-36; Revelation 16:3-6, 17:1-6, 18:20-24). 

Other Passages Where This Phrase Is Used

The phrase “apple of my eye” is used in two other passages. David asks God to keep him as the apple of His eye, and Solomon advises his readers to value his instructions as much as they value their own eyeballs:

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17:8).

Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye” (Proverbs 7:2).

Which Israel Is the Apple of God’s Eye?

From Deuteronomy 32 and Zechariah 2 it’s clear that God does have an apple of His eye. Is modern, national Israel the apple of God’s eye, as many say? If so, does this include even the Arab citizens of Israel, as well as expatriates living there? If so, who was the apple of God’s eye between 70 AD and 1948 when there was no nation of Israel?

Israel is indeed the apple of God’s eye. The apple of God’s eye is Jesus, true Israel, and His followers, the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). 

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, God shouted from the heavens how He felt about His Son:

And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased‘” (Matthew 3:17). 

When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain toward the end of His ministry, God proclaimed the same words over His Son (Matthew 17:5). Throughout the New Testament we see similar testimony indicating that Jesus is the apple of God’s eye, even if this phrase isn’t used there. For a deeper study of how Jesus is Israel, see this post (“Why I Stand With Israel”), which shows how Matthew, Luke, and John are among the New Testament authors who demonstrate that what was said of ancient Israel in the Old Testament is now said of Jesus, our Savior.

The Church of Jesus Christ is also the Israel of God, His beloved, the apple of His eye. This is because we abide in Christ, the apple of God’s eye. Of Jesus it is said that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). We who belong to Jesus are “a new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17), “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10), and “a holy temple in the Lord…a habitation of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22; compare with Deuteronomy 32:7-10 quoted above). We are “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29, Colossians 3:10), and we are God’s chosen people (Ephesians 1:11-12, Colossians 3:12-13, I Peter 2:9-10).

When Saul persecuted God’s people, Jesus’ followers, He took it personally: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?…I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5). When the beast made “war with the saints” for 42 months (Revelation 13:5-7), God saw it as making “war with the Lamb(Revelation 17:12-14).

The Context of Zechariah 2 

Who did God ultimately see as Zion when He called the “daughter of Zion” (Zech. 2:10) “the apple of His eye” (verse 8)? Was this prophecy simply about national Israel or all Jewish people? God spoke through Zechariah at a time when the people of Judah and Israel had been “spread…abroad like the four winds of heaven” (Zech. 1:19-21, 2:6), but God was calling them to escape from Babylon (2:7). He would shake His hand against the nations that plundered them and touched the apple of His eye (2:8-9). Zechariah prophesied of a time when God would come and dwell in the midst of Zion (verse 10). This was not to be a mono-ethnic or single-nation reality:

Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem” (Zech. 2:11-12).

The identity of Zion and the identity of Israel was destined to expand to include people from all nations. This has already been accomplished in Christ, and the church was born in Jerusalem as Jews were added to the church daily (Acts 2:47) and a short while later non-Jews began to flow in as well (Acts 11:18). God again chose Jerusalem, but His chosen Jerusalem is the heavenly one, not the one 43 miles from Tel Aviv (Galatians 4:21-31).

However, Zion would not include the corrupt and perverse, disobedient people who God didn’t even regard as His children. This was true even in Moses’ day, as we saw earlier (Deuteronomy 32:5). Most importantly, God’s people, Zion, would not include those who would not hear His Son, Jesus, for they would be cut off:

For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people‘” (Acts 3:22-23).

A study of the Old Testament reveals that Jews were cut off from among God’s people for quite a number of reasons (e.g. Exodus 31:14, 32:33; Leviticus 7:20-21, 27; 17:4, 9-10, 14; 18:29; 19:8; 20:3, 5-6, 17-18; 22:3, 23:29; Numbers 9:13, 15:30, 19:13; Deuteronomy 29:19). The ultimate reason for being cut off from among God’s people, from Zion, is being separated from Jesus. Today, the Christian Zionist movement doesn’t see the slightest reason for a single ethnic Jew to be outside of God’s people, not even if they are Atheists or they mock Jesus Christ. They are all God’s chosen people, and they are all the apple of God’s eye, if Christian Zionism is to be believed. 

Any teaching that uses Zechariah 2:8 to say that the apple of God’s eye is limited to the Jewish people, or limited to people living within the borders of ancient Israel, or that it includes people who reject Jesus Christ, is off-base. The apple of God’s eye is first Jesus, and by extension those who belong to Him (Galatians 3:16, 29). If you belong to Jesus, rejoice that you are the apple of God’s eye.

I hope you will enjoy this song by the worship artist, Jason Upton, which rejoices in this truth. This song is called “One Reason,” from his 2001 album, Faith

(Alternate link #1, alternate link #2, lyrics)

Zechariah 12 Fulfilled


This post is in response to recent and past questions about whether or not the prophecies of Zechariah 12 have been fulfilled. At a later time I may do my own in-depth study of this passage, but this post draws on a few studies done by others who believe that Zechariah 12 was fulfilled in the first century AD. Here are a couple of questions to consider regarding Zechariah 12-14:

1. Did Zechariah speak of only earthly Jerusalem throughout these three chapters, or did he shift at any time to speaking about the new/heavenly Jerusalem?
2. Did Zechariah possibly have a glimpse of the revelation that Paul had in Galatians 4:21-31, when he spoke of two Jerusalems; one that was in bondage and ready to be cast out, and one that was free and is the mother of God’s people? Isaiah had this revelation to some degree (see Isaiah 65:17 – 66:24).

A. In the first study I’d like to present, Don K. Preston discusses Zechariah 12 in conjunction with Revelation 1:7, a related passage, and gives some historical and contextual background for Zechariah 12:

It seems to have escaped the notice of those who offer Revelation 1:7 as proof of a yet future coming of Jesus that this verse is taken directly out of the book of Zechariah; and as we shall see Jesus also uses this verse in the great eschatological discourse of Matthew 24. Surely the Bible student will want to be fully aware of how the verse is used in those contexts.

In Zechariah 12:10 the Spirit is speaking of a time which he designated as “in that day.” This little term is used extensively by the prophet and is a limiting factor for everything which he discusses. Some of the “in that day” statements are confessedly enigmatic; but enough of them are sufficiently specific as to subject or time that there can be no misunderstanding.

1. “In that day” was to be when God would “break my covenant made with all the people” (Zech. 11:7-11). This is undeniably when the Old Covenant would pass.

2. “In that day” would be “when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and Jerusalem” (12:1).

3. “In that day would be when “there shall be great mourning in Jerusalem” (12:11).

4. “In that day” would be when “there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David…for sin and for uncleanness” (13:1).

5. “In that day” would be when God would “cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (13:2).

6. “In that day” would be when the shepherd would be smitten and the sheep scattered (13:6-7).

7. “In that day” would be when only a remnant would be saved (13:8).

8. “In that day” would be when God would “gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle,” (14:2).

9. “In that day” “living waters would go out from Jerusalem” (14:8).

10. “In that day” there would be only one God and one Lord (14:9).

… Is it not patent that all the above… happened in one generation? How then can one divorce the appearance of the Messiah, when they would look on him whom they had pierced, from that same fateful generation?

Interestingly, John the author of Revelation used Zechariah 12:10 on another occasion. In John 19:37 as Jesus hung on the cross the Lord’s favorite apostle records the event as fulfillment of Zechariah’s words. This application of a single prediction to two events is not unknown in scripture… For John, Zechariah 12:10 was applicable to Jesus’ crucifixion; but it would receive final fulfillment when “all the tribes of the earth” would mourn when they looked on him whom they had pierced. To John this would be when Jesus returned in the clouds of glory.

Jesus and Zechariah 12:10

As shown, Zechariah 12:10 is the background for Revelation 1:7 and the context demands the event be in the first century generation. But our Lord also employed the language of Zechariah/Revelation in such a way that all controversy as to WHEN it would happen should be dispelled. In the famous apocalypse of Matthew 24 our Lord predicted the destruction of Jerusalem… 

In Matthew 24:29-31 Jesus adopts the classical style of Jewish apocalyptic literature in describing the fall of the Theocracy. In verse 30 Messiah quotes Zechariah 12:10 as occurring when the Son of Man would be seen “coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Now notice the emphatic time statements. In verse 32 Jesus tells the parable of the fig tree. When the predicted events began to be seen by the apostles and disciples they were to “know it is near, even at the doors.” He then [states] in positive terms, “Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, until all these things shall be fulfilled” (v.34). Our Lord has specifically told us when he would come with the clouds, cf. Rev.1:7, when he would be seen by all those who pierced him. It would be in his generation.

In confirmation of the time frame of his coming with the clouds in judgment one needs to examine Matthew 16:27-28 and compare Revelation 22:12. There is absolute harmony and unity between all these verses. In Matthew 16:27-28 Jesus promised to return in judgment with the angels in the lifetime of his disciples. In Matthew 24 he promised to come and be seen by those who had pierced him and it was to be in that generation. In Revelation he would be seen by those who had pierced him and, “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me to give to every man according as his work shall be,” Rev.1:7; 22:12.

How can one objectively examine these texts and ignore the time frame so inextricably woven into the text? Upon what basis can one say that while Jesus in Matthew 24 cited Zechariah 12 as to be fulfilled at his return in Jerusalem’s fall, that in Revelation, although it emphatically tells us it would shortly come to pass (l:l-3) it has not yet been fulfilled?

Notice the correlation between the theme of the three texts. In Zechariah we are dealing with a time when Jerusalem would be surrounded and besieged, 12:2,11; 13:8ff; 14:2. In Matthew 24 the subject is the destruction of Jerusalem, 24:1-3. In Revelation the theme is the destruction of the great city “where our Lord was crucified,” 11:8. In all three texts you have the coming of the Lord, Zech.14:3-5; Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 1:7. In each of the texts those who pierced him would see him, Zechariah 12:10,Matthew 24:30, Revelation 1:7. And of course at the risk of being repetitious, all three [accounts of this event] were set in a specific time frame – “in that day.” Zech.12; “this generation shall not pass away,” Matthew 24:34; and “the time is at hand,” Rev.1:3

B. The second article I’d like to share is on one of Don K. Preston’s websites, but features the writings of Frank Speer and Ed Stevens as they address an article by Thomas Ice titled “Preterism and Zechariah 12-14.” Frank Speer lists some of the “difficulties that arise from taking a yet future approach to Zechariah chapters 12-14″:

• The battle described in these chapters is waged on HORSEBACK (12:4) with SWORDS! (13:7) Is that how the COMING 21st century Great Tribulation is to be fought?

• Modern Jews do not and will not live in “TENTS” (12:7).

• Modern Jewish people CAN NO LONGER BE divided by their 12 ancestral tribes (12:6-14) since those tribes have long since been genetically diluted – the Jewish peoples of today simply CANNOT be equated with ancient, biblical Israel.

• Zech 13:1 is clearly speaking of “The Cross of Christ” (i.e. a first century event). Has there been no Messianic “fountain” of forgiveness available to the Jewish people since the cross?? Have they been made to wait all this time and then some (until Messiah’s STILL FUTURE RETURN) to have access to divine forgiveness of sin?

• The modern Jews do not and will not worship then “many Idols” mentioned in (13:2) – today’s Jews are mostly atheistic.

• There are no modern Jewish “prophets” (13:2) – nor will there be.

• (13:4) – Will false Hebrew prophets wearing “HAIRY ROBES” soon appear in modern day Palestine in order to deceive a mass of Jewish peoples? …

• (13:3) – The modern Jewish peoples do not obey these ancient “Mosaic Laws” (parents killing children for false predictions etc)!

• (13:4-5) – Will “SLAVERY & AGRICULTURE” once again become COMMON PRACTICE for 21st century Palestinians and ALL NATIONS OF THE WORLD??

• Is the modern Palestinian Economy…based on GOLD, SILVER, FABRIC, HORSES, MULES, CAMELS, DONKEYS AND CATTLE?? (14:14-15)

• Notice that the “ALL NATIONS” of 14:1 are QUALIFIED later by “all the SURROUNDING nations” in 14:14. There is no mention here of ALL THE MODERN NATIONS OF THE 21st CENTURY WORLD! These ancient “Middle Eastern nations” surrounding ancient Israel were the same constant thorns Israel dealt with through their entire history!!

• (14:16) Will the modern Jewish peoples, under Messiah, be keeping all of the Old Covenant “feasts” when the N.T. writers (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) clearly state that such things were merely TEMPORARY TYPOLOGICAL TUTORS intended to lead Israel to Christ??

Will Christ then, in the future, lead the “modern Jewish Christians” and ALL THE NATIONS OF THE MODERN WORLD backwards – to those ancient and “rudimentary things” ( Gk: “stoicheion” – Col 2:8, 20; 2 Pet 3:10) that only served to point to Messiah, the cross, the resurrection, etc.???

The N.T. writers tell us that a RETURN to the Mosaic Economy (the OLD covenant system) would be to apostatize from Christ and to INVALIDATE the cross of Christ!!

• (14:16) – Will “all the nations” [of the entire modern world] soon be “GOING UP” to the modern city of Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Jewish feasts?? How will we all FIT??

Will ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD soon SUDDENLY become AGRARIAN BASED in order to begin THE ANNUAL PLANTING AND HARVESTING CYCLE necessary to keep the feast of booths (tabernacles) yearly? Because, if we do not, God is going to bring PLAGUES upon all those wicked nations and destroy their crops by withholding rain on their crops. (14:17-20)

• Is modern Israel under Messiah going to return to bloody ANIMAL SACRIFICES (the NT says that would be nothing short of “blasphemous” – (study the Book of Hebrews)?

Don K. Preston then quotes from Thomas Ice, who argues that Zechariah 12-14 shows Israel being rescued, not judged, and therefore this passage can not be speaking of events related to the Jewish-Roman War of 66-73 AD. According to Ice, those who say that Zechariah 12-14 has been fulfilled teach “in essence…that the Church had replaced Israel.” He says that preterists have made two errors: [1] believing that Zechariah speaks of “God’s judgment at the hands of the Romans in AD 70 upon Israel,” and [2] failing to see that “Zechariah 12-14 clearly speaks of a time when Israel is rescued by the Lord from an attack by ‘all the nations of the earth,’ not just the Romans” (Ice, of course, should realize that the Roman Empire did absorb many nations and made up most of the known world at the time). 

Ed Stevens then responds to the arguments of Thomas Ice:

Mr. Ice…assumes that ALL preterists (partials and fulls) are guilty of “replacement” theology (when in fact, almost all full preterists, as far as I know, are teaching “remnant” theology). We believe that God did not cut off ALL Israel from his Olive Tree. There was a righteous remnant left who did accept Jesus as their Messiah. Into that righteous remnant of True Israel (the Spiritual Israel) the Gentiles were grafted, in order to make the Jews jealous and entice them to be grafted back into their native Olive Tree and save some of them. Together with the engrafted Gentiles and the re-grafted Israelites, this righteous remnant became the ALL ISRAEL that inherited the promises.

He assumes that the Jerusalem mentioned in Zechariah is the physical city of Jerusalem (when in fact it is talking about the New Heavenly Jerusalem mentioned in Hebrew 12 and Revelation 21-22). 

He assumes that the references to “Israel” in Zech are the physical nation of Israel (when in fact it is talking about the New True Spiritual Israel that Paul refers to in the book of Romans 2, and chs. 9-11, as well as the allegory in Gal. 4).

He forgets about the Neronic persecution (AD 64) when both Rome and the Jews combined forces against the Church to destroy her and wipe her off the map. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that unless those days had been cut short, they would have succeeded. Sure enough, two years later (AD 66) the Jewish War broke out and Rome turned its attention away from hunting Christians, to attacking the Jews.

He forgets that by the first century the Hebrew people had become a melting pot of ALL NATIONS, especially in the Diaspora (Persia, India, Africa, Turkey, Greece, Rome, France, Spain, Britain, Germania, Scythia, Armenia, etc.). Just look at the description in Acts 2 of all the nations where “Jews” came from. There were Jewish communities scattered all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. When the Neronic persecution broke out, every Jewish community in the Diaspora (among “all the nations”) took advantage of the opportunity to wipe out the Christians, and used Roman authority to do it. They  were just like the wicked Haman of the book of Esther who plotted to wipe out all the Jews. That was when “all the nations” (Diaspora Jews) came against God’s people (the Christians, the New Jerusalem, the true Spiritual Israel) in the Neronic persecution (AD 64). But God turned the tables on the Hamanites. Less than two years later (AD 66) the Jews revolted, and God brought the Romans to wipe out “all the nations” (Diaspora Jews) who had come up against His true spiritual people.

Because Tommy Ice does not know his history nor understand prophetic language, he does not realize that “all the nations” which came against the True Israel and the New Jerusalem, really were destroyed by the Romans. In AD 66, when the war broke out, Diaspora Jews were forced to flee from “all the nations” where they had been scattered and take refuge in Israel. When they got back to the land, they joined the revolt and ended up being killed and enslaved afterwards.

[I don’t agree with Stevens’ final paragraph and did not include it here.]

C. Don K. Preston has another article on this topic titled, “Was Zechariah 12:3 Fulfilled in AD 70?” I’ll quote just a couple of portions from that article:

Our understanding of Zechariah is aided by the prophet’s references to “in that day.” These temporal parameters place fulfillment within the borders of a single generation, the first century generation. There are, if my count is correct, some 19 references to “in that day” in Zechariah. Space forbids an extensive examination of the “in that day” references. However, notice that the “in that day” references of chapter 12 take us directly back to chapter 11. In chapter 11 we find the betrayal of Jesus at the hands of Judas, who was paid the thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13). This in turn would be when YHVH would abandon His covenant “with both houses of Israel” (Zechariah 11:6-10), when they would eat their own flesh in the siege that was coming.

This is confirmed by Jesus’ application of Zechariah 12:10 to the fall of Jerusalem in Matthew 24:30, 34, and by John’s application of the same verse to the time when “those who pierced him” would look on him and mourn, in the destruction of the city “where the Lord was slain” (Revelation 1:7; 11:8)…

Please note: This judgment that is described, when the citizens of Jerusalem would eat the flesh of their own children, was to be part of the Mosaic Covenant provisions of wrath for violation of the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 28:52-57). Here is what is so critical about this fact: All dispensationalists agree that the Mosaic Covenant has been abrogated!

Thomas Ice affirms that the Torah was “forever fulfilled and discontinued in Christ” (Prophecy Watch, Eugene, Or. 1998, 258)! He acknowledges of the AD 70 catastrophe:  “Those first century days are called the ‘days of vengeance’ for Jerusalem is under the divine judgment of covenantal sanctions recorded in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Luke notes that God’s vengeance on His elect nation ‘is in order that all things that are written may be fulfilled.’ Jesus is telling the nation that God will fulfill all the curses of the Mosaic Covenant because of Israel’s disobedience. He will not relent and merely bring to pass a partial fulfillment of His vengeance” (Thomas Ice/ Kenneth Gentry, The Great Tribulation , Past or Future? Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1999).

…Here is the issue: All millennialists say the Law of Moses has been abrogated. Yet, Zechariah’s prediction of the assault on Jerusalem would be the fulfillment of the Mosaic Covenant… Zechariah had to be fulfilled at a time when Torah was still in effect.

ROME WAS NOT ALONE!

When our millennial friends take note that Zechariah 12 mentions “all the nations of the earth” it is perfectly justified to ask if they mean “all”? Do they mean that America will fight against Jerusalem? If not, why not? Do they mean that the 17 smallest countries in the world, most of which have no armies, will join the battle? If, after all, one is going to insist that  “all the nations” means literally, every nation on earth, then to be consistent, one must argue that every South American country, the USA and every other country on the globe will join in…

In fact, Josephus records that Titus had ten cohorts of  auxiliary troops from kings of different countries, such as Arabia, Syria and other countries (Wars, Bk. 4, chapter 4, Whiston, p. 642). In other words, it was the kings of the earth that gathered against literal Jerusalem!

A TALE OF TWO CITIES

It is critical to honor the fact that in Zechariah (and other OT prophetic books), there is what I call the doctrine of Two Jerusalems… What this means is that in some texts there is a seeming conundrum. On the one hand Jerusalem is destroyed, and yet in the same texts, Jerusalem is delivered! This apparent difficulty is resolved by understanding that Old Covenant Jerusalem was to perish, while the heavenly Jerusalem would be delivered. Galatians 4:22f; Philippians 3; Hebrews 12, and Revelation are some of the NT texts that teach this. This suggestion well explains the situation in Zechariah. The Old Jerusalem would indeed be desolated, in the final outpouring of Mosaic Covenant wrath. Yet, the Jerusalem that is above, the True Jerusalem, would be delivered, and it would be in her that deliverance, the fountain for sin would be opened for salvation (Zechariah 13:1f)…

Zechariah’s prophecy demands that it was fulfilled in the first century, “in that day” when Judas betrayed the Lord. The context demands that the prophecy was fulfilled at a time when the Mosaic Law was still in effect. The judgment described is Mosaic Covenant Wrath. The “kings of the earth” did in fact support Rome’s assault. Finally,  the doctrine of the Two Jerusalems demands the passing of the Old Jerusalem, but the deliverance of the New Covenant Jerusalem. This happened in AD 70.

What do you think? Does the idea of two Jerusalems, one earthly and one heavenly, help to explain Zechariah’s prophecy? Is Zechariah 12 more clear when it’s viewed in relation to the two passages where it’s quoted – Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7? In the near future, I also plan to post a 3-part study by Gary DeMar on Zechariah 14.