Deceit and lies fill the earth, and many people are swayed by every moving wind to believe some very preposterous theories regarding the book of Revelation and the “end of the world”. There is a political agenda deliberately promoting fear that is associated with these lies, which needs to be confronted and destroyed. These postings are building a base so that we will be able to clearly see these lies and uncover one of the hidden agendas of the Zionist cabal.
Part I and II of this series have identified some of the time texts and pointers found in the New Testament (NT) that show the time of the coming of the Lord. Part III discussed some of the figurative metaphors of the prophetic judgment language of the Old Testament (OT).
This Part IV will review more of the figurative judgment language which God used when pronouncing judgment upon a wicked people or nation. It is important to become familiar with this style of language and to recognize its figurative nature because God used these metaphors repeatedly in Scripture. They were usually not literal! (Unless otherwise noted, all scripture is from the KJV, and bold emphasis is mine.)
God appeared before Moses in a burning bush, a fire that did not consume (Ex. 3:2). God appeared as a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night before the company of Israel all the years in the desert (Ex. 13:21). God’s fury is fire (Lam. 2:4).
The first association we have with “fire” is God’s anger. His fury equals fire. Whenever we see the word “fire” in His prophesies we should automatically think of His “judgment.” How he executed His judgment upon the wicked may or may not have involved actual fire. We have to look at each judgment to see which natural process or agents He used to carry out His judgments. There are metaphors that become commonly understood from one prophesy to the next.
Exodus 20:17, “And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.”
The word “like” indicates a metaphor so that we see that the “glory of the Lord” was compared to a “devouring fire,” a fire that consumes everything it touches.
Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”
The verb “is” means equal to, same as, or shows one thing to be a synonym of another. Using the verb “is” to equate God to a consuming fire describes His jealous nature.
In Deut. 32:22-24, because of their idolatry, Moses told the people of Israel,
“22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. 23 I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. 24 They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.”
Ezekiel 38:19-20, discussing judgment against Israel,
“19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; 20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.”
Shaking the land and throwing the mountains down is a turn-over and upset of the ruling authority of the wicked. Mountains were used as metaphors for strong nations and/or strong kings (Isa. 41:15; 42:15; Ezek. 35:2, 7, 8; Zech 4:7). It is the mountain of the Lord’s house, the kingdom of God that is described in Isa. 2:1-5; and Dan. 2:35. Hills were metaphors for smaller nations or lesser kings.
Micah 1:3-4, the judgment pronounced against Samaria and Jerusalem for their idolatry:
“3 For, behold, the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.”
Nahum 1:4-6, discussing the burden (judgment) that Nineveh would bear:
“4 He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. 5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. 6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.”
Joel 2: 1-5, & 10 in judgment of Israel,
“1Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; 2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. 4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. 5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.”
10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:“
Isaiah 29:26, “Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.“
Jeremiah 21:12, “O house of David, thus saith the Lord; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.”
All of this figurative language is judgment language spoken by the prophets to warn the people of God’s anger and coming judgment upon their nation or tribe. These are metaphors comparing God’s anger and fury to a burning fire. If the people of these nations did not heed His warnings, God would come in judgment against the evil for their unrighteousness.
Remember from Part III that the sun, moon, and stars stand for rulers: kings, queens, princes, and principalities. When God shakes the heavens He is shaking the palaces and governing abodes of the rulers, and the earth stands for the region or land over which those kings ruled. As those kings or rulers had authority over the people, they were a type of “heaven” that held a smaller dominion that was under God’s dominion over all the earth. He would shake (upset) their dominions, or “heavens.”
Burning has been a long, established method of eliminating trash, filth, and garbage. Wicked and evil souls were compared to chaff that was to be burned (Psa. 1:4, Isa. 5:24, Matt. 3:12).
Just so, God used physical fire against Nadab and Abihu; Sodom & Gomorrah; in the plagues against Egypt; in the wilderness against the enemies of the Israelite, and several others. He used the metaphor of fire when prophesying the judgment against the unrighteous. The prophetical expression of fire indicated God’s fury, but was not always the method of His execution of judgment.
Psalm 68:2, “As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”
This was God’s standard operating procedure. The evil and the wicked were set apart for the “fire” of his judgment. The burning fire symbolized His anger and that He was about to exercise His judgment. There are many other instances of this fiery judgment from the Old Testament, but let’s look now at this same language found in the New Testament.
Matt 3:12, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The “unquenchable fire” was God’s anger. Did He always express His anger with actual fire? Or, was His method of judgment a foreign army that “flooded” over the city / nation? At times, both metaphors of fire and water are used in the same prophesy (Amos 9:1-5).
Matt 7:19, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.“
Matt 13:40, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.”
The word “world” used above is the Greek “aeon” meaning “age”, not the physical cosmos. Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) of this verse reads,
“As, then, the darnel is gathered up, and is burned with fire, so shall it be in the full end of this age,”
…and the discussion is still part of “these last days” found throughout the New Testament.
Luke 3:17, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.”
Luke 12:49, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?”
Jesus spoke these words recorded in Luke almost two thousand years ago, and He stated that He was sending fire (judgment) upon the earth (Israel), in the first century A.D. The fire of God’s judgment (His anger) against Israel was already burning while Jesus was still with them.
Hebrews 12:29, “For our God is a consuming fire.“
2 Pet 3:7, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
This is judgment language in II Peter, and it is not concerning an end of the physical earth or cosmos!
2 Pet 3:12, “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”
Specifically stating a day of God, or a day of the Lord, or a coming of the Lord, always used in judgment against wicked people. The “heavens” that were on fire were the kingdoms of men that would suffer God’s fiery judgment. (See the post “Frequent Mistakes Part VI: The End of The World, or ??” at the right margin for an in depth discussion of the prophesy in 2 Peter c. 3.)
Fire cleanses, purifies, and refines. The bad elements are burned off, and the pure elements remain, as is demonstrated here:
Ezekiel 22:19-22 prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem:
“19 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. 21 Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. 22 As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you.”
This was the prophesy of the judgment of Judea and Jerusalem which was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Other figurative, judgment language in the New Testament:
Matt 24:29-30, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Mark 13:24-26, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”
Mark 14:62, “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Luke 21:24-26, “24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.“
Acts 2:19-20, “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:”
Heb 12:26-27, “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
This is not a discussion of the end of the physical world, for nothing would remain if the physical cosmos were destroyed. All of Hebrews was discussing the passing away of the old covenant, to make way for the establishment of the new covenant, the everlasting kingdom. The “powers of heaven” that God was shaking in the first century A.D. was the ruling authority of the Judeans: the Sanhedrin and the animal sacrificial temple.
Rev 1:7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”
Rev 6:12, “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;”
Sound familiar? This is the same figurative language as used in the Old Testament to pronounce a Day of the Lord, a day of judgment against a nation, or nations. Now let’s carefully consider Jesus’ reply to Caiaphas, the high Priest of the council in Matt 26:63-64:
“63 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. 64Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. 65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.”
The Jews knew the figurative, judgment language of the Old Testament. “Coming in the clouds of heaven” indicated God’s coming presence to pour out His judgment upon the wicked. Caiaphas recognized it immediately.
Look at how he responded in anger. Caiaphas was so angered that he tore his clothes. He knew that Jesus – whom he did not recognize to be the Son of God – had just pronounced judgment against him. This is why Caiaphas convicted Jesus of blasphemy. He knew this was the language God used against the unrighteous. Jesus had just told Caiaphas that he, Caiaphas, would see God’s judgment in his, Caiaphas’ lifetime.
And to set the time frame again, let’s go back to Matt. 24. The disciples had just shown Jesus the glory of the temple under Herod’s reconstruction and expansion, brand new in their day. (See a representation at http://www.bible-history.com/jewishtemple) Jesus told them that not one stone will be left upon another.
These were massive stones, massive buildings. The disciples were stunned. So, they asked him when shall these things be? KJV translates “end of the age” as “end of the world”. NKJV rightly translates it as “end of the age”. This is not contemplating the end of the physical cosmos.
The destruction of the temple represented to the disciples the “end of their world as they knew it.” That temple was their world. Their world included the lands of the Israelite, their lifestyle and accepted customs and practices of worship under the old law in their animal sacrificial covenant with God. Jesus was telling them that their covenant with God was going to be changed, and they wanted to know when.
” 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.”
Remember what the disciples asked him. They asked when these things would happen. They wanted to know when that newly built, and reconstructed temple was going to be torn down. We know from secular history that it was destroyed in A.D. 70. So, the end that Jesus was telling the disciples to watch for was going to happen in A.D. 70.
Our hindsight gives us a benefit the disciples did not have. If the end of the physical, natural world was being discussed, what use would it be for Jesus to tell them to flee to the mountains? Why tell them not to turn back to get their possessions, but just go?
Jesus was warning them to get out of Jerusalem before the encircling armies of Rome (the abomination of desolation) encompassed the city.
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matt 24:34
There is no subject break after vs. 34 in Matt. 24. The same judgment, the same coming of the Lord is still being discussed. Jesus told the disciples it was all going to happen in the generation of those listening to Him speak in the first century A.D. And to confirm……
” 20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
It was going to be very hard to run from an approaching army if you had a baby to carry. It was the destruction of Jerusalem, and the judgment of Israel and the surrounding nations that was the subject coming of the Lord which was prophesied in the NT, in “these last days” (1 Pet. 1:20), in the first century A.D.
Their generation was going to see Christ’s second appearance (Heb. 9:28), the judgment for all of the innocent blood shed from Abel to Zacharia, and for the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior.
The disciples still didn’t understand the spiritual change in the covenant which was coming upon them. They asked Him at His ascension,
“Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6.
They were still hoping for, looking for a worldly, physical kingdom, with the world-wide power and glory they had once held under Solomon. Some of them still are. They and every one who looks for a future “second coming” are completely missing the point that He already came in A.D. 70, and that His kingdom is a spiritual, ever-lasting, kingdom which is already here in those that are in Christ (Luke 17:20-21).
The continued, and promoted expectation of a physical reign of a physical kingdom on earth is leading many people astray into a false paradigm, and ultimate destruction.
Part V will examine some confirming time points and the date of the writing of Revelation.
(Expanded and edited Jun 2, 2018.)