Psa. 46:8, “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.” (KJV)
Looking at Revelation from the Old Testament (OT) is both enlightening and reaffirming. God’s word is true and His judgments are righteous (Psa. 19:9; 33:5; 119:137, 160). If sometimes in our study we do not understand why He did what He did, or said what He said, then the fault lies with us. He has given us everything in His word that we need to be able to know Him, but it takes study, time and effort to delve in and connect the dots.
We keep faith and assurance that He had a reason for His actions, knowing that His judgments are righteous, and we trust in Him all the while we are learning and studying His word. In ignorance and great irreverence the world scoffs, scorns and jeers their Creator, and reason within themselves that He is not worthy of respect. Even those who say that they love Him will substitute their own human reasoning for that of our Creator, and force a different meaning upon His word than what He said.
Isa. 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We must determine the meaning of His word from within His word. The scriptures interpret themselves, because only God interprets. As Daniel explained to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:19-23:
“19Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 20Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
22 He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. 23 I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.”
Therefore, if we want to know what Revelation is all about we have to find it within the Old Testament, because the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.
God blessed the nation of Israel for Abraham’s sake (Gen. 26:26), using his faithful descendants to bring forth the Messiah, the Savior of all the people of the world (Matt. chap. 1). He gave them the blessings for keeping His covenant law and the curses if they failed.
Deu.28:15, “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:” (KJV)
The curses detailed in Deu. 28:16-68 were all carried out in the trumpet warnings and the vials of wrath poured out upon the land and the sea and the rivers in Rev. chapters 8 through 16.
Deu. 28:62, “And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the Lord thy God.”
The “stars of heaven” in Deu. chap. 28 were the Israelites of the Old Covenant (Gen. 37:9-10). They were supposed to be a holy nation to be an example to all other nations of earth, to show how to be acceptable to God (Ex. 19:6). They were not to bow down and worship images of wood and stone (Deu.28:36) as the other nations around them, which nations became the enemies of God for their idolatrous habits.
God told the Israelites of their destruction over and over through the prophets He sent to warn them. Ezekiel chap. 5 lists these calamities again.
Ez. 5:2, “Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.”
Ez. 5:9, “And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations.”
Ez. 5:12, “A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.”
Ez. 5:14, “Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by.”
Compare this with Rev. chap. 8:7-12:
“7The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
So, we can know the curses poured out upon the land of Jerusalem, Judea and Palestine in their destruction during the Judean/Roman war of A.D. 66-70 were all foretold in the Old Testament, and we can then clearly connect them with those same curses that came upon Jerusalem and all of Palestine during the first century A.D. when Christ told them that all the law and the prophets prophesied until John (Matt. 11:13, Luke 16:16).
Deu. 28:60-61, “Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee. 61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”
God promised to bring the plagues of Egypt upon the Israelites for their disobedience and idolatry, for their delight in unrighteousness. Let’s see if we can find the symbols of the plagues of Egypt in Revelation. Remember that Revelation was a picture that was shown to John; symbolic of the actual events about to unfold while he yet lived.
The parallel verses of the first angel: (upon the land)
Rev. 8:7, “The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”
Rev. 16:2, “ And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.”
The Old Testament promises:
Ex. 9:9-10, “And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.” (the sixth plague of Egypt)
Ex. 9:23-24, “And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.” (the seventh plague of Egypt)
Deu. 28:35, “The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.”
See also Ezek. 5:2 above.
The parallel verses of the second angel: (upon the sea)
Rev. 8:8-9, “ And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”
Rev. 16:3, ” And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.”
The Old Testament promises:
Ex. 7:20, ” And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.” (the first plague of Egypt)
While the sea becoming blood is a symbolic picture, there are records of certain instances during the Judean war with Rome when the blood spilled was so great it even sickened the Romans who chased down and killed the Jews trying to escape the massacre of Tarichaeae into the Sea of Galilee.
“One could see the whole lake stained with blood and crammed with corpses, for not a man escaped. During the days that followed a horrible stench hung over the region, and it presented an equally horrifying spectacle. The beaches were strewn with wrecks and swollen bodies, which, hot and clammy with decay, made the air so foul that the catastrophe that plunged the Jews in mourning revolted even those who had brought it about.” Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War, iii.x.9
The parallel verses of the third angel: (upon the rivers and springs)
Rev. 8:10-11, “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”
Rev. 16:4-6, “And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.”
The Old Testament promises:
Again, the first plague of Egypt, but with more emphasis upon the drinking water (Ex. 7:17-21)
Deu. 29:18, “ Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;”
Jer. 9:15, “Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.“
Christ told the Jews that all of the righteous blood they had shed from Abel to Zacharias would fall upon that generation (Matt. 23:35) Josephus recorded that the Jews resorted to cannibalism during the siege of Jerusalem, eating their own children, and thereby drinking the blood.
Deu 28:55, ” So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.”
Deu. 28:57, “And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.”
Ezek. 5:10, ” Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.”
The parallel verses of the fourth angel: (sun, moon, and stars)
Rev. 8:12, “ And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.”
Rev. 16:8-9, “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.”
The Old Testament promises:
Ex. 10:22, “And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:” (the ninth plague of Egypt)
Deu. 28:28-29, “The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: 29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.“
Joel 2:10, ” 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:“
The “stars of heaven” in Revelation were the remnant of the tribes of Israel in Judea, just as the “stars of heaven” in Deuteronomy were the Israelites. The fourth trumpet angel sounded the darkening of the lights of “heaven,” or removing the political authority over the land held by the Sanhedrin and priesthood. The fourth angel with the vials reversed the darkening into a curse of scorching heat to burn up the evil ones, symbolizing the removal of the protection of God (Ex. 13:21-22; Psa. 91:1; Isa. 49:10; Rev. 7:15-17)
The scorching sun recalls the fire and brimstone of the seventh plague in Ex. 9:23-24.
Ezek. 22:19-20, “ 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.“
Joel 1:19-20, “O Lord, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. 20 The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.”
The parallels of the fifth angel: (the locust army of the beast)
Rev. 9:1-3, 5, 7 “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power…. 5And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man…. 7And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.“
Rev. 16:10-11, “ And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, 11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”
The Old Testament promises:
Ex. 10:13, “And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.” (the eighth plague of Egypt)
Deu. 28:33, ” The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:”
Deu. 28:38, “Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.”
Deu. 28:42, “ All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.”
Joel 1:6-7, “For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. 7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.”
The parallel of the sixth angel: (the calling trump of the battle of Armageddon)
Rev. 9:14-16, “ Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.”
Rev. 16: 12-13, ” And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.”
The Old Testament promises:
Ex. 8:2-4, “And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: 4 And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.” (the second plague)
Deu. 28:49-50, “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; 50 A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:“
Jer. 6:22-23, “Thus saith the Lord, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth. 23 They shall lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roareth like the sea; and they ride upon horses, set in array as men for war against thee, O daughter of Zion.”
The parallel of the seventh angel: (the completion of the battle)
Rev 10:7, ” But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.“
Rev. 11:15, 19 “ And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. … And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
Rev 16:17, 21, ” And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.…. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”
The Old Testament promises:
See again the seventh plague of Egypt at Ex. 9:23-24.
Ezek. 38:16-23, “And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes.
17 Thus saith the Lord God; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?
18 And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face.
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.
21 And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword shall be against his brother.
22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.”
John wasn’t looking at events to come 2,000 years into our future. He was being shown events that had been foretold 1400 years and more in the past, and which were about to happen in his lifetime.
Revelation was the culmination of all Old Testament prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem, and all of Judea.
The latter days were always the last days of the tribes of Israel (Gen 49:1-10). The army of Gog and Magog that came against Israel in their latter days, during the last days of the old covenant, was that of Rome during the Judean / Roman war which destroyed their temple in A.D. 70.
The remnant of Israel, Judah and Jerusalem, had become as Egypt (Rev. 11:8). They had hardened their hearts against God, and were unrepentant. All the prophets had told them of their destruction for sinning against God, turning away from His law and commandments to seek after the nations around them. God had told them that He would visit them with the plagues of Egypt for their sins (Lev. 26:21; Deu 28:60; Jer. 19:8; Rev 15:1)
As He foretold by all the prophets, God knew that they would turn from Him, that Christ was going to have to pay the price and become the sacrifice for all the world, the Redeemer of His people (Job 19:25; Is 54:5; 59:20; John 1:29). That is why the earthly temple was replaced with a spiritual temple that would never be shaken (Heb. 9:11; 12:27), and would never be destroyed. That is why the earthly city of old Jerusalem became the spiritual city of New Jerusalem which would never turn away from God (Rev 3:12; 21:2).
After the destruction of that physical temple and the removal of the carnal, animal sacrificial system, the only temple of the Lord now is in Christ (Matt. 26:61; Mark 14:58; John 2:19).
The battle is over. Christ won the battle at the destruction of that temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70! All those who are in Christ share in that victory and are already in His temple. (Gal. 3:26-29)
Source: KJV. All bold emphasis is mine.
The Days of Vengeance by David Chilton, pp. 161 – 166
The Book of Revelation by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. pp 325 – 343