Revealing Revelation – The Great Escape and the Great Multitude

18Feb11

In the previous post we discussed the 144,000 and their specific timing in the first century as the “firstfruits” of the Lamb. We saw that they were sealed or protected by the Lord just as God had done throughout history, especially in the historic parallel event of the first destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians.

But what are we to make of this marking and sealing. When did those who were part of the faithful remnant find their relief and rescue int eh first century holocaust of the destruction of Jerusalem? And what are we to make of the larger throng that appears immediately following? We touched on who they were in the previous post, but not the more important question of; how did they get there?

Rev. 7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. [2] Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, [3] saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

Again as mentioned in the previous post the Lord has not begun the destructive acts of judgment that are set to come against Israel. rather we have been given a glimpse of this coming judgment and the verdict of guilt and the disollution of the old covenant relationship between God and natural, now apostate Israel. This holding back of the judgment is given so that His remnant of faithful Jews living in Jerusalem would find a time of escape.

It should also be noted that here again we see the term “earth” used and it most likely is identified with the Land of Israel, since once again the term “ge” is used and “ge” is best translated land and is used to signify Israel in other instances.

Note here the similarity of the actions of God and the warning that is also found in the Olivet Discourse. In both instances there is a time in which first century Christians living in Jerusalem would find their escape. Again, since it is being shown consistently here, the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation is dealing with the same subject matter.

Luke 21:20″But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Here we most probably have the picture as to what was being “held back” by the angels in Revelation 7. Before the onslaught of the Roman army and it’s powerful actions that would to the destruction of the earth, sea and trees (which will all be seen in the trumpet section to follow), there was to be a time of respite in which those who are in Judea would be given the opportunity to flea. Of course, it would only be those who were familiar with the words of Christ that would know to do so.

As history can attest, this is exactly what happened. The Roman armies were held back, and quite inexplicably, and the Christians living in Jerusalem escaped the onslaught almost completely, with only a handful leaders of the Church deciding to stay back and continue to minister to those in the city.

Josephus noted the exodus of large groups and Christians before the siege and even Eusubius commented that those in the city who were given a “revelation” escaped the onslaught by fleeing the city before it came to ruin. Over one million Jews lost their lives at the fall of Jerusalem, but it can be said, that not a one christian met his fate at the hands of the roman armies since the handful who stayed behind, those in Church leadership including James the brother of Jesus, met their fate at the hands of those within the city, most notably the zealots.

The history of this escape is well known. They early church in Jerusalem was given warning by Christ in Luke 21 as noted above. They were instructed to escape the city once they saw it surrounded by armies and were also told to flee to the mountains.

The best and most plausible argument that the timing of the withdrawal in question was actually at the time of Nero’s death by suicide under the guidance of Generals Vespasian and his son Titus. This fits best the historical situations and the Biblical warrant of escape. Vespasian returned to Rome in 68 AD to try and lay claim to the title of emperor. he was beaten to throne by Galba, who reigned for only 6 months and sparked the year of four emperors.

Vespasian finally laid claim to the throne in 69AD and ordered his son, Titus, who remained in charge of the armies around Jerusalem, to attack and destroy the city of Jerusalem. Which he did in 70AD flattening the Temple and destroying the city and surrounding areas.

This time of respite, though, was plenty of time for the Christians aware of the prophecy to escape to do just that. The largest contingency followed Symeon, the cousin of Jesus, to the region of Pella, a mountainous region, just as directed. The Jews that attempted escape, on the other hand, fled toward the sea where they were slaughtered to such a degree that the sea was filled with their blood. The Romans left the corpses to rot and destroyed the fishing and drinking waters of the region.

This escape and protection (sealing) of His own matched the actions and descriptions of the book of Revelation quite well. Even to the point of figuratively expressing this by stating that the angels of God held back the onslaught and used historical means, through the death of Nero, to accomplish His goals.

This symbolic rejection of Israel as His exclusive covenantal nation and the expansion of the the new covenant to include all the nations is represented by the following picture of the the large multitude that were saved during that time following Jerusalem’s destruction. Only through the ending of the old covenant and the establishment of the new can we find the expansion of the Gospel in vivid fulfillment.

The last comment regarding the 144,000 is in response to the traditional view of the 144,oo0. Though the activity of the 144,000 is never mentioned in the passage most traditional Dispensationalist (Gaebelein, LaHaye, Ryrie, Walvoord, Chafer, Scofield etc) state that they are missionaries for the “Kingdom of God.” When they speak of the Kingdom of God they are referring to the Dispensational view of the fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises to ethnic Israel, including a return to the Old Testament Law and animal sacrifices as well as Temple worship. This, as they traditional Dispensationalist argue, is to set up the earthly Millennial Kingdom of Christ in which these Levitical and ceremonial laws are re-instituted.

As an aside, it should be noted, that a leading popular Pastor in Southern California said on his radio program that if the Temple was to be rebuilt in this present time that the Jews could sacrifice animals at the temple and that God would so those sacrifices as effectual for their forgiveness of sin and salvation! This insult to the finished work of Christ is in such denial of the Gospel as presented in the book of Hebrews as Christ sacrificed once and for all with the Old covenant VANISHING away!

Now how these men can be considered Godly while still rejecting Jesus as Savior (in traditional Dispensational discussion) is beyond me! So, as Dr. Ralph Bass correctly asserts, “this is truly another Gospel.” They argue that this is the “gospel” that was originally rejected by the Jews at Jesus’ first coming. This great multitude is supposedly the result of these 1440,00’s Christ-less, bloodless and un-aided by the Holy Spirit gospel.

This should be an offense to any serious student of the bible, especially after any consideration of the book of Hebrews. It is clear in Hebrews that the Gospel presented to the Jews was the same Gospel as presented later to the Church. The Jews were told that they MUST eat and drink of the body and blood of Christ (John 5) and that the Davidic promise of the kingship of the “Son of David” was fulfilled in the Resurrection of Christ (Acts 2).

But as Dr. Bass rightly declares, “this passage…proves the error of their teachings.” Note in the highlighted section of this passage below as to how those during the Great Tribulation are saved.

Rev 7:14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

These are those who have been saved by CHRIST, not those who accept the so-called “original” Gospel offer of Jesus’ first advent! They are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ not by His David Kingship! This should not escape the Dispensationalist but apparently has for many. These are saved in the same way and, as a result, are members of the CHURCH! given that truth, there is no reason to push these events into our future, with a “missing” church and a Holy Spirit-less revival.

We will next venture into a discussion of the seventh seal and the introduction of the judgment as seen through the trumpets.

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