CHAPTER ONE, INTRODUCTION.
I explain why I wrote my book. I compare my book to many widely read interpretations. I describe the various schools of interpretation. I discuss modern interpretations depicting the European Economic Union (and Mussolini before the war) as the revived Roman Empire. I discuss the best selling "Left Behind" series. I explain why I do not believe these interpretations. I also discuss a new series "The Last Disciple." This series is backed by a preterist interpretation somewhat similar to the way I understand the Apocalypse.
CHAPTER TWO, THE BAPTIST'S VISION OF CHRIST.
I describe John's vision of the throne and twenty-four kings. I interpret it as a vision of God that explains God's nature. The vision includes a lamb that represents the Son's human incarnation.
CHAPTER THREE, CHRIST UNLEASHES THE HORSEMEN.
Most commentators have the four horsemen riding forth during the tribulation. I view them differently. The Baptist sees a sealed contract between God and, I think, all created persons. The contract, I think, covers the conditions under which God grants all persons free will. Nobody is worthy to open the contract (break the seals) because nobody can compensate for the misuse of free will. But Jesus can. Jesus opens the seals and calls forth the four horsemen. I think the first horseman is human ambition, disobedient to God, riding forth to conquer other persons. The red horseman is the resistance of others, who, not willing to serve God, are hardly likely to accept servitude to others. Their resistance brings war with famine, and death, the other two horsemen. I view the scroll as symbolic. God, who became Jesus Christ, created us with free will knowing that some of us will disobey. Only Jesus can compensate for the disobedience. That's why only Jesus is worthy to open the scroll.
CHAPTER FOUR, SEPARATION OF BELIEVERS FROM NON-BLIEEVERS.
There are two intermediary visions in Apocalypse seven, one showing the elect being marked, the second showing the elect with others. I interpret the elect as first and second century Judeans who respond to the Messiah's call and accept baptism during the years A.D. 27 to 42. I interpret the others as first and second century Gentiles who also accept baptism during the years A.D. 35 to 67. Both groups join to form a new group, the Church. I support this by citing sufficient historical events to show how the early Church grew, first from Judeans, then from Gentiles.
CHAPTER FIVE, THE FOUR WINDS: THE BEGINNING OF THE TRIBULATION FOR JUDEA.
I interpret the first four trumpets (the four winds) as Judea's tribulation now that the Church is firmly established. This tribulation stems from four sources that develop as the Judeans decide whether they can believe the apostle's testimony that Christ rose. If they cannot believe, and try to defeat the Judeans who do believe, the winds will blow with greater and greater intensity until Judea finally decides to withdraw all privileges from Christians, thereby exposing Christians to the necessity of complying with the Imperial Cult. The Unbelieving Judeans know that refusing to comply with the Imperial Cult will bring death to all Christians who refuse. When things look hopeless for the Christians, Judea stumbles into war with Rome.
In this chapter, I describe the careers of Caligula and Herod Agrippa I. I also describe the revolt of A.D. 46, the riots of A.D. 50, and the activity of the Sicarri. Herod Agrippa tries to avert war, but fails. I describe the final spark that led to war, the Sicarri storming Masada, the defeat of the Roman occupying army by Simon bar Giora, and the formation of the Jewish independent government. Now the four winds give way to the three woes, which will bring disaster and the utter inability of Judea to hinder the work of the Church.
CHAPTER SIX, THE FIRST WOE: CIVIL WAR IN JUDEA.
The first woe starts in A.D. 66 with the terror imposed by the Zealots during the initial break with Rome. I quote Josephus to provide an eyewitness account of the progress of this struggle. The non-Zealots revolt against the Zealots, who then invite the Idumeans to subdue the non-Zealots. I describe John of Gischala's climb to power. While Vespasian, with a new Roman army, conquered most of Judea except Jerusalem, Gischala fought a Judean civil war inside Jerusalem.
I describe the halt of the Roman offensive when Nero died and the political turmoil that followed. The Judeans, instead of driving the Romans out, continued their civil war as Simon Bar Giora tries to overthrow Gischala. Both sides burn all the grain in Jerusalem to starve the other side. Rome stabilizes when the army makes Vespasian emperor. Jerusalem is now out of food. What the Judeans did to themselves can compare to ravaging locusts. In John's vision, locusts tormented, but did not kill, those not marked with the Lord's sign.
CHAPTER SEVEN, THE SECOND WOE: WAR WITH ROME.
Apocalypse nine describes an army camped outside Jerusalem. I compare this to the reorganized Roman army's siege of Jerusalem, providing many historical details. When the city falls, the Romans torch the Temple. Many Judeans die during the assault. Many survivors are sold as slaves. The Roman army demolishes the city. Jerusalem will remain uninhabited for seventy years. The Temple will never be rebuilt. This siege is the historical fulfillment of the army unleashed against the unbelievers.
CHAPTER EIGHT, GLIMPSES IN THE HISTORY OF THE TEMPLE SITE.
I change my pace now that I have brought the reader to the Temple's destruction. God told John to measure the Temple. I now explain the Temple's importance to the Jewish people. I also give the reader a "bird's eye" view of Jerusalem. This will help clarify the strategies of the siege and war I just described. I did this using a literary structure similar to the structure of the Apocalypse. I describe seven grand views of the Temple site, each at different times. However, instead of visions in the sky seen by a person on the ground, the reader sees views of the ground from a vantage point in the sky.
My first scene is the morning Jesus was born. I describe the Temple's location relative to the city's walls, valleys, the high hills, and the main buildings. I then describe the sacrifice that morning, pointing out its prophetic relationship to the career of Jesus Christ.
The scene changes. Now the reader views the Temple site during King David's time. David recently offended God by taking a census. God gave David a choice of punishments for his arrogance. David chose a contagious disease. As we look down on the city, David, looking up, sees an angel with sword unsheathed. David then hears God tell the angel to halt the punishment. David never forgot the spot where God showed mercy. His son later built the Temple there.
The scene changes again. We watch Abraham approach to make the sacrifice God asked. We watch him place Isaac upon the rock. At the last minute, God provides a substitute. The substitute is a symbol of Jesus Christ, God's own Son, the son whose sacrifice God really will accept.
The scene changes again, this time A.D. 638. I trace Abraham's offspring to show that eventually they all worshiped the God Abraham worshiped, not only the Jews, but the Arabs as well. I describe Islam. I compare Islam to Judaism and Christianity. They are different religions, but all three worship the God Abraham worshiped. One hundred years after Islam's inception, the Moslems conquered two empires that were too strong to conquer each other. They then take control of Jerusalem and the Temple site.
The scene changes again. It is now December 17, 1917. The world is at war. The Ottoman Turks control the city. As we look down, they look up at British warplanes flying over the Temple site. The Turks realize that, if they resist the British, they risk damage to the holy shrines. They decide to let the city fall peacefully. This marks the end of Moslem control of the Holy Land. I quote Scriptures concerning the fifty-year jubilee. Moses told the twelve tribes they were not to lose possession of their land. Every fifty years, all land shall revert to the original owners. I then cite historical events of the next fifty years starting in 1917 when Britain promised to help the Jews regain their ancestral homeland. I end in 1967 when the Jews, against incredible odds, regain the Temple site and most of Palestine during the Six-day War.
The scene changes again. It is now centuries earlier, the day Jesus died. We can see him on the cross, hear what he is saying, watch people react to him. I again describe the relationship the Messiah has with God.
CHAPTER NINE, THE THIRD WOE ANNOUNCED: PREPARATIONS FOR THE FINAL WAR WITH ROME.
I propose that the third woe predicts the defeat of Bar Kochba and the mass exile of Judeans in A.D. 131-4. This defeat destroys Judea's ability to oppose the Church.
CHAPTER TEN, JUDEA GIVES BIRTH TO THE
While the unbelieving tread the fatal path toward war, the believing Judeans see who Christ is and accept baptism. Israel is the Lord's spouse. This vision of the woman with child is Israel (or its remnant, Judea) giving birth to the Church. The dragon represents Satan trying to destroy the newly formed Church. I describe the Israelites, their relationship to the Church, and the role Satan and the fallen angels play in our human lives. Satan intends to destroy the woman and all her children. To seek help, Satan goes to the Mediterranean and summons the sea beast.
CHAPTER ELEVEN, THE SEA BEAST: THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
The sea beast is the Roman Empire. The vision describes it as a living beast with seven heads rising from the sea in the direction of Rome. The vision shows the seven divine Caesars that have ruled the Empire. I then describe the pagan god Roma and the "divine" Nero and some Roman history, quoting Suetonius and Tacitus.
CHAPTER TWELVE, THE LAND BEAST: A NEW CAESAR.
The sea beast is the Empire; the land beast is the man who will become the next divine head, the eighth head, of the sea beast. The same spirit that motivates the sea beast will motivate this man, and this man will speak like the dragon. This man is Domitian, Vespasian's second son. Domitian will exercise all the sea beast's power. He will use that power to force people within the Empire to again worship the sea beast.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN, THE LAMB WITH THE ELECT
This vision, the lamb with the elect, shows Jesus, the lamb, with 144,000 souls who have followed him. These are the first ones redeemed, the Judeans who recognized Christ. They were faithful to him unto death and have entered his heavenly gathering. The identification of the 144,000 is a prominent feature of the more popular interpretations. Hal Lindsey, for example, holds them to be Jews who will convert during the future tribulation. Many interpretations still do. I think this is not true and leads to cults and sects. The 144,000 merely show that a large number of Judeans convert.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN, THE VIALS: THE GREAT TRIBULATION.
Time has run out for Judea. The Lord is already there. He had been knocking at the door. Those Judeans who respond will become the Lord's betrothed, the Lord's spouse. Those who fail to respond, who do not recognize their day of visitation, will live the warnings John predicted. I discuss historical events between the years 70 through 131. I cover Trajan's offer to rebuild the Temple, the war under Trajan, and Hadrian's attempt to bring peace. I then cover Bar Kochba's rise to power, gathering information from many sources. I describe how this final war took shape. I carry the historical account to Bar Kochba's last stand at Bethar.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN, THE THIRD WOE DONE: JUDEA'S DEMISE.
When the Romans stormed Bethar, they killed most of the city's population. I then cover the survivor's retreat to the Wadi Murabbaat caves and Hadrian's rebuilding of Jerusalem into a pagan city. The Judean nation was then dismantled; the survivors exiled. So effective was this final conquest and dispersal that even as late as the nineteenth century only thirty thousand Jews resided in their ancestral homeland.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN, WHY JUDEA WAS BROUGHT DOWN.
Even though God created every person in existence, God made a public revelation only to the Israelites starting through Moses. God's intention was to have the Israelites become a holy nation, a chosen people, whose words and lives showed other nations who God is and what God expects. God intended the Israelites to bring forth the Messiah, the savior of all persons. The Israelites did not live up to this honor, and God punished them by allowing their enemies to defeat them. Enemies conquered ten of the Israelite tribes who then became lost to history. The remaining two tribes, the remnant, became known as Judaites, named after one of Jacob's sons. During Christ's time, the Romans called them Judeans. The English equivalent is "Jews."
When the Messiah arrived, many Judeans did not accept him and tried to defeat him and his mission. Shall God abandon this mission to offer salvation to all persons because some non-believing Judeans refuse to accept God's Messiah? If God backs down, what hope will the millions of other persons have? People who never heard God's revelation, and who have no idea why they experience so much suffering in this valley of tears?
No! God will not permit this. The Judeans who were not ready when God was ready were severely punished by their enemies and destroyed as a nation. The Judeans who believed joined with Christ, as Christ made of them his Church, the avenue of salvation for all people. The unbelieving Judeans who tried to destroy Christ's Church were harshly dealt with because of their opposition to God's chosen Messiah, so harshly that they never again became a threat to the Church Christ founded.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, CHRIST REIGNS: DEFEATS SATAN.
Apoc. 19:7-10 describes the wedding feast of Jesus and his spouse, the Church. Together, they spread through the world bringing salvation to all who believe. Christ's teaching is like a two-edged sword, cutting through the ignorance of people who never heard God's revelation and cutting through the deceits of Satan, which deceits would have made understanding of God's revelation difficult. Christ binds Satan for 1000 years to minimize Satan's effectiveness in opposing Christ. This permits Christ's Church to spread much more rapidly among Gentiles than it did among the Judeans. Satan still tried to undermine Christianity by inspiring errors and inspiring the Roman Empire to kill Christians, but Christ was triumphant. In a few hundred years, the entire Roman Empire became a Christian Empire.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN, THE CHURCH'S 1000 YEAR REIGN.
The Church is comprised mainly of souls that have entered heaven, but the Church is not entirely spiritual. Many members are still struggling in this life, assisted, of course, by Jesus, his angels, and saints in heaven. This chapter focuses mainly on Church members still in this life. Apoc. 20:5-6 spoke of a 1000-year rule by the saints, then states that Satan will be released (Apoc. 20:7) to once again seduce the nations.
I think this 1000-year reign began when the Roman Empire became a Christian state. Now we have, in addition to the spiritual rule of saints in heaven, a political rule here on Earth. The political 1000-year reign was not perfect because people in this life are not perfect. However, Christ's teaching, in spite of errors promoted by some people and political attacks by non-believers, like Islam, remained fairly intact for about 1000 years.
Then something different happened. The political Empire broke up into rival nations that fought war after war ever since. The Church ruptured into many conflicting sects that argued with each other over Christ's teaching. Today, this rupture has resulted in more than 20, 000 different versions of Christ's teaching that have refuted among themselves just about every belief once held sacred by their distant ancestors. This argumentation and rebuttals by people professing to be Christian has destroyed the credibility of all Christians. Today, not a single nation professes to be Christian or tries to encourage Christianity among its people. All nations claim the world is now in the post-Christian era.
This all began, I think, with the events leading to the Reformation. I think this is when Satan was released. Who else would deceive whole nations to no longer agree on Christ's teachings? These formally Christian nations, today, advocate wars, aggression, and genocide, abortion, even partial-birth abortion, same sex marriages, gay life style, a return to pre-Christian pagan religions, the occult, and even Satanism. In this chapter, I trace these trends in some detail.
CHAPTER NINETEEN, THE FINAL DAYS BEFORE ETERNITY.
In chapter eighteen, I outlined how far people, today, have drifted from the Christianity Christ taught. If you belong to one of the groups that claim to preserve Christ's original teaching, remember that at least 19,999 groups disagree with you. This lack of agreement is not the work of Christ. This is Satan's work deceiving the nations.
To counteract this, Christ has been and is sending us messages, similar to the messages sent to the Israelites through the Prophets. However, for us, Christ is sending messages through his mother. Many, many Christians will not accept this, and the news media, sadly, seldom reports the messages. Read my link about "What's wrong with the Virgin Mary bearing messages?"
Starting in 1830, I describe thirty-one messages delivered by Christ's mother. Some are world-famous because of miraculous cures associated with the messages, like Lourdes and Fatima. Three messages had very important predictions of what will happen if people ignore Christ's messages and continue to disobey him and his father. See the links on Fatima and WWII, Medjudgorje and the Bosnian War, and Rwanda and the 1994 genocide.
It appears that we Gentiles are just as resistant to God's pleas before Christ arrives the second time, as the Judeans were when Christ arrived the first time. No wonder the Apocalypse is so harshly worded.
CHAPTER TWENTY, OVERVIEW OF PREVIOUS INTERPRETATIONS.
Now that I have told my reader what I think, it is only fair to tell my reader what others have thought before me. In this chapter, I review many interpretations and many cults and sects that have derived from various interpretations of the Apocalypse.
I start out with Victorinus, Tyconius, and Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine interpreted the Apocalypse in his City of God. I go on to Joachim of Fiore and to Martin Luther, who wrote two interpretations of the Apocalypse.
I continue with a review of 19th century interpretations: Adam Clarke, J. G. Wetstein, and Fr. Leo G. Heydock. I also describe 19th century millennial movements like the Mormons, the Millerites, the Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. I reviewed "Babylon the Great has Fallen," an interpretation by Jehovah's Witnesses. I continue with 20th century interpretations by Catholic and non-Catholic authors: Robert Baldwin, William Barclay, Adela Collins, Billy Graham, Richard Jeske, Alan Johnson, Tim LeHaye, Hal Lindsey, H. M. Morris, Robert Mounce, Pheme Perkims, Patrick K. Sena, and Fr. John Tickle, to name a few.
I finished researching my manuscript in the mid-seventies. I have noticed that, in the 1990's, at least forty more commentaries have been published. This shown the enormous interest the average reader has in this subject. It also shows that, after so many "definitive" rehashed interpretations, no one has come up with a believable idea of what might have been the original intent of the Apocalypse. I also reviewed the interpretation of David Chilton and an interpretation of the signs contained in Fr. Stefano Gobbi's book about locutions he claims to have received from the Mother of Jesus. I discuss the "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins and "The Last Disciple" by Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer. Both are fictionalized interpretations. "Left Behind" proposes a futurist interpretation. "The Last Disciple" proposes a preterist interpretation.
I also comment on an Islamic interpretation and secular interpretations by D. H. Lawrence, Carl G. Jung, and Edgar Casey. I believe I give a scholarly and fair-minded overview of all these interpretations. Many references show my source materials. I make my observations in an unbiased fashion.