You are hereRevelation's Parallel Use of the Sequence of Ezekiel: Part Two, by Duncan McKenzie
Revelation's Parallel Use of the Sequence of Ezekiel: Part Two, by Duncan McKenzie
This is part two of a two part series. To read part one go here: http://planetpreterist.com/content/revelations-extensive-use-sequence-ez...
In this series I am commenting on a very interesting chart produced by Ian Boxall that looks at parallels between Ezekiel and Revelation [Ian Boxall, The Revelation of Saint John, Black’s New Testament Commentaries General Editor: Morna D. Hooker, (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006), 255].
Revelation 1-----------------Ezekiel 1
Revelation 4-----------------Ezekiel 1
Revelation 5-----------------Ezekiel 2
Revelation 6-----------------Ezekiel 5-7
Revelation 7:1-2-------------Ezekiel 7:2-3
Revelation 7-8 --------------Ezekiel 9-10
Revelation 10---------------Ezekiel 2-3
Revelation 10-13------------Ezekiel 11-14 (echoes)
Revelation 11:1-2----------- Ezekiel 40
Revelation 13:11-18-------- -Ezekiel 14
Revelation 17---------------Ezekiel 16, 23
Revelation 18---------------Ezekiel 26-28
Revelation 19:11-21---------Ezekiel 29, 32 (39)
Revelation 20:1-3-----------Ezekiel 29, 32
Revelation 20:4-6-----------Ezekiel 37
Revelation 20:7-10----------Ezekiel 38:1-39:20
Revelation 20:11-15---------Ezekiel 39:21-29
Revelation 21-22------------Ezekiel 40-48
In Ezekiel 29-32 the judgment of Egypt is described. This would be “the day of the Lord” (Ezek. 30:2-4). God would disperse the Egyptians “among the nations” at this time (v. 26). Revelation 19 parallels this as it shows the ultimate day of the Lord happening at the beast’s destruction of harlot Babylon (Rev. 19:11-21; cf. 16:13-16)—it should be noted that Revelation equates Jerusalem with Egypt (Rev. 11:8). Ezekiel 29:5 and 32:1-4 (as well as 39:17-20) say that the dead would be food for the beasts of the earth and birds of the air at this time. In Revelation 19:21 the birds of the air are gathered for just such a grisly feast. Ezekiel’s day of the Lord would be “a time of doom for the nations” (Ezek. 30:3 NASB). Revelation shows this as being the time of the fall of the “cities of the nations” (Rev. 16:19) as kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord at the AD 70 destruction of those who were morally ruining the Land (Rev. 11:15-18; cf. Luke 19:11-27).
In Ezekiel 32:2 Pharaoh is likened to “a dragon in the seas” (ESV, NRSV). The word used here for dragon (Heb. tannim) can mean serpent, dragon or monster (note, the Septuagint uses the Greek word for dragon here—drakōn). In verses 18-32 this dragon/serpent is consigned to the Pit. This is paralleled in Revelation 20 where an angel lays “. . . hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and cast him into the bottomless pit . . . (Rev. 20:2-3).
In Ezekiel 33, Ezekiel learns that the city of Jerusalem has fallen and that the Land is a desolation (vv. 21-33). This is what Revelation portrays in the fall of harlot Babylon in Revelation 17-19, the AD 70 desolation of Jerusalem and the Temple (Rev. 18:19). Ezekiel says that this would be the time of the end of the wicked shepherds of Israel (Ezek. 34:1-10) and that there would be a judgment, as God would gather his people and “judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats” (Ezekiel 34:17). This parallels the judgment found in Revelation 20:11-15.
It should be noted that my position sees the throne scene judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 as part of the throne scene that is begun in Revelation 20:4. Compare Daniel 7:9-10, where thrones are put in place (cf. Rev. 20:4), at the same time that God is seated and books are opened (cf. Rev. 20:12).[see endnote 1 on this] Thus, I see Revelation 20:4-6 and 11-15 as part of the same judgment which commences at the AD 70 beginning of the millennium, not at its end. This is shown in Matthew 25 where the judgment of the sheep and goats happens at the beginning of the full establishment of the kingdom reign, not at its end (Matt. 25:31-46). I thus propose the following amendment to the latter part of Boxall’s chart:
Revelation 20:4-6, 11-15----------Ezekiel 34, 37
Revelation 20:7-10---------------Ezekiel 38-39
Revelation 21-22-----------------Ezekiel 40-48
Boxall takes the majority view that the judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 happens after the millennium. To make the sequence of Ezekiel fit the judgment of Revelation, however, he skips over the judgment of sheep and goats of Ezekiel 34 and substitutes Ezekiel 39:21-29, which is more of a generic outpouring of God’s wrath on Gog (cf. Ezek. 38:18-23). Notice how Ezekiel 34 talks about God gathering his people (vv. 11-13) and them being safe from predatory beasts at this time (vv. 23-28). This imagery is used elsewhere in the OT for the time commonly known as the millennium (cf. Is. 11:6 ff.).
Boxall ties the resurrection of Israel in Ezekiel 37 with the resurrection at the beginning of the millennium in Revelation 20:4-6. This makes sense and continues the parallel sequence between the two books. In Ezekiel 38-39 the invasion of Israel by “Gog of the land of Magog” (Ezek. 38:2) is shown. This parallels the “Gog and Magog” invasion of Revelation 20:7-10. Notice the condensing of Ezekiel here: Revelation employs two verses (Rev. 20:8-9) in alluding to two chapters in Ezekiel (38-39).
The parallels between Ezekiel 40-48 and the New Jerusalem of the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21-22 are well recognized by most commentators. In Ezekiel 40:1-3 the prophet is taken to a high mountain and shown what looks to be a city. In Revelation 21:10, John is taken to a high mountain and shown the New Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 40:3-42:20 an angelic figure measures the Temple. This parallels Revelation 21:15-17 where an angel measures the New Jerusalem. It should be noted that there is a striking difference between Ezekiel and Revelation here. Ezekiel goes into elaborate detail on the measurements of the new Temple. In contrast, John does not see a Temple in the New Jerusalem; rather, “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22). Actually, the New Jerusalem is a giant temple; it is cubed shaped (Rev. 21:16-17) just as the Holy of Holies of the Temple was cube shaped (1 Kings 6:20). Thus, the angel in Revelation measuring the city parallels the angel of Ezekiel measuring of the Temple. It should be noted that John has briefly used the motif of measuring the Temple earlier in Revelation (in Rev. 11:1-2); this was out of sequence and is thus italicized in Boxall’s chart.
In Ezekiel, the prophet is told that the city is the dwelling place of God with his people (43:7; 48:35), which parallels what John is told about the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3). The respective cities both have twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed on them (Ezek. 48:30-34; Rev. 21:12-13). The Temple in Ezekiel has healing waters that flow out of it (Ezek. 47:1-11); there are trees on both sides of the river that have leaves for food and healing (v. 12). This parallels Revelation where the river of life flows from the throne of God and the Lamb in the New Jerusalem; the tree of life is on both sides of the river, it has leaves for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:1-2).
It should be noted that the New Jerusalem of Revelation is not a cube-shaped city that God’s people will live in; rather, the city is the bride. Notice, that when John is told that he will be shown the bride, what he is shown is the New Jerusalem (21:9-10). A physical structure (a city) is being used here as a symbol to portray the totality of God’s people, just as God’s people are likened to a physical structure (a temple) in Ephesians 2:19-22—notice that both “structures” are built on the foundation of the apostles (Eph. 2:20; Rev. 21:14).
The picture of the New Jerusalem coming to earth as a bride at this time (Rev. 21:1-2) continues the narrative of God’s marriage to his people in Revelation 19:1-9. Thus, the New Jerusalem coming to earth is not subsequent to the AD 70 beginning of the millennium, it is concurrent with it; that is, it is another picture of the AD 70 full establishment of the kingdom of God. This explains why the new heaven and earth is often described in the OT with images that are associated with the millennium (e.g. Is. 65:17-25). The regeneration of the new heaven and earth is the time of the full establishment of God’s kingdom (cf. Matt. 19:28 with Luke 22:28-30; the time of the regeneration and the time of the kingdom are synonymous).
As I mentioned in part one, Revelation is not laid out in a strict linear fashion; just because a given section comes after another one, that does not necessarily mean it is talking about subsequent events. For example, Revelation 11:7-19, talks about the beast and the great tribulation. Revelation 12 then goes back to the time of the ascension of Jesus (vv. 1-5) and the subsequent AD 30-70 spiritual exodus of God’s people (vv. 6-17). Note that Satan is thrown to the earth unbound (not into the abyss) at this time (at AD 30, v. 9; cf. John 12:31-32); also note that God’s people need protection from Satan (vv. 13-17) until the end of a time and times and half a time (v. 9; a time period which ends at AD 70, cf. Dan. 7:25; 12:7). Revelation 13 then returns to the topic of the beast and the great tribulation.
SUMMARY OF EZEKIEL AND REVELATION
Ezekiel is a book written by a prophet in exile (in Babylon). The subject of Ezekiel is the soon coming judgment (in the sixth-century BC) on the unfaithful land of Israel. This judgment culminates with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which is likened to the death of a wife (chapters 2-24). At this time God would judge the surrounding nations (chapters 25-32). A restoration of Israel is then promised (chapters 33-39) and a new order is described (chapter 40-48).
Revelation is also a book written by a prophet in exile (on Patmos). The subject of Revelation is the soon coming judgment (at AD 70) on the unfaithful Israel, the dwellers on the Land. Like Ezekiel, the judgments of Revelation culminate with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (chapters 5-18), which is similarly likened to the death of a wife (God’s unfaithful old covenant wife). At this time God would judge the nations of the world (chapter 19), as the kingdoms of this world fully became the kingdom of God (chapter 20; cf. Rev. 11:15-18; 16:19). A restoration of (true) Israel (cf. Rev. 3:9) would happen at this time and the new order is described (chapters 21-22). In contrast to Ezekiel’s prophecy, this was something that was soon to happen when John wrote (Rev. 22:6-12).
THE UNIVERSALIZATION OF EZEKIEL’S MESSAGE IN REVELATION
It is hard to deny that Revelation has major parallels with Ezekiel. Even if a literary influence can be demonstrated between the two books, however, that does not necessarily prove a similar authorial intent. That is, just because it can be shown that Revelation is heavily influenced by the sequence of Ezekiel, that does not necessarily indicate that John is retaining the same basic meaning. For example, in Ezekiel 9:4, God’s people are marked on their foreheads right before God’s judgment is poured out on Jerusalem. In Revelation 7:1-3 God’s people are marked on their foreheads right before his judgment is poured out on the land and sea (land and sea have the connotation of Jew and Gentile in Revelation, cf. Rev. 13:1, 11). Thus, Revelation is to some degree universalizing the message of Ezekiel. The judgments of Revelation do not just come on the Jerusalem; they also come on the whole Roman Empire (cf. Rev. 16:10-11).
While there is some universalization of Ezekiel’s message in Revelation, Revelation still retains the essential meaning of Ezekiel. Beale writes the following along these lines:
It is tempting to conclude that John does not handle the OT according to its original contextual meaning when he universalizes. Vanhoye’s evaluation, however, is plausible [A. Vanhoye “L’ utilisation du livre d’ Ezéchiel dans l’ Apocalypse,” Biblica 43 (1962) 436-76]. He says that while the universalization is motivated by the Christian spirit to explain redemptive fulfillment, it is not contrary to the OT sense. Although the author certainly makes different applications and executes developments beyond those of his OT predecessors, he stays with the same interpretive framework and is conscious of being profoundly faithful to the overall parameter of their message . . . [Thus,] although John creatively reworks the OT and changes its application, his pictures retain significant points of correspondence with the OT context and express salvation-historical principle of continuity.
The marking on the forehead in Revelation 7:1-8 is just prior to the great tribulation; all the tribes of Israel are sealed (v. 4). In Revelation 7:9-14, however, we see that it is a great multitude from all nations who have been (spiritually) protected through this “great tribulation” (v. 14). Thus, Israel in Revelation 7 is being universalized to all believers (cf. Rev. 2:9; 3:9), something that is shown in other parts of the NT (cf. Luke 2:34; Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 3:28-29; 1 Peter 2:1-10; etc.). While the judgments of the great tribulation would come on the whole Roman Empire (Rome almost fell in AD 69), they would focus on the dwellers on the Land (Rev. 3:10). While the definition of “saint” in Revelation is universalized to all believers in Jesus (Rev. 13:5-7; cf. Dan. 7:25), the focus of the Antichrist is still on the dwellers on the Land (Rev. 13:8), those who were about to go into captivity (v. 10). At AD 70 there would “. . . be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people [the Jews]. And they [would] fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations . . . (Luke 21:23-24). This emphasis on the judgment of Israel in Revelation is shown by the fact that the blood from the destruction of the vine of the Land covers the length of Palestine (Rev. 14:18-20), not the Roman Empire.
That the great tribulation (which is what much of Revelation is showing) focuses on the judgment of Israel can be seen in other parts of Scripture. Daniel 7:21-27 shows the Antichrist overcoming the saints (i.e., the Jews) for three-and-a-half years. This was the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week; it would end with the destruction of the Temple (Dan. 9:26-27). This would be the time of the Antichrist’s attack against Jerusalem (Dan. 11:40-12:13).
The teaching that the focus of the great tribulation would be on the Jews is continued in the NT. While Jesus said there would be trouble in the nations at this time (Matt. 24:6-8), it was specifically those “in Judea” who would need to flee the coming of the Antichrist and the great tribulation (Matt. 24:15-28; cf. Dan. 9:27). This focus on Israel is shown again in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 where it is said that the Antichrist would capture the Temple and be worshipped there.
While there is definitely a universalization of Ezekiel’s message in Revelation, the essential meaning is retained. Revelation is a book about the AD 70 judgment and destruction of the land of Israel, followed by the judgment of the nations as God’s kingdom is fully established. At that point there would be a spiritual gathering and renewal of true Israel as God marries his New Jerusalem bride (Rev. 19:1-9; cf. Matt 22:1-10) at the full establishment of the new covenant order (Rev. 21:1-2). Thus, Revelation not only follows the sequence of Ezekiel, it also retains its basic meaning.
1. James Stuart Russell proposed that what seems to be two separate throne scenes in Revelation 20:4 and 20:11-15 are really one throne scene (that occurs at the AD 70 beginning of the millennium). Russell’s position maintains that, in Revelation 20:4, John describes the setting up of God’s kingdom (v. 4, “And I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them . . .” cf. Dan. 7:9). In verses 7-10, John digresses and talks about what would happen at the end of the millennium (v. 7, “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison”). In verse 11, John continues his description of the throne scene and judgment that he began in Revelation 20:4 (“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it . . .” cf. Dan. 7:9). If put sequentially, Russell’s position would look as follows:
Rev. 20:4 And I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witnesses to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Rev. 20:11-15 Then I saw a great throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Rev. 7-10 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Thus, my position is that Revelation 20:4-15 is describing one throne scene that occurs at the beginning of the millennium with a parenthetical description on what will happen at the millennium’s end in Revelation 20:7-10. This sounds a bit strange at first, but Daniel 7:9-10 supports it (see below, I have added the corresponding points from Rev. 20 in brackets.)
8. “I was considering the horns and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.
9. “I watched till thrones were put in place [cf. Rev. 20:4], and the Ancient of Days was seated [cf. Rev. 20:11]; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire;
10. “a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him [cf. 20:12]. The court was seated [cf. 20:4] and the books were opened [cf. Rev. 20:12].
For my discussion of Daniel 7 go to the Google preview of my book (start on page 99; be sure to hit the full screen icon to make it easier to read :-) http://books.google.com/books?id=ZL89vmcBUJwC&dq=the+antichrist+and+the+...
According to Daniel 7:9-10, thrones are put in place at the same time that God takes his throne. This shows all five of the events that take place in Revelation 20:4 and 11-12 as happening at the same time:
A. Thrones put in place (Dan. 7:9; Rev. 20:4).
B. God takes His throne (Dan. 7:9; Rev. 20:11).
C. Myriads before the throne (Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12).
D. Those on the thrones having authority to judge (Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:4).
E. Books are opened (Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12).
All of these events were all to happen at the AD 70 beginning of the kingdom/millennial reign. Thus, those on the thrones in Revelation 20:4 are being given authority to judge as they join with God as He judges the world in Revelation 20:11-15 (cf. Matt. 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2).
Like Daniel 7:8-10, Daniel 7:23-27 show that it is at the AD 70 defeat of the little eleventh horn that thrones are put in place as the court is seated; it is at this time that the saints fully enter into the kingdom reign (for more examples of the post-parousia reign of God’s people see Luke 19:11-27; Rev. 2:25-27; 3:21). Daniel 7:21-22 shows this also, and it could not be clearer—It is at the AD 70 coming of God to defeat the Antichrist that the saints fully possess the kingdom of God
I was watching and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. Dan. 7:21-22
This parallels Revelation 19-20 where the Word of God comes and defeats the Antichrist (Rev. 19:11-21) and then the saints fully possess the kingdom of God as the millennium begins (Rev. 20:4). This post-tribulational (i.e., AD 70) beginning to the millennium explains why one of the groups that come alive at the beginning of the millennium consists of dead people “who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands” (Rev. 20:4). These are martyrs of the beast who had been killed in the great tribulation of AD 67-70 (cf. Rev. 13:4-18) who are resurrected at AD 70 to participate in the millennial reign (cf. Rev. 11:7-19).
Unfortunately my position violates the de facto creed of full preterism that requires all prophecy to be fulfilled by AD 70 (as my position sees a final end to evil in the future, Rev. 20:7-10). It thus has to be rejected by full preterists—it is either that or they have to adjust their paradigm (something that probably will not happen). I will go into detail on the millennium in my discussion in chapters 8 and 9 of volume II.
2. Ian Boxall, “Exile, Prophet, Visionary” in The Book of Ezekiel and its Influence, 161-162
3. See Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45 and 7:7-12, 21-27 which show the AD 70 full establishment of the kingdom of God. I discuss Daniel 2 and 7 in volume one of this work.
4. G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds. I. Howard Marshall and Donald Hagner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 83.
5. Beale, Revelation, 92
6. Wellesley gives the following summary of the chaos in the Roman Empire that followed the death of Nero in mid AD 68. AD 69 is known by historians as “the year of four emperors” (cf. Dan. 7:20-22).
The year 69, ‘that long but single year’ as Tacitus had earlier called it, offers a wealth of dramatic incident. After the solid and prosperous security of the first or Julio-Claudian dynasty, the ground opens. The vast edifice of the world empire is shaken. Pretender rises against pretender. The frontier armies move on Rome from Spain, Germany, the Balkans and the East. The frontiers themselves are breached by the barbarian. There are palace conspiracies, sudden assassinations, desperate battles, deeds of heroism and perfidy. The scene shifts continually from one end of the empire to the other, from Britain to Palestine, from Morocco to the Caucasus. Three emperors- Galba, Otho, Vitellius- meet their end. The fourth, Vespasian, survives by fate or chance or merit, and founds his dynasty for good or ill.
Kenneth Wellesley, Introduction to Tacitus: The Histories, (New York: Penguin Books, 1984), 9-10.
This was the time of “wars and rumors of wars” that Jesus prophesied would happen within a generation (Matt. 24:6-8).