Unearthing Significant Amil Details in Revelation

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
There are significant exegetical and expository deficiencies that weaken the comprehension – and thus the impact – of John’s Apocalypse on 21st century readers. If we don’t have sufficient – I won’t say full, as our understanding continues to grow – comprehension of significant portions of visions and symbols in Revelation this will surely affect our being able to think and act intelligently on what the Lord is revealing to us in His final prophecy, very possibly regarding information crucial for the remarkable days we are in, and those coming.

The structure of this paper will be a running commentary seeking to answer ten areas of deficient exposition I note, with some overlap between the various areas in order to give a fairly coherent picture and overview to flesh out my answers. I will occasionally link to other papers I have written on a particular topic in order to not make this writing too long, though this may bring in some redundancy.

1. No Amillennial (or any other schools’) commentators satisfactorily exposit the darkening of the sun and air vision in the fifth trumpet’s plague upon unregenerate humankind (Revelation 9), save to say (correctly) it is a deceiving and tormenting influence from the abyss of the demonic realm. Is there not a more precise and depth exposition? This is no time for vagueness when we need clear understanding of our times.

Response Basically my view is this: the pharmakeia (“sorceries”) of Revelation 18:23 and 9:21 (a variant in the latter reading pharmakon – drugs – does not affect translation) are the very drugs used and heralded by the sixties and seventies counterculture that were exported into most of the world and which – in retrospect – are seen to constitute a prophesied event clearly depicted in Scripture. (The Greek pharmakeia is generally translated “sorceries” in the New Testament.) Geerhardus Vos, although speaking of discerning the Antichrist, enunciated a vital principle applicable here,

“[It] belongs among the many prophecies, whose best and final exegete will be the eschatological fulfillment, and in regard to which it behooves the saints to exercise a peculiar kind of eschatological patience.” (The Pauline Eschatology, p. 133)​

O.T. Allis in his book, Prophecy and the Church, expressed the same sentiment:

“The usual view on this subject [‘the intelligibility of prophecy’] has been that prophecy is not intended to be fully understood before its fulfilment, that it is only when God ‘establishes the word of his servants and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,’ that the meaning and import of their words become fully manifest.” (p 25)​

Stuart Olyott in his, Dare to Stand Alone: Daniel Simply Explained, thinks likewise:

“We must realize that some of the Bible’s teachings relating to the very last days will not be understood until we are in those days. That is why it is both unwise and dangerous to draw up detailed timetables of future events. Some parts of the Word of God will not become obvious in their meaning until the days of which they speak have dawned.” (p 166)​

These three men are all Amillennial in their views. It is accepted that the “eclectic” or “modified idealist” view (Beale)1 allows some departure from the idealist, though as to where the line is drawn there is no clear consensus. Beale himself says, “...certainly there are prophecies of the future in Revelation. The crucial yet problematic task of the interpreter is to identify through careful exegesis and against the historical background those texts which pertain respectively to past present and future.” 2

It makes perfect sense that we will be able to see clearly in hindsight when prophecies have come to pass. The reason the one I am talking of has not been widely recognized is that those who live godly have no notion what the dark practice of sorcery entails, a practice that astonishingly became a national and even global recreation of sorts, and for many also had a spiritual or psychic aspect. In short, what was Biblically termed sorcery became widespread and accepted. In 2020 one of these substances, marijuana, is quickly gaining legal and cultural approval across the United States (and elsewhere in the world as well). Other potent drugs in this class are also becoming legalized in certain states (in the U.S. Denver and Oakland have decriminalized psilocybin / “magic” mushrooms, and the push is on for other such drugs – as LSD – elsewhere).

a prophesied event clearly depicted in Scripture?

The large-scale aspect of this event started in Woodstock – Woodstock as a symbol for the counterculture generation of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s – though one could trace the event’s minimal inception way further back. What happened in the Woodstock generation was a disaster of biblical proportions that slipped by unseen. It is still unseen yet the havoc wrought by it is felt everywhere, and multitudes sense something is so off in our present world as to be unnatural, and many would go so far as to say supernatural.

What happened in the counterculture of those days was that through biblically forbidden sorcery on a massive scale the barrier between the demonic realm and the human was breached and opened wide. At first the effect seemed like an entrance into spiritual as well sensory blessedness, but that proved illusory after a while – it was demonic deception.

Sorcery, the use of drugs and potions to open the barrier, has been the endeavor of witches, shamans, wizards, pagan worshippers, and the like for untold ages, to the end of gaining psychic influence over other humans through the demonic power they become channels of (though some falsely claim these powers are for other humans and are benign). Due to this immensely destructive force such activity and its practitioners have been outlawed in many societies, though some have allowed it, to their great detriment.

It was a known thing in Biblical times (often referred to as witchcraft), and in ancient Israel shunned as a capital crime, as it allowed potent demonic influence into the close-knit holy community. In the New Testament it is forbidden and unrepentant users consigned to the lake of fire (Rev 21:8), forever barred from the City of God (Rev 22:15). In extra-Biblical literature the root pharmakon – drugs – may refer to legitimate medicine, poison, or magic potion, but in Revelation its (and its cognates) only meaning pertain to magic potion. More on Revelation 9 and the fifth trumpet expanding on this topic can be found here, “New Insights in Amillennial Eschatology”, on my Google Drive: http://bit.ly/2MnO9wJ

This is highly significant as it is indeed “a prophesied event clearly depicted in Scripture”! And as such is a time marker by which we can get a general idea of our proximity to the trumpet and bowl or vial judgments. I make my argument for this in the paper, “New Insights…” just above.

1 G.K. Beale, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Revelation (Eerdmans 1999), pp 48, 49.
2 Ibid., p 49.

2. The current expositions of sorcery / sorceries / sorcerers in Rev 9:21, 18:23, 21:8, and 22:15 (including Galatians 5:19-21) are wholly inadequate. The exegetical and expository material extant for the most part glosses over these passages with a vague attribution of deception, but such sins of sorcery as those in Rev 21:8; 22:15 which consign unrepentant souls to the lake of fire and eternal exclusion from the City of God are strangely unspecified. Sins with such dire consequences unspecified? Pharmakeia – the particular drug use associated with witchcraft and sorcery is glossed over, despite the unbelieving world being quite familiar with it.

Response As I mentioned in passing above, the reason most commentators on Revelation have no accurate knowledge of pharmakeia – sorcery – is that they usually were not such as participated in the counterculture’s use of the psychedelic drugs. The sorcerous drugs and potions of our day are exclusively the psychedelic substances LSD, mescaline, peyote, marijuana, hashish (a derivative of marijuana), psilocybin mushrooms, and all drugs with their unique properties. They do not include the opiates, various analgesics, psychiatric meds, and other legitimate medicinal pharmaceuticals.

To cite but three brief quotes from commentators on what the linguistic and Biblical meanings of pharmakeia are: in Revelation it means “drugs that induce magic spells” (Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Revelation, p. 302); it belongs to “a magical tradition of herbs gathered and prepared for spells, and also for encouraging the presence of spirits at magical ceremonies” [emphasis added] (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol 2, p. 558); from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates, we have: “Pharmakeia means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs” (pp. 1437, 1438). In the Septuagint or LXX (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) the words witch or sorcerer / witchcraft or sorcery from the root kāšaph [a verb meaning to practice magic, to practice sorcery] are translated pharmakeia just as the Greek New Testament has it.

3. Looking back to point 2. and sorcery, what is Revelation 18:23 referring to with the divine charge against Babylon, “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived”? A charge, please note, that is a main factor in her judgment of utter destruction. “Sorceries” is from the Greek pharmakeia, which pertains to drug use, not – primarily – deception. Babylon in Revelation signifies world culture with its beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, in strong opposition to God, His word, and His people.

Response It is my contention that with the rampant and widespread use of the psychedelic or entheogen drugs of the sixties and seventies in America, this nation exported such drug use throughout the world in the benign and attractive guise of the Woodstock spirit. A pertinent excerpt from the essay, The Fate of Babylon:

“The explosion of these drugs onto the world scene was an event (the term now used for military-scale biological, chemical, or nuclear events) that befell nations around the globe through the drug-energized sixties generation in America, as this potent counterculture permeated these nations through its music and musicians, literature, art, film, and other culture-bearing media and vehicles, as well as spiritual teachers and gurus (think Timothy Leary and Baba Ram Dass / Richard Alpert, both Harvard professors). The nations and cultures of the world were leavened from within by the exciting new consciousness of the sixties and the Woodstock spirit exported into them, but it was a Trojan Horse filled with the denizens of Hell. Its impact was, in the psychic realm, the equivalent of a massive nuclear detonation. . . . The damage done is irreversible.”​

What this psychic / spiritual event actually accomplished was a new state of mind that went far beyond the beats and hippies. The ultimate message of LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, marijuana et al. was truth resides within man and not outside; whatever deity is to be known likewise resides in man and not in some external “God”. This understanding came into human consciousness with power, for it was experienced by vast multitudes (whether they took the drugs or not, for the evangelists of this revelation were many, and spoke, wrote, and sang with power), and it eventually became the reigning “spiritual” paradigm of the world, crowding out the exclusivist religions; it became the new zeitgeist, incorporated into the collective consciousness of humankind – contributing to the “strong delusion” spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

This darkening zeitgeist of the world (“spirit of the age”) that we live in now – 2020 – is the direct result of the massive demonic incursion into our midst beginning half a century ago. The sometimes subtle demonic influence and presence introduced spiritual and moral darkness, and hatred of authority. What they hate most are Christ and God, then humankind, and after that peaceful societal order – domestic tranquility – enforced by law and government, as the holy, human, and orderly go against both their nature and their goal for the planet.

Although it wasn’t discerned at the time, nor for many decades following, more was going on in the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s than anyone imagined – occult happenings that would impact “the spirit of the age” come the 21st century like pounding blows on the body and soul of humankind.

Sorcery enables man to embrace the spirit of the devil and embody him (in varying degrees), and when a culture widely engages in it, that culture becomes the dragon’s embodiment – spiritually his bride in a horrible sense. And this is so whether or not a sorcerous culture knows what it is doing.

These things are what is meant by the decree in Rev 18:23, “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived”. For more on this see, “The Fate of Babylon, A study in determining the identity and demise of Babylon in John’s Apocalypse” http://bit.ly/3jBNXXZ

4. In Revelation 18:8 it is written, “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.”

Rev 18:8b reads “and she shall be utterly burned with fire” which signifies “wholly consumed” – utterly destroyed – yet 8a, “her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine” indicates a longer passage of time than one day, as famine needs much more than a day to take effect. It would appear that first must come plagues on Babylon which lead to famine, death, and mourning, after which a final, entire destruction is wrought upon her.

Response It appears eminently reasonable in light of the nuanced Scriptural record, to believe there are two phases to Babylon’s destruction. In Rev 18:7 it is written concerning her judgment, “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her”, that is, at the expense of the great suffering of others she lived in luxury, and the rewarding her “double” in v 6 (meaning, duplicate unto her), would mean like suffering, which could not happen were she to be utterly destroyed instantaneously “in one hour”. So first would come the plagues of “pestilence [or death], mourning, and famine”, and after those take their punishing course, then “she shall be utterly burned with fire”, that the Scripture be fulfilled. How otherwise could this have come to pass?

5. The fifth vial or bowl in Rev 16:10, 11, where the throne of the beast and his kingdom are plunged into darkness – what is that about, and what bearing does this have on the destruction of Babylon, and other end time dynamics?

Response The fifth vial:

And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat [throne] of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness [ NIV ’84, ESV “plunged into darkness”] (Rev 16:10).​

The previous vial or bowl, the fourth, had the sun and its heat becoming so intense on the earth that men were scorched by it, no doubt multitudes dying from it (even in these days of 2020 the extreme heatwaves around the world are killing people – and could what we now are seeing be the beginning of the fourth bowl?!). So if this plague has a literal element to it, why should not the fifth also? We know from the fifth trumpet that the realm of the beast – worldwide Babylon – was already filled with spiritual and moral darkness emanating from the pit of Hell through the influx of demonic hordes into the consciousness of humankind, that is, those not given “the seal of God in their foreheads” (Rev 9:4) to protect them from the spiritual and psychic invasion. The throne and kingdom of the beast is already darkened spiritually. Another “spiritual” darkness is redundant.

G.B. Caird, in his commentary, The Revelation of Saint John, says of the fifth vial of wrath,

“The darkness was not the three days’ visitation of Exodus x. 21 ff., nor even the paralysing terror so vividly described in Wisdom xvii, but the total eclipse of the monster’s imperial power” (p 204) [italicized bold emphasis added].​

What is especially interesting about this is that for the destruction of Babylon the mighty Beast-nation that she rides and by whose military and political power she coercively prevails upon the nations of the world, it must be suddenly made defenseless (the spirit and power of the Beast – which is from the dragon – is evidently removed), leaving harlot Babylon herself defenseless and vulnerable to attack and destruction. It is common knowledge that a number of hostile nations fervently seek to disable the sustaining infrastructures of headquarters America, particularly the electric grid, which may be brought down by, 1) an EMP attack (a nuclear device detonated high in the atmosphere), 2) by a cyber-attack, or 3) by a strong solar flare. Without electricity this country would be ruined, and vast multitudes would die.

We will continue looking at this matter in the next area of expository deficiency.

6. Is the beast of Rev 17:3, 7 the same as the beast of Rev 17: 12, 16, 17? How is he disentangled from the harlot who rides him? He does leave her in some respect. Is it because the dragon leaves (and deauthorizes) him – and authorizes another, who marshals the forces to kill her?

Response How long a period of time does the harlot ride the scarlet beast of Revelation 17:3? Is the beast at that point subservient to the harlot, or is it but part of his (and really the dragon’s) master plan to lure the nations from God and to the idolatrous worship of himself? And when the harlot renders herself unattractive and useless through financial collapse and poverty, internal warring and chaos, alienating her once ardent suitor-nations of the world – and her beast is himself rendered useless through his throne and kingdom being “plunged into darkness” by the fifth bowl judgment, may this not be the time that the “beast kingship” is taken from him by the dragon?

In other words, does the dragon – upon seeing the earthly vessel he once used now thoroughly incapacitated – move to transfer his power and authority to the FINAL vessel who will consolidate his power and execute his end-game plan? It is certain the dragon knows the Scripture and could see the fifth bowl coming, and prepared for it. He also knows the torment that awaits him (Matt 8:29) and in his rage (Rev 12:12) will seek to inflict as much pain as he can to Christ’s body, the church.

Was ever a beast dethroned, and his kingdom conquered, in one night, the “beasthood” passing to another? Yes, in October (likely the 12th or 13th) of 539 B.C., Darius the Mede took the city of Chaldean Babylon. “In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain” (Daniel 5:30).

From Greg Beale’s larger Revelation Commentary his idea is pertinent to us, that, given the “transtemporal nature of the beast” [& kings] (pp 869, 870) – that is, Christian persecuting governments being a continuing phenomenon up through the centuries, with many little beasts arising, “…the manifestation of the dragon and the beast through one of their authoritative heads or earthly kings at any particular historical epoch is tantamount to the full presence of the dragon or beast” (p 875). In other words, two “authoritative heads” – the one ridden by the harlot, and the one destroying the harlot with the aid of the ten kings, may both be the beast, during their successive tenures, though the latter is THE beast, being the antitype of all the beasts, even the relatively great yet lesser one who worked with the harlot.

Note: the “American” beast doesn’t enter into its full stature, nor the harlot hers, until they become drunk with the blood of the saints (the two are closely intertwined in this grisly endeavor). Then their iniquity shall be full, ripe for judgment.

7. When the beast and the ten kings of Rev 17:12, 16, 17 join forces to destroy Babylon – rightly understood to be the economic, political, and cultural center or aspect of the unregenerate world – how can this be done without destroying the societies and nations of the beast and the kings? What would this look like in real life?

Response It is very simple if the thesis is correct that the Babylon world empire has a headquarters nation, even as the Chaldean Babylonian empire had its head city, as did the Roman empire. Destroy the head and the body begins to die, its life-blood and brain no longer there to keep the empire alive. If there is a “two-phase” destruction as posited in 5., there is a partial destruction, which begins a slow death, and a final, utter destruction as seen in Rev 18:8b, “and she shall be utterly burned with fire”, that is wholly consumed, very likely in a nuclear holocaust at the hands of beast and the ten kings, as God’s judgment of the end begins, “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will” (Rev 17:17) to destroy her.

There is a difference between the far-flung Babylonian empire, and the Babylonian headquarters and image-bearer, “America the Beautiful” – the latter having been transformed into something quite other than she used to be.

8. And the beast (of whom it is written, “the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” –Rev 13:2), is thus also is a spiritual phenomenon. Can it be removed from a beast-king in a moment, as was the case when the Medo-Persians conquered Babylon in one night? And given to another as swiftly – a transfer of “beast” status from one vessel of the dragon to another?

Response Evidently so, as noted in 6. If it is a spiritual phenomenon – which it clearly is seeing as Satan is a spirit – then such a transfer of status is easily done.

9. In Rev 16:10, where the “seat” or “throne” of the beast is – given that it is a spiritual designation – is it moveable, that is, transferrable to another place, to let dragon set up shop elsewhere?

Response This is really a continuation of item 8. The “American” beast is partially destroyed and mortally wounded, and must be finished off as it still possesses nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, even if not easily usable in its disabled state. So wherever the dragon has relocated the headquarters of the final beast, that will be its new throne.

10. The prophecies in Daniel 11:36-12:12 – referring to the final Antichrist and the end times – are not often reckoned with in the prophecies of Revelation. This adds an element of time factors – as the Danielic Antichrist is a busy aggressor – to Revelation. Does anyone seek to integrate these separate sources of revelation concerning the final beast?

Response This is an area I am not exercised in, yet is of interest to me. I was looking for places in the Apocalypse of John where there is “room” in the prophecies for the antitype Antichrist in Dan 11:36-12:12 to move about in. I can see in the sixth vial / bowl of Rev 16:12-14, 16 he has plenty of room to “go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (v 14). Also in Rev 17:12-17, if one reads between the lines, there being room time-wise for such activity. As well in Rev 19:19, where the beast has already gathered his forces, “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.” Some commentators say that as the Lord is in heaven they do not seek to war against Him, but only through His people, yet the words “to make war against him that sat on the horse” gives one to imagine they may attempt to use their high-tech weaponry on Him when He appears. And then in Rev 20:3, when the dragon is “loosed a little season”, which is opened more in 20:7-9, as he gathers the nations of the world to assault “the camp of the saints . . . and the beloved city” (v 9). The final beast has plenty of time to move about, warring, and consolidating power.

From the passage in Daniel 11:36-12:12 can be seen that some nations will oppose the beast and his great forces and he will hasten to destroy them, but this is more shrouded in mystery at this time, as E.J. Young shows below. Leupold points to a place in the old prophecy where, in his campaign of world dominance “he shall engage also the chief world power of his day”, which I have stated appears to be America.

H.C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel, Dan 11:42, 43:

“Having started on a campaign of defence, he shall follow it with a campaign of conquest: ‘he shall stretch forth his hand upon the countries,’ which means, of course, any countries that happen to lie in his path. In the course of this campaign he shall engage also the chief world power of his day, for that is what Egypt still symbolized in the days of Daniel, at least at the time of the end of his prophetic activity when Babylon had just fallen and Persia had not as yet been established. Any interpreter would have to concede that Egypt symbolized a major world power.” (p 522)​

Edward J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, Dan 12:9:

“The reason for this command [‘Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.’] is stated in the fact that the words are preserved in security against destruction so that they may be read and understood at the time of their fulfillment. It is not necessary that Dan. himself should understand the answer to his question, for it does not have immediate application to him. There will come a time, however, when the words are needed and then they will be understood. Therefore, they are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. The vs. well illustrates the practical character of Holy Scripture. God in His infinite wisdom has revealed to us only that which it is needful for us to have in order that we may know what He requires of us.” (pp 260-261)​

This is the end of this exploration seeking to remedy some of the expository deficiencies that weaken the comprehension of Revelation, by positing some alternative – or enhanced – interpretations of various symbols, visions, and texts. As I have shown, we are in the beginning of these things in our time, and would do well to gain clarity while we are still in comfortable circumstances – the demonic violence, vulgarity, and hatred not yet overflowing all our society – and so prepare our heart and minds, and that of those in our care. We also should keep in mind that deserved judgments are on their way, and seek a close walk with our Lord, for “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Proverb 18:10)

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Here's a pdf of the paper, Unearthing Significant Amil Details in Revelation, in post #1:


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