Sunday, November 11, 2018

Understanding The Jewish Book of Revelation (Part 1)

"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." (Revelation 8:12)

Much of Christian and Mormon theology finds its roots in varying interpretations of the Book of Revelation.  Every year we see books and fiery preachers arrive on the scene with new interpretations of this Book for the current audience of the day.  These books and sermons are filled with warnings, admonitions, and interpretations usually relating the many symbols and scenes portrayed in the Book of Mormon as applying to our current situation.  We hear interpretations that like, "The Mark of the Beast is your Social Security Number or A giant computer located in Washington, or A system of forced microchip identification system."  We hear interpretations like Barrack Obama is the Anti-Christ or Hilary Clinton is the Anti-Christ...."  and on and on and on.

But while the purveyors of Christian and Mormon books hear their cash registers go CHA-CHING$$$$ everytime there is a new "BLOOD MOON" or shooting star, it may help our sanity and our pocket books to understand that the Book of Revelation is a Jewish Book.  It was received and communicated by the Apostle John who was a Jew and communicated in classic Jewish Fashion.  To understand the message of this Jewish Book means we need to understand not only the nature of Jewish Prophecy but also the nature of Jewish Prophetic/Poetic language.


Despite all the rhetoric and misinterpretation over the past two thousand years Jewish Prophetic tradition teaches that the prophecy and its' content must be interpretated first in relation to the people and the time period in which the prophecy/vision was delivered.  While the book teaches cyclical patterns that repeat throughout past and the future, it was meant to be understood in the context of the people and time it was given.


"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."  (Revelation 22:16)

This testimony of John was given to the "churches" or assemblies of believers in Messiah (both Jew and Gentile) in the various locations such as Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, Pergamos, etc. that existed at that time.


When God communicated the vision to the Apostle John it was literally meant as instruction and warning for the people in his day.  As the record relates at both the beginning and the end of the record:

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John..." (Revelation 1:1)


"And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done." (Revelation 22:6)

Despite what many say when the YHVH or the Angel of YHVH states unto John in approximately somewhere between 35 and 70 AD that these things are SHORTLY TO COME TO PASS.  He may actually mean what he says in that these things are meant to be immediately understood to occur in that generation in which it was given.  SHORTLY IS NOT 2000 YEARS LATER.

So to properly understand the JEWISH BOOK OF REVELATION the p'shat or literal level of the record should be taken and read at face value.  In other words all of the prophecy recorded in what we call the Book of Revelation had an immediate fulfillment in the generation in which it was given. This does not mean that the Book does not have a futuristic application.  It means that we must understand the message, the cycle being taught, and the definition of the symbols in the time, culture, and language including the people to whom it was delivered first.

Now this may sound strange because if the Book of Revelation has already taken place then where is Christ coming in the clouds of Heaven and What Happened to the Millenium?  We will get to that!

Before we can understand the rich Jewish symbolism contained in the book we must also understand the nature of the Jewish Prophetic Poetry in which the vision is communicated.


"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." (Revelation 8:12)

Over the years there have been many interpretations given of this scripture.  At face value it has been interpreted to mean the sun will not shine, volcanic or nuclear clouds will blot out the sun, meteors and comets will pelt the earth, etc etc.  In fact in the last decade alone we have had such a frenzy of OMEN and SIGN salesmen appear on the scene scaring the hell out of people because of Blood Moons, Eclipses, and other varying "signs" or astronomical events in the Heavens.

In doing so they are often unaware of the rich poetic language of Ancient Israel and the methods of communication used to convey messages of importance and severity to the audience of that day.  Unlike we who can turn on the  television and SEE visible images of death, murder, destruction, hurricanes, bad weather, and warfare wherein our minds are able to directly comprehend the importance and severity of the events we see now with our eyes, the believers in the days of apostle John did not have these methods of communication.

As a result, a rich  language of metaphor and symbol developed in Israel that was used by the prophets to convey the same importance and severity.   It was a way of telling a story or an event that occurred using the "artwork" of prophetic language and symbol.  So in exploring this scripture in Revelations 8:12 it may also be useful to know that these same symbols were used by earlier Israelite prophets in regard to other events:

In regard to the political downfall of Babylon, the Prophet Isaiah uses the same artistic prophetic devices:

"The burden of Babylon...

Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.

Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine." (Isaiah 13: 1, 8-10)

The Kingdom of Babylon existed as a kingdom both before and after its fall.  The language of the stars of heavens and the constellatoins not giving light and the sun darkened actually refer political fall of the political rulers and government of the kingdom of Babylon.  The use of images such as stars in the heavnes, constellations, and the sun were common Middle Eastern symbols for rulers/governments.

Lest we think this type of prophetic/poetic language is unique, consider that the prophet Ezekiel prophesied the same thing in regard to Egypt in regard to their political fall:

"And I will set fire in Egypt: Sin shall have great pain, and No shall be rent asunder, and Noph shall have distresses daily.

The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth shall fall by the sword: and these cities shall go into captivity. At Tehaphnehes also the day shall be darkened, when I shall break there the yokes of Egypt: and the pomp of her strength shall cease in her: as for her, a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity." (Ezekiel 30:16-18)

It may shock many to find out that the same poetic images were used in describing the political fall/upheaval of Babylon and Egypt as nations (AKA: THE DAY OF THE LORD). If we take the JEWISH BOOK OF REVELATION at it's word the immediate message to the Jews was that their political fall was on its way.  In fact, it was fulfilled every "yod and brush stroke or jot and tittle" in 70 AD in the Jewish wars with Rome, the destruction of the temple, and the relatively immediate events thereafter.  In our western, linear, Greek mind we read this Jewish Record and attempt to take language that was mean to communicate imagery and apply to specific rulers, leaders, and events happening right now.  The nature of Israelite prophecy is that the cycle of pride, corruption, and righteousness is meant to be understood and applied to our time.  The literal labeling of events and people in our time as "THE Battle of Armegeddon/THE Mark of the Beast or THE Anti-Christ" is a misuse, misunderstanding, and misapplication of Israelite Prophetic/Poetic Linguistic devises.


Christian tradition and theology often clouds (no pun intended) the Israelite understanding of the message of the Jewish Book of Revelation. The "LAST DAYS INDUSTRY" in America is a billion dollar industry and every few years new books with new signs and interpretations appear to appease and scare the frightened masses.  But if we understand the nature of Israelite language and symbolism the message of the Book of Revelation ceases to be a message of the end of the world.  Instead it can be understood as it was meant to be- A REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST wherein it teaches the cycles of Righteousness and Iniquity of varying Nations with whom God has had dealings.  Many people have spent their lives and means in a form of emotional, mental, and spiritual paralysis planning, arming, and waiting for the actual events portrayed in Jewish artistic language to happen.  They hide and plan in fear waiting for these events all the while taking no action to uphold righteous laws, principles, and government because why should they worry we are just waiting for cataclysmic events and planetoids to pelt the earth and in the end Jesus will come and fix it all.  But that is NOT the message of the JEWISH BOOK OF REVELATION.


© 2018 Robert Kay

All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.

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