PMT 2014-005 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
I am continuing a quick survey of the Book of Revelation. I now will skip ahead to consider the seventh seal and the following trumpet judgments. In all this we must continue to bear in mind John’s near-term indicators: he is writing about first-century events (Rev. 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10).
With the opening of the seventh seal the seven trumpet series begins sounding (Rev 8:1–6). The first four trumpets show judgments upon things, the last three upon men. They review and intensify the chaos of the seals: destruction increases from one-fourth (Rev 6:8) to one-third (Rev 8:7–12).
Regarding earthquakes and eruptions, James Moffatt writes: “Portents of this abnormal nature are recorded for the seventh decade of the first century by Roman historians. . . . Volcanic phenomena . . . in the Egean archipelago . . . are in the background of this description, and of others throughout the book; features such as the disturbance of islands and the mainland, showers of stones, earthquakes, the sun obscured by a black mist of ashes, and the moon reddened by volcanic dust, were the natural consequences of eruption in some marine volcano, and there — adjoining Patmos — was in a state of more or less severe eruption during the first century.” See: See: Seneca, Lucilius 91; Tacitus, Histories 1:2–3 and Annals 12:58; 14:27; 15:22.
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W. Boyd Carpenter writes: “Perhaps no period in the world’s history has ever been so marked by these convulsions as that which intervenes between the Crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem. Josephus records one in Judea (J.W. 4:4:5); Tacitus writes of them in Crete, Rome, Apamea, Phrygia, Campania (Ann. 12:58; 14:27; 15:22); Seneca (Ep. 91), in AD 58, mentions their extending their devastations over Asia (the proconsular providence, not the continent), Achaia, Syria, and Macedonia.”
These judgments reflect the plagues upon Egypt at the Exodus (cp. Rev 8:5 with Ex 19:16f, Rev 8:7 with Ex 9:18ff; 8:8–9 with Ex 7:20f; 8:11 with Ex 10:21. Cf. Dt 28:15, 60ff). Jerusalem is now the equivalent of Egypt (see Rev 11:8). She and other cities in Israel are worse than Nineveh (Mt 12:41), Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom (Mt 11:21–23). She has become a “synagogue of Satan” (Rev 2:9; 3:9) — much like Jesus warns (Jn 8:44).
With the fifth trumpet we witness an outbreak of demonic torment (Rev 9:1–21). The fallen star here is Satan, “the angel” of the pit (v 11). The demons confined to the pit (2Pe 2:4; Jude 6; Lk 8:31) are loosed to torment Israel (vv 2, 3; cf. Rev 18:2), just as Christ warns (Mt 12:43f). The period of torment is “five months,” which indicates the final siege of Jerusalem by Titus, when the Jews go mad as they are hopelessly trapped (Josephus, J.W. 5:1:1, 5). As F. F. Bruce notes, this siege lasts five months: “Titus began the siege of Jerusalem in April, 70. The defenders held out desperately for five months, but by the end of August the Temple area was occupied and the holy house burned down, and by the end of September all resistance in the city had come to an end.”
At the sixth trumpet Roman reinforcements arrive (Rev 9:12–21). The four angels are destroying “angels” loosed upon Israel in fury. They probably represent the four Roman legions, which are headquartered at the Euphrates. Historians observe that “at the siege of Jerusalem four legions were involved (the Fifth, Tenth, Fifteenth and Twelfth)” (e.g., Safrai and Stern, The Jewish People, 315).
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