In this post I want to write about some of the events in the judgment and the meaning of it. I can’t cover every seal, bowl or trumpet because of space and I still not have everything clear of every single verse of them. But the links between the historical facts and Revelation are many, and I take only a few of these. Because of I want to show the historical facts, it will be some excerpts from our friend and historian Josephus, and there again a long post, so I had to divide it into two blog posts.
In these series, I have several times mention that Israel’s rejection of their Messiah and the persecution of the saints would result in a major disaster, which is now happening. This is what the prophesy of John in Revelation is about. A divine judgment on Israel, where the destruction is over the people, land, and Temple. God literally tearing away the temple from the historic scene by using the Roman army, which he prophetically calls “his army” (Matthew 22:7).
Moving of Mountains and islands.
Revelation is strongly influenced by the Hebrew imagery that John, as a true Hebrew used. Although he spent a lot of symbolism as he portrays historical events during this symbolism. Let’s start with the mountains and islands moving.
“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” (Rev. 6:14).
We must first set ourselves into the first century circumstances of the Roman-Jewish War and then will see that much of the area around Jerusalem was a natural defense, which also the Roman army would notice. Several times Josephus notes the following:
“And now when Agrippa observed that even the affairs of the Romans were likely to be in danger, while such an immense multitude of their enemies had seized upon the mountains round about.” (War. 2:19:3).
“Now Jotapata is almost all of it built on a precipice, having on all the other sides of it every way valleys immensely deep and steep, insomuch that those who would look down would have their sight fail them before it reaches to the bottom. It is only to be come at on the north side, where the utmost part of the city is built on the mountain, as it ends obliquely at a plain. This mountain Josephus had encompassed with a wall when he fortified the city, that its top might not be capable of being seized upon by the enemies. The city is covered all round with other mountains, and can no way be seen till a man comes just upon it. And this was the strong situation of Jotapata.” (War. 3:7:7).
“Vespasian, therefore, in order to try how he might overcome the natural strength of the place, as well as the bold defense of the Jews, made a resolution to prosecute the siege with vigor. To that end he called the commanders that were under him to a council of war, and consulted with them which way the assault might be managed to the best advantage.” (War. 3:7:8).
“Hereupon a great multitude prevented their approach, and came out of Jericho, and fled to those mountainous parts that lay over against Jerusalem, while that part which was left behind was in a great measure destroyed; they also found the city desolate. It is situated in a plain; but a naked and barren mountain, of a very great length, hangs over it, which extends itself to the land about Scythopolis northward, but as far as the country of Sodom, and the utmost limits of the lake Asphaltiris, southward. This mountain is all of it very uneven and uninhabited, by reason of its barrenness:” (War. 4:8:2).
It was very difficult to come into Jerusalem even for the Roman with her disciplined and mechanical army that she had. The mountains and the rocks were in their way and must go away. The Roman army took the matter into their own hands and “moved” the mountains.
“Now Vespasian was very desirous of demolishing Jotapata, for he had gotten intelligence that the greatest part of the enemy had retired thither, and that it was, on other accounts, a place of great security to them. Accordingly, he sent both foot-men and horsemen to level the road, which was mountainous and rocky, not without difficulty to be traveled over by footmen, but absolutely impracticable for horsemen. Now these workmen accomplished what they were about in four days’ time, and opened a broad way for the army.” (War. 3:7:3).
“But Titus, intending to pitch his camp nearer to the city than Scopus, placed as many of his choice horsemen and footmen as he thought sufficient opposite to the Jews, to prevent their sallying out upon them, while he gave orders for the whole army to level the distance, as far as the wall of the city. So they threw down all the hedges and walls which the inhabitants had made about their gardens and groves of trees, and cut down all the fruit trees that lay between them and the wall of the city, and filled up all the hollow places and the chasms, and demolished the rocky precipices with iron instruments; and thereby made all the place level from Scopus to Herod’s monuments, which adjoined to the pool called the Serpent’s Pool.” (War 5:3:2).
These is the historical facts and fits very well to the description of John that the mountain “moved”, and not at least to his expectation that this “must take place soon” (Revelation 1:1), because this happened few years after John wrote the Revelation. With a reasonable translation, will all recognize these prophetic events of the historical fulfillment.
Cave as hideout.
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” (Rev. 6:15-16).
The Romans were marching into Jerusalem and the Jews had good and true enough reason to hide (Revelation 6:15), the Romans slaughtered everything in their path. Josephus writes how the caves and cliffs were used as hiding places:
“And on this day it was that the Romans slew all the multitude that appeared openly; but on the following days they searched the hiding-places, and fell upon those that were under ground, and in the caverns…” (War. 3:7:36).
“So now the last hope which supported the tyrants, and that crew of robbers who were with them, was in the caves and caverns under ground; whither, if they could once fly, they did not expect to be searched for; but endeavored, that after the whole city should be destroyed, and the Romans gone away, they might come out again, and escape from them. This was no better than a dream of theirs; for they were not able to lie hid either from God or from the Romans. However, they depended on these under-ground subterfuges…” (War. 6:7:3).
“This Simon, during the siege of Jerusalem, was in the upper city; but when the Roman army was gotten within the walls, and were laying the city waste, he then took the most faithful of his friends with him, and among them some that were stone-cutters, with those iron tools which belonged to their occupation, and as great a quantity of provisions as would suffice them for a long time, and let himself and all them down into a certain subterraneous cavern that was not visible above ground.” (War. 7:2:1).
Thus, it would appear that the mountains were not as helpful in hiding the Jews as it was to be moved by the Romans, and the caves was not impenetrable either. Something that Revelation. 6:16-17 has already warned against.
“And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17)
And, as Josephus notes, their experiment to hide failed.
“the Romans slew some of them, some they carried captives, and others they made a search for under ground, and when they found where they were, they broke up the ground and slew all they met with.” (War. 6:9:4).
“Now, so far as had been digged of old, they went onward along it without disturbance; but where they met with solid earth, they dug a mine under ground, and this in hopes that they should be able to proceed so far as to rise from under ground in a safe place, and by that means escape. But when they came to make the experiment, they were disappointed of their hope; for the miners could make but small progress, and that with difficulty also; insomuch that their provisions, though they distributed them by measure, began to fail them.” (War. 7:2:1).
Også Jesus profeterte at de ville gjemme seg i fjellene og haugene. Profetien finner vi i Luk. 23:28-30:
“But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.” (Luk. 23:28-30).
This verse is in line with what John writes in Revelation. 6:16. We see again that John’s prophecy is relevant to the first-century historical events and we find it again in Jesu prophecy who was prophesied even before John. But it’s more … as I’ll take in my next post, namely “Hail Of An Talent”.
Bible verses are taken from the KJV.
War = War of the Jews, Flavius Josephus.