The scripture condemns such practices as Christmas. Jeremiah 10:2,3 tell us to “learn not the way of the heathen” and that “the customs of the people are vain.” In Matthew 15:9 Jesus explains that men worship Him in vain, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” In Colossians 2:8 we are told to beware lest someone should spoil us “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world.” I Timothy 1:4 instructs us to “neither give heed to fables … which minister questions.”
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
From Reformed Books Online
“What is the Prophetic View of Idealism?
“Idealism is the view that the prophecies of the Revelation generally do not have historic referents (or have very few, such as the first and second comings of Christ), but are to be understood symbolically and spiritually (thus drawing spiritual ‘ideals’ from the book). Idealism is most often conjoined with an Amillennial outlook.
“This view has become more popular in Reformed circles during the 1900’s. See B.B. Warfield’s 4 page article below for the best, short, evangelical defense of this view. . .
“Regarding the interpretation of Revelation, we [at Reformed Books Online] recommend a cross between Historicism and Idealism.”
B. B. Warfield was a defender of Biblical inerrancy. He and A.A. Hodge wrote an influential book about this. According to Theopedia.com, “his passion was to refute the liberal element within Presbyterianism and within Christianity at large.” In interpreting Revelation, he was an idealist. The short article linked below was helpful to me in understanding how to approach the genre of apocalypse as it relates to the Book of Revelation. This article is in a pdf format.
Chapter 44, Selected Shorter Writings II, pp. 651-654
36 Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Lament over Jerusalem
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”
Recently, Crissy of KNOWING THE TIME, because what’s coming matters quoted Gerald Stanton in a comment at Christian’s blog, Showing Ourselves Approved. The Stanton quote is the part of Crissy’s comment that I want to address. You can read all of her comment at the link below, labled: “Crissy says: August 11, 2018 at 12:31 pm.”
[copied and pasted]
“The Tribulation does not deal with the Church at all, but with the purification of Israel. It is not the “time of the Church’s trouble,” but the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” The emphasis of the Tribulation is primarily Jewish. This fact is borne out by Old Testament Scriptures (Deut. 4: 30; Jer. 30: 7; Ezek. 20: 37; Dan. 12:1; Zech. 13:8-9), by the Olivet Discourse of Christ (Matt. 24:9-26), and by the book of Revelation itself (Rev. 7:4-8; 12:1-2; 17, etc.).
It concerns “Daniel’s people,” the coming of “false Messiah,” the preaching of the “gospel of the kingdom,” flight on the “sabbath,” the temple and the “holy place,” the land of Judea, the city of Jerusalem, the twelve “tribes of the children of Israel,” the “son of Moses,” “signs” in the heavens, the “covenant” with the Beast, the “sanctuary,” the “sacrifice and the oblation” of the temple ritual. These all speak of Israel and clearly demonstrate that the Tribulation is largely a time when God deals with His ancient people prior to their entrance into the promised kingdom. The many Old Testament prophecies yet to be fulfilled for Israel further indicate a future time when God will deal with this nation (Deut. 30:1-6; Jer. 30:8-10, etc.). Not one Old Testament passage on the tribulation refers to the church.
A foundation for understanding
All of the Bible is for all believers, Jews and Gentiles. Certainly it is crucial to know who is being addressed in a given passage, but if we keep believing and stating that “this is for the Jews” we will only add to the confusion and discouragement in the Church today. I pray that my post will not add to the confusion.
The testimony of Scripture
In studying the End Times, I’ve had many questions about how to understand Jesus’ prophecies in Matthew 24. Some Christians believe that all of these prophecies remain to be fulfilled. However in harmonizing Matthew 24 and Luke 21, we find that Jesus gave us an important key to understanding which was recorded by Luke: the timeframe, “but before all these things.”
The Lord declared that “but before all these things” the Temple would be razed. This happened when Titus and the armies of Rome left not “a stone standing.” Jesus even gave instructions to His disciples concerning what to do when they saw Rome’s armies surrounding Jerusalem. I believe that the disciples took the Lord’s warning to heart, as many have seen. About the safety of Christians during this period Albert Barnes (1832) wrote:
It is said that there is reason to believe that not one Christian perished in the destruction of that city, God having in various ways secured their escape, so that they fled to Pella, where they dwelt when the city was destroyed. The Christian Flight to Pella
And Paul Maier wrote this in Christian History magazine:
Josephus, our major source for all this information, does not name a single Christian victim in connection with great Jewish War. Why not? With immense luck—or blessing—the earliest Christians largely escaped all this horror for two reasons: (1) Only four years before the war’s outbreak, James the Just of Jerusalem (the first Christian bishop according to both Acts 15 and Eusebius) was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin, which must certainly have led the struggling Jewish-Christian community to think about leaving. (2) Eusebius, ‘the father of church history,’ also tells us that Christians were warned by an oracle to flee the city some time before war’s outbreak. In fact, they evacuated to Pella and other cities north of Jerusalem, and so escaped the Roman siege and conquest. Not One Stone Left Upon Another
Another of the Lord’s prophesied events was “the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (Matthew 24:15). This too was fulfilled when the armies of Rome brought Imperial standards (graven images) into the sacred precincts:
|54.||Romans occupy Temple [70 CE]|
|316||Now that the rebels had fled the city, and the temple itself and every thing around was burning, the Romans brought their standards into the sacred spot. And, setting them up facing the eastern gate, they sacrificed to them. And with the greatest acclaim they proclaimed Titus emperor.|
|— Josephus, Jewish War 6.316|
At least two prophecies then have been fulfilled. Let us rejoice for this confirms the words of the Saviour! What He said to His disciples about these matters was fulfilled to the letter.
Returning to the timeframe key in Jesus’ prophecy, please see how Luke 21 helps us to more clearly understand His words in Matthew 24:
10 Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. 16 But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17 and you will be hated by all because of My name. 18 Yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days;for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Who was Philip Mauro?
Philip was “a famous lawyer, supreme court lawyer, [and] prepared briefs for [the] Scopes Trial.” He left Dispensationalism for a more historically Protestant view. Sadly, he failed to see (that I know of) that Israel would be reborn as a nation. However, this shouldn’t be a reason to dismiss his insights about 70 A.D.
“It is greatly to be regretted that those who, in our day, give themselves to the study and exposition of prophecy, seem not to be aware of the immense significance of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which was accompanied by the extinction of Jewish national existence, and the dispersion of the Jewish people among all the nations. The failure to recognize the significance of that event, and the vast amount of prophecy which it fulfilled, has been the cause of great confusion, for the necessary consequence of missing the past fulfillment of predicted events is to leave on our hands a mass of prophecies for which we must needs contrive fulfillments in the future. The harmful results are two fold; for first, we are thus deprived of the evidential value, and the support to the faith, of those remarkable fulfillments of prophecy which are so clearly presented to us in authentic contemporary histories; and second, our vision of things to come is greatly obscured and confused by the transference to the future of predicted events which, in fact, have already happened, and whereof complete records have been preserved for our information.”
“No matter what view of eschatology we embrace, we must take seriously the redemptive-historical importance of Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D.70.”
The Four Horsemen
6 1 The Lamb openeth the first seal of the book. 3 The second, 5 the third, 7 the fourth. . .
1 After I beheld when the Lamb had opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four beasts say, as it were the noise of thunder, Come and see.
2 Therefore I beheld, and lo, there was a white horse, and he that sat on him, had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering that he might overcome.
3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4 And there went out another horse, that was red, and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another, and there was given unto him a great sword.
5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. Then I beheld, and lo, a black horse, and he that sat on him, had balances in his hand.
6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny, and oil, and wine hurt thou not.
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed after him, and power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with beasts of the earth.
Here are various views of this passage and study helps. A question for us is – does Revelation also deal with the long and important history of the Church or only with the End of the Age?
Insight from other bloggers: General
Jerry Parks, in a comment
“The Revelation in my thinking, only reaffirms the oneness of Jew and Gentile as taught in scripture. It exposes the world totally corrupted by the fall of Satan, and covers a time period from that fall through the birth of Messiah; and extends through to the end of this age and beyond. . . Revelation is historic, and it is specific to future events. It is allegorical and it is literal to His plan for His creation and, more specifically, for His people in creation. It is awesome in its revealing of His judgments and final wrath, and of His love and final rewards.”
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The Moody Bible Institute, 1962
“Note that in these first four scenes there are no names of individuals, human or superhuman, no geographical terms, and no specific events. The judgments are, as it were, of a general nature: wars have occurred often on earth, and they are often accompanied by pestilence and by scarcity of food, if not famine conditions. This would seem to be, then, just a preliminary phase of the more terrible judgments to follow.” [p. 1506]
The opening of the first six of the seven seals.
“. . . [Many] hold that all these seals have been fulfilled, the sixth having been so by the overthrow of paganism and establishment of Christianity under Constantine’s edict, A.D. 312. There can, however, be no doubt that at least the sixth seal is future, and is to be at the coming again of Christ. The great objection to supposing the seals to be finally and exhaustively fulfilled (though, probably, particular events may be partial fulfillments typical of the final and fullest one), is that, if so, they ought to furnish (as the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Christ’s prophecy, does) a strong external evidence of Revelation. . . Probably not isolated facts, but classes of events preparing the way for Christ’s coming kingdom, are intended by the opening of the seals.”
The Final Prophecy of Jesus, Oral Edmond Collins, 2007
“The Revelation provides in apocalyptic symbols a general guide to the faithful who look to see the hand of Providence in history. . . for the original readers the vision would relate to the immediate future and then lead to Christ’s victory over Antichrist and the glorious return of the Lord Jesus to establish His Kingdom. . . [p. 119]
“Because of the function of seals and because they appear only in the beginning of the book, the seal prophecies should be understood as introductory to the other prophecies which follow. Some ancient documents used multiple seals to provide the means of reading a preliminary copy of a text while preserving as unread and protected the official text. . . Similarly here, the several seals introduce six brief sequences. When the seventh seal is opened the larger part of the book remains to be read. These pertain to the subjects of principal concern – the coming war of Antichrist against the church, Christ’s victory in that war, and the glorious consummation of this age. The details of the six seal prophecies correspond so well with events of the first three Christian centuries that the reader familiar with that history should immediately see the correlation. . .” [p. 120]
“The book of the divine counsels being thus lodged in the hand of Christ, he loses no time, but immediately enters upon the work of opening the seals and publishing the contents; but this is done in such a manner as still leaves the predictions very abstruse and difficult to be understood. Hitherto the waters of the sanctuary have been as those in Ezekiel’s vision, only to the ankles, or to the knees, or to the loins at least; but here they begin to be a river that cannot be passed over. The visions which John saw, the epistles to the churches, the songs of praise, in the two foregoing chapters, had some things dark and hard to be understood; and yet they were rather milk for babes than meat for strong men; but now we are to launch into the deep, and our business is not so much to fathom it as to let down our net to take a draught. We shall only hint at what seems most obvious. The prophecies of this book are divided into seven seals opened, seven trumpets sounding, and seven vials poured out. It is supposed that the opening of the seven seals discloses those providences that concerned the church in the first three centuries, from the ascension of our Lord and Saviour to the reign of Constantine; this was represented in a book rolled up, and sealed in several places, so that, when one seal was opened, you might read so far of it, and so on, till the whole was unfolded. Yet we are not here told what was written in the book, but what John saw in figures enigmatical and hieroglyphic; and it is not for us to pretend to know ‘the times and seasons which the Father has put in his own power.’”
A little Greek
2 Therefore I beheld, and lo, there was a white horse, and he that sat on him, had a bow, and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering that he might overcome.
stephanos: that which surrounds, i.e. a crown
Original Word: στέφανος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (stef’-an-os)
Short Definition: a crown, garland
Definition: a crown, garland, honor, glory.
4735 stéphanos – properly, a wreath (garland), awarded to a victor in the ancient athletic games (like the Greek Olympics); the crown of victory (versus 1238 /diádēma, “a royal crown”).
[4735 (stéphanos) is used of a plaited wreath (“crown”), like the one made of thorns placed on the head of Christ at His trial (Mt 27:29, Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2,5).]
‘Behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death.’
There are times when the near presence and the invincible power of death are felt with peculiar solemnity. What St. John saw in apocalyptic vision we see in solemn and often startling reality.
I. The ride of death.
(a) It is long. Death has been with us as long as man has been on the globe.
(b) It is powerful. Death triumphs now over everything and everybody. The sovereign on the throne; the peasant in the cottage must alike come under its power.
II. The fight with death. — Yet for the Christian death has lost its terrors because of the resurrection of the Lord of life. He confers on all that freely and fully accept Him as their Saviour and Lord a life —
(a) Which is spiritual and therefore real.
(b) Which is holy and therefore noble and blessed.
(c) Which is eternal. What we call death is only the passage into a brighter and ampler life.
III. The final overthrow of death. — That glorious time will come when Jesus Christ shall reign, and when all enemies shall be subdued beneath His feet. And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.