Why I Believe The Book Of Revelation Has Been Completely Fulfilled
I approached this study not concerned with what conclusion I “needed” to reach, quite different from the way I use to study. Also, I didn’t worry about what that conclusion would imply or cause me to believe in other areas of my study. In the past, too many times I hesitated to pursue truth out of fear of where it was leading me and what the consequences would be once I got there. I was always fearful of losing speaking engagements or friends or money; that’s no longer the case; those things no longer matter to me. I still love all of my brethren who disagree with me and those who have pushed me aside but I love truth more and it’s important for me in the delicate years of my life I have left, and I pray they are many, to find answers to questions I’ve always had. I will always be willing to share my conclusions with anyone searching for the same answers.
What I will talk about is not intended to be a full explanation of everything mentioned in Revelation; that would take a very long time. I’m simply giving an overall picture of what I found the book to be about and how that shaped my view.
With many hours of study and contemplation, I came to a conclusion in which I’m very comfortable; this too must be your aim. Your studies must be done based upon your relentless search for truth and the conclusions you reach should give you answers centered around your study and not the church’s beliefs or some person or group’s beliefs. Once you reach this point in your life, you will find the peace you didn’t know existed.
For many years I avoided the book of Revelation because I didn’t understand it. I was even taught that you don’t need to understand it as long as you know the overall theme is victory over your enemies at the “end of time.” After having many bible studies with people, I soon found that most people don’t understand Revelation but they know that it speaks of victory. For me, this wasn’t enough. I wasn’t satisfied with just knowing the first three chapters talked about the churches of Asia or that the book spoke of victory. I wanted to know specifically victory over whom and I wanted to know what the next 19 chapters talk about. For a long time, I didn’t seek these answers and it was only after I was confronted with some questions back in 2007 that I started to look a little closer into the message of Revelation.
It was a Sunday morning. I had just finished preaching when I was informed there was a gentleman in the foyer who wanted to speak with me. I made my way to the back of the auditorium, into the foyer, and that’s where I met a guy who would send me on a quest for a truth that has lasted even until now, July 2020.
The series of questions he asked me went like this, “Do you believe the church is the bride of Christ or His wife?” My answer was His bride. His next question was, “Is the church, the bride of Christ, in existence on earth right now as we speak?” My answer was yes. His next question was, “Does Jesus have one bride or two?” My answer was one. I thought this series of questioning was odd and I was wishing he would just leave but he didn’t (haha, I was hungry). He threw another question at me; “Do you believe the book of Revelation has already been completely fulfilled or do you believe it will be fulfilled in the future?” My answer was, “I believe chapters 1-18 have been fulfilled already but chapters 19-22 will be fulfilled in the future. His final question was, “if what you are saying is true, then who is the bride of Christ mentioned in Chapter 21:1-3 that will come down out of heaven? If you believe the bride is already on earth, and you believe chapters 19-22 will happen in the future, then who is the future bride of Revelation 21:1-3?” I must say I didn’t know how to respond.
For those who know me, not having something to say is not normal (haha). So I proceeded to give some off-the-top-of-my-head response, one that didn’t make sense as I thought about it later on that night. I was stumped. I was also discouraged and hurt because I felt like I had let the gospel down by not being able to defend it. That’s when my search started.
I read and read and read the book of Revelation and Old Testament books like Daniel, Isaiah, and Ezekiel etc…, until I was blue in the face. I began to reach out to people I thought could answer these questions with no problem. I emailed one very well known and highly respected gospel preacher, whose name I won’t mention. To my disappointment, the answer he gave me was very discouraging. It was the first time I saw someone brilliant, whom I looked up to, and who I knew could answer pretty much anything, give what seemed to be a political answer. What do I mean by that? Well, his answer sounded like he was trying to answer my question without condemning and protecting himself. I asked a specific question and he dodged it both times while giving me an answer that had nothing to do with my question. This disturbed me and made me wonder why. The conversation I had with him is below. You may not understand much of what we are talking about and I don’t expect you to. I only list our exchange to show you things that added to my confusion.
My question to him was based on an article that he wrote which I thought was a really good article at the time. I basically just wanted a little clarity about a small portion of his article so I could know better how to answer my opponents. The email exchange went like this:
Me: I was reading your article on the little horn of Daniel. I notice you did not spend much time on the "Ancient of Days" delivering the Saints from persecution. If you believe that the little horn could have represented the Catholic church and that the times, times and a half possibly represents 1260 years then doesn't that suggest that the Ancient of Days will come 1260 years from some point of the Catholic church's rise to it fading, or will the Catholic church rise again before God's coming, or is the judgment of Daniel's prophecy figurative. I’m a little confused.
Him: The prophetic scheme does not suggest that the apostate church would fade away; 2 Thessalonians 2 clearly indicates it will remain until destroyed completely by the return of Christ. However, its vicious persecuting power, as viciously manifested in the "dark ages," would be broken. Catholicism's political/religious force is nothing today compared to the height of its power.
Me: I really appreciate your time. Just one more thing. I understand what you are saying but if the Ancient of Days was going to be the one who saved the saints, then doesn't that imply that he already has saved them or that the Catholic church will rise again to persecute the saints again?
Him: No response
Me: I not sure if you got my last email and so I'm sending it again. First of all, I really appreciate your time. I understand what you are saying about the Catholic church. But my question was more centered around the Ancient of Days. If the Ancient of days would be the one to save the saints then does that imply that He (Ancient of Days) already has saved them or that the Catholic church will rise again to persecute the saints and then God will save them? Thanks.
Him: Sorry, I did receive your previous e-mail, but I had nothing new to add to what I've written already.
After this brief but telling exchange, my mouth opened wide and I began to tear up. I can remember saying to myself, “If a man I respected so much and went to for so many answers, by buying his books and reading his articles, can’t help me, then what was I to do?” I decided to answer my own question. I made up my mind that I would start studying for myself to try to figure out a lot of this stuff and that’s what I did.
Now that I was less focused on what others had to say and more focused on what I found for myself, my attention to the Bible, particularly Revelation, increase dramatically. What I found in my studies is that the entire book of Revelation is about victory, but not the victory that I use to teach. I use to believe that Revelation was meant to show the ultimate victory of God’s people over their enemies, the peak being the victory of the church at the “end of time.” What I found was far from this thinking.
The book of Revelation was written to the “seven churches which are in Asia.” (1:4) I wanted to know what Revelation said and meant for the people it was written to, not what it means to me over 2000 years later.
While tracking the overall theme, I found a big picture that included and was centered around this great city called Babylon and its ultimate destruction. I was a little familiar with history so I knew it couldn’t be talking about the actual, geographical city of Babylon, whose king at one time was Nebuchadnezzar. I knew this city fell to Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, around 536 B.C. Since John, the writer of Revelation, used the name of a city that no longer existed, it seemed reasonable to conclude that John was using the name “Babylon” symbolically to refer to some other city. What city it represented was the next focal point of my quest. I knew that finding out the name of the true city represented by the name “Babylon”, was vital in knowing the message of the book as it relates to me and the time in which I live.
I once thought mystery Babylon represented the Roman Empire. Others believe it represents the Catholic Church or some present-day world power. I believed mystery Babylon represented the Roman Empire for no other reason than this was the first idea I was introduced to. The whole time I believed this, there was an uneasiness about that idea and it caused me to look closer at my thinking.
After further study, I eventually concluded that mystery Babylon was meant to represent Old Testament Jerusalem. How I came to that conclusion was to research the characteristics of mystery Babylon and Old Testament Jerusalem and see did they match. From this point forward in this article, I will show some, not all, of the evidences that brought me to that conclusion.
Evidence #1 The Events In Revelation Were To Happen In A Short Time, Almost 2000 Years Ago
John saw events that were going to take place in the future. However, the future John saw was not 2000 years later. He begins his message by saying, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place.” (1:1) The things John was about to address in this book would take place “shortly." He further states, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (1:3) Again, John told his audience the events in Revelation were near. God thought it was so important that His audience knew these things would happen in a short time frame that He not only begins the book with the phrase “Things which must shortly take place” (1:1), He ends it with the same phrase: "These words are faithful and true." And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.” (22:6)
As I read these verses about things happening shortly or being near, I immediately remembered what I had been teaching about the Kingdom. I have always used these time-statements myself when teaching people that the Kingdom of God was intended to be and was established in the first century. I was once having a conversation with two of my friends who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They believed the Kingdom would be something God would establish in the future. I believed the Kingdom was established in the first century, during the lifetime of those people who lived with Jesus and the apostles. My proof to show them that God intended for the Kingdom to be a reality for those people was to look at the time frame John gave for the Kingdom’s coming. When he came on the scene, his message about the Kingdom was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!" (Matthew 3:2) Jesus had the same message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17)
If it was easy for me to see that “near” meant the Kingdom would be established in their lifetime, I immediately asked myself, “then why wouldn’t the events of Revelation happen during their lifetime as well?” This seemed to be a very logical question and one I wrestled with for a long time.
I also found a statement in Revelation that was similar to one I remembered being in the book of Daniel, both relating to time.
Evidence #2 Jesus’ Judgement On Jerusalem Was Also Going To Happen In A Short Time
I found the book of Revelation to be about God’s judgment upon mystery Babylon. Revelation 18 is all about mystery Babylon’s fall and destruction. John said, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.” (18:21) Since I understood the events in Revelation would take place shortly, in their lifetime, it made sense that since mystery Babylon was a part of John’s prophecy, its destruction would be one of those events that would happen during their lifetime. The question was, could this same thing be said about Jerusalem.
Turning my attention now to the city of Jerusalem, I noticed Jesus also predicted its fate as being near, happening in the first century, during their lifetime. In Luke 21:5, a conversation is recorded between Jesus and His disciples about the temple. Luke said that “some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and donations.” Hearing them speak so highly of the temple, Jesus responded and said, “These things which you see--the days will come in which not one stone shall be left upon another that shall not be thrown down.” (v6)
As anyone who has just been told their favorite place is going to be destroyed, they were curious about when it would take place. They wanted to know when their precious temple would be destroyed. So they ask, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?"
One thing I couldn’t overlook is that the disciples wanted to know when Jesus’ prediction was “about” to take place; they wanted to know when it would be “near.” In answering their question, Jesus gave them many signs or events that would take place before the Temple would be destroyed. However, there was one sign in particular that stands out more than anything and it’s found in verse 20. Jesus said,
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”
Jesus told them that the destruction of the temple would happen along with the destruction of Jerusalem and they would know it was “near” when Jerusalem was surrounded by armies.
A question I asked myself is why did Jesus predict the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple? The disciples were only showing Him how beautiful the temple was. This certainly didn’t seem like grounds for destruction but I knew there was something I was missing.
In this same response Jesus gave to His disciples, He tells them a general reason why Jerusalem would be destroyed. Jesus said, “these would be the days of vengeance when Jerusalem would be trampled by the Gentiles” (21:22-24). Vengeance only occurs when someone has done something wrong. What had Jerusalem done wrong?
What’s remarkable is that God was also going to take vengeance against mystery Babylon in Revelation. Like the events in Revelation, the events surrounding the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem were to take place in the lifetime of those people receiving the message. So there would be no misunderstanding and to nail down a timeline for them, Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.” (Luke 21:32) It was clear, Jerusalem and mystery Babylon both had coming judgments; these judgments were near and would happen in the lifetime of the people who received the messages. At this point, I wanted to see what was the true reason Babylon and Jerusalem were going to be destroyed and see did the reason match.
Evidence #3 Jerusalem and Mystery Babylon Were Guilty Of The Same Sin; Killing God’s Prophets and Saints
As I read through the book of Revelation I quickly realized mystery Babylon was guilty of killing the prophets and saints of God and this is why His vengeance would be poured out on it. In Revelation 6:9-10, John is giving a vision of a 5th seal. When this seal was opened John “saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.” These souls who had been killed are recorded as crying out to God and asking, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"
These souls were consumed with one question: “when,” “how long will it be God before you avenge us?” They were not concerned about what would happen; they knew God was a God of justice. They were concerned with the “time frame.” They knew God would eventually avenge them, they just wanted to know when. Well, God gave them a time frame. The Lord said, “rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”
These souls were going to have to rest just a little while longer until a certain number of their brethren would be killed like them and then God would avenge them. So who was it that was guilty of killing them? Who would God have to punish or destroy to avenge their blood? These were the next questions I set out to answer and it didn’t take long.
Revelation 18 is all about God destroying this mysterious city called Babylon. John sees this vision of the coming destruction but he also sees something else. Revelation 18:24 says, “And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth." So the one who was guilty of killing God’s prophets and saints seems to be mystery Babylon and the evidence is clear.
Mystery Babylon, also referred to as the great harlot in Revelation (17:1, 5), is said to have killed so many of God’s prophet’s and saints that she was “drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” (17:6)
After Babylon’s destruction is foretold in chapter 18, it is said that the blood of those who had been murdered, God’s prophets and saints, were found inside of her. Babylon’s fingerprints were now confirmed. The dead souls in Revelation 6:10 wanted to know how long would it be before God took vengeance against mystery Babylon.
I didn’t understand it then but now I do. Revelation chapters 6 through 19 are not just some isolated stories about monsters. Rather, those chapters answer the very questions those dead souls were asking, God, when will you take your vengeance out on mystery Babylon?
From chapters six through nineteen, we see the fate of the dead soul’s adversaries; we see their victory over their enemies. That fate would be destruction. In his vision, John saw this great city’s destruction and after the destruction, the multitude of heaven cried, “He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” (Revelation 19:3)
So I found out why Babylon was going to be destroyed. Now I wanted to find out why Jerusalem was going to be destroyed.
In Matthew 23, Jesus was having a conversation with the Pharisees, Jewish leaders. He told these leaders that their behavior and way of life were unbecoming as followers of God. The Pharisees were fully aware of the murderous lifestyle of the ancestors, so they wanted to distance themselves from them to avoid any accusations of ungodliness. The Pharisees said, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.” (Matthew 23:30)
Well, Jesus saw right through that and charged them with being “sons of those who murdered the prophets.” (23:31) He then tells them they would eventually do the same thing their ancestors did. Jesus said they would “fill up the measure of their father’s guilt.” (23:32) This signifies they would become guilty of the same sin as their fathers, the sin of murdering God’s prophets and saints and Jesus predicts it:
“Indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous bloodshed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” (23:34-35)
Notice, Jesus told them they would do this, not might, they would kill God’s prophets and saints and when it happens the guilt would be on their hands. But not just the guilt of the ones they would kill; also the guilt of “all the righteous bloodshed on the earth.” (v35)
This is the same guilt mystery Babylon had on its hands. In Revelation 18, the chapter that pictures the destruction of mystery Babylon, evidence was found inside that city after its destruction. John said in her was found “the blood of all who were slain on the earth.” (18:24) Wow!
Furthermore, just like Babylon was accused of killing the prophets and saints, Jesus’ accused Jerusalem of the same thing: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!” (Matthew 23:37)
In exact terms Jerusalem was guilty of the same sin as mystery Babylon. No other city in the word of God was guilty of persecuting and killing the prophets and saints of God like the Jews of Jerusalem. I believed Rome was the city that persecuted and killed God’s people. And even though Rome did persecute and kill many, including God’s people, from the bible’s perspective the Jews used them to carry out their dirty work. The greatest enemy of God’s people was the unfaithful and corrupt wife of God, Old Testament Israel.
When the Jews wanted Jesus dead, Pilate, a Roman procurator, asked “Why, what evil has He done?"(Matthew 27:23) Pilate tried to avoid killing Jesus “But they cried out all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!” “When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it." And all the people answered and said, "His blood be on us and on our children." (Matthew 27:24-25)
Herod was motivated to further persecute the church “because he saw that it pleased the Jews.” (Acts 12:3) In Acts 4-5 their countrymen, not Rome, beat the apostles. His countrymen, not the Catholic Church, killed Stephen. The church in Acts 8 was persecuted and scattered by its countrymen, not the USA or Iran. In Acts 9, Paul, a Pharisee and loyal Jew to the Old Law persecuted the church.
Paul’s many persecutions and near-deaths came from his countrymen, listen to his own words:
“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.”(1 Thessalonians 2:14-16)
The biblical proof was too much for me to overlook; Jerusalem and mystery Babylon were guilty of the same thing because they were the same city; mystery Babylon was Old Testament Jerusalem.
Evidence #4 The Preaching of the Gospel to the Entire World Would Precede the Judgment of Jerusalem and Mystery Babylon
I next noticed that the role of the gospel played an important part with Jerusalem and mystery Babylon. Matthew and Luke both discuss the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. Luke’s record, as I have already shown, is found in chapter 21. Matthew’s record is found in chapter 24. In Matthew’s account, the disciples had the same question about when the Temple would be destroyed. Jesus gave the same answer; the Temple would be destroyed when Jerusalem was destroyed.
In Matthew’s account, however, before Jesus begins to describe the tribulation and destruction that would come upon Jerusalem, He said that sometime else had to take place first. In Matthew 24:14, Jesus says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” What end? The end of the Temple; the end of Jerusalem. So in Jesus' response to His disciples, He said the Temple and the city of Jerusalem would definitely be judged and destroyed. However, the destruction would not happen until that gospel had been preached to all nations.
After reading this, I turned to Revelation and tried to find what things preceded the destruction of mystery Babylon, and once again I was amazed. Notice the words of Revelation 14:6-8,
“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people-- saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water." And another angel followed, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication."
Look at the succession of events. The everlasting gospel would be presented to every nation on earth, judgment would come, and Babylon would fall. There was no doubt to me again that mystery Babylon represented Jerusalem.
Evidence #5 In the New Testament, Jerusalem and mystery Babylon were Both Called The Great City
Another interesting point I found is, in Revelations, Jerusalem and mystery Babylon, are both called “The Great City.” Notice the two verses below:
It was all starting to make sense to me. The only reason mystery Babylon was called the “great city” is because it was the great city, God’s great city, God’s wife. At one time earthly Jerusalem was the apple of God’s eye but she became unfaithful and was now guilty of murdering God’s people. Because of her abominations, God would divorce her through judgment and make way for His Son Jesus to marry His bride, the church, the New Jerusalem. This New Jerusalem would become God’s new “Great City.”
Evidence #6 The Marriage of the Lamb Jesus Would follow the Destruction of Jerusalem and Mystery Babylon
I knew that Revelation 19 talked about a “marriage of the Lamb,” after the fall of mystery Babylon. What I wanted to find out is would there be a marriage that followed the destruction of Jerusalem.
I started at Matthew 24, where Jesus discussed the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and worked my way backward to the conversations that led up to chapter 24. What I found is that Jesus gave a series of parables relating to the coming fate of Jerusalem. One of the parables of great significance is found in Matthew 22:1-14. This parable is known as the “Parable of the Marriage Feast.” In this parable, Jesus speaks about a king who arranged a marriage for his son. The parable is about the coming Kingdom, the church—Jesus’ bride. Jesus begins the parable by saying, “The kingdom of Heaven is like” and then He tells the parable. So whatever Jesus was getting ready to say in this parable would all pertain to things surrounding the coming Kingdom.
In the parable, Jesus speaks of a king sending out an invitation to people who were invited but these people refused to come. Not only did they refuse to come, they mistreated the messengers and killed them. After the message got back to the king, he became furious, and “He sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready.”
If this parable is referring to the kingdom, and it is because Jesus said it was, then there was no other scenario that made sense to me except that this parable was a picture of Matthew 24 and Luke 21- the coming destruction of Jerusalem. The invitation would be the invitation to become a part of the kingdom, a part of the marriage to the Lamb, the gospel invitation.
The Jews were the first ones who were given this invitation. When discussing the going forth of the gospel, the apostle Paul stated, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first…” (Romans 1:16) Again, when speaking to a Jewish crowd in Acts 13, Paul expressed to them that the gospel invitation was sent to them first. Notice:
“But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first...” (13:45-46)
The Jews rejected the invitation of the gospel and persecuted and killed God’s messengers who carried that invitation. Because of their rejection, persecution, and killing of God’s messengers, God (represented as the King in the parable) planned to destroy their city—Jerusalem. After the destruction of the city, Jesus pronounced, “the wedding is ready”, His wedding prepared by His Father.
When we look at mystery Babylon we see the same thing. Mystery Babylon is destroyed in Revelation 18 and after the destruction Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”
If Jerusalem and mystery Babylon refer to two different cities, then it follows that Jesus was scheduled for two different marriages. However, Jesus had one bride and He was scheduled to marry her whenever God divorced earthly Jerusalem. Jesus could not have a fulfilled relationship with the church until God’s relationship with Jerusalem was completely broken. Therefore, up until Jerusalem was removed, Jesus' relationship to the church was an engagement, much like God’s relationship with Israel in the wilderness (Jeremiah 2:2). Paul told the church at Corinth, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2) This presentation of the church for marriage is what Revelation 19-22 are all about.
For me, the book of Revelation is a beautiful picture of God’s dealings with Old Covenant Israel and the New Covenant Church. Finally, the questions the guy asked me at the beginning of this article were starting to make sense. Remember the questions? They were…
Jesus’ ministry on earth was the beginning of His relationship with those who would be in His church, His Kingdom. It was a courtship that eventually led to an engagement between Christ and His followers. The establishment of the church on the day of Pentecost seems to mark Christ’s engagement to the church. The reason I say seems is because it could have happened earlier, like after the resurrection or even sooner.
Christ’s engagement would last until the time came for Him to officially marry her. The book of Revelation is all about that engagement and the events surrounding this relationship up to the time of the marriage.
At one time, Jerusalem, Old Testament Israel, was the apple of God’s eye. (Zechariah 2:8) A once faithful and wonderful wife had become corrupt; so corrupt that she was labeled by the names Sodom, Egypt (Rev. 11:8), and Babylon. Because of her unfaithfulness, God intended to divorce her. In the place of God’s divorce to Israel, God planned a marriage for His son Jesus. This bride for God’s Son would be a great, heavenly, and NEW wife—the church.
Jesus didn’t have two brides or two wives, He had one bride and that one bride became His one wife after earthly Jerusalem (mystery Babylon) was destroyed. The bride coming down from Heaven in Revelation 21:1-3, prepared for marriage, represented the church moving from engagement to marriage.
This New Jerusalem is so different and greater than Old Testament Jerusalem that it is described by John as the “New Heavens and New Earth.” (Revelation 21:1-3) This too no longer confused me. I once thought this referred to Heaven and some future home for Christians on the other side of death, even though Revelation 21 says nothing anywhere about heaven. I was wrong. John is not speaking about heaven. He is speaking about something foretold many years before he ever saw his prophecy.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah the prophet spoke about God creating this New Jerusalem and he described it as a “New Heaven and New Earth.” Notice Isaiah 65:17-18,
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy.”
I had no idea that Isaiah predicted this before I started studying it. This New Heavens and New Earth that Isaiah speaks of is a description of what the Christian or Church age would be like.
Out of curiosity I wanted to see what others thought about Isaiah’s prophecy and so I looked in a few commentaries. I found many people who agreed with the particular conclusion I reached on Isaiah 65:17-19. One such person is a prolific writer and speaker named Wayne Jackson. In his book, Isaiah: God’s Prophet of Doom and Deliverance, Commenting on the new heavens and new earth in Isaiah’s prophecy, Jackson wrote,
“This is a symbolic description of the Christian age. As man lives upon the earth, and partakes of the blessings of the heavens, so these expressions become figures signifying his environment. Hence, the “new heavens and a new earth” is merely descriptive of the new realm that will replace the Mosaic period. The “former things,” i.e., the elements of the Mosaic system, will pass away (17). Paul sets forth a similar truth in the New Testament. “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new creation is described as a rejoicing in Jerusalem—an atmosphere of joy (18). This is, of course, a spiritual Jerusalem, not the material city.”
Like me, Jackson believes the New Heavens and New Earth in Isaiah 65 refers to the church. However, I go a step further because I believe Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21 are speaking about the same exact thing.
Jerusalem and her people would no longer be seen as a physical people or a physical location but rather Jerusalem would be a spiritual people with a spiritual location and that location would be in the heart. (Luke 17:20-21). All of the physical and earthly aspects under the Law of Moses would become spiritual and heavenly aspects under the Law of Christ. Physical Israel would become Spiritual Israel, Christians. (Romans 9:6-11; Galatians 3:26-29) The physical tabernacle would become the spiritual tabernacle not made with hands. (Hebrews 9:1-11) The physical stones that made up the temple building would become spiritual stones that make up the church, Christians. (1 Peter 2:5) The Levitical priests would become Christian priests. (1 Peter 2:9) The physical cleansing before entering the tabernacle would become the spiritual cleansing before entering the New Jerusalem, the church. (1 Peter 3:21; 1 Corinthians 6:11) This was such a beautiful picture to me.
John saw Isaiah’s prophecy. In Revelation 21:1-3, John was not speaking of a different “New Heavens and New Earth” from Isaiah. John was speaking about Isaiah’s “New Heavens and New Earth.” When Isaiah looked into the future to see the New Jerusalem it was still in the distant future, but when John looked into the future to see the New Jerusalem it was near, shortly to arrive. (Rev. 1:1, 3; 22:7, 10)
The New Jerusalem is the church—the Kingdom. The Kingdom had its initial beginning on the day of Pentecost (Colossians 1:13) and culminated with the removal of the Temple and earthly Jerusalem. (Luke 21:31; Hebrews 12:27-28) This was accomplished by the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70. Old Testament Jerusalem was destroyed; the temple was destroyed; mystery Babylon was destroyed. This is why when John saw the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 he “saw no temple in it…” (21:22)
I have no doubt I am in the New Jerusalem because I am in the church, the wife of Christ. The Hebrew writer said, “You have come to Mount Zion and to the City of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” (Hebrews 12:22)
Old, earthly, and evil Jerusalem, pictured as mystery Babylon, had to be removed so that new, holy, and heavenly Jerusalem, pictured as the Bride of Christ, could be realized. God replaced a great city with a GREATER CITY. It is logical and consistent to me that mystery Babylon, that Great City, gave way to the New Jerusalem, the New Great City.
This is my understanding of Revelation. I was a specific message for an audience who live long ago meant to give them encouragement. It was meant to assure them that THEIR enemies would be destroyed and THEY would shortly have victory.
What that means for me is that just like those first century Christians were promised and did receive victory shortly just like God promised, God can help me too overcome any foes I encounter.