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Thread: The "earth" in Revelation

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    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    The "earth" in Revelation

    A common argument is that in Revelation, the "earth" refers to Israel. Also, it is sometimes argued that the word "king" refers simply to rulers, such that "kings of the earth" just means "rulers of the land within Judea." And of course, the beast from the earth is argued to be Judaism. I admit that comparing the gentiles to the sea would seem to have some promise, based on certain Old Testament passages. (However, so far I cannot find any passages that compare Israel to the earth.) But the following verses seem to undermine this theory about the "earth" representing Israel:

    Revelation 20:8-9
    And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.


    Under every paradigm except Futurism and Hyperpreterism, this passage refers to a point after Israel has disappeared. Also, it seems a little bit dubious to claim that Gog and Magog are in the four corners of Israel.

    Revelation 17:2
    And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.


    Under Preterism, it is often claimed that the Whore refers to Jerusalem. It is further claimed that the seven heads refer to Roman emperors and the ten horns refer to Roman generals, or governors. However, here the kings are called "kings of the earth." So either the "kings" are not Roman, or else the "earth" is not Israel.

    But in Revelation, the kings are instrumental in destroying the Whore. Hence if the kings are Jewish rulers then that does not correlate with history. The Jews did not fight alongside the Romans against Jerusalem (as far as I know).

    Finally, here is a passage in Daniel which arguably seems to undermine the theory that the earth refers to Israel:

    Daniel 7:3-23
    And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
    . . . .
    These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
    . . . .
    Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.


    Namely, it does not clearly distinguish between the earth as being Israel, and the sea as being gentile. The two terms are used alongside each other, for some reason.

    So in total, I have grave doubts about whether the "earth" refers to Israel in Revelation. However, I don't have any very good, alternative idea.

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    tWebber JohnnyP's Avatar
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    Haven't been on here in a while but Facebook is down so I'll give a summary:

    Jerusalem is the Harlot of Babylon stated in Ezekiel 23. Jerusalem sits on the 7 heads of the Beast grown back after Babylon was chopped down by Persia, in a band of brass and iron, Greece and Rome.

    Unrighteous Gentiles are the Beast, unrighteous Jews are the Whore. As opposed to the 2 Olive Trees in Romans and Revelation 11, righteous wild Gentiles graffed in to righteous natural Jews. Simple.

    The Sea in Revelation is the Bottomless Pit, it's not the same as waters. The wounded head of the Beast rises up from it as the 8th, Herodian/Roman Jerusalem. Restored Israel as the Whore, secular getting weapons, money, UN resolutions from the Gentile Beast who is Rome now: simply western civilization: UN, USA, UK, secularism, atheism, Hollywood, on and on.

    Together secular Jews and Gentiles are the 2 Horn Kingdoms of the False Messiah, looking like that lamb but speaking like the dragon: "you don't need God to be as gods, and you are the salvation of the world."

    There's more to it, how Greece and Rome are the 7 Heads occupying land Jerusalem sits on, how the 10 Horns are Muslim nations ruling Jerusalem alongside from Roman Iron. But I think you will find a good understanding here. You also probably won't see it anywhere else, it's just stuff I figured out myself after many years of study.

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    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    One, almost none of that answers my question about what the earth is. Two, if you are going to make claims about what the prophecy means then I would tend to require more argument for each point, preferably with Bible verses. Otherwise the book becomes way too subjective. Three, I don't think the two witnesses are Gentiles because the same symbol is used in Zechariah 4 and it does not seem to mean that, or anything similar to that.
    Last edited by Obsidian; 10-17-2014 at 05:00 AM.

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    tWebber JohnnyP's Avatar
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    Well yes what I gave is a summary that can be discussed further, didn't want to write a book on the first post.

    As I stated if you read Ezekiel 23 you can see who some of the kings are at that time, and what the earth is in that context, remembering that the identities may change through history:

    Ezekiel 23:22 Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side;

    Ezekiel 23:23 The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them riding upon horses.

    As for the 2 Olive Trees, they are righteous Jews + Gentiles, opposites of unrighteous Jews/Harlot + Gentiles/Beast.

    Romans 11:24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

    Revelation 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

    Example:

    Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

    So the candlestick represents being in the church, and the olive trees represent Jews and Gentiles in the church.

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    tWebber AlphaBravo's Avatar
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    I agree that the appearance of 'earth' in Revelation poses some difficulty from a preterist-type perspective and you bring up some valid criticisms. My current view is that most of these problems can be resolved by translating the word 'ge' as 'land' rather than 'earth'. I think the word earth carries too much modern baggage and automatically causes the modern reader to envision the entire globe whenever the word earth appears, when in fact this might rarely be the case. This tendancy has unfortunately given great license to the premillenial and dispensational interpretations of the book.

    I haven't really explored the use of 'ge' in Revelation or in other first century writings as much as I should but I suspect that the word has a variety of connotations ranging from Israel, to the holy land, to the province, to the empire, to the known habitable world, and yes to the entire planet.
    Last edited by AlphaBravo; 12-19-2014 at 02:42 PM. Reason: just cuz

  6. Amen Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Rushing Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obsidian View Post
    A common argument is that in Revelation, the "earth" refers to Israel. Also, it is sometimes argued that the word "king" refers simply to rulers, such that "kings of the earth" just means "rulers of the land within Judea." And of course, the beast from the earth is argued to be Judaism. I admit that comparing the gentiles to the sea would seem to have some promise, based on certain Old Testament passages. (However, so far I cannot find any passages that compare Israel to the earth.) But the following verses seem to undermine this theory about the "earth" representing Israel:

    Revelation 20:8-9
    And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.


    Under every paradigm except Futurism and Hyperpreterism, this passage refers to a point after Israel has disappeared. Also, it seems a little bit dubious to claim that Gog and Magog are in the four corners of Israel.
    ISTM that Ezekiel 38-39 can help. G & M are to invade Israel. So they will be within its borders when defeated. St John has taken the destruction of the two fifties of men by fire before the passing of Elijah, & made the fire that destroys the fifties into what kills the G & M army. Both G & M, & satan, command gigantic armies.

    Revelation 17:2
    And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.


    Under Preterism, it is often claimed that the Whore refers to Jerusalem. It is further claimed that the seven heads refer to Roman emperors and the ten horns refer to Roman generals, or governors. However, here the kings are called "kings of the earth." So either the "kings" are not Roman, or else the "earth" is not Israel.

    But in Revelation, the kings are instrumental in destroying the Whore. Hence if the kings are Jewish rulers then that does not correlate with history. The Jews did not fight alongside the Romans against Jerusalem (as far as I know).

    Finally, here is a passage in Daniel which arguably seems to undermine the theory that the earth refers to Israel:

    Daniel 7:3-23
    And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.
    . . . .
    These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
    . . . .
    Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.


    Namely, it does not clearly distinguish between the earth as being Israel, and the sea as being gentile. The two terms are used alongside each other, for some reason.

    So in total, I have grave doubts about whether the "earth" refers to Israel in Revelation. However, I don't have any very good, alternative idea.
    ## IMHO the beast from the earth is coming up from the netherworld - erets can (IIRC) mean both, just as in Babylonian *ershetum* can. If MO is on the right track, that would mean the 666 came from the Sea, beast 2 from the netherworld, & Satan from the heavens: a picture which would hint at the extent of the domain of evil.

    As for Rev 17.2 - if St John saw no real difference between Jews & Romans, since both groups rejected the Kingship of Christ, then BtG can remain Jerusalem, and the "kings" can be Roman emperors. Especially if Ezekiel's description of Jerusalem's "lovers" that she fornicated with is part of the mix.
    As the NT Babylon, BtG "sits on the waters" that Babylon in Isaiah did: the waters being Babylon's canals. The description could simply be part of being Babylon, so that the waters are attributed to the NT as well as to the OT Bab regardless of actual geography; or a real stretch of water may be intended: the Tiber ? the Gihon ?

    My impression is that St John deliberately chose imagery for BtG that could be applicable to both Jerusalem & Rome. I don't think it's helpful to read Rev "as though" it were Daniel - Daniel is a very important source for Rev, but it has a distinctive message that is not that of Rev. I think that beast 2 represents both the Jewish & the Roman pagan priesthoods, with beast 1 being Nero, who is depicted as a counter-Christ, a counter "son of man" (as per Daniel 7), a "satan's messiah" opposing the Messiah of Rev 5.

    I think the sea is two things: the Mediterranean, and the primeval sea, the *tehom*. One of the beasts comes from it, because it is a chaotic & unruly element, one that seems unwilling to be subject to God. It is where the *tannin* or sea-serpent of Isaiah 27.1 (compare Rev 12) plays.

    ISTM that since BtG has been judged and the 1000-year Reign has occurred, the events after the loosing of satan do not belong to "normal history" - unlike the judgements of Rev 6 to 18. The events of Rev 20 are post-historical, just as the events of Rev.1-11 belong to "Primeval History". In between comes history as we know it. Apocalyptic is about the end time, just as Gen.1-11 is about primeval time. Rev echoes Gen quite a lot.
    Last edited by Rushing Jaws; 02-11-2015 at 10:18 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaBravo View Post
    I think the word earth carries too much modern baggage and automatically causes the modern reader to envision the entire globe whenever the word earth appears, when in fact this might rarely be the case.
    I can not think, off hand, of a single time in scripture where any word translated as earth must include the entire planet.
    Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

  9. Amen Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    @Rushing Jaws, I am not sure I agree with your view, but the main point, which you seem to recognize, is that the beast from the earth cannot be Judaism if the kings of the earth are Rome. The earth can't mean both contradictory things. Your point about Gog and Magog being within the earth only because they have invaded seems false because the text seems to imply that Satan gathers them from the earth.

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    tWebber Rushing Jaws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obsidian View Post
    @Rushing Jaws, I am not sure I agree with your view, but the main point, which you seem to recognize, is that the beast from the earth cannot be Judaism if the kings of the earth are Rome. The earth can't mean both contradictory things. Your point about Gog and Magog being within the earth only because they have invaded seems false because the text seems to imply that Satan gathers them from the earth.
    ## I see from http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/...=66#lexResults

    that *ge*is used 82 times in Rev, with a variety of meanings; more instances than in any other NT book.

    "Earth", "land", *erets* & *ge* can all be used in more than one sense - so why must *ge*in Rev be used only in one sense ? I think that if one reads (say) the G & M text with its background in Ezekiel in mind, one can safely conclude that St John has adapted Ezek.38-9, which is an apocalyptic passage already in that Prophet, to a Christian use. I think Rev. 20.7-9 reflects a fusion of Ezekiel, Daniel, 2 Kings, & other passages, all in order to produce a Christian apocalyptic text.

    The imprisonment of satan recalls that of the fallen angels in 1 Enoch - so 1 Enoch (which was used by the NT writers) may give some clues to the semantic range of "land" & suchlike words in Rev.

    1 Enoch 18 - ET by R. H. Charles, 1917

    ...13. I saw there seven stars like great burning mountains, and to me, when I inquired regarding them, 14. The angel said: 'This place is the end of heaven and earth: this has become a prison for the stars and the host of heaven. 15. And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times. 16. And He was wroth with them, and bound them till the time when their guilt should be consummated (even) [for ten thousand years].'


    http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/boe/boe021.htm


    1 En 18

    1. And I proceeded to where things were chaotic. 2. And I saw there something horrible: I saw neither a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth, but a place chaotic and horrible. 3. And there I saw seven stars of the heaven bound together in it, like great mountains and burning with fire. 4. Then I said: 'For what sin are they bound, and on what account have they been cast in hither?' 5. Then said Uriel, one of the holy angels, who was with me, and was chief over them, and said: 'Enoch, why dost thou ask, and why art thou eager for the truth? 6. These are of the number of the stars [of heaven], which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here till ten thousand years, the time entailed by their sins, are consummated.' 7. And from thence I went to another place, which was still more horrible than the former, and I saw a horrible thing: a great fire there which burnt and blazed, and the place was cleft as far as the abyss, being full of great descending columns of fire: neither its extent or magnitude could I see, nor could I conjecture. 8. Then I said: 'How fearful is the place and how terrible to look upon!' 9. Then Uriel answered me, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: 'Enoch, why hast thou such fear and affright?' And I answered: 'Because of this fearful place, and because of the spectacle of the pain.' 10. And he said {unto me}: 'This place is the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever.'


    http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/boe/boe024.htm


    ## The similarities in thought & imagery to Rev 9 & 20 are remarkable. Though I can't off-hand find the passage I had in mind.
    Last edited by Rushing Jaws; 02-11-2015 at 10:12 PM. Reason: stuff added

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