Internal Evidence that Demands a Verdict

temple-old-jerusalem

Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.” -Revelation 11:1

“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” -Revelation 21:22

As a teenager I loved reading Josh McDowell’s books. The books that Josh McDowell wrote, that is, not that I went to his house and read from his personal library. I did get a chance to meet him and hear him speak, though. I had just finished More than a Carpenter and was reading Evidence that Demands a Verdict in perpetuity. If you have not read “Evidence,” do so. Admittedly it is a bit dry, after all it’s one big research paper. Yet it’s absolutely fascinating. He came to speak at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in probably 1994, maybe ’93. Some of us from Bible study heard he was coming and decided to go. We sat in the front row and after he spoke he came up to us and said hello, nice to meet you and went on to mingle with the others that were there. I remember it like it was yesterday because I truly enjoyed his writing. I doubt that he would enjoy or agree with mine but I stole his title anyway! One thing he would agree on though, is the possible early dating of Revelation.

McDowell states, “Most liberal scholars are being forced to consider earlier dates for the New Testament. Dr. John A.T. Robinson, no conservative himself, comes to some startling conclusions in his groundbreaking book Redating the New Testament. His research has led to his conviction that the whole of the New Testament was written before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.” Josh McDowell, Evidence for Christianity: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 80.

All ambiguous external evidence we’ll set aside, because one must rely on the internal evidence​ first. Now, I would prefer to read Revelation as a whole, all the way through and then debate the date. However, if I can demonstrate the dating of Revelation could be prior to 70 AD, it changes everything. In fact, I believe it’s why few are willing to accept it. More than once (a gross under-exaggeration), I have heard and read, the early dating of Revelation is impossible. But that’s it, no further explanation. Just for a moment, set aside preconceived notions and presuppositions and simply embrace the slightest of possiblities that Revelation could have been written prior to 70 AD. If we will open the door to this possibility, I truly believe Revelation will start a revolution. I know, it’s a difficult proposition, because if one is willing to crack the door open slightly, it may open the floodgates and challenge our deeply held beliefs. I only ask for five minutes and an open mind. Then we can all reassess, some may change their minds, most probably won’t. Because, after all, everyone wants to change the world but no one wants to change their minds. The hardest thing for a person to do is admit when they’re wrong. Yet that is precisely what Jesus tells 5 of the 7 churches to do.

While it is necessary to read Revelation as a whole, in its entirety, using the CAGED or some other hermeneutical method, that puts context at the forefront and understands the genre, author and audience, so that the Scripture is understood in its original meaning and intent; consider the following until such time as we have rightly read Revelation:

Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.” -Revelation 11:1

“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” -Revelation 21:22

Quick context, Revelation 21:22 speaks of things to come–the New Heavens and Earth. There is no need for a temple in them because the Lord is the temple. His literal presence. God’s dwelling is now with his people. Now, New Jerusalem is measured here, with a measuring rod, much like in chapter 11, let’s read:

“And there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and those who worship in it. “And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months. “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.”

There are clear similarities between the two text but they are clearly two different epochs of time. Revelation 21 is the New Heavens and New Earth; beyond a shadow of a doubt. It’s what Peter reminds us we’re looking and waiting for. This is without a doubt a future event. But when does chapter 11 happen? Or, does it happen–is it allegory?

The problem is that the temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Which is actually not a problem if Revelation was written prior to 70 AD. If not, if it was written on or around 95 AD, we have to either treat it as allegory, or there will have to be a third temple. Problem, according to this logic, when the angel said to John, “And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” He didn’t mean near, he meant far off. 95 AD – 2018= 1,923 years. I know “to God a thousand years is like a day.” Lest we forget that a day is also like a thousand years. Peter wrote these words concerning the New Heavens and Earth.

John was told to write because the time was near. Daniel, however, was told to seal up and not write because the time was far off. What was it, about 500+or – years between Daniel and John? So half a day to the Lord? And now it’s been a minimum of 1,923 years from John to present day? Oh, right, we’re stuck in time, suspended between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy. Sorry for the sarcasm. Nevertheless, are we to truly believe we’re​ suspended between 2 prophetic weeks? Clear your mind and read Daniel, I promise, you will not come up with the conclusion that we are in limbo between 2 prophetic areas. This is why I always say, you only know what you’ve been taught unless you are learning for yourselves. Think about it, the interval between the Testaments is accounted for but not the culmination of said Testaments? We are in the period of which the prophets spoke. We’re living the dream! Christ rose, the Holy Spirit came and the Cannon was completed! If anything deserves an amen it’s ​that, right there. We are incredibly fortunate! All this technology, jets, boats, translations, email, blogs, radio, TV, satellites, pens, papers, post office, cell phones, carrier pigeons, messages​ in a bottle, CD, DVD, Blu-ray, tapes, projectors, microphones, buildings, cash-money, automobiles, medicine, books, electricity, lights, white-boards, chalkboards, blackboards, and above all else, flannel-graphs and puppets. We ought to be able to find a way to spread the gospel.

Why does John mention a 3rd or allegorical temple and not mention the destroyed temple of which Jesus prophetically promised? Because the temple still existed during his writing. Keep it simple stupid is what I have to remind myself daily. Oh how the Bible was written for the simple minded; it’s why I have such ease reading it. The Bible is simple to read, sometimes difficult to understand and nearly impossible to follow. One of my favorite quotes is from Kierkegaard, “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”

Amen. From the biggest scheming swindler, the one Paul warned the Ephesians about, don’t believe me; believe the Scripture.

John writes about the temple in Revelation 11 as if it is still standing. If it wasn’t, why didn’t he mention that? Jesus predicted its destruction. He also predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and its devastation and desolation like in the days of old. These were recorded by the Biblical writers. It hardly seems possible for John, even if it were 25 years later, to not mention the cataclysmic events of 70 AD. A huge, devestating prophecy fufilled and no mention of it?

Then again, maybe he did.

Jesus did, notice: “I am sending you prophets (Paul was a prophet, John was a prophet) and 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 upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. “Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation…  And “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to get the things out that are in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. “But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! “But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall…If therefore they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go forth, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. “For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather…

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

John says, “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong…And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.”

I may not have proven an earlier dating of Revelation beyond a reasonable doubt, but it is not on trial yet. You’re the Grand Jury, I hope I have provided enough evidence, or lack thereof, to reach an indictment so that we can put this to trial.

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