We are examining one of the key objections to Covenant Eschatology. It is often argued that Revelation 13 cannot be interpreted as fulfilled. One of the assumptions that this claim is built on is the idea that Domitian was the beast of Revelation. It is beyond the scope of this article to examine that claim, but, be sure to read my Who Is This Babylon, for a complete examination and refutation of that claim. Also, be sure to read article #1 in this series. For now, here is part #2 of this series.
Whatever one might think of Revelation 13 we must view it within the scope and framework of the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises. In Revelation 10 we are told that the sounding of the seventh trumpet– the time of the resurrection in Revelation 11– would be when all things written in the prophets would be fulfilled (10:7).
Scholars of all stripes admit this, but, in far too many cases they fail to see the implications of this. Let me illustrate.
By the admission of virtually all scholars, Revelation reiterates the prophecies of Daniel, especially the prediction of the manifestation of the “beasts” and the end times resurrection (cf. Daniel 12:2f).
What so many scholars fail to fully acknowledge is that Daniel’s prophecies of those beasts is clearly set within the discussion of how those beasts would persecute the Lord’s saints (See especially Daniel 7:21f; chapter 12). Daniel’s prophecies not only deal with the persecution of the saints, but promised the end times vindication of the martyrs– and this is undeniably the dominant theme of Revelation.
This single, dominant theme demands that we examine it to help understand the framework for the fulfillment of Revelation 13. I can only hit some high points.
In September of 2012 I presented a paper on The Preterist Perspective of the Millennium, at Criswell College in Dallas, Tx. In that presentation, I demonstrated the comprehensive and unified testimony of scripture in regard to this important theme of the vindication of the martyrs.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible anticipated the last days vindication of the Lord’s martyrs. What must not be missed is that, “all of the blood, of all of the righteous, from righteous Abel, to Zecharias, son of Berechias…(“all the blood of all the righteous shed on the earth”)…” would be vindicated in the judgment of Jerusalem in the first century (Matthew 23:29-37).
Jesus’ teaching on the vindication of the martyrs is the determinative text for our understanding of Revelation, since the very elements that he gave, i.e. killing of the prophets, his own martyrdom, the martyrdom of his first century apostles and prophets, which would fill up the measure of sin / suffering, and imminent judgment are the identical elements of Revelation.
In Revelation 13, one thing that “jumps off the page” is that there is a partnership between the sea beast and the land beast. The land beast supported the sea beast in his opposition to the saints. This partnership is hinted at even in chapter 11, where the two witnesses’ ministry is in the city “where the Lord was slain” and then “the beast” arises and participates in their death.
In other words, in Revelation 11 and 13 the two beasts work together in an unholy partnership, persecuting the saints, filling the eschatological measure of sin / suffering (Revelation 17-18) resulting in the imminent judgment of “Babylon,” the city guilty of shedding all the blood shed on the earth (18:20-24). This provides us with further insight into understanding chapter 13. Hang onto that thought, because we will develop it in the next installment of this series.