The Great Day of God’s Wrath and the End of the Millennium
The Millennium is a study of not only fascination but of importance for understanding eschatology. All three futurist views of the end times either claim that the Christian age is the Millennium (Amillennialism and Postmillennialism) or, the Millennium will be established at the Second Coming of Christ, at the end of the Christian age (Dispensationalism). Whichever view one considers, the coming of the Lord is invariably posted as future in all three views.
I should note that there is another view that says that the Millennium began in AD 70 at the end of the Old Covenant age, and will consummated at Christ’s literal coming at some time in the future, i.e. at the so-called end of time. For instance, in my formal debate with noted author and commentator James Jordan (2003) he argued that the Millennium began in AD 70. DVDs of that debate are available from me.
For more on the Millennium, be sure to read my articles on “The Passing of Creation and the End of the Millennium,” found on this site. Here is a link to the first in the series.
This article is focused on a somewhat similar tenet of the Millennium. A study of Revelation shows, without any doubt, that the Great Day of God’s Wrath is posited at the end of the Millennium. Furthermore, that Great Day of God’s Wrath is tied inextricably to the vindication of the martyrs. When all of the evidence is considered, and this article will present only a small fraction of that evidence, it becomes abundantly clear that the end of the Millennium is tied to the Great Day of God’s Wrath against Old Covenant Jerusalem in AD 70 when all of the righteous blood, of all the righteous, was avenged. To set the stage for that, read carefully the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:29-35:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, 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 blood shed 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. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”
Now, while opponents of Covenant Eschatology like to claim that the AD 70 judgment was virtually insignificant, Jesus’ words belie that claim.
How comprehensive would that judgment be? It would span from Jesus’ generation all the way back to Creation!
How “inclusive” would that judgment be? It would be the vindication of all the blood of all the martyrs all the way back to Creation!
Who would that judgment include? It would be the judgment of the living and the dead!
To suggest then, that AD 70 was a strictly local, virtually insignificant judgment on just the Jews flies in the face of Jesus’ emphatic words. As I discuss in my book, The Resurrection of Daniel 12, Future or Fulfilled? the motif and theme of martyr vindication is one of the key components of a proper understanding of resurrection and the entire subject of eschatology. That theme runs– as Jesus’ words indicate– from Genesis through Revelation. To ignore this is to all but ensure a misunderstanding of Biblical eschatology.
With Jesus’ words before us, and to develop the theme of the Day of the God’s Wrath and the End of the Millennium, I want to begin in Revelation 6:9-17:
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should 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. I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
To fully appreciate this great text we must explore some key tenets. We will keep this as brief as possible:
1. The cry of the martyrs for vindication, God’s response to their prayer.
2. We must examine the language used to describe The Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath.
Revelation and Martyr Vindication
Let’s look at the first tenet that calls for attention, the motif of martyr vindication found in the fifth seal. There, we find the depiction of those who had been slain for their faith. This calls to mind the great roll call of faith of Hebrews 11, those who were tortured, mocked, scourged and slain for their faith in the Lord. It most assuredly recalls Matthew 23.
The reader needs to understand that, as noted above, the theme of martyr vindication runs from Genesis all the way through Revelation. It is, in fact, one of the fundamental keys for understanding Biblical eschatology, and yet, this topic very often gets “second billing” to concepts like the resurrection. The problem with that is that in Hebraic thought, vindication was resurrection!
In one prophecy after another, we find the theme that in the last days, the Lord would avenge the blood of His saints. In fact, in one of the major OT prophecies of the last days, and specifically the last days of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:19f; 29f) we find that promise:
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people” (Deuteronomy 32:43).
What is so significant is that in Revelation 19:1-2, when the Great Harlot City is destroyed, heaven rejoices and quotes directly from Deuteronomy 32:43! In other words, the destruction of Babylon, the city where the Lord was crucified, the city guilty of killing the prophets and the apostles and prophets of Jesus, is when the prophecy of Israel’s last days judgment, and the vindication of the martyrs would be fulfilled. Failure to honor this direct connection commonly results in a totally false identification of Babylon and a misapplication of Biblical eschatology.
It is important also to see that John cites directly from another critical OT prophecy of the Great Day of the Lord and the time of the vindication of the martyrs, Isaiah 2-4. Notice that John says that at the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath, the
“kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
Notice the citation of the wicked running to the hills and crying to the mountains and rocks “Fall on us.” This is a direct quote from Isaiah 2:19f:
“They shall go into the holes of the rocks, And into the caves of the [b]earth, From the terror of the Lord And the glory of His majesty, When He arises to shake the earth mightily. In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver And his idols of gold, Which they made, each for himself to worship, To the moles and bats, To go into the clefts of the rocks, And into the crags of the rugged rocks, From the terror of the Lord And the glory of His majesty, When He arises to shake the earth mightily.”
Now, one must keep in mind that Isaiah 2-4 is one harmonious, united, undivided prophecy of “the last days” (Isaiah 2:2-4). Those last days would climax in the Day of the Lord, “When He arises to shake the earth mightily.” Not only that, but, the focus in this great prophecy is patently and undeniably on the fate of Israel, Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 3) the time when the men of Israel would fall by the edge of the sword in the day of battle (3:24-25). Then, in chapter 4:2-4 what do we find? We find the coming of the Branch of the Lord to bring salvation, and, we find the vindication of the martyrs at the time of judgment on Jerusalem:
“In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious; And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing For those of Israel who have escaped. And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy— everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.”
So, in the last days, at the Day of the Lord when He would arise to shake the earth, the Lord would purge the blood guilt of Jerusalem with the spirit of judgment and fire. Do not lose sight of what Jesus said would happen in his generation – the vindication of all the martyrs, all the blood of the righteous. How can one divorce Isaiah 2-4 from Jesus’ prediction? And more, since Revelation 6 quotes directly from Isaiah 2 to predict the Day of the Lord for the vindication of the martyrs, how is it possible to extrapolate the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation beyond Israel’s last days and beyond Jesus’ generation?
While we could develop this a great deal more, consider for a moment the language of Isaiah and Revelation, the language of men running to the hills and hiding in the caves. It is important to understand that this is very typical language from the ancient world to describle what happened in the time of warfare. Look at a couple of texts that illustrate this:
“Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits. And some of the Hebrews crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead” (1 Samuel 13:5-7).
So, when the Philistines were about to invade Israel, the people fled to the hills, and hid in the rocks and the caves.
“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, 2 and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel. Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. 3 So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them” (Judges 6:1-3).
Thus, just like in Samuel, the time of running to the hills and hiding in the rocks and caves was the language of warfare. And, it should be noted that these times of warfare were also the Days of the Lord!
What this suggests, very powerfully, is that in Isaiah and Revelation, this common “vernacular” language of the Day of the Lord when men would run to the hills and hide in the caves, is not a reference or description of any imagined “end of time” coming of the Lord. After all, if the Day of the Lord is an earth burning, time ending event that is over “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” then it would hardly be possible to run to the hills and hide in the caves!
Another thing to consider in light of John’s direct quotation from Isaiah 2 is that Jesus also quoted from those very same verses from Isaiah 2, in Luke 23:28-31. There, in what is almost universally admitted to be a prediction of the impending fall of Jerusalem, Jesus quoted from the very verses that John cites in Revelation 6. The question therefore is, since Jesus applied the prophecy of the Day of the Lord in Isaiah 2 to AD 70, then since John quoted from the very same verses that Jesus applied to AD 70, upon what grounds would we radically change Jesus’ application in Revelation to an end of time event?
So, Isaiah 2 foretold the Day of the Lord when the Lord would “shake the earth” and vindicate the blood of the martyrs. Jesus cited Isaiah 2 to predict the vindication of his own suffering. Revelation cites that prophecy to speak of the coming Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath for the vindication of the martyrs.
We thus have John predicting the Day of the Lord’s Wrath for the vindication of the martyrs, that Jesus said would occur in the judgment of Jerusalem. We have John citing Isaiah 2 and the very verses that Jesus applied to the coming judgment of Jerusalem. This means that the destruction of heaven and earth in Revelation 6 cannot be referent to an end of time destruction of literal, material creation. It means that the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation 6 can be nothing other than the AD 70 coming of the Lord in judgment of the blood guilt of Jerusalem and Israel.
So, Revelation 6 is the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath, which is to be conflated with Revelation 11, 16 and 20.
The Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation 6 is for the vindication of the martyrs and it is when the heaven and earth would be removed.
The Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation 11 is the time of the vindication of the slain prophets.
The Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation 16 is the time of the vindication of the prophets and saints when the heaven and earth flee away.
And in Revelation 20 the earth and heaven flee away, which is indicative of the Lord’s Wrath. There is clearly no justification for divorcing Revelation 6 from chapter 11, 16 and 20. This means that there is but one Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation. Thus, to identify Revelation 6 as the judgment of AD 70 means, definitively, and irrefutably, that the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath, at the end of the Millennium, was in AD 70. As we proceed, this will become more than abundantly clear. Stay tuned! In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of my book, Who Is This Babylon? for a full discussion of the identity of Babylon as the great persecutor of God’s saints, and the object of the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath that was coming very soon when John wrote that book. But, it should already be clear that to put the end of the millennium 2000 years removed from John’s day is totally misguided.
Source: Don K. Preston