Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Discount on Revelation Unwrapped for UK customers

I note that the UK publishers of Revelation Unwrapped, my introductory commentary to the book of Revelation, are doing a deal on it, at £3 instead of the usual £4 cover price.

If youd be interested, check it out here.

You can also read a couple of customer reviews here (you have to click the 'more' button to see all six reviews).

And just as a taster, here’s my take on Armageddon from the appendix of the last UK edition:

In the English language the word ‘Armageddon’ is now synonymous with battle. Everybody ‘knows’ that it is where the great conflict will take place which ushers in the end of the world. And, as I have acknowledged in the main text, it is often identified with Megiddo, celebrated in the triumphal Song of Deborah (Jdg 5:19) and the place where king Josiah was mortally wounded fighting Pharaoh Neco (2 Chron 35:22).

Revelation 16:16 itself says, “they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon”. The problem is that if the Greek armagedon is made to correspond to the Hebrew har megido we should be talking about a Mountain (Hebrew, Har) of Megiddo, whereas Megiddo itself is a plain.

Drawing on earlier work by C C Torrey, however, Meredith Kline argues that armagedon is much more likely to be a transliteration of har mo’ed, the Hebrew for the Mount of Assembly or Gathering. (See ‘Har Magedon: The End of the Millennium’, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 1996, 207-222.) The Hebrew glottal sound was often turned into a Greek ‘g’, and in Hebrew the ending ‘-on’ was sometimes attached to place names, hence ‘Har Mo-g-ed-on’ would give us ‘Armageddon’. This also fits well with the action described in the context: “they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called ‘The Mount of Gathering’”.

This in itself seems quite a satisfying solution to the identity of ‘Armageddon’. Kline goes on to argue, however, that this has more than passing significance, for in Isaiah 14:13 the Mount of Assembly is identified with God’s “sacred mountain”. (The phrase yarkete zaphon can also mean “far north”, but as Kline points out, the contrast here is between the heights of v 14 and the depths of v 15.) In Isaiah, moreover, it is the king of Babylon (14:4), and behind him, doubtless, the original Tempter himself (v 12), who aspires to God’s throne. The Mount of Assembly is thus the focus of rebellion and is to be identified with the Sacred Mountain of God.

Going on from this, Kline makes a further connection with the figure of Gog in the book of Ezekiel. As Psalm 48 makes clear, the earthly equivalent of God’s Sacred Mountain is Zion. However, in Ezekiel 38-39 we find the phrase yarkete zaphon, this time translated “far north” in the NIV, used for the location from which Gog, the archenemy of God’s people, will come. Just as the foreign kings gather against God’s Holy Mountain in Psalm 48, so Gog’s hoards gather at their own yarkete zaphon (Ezek 38:6, 15; 39:2) to advance against the “mountains of Israel” (38:8; 39:2).

Kline thus finds a link not only (as is undeniably the case) between Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 19-20, but also between Gog and the battle of ‘Armageddon’, or rather the ‘Mount of Gathering’, in Revelation 16:16. In both cases, the enemies of God’s people assemble at a mountain. In the first instance (Rev 16:16) they assemble at a rebellious ‘Mount of Gathering’, corresponding to Gog’s yarkete zaphon, or “far north” in Ezekiel 38-39. In the second (Rev 20:9) they surround “the camp of God’s people, the city he loves”, namely Mount Zion, which is God’s yarkete zaphon of Psalm 48.

Hence Kline argues, as I have on other grounds, that the gathering at Armageddon in Revelation 16:16 is the same event as the gathering against Mount Zion in Revelation 20. And therefore there is no ‘millennial’ thousand-year interval between an initial rebellion of Satan and his final rebellion. Rather, John presents us with one event from two different perspectives.

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1 comment:

  1. I thoroughly recommend JR's book on Revelation. It is the best and most nuanced introductory commentary I have read. In my view it is better than some double its length.

    I think he nuances particularly well the various cycles that run through the book, showing that while they mainly refer to the same time period they have individual perspectives and subtle differences in the time frame may be discerned.

    Actually, the only place I think JR may have it wrong is Rev 20. He may be right but it is I think a difficult task to make Rev 20 convincingly fit an amil perspective.

    My dilemma is I think Rev 20 (and Ezek) more naturally reads as Premil while the rest of the NT more naturally reads amil.

    If you find Revelation a difficult book then this commentary is a great way in. You will be considerably helped in understanding Revelation through this commentary... Just be wary in Ch 20. :)