THE BOOK OF REVELATION: PART 3 (FINAL)
As we saw in the previous presupposition, Chilton, using internal keys unveils the symbolism throughout the book of Revelation. Even as the symbolism of the “Great City” meant Jerusalem, the beast also has its own keys for understanding. One of the most convincing is the lineage of the Roman Emperors (Page 436).
“They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.” Revelation 17:10-12
This passage, which is speaking of the line of rulers in Rome, tells us exactly how many rulers had already come, which one was currently in power, and that the next one would only last a short while. This lineage leads the reader to the conclusion that Nero was the Beast in reference here. The rule of the first seven Roman Emperor’s are as follows:
- Julius Caesar (49–44 BC)
- Augustus (27 BC–AD 14)
- Tiberius (AD 14–37)
- Caligula (AD 37–41)
- Claudius (AD 41–54)
“Five have fallen…”
- Nero (AD 54–68)
- Galba (June AD 68–January AD 69, a six month ruler-ship)
“the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.”
Of the first seven kings of the Roman Empire, five had come (Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius), one was now in power (Nero), and one had not yet come (Galba), but would only remain a little time (six months).
THE WOUNDED BEAST
…And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had…seven heads…. One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast. People worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can wage war against it?” (Revelation 13:1-4)
Chilton displayed in Revelation 17 that Nero fits the timeline as the sixth of the seven heads and that Galba is the one to come that shall only remain a little while. The case is made thatRome was metaphorically wounded and faltering as an empire because of Nero. Nero was not only a psychopath who burned down one third of Rome and pinned the blame on the Christians and persecuted them brutally, but also, when Nero killed himself (in AD 68), the political climate of Rome changed dramatically. One of the major changes was that Nero was officially the last of the Julio-Claudian line of emperors; thus the line ended, and it would have seemed, symbolically, as if the head of the empire had been wounded to death (Pages 328-335).
Nero’s sudden death caused an event that has been historically called the “Year of the Four Emperors.” Because of tumult caused by his suicide, three short-lived emperors followed Nero. Many thought that the Roman Empire was about to die.
Here is the timeline of AD 69, the “Year of the Four Emperors”:
- Nero (AD 54–68)
- Galba (AD 68–69)
- Otho (AD 69)
- Vitellius (AD 69)
- Vespasian (AD 69–80)
Yet, by what appeared to be a miraculous turn around, the Empire was revived under Vespasian and Titus. When they came into power, they established the Flavian dynasty of Caesars. Instead of the beast dying, it resurrected under Vespasian, and he ruled for a solid ten years.
SUMMARY OF PRESUPPOSITIONS
As I stated, I agreed with Chilton’s five observed presuppositions before I read his work. Although there were some points that he could have expounded upon (#1 & 5) there were others that were stunning when he unveiled them (#4). As a reader, I would conclude that if one were to read Chilton’s work with an open and studious mind, it is highly likely that one would be convinced of his arguments.
Overall, this book was incredible. I was especially stretched and informed by the commentary on Revelation 19-22. Yet I did not find Chilton’s treatment of the Mark of the Beast (Rev. 13) to be useful or clear. So far in my reading as a general student of the Word, I have not found a satisfactory understanding regarding the Mark of the Beast. To clarify, I have not found a credible answer in publication. I did watch an online teaching from Rob Bell, the Former Pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, MI. In the video Mr. Bell shared the following convincing information (I will paraphrase).
Regarding the “mark of the beast,” it is important to note that in the ancient cultures of Rome, the public market was the main source of trade and retail. For people to enter the public market, they had to pass through the main gate. It was required of all who entered the main gate to pay homage to the idol of the Emperor. Once homage was paid, ashes were placed on the hand or on the forehead of the individual, and then they were allowed to pass through the gates and buy and sell merchandise. This was taking the mark. The parallels between this and the “mark of the beast” are stunning, and they further confirm the reality that the beast was Nero and the Roman Empire.
Another disappointing factor about this book was that there were sections, which went way over this reader’s head. For all my supposed astuteness, I was shocked to find a few selections in this book, which I absolutely could not decipher. For example on pages 348-349 there are four diagrams which I cannot reproduce here, yet they were unintelligible to myself and likely to a majority of other readers. As a writer myself, (four published works, including a bestseller), I was very frustrated to see Mr. Chilton use such a jarring method to try to convey information that in the end I was not able to receive.
Although I agree with the vast majority of The Days of Vengeance, there was a slanted theological undercurrent that permeated sections of this book. This becomes glaringly obvious in pages 122-124. It is here that Chilton brings a very strong version of Calvinism to the surface of his work. This is in response to Revelation 3:6 “I will not erase his name from the Book of Life.” To this Chilton responds that three erroneous (in his opinion) interpretations have been given.
#1: Those that have been truly saved by Christ’s redemption can fall away and be lost forever. Chilton expresses that this is the classical Arminian view and is absolutely unbiblical. He gives 9 Bible passages to try to bolster his argument. The hole in his argument though is the fact that these verses speak of how God never rejects His children. Chilton does not provide even one scripture to prove that God takes away the freewill of His children so that they can never walk away from Him. Chilton’s dismissal of option #1 is completely un-defendable with the passages he provides.
#2: All those who have “accepted Christ” will be saved; no matter what they do afterwards, they cannot be damned. Here Chilton supplies 46 Bible passages to strengthen his position against this second option. Yet again he completely misses the mark and not one of these verses is able to uphold his argument. Instead of speaking of how a believer must continue to receive grace and righteousness by faith, Chilton sidetracks into how God has wrath toward those that are disobedient. He even points to the Old Testament as “providing countless examples” of people that departed from the faith and came under wrath. It is here that Chilton truly puts his foot in his own mouth. He has labored throughout his book to show the division between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, yet here when it is needed to rescue his point, he points us to the Old Covenant of wrath for evidence.
#3: Everyone in the world is written in the Book of Life, but unbelievers are erased from it after they have passed the age of accountability.
According to Chilton, “This idea is so ridiculous that the Bible doesn’t even take the time to refute it directly (although the passages already listed demonstrate that it is pure poppycock, to put it nicely).
Chilton continues his infuriated diatribe for another two full pages while he struggles to tear down what he disagrees with, yet it is deeply unconvincing. In this reader’s opinion, pages 122-124 should be completely removed from this otherwise masterpiece of a book. (His Calvinism also reappears on Pages: 441-442, 588-589)
As of this moment, if someone asked what theologian I agree with most regarding my eschatological views, I would quickly and unreservedly say David Chilton. In my opinion The Days of Vengeance is his seminal work.
His closing remarks encapsulated his eschatology from start to finish:
This leads the reader back to an earlier insight from Page 224.
In Nero’s Circus Maximus, the scene of his bloody and revolting slaughters of Christians-by wild beasts, by crucifixion, by fire and sword-there stood a great stone Obelisk, silent witness to the valiant conduct of those brave saints who endured tribulation and counted all things as loss for the sake of Christ. The bestial Nero and his henchmen have long since passed from the scene to their eternal reward, but the Obelisk still stands, now in the center of the great square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. Chiseled on its base are the words, taken from the overcoming martyrs’ hymn of triumph:
-which is, being interpreted: Christ is conquering; Christ is reigning; Christ rules over all.