'Connect the Dots' for a Clearer Picture of Revelation
- Paul R. Lopez Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- 2012 11 Jun
When I go to dinner with my family, one of my favorite things to do with the kids is play "Connect the Dots" on the kids' menu. I love it, because when you connect the dots you begin to see the picture that it forms on the page. Have you ever done that? My wife and I always have fun with it, and it’s another way to play with the kids before I do one of my other favorite things ... eat!
We can play "Connect the Dots" with the Scriptures, as well. As a young man, I remember hearing Josh McDowell state in Evidence that Demands a Verdict: “There are over 300 prophecies from the Old Testament that Jesus fulfilled.” This is a great piece of apologetic work and has brought great peace to many believers in providing clear evidence that Jesus is the Messiah.
But can we connect the dots like this from Old Testament to New Testament in other areas? Say, the study of the last days? Are the “last days” discussed in the Old and New Testaments talking about the “last days” of the Old Testament, which is ending with the beginning of the New Testament, or are they talking about the last days of the earth? We can find out by playing the game "Connect the Dots"!
Before we start I encourage you to read a couple Old Testament passages that can help you play the game.
Deuteronomy 28-32 and Leviticus 26 describe the covenant made between God and the Israelites. The Lord promises them as they are about to enter the promised land with Joshua that if they obey the law given to Moses they will receive blessings. If they stray, curses will come upon them. As we see the Old Testament story play out, they receive both blessings and curses. As the Old Testament ends, the prophets are filling up the pages with predictions of coming judgments, statements about the “last days’ and a coming day of reckoning for “this people” because they continued to play the harlot. Ironically, these type of statements also show up in the New Testament as well. Jesus and the apostles speak of the imminent day of the Lord and judgment upon this people (Luke 21:23, 32).
OK. Ready? Let's play Connect the Dots.
Round 1: Connecting Wormwood
Revelation 8:11 says: “The name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.” Ever wonder what the significance was of the name, "Wormwood"? I always wondered about this star hitting earth, and who in the future would come up with its name as it approached like Halley's comet to bring about the end of the earth. If we take a few moments to take our eyes off the signs and look back at the Scriptures we will find the answer to this question. Ok, search "Wormwood" online and find all its references in the Bible. (You might try typing "Wormwood" as your key term at www.BibleGateway.com. Use NASB for this round of play.) Beginning with Deuteronomy 29:18 you find the word "wormwood" nine times in the Bible. In almost every case, these verses that describe “wormwood” or “bitterness” are in reference to the Israelites and their unfaithfulness. Look closely at Jeremiah 9:15 and Jeremiah 23:15.
- Jeremiah 9:15: "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink.”
- Jeremiah 23:15: “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets, ‘Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood and make them drink poisonous water, for from the prophets of Jerusalem pollution has gone forth into all the land.’”
So Revelation 8:11 describes a star named Wormwood, and eight other passages from the Old Testament provide some insight into what it might mean. We know that in our search all but one reference is specifically directed at Old Covenant Israel, and it involves God’s anger over their unfaithfulness to Him. We know that “wormwood” is used initially in Deuteronomy 29:18 when God is giving the covenant stipulations to Moses: so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.
Is there a connection between “wormwood” in the Old Testament and “wormwood" in the New Testament? Let's play another round.
Round 2: Connecting the 'Harlot'
Revelation 17:1, 5, 15, 16 and 19:2 speak of the great harlot. Go ahead and type in the word “harlot” on Bible Gateway. You will come up with 113 references to the word in the NASB. Take a look at the word when it's not used about an individual, like Rahab. It is usually used in reference to “playing the harlot," and it is almost always used in reference to Israel and her unfaithfulness, particularly in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea. Interestingly again, one of the references is Deuteronomy 31:16:
The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
A few verses later, in Deuteronomy 31:29, you have a similar verse:
For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.”
Many people want to know who the great harlot is in Revelation. Simply connect the dots and see. Who was the great harlot throughout Old Testament Scripture? Unfaithful Old Covenant Israel.
Round 3: Connecting More Dots
Let's take a closer look at Revelation 19:2 mentioned above. It says: "Because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of his bond-servantson her."
John the Apostle directly quotes the Song of Moses here from Deuteronomy 32:43. The Song of Moses was written by Moses to be sung by the Israelites as a witness against themselves for their unfaithfulness in the generations to come.
Now, why is Deuteronomy 32:43 directly quoted in the climactic chapter of Revelation 19? Why would John put it in there? Could it be that the vision of Revelation is a vision that has to do with the coming end of Old Covenant Israel and the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., and not the end of the earth? It is worth your study time to seek out the answers and connect the dots.
Round 4: Finish the Picture
A parallel passage to Deuteronomy 28-32 is Leviticus 26. I call it the Reader's Digest version. This has lots of interesting dots to connect. It predicts punishment upon God’s people if they didn’t obey.
- Leviticus 26:18: "If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins." Coincidentally, Revelation 5 and 6 has seven seals!
- Leviticus 26:21: "If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins." Interestingly enough, Revelation 8 and 9 has seven trumpets!
- Leviticus 26:24: "Then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins." Convincingly, Revelation 10 has seven thunders!
- Leviticus 26:28: "Then I will act with wrathful hostility against you, and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins." Stunningly, Revelation 16 has seven vials!
So we have been "connecting the dots" with a number of passages here. In actuality it is called Scripture interpreting Scripture. So, what does the picture begin to look like? It looks like the curses to be laid upon Israel in Deuteronomy 28-32 and Leviticus 26 are directly connected to the book of Revelation, through key terms like wormwood, harlot, and a direct quote from Deuteronomy 32:43 in Revelation 19:2. In the parallel passage of Leviticus 26, God speaks of how He will punish Israel for breaking covenant with Him, through four sets of seven judgments upon them. The apostle John speaks of the same four sets of judgments coming upon the land in the Book of Revelation.
Could the Book of Revelation be describing the curses laid out for Old Covenant Israel and the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. rather than a description of the end of the earth? It's well worth your time and study to connect the dots.
Paul R. Lopez is a longtime student of the Word and a Bible teacher and small group leader at Murrieta Valley Church in Murrieta, Calif. He welcomes your comments to this article.
Publication date: June 11, 2012