Note: This is a continuing evaluation of the book The Days of Vengeance written by David Chilton. Chilton at the time of writing this was a partial preterist who later in life (after a massive heart attack) turned to full preterism. Sections will be taken from the book and commented on to the fullest extent possible. A PDF of the book can be found here.
Now it is time to focus on Philadelphia. No not that Philadelphia. I'm pretty sure these guys loved their sports teams and didn't boo the moment they started losing...wait sorry back to Revelation. As has been discussed previously, the book of Revelation mostly likely should be seen as a Covenental book, a message against the apostate Jews and a stern warning to the church. Because of this there does seem to be more illusions to God's faithful judgment than in other New Testament texts. Chilton speaks this way,
Jesus Christ also has the key of David: He opens and no one will shut, and He shuts and no one opens. This is an allusion to Isaiah 22:15-25, in which God accuses a royal steward of falsehood, of betraying his trust. God declares: “I will depose you from your office, and I will pull you down from your station” (v. 19; cf. Gen. 3:22-24). Moreover, God would replace the false steward with a faithful one (cf. 1 Sam. 13:13-14): And I will clothe him with your tunic, And tie your sash securely about him. I will entrust him with your authority, And he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder: When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open. (Isa. 22:21-22).
Christ is thus announcing that the officers of apostate Israel are false stewards: they have been thrown out of office, removed from all rightful authority, and replaced by the One who is holy and true. The keepers of the door at the synagogue had excommunicated the Christians, declaring them to be apostates. In reality, Christ says, it is you of the synagogue who are the apostates; it is you who have been cast out of the Covenant; and I have taken your place as the True Steward, the Pastor and Overseer of the Covenant (cf. 1 Pet. 2:25). (DOV, 61)
This faithful church was experiencing persecution and Christ affirmed them. There is often a softening of the condemnation that Christ speaks against these Jewish persecutors but Chilton will have none of it. The language here is harsh. And one wonders whether even Chilton has reached the severity that the letter intended,
Therefore, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Again the apostate Jews are revealed in their true identity: the synagogue of Satan (cf. 2:9). Again, there is no such thing as “orthodox” Judaism; there is no such thing as a genuine belief in the Old Testament that is consistent with a rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and God. Those who do not believe in Christ do not believe the Old Testament either. The god of Judaism is the devil. The Jew will not be recognized by God as one of His chosen people until he abandons his demonic religion and returns to the faith of his fathers – the faith which embraces Jesus Christ and His Gospel. When Christ-rejecting Jews claim to follow in the footsteps of Abraham, Jesus says, they lie. And, although they currently have the upper hand in Philadelphia, their domination of the true covenant people will not last long. Christ Himself will force them to come and bow down at the Christians’ feet. In this statement is an ironic reference to Isaiah 60:14, where God gives this promise to the covenant people, who had been persecuted by the heathen: The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, And all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet; And they will call you the City of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Those who falsely claim to be Jews are really in the position of the persecuting heathen; and they will be forced to acknowledge the covenantal status of the Church as the inheritor of the promises to Abraham and Moses. For the Church is the true Israel, and in coming into the Church, these believers “have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God” (Heb. 12:22). Apostate Israel has been pruned out of the tree of life of the covenant people, while believers in Christ from all nations have been grafted in (Rom. 11:7-24). The only hope for those outside the covenant line, regardless of their ethnic or religious heritage, is to recognize Christ as the only Savior and Lord, submitting themselves to Him. (DOV, 62)
While I enjoy what Chilton provides, my own thoughts often lend themselves to the story of Joseph and his brothers. That the Lord spoke to him that he would rule above his brothers. The persecution that followed stemmed not only from the seed of Israel but also from Egypt. That none of this prevents God from working in history to restore His people is a testament to how encouraging God's word should be to us.
There are some verses here that are often used by Dispensationalist to defend a pre-tribulation rapture. Chilton does not mince words on the subject. If you are seeking a critical glance at those verses I will point you to his book. I, myself find no reason to even address the issue since it is beyond clear those verse have become proof texts without context. Instead I will let Chilton do a little bit of expounding on the terminology of "the land",
St. John uses the expression those who dwell on the Land twelve times in Revelation (once for each of the twelve tribes) to refer to apostate Israel (3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10 [twice]; 13:8, 12, 14 [twice]; 14:6; 17:2, 8). In the Greek Old Testament (the version used by the early Church), it is a common prophetic expression for rebellious, idolatrous Israel about to be destroyed and driven from the Land (Jer. 1:14; 10:18; Ezek. 7:7; 36:17; Hos. 4:1, 3; Joel 1:2, 14; 2:1; Zeph. 1:18), based on its original usage in the historical books of the Bible for rebellious, idolatrous pagans about to be destroyed and driven from the Land (Num. 32:17; 33:52, 55; Josh. 7:9; 9:24; Judg. 1:32; 2 Sam. 5:6; 1 Chron. 11:4; 22:18; Neh. 9:24); Israel has become a nation of pagans, and is about to be destroyed, exiled, and supplanted by a new nation, the Church. (DOV, 63)
The promises made to the faithful church are expressively beautiful. The inclusion of the future elements of the book should now be beyond doubt. The letters written to the churches are fundamentally based on the truth and substance of the rest of the book. Or put another way, the letters are fruitless if the remaining portion of the book is not directly pertinent to the churches of A.D. 70. On this beautiful symbolism Chilton writes,
All this speaks of the full restoration of God’s people to the image of God, as we see in the final chapter of Revelation: “And they shall see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads” (Rev. 22:4). One of the basic blessings of the covenant is contained in the familiar benediction: “The LORD make His face shine upon you” (Num. 6:25); to see the shining of God’s face means to partake of salvation and to reflect the glory of God as His image-bearer (see Ex. 34:29-35; Num. 12:6-8; Ps. 80:3,7, 19; 2 Cor. 3:7-18; 4:6; 1 John 3:2). Similarly, as we have already seen, the name of God inscribed on the forehead symbolizes the restoration of redeemed man to the ethical and physical glory which belongs to the image of God (cf. Gen. 3:19; Ex. 28:36-38; Deut. 6:4-9; and contrast 2 Chron. 26:19).
The picture is completed as the Christian is declared to be a citizen of the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. The old Jerusalem, which had apostatized from the faith of Abraham, was under judgment, about to be destroyed; the old Temple, which God had abandoned, had become a sanctuary for demons, and was soon to be so completely demolished that not one stone would lie upon another (Matt. 24:1-2). But now the Church of Christ is declared to be the city of God, the new Jerusalem, whose origin was not on earth but in heaven. (DOV, 63)
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