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Critique of Irvin Baxter's "Revelation Commentary," Part 2

by Karl Kemp  
12/25/2015 / Bible Studies


We continue the discussion of the beasts of Daniel chapters 2 and 7 here in Part 2 of this paper.

I'll quote Dan. 7:4: "The first [beast] was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle. I kept looking until its wings were plucked, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man; a human mind also was given to it." I'll quote what I said under this verse in my "The Mid-Week Rapture": This first beast represents Nebuchadnezzar [who played a major role in Daniel chapter 2] and the Babylonian Empire, as did the head of gold (Dan. 2:32, 37, 38). Nebuchadnezzar is pictured as a LION in Jer. 4:7 and 50:17, and he is pictured as an EAGLE in Ezek. 17:3: cf. 17:12. I believe the rest of this verse is explained by Daniel chapter 4. After Nebuchadnezzar was humbled (as described in Daniel chapter 4), he was much better qualified to reign over the Babylonian Empire.

Baxter discusses the beasts of Daniel chapter 7 in more detail on pages 82-86. He discusses the third beast, which he says is Germany on page 83. I'll quote part of what he says there: "Note that the leopard has four heads. All the other beasts have one head each, but the leopard had four. ... Multiple heads on a beast, symbolize the number of times that nation will rise and fall. ...."

Rather, there is widespread agreement that the four heads prophesy that the Greek world-kingdom (which corresponds with the third kingdom of Daniel chapter 2) will eventually be divided into four parts under the leadership of four of Alexander the Great's generals after his death (in 323 BC). Daniel 8:5-8 with 21-22 confirm this interpretation. Alexander the Great is the "conspicuous/large horn" of Dan. 8:5, 8. Daniel chapter 8 is discussed in some detail in chapter 7 of my "The Mid-Week Rapture." The fact that this beast was "like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird" (Dan. 7:6) prophesies, at least for one thing, of the very rapid conquests of Alexander the Great.

I believe it is quite clear that the fourth beast of Dan. 7:7 represents the ancient Roman world-kingdom and the revived Roman world-kingdom, with all the emphasis on the revived Roman world-kingdom. It is very significant that the large IRON teeth correspond with the IRON pictured in Daniel chapter 2 for the Roman world-kingdom and the revived Roman world-kingdom. The fact that the beast of Dan. 7:7 has ten horns puts all the emphasis on the revived Roman world-kingdom, because the ten horns represent the ten rulers of that revived kingdom. Without getting into all the details, Baxter agrees that the fourth kingdom of Daniel chapter 7 prophesies of the revived Roman Empire with ten horns (but as I mentioned he speaks of the Holy Roman Empire) and that Antichrist will reign throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week.

As I mentioned the misinterpretations of Daniel chapter 7 regarding the identity of the first three beasts undoubtedly is related to misinterpretations of the beasts of Rev. 13:2; Rev. 13:1-3 are very important verses. I'll quote Rev. 13:1-3, discuss the interpretation to some extent (see under these verses in chapter 22 of "The Mid-Week Rapture" for more details), and then briefly discuss Baxter's interpretation.

REVELATION 13:1-3

"And the dragon [the devil] stood on the sand of the seashore. [This scene will take place right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, right after the devil and his angels are cast down to the earth (Rev. 12:4, 7-9, 12-17). The devil has an appointment with Antichrist.] Then I saw a beast [Antichrist and his world-kingdom] coming up out of the sea [the sea of mankind (cf. Dan. 7:2, 3; Rev. 17:1, 15, 18)], having ten horns [referring to the ten rulers of the revived Roman world-kingdom (Dan. 7:7, 20, 24; Rev. 12:3; 13:1; and 17:3, 7, 12, 16).] and seven heads [[(This double bracket goes on for two paragraphs.) The seven heads represent the seven world-kingdoms that the Bible speaks of. We have already discussed the last five of these heads. (See Daniel chapters 2 and 7.) The first two heads (of the seven) are the Egyptian and Assyrian kingdoms. Both of those kingdoms interacted with God's people in a very negative way, as do the five world-kingdoms that follow them. This is no surprise in that, as Rev. 12:3 shows, the devil is behind the seven world-kingdoms; he is the god of this world (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2; 6:12; and 1 John 5:19).

I'll quote REVELATION 12:3, "Then appeared another sign in heaven: and behold a great red dragon [It is clear that this is the devil (Rev. 12:9); the red undoubtedly relates to the blood he sheds (cf. John 8:44).] having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems." The fact that the seven heads are crowned here helps communicate the fact that the evil reign of Satan continues through each of these world kingdoms (throughout the history of man after the fall). It is significant that in Rev. 13:1 the ten horns (not the seven heads) are crowned, because that word picture is limited to the time when the ten horns are reigning.]], and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. [The devil and his kingdoms blaspheme God, one way or another, on a consistent basis.] (2) And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. [[We can understand the mention of these animals here, because these same animals were mentioned in Daniel chapter 7. The idea is that something of those earlier world-kingdoms (the Greek, the Medo-Persian, and the Babylonian) remains and has been incorporated in the world-kingdom of the last days. The words that follow here in 13:2 are very important to understand the magnitude of Antichrist's super-evil reign throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week.

It is very important to understand that Antichrist comes on the scene at the right time in accordance with the plan of God. See Dan. 8:19 (God's "indignation" against sin); 11:36; Zech. 11:15-17; 2 Thess. 2:8-12; Rev. 3:10. God is in control of every situation, and he uses the devil and Antichrist and the evil angels (cf., e.g., Rev. 9:14, 15) and the demons (Rev. 16:13-16), even though they hate Him.]] And the dragon [the devil] gave him [Antichrist] his power and his throne and great authority. [As I have mentioned, these words are very important for us to understand the authority and power of the three and one-half year super-evil reign of Antichrist that will start right after the rapture.] (3) And I saw one of its heads as if it had been slain and his fatal wound was healed. [[(This double bracket continues for two paragraphs. I'll be brief here. See "The Mid-Week Rapture" for the details.) One of its heads represents Antichrist and his world-kingdom, the seventh world-kingdom, the revived Roman world-kingdom, with all the emphasis on him. Antichrist will undoubtedly be assassinated (probably during the month between the abomination of desolation and the middle of Daniel's 70th week; I believe Dan. 12:11 shows that the abomination of desolation will take place a month before the middle of the seven-year period) and come back from the dead. (We'll discuss these things later in this paper. See the Contents of this paper.) We see Antichrist COME UP OUT OF THE ABYSS (come back from the dead) in Rev. 11:7 in time to kill the two witnesses three and a half days before they come back to life and are caught up (raptured) in the middle of Daniel's 70th week (Rev. 11:8-12). He probably won't be dead for very long, maybe a few days.

Revelation 17:8 also speaks of Antichrist being killed (when "he is not") and COMING UP OUT OF THE ABYSS. I'll give an excerpt from Baxter's page 141 that deals with this COMING UP OUT OF THE ABYSS which is quite different: "...this seven headed, ten horned beast will ascend out of the bottomless pit ["abussos" in the Greek]. This beast is the New World Order that is currently emerging upon the world scene, a world government structure under the United Nations. The United Nations is a godless organization that is led [by] Satan. ...."]] And the whole earth [excluding God's elect, whose names are written in the book of life (cf., e.g., Rev. 13:8; 17:8)] was amazed and followed after the beast...."

Baxter says (see his page 85 for example) that the beasts of Revelation chapter 13 are the same as in Daniel chapter 7. This means that for him the leopard of Rev. 13:2 is Germany; the bear is Russia; and the lion is Great Britain. As I have mentioned, I don't believe there is any possibility that Baxter is right here. He says four of the seven heads refer to Germany (on page 83 he lists the four heads: "the First Reich [or kingdom], the Second Reich, Hitler's famous Third Reich, and the Fourth Reich, which is rising"), one refers to Russia, one to Great Britain, and one to the ten-horned beast. I'll quote a paragraph from his page 86: "This prophecy [Rev. 13:1, 2] is saying that Great Britain, Russia, Germany and the final ten-nation union from the European Union, will join together in a one-world government that will most certainly be administered through the structure of the United Nations. The United Nations is the only body on the earth that has been purposely designed to be a one-world government."

Baxter has a one and a half page section on pages 88, 89 under the heading "The Healing of the Deadly Wound." I'll just list his key points. Commenting on Rev. 13:3 he says "Many people have thought that the Antichrist will be killed and raised from the dead, and, for this reason, the whole world will follow him." This will be one big reason they follow him. Baxter goes on to say that "It was the third head of the leopard or Hitler's Third Reich that was wounded nigh unto death." And "the healing of the deadly wound occurred when the Berlin wall fell, November 9, 1989. I cannot agree with any of this, and I don't believe you will hear many, if any, other end-time teachers agreeing with any of this.


THE SEALS

Baxter has two paragraphs on "The Seals" on page 174. I don't agree with much that he says here. After making a few preliminary comments, I'll quote what he says here on the first six seals. Then I'll include most of what I said on the first six seals in my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10 that will cover some nine pages. It is important for us to understand the seals. For one thing, I believe, in agreement with many, very much including the writers of the early Christian church, that the rider on the first horse, the white horse, builds on what Jesus said in Matt. 24:14 about the "gospel of the kingdom being preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." And I believe that the second and third seals build on what Jesus said in Matt. 24:4-8 about the beginning of birth pangs. The second seal of the book of Revelation with the red horse and its rider builds on the wars and rumors of wars and nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom of Matt. 24:6, 7. The third seal with the black horse and its rider builds on the famines in various places of Matt. 24:7.

I'll quote from Baxter (This excerpt covers two paragraphs): "The first seal, the white horse, is the symbol of Catholicism, which was born in 325 AD. The second seal is the symbol of Communism, the red horse, which was born in 1917 when the Communists overtook the Soviet Union during the Bolshevik Revolution. The Black horse is the symbol of Capitalism, which was born in the 1700s. It has become the dominant power in the Twentieth Century. The fourth seal, the green horse, is Islamism. [[The KJV, NKJV, and NIV translate "pale," not "green"; the NASB has "ashen" and in the margin has "Or sickly pale." The Greek noun "chloros" can be translated "green" (cf. Mark 6:39; Rev. 8:7; 9:4), but "sickly pale" or "pale" seems to fit the context much better here with the reference to death in Rev. 6:8, which deals with the fourth seal. The BAGD Greek Lexicon has two listings under the Greek adjective chloros. It has "yellowish green, (light) green" and it has "pale, greenish gray." It points out under the second listing that this adjective was sometimes used of death, and it lists Rev. 6:8 under the second listing.]] Many believe Islam was born in 622A.D. when Muhammad went from Mecca to Medina. The Green horse is rising to power now during our time. The fifth seal shows the souls that are under the altar crying out for God to avenge their blood upon those who dwell upon the earth. It appears that this happens during the Great Tribulation. [[Baxter believes the Great Tribulation will take place throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week. As I will discuss below, I am quite sure that the fifth seal takes us to the time of the middle of Daniel's 70th week. The martyred saints will be resurrected (and raptured) at that time, when the Lord Jesus returns at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, and they will receive their white robes, but they are told that they will have to wait a while for God to avenge their blood because many more saints (saints who will become Christians after the rapture, centering in the end-time remnant of Israel) will be martyred during the second half of the seven years.]] When the sixth seal is opened the voice says: the wrath of God is come [[(My double bracket continues for two paragraphs.) The wrath of God will come when the Lord Jesus returns at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. The sixth seal gives a brief overview of some of the things that will take place when the Lord Jesus returns to judge the world in the middle of the seven years. (The fifth seal has already brought us to the middle of the seven years.) The first six seals don't give us much new revelation. However, once the seventh and last seal has been removed at Rev. 8:1, we are given a very large amount of new revelation on to the end of the book of Revelation.

The first thing we learn about after the scroll is opened is the sounding of the seven trumpets, which is very important new revelation. (The first six trumpets sound in Revelation chapters 8 and 9; the seventh trumpet sounds at Rev. 11:15.) The trumpets will announce the return of the Lord Jesus (in the middle of the seven years) at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet. The first six trumpets will all sound before the Lord Jesus returns, each trumpet bringing us closer to His imminent return. So, the first six trumpets will all necessarily sound before the events of the sixth seal come to pass.]]; hide us from Him that sits upon the throne [God the Father]; the heavens depart like a scroll; and the mountains and islands are moved out of their places. This happens immediately before and during Armageddon. [Armageddon is at the end of the seven years.] The Bible teaches that, at that time, the sixth seal will be opened and the vials of wrath will be poured out on the invading armies of the United Nations dominated by Russia." [Baxter has two last sentences that I didn't quote that deal with the seventh seal.] I have already shown that I don't agree with much that Baxter teaches on the seals.

I Have A Paper On My Internet Site That Discusses Revelation Chapters 1-10 Verse-By-Verse. I'll quote most of what I said there on REVELATION 6:1-17, which covers the first six seals:

(Rev. 6:1) "Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals [cf. Rev. 5:1-10], and I heard one of the four living creatures [cf. Rev. 4:6-10] saying as with a voice of thunder, 'Come.' [[(This double bracket goes on for four paragraphs.) The KJV and NKJV, following a different Greek reading, have "Come and see," as if the words were spoken to John. There's widespread agreement that the Greek reading followed by the NASB (and the NIV) is the correct reading, the original reading. This living creature was calling forth the rider on the first horse, the white horse, even as the other three living creatures call forth the next three riders and their horses in the following verses. The first four seals go together as a unit. We learn of the famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (of the book of Revelation) from these verses (Rev. 6:1-8).

As discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," I believe the four horsemen all ride forth at the same time, throughout this entire Christian age. The primary cross-reference that convinces me of this interpretation (which is widely held) is the teaching of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:3-14; Mark 13:3-13; and Luke 21:5-11). The Rider on the white horse corresponds (at least to some significant extent) with the worldwide preaching of the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of God before the end comes that is spoken of in Matt. 24:14. The Rider on the white horse is the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Gospel of the Kingdom (or the equivalent). This Rider has been riding forth conquering the hearts of all who will submit to the gospel. It's very good to have your heart conquered by this glorious Rider. It's clear that the Rider on the white horse in Rev. 19:11 is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the word "white" is always used in the book of Revelation (17 total uses) of the things of God, very much including victory and purity.

The warfare and famine associated with the second and third seals are part of what Jesus called "the beginning of birth pangs" in Matt. 24:8 (see Matt. 24:6-8). The time of transition beyond the beginning of birth pangs will be the abomination of desolation (see Matt. 24:9, 15; cf. 2 Thess. 2:3, 4). (The abomination of desolation centers in the fact that Antichrist will enter the temple that will be rebuilt in Jerusalem, stop the sacrifices, and demand that he be worshiped. That abominable activity will lead to great desolation.) We can apparently say that the riding forth of the second, third, and fourth horsemen will continue until they are superseded by the events associated with the sounding of the trumpets of the book of Revelation. Events clearly go beyond the limits prescribed for the fourth horseman under the sixth trumpet, where one-third of mankind is killed. The abomination of desolation will take place about the time of the sounding of the sixth trumpet, a month (see Dan. 12:11) before the Lord Jesus returns and the rapture takes place. (Matthew chapter 24 is discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site. Daniel chapter 12 is discussed in significant detail in my "The Mid-Week Rapture." It is discussed in far less detail in my "Introduction to the Mid-Week Rapture.")

I'll quote a few sentences from George E. Ladd's introduction to Revelation chapter 6 ("Commentary on the Revelation of John" [Eerdmans, 1972], pages 95, 96): "The breaking of the seven seals is preliminary to the actual opening of the book [scroll] and the events of the end time. [The scroll cannot be opened (at Rev. 8:1) until all seven seals have been removed. In one sense at least, the scroll has been opened and THE CONTENTS OF THE ALL-IMPORTANT SCROLL HAVE BEEN REVEALED TO US IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION. The events associated with the fifth and sixth seals will not come to pass (or start to come to pass) until the middle of Daniel's 70th week.] It [the breaking of the seals] PICTURES THE FORCES THAT WILL BE OPERATIVE THROUGHOUT HISTORY BY WHICH THE REDEMPTIVE AND JUDICIAL PURPOSES OF GOD WILL BE FORWARDED [my emphasis]. They are not a part of the great tribulation itself, but are preparatory and preliminary to the great tribulation. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the breaking of the sixth seal clearly brings to the threshold of the end; the five seals must precede it." (Ladd teaches that the Lord will return and the rapture will take place at the end of Daniel's 70th week.)]] (2) I looked, and behold, a white horse [cf. Rev. 19:11], and he [or, He] who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him [[Compare Zech. 6:9-15 (Zechariah chapters 1-8 are discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site.); Rev. 14:14; and 19:12 [note the crown in 14:14 and the crowns/diadems in 19:12]; and see under Rev. 5:6 [in my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10] on the authority/reigning [the authority/reigning goes with the crown)] of the Lord Jesus Christ from the time of His resurrection, ascension, and glorification. As I mentioned, I believe Christ, or the Word of the Gospel of Christ (or the equivalent), is the Rider on this horse. Those who believe the events associated with the seals will only come to pass in the last days typically understand the rider to be Antichrist. What a difference! Baxter, you will remember, teaches that the white horse with its rider represents Catholicism.]], and he went out conquering and to conquer. [[(This double bracket goes on for four paragraphs.) I'll quote part of what Henry Alford said under this verse ("New Testament for English Readers," Vol. 4 [Baker, 1983 reprint], pages 1830, 1831): "The going forth conquering and in order to conquer can only, it seems to me, point to one interpretation. The conquering might be said of any victorious earthly power whose victories should endure for the time then present, and afterwards pass away: but the in order that he may conquer [The words "in order that he may conquer" are a more literal translation of the Greek than the words "to conquer" of the NASB.] can only be said of a power whose victories should last forever. Final and permanent victory then is here imported [stated]. Victory, we may safely say, on the part of that kingdom against which the gates of hell shall not prevail: whose fortunes and whose trials are the great subject of this revelation. Such is the first vision, the opening of the first seal in the mystery of the divine purposes: victory for God's church and people: the great keynote, so to speak, of all the apocalyptic harmonies. ... [Alford doesn't believe the rider is the Lord Jesus Himself. He says the rider is "only a symbol of His victorious power, the embodiment of His advancing kingdom...."] ... In all cases but the last [the fourth rider], these riders are left in the vagueness of their symbolic offices. If we attempt to specify further, as e.g., Victorinus (I had a footnote here, "Victorinus of Pettau [died about AD 304]. Bishop and exegete." Quoting from Michael P. McHugh, "Encyclopedia of Early Christianity" [Garland Publishing, 1990], page 927.) 'The white horse is the word of preaching with the aid of the Holy Spirit sent forth into the world; for the Lord saith, This gospel shall be preached through all the world, for a testimony before the nations, and then shall the end come [Matt. 24:14],' - while we are sure that we are thus far right, we are but partially right: we do not cover the extent of the symbol, seeing that there are other aspects and instruments of victory of the kingdom of Christ, besides the preaching of the Word. [That is, Alford agrees with what Victorinus said, but he doesn't want to limit the meaning of the first seal to what he said.] The same might be said of any other of the partial interpretations which have been given by those who have taken this view. AND IT WAS TAKEN, WITH DIVERGENCES OF SEPARATE DETAIL, BY ALL EXPOSITORS FROM EARLIEST TIMES DOWN TO THE YEAR 1500 [my emphasis]." In other words, according to Alford, the interpretations regarding the first seal all agreed in understanding the first seal to deal with the kingdom of Christ and its expanding victory until AD 1500. I'm confident that they were right. (In the early 1500s Luther and the pope began to call one another Antichrist.)

I decided to see if Irenaeus commented on the identity of the Rider on the white horse in Rev. 6:2. Irenaeus is a well-respected Church Father (about AD115 to about 202; bishop of Lyons); he was well acquainted with Polycarp, who knew the apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation by the inspiration of God. In his "Irenaeus Against Heresies" (Book 4, Chapter 21.3), Irenaeus takes the Rider to be the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'll also quote from George E. Ladd ("Revelation of John," pages 99, 100), "The rider is not Christ himself but symbolizes the proclamation of the gospel of Christ in all the world. ... It will be preached effectively in all the world; and in spite of an evil and hostile environment characterized by human hatred, strife, and opposition, the gospel will make its way victoriously in all the world.

Here is a word of confidence, combined with a realistic note, for the church of the first century and every other age. How can any people be devoted to a cause which they believe will experience only defeat? The first generation of believers suffered, and at the hands of some of the later emperors they met determined efforts to root them out and to destroy them completely. But in spite of every form of opposition, the church effectively and victoriously established the gospel in all the Roman world until the Empire ceased its violent opposition. [There has been plenty of violent aggression by the world against God and His people since that time.] We do not look for the coming of God's Kingdom and the righting of the world's evils short of the return of Christ; but we are, as the modern bearers of the gospel of the kingdom, expectant of seeing victories won by the power of this gospel."]] (3) When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, 'Come.' (4) And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him. [[Compare Matt. 24:6, 7; 10:34-36; Mark 13:7, 8; and Luke 21:10. Alford ("New Testament for English Readers," Vol. 4, page 1831) quotes Victorinus again here: "The red horse, and he that sat upon him having a sword, are future wars, as we read in the gospel, for nation shall rise against nation...(Matt. 24:7)." The color red undoubtedly goes with the shedding of blood. We should undoubtedly expect an increase in this warfare as we approach the end of this age; so too for the famines of the third seal.]]

We will continue with the fourth seal of the book of Revelation in Part 3 of this paper.

Copyright by Karl Kemp

http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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