By Cornelis Vanderwaal.
Vanderwaal was attacked for his rhetoric, but is it any worse than Lindsey or Hunt’s saying that anyone who disagrees with them wants to exterminate the Jews (Lindsey, Road to Holocaust, 332)? Let’s get beyond rhetoric and into substance. Having read the Left Behind stuff, I was surprised to see that they got their Ezekiel 38-39 material from Lindsey–you know the part where Russia (Gog) invades Israel, gets killed by an angelic meteor shower, and then 200 million Red Chinese (you have to say it like that) invade Israel?
Key thesis: Revelation is a covenantal book through and through (Vanderwaal 10).
The book gives more of the context on why something like Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth became so popular, rather than in detailed refutations of Lindsey. Of course, Vanderwaal does show why Lindsey is wrong.
The book’s value is not in an earth-shattering refutation of dispensationalism (and there is a dated problem with the book, which I will mention at the end). Rather, it exposes some weird problems that must entail given Dispensationalism.
Odd problems in dispensationalism: if the church age will end, and if there will be believers in the Tribulation, then the church isn’t the mother of believers. We await another mother, a Jewish one (30).
Another odd problem: One of the weirder problems in Gogology is that many Russians converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages, which means a lot of Jews in Eastern Europe have Russian blood. Now, Israel = Gog!
Key point: The church of the new covenant can never be viewed as part of Israel in the sense that it stands next to the Jewish people of our time, with the latter regarded as another part of Israel or the rest of Israel. The Bible stresses that the New Testament church is a continuation of Israel. The Jews who refuse to believe in the Messiah can no longer lay claim to the old covenant titles. This is the point on which everything hinges (30).
Vanderwaal’s main criticism of Lindsey’s use of biblical prophecy is that as prophecy relates to the future, it does so in a covenant context. This means that some of the predictions are conditional upon repentance (Micah 3:12). If this isn’t the case, then some biblical prophecies are simply false.
Israel in the bible means “people of the covenant” (56).
Argument: If Jesus is the Covenant Prophet (Dt 17), then anyone who does not listen to him is cut off from the covenant. Minor premise: Israel did not listen to him. Conclusion: Ethnic Israel is cut off.
Further, the desolating sacrilege = future apostasy on the part of the covenant people (60).
The Last Days
Vanderwaal, while firmly rejecting premillennialism, also distances himself from Augustine’s platonizing (66-67).
Vanderwaal’s Constructive Proposal
As Gary North said, you can’t beat something with nothing. Vanderwaal suggests Revelation is a covenant document detailing Yahweh’s coming destruction of Old Covenant Israel.
Babylon = Jerusalem. Summarizing Holwerda (106):
(1)It is apparent from Revelation 2:9 that John knows of a community that claims to be a congregation of the living God but is really a synagogue of Satan.
(2)Revelation 17 clearly echoes Exodus 16 and 23, where Israel is branded a harlot who fails to keep the covenant.
(3)The great city is also mentioned in Revelation 11:8, where a political-cultural interpretation is out of the question. This suggests that Babylon should not be identified as a political-cultural entity in Revelation 17 and 18 either.
(4)It is made clear in the book of Acts (see 2:23; 3:13; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52) that it was Jerusalem that opposed Jesus, although Rome did in fact carry out the death sentence. Jesus was crucified in the great city that is Spiritually called Sodom and Egypt.
(5) It is apparent from Revelation 18:20 that when the harlot is destroyed, God is squaring accounts because of what she has done to the prophets and apostles. Four verses later we read: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints.”
Admittedly, he makes a strong case. How can someone who is not Yahweh’s bride be a harlot to Yahweh? This is why Babylon must be Jerusalem, not Rome (or Masonic London). Nonetheless, if this isn’t a futurist document, then what do we make of Revelation 20:11ff to the end? Vanderwaal cannot take his preterist (though he never calls it that) conclusions to that point.