This Revelation Timeline Decoded Bible article focuses on pestilence, as that’s in the news these days with the Coronavirus.
I see many people posting on Facebook, that the Coronavirus is a sign of prophecy fulfillment; but they are missing the mark with that simplistic association.
It’s born out of the fact that most Christians believe that Messiah’s Olivet Discourse and Revelation, describe events which are yet to take place.
But that is false.
Messiah’s warning in His Olivet Discourse were about the desolation of the Jewish nation, as they rejected their promised Messiah and delivered Him up to be killed. It was fulfilled in that generation of wicked Jews, just like Messiah proclaimed.
Messiah’s Apocalyptic vision describes what the saints would face from when it’s written until He returns. It’s been in the process of being fulfilled during the last 1,900 years; and we’re late in the story.
But the enemy has deceived the end-times saints, into believing false, futuristic explanations; so that they’re not prepared for how the end times play out.
Here’s the except from my verse by verse study of the fulfillment of Messiah’s Olivet Discourse:
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. Matthew 24:7
Acts 11:27-29 alludes to the famine in the time of Claudius. Tacitus speaks of signs in the form of “repeated earthquakes,” a shortage of grain resulting in famine (at one point Rome had only 15 days’ worth of food); Josephus reports of famine during the siege of Jerusalem; the earthquake in Philippi (Acts 16); Pompeii suffered quakes as a preliminary to the eruption of Vesuvius; Josephus reports a severe earthquake in Judea, and quakes were reported by secular historians as occurring throughout the Greco-Roman world.
Famines are the natural result of civil wars. Tacitus, the Roman historian, says of this period: “It was full of calamities, horrible with battles, rent with seditions, savage in peace itself.” (PNTC)
In addition, many famines, pestilences, and earthquakes hit the Roman Empire from the time Messiah spoke these words to the destruction of Jerusalem [including the earthquake at Messiah’s death and the famine predicted by Agabus in Acts]. Some of the recorded earthquakes during this time include:
At Rome in 51 A.D.; at Phlegon in Asia Minor in 60 A.D.; in Campania and in Crete in 63 A.D.; and also in Phrygia, Apanea, Laodicea and again in Campania (according to Tacitus and Suetonius). Indeed, in the decade 60-70 A.D. alone, earthquakes were recorded as having occurred in: Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judaea. Also, those of Herculaneum and Pompeii would soon follow [footnote 3076]. (FNL)
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:
Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. At Caesarea, the Jews and Syrians contended about the right to the city, and twenty thousand of the Jews were slain. At this blow the whole nation of the Jews was exasperated, and carried war and desolation through the Syrian cities and villages. Sedition and civil war spread throughout Judea; Italy was also thrown into civil war, by the contests between Otho and Vitellius for the crown.
And there shall be famines. There was a famine foretold by Agabus, Acts 11:28, which is mentioned as having occurred, by Tacitus, Suetonius, and Eusebius; and which was so severe in Jerusalem, Josephus says, that many people perished for want of food, Ant. 20, 2. Four times in the reign of Claudius, (AD 41-54,) famine prevailed in Rome, Palestine, and Greece.
Pestilences. Raging, epidemic diseases. The plague, sweeping off multitudes of people at once. It is commonly the attendant of famine, and often produced by it. A pestilence is recorded as raging in Babylonia, AD 40, (Joseph. Ant. 18, 9, 8) in Italy, AD 66, (Tacitus, 16, 13.) Both of these took place before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Earthquakes. In prophetic language, earthquakes sometimes mean political commotions. Literally, they are tremors or shakings of the earth, and often shaking cities and towns to ruin. The earth opens, and houses and people sink indiscriminately to destruction. Many of these are mentioned as preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. Tacitus mentions one in the reign of Claudius, at Rome; and says that, in the reign of Nero, the cities of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse, were overthrown; and the celebrated Pompeii was overwhelmed, and almost destroyed by an earthquake, Annales, 15, 22.
John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
This seems to be a distinct and third sign, foreboding the general calamity of the Jews; that there should be not only seditions and intestine wars, in the midst of their country, but there should be wars in other nations, one with another; and with the Jews, and the Jews with them: and this also is made a sign of the Messiah’s coming by them, for so they say;
“when thou seest kingdoms stirred up one against another”, look for the feet of the Messiah: know thou that so it shall be; for so it was in the days of Abraham: by the means of kingdoms stirred up one against another, redemption came to Abraham.”
Poor blinded creatures! when these very things were the forerunners of their destruction. And so it was, the Jewish nation rose up against others, the Samaritans, Syrians, and Romans: there were great commotions in the Roman empire, between Otho and Vitellius, and Vitellius and Vespasian; and at length the Romans rose up against the Jews, under the latter, and entirely destroyed them; compare the writings in 2 Esdras:
“And one shall undertake to fight against another, one city against another, one place against another, one people against another, and one realm against another.” (2 Esdras 13:31)
“the beginning of sorrows and great mournings; the beginning of famine and great death; the beginning of wars, and the powers shall stand in fear; the beginning of evils! what shall I do when these evils shall come?” (2 Esdras 16:18)
“Therefore when there shall be seen earthquakes and uproars of the people in the world:” (2 Esdras 9:3)
And there shall be famines: a fourth sign of the desolation of the city and temple, and which the Jews also say, shall go before the coming of the Messiah:
“in the second year (of the week of years) in which the son of David comes, they say2, there will be “arrows of famine” sent forth; and in the third year “a great famine”: and men, women, and children, and holy men, and men of business, shall die.”
But these have been already; they followed the Messiah, and preceded their destruction: one of these famines was in Claudius Caesar’s time, was foretold by Agabus, and is mentioned in Acts 11:28 and most dreadful ones there were, whilst Jerusalem was besieged, and before its utter ruin, related by Josephus.
And pestilences: a pestilence is described by the Jews after this manner:
“a city that produces a thousand and five hundred footmen, as Cephar Aco, and nine dead men are carried out of it in three days, one after another, lo! זה דבר, “this is a pestilence”; but if in one day, or in four days, it is no pestilence; and a city that produces five hundred footmen, as Cephar Amiko, and three dead men are carried out of it in three days, one after another, lo! this is a pestilence.”
These commonly attend famines, and are therefore mentioned together; and when the one was, the other may be supposed sooner or later to be:
and earthquakes in divers places of the world; as, at Crete, and in divers cities in Asia, in the times of Nero: particularly the three cities of Phrygia, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse; which were near to each other, and are all said to perish this way, in his reign; “and Rome itself felt a tremor, in the reign of Galba.”
We can see that Messiah’s warning about pestilence, was fulfilled in that generation of Jews, just like He proclaimed that it would be.
Here’s the except from my The Fourth Seal Of Revelation 6 study:
Revelation 6:7-8, “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
Here’s a short summary of the fulfillment of the 4th seal of Revelation 6, then a video will give more details, followed by a verse by verse explanation.
The Pale horse represents 1/4th of Romans dying from famine, plague, pestilence and violence, from 250-300 A.D. The word ‘earth‘ means land, not the whole Earth. The Roman Empire is the land/earth of prophecy.
The fourth seal is in Revelation 6:8, “I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”
Remember that the Lord Jesus is judging the pagan Roman Empire because they killed millions of Christians. He is avenging justice for their deaths.
The color of the horse represents the condition of the Roman people at that time, and the description of the rider represents the cause of their condition.
The pale horse represents an era of death in the Roman Empire. Again, it’s not speaking of the whole Earth, just the Roman Earth.
“Hell” or “Hades” is better translated as the grave, as many people died.
Acts 2:27 says “For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption,” meaning Jesus was in the grave.
‘Helling your potatoes‘ means a farmer was going to dig a hole and bury them in the ground.
The pale horseman rode force and the Roman Empire crumbled into the most dreadful state of disorder and chaos, where their society had almost completely broken down.
At one time 5,000 people were dying every day.
Historian Edward Gibbon recorded that one quarter (a fourth of the earth) of the population of the entire Roman Empire died of famine, plaque, pestilence, and of the violence.
So you can see that Messiah was talking about 1/4 of the Roman Empire dying, and it’s not about the end times.
Those who don’t understand the historical fulfillment of most of Revelation during the last 1,900 years, will be woefully unprepared for how the end-times plays out, and will be caught off-guard by Messiah’s return.
Here’s an Olivet Discourse studies series which shows how what Messiah described took place in that generation of wicked Jews, just like He proclaimed that it would.
Here’s a Revelation Fulfillment Summary study that you can print, which will give you the big picture of the fulfillment of Revelation. Then the studies give the verse by verse explanations.
Keep learning and growing in The Way!