The heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll

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The Creation Concept

The scientific revolution in prophecy

Alternate interpretations

Mountains and islands

What Edom represents

The sword of God

The fate of the hordes of Gog and Magog


The scientific revolution in prophecy

Isaiah 34:4
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.

Understanding this prophecy is quite simple: when a scroll is rolled together, the spindles stop rotating. And the heavens, in the old geocentric cosmology, revolved around the earth, but after the scientific revolution, those revolutions stopped; it was the earth that rotated instead. Stars falling is simply the principle of universal gravitation, discovered by Isaac Newton.

Revelation 6:14 contains a similar prophecy: "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places."

Scroll graphicWhen a scroll is rolled up, after it has been read, its spindles cease rotating, once they meet. That pictures what happened to man's concept of the heavens, at the time of the scientific revolution. The starry heavens were no longer seen to be rotating, as they had for thousands of years, once men began to believe and understand it is the earth that rotates, not the sky. Like a scroll rolled together, the imagined diurnal revolutions of the stars and the firmament suddenly stopped, in the scientific revolution, when the diurnal rotation was assigned to the earth instead of the heavens.

The reference to the host of heaven falling like figs from a fig tree suggests the principle expressed by Newton's law of universal gravitation. Voltaire, in a popular treatise about Newton's theory, said that the heavenly bodies fall like apples. Thousands of years before Newton, Isaiah had written that the stars fall like figs.

This seems such an easy explanation, it is a wonder people have so much trouble understanding Isa. 34:4 and Rev. 6:14. Here are a few examples of the speculations.

Mountains and islands

In Rev. 6:14, John says "every mountain and island were moved out of their places."

Most interpreters try to explain this as some sort of cataclysmic event, such as a world-wide earthquake.

Jesus connected mountains with faith. He spoke of faith that could move mountains. [Mat. 17:20; 21:21]

I suggest that the mountains and islands referred to in John's prophecy are symbolic; they represent things that we can have faith in: God's promises. David compared God's righteousness to great mountains.

Psalm 36:6
Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.

The prophecy of Rev. 6:14 says every mountain was moved out of its place; this suggests the promises of God are misinterpreted; many of the promises made to the church have been wrongly applied to unbelieving Jews! That is an example of the "mountains" being displaced from their proper positions.

Prophecies are also represented by mountains. The promises of God are prophecies! The gospel itself is a prophecy! And sure enough, most prophecies have been misinterpreted. This prophecy in Rev. 6:14 is an example; several failed interpretations were already noted.

John wrote his book of Revelation when he was in exile, on the island of Patmos, and therefore, since the place where a prophecy was given may stand as a symbol for that prophecy, as when Paul said Sinai represents the Mosaic legislation in Gal. 4:24, the island of Patmos is symbolic of John's prophecy. And when John said all the mountains and islands would be moved out of their places, he included the island of Patmos, where he was, when he wrote the prophecies of Revelation. So by the mention of islands, his prophecy shows that the prophecies of Revelation would be misinterpreted, along with other prophecies and promises of the Bible.

The interpretation of the prophecy of Rev. 6:14 suggested by Peter Clarkin in 1849, included in the authors listed above, speaks of men moving "every mountain and island of hope and security offered to us in the gospel out of their places," and so comes close to what I have suggested above.

Clarkin's comment that the ritualistic Catholic worship "gradually removed every mountain and island of hope and security offered to us in the gospel out of their places" is quite perceptive, and captures the true meaning of John's prophecy, IMO. During the flood, the tops of the mountains appeared as islands; they must have inspired hope to those on the ark. Every island is a partly submerged mountain.

What Edom represents

Mountains in prophecy are often symbolic, and just as Zion and Jerusalem are symbolic of the church, in many prophecies, Edom is symbolic of the church's enemies.

The prophecies about Edom:

The sword of God will come down on Edom [Isa. 34:5]; they were taken captive by Babylon [Jer. 25:21]; their wisdom will perish [Jer. 49:7-22]; they took vengeance against Judah [Ezek. 25:12-14]; their cities will be desolate [Ezek. 35:1-15]; they uttered blasphemies against the mountains of Israel, and claimed them for a possession [Ezek. 35:12]; they committed violence against Judah, and shed innocent blood [Joel 3:19]; they participated in the destruction of Jerusalem; they cut off the way of escape for Jews; they delivered up those that remained to their enemies [Obadiah].

J. A. Alexander suggested in his comments on Isa:34, that Edom is symbolic: [1] "Edom being particularly mentioned, as an enemy of ancient Israel peculiarly inveterate and malignant, and thence used to represent the whole class of such enemies."

In my view, Edom in prophecies such as Isa. 34 does not necessarily refer to Edomites after the flesh, just as Jerusalem and Judah in prophecy does not always mean the literal Jerusalem, but often applies to the church. In the second century BC, John Hyrcanus conquered Edom, and forced them to become Jews.

John Hyrcanus was the Hasmonean high priest of the Jews, 134 BC - 104 BC. He was the son of Simon Maccabaeus. In the first year of his reign, Jerusalem was besieged by the Seleucid king Antiochus VII Sidetes. The siege lasted for a year, and the outcome was a negotiated truce, which required payment of a tribute and participation by the Jews in the Seleucid was against the Parthians. When Antiochus was killed in battle, John Hyrcanus took advantage of the unrest in Seleucia to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, assert Judean independence, and expand his territory.

Wikipedia says: "Hyrcanus also initiated a military campaign against the Idumeans in Negev near Eilat. During this campaign Hyrcanus conquered Adora, Marisa and other Idumean towns (Ant.13.257). Hyrcanus then instituted forced conversions on the Idumeans. This was an unprecedented move for a Judean ruler."

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews IX, 2 says:

Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.

The Herodian Dynasty that ruled Judea after the Roman conquest in 37 BC was Edomite. Edomites joined with Jews in the rebellion of 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed. After that, their nation disappeared. Later Jewish writings identify Edom with Rome.

I suggest, the prophetic symbolism of Edom is no longer the ancient enmity of those people to Jews, as they eventually became Jews (who opposed to the apostles and the early church). Rather, Edom is symbolic of enemies of the saints, who hinder them from possessing the promises.

The sword of God

Isaiah 34
1 Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.
2 For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter.
3 Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.

This is telling us about God's "sword," which is symbolic of the scriptures. Paul said the scriptures are a "sword" in Eph. 6:17; "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"

The author of Hebrews wrote:

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Isaiah said God's sword is "bathed in heaven." The sword is "steeped" or "soaked" in heaven, as this prophecy about the heavens being rolled together as a scroll demonstrates the effectiveness of God's word. The prophecy has come to pass, precisely. The supposed revolutions of the heavens ceased, during the scientific revolution, just like the spindles of a scroll cease rotating when they are rolled together. The rigid heaven of the ancient cosmology and all the planetary spheres have been forever abolished.

This is an excellent proof of God's word, but it was not recognized by the Bible scholars and critics, or by the clergy, who all missed this amazing fulfillment of prophecy!

Paul says the warfare of the church is not against flesh and blood. So who are the ones who are slain in Isaiah's prophecy? Are they people? The armies of the nations? Or are these enemies spiritual?

Rev. 12:7-8 depicts a spiritual warfare:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Angels or spirits at war suggest this is not referring to a flesh and blood struggle. But the saints are involved in it.

Rev. 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

The saints need to overcome the deceptions of Satan, and discover the truth.

Perhaps the "slain" in Isaiah's prophecy are the doctrines and theories that Christ makes war against, by His word, and flawed interpretations of prophecy, that the saints eventually overcome. The "mountains" that are "melted with blood" are the battlegrounds. These mountains represent the promises of God to the church, and prophecies of the Bible. I suggest failed interpretations of prophecy, and delusions, are the "slain" in Isaiah's prophecy.

The fate of the hordes of Gog and Magog

If flawed interpretations and delusions are the "slain" in Isaiah's prophecy, this may help explain the curious fate of the hordes of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel's prophecy, in chapters 38 and 39. The armies of these invaders fight against each other, and God pleads with them with blood and pestilence. [Ezek. 38:21-22] They are rained upon, with fire, brimstone, an overflowing rain, and hailstones. [vs. 22] They fall on the mountains, and in the open field. [Ezek. 39:4-5] The smell of their corpses "stops the noses of the passengers." [vs. 11] Their corpses are buried over a period of 7 months, and their weapons are buried for 7 years. [vs. 9, 12] Their flesh is fed to the birds and beasts. [vs. 17-20]

Some dispensationalist prophecy interpreters say this describes the fate of the armies which will invade the modern state of Israel. According to them, Ezekiel's prophecy describes a military invasion by armies from Russia, Iran, and several other modern nations.

However, if God were really trying to kill a vast horde of people, why so many attempts? Would not pestilence be enough to kill them? Why the fire, and brimstone? And hailstones? And once they were killed, why so many conflicting ways of disposing of their corpses? According to Ezekiel, their corpses are:

  1. buried for 7 months
  2. lie unburied on the ground, causing a great stench
  3. eaten by birds and beasts

Ezekiel's prophecy can be understood when the symbols are correctly interpreted. I suggest the slain armies, and the corpses, are metaphors, that represent delusions. The failed interpretation of dispensationalists, that claims the Gog-Magog invasion is a modern military invasion of the Jewish state by Russia and Iran etc., is an example of a delusion, and a flawed interpretation by an invading horde, seeking to profit by selling their books. The Jewish state in Palestine today is not a "land of unwalled villages." There is a prominent wall or fence over 700 km long and up to 8 m high. The wall thwarts their silly interpretation, and exposes those authors and preachers as "false prophets."


1. The earlier prophecies of Isaiah, Volume 1.
By Joseph Addison Alexander. p. 556.

Copyright © 2009 by Douglas E. Cox
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