The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future. Twenty-First Century Biblical Commentary Series

By Edward Hindson
Chattanooga, TN : AMG/Tyndale Theological Seminary (2002). xiv + 241 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. William Barrick
13.2 (Fall 2002) : 284-286

 Dr. Ed Hindson is currently professor of religion, dean of the Institute of Biblical Studies, and assistant to the chancellor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. His accomplishments in ministry and academia are many, including being a translator for the New King James Version (Thomas Nelson, 1982) and being an executive board member of the Pre-Trib Research Center. Among his books, my favorite has been The Philistines and the Old Testament (Baker, 1971).

The Book of Revelationwas previously published as Approaching Armageddon (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1997). It is a well-written commentary suitable for use as a textbook in Sunday schools, Bible institutes, and Bible colleges. The author takes a clear premillennial and pretribulational position, based on a futurist interpretation of Revelation. Most matters of interpretation are consistent with a majority of commentators within that camp. Rather than listing the many points of agreement, this review will mention some of the areas of weakness and matters of disagreement.

In his identification of the 24 elders in Revelation 4, Hindson fails to mention the possibility that they could be spirit beings equivalent to the “thrones” mentioned in Col 1:16 (58-59). He identifies the four living creatures as seraphim rather than as cherubim, even though he observes that their “description is taken from Ezekiel 1:10, where the prophet also saw these creatures of God” (59). According to Ezek 10:14-15, however, those creatures are specifically identified as cherubim. In the cry of the four living creatures (“Holy, holy, holy,” Rev 4:8) Hindson sees an indication of the Trinity (59) rather than an emphatic Semitic triplet. What kind of threefold existence would he find in triplets like “a ruin, a ruin, a ruin” (Ezek 21:27) or “land, land, land” (Jer 22:29)? In John’s list of those unable to open the book in the Father’s hand, those “under the earth” (Rev 5:3) are identified as being demonic, but without any substantiation for that identification (64).

One of the biggest issues concerning the book of Revelation is the matter of the chronological sequence of the three different series of judgments (seals, trumpets, and bowls). Hindson seems to take a view that would not be sequential (“we cannot simply slice up the Revelation into strictly sequential events,” 77). He repeatedly reminds the reader that the “order of events is always the big picture first, then the snapshots” (80; cf. 77). The reader will look in vain, however, for a clarification regarding this matter of sequence (cf. 128). Quoting one commentator’s observation that the bowl judgments “can hardly be recapitulation” (169, citing Robert Thomas, Revelation 8–22: An Exegetical Commentary [Moody, 1995] 247), Hindson seems to indicate a view consistent with a linear progression of the three series of judgments. This reviewer would highly recommend the work of Gary Cohen (Understanding Revelation [Moody, 1968]) on this issue—a work listed in the select bibliography but never cited in the text of this volume.

It must be admitted that a number of the descriptions of judgments possess striking similarities to nuclear explosions (97-98, 99, 101). However, it would be well to remember that those judgments could be the work of divine power alone, without the employment of any humanly-devised weaponry. Comparing the judgments to nuclear warfare might be helpful in picturing the nature of the devastation, but should not be employed to identify the mechanism.

The author identifies the “kings of the east” (Rev 16:12) as “an alliance of non-Arab Muslim nations led by Iran and the Muslim republics from the former Soviet Union” (110). However, his interpretation could be an example of what he himself describes as “one of the greatest problems with interpreting biblical prophecy . . . the tendency to view the future through the eyes of the present” (147). Confusion mars the identification of the woman in Revelation 12. Hindson declares that she represents “converted Israel during the Great Tribulation” (139), but also says that the “remnant of her seed” (Rev 12:17) is made up of those who “are converted Jews who have come to faith in Jesus as their Messiah” (139). On the other hand, he states, “Only by viewing the woman as Israel and the ‘rest of her offspring’ as converted Jews of the Great Tribulation does this section make any sense at all” (140).

Throughout his discussion of Babylon in the book of Revelation, Hindson indicates that it is the city of Rome as well as the European (i.e.,”revived Roman”) Empire (199-200, 203, 216-18). His strongest argument against identification with a future literal Babylon is that if “we have to wait for Babylon to be rebuilt, there is no doctrine of imminency!” (157). The weakest argument he offers is that it would “overliteralize” the OT prophecies (156).

By identifying Ezekiel 38–39 and Isa 63:1-6 with the “final Battle of Armageddon” (166; cf. 171), the author fails to distinguish between the battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel and the three separate battles (Valley of Jehoshaphat, Edom, and the plain of Megiddo) involved in the campaign that could be referred to as Armageddon (the concluding battle). Indeed, Hindson himself concludes that Armageddon “is probably best viewed as a war that destroys most of the earth, as well as a final battle focused in the Middle East” (166-67, emphasis original). Some would place the battle of Ezekiel 38–39 in the middle of the tribulation period. The campaign of Armageddon could be identified as consisting of three separate battles (all characterized in Scripture as being like the treading of a winepress) beginning with the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:12-14), the valley created by the dividing of the Mount of Olives at Christ’s return (Zech 14:4-5). The second battle will take place near Bozrah where Christ will stain His garments with blood when the restored Israelites fail to follow His orders to capture the territory of Edom (Isa 63 :1-6; cf. Obad 15-21). The final battle is in the valley of Jezreel near Megiddo and gives its name to the campaign (Rev 16:16; 19:11-18). This three-battle scenario is implied by Hindson’s explanation that the 200-mile river of blood (Rev 14:20) is equivalent to the distance between Bozrah and Megiddo (159).

Rather than translating the Greek gegonen in Revelation 16:17 and 21:6 as “It is done” and characterizing it as a sense of finality (171, 215), this reviewer would suggest the sense of fulfillment (“It has come to pass”) as more appropriate to the employment of the Greek verb. Hindson’s statement that “the second temple” was destroyed “by the Romans in A.D. 70" (217) errs in not including the temple built by Zerubbabel (Hag 1:12–2:3).

The Book of Revelationis an introductory commentary on the book of Revelation. It contains many charts and tables and concludes each chapter with a series of questions for review (an improvement over the fill-in-the-blank exercises in the 1997 edition). Endnotes are employed rather than footnotes, making the text itself quite readable, but this reviewer personally finds endnotes unnecessarily disruptive and frustrating because of the need to constantly flip back and forth from the context to the back of the book and back again. Since the running heads on each page fail to identify the chapter, the reader sometimes must try to find the beginning of the chapter to be certain where he is reading in order to access the right set of endnotes. The absence of any kind of indexes forces the reader to thumb through page after page looking for that particularly noteworthy item that he knows is there somewhere but has no other aid to find it.

Recently this reviewer participated in a prophetic conference with the author, who informed him that a number of refinements have been made in the material contained in this volume. The heading for the discussion of the seventh church should be “Laodicea: Putrid Church” (48). Part VI should be identified with Revelation 14–19 instead of “Revelation 14–20" (151). Therefore, the title page that is currently for “Revelation 21–22" (209) should be corrected to “Revelation 20–22" and should be inserted before Chapter 20.