I. Celestial phenomenon in prophetic contexts is apocalyptic language used to depict the destruction of a Government power and a great political upheaval. Jeremiah states in his prophecy that Babylon would spoil his people:
Jer. 4: 16 Make ye mention to the nations; behold, publish against Jerusalem, that watchers come from a far country, and give out their voice against the cities of Judah. 17 As keepers of a field, are they against her round about; because she hath been rebellious against me, saith the Lord. 18 Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart. 19 My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. 20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. 21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? 22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. 23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. 25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. 26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger. 27 For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. 28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it. 29 The whole city shall flee for the noise of the horsemen and bowmen; they shall go into thickets, and climb up upon the rocks: every city shall be forsaken, and not a man dwell therein. 30 And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do?
And Ezekiel in his Prophecy of the destruction of Egypt and the judgment upon Pharaoh:
Ezek. 32: 2 Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers. 3 Thus saith the Lord God; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net. 4 Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee. 5 And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height. 6 I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee. 7 And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. 8 All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God.
When Israel fought against Sisera in the book of Judges, Elohim fighting against Sisera is depicted as stars fighting against him:
Judges 5:20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
These apocalyptic phrases are also mentioned in judgment passages against Babylon many centuries ago and the fulfillment was not literal. For instance Isaiah 13:10 is virtually identical to Acts 2:20:
Isa 13:10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
This type of language where stars are falling and the moon going dark refers to the fall of governments and powers. In Isa. 14 which is a judgment prophesy against the King of Babylon [vs. 4] we read this:
Isa. 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
We read much the same in Isa 34:4. So these passages concerning the moon and the sun in Acts 2 are referring to the fall of Jerusalem and the coming fall of the pagan powers that had dominated the earth for centuries.
II. The symbology in Bible prophecy, when depicting a literal nation is based on literal realities among that nation, namely, its gross domestic product, its regional flora and its fauna, its military armaments, its coinage, the moral character of the people, etc.
The wikipedia article on the biogeography of the Mediterranean Bason states,
“Wheat is the dominant grain grown around the Mediterranean Basin. Pulses and vegetables are also grown. The characteristic tree crop is the olive. Figs are another important fruit tree, and citrus, especially lemons, are grown where irrigation is present. Grapes are an important vine crop, grown for fruit and to make wine. Rice and summer vegetables are grown in irrigated areas.”
This is the exact language the Bible uses to depict Israel:
Jer. 11: 16 The LORD called your name,
“A green olive tree, beautiful in fruit and form”;
With the noise of a great tumult
He has kindled fire on it,
And its branches are worthless.
Rom. 11: 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the [h]rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.
Judgment on Damascus
Isa. 17: 4 Now in that day the glory of Jacob will [f]fade,
And the fatness of his flesh will become lean.
5 It will be even like the [g]reaper gathering the standing grain,
As his arm harvests the ears,
Or it will be like one gleaning ears of grain
In the valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet gleanings will be left in it like the [h]shaking of an olive tree,
Two or three olives on the topmost bough,
Four or five on the branches of a fruitful tree,
Declares the Lord, the God of Israel.
Isaiah’s prophecy against Israel
Isa. 24:7 The new wine mourns,
The vine decays,
All the merry-hearted sigh.
8 The gaiety of tambourines ceases,
The noise of revelers stops,
The gaiety of the harp ceases.
9 They do not drink wine with song;
Strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
10 The city of chaos is broken down;
Every house is shut up so that none may enter.
11 There is an outcry in the streets concerning the wine;
All joy [b]turns to gloom.
The gaiety of the earth is banished.
12 Desolation is left in the city
And the gate is battered to ruins.
13 For thus it will be in the midst of the earth among the peoples,
As the [c]shaking of an olive tree,
As the gleanings when the grape harvest is over.
Psa. 80:8 You removed a vine from Egypt;
The cursing of the fig tree, the parable of the landowner and how the vinegrowers killed him where Israel is depicted as a fig tree and a grape vineyard are also striking:
Mat. 21:18 Now in the morning, when He was returning to the city, He became hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He *said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered.
And then right after he gives these signs, the cursing of the fig tree and the landowner parable he says,
42 Jesus *said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,
‘The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the chief corner stone;
This came about from the Lord,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a [m]people, producing the fruit of it. 44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.
Egypt is referred to as a reed:
2 Kings 18: 21 Now behold, you [j]rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt; on which if a man leans, it will go into his [k]hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him.
Ezek. 29:6 “Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the LORD,
Because they have been only a staff made of reed to the house of Israel.
Again, the Cyperus papyrus reed is one of the most famously known agricultural products from Egypt:
“Cyperus papyrus (papyrus sedge, paper reed, Indian matting plant, Nile grass) is a species of aquatic flowering plant belonging to the sedge family Cyperaceae. It is a tender herbaceous perennial, native to Africa, and forms tall stands of reed-like swamp vegetation in shallow water.
Papyrus sedge (and its close relatives) has a very long history of use by humans, notably by the Ancient Egyptians—it is the source of papyrus paper, one of the first types of paper ever made.”
Now to animal symbols:
Judah is depicted by the Lion, from the prevalence of the Asiatic lion in this region.
Genesis 49: 9 “Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up?
Edom is depicted as an eagle in a high mountain region.
Jer. 49:16 “As for the terror of you,
The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
O you who live in the clefts of [n]the rock,
Who occupy the height of the hill.
Though you make your nest as high as an eagle’s,
I will bring you down from there,” declares the LORD.
This is no doubt to to the prevalence of mountain regions in Edom such as Mount Seir and Mount Hor:
See also my article on Cessationism on Acts 2:15-21:
Rev. 10:1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth
This open book is held by Yeshua, the only one worthy to open it, Rev. 5:1-5.
3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
Thus, this must be left in the obscurity the author leaves us with.
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be [delay-NASB] no longer:
The Catholic Church having suffered severe punishment since 395 A.D. with the rise of Alaric, their time was now up and their Papal Antichrist is now to receive a severe judgment with the Reformation.
7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. 8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. 9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. 10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
Here we have symbology for the receiving of the words of Elohim in his Scriptures during the Reformation for as the Psalmist says the Scriptures were sweet as honey to his mouth:
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Ezekiel uses the same language when he received his prophecy:
3: 1 Then He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2 So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3 He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.
Yet, the sweetness turned to bitterness in his stomach as our ancestors learned of the lies that had been told to them by the Roman Church and suffered persecution for the truth.
11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
And thus, the word of Elohim was preached among the nations with the Missionary age exploding after the Reformation when men abandoned the rote ceremonies of the Catholic Liturgies and began to study and proclaim the words of the Bible! This was done primarily by the White Anglo Saxon Protestant People which is why English is now the language of modern commerce.
The second coming has happened. The wicked have been destroyed. All has been restored and a final warning is given.
22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Here man is re-introduced to the ancient tree of life from which he was barred after his first transgression. Gen. 3. Paradise covenanted in works was lost but Paradise covenanted in grace through the Messiah Yeshua is regained. Man now has access to immortality. And let us see again, we have nations in the Final State.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
The curse began when man broke the command of Elohim in the Garden and plunged our world into death.
Gen. 2: 16 The Lord God commanded the man: “You may freely eat from every tree of the garden, 17 but you are not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because you will certainly die during the day that you eat from it.”
Genesis 3:17 He told the man, “Because you have listened to what your wife said, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You are not to not eat from it,’ cursed is the ground because of you. You’ll eat from it through pain-filled labor for the rest of your life.
Rom. 5: 12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Gal. 3: 10 Certainly all who depend on the actions of the Law are under a curse. For it is written, “A curse on everyone who does not obey everything that is written in the Book of the Law!” 11 Now it is obvious that no one is justified in the sight of God by the Law, because “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 But the Law has nothing to do with faith. Instead, “The person who keeps the commandments will have life in them.” 13 The Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written, “A curse on everyone who is hung on a tree!”
Thus, we have the final fulfillment and completion of the work of messiah in the final state.
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
Here again we have language akin to the mark of the beast which itself derived from the marks of God’s law as described by Moses, that keeping the Passover is a mark on the hand and on the forehead:
Exo. 13: 9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
Again, this is not literal light. As we read from. Rev. 21, the Lamb is the Temple and the Light of the New Jerusalem:
Rev. 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
John 1: 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men…9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
This is the light of intellectual illumination and truth.
John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
Here we see a sense of urgency in conclusion to verify that the events described therein were about to begin. Not that the entire book would be fulfilled by 70 A.D., but that the progression taught therein would soon begin.
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Here we see the foil to the Partial-Preterist scheme which completely depends on the language of urgency in the beginning of this book but here we have the same language and they admit this will not happen for thousands of years. This is why the Full Preterist Don Preston is more consistent, though still wrong, to place the second coming at 70 A.D.
The master Yeshua tells us he is coming quickly, not to denote his coming in 70 A.D. but the urgency needed when Shatan is released and gathers an army around the camp of the Saints in Rev. 20:9, when as in the days of Noah the flood began suddenly on the people which is said in Matthew 24 to be akin to the Second Coming:
Matth. 24: 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
The master Yeshua comes as a thief (Rev. 16:15, 1 Thess. 5:2), as just as in the days of Noah Yeshua shall take away, not the righteous, as the erroneous Pre-Millennial system requires, but took away the wicked as is precisely described in Rev. 20.
8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. 10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
This is not a justification for evil but a decree that this will happen at the second coming of the master Yeshua. It is a prophecy not a license to sin.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Let it be known that my Theology of the Doctrines of Grace do not discount the necessity of works. Calvinism does not teach that works are not necessary for salvation. It teaches works are not necessary for justification. Our legal and forensic status before Elohim is not earned by works, but by the work of the Master Yeshua, his perfect life, death and resurrection imputed unto the elect is their only legal and forensic standing before Elohim. But true justification necessarily produces a changed life and good works, which is our sanctification.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Master Yeshua. 21 The grace of our Master Yeshua Messiah be with you all. Amen.
So be it.