Is there a Contradiction between Rev 7 and 21?

PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY Forums Forum Is there a Contradiction between Rev 7 and 21?

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    Ivan Zhidkov makes an interesting argument that there must be a third return of Christ based on a comparison of Revelation 7:13-15 and Revelation 21:23-25. In Revelation 7:13-15 there is a great multitude dressed in white who come out of the great tribulation. Given the fact that this great multitude comes out of the great tribulation (Rev 7:14) and stands before the throne of God (Rev 7:14) which is in heaven (Isaiah 66:1) implies that they are the martyrs beheaded by the beast who are raised at the first resurrection (Rev 20:4). This great multitude of Rev 7:13-15 is said to serve God “night and day in [God’s] temple.” (Rev 7:15). Ivan then goes on to contrast these verses with the New Jerusalem which has no night and no temple:

    I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. (Rev 21:22-25.)

    First it should be noted that the saints in white in Revelation 7 are before the throne of God which is in heaven (Isaiah 66:1) while the New Jerusalem is technically on earth (Rev 21:2). Thus the Temple they serve in is the Temple that is in heaven. The fact that there is no temple in the New Jerusalem is not a contradiction as the New Jerusalem is on earth (Rev 21:2).

    What about the fact that there is no night in the New Jerusalem though there is in Rev 7? The fact that the New Jerusalem “does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it” does not mean that there is no physical sun or moon. Remember Revelation is prophetic poetry. The reason the New Jerusalem does not need the sun and moon to shine on it is because God and Christ give it light. But this light is not necessarily literal. In John 12:30-36 Jesus refers to His physical presence during His ministry as having light a light which goes away when Jesus departs this earth:

    30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[g] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. (John 12:30-36.)

    Did Jesus literally exude physical light everywhere he went during His ministry so that Israel did not need the sun and moon to shine on it? If not, why should we believe Jesus will provide literal light to replace the sun and moon and cause no night in the New Jerusalem? The fact that Jesus provides light in the New Jerusalem means that he is present just as he provided nonliteral light to those of Israel during His earthly ministry. And it is because of this enlightenment that Jesus provided that there is said to be no night or darkness. Ivan’s clever argument only works if the text can be proven to be woodenly literal. This is hard to do with a text that is so obviously symbolic throughout.

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