Rethinking Revelation: Eight Challenges for Traditional Perspectives
When I came to the book of Revelation, I didn’t even try to study it. In place of the careful, word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase exegesis that I enjoy, I simply read through the book multiple times, taking a few notes here and there, and then read a summary of the different views on Revelation.
I wasn’t intending to come to any conclusions about the book of Revelation, so I surprised myself when I finished my overview with eight conclusions that defy traditional perspectives. Still, these eight conclusions fall far short of a clear eschatology. I still fit within the pan-millenial viewpoint – everything will ‘pan out’ for God’s people!
So, admitting that I still have plenty to learn, I humbly offer these eight conclusions for you to consider – and perhaps, an attitude of humility toward difficult subjects will create more common ground than a strict theology of the end times!
#1 – Revelation should be approached with an attitude of humility, not certainty.
I have yet to hear a viewpoint that clearly explains everything in the book of Revelation, though I think that some come closer to doing so than others. Without solid, verifiable arguments, Christians need to hold their views on the last times with less certainty.
There are some things that we can be sure of – that Christ is coming again, that heaven and hell are real, that eternal judgment is certain – but most of the eschatological theories are based on plenty of uncertainties.
As an example of the uncertainty that clouds the end times, consider this. When speaking of the signs of the times, Jesus says, ‘all these [wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, etc.] will happen, but the end is not yet.’ We think that when all these signs appear, the end is here! But he says, the end is not yet.
Or take this example: some places in the Bible seem to speak of Christ coming when there are wars, tumults, rebellions, and horrible events taking place on earth. But in some parts of the Bible, we get the sense that mankind is dwelling securely, seeming to have attained ‘utopia’ (as evidenced by the phrase ‘when they say, “peace and safety,” then cometh the sword) when Christ suddenly appears. Which one is a more accurate description? At present, we don’t know.
#2 – ‘The signs of the times’ apply to the last days – from the apostles until now!
How many times have you heard that ‘the end is near?’ The unravelling world, the rise of anti-Christian world leaders, and the rejection of Biblical truth are pointed to by frantic believers and non-believers alike. They warn us to prepare: the end is very near.
Are they correct? Absolutely! Jesus says in Revelation 22:7, “Behold, I come quickly.” All throughout the Bible, the coming of Jesus is described as an event that will take place soon. Of course, Peter reminds us that the Lord’s definition of ‘soon’ may be different than our definition (2 Peter 3:8-9).
We can agree that Jesus is coming back soon, and the last times are upon us. And we could agree on this ever since the time of the apostles. That is where most people disagree. They say that something is special about this time, these last five, ten, or fifteen years, that makes this the end, more than ever before.
It is true that all the ‘signs’ of the end times are present today. Wars (in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan), famines (in Somalia), rumors of wars (in the Ukraine, Korea), plagues and pestilences (Ebola, Zika Virus, and Avian Flu), earthquakes (in Nepal), and persecution (in Iran, Sudan, China, and India, to name a few places) all run rampant.
But this is nothing new. It has been happening ever since the time of the apostles. Today we imagine that a greater disaster is about to fall on the world than ever before. We are not the first people to imagine such things.
The Black Death (which killed 33-50% of Europe’s population), World War One (which resulted in the death of 16 million combatants and non-combatants), the rise of Ghenghis Khan (who killed up to 40 million people, or 11% of the world population), and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 (which killed 50-100 million people, or 3-5% of the world population), have all been viewed in apocalyptic terms. Considering their immensity, it is no surprise that people thought the end of the world had arrived. What is surprising is that we have forgotten about them so quickly.
Things are bad – and they always have been. But modern events are not so gloomy that we can’t take hope. Just think about the Reformation. How bad were events at that time? Samuel Eliot Morison, in The Admiral of the Ocean Sea, tells us,
“At the end of the year 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science, and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through the study of the pagan past. Islam was now expanding at the expense of Christendom…The Ottoman Turks, after snuffing out all that remained of the Byzantine Empire, had overrun most of Greece, Albania, and Serbia; presently they would be hammering at the gates of Vienna.”
This situation was desperate, but it was not the end of the world. Instead, it was the precursor to an astounding movement of God – a lull before Biblical truth surged forward, and Europe entered into a greater period of glory than ever.
#3 – The seven seals, thunders, vials, and trumpets of Revelation are not separate, but overlapping.
The traditional approach, at least in the last 100-200 years, has been to view Revelation as a strictly chronological book. According to this view, seven events pictured by seven seals occur; then occur seven trumpets, seven thunders, and seven vials of wrath. This leads to no less than 28 separate events which occur throughout the book – viewed by many as a final period of ‘tribulation.’
But as Anthony Hoekema notes, there is another approach to the book. “The system of interpretation of the book of Revelation which seems most satisfactory to me (though it is not without its difficulties) is that known as progressive parallelism…According to this view, the book of Revelation consists of seven sections which run parallel to each other, each of which depicts the church and the world from the time of Christ’s first coming to the time of his second.”
I also agree that this method has its difficulties. Still, there is sufficient similarity between the different sets of seven that this view needs to be considered. For example, notice these eight similarities:
- The second trumpet and the second vial both result in the sea turning to blood. Much death results from each event.
- The third trumpet and the third vial both result in the rivers and fountains of water being changed; many men die as a result. Following the trumpet, the water becomes wormwood and is called bitter; following the vial, the water turns to blood.
- The fourth trumpet causes the sun to be darkened, while the fourth vial results in men being scorched by the heat of the sun.
- The fifth trumpet causes smoke to arise out of the bottomless pit, darkening the air. The fifth vial results in the beast’s kingdom being filled with darkness.
- Following the fifth trumpet, a locust-like creature torments men; following the fifth vial, men gnaw their tongues in pain.
- The role of the Euphrates river is featured prominently in both the sixth trumpet and the sixth vial; both of them also speak of a great army.
- It is particularly significant that the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh vial all result in voices, thundering, lightening, and an earthquake, while a great hail is also mentioned following the seventh trumpet and the seventh vial.
- There is a defining sense of finality that is curiously depicted after the seventh trumpet and the seventh vial.
While these eight similarities do not ‘prove’ that there is overlap between the plagues in Revelation, they do challenge the idea that the events are strictly chronological, completely separate from each other.
#4 – There may be significant chronological ‘gaps’ between the individual seals, trumpets, thunders, and vials.
In keeping with the view of a ‘great tribulation,’ it is common to view the great plagues of Revelation as occurring almost simultaneous – one after another, like a prolonged burst of machine-gun fire. While this is a possible interpretation, there is nothing to indicate that this must be.
Why could there not be several hundred years between each? These plagues may indicate major and earth-shaking calamities, so significant in the history of the world that they are highlighted in prophecy.
Looking back, we can see some periods characterized by a level of suffering and horror almost nightmarish to behold (black death, Ghenghis Khan, etc.). Perhaps these were individual vials being poured out, though we are unlikely to know certainly until the coming of Christ.
#5 – Revelation is meant to be understood in a general, not specific, manner.
Many approach Revelation with the idea that God has revealed what is going to happen, and we must figure it out. Some people point to Revelation 1:3 – “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” They take this to mean that we should understand what is meant, and know exactly what it refers to.
However, in what sense should we ‘hear’ the words of this prophecy? Perhaps we should take heed to the general instruction and revelation. That is to say, maybe we should focus on the broader themes – what the last days will be like, how Christ will come, and so on, rather than on the specific meaning of the symbolism, or trying to peg down dates and times.
In fact, the greatest argument against trying to view Revelation as a clear prophecy for us to understand lies in the vast number of theories. For thousands of years, men have tried to focus on the specifics – often neglecting the generalities – but with little success. The antichrist has been variously assigned to Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Putin, and Obama.
#6 – Revelation, like Daniel, stands as an eternal testament of God’s sovereignty
Daniel was an enigmatic book that did not make sense to the Jews in their time, but looking back, we see that it clearly laid out the time of the coming of the Messiah. Though it was not understood clearly by the Jews, we can see, in hindsight, that it was the work of God, delineating the exact events before Messiah appeared.
Revelation, in the New Testament, seems to occupy the same place as Daniel in the Old Testament. It is not meant for us to perfectly understand now. In the future, once these events are completed, we will see that it perfectly described what was going to happen!
#7 – Christ’s return is soon and sudden, but not immediate.
Some think that Jesus gave us no clues when he would come back. These people think that he might have come back a second, or ten years, after his ascension. These people are of the opinion, generally, that Paul expected Christ to return in his own lifetime. However, Christ did not teach this, and Paul recognized this. In fact, the Bible mentions certain events that must be fulfilled before Christ returns. (One of the major ones is that the gospel will reach the ends of the earth).
Christ also taught us how we should anticipate his coming: it will be sudden, when unbelievers are not expecting it or thinking about it. But it will not be a surprise to believers. We have been forewarned. We should be watchful, because his coming will be sudden, not because his coming will (necessarily) be soon.
Christ gave a parable that illustrates this well: the coming of the son of man is like lightening which shoots from one side of heaven to the other. Lightening is not so much defined by its ‘soon-ness’ as its ‘sudden-ness.’ We do not know when it will strike – it may strike soon, but it may just as likely strike some time in the future. However, we do know that when it strikes, it will strike instantly; quickly; there will not be time then to set up a lightning rod and prepare for it. It will be a sudden event, though maybe not a soon event; it will cover the sky instantaneously, shooting from one side to the other.
#8 – The rapture does not rescue Christians from tribulation, but it marks the end of the world.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to deal with all aspects of the rapture. However, the common view of the rapture – as an event in which believers are secretly ‘snatched away’ to escape the great tribulation – does not align with Scripture.
Some people point to Jesus’ coming as a ‘thief in the night.’ Like a thief, they argue, no one will know when he is coming. The loot – in this case, believers – will be snatched away in an instant, and then events will occur as normal. But when Jesus is likened to a thief in the night, the emphasis, again, is on the ‘sudden-ness,’ not the silence, surrounding his coming.
In 2 Peter 3, Jesus is specifically described as coming like a thief in the night – and right after this, we are told that the events surrounding his coming will include the heavens passing away with a very great noise! There is nothing secret in that.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 also describes the rapture, when believers are caught up to meet the Lord. Again, there is no ‘secrecy’ in this event – it will occur with a shout, and the trumpet of God! As one commentator noted, “Unless we take the trump of God to be a dog whistle and interpret the shout of Christ and the voice of the archangel to be performed with sign language, the rapture will be quite conspicuous!”
Even the very word for the appearing of the Lord to His saints – ‘parousia’ – carries the idea of a triumphal entry, not a secret mission. As one man observed,
“Parousia was everywhere used in the sense of the arrival or coming of kings and rulers on a visit. How appropriate to the arrival or our Saviour-God, Jesus Christ, when He comes in triumph…”
Another writer notes,
“The early Christians knew very well what was involved in the Parousia of the emperor. They too had a king-emperor whom they expected to come and they were making preparation for His Parousia…They probably witnessed the Parousia of a Roman emperor with all its pomp, and its tokens and trophies of conquest. There was a Parousia yet to come in which they were to be given signal recognition and in the joys of which they were to participate. It is, however, difficult to see how the theory of a ‘secret coming,’ and that only ‘part of the way’ could be based upon the word Parousia, the arrival of the king.”
The secret rapture is a popular idea because it suggests that Christians will escape suffering. But Paul wrote about the rapture to a church plunged in suffering! In light of the immense suffering that Christians have already gone through (inquisition, persecutions during the Roman Empire, suffering today in Muslim countries and China, etc.), it seems laughable to say that the rapture will rescue us from really bad suffering!
As I said, this paper does not try to develop an entire system of theology around the end times. Instead, it focusses on a few key points from Revelation. My purpose in writing is to challenge Christians to think; perhaps we should question our viewpoints more than we defend them. Though we want to understand the Bible today, we will have all eternity to understand the character of God. One day, we will know the meaning of Revelation without any doubt!
It would be good also to reconsider why we want to understand Revelation. As Bernard noted,
“Some desire to know merely for the sake of knowing, and that is shameful curiosity. Some desire to know that they may sell their knowledge, and that too is shameful. Some desire to know for reputation’s sake, and that is shameful vanity. But there are some who desire to know that they may edify others, and that is praiseworthy; and there are some who desire to know that they themselves may be edified, and that is wise.”
Appendix A: Daniel 9 points to the coming of Messiah & 70 AD, not the Antichrist
Because Daniel 9 is not part of Revelation, I have not dealt with it in the body of this paper. However, it plays a significant role in discussions about the last times. Many interpret it in a piecemeal fashion, stating that of the seventy weeks, sixty-nine have already been fulfilled, while a huge chronological gap separates the final week – which they imagine is a week of great tribulation – from the previous weeks.
Instead, Daniel 9 has nothing to do with the end of time; like the book of Daniel, it is focused on pointing to the first coming of the Messiah, not the second. The passage is notoriously challenging; even this discussion, while commenting on the verses, will avoid the technical discussion.
Note: for those who wish to avoid the extended exposition of Daniel 9:24-27, the final paragraph of this appendix gives a paraphrase summary of the passage.
First, the debated passage is Daniel 9:24-27. It is quoted here at length for the reader to see the entire passage:
“(24) Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. (25) Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. (26) And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. (27) And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
As I mentioned, the common view holds that the ‘one week’ mentioned in verse 27 is separated from the previous 69 weeks by a huge chronological gap. This view says that the ‘prince’ mentioned in verse 26 is the antichrist, who comes to destroy the rebuilt Jewish temple. However, before doing so, he appears to be the friend of the temple by creating a covenant (verse 27), which he breaks halfway through, bringing in the desolation.
But what if this model was entirely upside down? What if, instead of the antichrist abolishing the sacrifices, it was the Messiah who ends the sacrifices? This is the meaning of the chapter – the exact opposite of how it is generally understood! Travel with me through this passage.
“(24) Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.”
This verse gives a sort of summary for the entire passage. It describes the time-frame (70 weeks) and mentions what will have occurred by the end of this time period.
Since a week refers to a period of seven, nearly all Bible interpreters understand the ‘weeks’ mentioned here as seven-year periods. Clarke writes, “The Jews had Sabbatic years, Lev. 25:8, by which their years were divided into weeks of years, as in this important prophecy, each week containing seven years. The seventy weeks therefore here spoken of amount to four hundred and ninety years.”
In the following verses, this period of 70 weeks (490 years) is broken down into three smaller segments: 7 weeks (49 years), 62 weeks (434 years), and 1 week (7 years). Further, the 7 weeks and 62 weeks (49+434 years = 483 years) occur before the final week.
Keep this in mind: the angel is speaking in symbolic, round numbers. These numbers are meant to give a general guideline, but perhaps not an exact, pin-point date, for different events.
“(25) Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.”
The ‘going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem’ refers to a command to build the city of Jerusalem. There were several commands by Persian emperors to rebuild the temple, but only one command to rebuild the city. It was issued by Artaxerxes Longimanus, when Nehemiah was sent to rebuild. It is recorded in Nehemiah 1. (Nehemiah encountered many difficulties in his building; he lived ‘in a troubled time’).
This command was given in the 20th year of the king (Nehemiah 1:1). While the 20th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus is debated, the general range of dates falls from 454-444 BC. This date is significant – it is when the 70 weeks (490 years) begins.
The last act of Nehemiah – cleansing the people from their foreign wives – is not directly dated, though general chronology is mentioned in Nehemiah 13:28. Historians come to the view that it occurred in 408 BC. (Note: the discussion of how this number is brought about is complicated. See the notes by Albert Barnes for a further discussion).
Remember, the first division refers to 7 weeks – 49 years. If we use the date of 454 BC when the 70 weeks begins, we arrive at 405 BC when the first 7 weeks ends (454 – [7 weeks x 7 years = 49 years]). Remember, this is a rough estimate. The first seven weeks refers to the length of time that Jerusalem is in building.
The next division of time is the 62 weeks. Since there are a total of 69 weeks, we come to 483 years. What date do we arrive at, if the 483 years begin in the range of 454-444 BC? We come to the years 29 – 39 AD, the very time-frame that Jesus presented himself to Israel! The 69 weeks refers to the length of time before the Messiah will appear to begin his ministry in Israel!
“To those who lived when he did appear, the time was so accurate that, in the reckoning of any of the prevailing methods of chronology, it would have been sufficiently clear to lead them to the expectation that he was about to come.” (Albert Barnes)
(26) And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
The Messiah arrives, and after the 62 weeks, he shall be cut off and having nothing. It does not say at the 62-week mark, but after. There is also a prince with many people who will come. Interestingly, the time-frame of this prince is not specified.
We do know when the city and the sanctuary were destroyed – in 70 AD. This is an event that Jesus himself prophesied of on more than one occasion. The ‘prince’ was Titus, the Roman general. Its end was with a figurative ‘flood’ of destruction, violence, and blood. This destruction of Jerusalem is the ‘desolations’ that are decreed.
“(27) And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”
While many interpret the ‘he’ to refer to the prince (whom they call the antichrist, not Titus the Roman general), it is more logical to interpret it of the Messiah. He shall ‘make a strong covenant with many for one week.’ Another translation says, “he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” This is exactly what Jesus did – he says that he came, not to abolish, but fulfil the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17).
This period of ‘confirming the covenant’ lasts for a week – 7 years. But something happens half-way through. Note what the KJV says: “in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” Half of 7 is 3 ½ years. This was the length of Jesus’ ministry. When Jesus died, the Levitical sacrifices and oblations became irrelevant! So now (if the end of 69 weeks is 29 AD), we came to the year 32-33 AD – the time when Jesus died!
What about the other half of the week, or 3 ½ years? This would bring us to about 36 or 37 AD. Did anything happen then? Peter speaking to Cornelius occurred about 35 or 36. Again – these need not be exact numbers. But at that point, the church began to focus on the Gentile world. While it did not neglect the Jews, the period of ‘confirming the covenant’ with the Jewish nation was over. As Paul and Barnabas said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you [Jews]. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).
Finally, he talks about the ‘wing of abominations’ and someone who ‘makes desolate.’ Notice that no time-frame is given for this. But Jesus refers to the ‘abomination of desolation’ (Mark 13:14) which refers to the destruction of Jerusalem (as the early church interpreted it).
A different translation gives this version: and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate. If we follow this reading, we can understand it this way: the Messiah, as the divine ruler, will determine to make Jerusalem desolate (by sending the prince and his people) because the city is so wicked – i.e., it has an overspreading of abominations.
I know that this is an extended discussion – and I have not even entered in the minute details (like how the dates of the Persian events are calculated). Bravo to the reader who has made it this far! To conclude, I will liberally paraphrase this passage, to help summarize its meaning.
“(24) 70 weeks (490 years) are determined on your people and your holy city, to complete the transgression, end sin, atone for wrong-doing, bring in everlasting righteousness, complete the vision and the prophecy, and anoint the most holy place. (25) So, understand this: from the time that the king commands to build the city of Jerusalem (in 454 BC) to the time that the Messiah, a prince, arrives, there will be a space of 7 weeks (49 years) and 62 weeks (434 years) – the street and wall will be rebuilt, even though the times will be disturbing. (26) Then, sometime after the 62 weeks (434 years), the Messiah will be cut off – though not for his own sake – and (at some point) the people of the coming Prince (Titus the Roman general) will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of that place will be with a flood, and terrible destruction has been determined until the end of that war. (27) He (the Messiah) will fulfil the covenant with many (in Israel) for one week (7 years); in the middle of the week (after 3 ½ years, or 32-33 AD) he will make the sacrifices and oblations to stop. And, because of the increasing abomination he (the Messiah) will make the holy city desolate, until the complete consummation. Then, whatever has been determined will be poured out on the desolate place.
Appendix B: Daniel 9 Referred to by Isaiah and Paul
(22) For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. (23) For the Lord GOD of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth. (Isaiah 10:22-23)
(27) And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, (28) for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” (Romans 9:27-28)
“And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” (Daniel 9:27)
For the reader who wishes to dig into Daniel 9 even deeper, two other Biblical passages are significant. These passages are Isaiah 10:22-23, and Romans 9:27-28. For the benefit of the reader, I have quoted the full text of both, along with the text of Daniel 9:27. The relationship between these verses follows.
- The ‘desolation’ which Daniel speaks of, and which he describes as ‘decreed,’ or ‘certain, planned beforehand,’ is the same ‘destruction’ that Isaiah refers to. Isaiah, like Daniel, describes this destruction as ‘decreed’ or ‘determined.’
- Paul, quoting Isaiah, also refers to the determined destruction. What Isaiah described as a ‘decreed destruction,’ Paul paraphrases as God ‘carrying out his sentence.’ Another Bible translation says ‘cutting short,’ i.e., destroying.
- Notice who Paul and Isaiah say will cause this destruction – not the antichrist. Paul says ‘the Lord,’ and Isaiah says ‘the Lord GOD of hosts.’
- While Isaiah and Daniel prophecy of this as a future event, notice that Paul speaks of it as a current event – In the context of Romans 9, Paul is speaking about God extending his mercy to the Gentiles. Then, to prove this point, he refers to these biblical statements, including the verses from Isaiah. In effect, Paul is saying – ‘Isaiah prophesied that God would save a remnant of Israel, and then bring judgment on the nation.’
- To summarize: Isaiah, Paul, and Daniel all speak of a coming destruction that God has determined. By comparing these three accounts, we see that this is a destruction which God himself will bring on the nation of Israel because of their sins. This destruction will occur when the gospel extends beyond Israel to the gentiles. In light of this, Daniel 9:27 is better understood as divine judgment on Jerusalem in AD 70, than as a future antichrist coming to destroy the Jewish temple.
 According to the text, there are seven weeks from the going out of the word to the coming of the prince. However, this is due to the ESV translation. The KJV translation indicates that there will be 7 weeks AND 62 weeks before the prince arrives.
 When the temple was destroyed, so much blood was shed that the pavement was slick, and many fell as they ran across it, unable to escape the Roman soldiers.