“Van der Waal has written a massive two-volume commentary on the book of Revelation which still needs to be translated. He has also authored shorter works on the book of Revelation — arguing strenuously that the book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.”
“The more we study these connections and interpretations, the more things come together. Revelation 17 and 18 are not talking about a heathen city or empire; they are talking about Israel, the covenant people who killed the prophets (I Kings 19:10; Lam. 4:13).
Jesus Christ spoke the same language to the rabbis in Matthew 23:29ff, calling them “sons of those who murdered the prophets” (v. 31). “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.. that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth (vs. 32,35). The “earth” referred to can better read as a reference to the land of the covenant people.
The same theme appears at the end of Revelation 18: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all to doubt that this blood of prophets and saints was shed by the covenant people? Didn’t Jesus Himself point out that no prophet dies outside Jerusalem? (Luke 13:33).
Yet, interpreters insist on reading Revelation 18:24 apart from the Old Testament and the words of Jesus recorded in the “gospels.” We are told that the killing of prophets and saints is a reference to what Rome or some anti-Christian world power will do.
L.A. Vos has pointed out that there are words of Jesus behind certain passages in the book of Revelation, and that these words can help us with the interpretation of Revelation.. This is hardly a reason for surprise, for the Apocalypse is a “revelation of Jesus Christ,” a revelation in which more of His words are recorded. We hear echoes of Matthew 23-24 in the book of Revelation.” (Hal Lindsey and Biblical Prophecy; St. Catharines, Canada: Paideia Press; pp. 135-136)
“Judah deserves to be called the “faithless one.” When we consider the fact that the prophets repeatedly speak of forsaking the covenant as harlotry and adultery (Is. 1:21; Ezek. 16:22; Hos. 1-3), the pattern in Revelation falls into place. Revelation 17 carries on the line of Jeremiah 4:30 by speaking within the framework of the covenant. Thus the subject is not “Rome” but “Judah.” (Ibid., p. 134)
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Dr. Francis Nigel Lee
“I now point briefly to a South African perhaps already known to you (because he writes in English). I mean the Reformed Baptist from South Africa known as Erroll Hulse — who has left South Africa, settled in England, and become the leading Reformed Baptist in England (chiefly through his books and well-known magazine “Reformation Today”). I would like to give you a quote from his readable book The Restoration of Israel. Van der Waal is a very brilliant South African New Testamentician. He wrote a number of doctoral dissertations. One was on the Church Father Mileto of Sardis, who flourished round about 150 A.D. Another was on the priestly motive, in the book of Revelation.
Van der Waal has written a massive two-volume commentary on the book of Revelation which still needs to be translated. He has also authored shorter works on the book of Revelation — arguing strenuously that the book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Some of his works are only now being translated into English by Paidia Press in Canada. These include: In the Latter Days (his work against Hal Lindsay); and his eight-volume series on Sola Scriptura (alias By the Scriptures Alone). A writing from his pen that urgently needs translating, is his work The Cultural Mandate in Discussion.
This van der Waal is a fascinating person. He has a paradise-like home in Pretoria, which he adorned with all kinds of palm-trees and mosses and ferns and desert plants — both inside and outside his house and further into his garden. It is all surrounded by a huge fence — to keep out “snakes” (and other poisonous theological characters)! There he has tried to rebuild the garden of Eden — or, perhaps, his vision of what the perfect combination of culture and nature will be like on the new earth — as reflected in Revelation 21 and 22.
The most interesting thing of all — if you visit the home of van der Waal as I have done — is the way in which you walk out of his house into the garden. You are never quite sure where the garden ends and the house begins, and the other way round. The two melt into one another!
He visited me in America several years ago, and I took him on a tour through my home. I asked him for tips as to how to recreate the garden of Eden in my own home — and he was very helpful.
Van der Waal has written a number of important books, even over and above those titles I have just mentioned. A very fine book he wrote is entitled: What Exactly is Written There? It is a book dealing with some of the most difficult and misunderstood texts in the Bible which the pietists love to misinterpret. He straightens them out, with his painstaking exegesis. He deals, in this citation I am about to read, particularly with Hebrews 11:13. This states that the patriarchs confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Van der Waal does not like the pietistic interpretation of
the word “pilgrim” — and sets out to straighten them out.
Says van der Waal: “The translations have the writer saying in Hebrews 11:13 that the patriarchs ‘confessed they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.’ Now it is very questionable to me whether this translation ‘on the earth’ is justified. Instead of ‘on the earth,’ we would like to plead for the translation, ‘in the land.’ Compare the Hebrew word ‘erets — meaning ‘land’ or ‘earth’ or ‘country.’
“So here, we should be thinking of the promised land. Then the meaning would be: ‘Abraham confessed that he a stranger and a pilgrim in the land.’ In verse 8, we read of a place which Abraham received as an inheritance. Canaan was no halfway-house. No! It was his inheritance, his place. Hebrews 11:9 speaks of this place — as the land of promise!
“Woe unto Abraham — if he thought that this ‘land’ was still not actually the true and the real thing! There would be no ‘Platonic’ land in the sweet by-and-by more real, which he would only one day inherit. It is true on account of Abraham’s situation, that he lived in that land as a sojourning stranger. Yet he was still the legal heir of that land.
“Of course, Abraham also expected the city which has foundations. Here, however, we should think of both Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem. For both are lineal fulfilments of the promise. Hebrews 11:14 says that the patriarchs sought a city. Hebrews 11:16 declares they were not thinking of the fatherland which they had left. But now, they were longing for a better country, i.e. a heavenly one.
“Here, we do not read that they longed for heaven as a fatherland. Instead, we read that they longed for a heavenly fatherland — namely a fatherland determined by, and given from, heaven: an earthly fatherland given from heaven; an earthly fatherland of heavenly character!
“In addition, the contrast is not between Ur the deserted fatherland plus Canaan as the lesser promised land — versus heaven as a better fatherland. No! The contrast is rather between leaving Ur as a lesser fatherland deserving to be deserted, versus the promised land of Canaan here on earth. That latter in turn was of course a picture of the new heaven and the new earth of the then-messianic future — the fulfilment of Canaan, when heaven comes down to earth and when the earthly Canaan and the heavenly Canaan will be one!
“Now we are only threatened by a horizontalisation of Canaan — if it is described as a fatherland better than the one to come after death, or if one stops only at the earthly Canaan. Then, of course, there will [quite rightly] be an immediate reaction — to refer to heaven as being a still better fatherland than the earthly Canaan.
“But we are also threatened by a pietistic distortion of the Gospel — which practically denies God as Creator, and denies the goodness of the earthly Canaan. As a result of this kind of distorted pietistic spiritualisation — which ignores the history of salvation — the Old Testament is obscured. People then know no better than to use terms like ‘external’ and ‘earthly’ and ‘national’ to characterise the underestimated gift of the earthly Canaan.
“Here in the Bible, however — as too in respect of Jerusalem — we should never docetically picture Canaan as simply being earthly. For heaven is included in the gift of the earthly Canaan — just as the vine and the fig-tree are included when spoken of in regard to the Messiah and His coming kingdom in Micah 4.
“The geographical Jerusalem and the geographical Canaan were on the same line as the new Jerusalem and the new earth which we are still expecting. Precisely because we have our rights, we also have our duties — politics in respect of our nations, and culture too in the broadest sense of the word. We must not play down ‘the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee’ of Exodus 20 and Ephesians 6 — as if it were merely an earthly blessing!
“After Christ’s ascension, no change has occurred in the attitude of the Church to earthly life. It regards earthly life as being the same blessing it was in Old Testament times. There is, at least, no change in the sense that the outlook of the New Testament Church is now — after Christ’s ascension — more directed towards that [pie-in-the-sky by-and-by] misinterpretation of Colossians 3:1-2‘s ‘Seek the things above where Jesus is.’ For such a ‘Platonic’ misinterpretation conveniently ignores verse 18, which describes the things that are above — namely: ‘husbands love your wives,’ etc. “Even under the Old Covenant, the outlook was directed also toward the Messianic Age.
Even under the New Covenant one must still live according to the words of the great Christian theologian Hondius: ‘Look downward and think upward!’ Even under the New Covenant, the land has been given to the children of men. But the citizens of God’s kingdom must fulfil their tasks consciously — and fully!”
They are to do so “not with the attitude that they are living at the end of the ages — but to do so rather by executing the mandates of Genesis 1:28 and Matthew 28:19 (the mandates of their heavenly Lord and Saviour).” As van der Waal’s mentor Klaas Schilder said in Holland during World War II when he was hiding from the Nazi oppression: “De schuilkelder uit; het uniform aan!” (“Get out of hiding, and put on your uniform!”)
Van der Waal also approves of Schilder’s statement that gasoline, rather than incense, is an explicit theme of the Bible. Van der Waal himself then goes on to add: “Nothing is being absolutised here. For here there is only fear and trembling before the God Who tells me that what God hath joined together — gasoline and incense; prayer and utilisation — let no man put asunder!” And again (says Schilder): ‘what God hath cleansed (gasoline) — call not thou common!’ “Let us beware lest texts and terms wrenched out of their contexts by pietists, should ever bring us before the false dilemma: Christ or culture. It is not Christ or culture; nor even Christ and culture. It is Christ’s culture! On the pietist’s road of the pilgrim’s progress to eternity, the cultural mandate dies. There, people no longer know how to do anything meaningful with their riches. There, they stand not knowing what to say before today’s challenging problems.” For pietism is what Rushdoony rightly calls: the doctrine of cultural irrelevance.
“I shall never forget,” says van der Waal, “a conversation I had with an old gardener about pot-plants. We were discussing the point that was made against the cultural mandate by the pietistic Dr. Douma in his doctoral dissertation — a work which the gardener had read three times. Is it so that we only have a modest cultural task? Are we really only strangers and pilgrims here on earth? “The gardener said, ‘Dr. van der Waal, I am more that 75 years old. I really don’t need to work anymore. Do you think’ — and here the gardener’s hand swept over his beautiful bromelias, begonias, delicious monsters and other treasures of the plant-world in his hot house — ‘Do you think [or does Douma think!] that I work with these plants today, just to earn a living? No! I do it to glorify my Creator!'”
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Date: 22 Jul 2009
very nice to stumble on this site. You seem to have captured an aspect of my dad we are also thankful for. We are blessed as children with his insights but also suffered the consequences of inconsistencies in his personal life that split his congregation.
Please correct his first name on your website:
[Thank you! TD]
Date: 16 Sep 2010
Van der Waal was our pastor in Pretoria – I last saw him in 1969 when I was a boy of 7, little knowing that four decades later I would be writing my M.Div and later my M.Th-dissertation, too, on his works and legacy.
Truly a South African theologian “of blessed memory.”