What does Revelation 13:11-18 mean to us now?

12 03 2010

 

Who are the beasts in your life?

Once in a sermon, Augustine asked his people if any of them was antichrist, as in opposing Christ, in character or unfaithfulness. The 1 John definition of antichrist, the only place in Scripture this term appears, simply means anyone who opposes Christ. It isn’t about an ominous opposing personality rising up and tricking us; rather, it is about our willingness to be tricked. God gives us a mind and incredible resources of His Spirit and Word; we have no excuse to be disloyal to our Lord. The call here is to heed the warning, not engage in vain speculation; rather, we are to make sure we are lined up to Him, loyal to our LORD! This means that as we lead our lives and run our churches, we have to seek Him and ask, are we being disloyal to our Lord? If so, guess what? The antichrist is not a political figure; it is you! We are the ones who are opposing Christ! This aspect is far more important that the speculations, because it all comes down to one thing, loyalty. Are you devoted to Christ or a slave to your will and to the manipulations of others? 

This passage could also mean that Christians may think that as long as they are not worshipping in a pagan temple, they are OK; but, to be loyal to evil or compromise God’s Word is worshipping something that is not of God! What we can do is trust Christ and be prepared, and that is John’s message to us. Stand firm in faith and do not be carried away with trivialities or intense persecution. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Why do these sings and wonders astonish people and, in turn, greatly deceive them? Do you believe people are personally responsible for allowing themselves to be deceived?
  1. What do you think this image is? What do you think the purpose is for the statue/image? How would you react to see this image come to life and speak? What would be the motivation for people to worship it?
  1. What do you see as the danger of the beast to us today, either personally or to the Church? What about relativism, diminishing values as Christians, replacing biblical teaching with faulty trends, and faulty logic and thinking?
  1. Why are there countless speculations on the mark and the number 666? Why would a pastor desire to preach by his personality and ignorance and not out of the Scriptures?
  1. What does it mean to you, as a Christian, to be watchful and loyal? Do you believe that when the beast does come there will be no mistaking of his identity? Then, how and why will Christians be tricked? What can we do to prevent ourselves from being deceived?

 © 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org





The Four Main Views of Revelation 13:11-18

12 03 2010

 

The Preterist view: There are three prevailing theories in this camp about who or what this second beast is. First, it might be a representation of the emperor worship cult that was estranging Christians economically and socially as they were being forced to worship Caesar and disown Christ; it was an ultimate test of loyalty. Were they willing to lose everything for our Lord’s sake? Are you? The second theory is that this is about a religious persecutor either from within the Church or outside, because of the designation of the two horns, such as pagan religions influencing or persecuting the Church or false prophets from within the Church doing so. The third theory is that this beast represents local or geographical persecutions such as governors of local provinces because of the land/earth and under authority references, Others have said it could be corrupt internal religious leaders or Jews attacking the Church (Matt. 7:15; 23). The image of the beast is seen as paying honor and homage to Rome, as Jews did during their occupation.  From the Hebrew translation of Greek numerical values, 666 is seen as a cryptogram for Nero. The mark and buying and selling are seen as a boycott of Christian products and services meant to ruin them economically. Others see it as the corrupt Jewish officials forcing faithful Jews out of business. 

The Futurist view: They see this second beast not as strong a persecutor of the Church, coming in disguise as a faithful Christian (because of the two horns), and then tricking people into worshipping the beast. This may be a counterfeit Jewish messiah or a slick false preacher who is the “false prophet” mentioned in Rev. 16:13. Others see it as the corruption of the Church. Others see him as the antichrist. The image brings all kinds of speculations—from an idol coming to life to a robot. Most believe it is technology that is key and God can’t do anything until the technology is right and ready; this ignores His sovereignty and omnipotence! Some see this as the rebuilt Temple captivating people. The mark and buying and selling are seen as the world changing to a cashless society, ripe for corruption and control by the antichrist. The mark is seen as a computer chip implanted in people. This 666 is seen as a theme for apostasy in the Church or world; others see it as the antichrist and still others see it as a literal number tattooed on people’s foreheads. Others see it as a symbol of man’s defiance of God. Such theories may be possible (a big stretch at least), but usually are ridiculous and miss the main point of the passage. 

The Idealist view: They see this beast as a support to the first beast and dragon, unified in strategy and purpose. Most see it as false prophets and teachers in the church or a singular master false teacher. Another view is that it is false theology, paganism, and/or other forms of extreme corruption in the Church. Some see the Church switching its focus from serving God to serving governments and/or current trends and secular thinking. The image is seen as conforming to nationalism and being disloyal to Christ and/or actual signs and wonders meant to deceive people. The mark and buying and selling are seen as one’s life philosophy and choosing loyalty to God or to the world. Others see this as economic boycotts and pressures on the Church. The 666 is seen as a representation of impurity and corruption, or false religions. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the Church going into apostasy, or those who blaspheme holiness and persecute the faithful. The first beast is the corruption of the Papacy and the second beast is the corruption of the priesthood. The second beast, as with the first, is seen as emphasizing the corrupt priests under the corrupt Catholic Papacy. Others focus on “Charlemagne” and the Holy Roman Empire around 800 AD and/or oppressive ecclesiastical power, or perhaps the emperors of Rome. Image is seen as false or alleged miracles, appearances of Mary and such being used to manipulate people down through the centuries to the corrupt practices of the Church. The 666 is seen by Irenaeus’s perspective as a representation of the last of Daniel’s Kingdoms and/or the “Lateinios,” the Latin reign and language of the Church, keeping God’s precepts from the common people as a control mechanism. The mark and buying and selling are seen as the corruption of worship practices and/or the Papal powers controlling the economics of Europe during the Middle Ages.





Six hundred and sixty-six!

12 03 2010

What does 666 mean?  

It is a symbol typical of first century Jewish apocalyptic riddles usually known to the audience being written to; John’s readers knew who he was talking about. It perhaps referred to Nero, and thus was a warning about making loyalty-oaths to Caesar. It was not a secret code to the hearers, only to those outside of the Church such as Roman officials. 

This was also a common way to express or warn about godlessness or those opposing Christ (could be attributed to a specific person such as Nero, or to any person in opposition to right and God) while avoiding unnecessary reprisals. Some commentators have said this is “the trinity of evil”, referring to the number of the antichrist who seeks to combat God and His people. This is called in the Greek a “triangular number;” it is used as a parody or a word play in the first century, referring to someone or something else. 

It was also a cryptic code word that referred to Nero, using the Hebrew translation of the Greek numerical values. This type of code is called “gamatria” where each of the letters in the Greek or Hebrew has an equivalent numerical value, such as alpha stands for one. This was not secret but common Jewish thinking; Jesus, in the Greek (IhsouV), has a numerical correspondent to 888. Some early Christian thinkers, such as Irenaeus, have attributed this to Euanthas or Lateinos or Teitan; Martin Luther thought it might refer to a Pope Benedict, and to other various evil Popes. 

In addition, 666, as a number, is diametrically opposed to the perfection of the number seven which means fullness and completeness. Thus, the theory of the numerical value is that a future antichrist may have a name equal in numerical value to 666 when it is written in Greek. “Nero Caesar” is 666 in the Greek when transliterated from the Hebrew (Matt. 24:15, 36-51). 

There is no reason or call to seek to decode this; it is not about the world’s population hitting 6,666,666,666 that may have happened in Nov 2006, or some mathematicians’ theory or whatever the theory of the day is. The plain meaning, is far more important to us than what speculators have come up with… 

Which is? That we are to be watchful to those who oppose Christ and make sure we are not opposing Christ in thought, word, or deed, taking oaths, or making promises that counter Christ’s principals!





The Mark!

12 03 2010

What does the Mark mean? 

It is simple, it means ownership and control; in this case it also refers to a forgery of the seal and love of God given to Christians (Ezek. 9:4-6; Rev. 7:2-8; 14:1). 

This “mark of the beast” is about who controls us, Satan or God. This beast forces people to bear the mark as a way to control and also as a counterfeit to the Holy Spirit that “marks” a true believer. This is also a pattern of the stranglehold that has been repeated throughout human history, such as the trade guilds that controlled who could buy or sell in the midst of the church at Thyatira (found in Revelation 2:18-29.) 

Also, it is the corruption as exhibited in John’s time by both Jewish and pagan priests, and especially the emperor cults. It is also represented in countries that are run with totalitarian tactics by corrupt officials and/or dictators. There are countless speculations on this, but it really denotes from the word meaning and the context, that it is a metaphor for ownership and control, but the means by which this will occur is unknown. 

All we can do is see how this has played out before and be ready for the future. Fear mongering over technologies and personalities are beside the point; neither Satan nor God need technology to make this happen, because it has happened before in grand scale without it. However, since we do have it… (Eph.1:13; Rev. 14:9-11; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20 and 20:4).





Exegetical look into Revelation 13:11-18

12 03 2010

 

  • Another beast. As a word, it means a ravenous animal; as a symbol, an opposing power. In association with earth, it represents religious powers or people serving secular authorities. He is acting as a counterfeiter of good, turning it into evil; as a “propagandist” (dispensing deceptive misinformation) for evil, it is the first beast and Dragon—Satan. He seeks to bring glory to himself and that of evil, whereas in contrast, the Holy Spirit brings glory to Christ. This beast is also called the “False Prophet” in Rev. 16:13; 19:20 and 20:10.
  • Coming out of the earth. This may refer to a locality or regional persecution whereas the beast from the sea is more universal. Romans had local enforcers; various cults also had their representatives, such as the emperor cults and various personalities who waged their ways and evils upon the population (Dan. 7:3, 17; Acts 19:30-31). 
  • Two horns like a lamb/horned lamb. This is a parody and distortion of Christ, perhaps referring to the power of evil governments such as Persia in Daniel. This may mean he starts off as gentle, and then manipulates behind the scenes until he rises to power. Whatever the form may take in the future, this beast seeks to manipulate and deceive people with seemingly miraculous signs and wonders, counterfeiting the work and purpose of the Holy Spirit. This will be very evident prior to the return of Christ (Dan. 8:6; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 5:6).
  • Spoke like a dragon. His true colors come out, such as Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:15 concerning wolves in sheep’s clothing. When this happens, there should be no doubt who he is and what he is up to.
  • Exercised all the authority. This means under the authority of Satan or working on his behalf. It can be in the form of evil secular authority, corrupt religious figures, or the compromise and apostasy of the Church. Some see this as an evil trinity of Satan/dragon, the antichrist/beast and the false prophet mimicking God’s Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Great and miraculous signs. Wonderworkers were common in this time although most did not have real powers. Like today’s magicians, they tricked people. The danger to us today is relativism, as Christian values diminish and are replaced by faulty logic and thinking (Duet 13:1-3; Ex. 7:11; Matt. 24:24; 1 Cor. 10:20; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev 19:20).
  • Fire to come is a parody of Elijah and of God’s marvels and powers, as well as how false prophets worked in the Old Testament. Satan seeks to deceive us while he discredits God (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7,18; 2 Kings 18: 24-39; Rev. 11:5).
  • Image… it could speak. It was a common magician trick used by priests to cause their idols to speak in this time, today we call it “ventriloquism.” Such deception was used for propaganda as well as evil personal gain (Deut. 13:1-11; 2 Thess. 2:4).
  • Refused to worship. The issue was perhaps not worship in the sense of religion, but rather loyalty pledges. This is a clear warning to early Christians to refrain from apostasy, as our loyalty is to Christ and thus, we should never compromise ourselves or His message. This beast can make the pronouncement of apostasy to those who refuse, such as what the faithful faced during the period of the Maccabees 175-134 BC (1 Macc. 1:50-51—Apocrypha; Dan. 3 and 6).
  • Forced everyone. Many Greek and Roman occupiers of Jerusalem forced the Jews to do this, thus, it was not an unexpected enterprise. Such a mark was, in the past, a tattoo, membership in a guild, code words, and/or an imperial stamp, etc. This is why early Americans reacted so negatively to the British Stamp Act of 1765 that was used to control, subvert, manipulate, and steal from the colonists. There was a tax on anything that had the king’s stamp on it. Many Greek people in this time had tattoos for the god and/or guilds to which they bore allegiance.
  • Right hand or on his forehead refers figuratively to a brand on a slave signifying to whom the person belonged. Not necessarily a literal tattoo or mark on the body, this was more a metaphor for allegiances, either to evil systems or to God. Romans who graduated from a class on emperor worship were given certificates that led to many privileges and opportunities (Is. 44:5; Rev. 3:12; 7:3; 14:1; 15:6; 17:5; 19:12; 22:4).
  • No one could buy or sell. Refers to commercial discrimination such as the trade guilds at that time, which had an economic boycott against people of faith. But, it will become more strict and cruel.




Revelation 13:11-18: What are the Contexts?

12 03 2010

 

This passage is about the enforcement of imperial worship and/or totalitarian regimes in John’s time, an even more evil emperor yet to come, and about their forms of deception. (Remember, Revelation is also a letter to the Seven Churches facing current problems then as well as fulfillment of things yet to come.) This theme of allegiance continues today; whom will we serve and trust? Will it be good or evil? The chief ends of the beasts and Satan are to get people to worship them—or anything else besides the One True God. He will counterfeit the claims and ways of Christ by twisting them for evil purposes. 

This is more about our battle against evil, Satan, and those who follow who are duped or have the desire to be evil than it is about a singular antichrist personality that may or may not come into existence. There are countless speculations on the mark and the number 666. In word meaning, context, and as a metaphor, the mark denotes ownership and control. The 666 denotes a parody or cryptic metaphor for Nero or anyone opposing Christ. Most of what is going on in chapter 13 is an explanation about what is going on in his time period. The proverbial 666 has been made into incredible magnitude by movies and sensational pastors who preach by their personality and ignorance and not out of the Scriptures. This makes good movies but not good biblical interpretation. 

Basically, symbols in Revelation had specific meanings for a First Century Jew or Greek, like when we might say “it is raining cat and dogs.” These are metaphors not to be taken literally or lightly but should be taken as they meant then, not compared to a modern day newspaper. John was in a totalitarian, evil regime under Emperor Nero (as was Domitian) who was very much an antichrist (this means one who opposes Christ—not just one person but anyone who oppresses someone away from Him – 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 1:7). This can also mean Nero and/or someone like a Hitler, a Mussolini, a Saddam Hussein, or someone who is yet to come). We are called, as Christians, to be watchful; however, it is foolish to seek an antichrist, predict one, or come up with some kind of fanatical theory such as a computer chip planted in us. There have been many theories; none of them have come true, and there is still an antichrist to come into fruition. When he does come, there will be no mistake of his identity.





Revelation 13:11-18

12 03 2010

Introduction 

 The Second Beast 

The second beast appears as he comes out of the earth. He, too, sought to imitate the True Lamb by having two horns but he spoke with the voice of evil; the dragon and his true intentions are now exposed. He was given the authority of the first beast and demanded all people to worship him. The first beast’s mortal wound has been healed, and this second beast starts to mimic Christ by performing miracles, astonishing people, and in turn, greatly deceiving them.  He further exasperates believers by demanding a statue of the first beast to be made, equipping it to come to life and speak, and demanding people to worship it. Those who did not were condemned. 

This beast not only demands worship, he now marks those who follow him; he requires all people to receive his mark or his number on their hand or forehead. Thus, only those with a mark may engage in commerce, even just to buy food. The number is 666, the number of a man. John asks us to seek wisdom in our understanding of these things. 

This beast, Satan, and evil people hate Christ and seek to scandalize Truth and righteousness and proclaim evil as a replacement of the Way! This passage has to do with what contains and controls us; will it be the riches and desires we seek, or the Lord we wish to glorify? The devil will bestow to us gifts and opportunities that seem great, but the strings that are attached will tie us to him and away from Him. This beast also desires to control wealth and in turn restrain people; this is basic economics and politics. Those who weald the power and money will direct and manipulate the people. What is interesting is that people, by nature, seem to worship money and power. Thus, the task of the beast, whether he is a real person who rises up or a metaphor for what seeks to control us, this is about what does control, motivate, and inspire us. Is it seeking to glorify Christ or allowing others to motivate or manipulate our desires so we are devoted to things that are not righteous or pleasing to Him? 

What can you do to trust Christ and be prepared? How can you protect yourself from other’s faulty control, motivations, or manipulation? 

How can you inspire others to be loyal to our Lord?  

What can your church do to inspire its people to glorify Christ and not allow others to motivate or manipulate evil or misplaced desires, so we will be devoted to things that are righteous and pleasing to Him?





Did the early Church Fathers teach a rapture or a particular position of it?

13 03 2009

 

This has been a common source to prove one’s position regarding end-time scenarios. See what the early church taught and assume it must be fact since they were closer to the original source, Christ, and were not convoluted by centuries of theology. This is actually a good way to see what a theological position is and how it can be measured. The problem is, many do not actually read the early writings, and when one does, he/she does not always understand the language and word meanings and thus may make assumptions that are not there.

Concerning articles and pre-tribulation-ism claiming proof from early church sources. My goal is not to mock these ministry, but to point out a common error. I assume their hearts are in the right place, but may be misguided by faulty thinking and unsound research. This is the typical, sloppy scholarship that has penetrated the Church at large and deceived (or better put, “distracted”) and preoccupied many people with the wrong things.

This is what is called Isogesis, which means “to lead in” or “reading into” the sentence; in the Scriptures, it is inserting an opinion that is not there. An example would be to introduce into the text one’s own presuppositions, ideas, and thoughts…where the reader or Bible teacher seeks an answer to his opinion or position to be varied. Thus he/she looks for verification and finds a vague reference, then does not bother to do his/her homework to truly determine what is actually being said…

The question is, did the early Church Fathers teach rapture? The answer is a clear no! I diligently studied their writings trying to prove a rapture theory and I never found it. Did they teach that all Christians will escape the Tribulation through a gathering to the Lord, or that they would go through it? Either position is possible, but highly unlikely, as the context and subject of these quotes and others is off issue or on a different subject than the position being inserted into the text. Also, the terms used then are not the same as what we use today and thus we make assumptions that are not based on fact. In other words, we assume and do not check out the facts, and thus make a dogma out of speculations and nonsense; in so doing, we miss the main point of it all.

This is the classic quote that is often used for both positions:

The Shepherd of Hermas.

You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly.

Is this evidence of pre-tribulation-ism and/or a rapture, or is it a pre-tribulation escape from the Tribulation? First, one needs to learn how to read, not a quip, but when we read, ask the question, what is it? What did that term or name mean then to the original author and audience, not what does it mean to me nearly two thousand years later, filtered with preconceived theological bias or a desire to prove some theory. We also need to look at the context and word usages. The same is with the other quotes like Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren statements. They are not saying a rapture, but speculating what might happen with a view that is not in Scripture, but may have some distant semblance to modern speculations that are also not based on Scripture. And, if one did some basic research, they would find that Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren were quickly refuted by scholars who did their homework. (By the way, these issues are so minor it is absurd we argue about them. By doing so, we disservice our Lord and take the attention off what He has for us.)

The real issue in Revelation and what this quote in Hermas alludes to is all about loyalty. The author tells us what is important, to not doubt in the presence of such a beast (meaning to not lose faith or doubt because one’s circumstances are tough. Beast refers to your opposition by political force or personal sin or persecution). Then, he states: prepare yourselves (meaning grow in faith), and repent (escape false thinking and embrace Christ as LORD) with all your heart, (make Christ first and foremost in one’s life) and turn to the Lord (lead your life as what Christ would have me do). This is about the continuing theme of our faith and allegiance, and about the contest and contrast of the mark of loyalty versus disloyalty. It refers to the loyalty of the faithful contrasting with the disloyalty of those who desire evil over the Way of God. If we try to read into this an end-time scenario, we miss the main point and delude ourselves. Further, if we teach this nonsense, we distract people from what is really important. We become the false teacher so refuted by 2 Peter. Read Matthew 24 and see what our Lord said about this. The point here is that God sees and protects those who are His (Rev. 3:12; 7:3-8; 13:16; 14:1-1; 22:4).

The true question to us all is not what esoteric theory best suits us; rather, will our loyalty and faith be to ourselves and/or evil, being easily led by manipulations, or will our allegiance be to the Lord and marked by Christ? Will our faith be about Christ as LORD or will our time and energies be spent on gibberish, distracting us and others away from faith, obedience, spiritual maturity, character, and Fruit?

Our trust in Christ (salvation) is what delivers us and daily life with the choices we make. This is not about esoteric whims; rather, it is about the practice of faith and trust and obedience in harsh times while still being loyal to Christ. This is what the Revelation was telling those seven churches and what it is telling us now.

How would you contrast loyalty versus disloyalty in your faith? What about how your church is run? How do you display loyalty to God and others?

These are the real issues; when we make up these foolish inconsequential theories, we take our eyes off Christ and place them on ourselves or something worse….we end up serving Satan or becoming a false teacher and flutter for our redactors and opponents while we forget about our Living LORD!





Apocalyptic Literature is Not a Secret Code?

4 12 2008

Remember, the Apostles and most of the early Christians were fluent in Greek as well as Aramaic and some Hebrew; they fully knew the Old Testament and were immersed in that culture. Paul, John, and others used a good amount of borrowed material for illustration sake, which they knew but that we may not know so well.

Consequently, the inscription key is the understanding of the Old Testament and Jewish customs and thought, not today’s newspaper headlines! So, you use a concordance and look up that word, such as lampstand, and see what it meant in Exodus and then in Zechariah, and you have your key to unlock the “code” of the word.

Remember, the Bible interprets itself, too. For more in-depth research, you can do what we do at Into Thy Word; we use the Old Testament first and foremost and then look in the other first century literature that John and his reader would be very aware of and have borrowed from, such as the other apocryphal Jewish Books. But, keep in mind that these are hints and helps that give us insights to this type of genre and metaphors and their usage to a first-century Jewish understanding, but are not recognized or inspired as Scripture! These works include the apocalyptic books, 4 Ezra, 1 Enoch, 2 Esdras, Profetes, Sibylline Oracles, Petronius, 4 Maccabees, Joseph and Asenath, Jubilees, Simititudes of Enoch, and the Qumran Texts, to name the main ones (there are many more). They are available on CD and online that makes searching them easy (www.ccel.org).

We also need to keep in mind that many of these images are metaphors with meanings that a first century Jew or Greek would clearly have known and understood; we today, two thousand years hence, may not. In conjunction we need to seek the context and word meanings of the passage and image in question, and seek what they meant to the people at the time as well as comparing it to other passages. Thus, we look to the underlying meanings in the Greek, and study Jewish apocalyptic literature and the Old Testament. Our big clue is the Old Testament where most of it resides, but not just in Daniel.

What we do not do is seek what they mean two thousand years later in someone’s fantasy or speculations. For example, in Revelation chapter seven, the 144,000, the context and word meanings tell us that there is no ethnicity, as all in Him are His, and the numbers are beyond measure. The O.T is our code breaker and will help us unveil the clues. God’s Word clearly tells us what the meanings are. It is not today’s newspapers and popular trends that give us the meanings; it is the understanding of God’s Word and the context that does.

Images such as the beast, the mark, or 666 are not to be taken literally; rather, they are symbolic depictions of dire warnings meant to strike terror. These were most terrifying images to an ancient person. They are meant to be a wake-up call to heed the Lord, Sovereign of the universe, and get our lives lined up to His, or else. And, the or else is that you will be judged, not just in eternity, but in this life, too. What does it take to get you lined up to His precepts and yielded to His Lordship? God wants us to make a real, passionate effort to repent, get right with Him, and not lead misguided and harmful lives by trying to serve other things, idols, desires, or trying to choose between two contradictory paths in life (Prov. 24:3-4; Is. 45:7; Jer. 29:11-14; Phil. 2:3-4; James 1:6-8; 4:7-10). God is far more concerned about how we lead our Christian lives, knowing Him, and making Him known than replacing or covering our speculations over our faith.

Let us not get caught up and stuck in meaningless speculations; rather, do as the passages tell us. Be caught up in Christ by your faith. Good exegesis means God has control of what He says; we do not. We are to dig out His precepts, not interject ours. We are to accept what it actually means for us, not what we want it to mean.

More In-depth Information

When we come to an apocalyptic word or book, we need to realize it is not esoteric (meaningless or obscure or too deep and hidden); it also has a meaning for us today, as it contains past, present, and future events. Examples include the many prophecies concerning Jesus in Matthew 24 most likely already have been fulfilled, and there are parts of Daniel and Revelation that will yet come to pass. Prophecy does not always follow a clear, logical, systematic pattern; rather, it often jumps from thought to idea to another point and so forth. It also may jump over large periods of time. Thus, in prophecy, we need to be aware of two essential forms of language.

First there is the Literal (Didactic). This is the simple and direct meaning, or in other words, what it says is what it means. It has a plain meaning. Zechariah, chapter seven is a good example, as are much of Isaiah and Jeremiah. The imagery had a clear meaning to the people to whom it was first presented, so don’t jump to conclusions or read in what is not there. If you get frustrated with it, put it aside. Most Bible scholars debate the meaning, so it is improbable that you will have a clear insight. Some people are not ready or able to comprehend this part of the Bible; if so, that is OK! Focus on the parts of Revelation that are crystal clear.

The second form of language is the Figurative (Predictive). This is the category into which most of prophecy and thus, Revelation falls. We are to always view prophesy with the attitude that it has a plain meaning until we have clear and compelling reasons to place it in the figurative category. Our task is to determine the points and ideas that apply today and point to tomorrow. The bottom line is that it will happen at some point in history, and come to pass in a literal and plain way. We may not understand it until it is right on top of us. Daniel 7-12; Joel 2; Isaiah 11; and Zech. 4 are clear examples of figurative language.

Furthermore, some of the language in Revelation is “word pictures” where John is trying to describe in their language and culture as well as technology, such as Daniel, chapter seven, and many parts of Revelation. For example, if he was describing events we might see in our lifetime, how would he describe a helicopter if he had never heard of or seen one? For most parts of Revelation, John was using imagery from Ezekiel, Daniel, and other Jewish literature that they would have known. Unfortunately, there are few of some so called Bible scholars who write the popular books of today who are even aware that there is an Old Testament, let alone how to inductively read it. The key to the understanding of Revelation is in the Old Testament!






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