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Revelation and Symbolism

Discussion in 'Eschatology - Endtimes & Prophecy Forum' started by Draxamus, May 15, 2002.

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  1. Draxamus

    Draxamus New Member

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    Now, the Revelation was written in symbolic language. Apocalyptic literature was fairly popular in Jewish and Christian circles from 200 B.C.-200A.D. The book contains an account of visions in symbolic language. Symbolic descriptions are not to be taken as literal descriptions. Also, the symbolism is not meant to be pictured realistically. Take for example Jesus being described as a lmab with seven horns, and seven eyes. The number seven is a symbol for total perfection. Seven horns symbolize universal power. Seven eyes symbolize universal knowledge. Other numbers with symbolic meaning include the numbers six, twelve, and one-thousand. Six symbolizes imperfection. Tweleve symbolizes Israel's tribes or the apostles. And one-thousand symbolizes immensity.

    Vindictive language such as that found in chapter 6 verses 9 and 10 are also meant to be viewed symbolically. The harsh cries of Christian martyrs are literary devices the author used to evoke the reader in a felling of horror for apostasy and rebellion that will be severely punished by God. Likewise, the descriptions of the punishment of Jezebel(2, 22) and the destruction of the harlot, Babylon(16, 9-19, 2) are also literary devices. We must look beyond the literal meanings in both cases. The images in the punishment of Jezebel were meant to convey a sense of God's wrath at sin. The destruction of the harlot, Babylon, was meant to convey trust in God's providential care over the church.

    The book of Revelation must be understood with the help of historical background that occasioned its writing. The book of Revelation was composed as resistance literature in a time of crisis. The book suggests that the crisis was ruthless persecution of the early church by the Romans. The harlot Babylon symbolizes pagan Rome, the city on seven hills(17, 9). The book is an encouragement of Christiansof the first century to stand firm in the faith and to avoid compromise, and paganism, despite the thread of adversity, and martydom.They must await patiently for the fulfillment of God'd might promises.

    There is an enduring message in the book. That messae is that no matter what adversity or sacrifice Christians may endure, they will in the end trumph over Satan and his forces because of the fidelity to Christ the victor. This is a message of hope and consolation and challenge for all who dare to believe.
     
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  2. davo

    davo Member

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    Excelent post Draxamus :wave:

    The VERY first verse shows that The Revelation is according to symbol and metaphor:

    Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

    SIGNIFIED is [eshmanen], it means: "to show by signs" -from [shma] "sign or mark" i.e., indicator. The road sign saying "danger ahead" is not of itself the literal danger -but a devise giving this message. So to with The Revelation, it was giving signs in metaphor and symbol of impending judgment.

    I might differ slightly about Babylon being Rome, rather seeing it as Jerusalem [Judaism], being sanctioned by the authority of Rome i.e., "sitting on seven hills."

    However the point is this. We lose and miss much when we hanker after a "wooden literalism" instead of taking time to explore the "pictures" of Scripture that colour The Revelation.

    PS: the above is an amillennial approach [futurist].

    davo
     
  3. RKF

    RKF Member

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    Jerusalem doesn't fit like Rome does
     
  4. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

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    I went to a lecture by our priest on Revelation last night. Seems John was in prison when he wrote it, and was the last living apostle, so he had to write it in extreme symbolism, to hide its meaning from the Romans.
     
  5. Mandy

    Mandy Well-Known Member

    +7
    Actually I think that the book of Revelation tends to be over symbolized and spiritualized. Granted there are some things that are symbolic, like the harlot, etc.
    Revelation is actually quite easy to understand if you study it from a more literal point of view. Just look at the title, it's the revelation(the act of reavealing) of Jesus Christ.
     
  6. NumberOneSon

    NumberOneSon The poster formerly known as Acts6:5

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    Great point Mandy! :clap:

    It is the book of "revelation", not "unfathomable secrets". Why would the Lord tell the recipients of the book to "read, hear, and keep" what is written in the book if it was impossible to come to a clear understanding of what lay therein.

    In Christ,

    Acts6:5
     
  7. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

    +4
    Its not impossible to understand. It was written in exagerated symbolism for the reasons I stated, but the points are clear if you study them.

    Remember it was written by the human, John, in a very turbulent time in history.
     
  8. Mandy

    Mandy Well-Known Member

    +7
    I disagree. If something is written in exaggerated symbolism, it would be difficult to understand. When a person reveals something, they are disclosing, making known something not known or made clear before.
    John wrote down what he was told to. What would be the point of it being written in exaggerated symbolism?
     
  9. Josiah

    Josiah Super suction ears away!

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    Amen, Mandy! Calling anything in the Bible HIGHLY EXAGGERATED SYMBOLISM that is not CLEARLY symbolic is just man's way of trying to put God in man's box.
     
  10. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

    +4
    What is the point?

    To scare the ever living crap out of people, that were NOT listening in a turbulent time.

    In addition, the Bible says not to "throw your pearls before swine," so by "hiding" the meaning in this last book, the oppressors wouldn't get it.
     
  11. Mandy

    Mandy Well-Known Member

    +7
    If it was a case though of casting pearls before swine, I would imagine that the whole Bible would be written in exaggerated symbolism as well. I believe that the book of Revelation taken mostly literally is even more scary than if it were symbolic.
     
  12. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

    +4
    But you missed something. It was written in a time of extreme persecution of Christians. The other books were not, thus, it looks so different, even though it was written by an author of other books of the Bible that we know and understand.
     
  13. Mandy

    Mandy Well-Known Member

    +7
    I don't see what I'm missing. :scratch:
    It looks different because of it's content, not to hide any meaning. Like I said there are symbolisms in it, it's just that you can't take the whole book to be symbolic. If it was symbolic then there would be even more interpretations then there are now. Persecution was promised to all that follow Jesus, so I doubt that God would make it symbolic to save anyone from persecution.
     
  14. parousia70

    parousia70 I'm livin' in yesterday's tomorrow Supporter

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    The Language of symbolism in Revelation is the Language of the prophets of the OT.

    The people John wrote Revelation to,(those who first received the book, not us today) were emmersed in this kind of language and would have required little or no interpratation.

    The language of "stars falling, earth burning, mountains melting, world languishing, etc..." is the way the Bible discusses, ad nauseum, the fall of a nation.

    The language of "commotion in the physical universe" is used to describe the passing of governments and societies.
    Those who first recieved the Revelation would have picked up on this at first reading. When we neglect the precident set by the prophets for what this type of language means, in favor of our 21st century hyper-literalism, our imagination can take us just about anywhere.

    It would be exactly like if I worte in a journal today that my dad "Kicked the Bucket", and if in 2000 years someone with no understanding of our culture and linguistic idioms, came across that journal entry, he or she probably would take that hyper-literal stance and proclaim that on that day my dad "kicked an actual bucket" when you and I today, need no interpratation of what "kicked the bucket" means do we?

    Fortunatly for us, it requires only a slender aquaintance with OT prophetic language to grasp the truth of what John is talking about in Revelation, the fall of a nation.

    Here are some OT examples of how God discusses the fall of a nation by using language that seems to indicate world wide or even universal destruction. All of these prophesies have been fulfilled as history attests. They are the fall of Babylon, the fall of Nineveh, the fall of Edom, Judgement upon Egypt, and the Invasion of Israel by Nebuchadnezzar.

    Do yourself a favor. Take some time to really read these pasages and take stock in the language God uses to describe His Judgement upon a nation, then read Revelation in light of your newfound understanding of apocalyptic language. You just may amaze even yourself!

    Isaiah 13:1-17, Isaiah 24:3-6, 19-20, Isaiah 34:3-5, Nahum 1:1-5, Ezek 32:7-8, Daniel 8:10
     
  15. Chris†opher Paul

    Chris†opher Paul Based on a True Story

    +4
    I guess we differ on our beliefs on who wrote that chapter of the Bible. I believe John wrote it from prison, while it seems you believe God wrote it. If those premises are correct, then we can't agree.
     
  16. RKF

    RKF Member

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    The Bible says that all the words in the book are inspired by God, John was told what to write, that's what he wrote, symbolic, yes, but the old testament was too. It was written for those of the end time to understand just like most of Daniel, when you compare Daniel with the book of Revelation, that fit together like a glove, but they were written years apart, why? Because God was the Author. Jesus spoke in parables but he allowed some to understand. Revelations is for us and for them. The letters to the churches were to those churches, the prophecies were for us and them, they transend time..........
     
  17. parousia70

    parousia70 I'm livin' in yesterday's tomorrow Supporter

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    RKF, when you say the prophesies were for "them" as well as us, do I understand you to be saying that the events prophesied in the Book of Revelation already happened to those who first recieved the messge, but will happen again in our future??

    Or perhaps you are saying the events prophesied, happen to every generation of man since they as you said "transcend time"

    I have always been fascinated by the view that the events in Revelation happen over and over throughout history as you seem to be implying.

    I would welcome any elaboration on this notion you might be willing to give.

    YBIC,
    P70
     
  18. RKF

    RKF Member

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    No, what I mean is some of the prophecies are fulfilled then and others are fulfilled now.

    Do you realize that the arabs are giving the Jews the rights to the temple mount? As we type, right at this moment.
     
  19. NumberOneSon

    NumberOneSon The poster formerly known as Acts6:5

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    Do you have documentation on that, RKF? Arabs actually "giving" Jews the rights to the temple mount, at this very moment? I'd like to exam your evidence myself. Isn't the Dome of the Rock an immeasurable problem in this equation?

    In Christ,

    Acts6:5
     
  20. RKF

    RKF Member

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    No they will biuld the temple next to it. www.endtime.com
    go to the nonflash site and then go to the radio program then go to the archived radio and click on the yesterdays program
     
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