When you’re going to interpret the Bible you need some principles of interpretation.
Here’s the principle you’ve been given with the Book of Revelation; you’ve been told that it’s supposed to be interpreted literally.
People ask me sometimes “Do you think the Bible is literally true?”
And I’ll say “I believe that’s literally a ridiculous question” because the Bible is full of all kinds of usages of language.
No one uses the language more fully orbed than John.
If you’re going to take John’s writings and you’re going to be a literalist, I’ll give you a little thing most people have never thought about.
John wrote the Gospel of John. Almost everytime in the Gospel of John that someone interprets a thing Jesus says literally chaos insues.
John says “you want me to enter into my mother’s womb and be born a second time?” The woman at the well says “you can give me water like that? Give me some water I want to drink it.”
A crowd of people, that turns into a Mob, a congregation turns into a mob when Jesus says “if you don’t eat my flesh or drink my blood you have no part in me.”
Jesus says “I’m a door.”
Really? Is he that wooden?
I don’t think so….
Every time that you go literal with Jesus in the book of John you run into a door!
You run into a wall.
John gives you a Jesus who speaks in ways that are nuanced.
Well, it shouldn’t surprise us when John comes to the Book of Revelation his own use of imagery is just a fully nuanced and is fully orbed.
A couple things about it, I mentioned on one of the other videos, the Book of Revelation was written in a time of distress. Therefore, he spoke symbolically and when he spoke symbolically he had two intentions: to obscure his meaning from a certain group of people and to reveal his meaning to another.
That’s what apocalyptic writing does.
And that’s the kind of writing people do in distress. It’s the kind of communication that people do when they’re distressed.
When you’re a prisoner of war you don’t want your captors to know what you’re saying or if you’re a Christian in a foreign land that surpresses the Gospel when you write your letters home to your supporters you’re not as explicit about your victories but your obscurity is well known to those that are receiving it.
Then the Book of Revelation is, surprisingly, I’m going to suggest to you, not written in a linear sytle.
That’s the hardest thing for people to get.
People think you’re supposed to start with a book and you start here and go all the way to here, and this happened first and this happened last.
It’s not written like that.
The Book of Revelation is written much more like a film than anything else because it was a book that was seen and heard. It’s not a book that was read and written down. It was seen and heard, it was imagery, it’s pictures and these pictures are supposed to capture your mind and capture your thoughts.
And I suggest to you that the book, rather than being written linear was written cyclically.