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Question for literal interpretation of Revelation

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Hi all!

I was reasoning about the book of Revelation. I usually interpret other books in the Bible, like the Gospel, literally. Indeed the Gospel is an historical narration of what Jesus said and did, so it seems logical to me to interpret it literally.

However, when it comes to Revelation, it seems to me that the whole style of the author is deliberately symbolic.

But I wanted to hear arguments from those who interpret it literally. Do you believe in literal beasts, woman clothed by literal sun, literal lamb and lion, literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach, literal dragon, literally Babylon, horses etc.?

If yes, can you explain your reasons?

Ps remember that even if you say "it's an adjective for" or something similar, then you are NOT sticking to your literal interpretation anymore, because an adjective can be used for countless people or situation. So either you read it as  100% literal or not.

Edited by listener24
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3 hours ago, listener24 said:

Hi all!

I was reasoning about the book of Revelation. I usually interpret other books in the Bible, like the Gospel, literally. Indeed the Gospel is an historical narration of what Jesus said and did, so it seems logical to me to interpret it literally.

However, when it comes to Revelation, it seems to me that the whole style of the author is deliberately symbolic.

But I wanted to hear arguments from those who interpret it literally. Do you believe in literal beasts, woman clothed by literal sun, literal lamb and lion, literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach, literal dragon, literally Babylon, horses etc.?

If yes, can you explain your reasons?

Ps remember that even if you say "it's an adjective for" or something similar, then you are NOT sticking to your literal interpretation anymore, because an adjective can be used for countless people or situation. So either you read it as  100% literal or not.

The concepts and events and actors are literal. The symbols are just that, symbols. The imagery represents real events, concepts, individuals, groups, etc. Do I think a literal red dragon will appear on earth for the people to worship? No. Do I think there is a literal 200 million strong army from the east with breastplates of purple, red and yellow all riding chimeras? Yes. 

The obvious imagery of the beasts in Rev 13 hearkens back to the beasts of Daniel 4, letting us know just who the beast is and from whence he cometh.

Literal Babylon? Sure.

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4 hours ago, listener24 said:

Hi all!

I was reasoning about the book of Revelation. I usually interpret other books in the Bible, like the Gospel, literally. Indeed the Gospel is an historical narration of what Jesus said and did, so it seems logical to me to interpret it literally.

However, when it comes to Revelation, it seems to me that the whole style of the author is deliberately symbolic.

But I wanted to hear arguments from those who interpret it literally. Do you believe in literal beasts, woman clothed by literal sun, literal lamb and lion, literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach, literal dragon, literally Babylon, horses etc.?

If yes, can you explain your reasons?

Ps remember that even if you say "it's an adjective for" or something similar, then you are NOT sticking to your literal interpretation anymore, because an adjective can be used for countless people or situation. So either you read it as  100% literal or not.

You are confusing "literal" with "face-value."   We always interpret literally.  But we should not take  a face-value approach.   To interpret "literally" means to ascertain the literal meaning the author intends to convey.    Symbols are interpreted in the light of what the author is trying to say and the meaning he assigns to those symbols.  That is part of literal interpretations.

"Literal interpretation" means that I treat a parable like a parable, a prophecy like a prophecy, a proverb like a proverb.  It means I treat a symbol like a symbol.    "Literal" means that read the text is literature and the rules that  govern how various types of literature are to be read, always looking for the meaning supplied by the author.

So when I read Revelation, I don't see an actual dragon;  I look for the meaning the dragon represents.   That's the literal interpretative method.

Edited by shiloh357
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I think care needs to be taken to use the term literal in the way that is commonly accepted and used by most people or confusion will result.

A precise use of the word literal means to take written words with their usual meaning with no allegory, symbolism, or metaphor attached.  From Merriam Webster, here is a nice example.  The literal meaning of “know your ropes” is “to know a lot about ropes,” while figuratively it means “to know a lot about how to do something.”   (As an aside, the OED now notes an informal usage of emphasis while not being literally true.  E.g. ‘I was literally blown away by the response I got.’)  As soon as we say that particular words have a symbolic, metaphorical, allegorical, or other such meaning, we are no longer taking them literally.

In the Christian circles I have been part of, most people seem to reserve the usage of the term "literal interpretation" for those passages which are taken as written without introducing another layer of explanation as to what metaphors, allegories, symbols, or other literary devices are being used along with their meaning.  As far as I can tell, the term literal is usually used according to its standard meaning.

For example, take this passage during the crucifixion of Christ.  "It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon,  for the sun stopped shining. " (Luke 23:44-45 NIV).   There are 3 ways (off the top of my head) that this passage might be treated.

1. God turned off the sun for 3 hours and it emitted no light whatsoever.

2.  People saw a physical darkness around them and couldn't see the sun.  There was an eclipse (or some type of unnatural or unseasonal heavy cloud cover or something) that caused the land to be dark.

3. This is symbolic of the people being spiritually darkened and saddened because of the death of the Son of God.  Darkness and the sun not shining would be considered a metaphor for spiritual darkness.  The sun actually kept shining and it was something else that happened that wasn't physically observed.

I would only consider 1 and 2 to be literal interpretations of the passage.  Option 1 is to take the words as a literal description of the objective behavior of the sun itself.  Option 2 is to take the words as a literal description of how people viewed the sun and what they were seeing (within common use of language to describe the world in anthropocentric terms).  Option 3 is to take a nonliteral approach and assume that some sort of symbolism or metaphor is being used.  I'd guess that most Christians would take option 2 as their understanding of this passage.  They would probably describe this as a literal interpretation of this passage.  On the other hand, I think that most Christians would describe option 3 as some sort of metaphorical interpretation of the passage and would NOT describe option 3 as a "literal interpretation of spiritual darkness instead of physical darkness."  They'd probably describe option 3 as really saying "what seems to be a literal description of physical darkness is really just a metaphor being used to represent a metaphorical meaning of spiritual darkness."  I think that very few people would describe option 3 as being literal in any way.

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Both descriptions, literal and metaphorical, are used by those who read scripture

One must be guided by the Lord's holy spirit in order to make the correct selection .... this takes time and a great deal of study 

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7 hours ago, listener24 said:

Hi all!

I was reasoning about the book of Revelation. I usually interpret other books in the Bible, like the Gospel, literally. Indeed the Gospel is an historical narration of what Jesus said and did, so it seems logical to me to interpret it literally.

However, when it comes to Revelation, it seems to me that the whole style of the author is deliberately symbolic.

But I wanted to hear arguments from those who interpret it literally. Do you believe in literal beasts, woman clothed by literal sun, literal lamb and lion, literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach, literal dragon, literally Babylon, horses etc.?

If yes, can you explain your reasons?

Ps remember that even if you say "it's an adjective for" or something similar, then you are NOT sticking to your literal interpretation anymore, because an adjective can be used for countless people or situation. So either you read it as  100% literal or not.

Revelation is like a big picture book to draw a picture in your mind.    Lots of symbols. 

You don't want to read over this verse here.

Rev 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

John was taken in the spirit to the Lords day and shown things.   

Revelation covers a long period of time ch 12.  

God doesn't deal if factious animals. 

The First Beast
Rev 13:1  And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

The sea is the  peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. (Rev 17:15)

What is this beast?   Its a" political system" having having seven heads(regions) and ten horns(powers, and upon his horns ten crowns(crowns to rule), and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

Rev 17:12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.

The 10 kings rule for 1 hour with the beast system.

Rev 13:2  And the beast(political system) which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Like a leopard -symbolic of the kenites and their 4 horns of power.    A leopard with its spots can hide.

Mouth of a lion- Christian nations

feet of a bear- Communistic atheistic system of Russia. 

You can read the same powers in Dan 7.

 

woman clothed by literal sun.

This sign was in heaven and the woman is Israel the 12 tribes.

literal lamb and lion

Rev 5:5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Christ is the only one who can open the book ie the seals to you.

literally people eating books sweet as honey but bitter in the stomach

Rev 10:9  And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

Ever heard the expression of consuming a book.     Its speaking of the Bible and when you eat it ie consume it and learn what Satan does it makes you bitter.    But Gods TRUTH  is sweet as honey over the buds of your mind.

Rev 10:10  And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
Rev 10:11  And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

literal dragon

Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Just one of Satan's names and also the name of his political system.  (Rev 13)

literally Babylon

Rev 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

What does babylon mean in the greek.

G897
Βαβυλών
Babulōn
bab-oo-lone'
Of Hebrew origin [H894]; Babylon, the capital of Chaldaea (literally or figuratively as a type of tyranny): - Babylon.

H894
בָּבֶל
bâbel
baw-bel'
From H1101; confusion; Babel (that is, Babylon), including Babylonia and the Babylonian empire: - Babel, Babylon.

Babylon is the fountain-head of all idolatry and systems of false worship. This is the "mystery of iniquity" (2Th_2:7) seen in all the great "religions" of the world.

So this woman that rides the" political system" is in confusion,  doesn't have God's seal of Truth in her forehead but she thinks Anti-christ is Jesus. 

Horses are always symbolic of powers as in the seals Rev 6. 

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"What is this beast?   Its a" political system"

 

The beast of Revelation 9; 13; and 17 is Abaddon/Apollyon

This fallen angel of Satan's contrivance rules the Middle East, 5 past and 2 future during the coming tribulation period

.... the 70th week decreed

Begin with this truth and then do more related study  

Edited by Daniel 11:36
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Whenever possible the book of Revelation should be interpreted literally. There is some spiritual meaning in its words but with a Bible study from an excellent Bible scholar those words can be interpreted correctly.

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@Diaste @shiloh357 @GandalfTheWise  @Daniel 11:36 @missmuffet @7trumpets @Rick_Parker

Thanks all, very insightful answers!

On 12/3/2017 at 9:23 AM, GandalfTheWise said:

I would only consider 1 and 2 to be literal interpretations of the passage.  Option 1 is to take the words as a literal description of the objective behavior of the sun itself.  Option 2 is to take the words as a literal description of how people viewed the sun and what they were seeing (within common use of language to describe the world in anthropocentric terms).  Option 3 is to take a nonliteral approach and assume that some sort of symbolism or metaphor is being used.

How would you see different "literal" options when it comes to the numbers? Like the 144000, the 1000 years etc. 

Could an interpretation that accepts there is a certain number of elects, but not necessarily 144000 (and not 139999, or 144001) still be "literal"?

On 12/3/2017 at 7:13 AM, shiloh357 said:

Symbols are interpreted in the light of what the author is trying to say and the meaning he assigns to those symbols.  That is part of literal interpretations.

You are right shiloh357, some parts often explains themselves. 

 

On 12/3/2017 at 7:13 AM, shiloh357 said:

So when I read Revelation, I don't see an actual dragon;  I look for the meaning the dragon represents.   That's the literal interpretative method.

Again, could this be said also for the very rounded numbers? (like 144000). Looking for the meaning of 144000. Or is it more likely that God makes His decision on who is saved and who has a place of honor, just to obtain cool and rounded numbers? 

Edited by listener24

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      Look at the context.
      An example of this applies to what I am going to analyze momentarily – Matthew 25, where we see the sheep and the goats at the throne of judgment. The context surrounding this word picture begins in Matthew 21, when Jesus rides into Jerusalem, on the back of an unridden donkey – the Rolls Royce of the day, and He is perceived as the Messiah Israel hoped for. Unfortunately, He did not do what the disciples, nor the people expected, as He overturned the sellers tables, chairs, and loosed their merchandise where they had been selling, in the court of the Gentiles. And then, Jesus got into a verbal confrontation with the elders and Pharisees. All this activity shook the disciples and prompted them to ask, “when will all these things come to pass, and what will be the sign of your coming as the Messiah.
      I am always analyzing the scriptures even as the pastor speaks. I examine the context and what the interlinear Greek or Hebrew dictionary says the words mean. Occasionally, the pastor is preaching in opposition to what the words mean. As a side note: Pastor and I had a bad moment one day, as he challenged me about my intensive focus on end times and the eschatology books of the Bible. In his indictment of me, he said, “Notice how in my sermons, I present the gospel in a manner that brings about change in people.” I try not to overthink the pastor's words that day, but isn't that what the Word of God is supposed to do, change people?
      Look for a comparative text.
      Many of the Calvary Chapel pastors, like Don Stewart or the late Chuck Smith, used to say, “allow scripture to define scripture.” What does that mean? As I read the Revelation, I see where John, on two occasions, in speaking to the churches, uses the term the Synagogue (Rev 2:9, Rev 3:9.) Why is this significant? Because John, was not writing in code as some would ascribe, he was writing to Jewish converts/followers of Christ. And therefore, spoke in a language they would immediately understand. Greek, of course, was one aspect of this language but the other carried the oral history and word stories from the Old Testament. The evidence for this is rather extensive and is demonstrated in the writings of James (James 2:2) and the Apostle Paul. Read Acts 18. In every city we find Paul entering the local Synagogue and preaching. For over fifteen years Paul preached, almost exclusively, to Jews. It was only after years of abuse at the hands of religious Jews that Paul finally said, and I am taking this message to the Gentiles.
      The Apostle John, James, Peter, and Paul focused their attention on the Jewish community. Peter, although he had a brief exchange with the Roman Centurion's family, maintained, as did James and John, a focus on Jews. [Read Paul's account in Galatians 2,] Many of these believed for years that this gospel of Jesus was meant exclusively for Jews. Peter, in 2 Peter 3:10 says,
      “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” NASB
      This passage has clear and definite associations with Isaiah 13:9; Jeremiah 46:10 among others.
      In conjunction with the idea of comparative texts, was the indication that everything, aside from direct revelation from the Holy Spirit, came out of the Torah and Tanakh. Paul's letters; James words on wisdom, and the Revelation that John conveyed, all came from the Old Testament. We can put this idea of comparative texts into action where Revelation speaks of a multi-headed beast with crowns and horns (Revelation 13:1). This imagery is found in multiple locations but primarily in the words of the prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:7).
      Matthew 25:31-45, where we see the sheep and goats, is a comparative text. The words Jesus spoke were in response to questions His Jewish disciples ask him, and those words made sense to a Jewish audience. If you had been a student in Synagogue school you were expected to memorize the Old Testament teachings. Therefore, one might expect that these people were looking for these events to happen.
      Try to take in as much of the background wording into consideration as you can.
      When I look at Matthew 25:31-45 in the NASB, the segment that speaks of the sheep and goats carries the headline, The Final Judgment. That headline in itself gives me nothing of value except as a reference point. If I were looking for a direct association to the final judgment, there is nothing within these verses that define this explicitly by using that terminology.
      Can I find an inference of final judgment in verse 31?
      Matthew 25:31 NASB "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.
      Here you see the Son of Man coming in His glory.
      This is the same Jesus that Stephen saw, as he stood before the Jewish council (Acts 7:55-56,) and it is the same Jesus that Daniel saw in Daniel 7:13.
      And, He will sit on His glorious throne.
      There is a passage in Joel 3:12 that would cause the audience listening to the speaker that day to take note. Joel 3:12 LITV Let the nations be awakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat. For there I will sit to judge all the nations all around.
      This passage in Joel can easily be associated with the judgment we are about to see in Matthew 25. These two points alone do not convince me, as we see Jesus coming in Revelation 19 prior to Him being seated for judgment, and, there is no account of Him sitting upon His throne in Revelation 19.
      To be honest, I have to stretch my mind a bit to see the final judgment. However, if I look at the next verse, the finality suddenly becomes clearer, especially if I have an understanding of Joel 3:12. [Mat 25:32 And before Him shall be gathered all the nations;]
      There is only one glorious throne.
      Is this the same throne that we see in Revelation? We have to look at Revelation 20:11 and see if there is something here that matches.
      Revelation 20:11 NASB Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
      A great white throne
      Our only references to a white throne come from 1 Kings 10:18 and 2Ch 9:17, and they are effectively the same story
      1 Kings 10:18 NASB Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with refined gold.
      Ezekiel tells us what he saw, Ezekiel 1:26 NASB Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.
      lapis lazuli - Sapphire - Clear heavenly blue. Apparently, the color is insignificant.
      In 1Kings 10:18 it is clear that this is a great throne, and in Daniel 7:9 Daniel sees the throne as being fiery flames.
      Although you don't see this happening in Matthew 25, Revelation 20:7-8 tells us that after the thousand years, Satan is released from his prison and he deceives the nations. Those nations, in turn, surround the city of God in an attempt to kill God and His people. Those gathered are killed in an instant. The next event scripture shows us is the gathering of the nations, or, as Matthew 25 puts it, the dead are brought before this great throne.
      Although my methods of sorting out what I read, and disseminating the false teachings I hear, might be different than what you learn in seminary, they work for me. You also just got the added benefit of some insight into a false teaching that seems to enjoy sending all who approach the throne of judgment, to hell. A serious look at scripture will demonstrate that such a teaching is blatantly false and damaging to our understanding of who God is.
       
       
      iThe Church’s Secret: Biblical Illiteracy in the 21st Century, Hugh Whelchel, writing for the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics. March 13, 2017. https://tifwe.org/the-churchs-secret-biblical-illiteracy-in-the-21st-century/
      iiBiblical Illiteracy by the Numbers Part 1: The Challenge
      https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/october/biblical-illiteracy-by-numbers.html
    • By Jonathan BeWell
      "All for Today"

      I wandered the streets naked hearing only the beats
      of my heart overflowing with a sixth sense
      of urgency; emergency; clergymen; demons;
      I fainted.
      Time had ceased.
      My mind was creased.
      Cursed with the truth, the lies twisted my hindsight;
      the sight lit my foresight
      and the now was one huge stooge
      ready to fall.
      It was a desperate call
      and I knew not who to listen to or who to tell,
      my apparently tortured loneliness was living hell.
      I eventually landed in a psychiatric ward
      where all my kin were studied as a backwards horde.
      The call was still ringing in my ears but 
      I was stuck in tangents of a concentration camp.
      The antics of my fellow prisoners of war
      only proved to me I was in on the score
      and was losing; missing in action with
      only my (innocent of the facts) family to protect me.
      That was a decade ago now and how I
      came through is miraculous.
      ...yet that time is not written off,
      it still haunts me to this day,
      a reality I rarely speak of...
      and that is all I will burden you with today.

      -Gregory KJ Brumwell 2004
    • By Jonathan BeWell
      My following testimony is inspired by shapes' post in the "Worthy Q & A for Seekers" forum.  And I quote, "How does God deal with those who have mental illness. Does he heal people from this affliction?"  https://www.worthychristianforums.com/topic/219239-mental-illness-god/#comment-2777709
      God dealt with my mind in a mess by giving me a guardian angel.  I have seen and heard her.  God had me born into an amazing family.  They love, protect and provide for me.  God gave me and the ability to discern real true friends.  Only a couple dozen never gave up on me.  God supplied me with doctors, psychiatrists and professionals.  Medications, personal care and safety nets caught me when I fell, repeatedly.  God commands my government, nation and community services to help me, however little and lacking it is.   God dealt with me by interacting with my heart, mind, body and soul.  Most importantly, God dealt with my sin by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to save, protect and heal me. 
      I have been saved since 2016's Christmas season.  I dove deep into everything Christian and came up baptized on the last day of 2017 (also baptized as an infant).  I attended some prayer meetings last year.  They anointed me with oil and prayed for the healing of my mind.  Since then, God has been healing and restoring me among other areas of my life.  I feel shocks of energy surge though and jerk my body.  I have been told this is the blood of Jesus running through me.  When I am praying, willingly changing my thoughts to God's will, having revelations or meditating on God, I feel tangible physical healing in my temples behind my eyes.  It has the similar sensation of a yawn, a condensed vibration.  A Christian veteran I admire said something that stuck in my head relatively recently.  "I don't even think like that anymore."  It was a eureka revelation moment at the time and applies to what has been happening to my mind over the past year.  I am becoming less like the Greg of the past and more like Christ.  The Holy Spirit is alive and well in me and changing me for the better.
      The short answer is, "yes," He does heal people from this affliction. 
      How God deals with sin, evil, death and even demons is by offering Jesus Christ a place in between us and all those "mental health issues."  The secular world is leaving out God (in three Persons) as the ultimate and only real true solution, cure, coping mechanism and explanation, etcetera.  I am living breathing proof.  People would have a hard time believing my past.  People in my past would have a hard time believing my present.  My future will be hard to believe for anyone stuck in the secular world ignoring the one, true, living God.  Jesus Christ is alive and well and has made me so, eternally, glory be to our Heavenly Father!
      12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
      - Mark 5:12-13 New International Version (NIV)
      3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
      - Hebrews 3:1 New International Version (NIV)
      7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
      - Philippians 4:7 New International Version (NIV)
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