Literal interp of Revelation

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by IfbReformer, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. IfbReformer

    IfbReformer
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    Hi all,

    Aaron and I have been having a dicussion in the music area that keeps coming back to the harps in Revelation - which he claims are only symbolic and not real harps.

    He made this statement about the harps in Revelation:

    In the process he made this statement about the New Jerusalem and its structure:

    This was my simple answer to him:

    How would you answer these assertions that most things we see in Revelation are symbolic and cannot be taken at face value, where as I and others take a more literal approach to Revelation while agreeing some literal things in are representative of other literal things.

    IFBReformer
     
  2. rlvaughn

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    IfbReformer, I think this will be an interesting discussion and look forward to reading it. I plan to mostly read, but I want to throw in a few comments at the start.
    I think this misses the crux of the argument. Aaron is not denying that God can do anything - even in the case of such things as gold that will not deteriorate. The question is whether these things are meant symbolically or literally.
    I think it's confusing to tie "symbolic" and "cannot be taken at face value". If something is meant to be symbolic, then to understand it as symbolic is to take it at its face value.

    Seems to me that much of the discussion must take into serious consideration John's introduction to the letter: "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:"

    What is the meaning and intent of the word "signify"? And does that which immediately follows give us a "key" that this is a book of signs?
     
  3. Gold Dragon

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    John had a vision about things that were literal in the vision.

    Whether those literal things in the vision are literal or symbolic representations of something else is debatable.

    One thing to keep in mind is other visions in the bible:

    Jacob wrestling
    Joseph's wheat, stars
    Joseph interpreting prisoners and pharoah's dreams
    Daniel interpreting king's dreams
    Isaiah and the coal/altar
    Peter and the animals
     
  4. Nonsequitur

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    One of the angels showed John the new city and even measured its walls.(So how do you measure something symbolic?) When John described the city, he said "the wall WAS made of jasper, the city WAS pure gold, the twelve gates WERE pearls". He did not say "was like", or "resembled".

    God said it, I believe it, that settles it.
    :D
     
  5. TC

    TC
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    Actually, it should be"

    God said it, that settles it. What a person believes or does not believe has nothing to do with its truthfullness. :D
     
  6. James_Newman

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    God provides the interpretations of the symbols. The Bride is a symbol, the interpretation of the symbol is the city of New Jerusalem. God doesn't interpret the symbol with a symbol. The interpretation is literal.
     
  7. Nonsequitur

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    Sorry TC, no cigar for you. [​IMG] ;)
    That short statement is one of faith.
    There are lots of people who believe in God, but don't believe what he says. God said not to have women preachers, but some women don't believe Him and do it anyway. God said homosexuality is wrong, but some people don't believe that their 'god' would be so 'biased' and do it anyway.
    My statement stands-God said it, I believe it, that settles it. :D
     
  8. IfbReformer

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    I am not saying that God does not use symbolism, for he does many times especially in prophecy. What I disagree with is to say whenever we are handling prophecy, the defacto interpretation is always allegorical, and we only interpret literally when we think it is now speaking of historical narrative?

    I think it is the other way around with Prophecy, we should interpret literally, unless the context of that particular passage demands we iterpret it symbolically.

    Let me get more specific, based on the context of these passages why would we not interpret them literally:

    Are the harps here only symbolic? If so, is none of this real and the saints are not really singing or going to sing this song to God?

    What about the great battle we refer to as Armageddon in Revelation 19? Is that not a real future event? So does this make the Great White throne judgement not real either?

    And the New Jerusalem, not a real city with streets of Gold? How do you determine what is real and what is not?

    This is why I have said in other threads, the way you interpret the book of Revelation has a deep impact on how you interpret the rest of the Scriptures.

    IFBReformer
     
  9. TC

    TC
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    So, God's word is only true if one believes it? Sorry, but neither I nor anyone else will ever change the truth of God's word by what we believe or don't believe. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father - whether Joe Blow believes it or not. Besides, I don't smoke - so why would I want a cigar. :cool: But that's not what this thread is about, so I will not say anything else about that.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. TC

    TC
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    Revelation should be interpreted literally. The churches are literal, the lampstands and candles are symbols of something literal, the saints are literal, the harps are literal, the songs are literal, the city is literal, ect.
     
  11. Bro. James

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    If God said it--that settles it.

    Whether one believes or not is irrelevant.

    'Judgement begins at the House of God--it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God."--is not written to the lost.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  12. Charles Meadows

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    Revelation should be interpreted literally. The churches are literal, the lampstands and candles are symbols of something literal, the saints are literal, the harps are literal, the songs are literal, the city is literal, ect.

    I disagree with this statement.

    How do we know that Revelation should be interpreted literally. How best to study this one? When we look at other books written in apocalyptic speak (1 Enoch, 4 Ezra) we realize that obviously alot of this was intended to be taken nonliterally.

    I ask in all honesty - how do we know it should be interpreted literally?

    I'd wager that most here hold to a literal interpretation. But why? Because fundamentalists have historically been literalists? That would make sense by doesn;t hold much water in terms of really answering the question.

    I'd also wager that many here would dismiss comparative literary analyses of Revelation as being "humanist" or "liberal".

    But if the book was INTENDED to be seen as NONLITERAL then our insistence on a traditional interpretation is disrespectful to the Bible itself.

    I'd wager that many of us here WANT it to be literal and thus we choose not to study the issue critically.
     
  13. TC

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    I was taught that intrepreting the Bible literally meant that historical narrative was to be interpreted like other historical narratives, poetry like other similar types of poetry, allegory like other allegory, ect. That is what I meant. Yes, there are parts of revelation that are symbolic, but there are also other parts that are not. We should not force everything to be what we want and ignore the context of what is written.
     
  14. Gold Dragon

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    Agreed, we should probably interpret revelations in similar ways to how we approach other prophetic visions.
     
  15. Grasshopper

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    Nearly half the book of Revelation draws on OT imagery. Find out what the symbolism was in the OT and I think you are fairly safe in interpreting it the same way In Revelation.
     
  16. Gold Dragon

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    The question is, what does it mean to interpret literally? John literally saw those things in a vision. To know what those things represent is beyond the context of that passage and is interpretation.

    </font>[/QUOTE]I highlighted the word like. When recording visions, humans record what we percieve. What John saw may have no human/physical/earthly equivalent and the best way he can describe it is to associate it with something similar in his context.

    They were something that John saw in a vision. I'm on your side about the whole instruments in worship thing. I believe your use of this Revelations passage to support your position worsens your argument.

    One thing to keep in mind is that if something is allegorical, it doesn't mean it isn't real. Just that it is representative of something else, for whatever reason. The animals in Peter's vision were real animals in the vision. They represented real Gentile people.

    I'm not saying that all of the things you listed above are representative of something else.


    It impacts how you interpret other visions in scriptures.
     
  17. av1611jim

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    OTOH;
    I would say that how you interpret other Scriptures has a large impact on how you would interpret Rev.
    To illustrate;
    I interpret Rev. based on what has already been given. Generally speaking, prophetic Scripture builds on what has been revealed before. For example; prophecies of Jesus are progressive, from Genesis through Malachi. In the same way, the end times are prophesied progressively ending in Revelation. It is an error,(I believe) to interpret Revelation apart from OT prophecies. And I don't mean to limit it to just Daniel ( as some extra-biblical cults do.) When looking at end time revelation, we must start in the OT.

    In HIS service;
    Jim
     
  18. Aaron

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    I would just like to clear up two misrepresentations.

    This was taken out of context. IFB's argument was that things were to be assumed to be literal unless proven otherwise. The quote above was in rebuttal to that premise. IF ANY method of interpretting Revelation enjoys a defacto standing, it would be the allegorical method.

    I never appeal to a defacto method.

    Again, that was not the argument. The argument was to get you to provide evidence for your view. As one poster in this thread said:
     
  19. OldRegular

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    You may believe it but do you understand it? The city represents the New Jerusalem, Church, the Bride of Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 21:2, 10ff]
     
  20. Joseph_Botwinick

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    In the process he made this statement about the New Jerusalem and its structure:

    This was my simple answer to him:

    How would you answer these assertions that most things we see in Revelation are symbolic and cannot be taken at face value, where as I and others take a more literal approach to Revelation while agreeing some literal things in are representative of other literal things.

    IFBReformer
    </font>[/QUOTE]I agree with Aaron. It is clear that Revelation is Apocalyptic literature. Once you recognize that and understand the nature of Apocalyptic Literature, then you can correctly interpret the message of Revelation and you won't get caught up in the teachings of hacks like Lyndsey, Lehaye, and Hagee.

    Joseph Botwinick
     

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