The Big Haus fall Bible study began last evening on the perennially ignored (by me in schedule not in assessment) Revelation of John. As you who have read this blog regularly know, I am not eschatologically riveted. The views expressed at this Bible study are those never heard dropping from any other lips in Christendom. The word Apocalypse means "a lifting of the curtain or veil" and that is precisely what I hope to do.
Last night the faithful were told of the need to resolve certain issues in their minds in order to approach the Revelation.
First: Is the Future actual or conceptual? In other words was John's vision a transport through time to look upon the events and describe them OR does God provide a symbolic image of what He will bring to pass.
Second: Are we willing to hope patiently in that which we discover is still to come rather than fictionalize a fulfillment so we can believe it better? Romans 8 reminds you that hope which is seen is not hope. Future stories are fiction. Do not write them. Instead read real stories for the Glory of God's prophetic will is only to be seen in the histories of the past. Did it happen? How will you know about it unless you read the histories. When Tacitus mentions the host of armies in the clouds over Jerusalem prior to the fall in 70 A.D., God is potentially glorified for seeming to fulfill His promise to show those who pierced him his coming in the clouds.
Third: Can we recognize the distance in the relationship that each symbolic item has to the symbolized? For instance, the 7 heads of the sea beast measure three distances. 7 heads= literally 7 hills and 7 kings. The first distance is the number seven's symbolic distance from the number seven is zero. The second distance is the heads representing kings, which is not 1:1 but is a natural poetic distance. At the same time, in the third distance, the heads are hills which, without that being told to us, the distance of head to hill is so great we would never have figured it out. The heads are not hills like the 7 are 7. A greater distance, perhaps an recognizable distance once pointed out, exists between the realities of the 7 hills of Rome and the 7 heads of the beast. Christ is in the same book one like the son of man, a wounded lamb and a small child. Each has varying distance from the thing symbolized.
Fourth: Let the clear passage define the unclear. If the book tells you something means something, set that point as an anchor and chart the more vague portions from its vantage.