Isn’t the book of Revelation just so many symbols and thus should not he placed on the level of other clearer messages of the Bible?
The book of Revelation is replete with symbolism; but so is much of the rest of the Bible. We should give no less credence to it than to any other part of the Bible. Symbolisms were used to guide an entire nation of ancient Egyptians and to protect and give hope to generations of Israelites. All of this was done in the very first book of the Bible, so if we are going to lessen the veracity or the practicality of biblical symbols we would have to start at the beginning of the Bible. If we start there, we will find countless other symbols not to trust and in the end we will have chopped up a great deal of Gods word. We don’t have the right to remove even one letter from Gods word physically, but we are not to remove it by spiritualizing it or nominalizing it either.
When Egypt was about to undergo one of the worst droughts in its history, Pharaoh had a dream filled with symbolism that deferred the worst from happening. When Joseph interpreted Pharaohs dream he secured a future for his own generation of Israelites. Genesis 41:1f
It might do well to note that the very first recorded prophetic message in the Bible was a dream also filled with symbolism. Genesis 37:5f Joseph’s dream of the sun and the moon and the stars would outline the history of his people forever. Why then should it be hard to see Revelation and its symbols as the outline for only one small seven year long period.
The very first prophetic utterance in the Bible is referred to as the Prote-Evangelium, and it uses symbolism. Genesis 3:15 There is where the first promise that Christ would overcome all evil is found.
Highways around the world are covered with universal traffic symbols. Language and lore is embellished with symbols. Theater, television, business, culture, and our own daily conversation are saturated with the use of symbolism. How is it that we have thought God couldn’t use symbols to covey part of his message to us, and that it could he trusted. And how is it that those who are so quick to point out that this is the most educated generation in the history of the world, cannot seem to find a way for implicit and explicit teachings in the Bible to co-exist and compliment each other. To persist in this silly fear of the symbol comes under the heading of hypocrisy rather than confusion, if we would he honest enough to admit it.
Aren’t many of the pictures and symbols of Revelation much like those of the Old Testament and are they just borrowed from the Old Testament?
I find it hard not to answer this question with a simple yes, but so what, but for the sake of the more serious student of the Bible I will try to address the question in a more persuasive manner. Many New Testament references are made from the Old Testament. Jesus, the apostles and many others referred to the Old Testament scriptures and its symbols.
Have we forgotten that the Bible is to the Christian after all only one book, not two? If God were not so faithful in his revelation to us we might find huge differences between the symbolism of the old and new testament. That would no doubt give rise to another group of people who would argue against the validity of the Bible because of the enormous disparity in the images presented in the Old Testament as compared to those of the New Testament.
Doubters will never be satisfied with anything. Believers are glad that God has given us one comprehensible picture of his intentions in sixty six books, spread out over thousands of years.
This alone is a miracle. When John received the Revelation of Jesus Christ on the Isle of Patmos, we can imagine how relieved he must have felt when he saw it didn’t diverge very much from the messages given to Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and others. If it had been that radically different, he may have been inclined to dismiss it as not having come from God in the first place. We can thank God that John knew the voice of his Savior as Jesus promised he would, John 10:27 and he could see its consistency with the rest of the messages given to his predecessors.
I am also thankful that when I saw a vision of the sun darkened and the moon glowing the color of blood, that when I finally saw that description in the Bible it wasn’t something unfamiliar or strange. It takes no genius to comprehend that though the symbolism of the New Testament is similar to that of the old, it is only to supplement, advance or further elucidate the message not just to borrow from it. Borrowing from the Bible or any other source to enhance a vision that purportedly came from God would make the messenger not a visionary or prophet but a common liar. The last time I looked, God was still calling only those who are searching for, living for and willing to die for the truth, to become his messengers.
Rev Bresciani is the author of two popular Christian books, one on the second coming of Christ. He has hundreds of articles published both online and in print.