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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Little Book



Continuing with the theme that the Revelation is a prophetic historical document and not a description of the fictional dispensational tribulation period.  Of course, God knows everything past, present, and future and therefore, He would know, in the days of John, that the printing press would be developed in the 1400’s. 

The printing press was indirectly prophesied in Revelation 10:2, 8-10.

Revelation 10:2 KJV  And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,

Revelation 10:10 KJV  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.

Some versions translate the Greek word “bibliarídion” as a scroll.  However, the basic word for scroll in other scriptures is biblíon.  Similar, but not the same.

One of the first books published with the new printing press was the Bible, in a local language other than the Latin versions as found in all Churches or cathedrals.  The Roman cathedrals usually had the Bible chained to a wall to avoid it being stolen, but no one except a few priests could read Latin anyway.

The Protestant Reformation is the major result of the movable Bible translated into an understandable language within the hands of common people.  Martin Luther was finally able to read the Bible other than in Church or in Latin.

For John, the Word of God was sweet as it was consumed but a knowledge of future events gave him an upset stomach.

When the Scriptures could be studied independently from the Roman Church, the Reformers discovered that the book of Revelation was a historical book written in symbols as envisioned by John. This was how the Historicist view of Revelation soon became the dominant view of early Protestant groups.  However, through the teachings and writings of Darby and Cyrus Scofield the historical view was eventually replaced by the Futurist view in the late 1800’s.

The Futurist view, which is much more recent than the Historical view, could be considered as a modern development within the Evangelical doctrine.  It particularly dominates in the Christian Zionist world view of the end-times.  Unfortunately, many assume that this view has always existed since the Protestant Reformation but that is untrue.  Even though certain elements of the Futurist view can be found in the much earlier allegorical historical view, this particular modern viewpoint is almost exclusively an element of the modern brand of end-times prophecy interpretation.

The Greek converts soon outnumbered the Judah and Benjamin apostles, disciples, and converts very early Church groups.  The early Church quickly lost its Hebrew mindset and soon adopted the Greek allegorical method of interpretation.  Greek religion was based on mythology i.e. stories or myths that were said to have meaning and those myths were not actual historical events but allegories.  Allegorical interpretation, sometimes called allegorizing, is interpretation of texts that treats them as allegorical.  An allegory is:  the representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in some type of narrative

The very early allegorists separated Revelation from history, whereas the modern Futurists basically do not recognize the historical events that have already fulfilled most of these prophecies.  The allegorists spiritualized everything, while the Futurists literalize everything.  since they see no historical record of the entire earth moving in an earthquake, or all sea creatures being destroyed, or demonic locusts rising from the pit, they put these things into the future during a seven-year time of The Great Tribulation and describe them as literal occurrences.

The Historicist view believes that John’s visions portrayed historical events, not by literal interpretation, but with covert symbols and signs. This view treats Revelation in the manner in which the book of Daniel is treated. The “image” in Daniel 2, the “tree” in Daniel 4, and the “beasts” in Daniel 7 and 8 were not meant to be interpreted literally, even though their reality was not in question. They were metaphoric symbols representing nations and the spiritual forces behind them.

It can also be pointed out that the “dragon” in Revelation 12 and the “beasts” in Revelation 13 are not literal even though they represent real people and events. They are pictures of spiritual realities which manifest through nations and other entities on the earth, much like an evil spirit manifests through individuals who are possessed.  The symbolic account used by God through John is difficult to understand unless the interpreter is versed with the proper historical background.  Therefore it could never have been understood prior to the historical events.

Other subject matters in the New Testament are presented in a similar way as the Revelation is presented.  The Apostle Paul symbolically interprets the two wives of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, in Galatians chapter 4.  Paul does not question the historicity of the story, but shows how the two women represent two covenants allegorically.  In the Hebrew mindset of Paul and John, an allegory is history with spiritual or allegorical meaning. Paul does not separate history from the metaphoric allegory, as did the Greeks. The Greeks saw no need for religion to be based upon actual historical events, as long as they could lay hold of strictly allegorical teachings.

Scripture is based on the history of real events, not just inspired stories or parables. The fact that these historical events were full of spiritual meaning and prophetic as types and shadows of future events shows the sovereignty of God in the progressive history of creation. The book of Revelation, also, is based upon the same Hebrew mindset as is seen in Daniel. The fact that Daniel was an incomplete book, covering only the first three “beasts,” implies that another book would have to be written later to complete the prophecy of the beast nations during their time of dominion. Daniel’s book effectively ends in 163 B.C. with the culmination of the Grecian “beast.” John’s book focuses upon the fourth beast (Rome) and particularly upon the “little horn,” (i.e. Holy Roman Empire as an extension of the secular Roman Empire) giving us details in Revelation 13 that were unknown to Daniel.

These are historical events, even though John reveals spiritual forces behind the beast and its “little horn” extension. It is no mere allegory, nor is his revelation consigned to a future seven-year period. Instead, we see a panorama of tribulation-history that covers a long period of “seven times,” that is, a period of 7 x 360 years. Daniel covers less than 500 years of this time of tribulation. John gives us the rest of the story.

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