*Disclaimer: This is a rant about they who have studied the prophetic texts and actively try to teach them*
I am extremely zealous over this. I spend a lot of time in the prophetic texts of the Bible, and a lot of time reading various opinions on these texts. Something I’ve noticed is rampant is that the prophetic texts – especially the ones full of symbolism – are used to say whatever the person wants it to say. I’ve seen far too often verses pulled completely out of context just so that certain false doctrines could continue to be presented.
I’ll give a couple examples.
The woman in the book of Revelations is Israel – not the Church. In chapter twelve, it is Israel that flees from the dragon. How do I know this? Look at the symbolism. She is standing on the moon, her face is like the sun, and the crown on her head has twelve stars. Go back to Genesis 37 and read of Joseph’s dream where the sun, moon, and eleven stars bow down to him. This is Israel. Jump forward in Revelations 12 to where the serpent chases her. Check the Greek in verse 6. She flees to the wilderness where they will take care of her for 1,260 days. Who are the they? It is the Church. How do I know this? Go later in chapter 12 to verses 13-17. These are further details of that flight into the wilderness. What happens? The earth swallows the flood – something that is looking back to Numbers 16 where Korah is swallowed by the earth. Korah is a type of Antichrist. Who swallows the water? It is the Church. How do I know? Look at verse 17. The result is that those who obey the commands of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus are persecuted. Who are they? That is the Church – something separate and distinct from the woman.
Lets look at the two witnesses. Who are they? People want to say that they are symbolic of the whole Church. What language is used to describe them? They are two olive trees and two lampstands. This is a direct translation from the Hebrew of Zechariah 4:11. These two in Zechariah 4:11 are Joshua and Zerubbabel. Joshua and Zerubbabel are types. What do I mean by type? A type is a pattern. God is foreshadowing through the prophetic words over these two men something larger that is to happen way in the future. These men will perform miraculous plagues. In Revelations 11:6, we see these plagues are likened to Elijah and Moses. Does that mean these two are Elijah and Moses? No. Elijah and Moses are being used as patterns. Just like Elijah and Moses brought about plagues against the kingdom of darkness (see Exodus 12:12), so these two men will also plague the kingdom of darkness.
Everything in the prophetic Scriptures form together. They aren’t independent symbols that we need to “figure out” so that we can become famous because we found hidden symbolism in the Bible. The Branch is spoken of by many of the prophets. Every time, it is a reference to the messiah. There is the ominous king of the north – sometimes defined by the Assyrian, sometimes by Babylon, sometimes by another enemy of Israel, and sometimes just a shadowy figure “from the north”. Every time, it seems like the prophecy extends beyond the person being spoken of to the Antichrist that will arise at the end of the age.
This is the way that you read prophetic Scripture. You compare Scripture with Scripture, prophet with prophet, vision with vision, prophecy with prophecy, and even story with story. Many times there are patterns in the stories of the Scripture. Amalekites tried to destroy Israel when they were walking around the desert in Exodus. Later, Saul is told to destroy the Amalekites and doesn’t kill Agag. This causes Samuel to weep through the night. We find in the book of Esther that Haman was an “Agagite” – a descendant of that king of Amalek. The Amalekites have the pattern of always seeking the destruction of Israel. That is a pattern set up in the Scripture.
It is incredibly important that we learn this. King Saul was anointed by God, and yet we find at the end of his life he is possessed by demons and seeking the counsel of a witch. We find that John calls Judas who betrayed Jesus the “son of perdition” – one who was entered by Satan to betray his friend. In Psalm 55:13-14, we find David use that same language about Saul – the companion and friend is the one who betrays him. In 2 Thessalonians, we find Paul call the Antichrist the “son of perdition” – the only other time in the New Testament that this phrase is being used. This is a pattern. These men are types and foreshadowing.
What is the point of all this? If we do not want to do the digging necessary to understand the prophetic texts, we should just keep our mouths shut. That isn’t to say that I have all of the correct interpretations, but to say that when we just make up interpretations that “sound good”, we really do more damage than help. It is more beneficial when I read or listen to someone who has done their homework and they challenge my view biblically than when I’m talking to an internet infidel who doesn’t know that the prophetic words intertwine.