The Prophets declared many things that would happen, using mysterious symbolism. Isaiah prophesied that in the “Day of the Lord”, the Sun would shine 7 times brighter and the moon would shine like the sun! (Isaiah 30:26)
Can you imagine the catastrophic “global warming” that would actually take place? Earth would literally melt like David said happened in Psalm 46:6. But, fortunately these types of analogies were common among Prophetic writings (often called apocalyptic literature).
The Truth is that Jesus often spoke in the same style. The Disciples asked him ~ “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” and Jesus answered ~ “so seeing, they will not see and hearing they will not hear.” (Matt.13:10,13)
“But, to you, it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom….Blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear…” (Matt.13:11,16) Did you know that “the seeing eye and the hearing ear are both gifts from the Lord?” (Prov.20:12)
Is it possible that we simply receive theses good and perfect gifts by faith? Faith is also a gift from the Lord by the way (Rom.12:3) because “a person can have nothing unless he receives it from above”. (John 3:27)
Getting back to my main point…That Jesus Often spoke to the crowds in parables. Actually, he did not speak anything to them except in a parable! (Matt.13:34) This was the way God spoke to the Jews and Paul recognized this because he said “The Jews desire signs (symbols) but, the Greeks wisdom (intellectual).” (1 Cor.1:22)
The Revelation, which was literally called ~ “The unveiling of Jesus Christ” (Rev.1:1) was heavily steeped in Jewish symbolism! Off the top of my head:
1. Jesus the Lamb of God (Atonement Lamb)
2. Jesus the High Priest
3. The Tabernacle in Heaven
4. The Menorah (Lamp-stand with 7 candles)
5. The Saint under the Altar of Incense
6. The Song of Moses and the Lamb
7. The Book of Life
8. 7 Bowls in the Temple filled with blood
Unfortunately, much of the symbolism has been neglected because of our own culture and worldview. Greek (and now Western American) culture did not appreciate symbolic thinking like the Ancient Near East and the Jews. Like Paul said ~ “The Jews desire signs but the Greeks wisdom”.
Jesus, Peter, John and Isaiah all spoke as Prophets. Let’s consider some of these prophetic utterances as a whole.
THE NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH ~
Isaiah contained original prophecies about this. But, I am sure there are things in his prophecy that will challenge our literal interpretation of this. Consider ~
Isaiah 65:17 God will create a “New Heaven and New earth”.
V.19 ~ God will rejoice IN Jerusalem and He will be pleased IN his people
V.20 ~ People will live longer and die later.
V.21 ~ People will build, plant and eat.
V.23 ~ People will have blessed children.
But, Jesus said “IN the Resurrection, neither do they marry, nor are given in marriage, but they are like angels in heaven.” ~ Matt.22:30
Did you know that the “Golden City” John prophesied in “The New Heavens and New earth” in Rev.21 is not a literal city?
Rev.21:2 ~ ” 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
9Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
The Bride is not in the New Jerusalem. The Bride is the City. Just like Isaiah 65:19 did not prophesy that God would rejoice with his people but in his people!
What? Where in the Bible did Jesus ever say that we are The City on The Hill?
Oh yeah. In the Sermon on the Mount.
ALREADY ARRIVED ~
Did you know that the “letter to the Hebrews” commended them to believe that they had already come to the New Jerusalem? Hebrews 12 ~ “22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven…”
Some people are looking for a Temple on Mt. Zion in (old) Jerusalem. Others are already living in the New Covenant reality. If you study the context of Hebrews 12 and compare it to Paul’s very clear (but symbolic) interpretation of Old/lower Jerusalem in Galatians 4, you will see that New Jerusalem was simply an allegory (Gal.4:24) for the already existing New Covenant!
Look, I understand that this raises more questions than answers. I know that dozens of Scriptures are probably racing through your mind, challenging this non-literal interpretation. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth. That’s what I do (most of the time).
The point isn’t about proving my case. It’s about inspiring faith, hope and mostly love! When we begin to perceive that God is really about restoring the planet and mankind versus eventually giving in to wrath and destruction on the entire planet, our quality of life will drastically improve!
God has good plans for his creation! Satan would love nothing more than to convince God’s chosen children that God is going to destroy mankind, the animals, earth and all the life in it because of one man’s disobedience.
Truth be told, in Romans 5 Paul majorly downplayed the sin of the one (Adam) versus the obedience of the One (Last Adam)! Let’s not misunderstand the complicated symbolism of prophetic visions and reduce the Power of the Cross. The Righteousness of Christ was far superior to the sin of man!