- W J Grier, The Momentous Event
Revelation... is by and large a book of symbols. There is indeed what one may call didactic writing in it. For example, there are plain statements about the second advent. But the attempts to carry through a literal interpretation founder on the rock of the patently symbolic character of much of it. It is written in sign language for the most part. The bulk of it was communicated by visions. John was (literally 'became') in the Spirit on the Lord's day and the unseen world was opened to him and, as in a great drama, successive visions passed before his view.
Think of Peter's vision in Acts 10. Being in a trance, Peter saw a great sheet let down by the four corners, wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts and creeping things and birds. Peter, though slow at first, came to see that this vision was full of significance - preparing him to recognise that God was no respecter of persons and that He would freely receive Gentiles who believed, as well as believing Jews. So it is with the visions seen by John. If we take them literally, we are in grave danger of getting only the husk, while missing the kernel - the true meaning.
There are those who insist on taking a grossly literal view. The book bears on the very face of it a warning against such treatment. It speaks, for example, of "a woman sitting on seven mountains", but no female ever had such sitting capacity!
All Together for Justice Lent resource
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