A Study of Revelation

Introduction to Revelation:

by Lonnie Woodruff and Mike Scott

Revelation is the crowning touch of symbolism used throughout the Scriptures. It brings together many symbols, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, and develops a tremendous cohesiveness of all symbolic language throughout the Bible. Before beginning a study of the book of Revelation we need to discuss how to study to determine the meaning of the symbols in the Bible. We are going to begin by examining how many of the events of the Old Testament symbolize events to come during the Christian Dispensation.

Heb. 10:1

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come andnot the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.”

Many people have some idea what this verse is saying. We have long studied and understood how many people and events of Old Testament times were likenesses of people and events to come during the Christian dispensation. For example, Moses was a likeness of Christ; David also symbolized Christ as king of God’s people; the tabernacle symbolized the church; the rainbow represented a covenant God made with Noah. The Israelites under the law of Moses lived in a physical, earthly kingdom. Many of the events in this physical kingdom were likenesses of spiritual events which were later to take place in the spiritual kingdom of God. Today Christians (spiritual Israel) live in that spiritual kingdom, the church. This symbolic connection between the physical kingdom of Old Israel and the spiritual kingdom of the church is of utmost importance in understanding Revelation. This concept must be kept clearly in mind at all times. Consider the following illustration :

 

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The book of Revelation deals with the spiritual kingdom of God (church) which is a likeness of the Old Testament kingdom of Israel

1) As Moses came on the scene in Old Testament times the Israelites were slaves under Egyptian bondage They were in physical bondage. When Christ came to the earth the first time, all mankind was in the bondage of Sin, they were slaves of sin (Jn. 8:34) Today, mankind is in the spiritual bondage of sin (Heb. 2:14-15; Rom. 8:13-15).

2) Moses and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea to escape physical bondage. Christ made it possible for all mankind to escape the bondage to sin by giving his blood on the cross. Today, mankind crosses the spiritual Red Sea of the blood of Christ to escape spiritual bondage (Rom. 6:1-4) (Ever wonder why the Red Sea was so named?)

3) After crossing the Red Sea the law of Moses was given on Mt. Sinai to govern the physical kingdom of Israel, this law was given to one nation, Israel. After Christ shed his blood on the cross, he symbolically gave his new law on Mount Zion (Micah 4:1-4) to govern the spiritual kingdom of the church (Heb. 12:22; Rev. 14:1; Micah 4:7). This law, the gospel, is for all nations.

4) Israel was God’s chosen people. They received the Ten Commandments and followed Moses as he led them out of bondage across the Red Sea to their Promised Land of Canaan. Christians are the chosen people of God today. As people obey the gospel of Christ, they are crossing the spiritual Red Sea and Christ is leading them toward their Promised Land of Heaven.

5) Israel was a physical kingdom. They were a nation with laws and government. Many times they waged war against the ungodly nations of this world. The church is a spiritual kingdom and its laws are spiritual. The church wages spiritual war against the evils of this world, not physical war against the world governments.

6) The time period in which Israel traveled from the Red Sea to the Jordan River is parallel to the period of time the church is in today. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years as they awaited their Promised Land. The church is situated in the wilderness of the world today. It is awaiting the spiritual Promised Land of heaven. This symbolic period of time is described in Revelation as 1000 years. The spiritual 1000 years parallel the physical 40 years.

7) While the Israelites were in the wilderness God nourished them physically by bread from heaven called manna. While the church is in the wilderness of this world, God will feed his people and care for their spiritual needs. Today, the church is nourished by spiritual bread from heaven — Jesus and His word (Jn. 6:31-35)

8) Before the children of Israel could enter their Promised Land, they had to cross the Jordan River. Before the church can enter its spiritual Promised Land of heaven, Christ must come to earth the second time.

9) After the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River they dwelt in the land that God had promised them. It was a place of great value that flowed with milk and honey. It met all their physical needs. When Christ comes to earth again he will take the church to the spiritual Promised Land of Heaven. It will be a place of rest for all those who have followed God and will be a place of spiritual bliss.

Notice these parallels when studying Revelation:

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Many who seek to interpret the book of Revelation give the symbols such fanciful meanings that they cannot possibly have any scriptural foundation.

It is impossible to interpret Revelation correctly without first having a proper understanding of the New Testament and God’s plan of salvation for man. Revelation is inspired by God and we must treat it accordingly. We must not arbitrarily apply meanings to the symbols in Revelation without some biblical or historical authority. Many people believe that we cannot arrive at the true meaning of Revelation, but we must remember that the term “revelation” means to reveal, not to conceal. God has revealed many things to us in this great book. We must not let them remain hidden by leaving its covers closed. The lessons contained in Revelation are hidden from many people, but not because God desired this to be so. They are hidden because of man’s own misunderstanding of the New Testament.

2 Cor. 4:3-4
3* And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
4* in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

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Israel – The church is the Israel of God today (spiritual Israel).
Gal. 6:16
16* And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy beupon them, and upon the Israel of God.

Jerusalem – This is another symbol of the church of the New Testament
Heb. 12:22
22“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,”

Tabernacle – The church is the Tabernacle of God today.
Heb. 9:8-9
8* ¶ The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing,
9* which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,

Temple – The church is the Temple of God today.
1 Cor. 3:16
16* ¶ Do you not know that you are a temple of God and thatthe Spirit of God dwells in you?

Moses – Moses was in the likeness of Christ.
Acts 7:37
37“This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’

Law of Moses – The law of Moses was a “tutor” to lead us to Christ.
Gal. 3:24-25
24“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Mount Sinai – Mt. Zion is a reference to the church of the New Testament.
Heb. 12:22
22“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,”

Red Sea – The Red Sea symbolized our baptism into the blood of Christ.
1 Cor. 10:2
2“and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea”

King David – King David is in the likeness of Christ.
Acts 2:34
34* “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,

Melchizedek – Melchizedek is in the likeness of Christ.
Heb. 7:15
15* And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,

Blood Sacrifices – Blood sacrifices were symbols of the coming Christ.
Heb. 9:22-24
22 “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
23* ¶ Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Throne of David – The Throne of David was in the likeness of the Throne of Christ.
Lk 1:31-33
31* “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
32* “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
33* and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

House of Jacob – The house of Jacob represented the Kingdom of Christ.
Lk. 1:31-33
31* “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
32* “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
33* and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

Jew
– The name “Jew” in the New Testament is applied to all Christians.
Rom. 2:28-29
28* For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
29* But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

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