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Archive for the ‘Interpretation’ Category

John Hutchinson and Bible Cosmology

November 23, 2014 Comments off

In 1727 John Hutchinson (1674–1737) published ‘Moses’s Principia,’ in which he attempted to defend his interpretation of the cosmology of the Bible, against that of Sir Isaac Newton, and Dr. Samuel Clarke, who publicized Newton’s ideas in the Boyle lectures, and of Dr. John Woodward, (1665–1728) physician to the duke of Somerset. Hutchinson ridiculed Woodward’s treatise, The Natural History of the Earth. Hutchinson also attacked Clark for his heterodox views on the Trinity as well as for his Newtonian natural philosophy.

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Comments on ‘R. Govett and the First Woe’

June 29, 2014 Comments off

Robert Govett’s commentary on Revelation 9:1-11 is part of his exposition of the Apocalypse. His exposition of the First Woe prophecy, from an abridged edition of his commentary, is provided in this pdf file: R. Govett on the First Woe.

Govett claimed the woe-trumpets described in this chapter begin the great tribulation. “With the woe-trumpets the time of Great Tribulation on earth begins. Matt. xxiv. 21, 22.” Govett identified the “bottomless pit” with “hell.” He said men will become “fearfully immortal” for five months, the time associated with the first woe: “Men are made fearfully immortal during five months of Satan’s reign.”

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The fire of the gospel

May 6, 2014 Comments off

In Scripture, fire and God’s sword each represent the word of God, which Jesus said, will endure forever.

Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, & Luke 21:33
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Jeremiah compared God’s word to fire.

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Prophecy and literalism

February 1, 2014 1 comment

Isaiah said that God speaks to us with “stammering lips and another tongue.”

“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” [Isa. 28:9-11]

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Turning waters to blood

September 24, 2013 1 comment

“They have power to turn the waters to blood” is part of the description of the two witnesses [Rev. 11:6]. In this article, the two witnesses are understood to represent the Scriptures, and the Spirit, the two things that Jesus said testify of him. [John 5:39; 15:26]

The waters in the prophecy signify the prophetic Scriptures. Blood signifies something that contaminates, that men cannot eat, or drink. Blood was forbidden to all men in Genesis. God said, “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” [Gen. 9:4] It was forbidden to Israel in the law of Moses. “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood.” [Lev. 19:26]

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J. A. Smith and the second woe

August 23, 2013 Comments off

Justin Almerin Smith (1819-1896) discussed the second woe of Revelation chapter 9 in his Commentary on the Revelation. [American Baptist Publication Society. Philadelphia, Pa. 1884. pp. 131-139.]

Smith attempted to apply the prophecy to historical events. He believed the prophecy foretold the centuries of warfare between Mohammedanism and Christianity.

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G. K. Beale on the two witnesses

July 4, 2013 Comments off

Gregory K. Beale is Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. In his commentary on Revelation he says the two witnesses of chapter 11 represent the whole church, not two individual humans. Beale wrote: [1]

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Metaphorical mountains of prophecy

May 12, 2013 Comments off

The metaphorical meaning of mountains as symbols of God’s promises and blessings is based upon the words of Jacob in Genesis 49:26 where he said, as he blessed Joseph:

The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.

Mountains, rivers, valleys, hills, coasts, wilderness, desert, are all part of the land that God promised to give Abraham, and to Isaac, and to Jacob. Belief was required for the Israelites to enter the land of promise. [Heb. 3:19] Jacob discovered that the things that must be believed, promises of spiritual blessings, are represented by mountains and hills.

The promises he received were lofty and spiritual, and so were high like high mountains, and also durable, or eternal, so he compared them to the “everlasting hills.”

The table below lists many prophecies that refer to mountains, with brief explanatory notes.

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Biblical horses, asses and camels

January 13, 2013 Comments off

Animals mentioned in prophecy, such as horses, asses, and camels, are symbolic, and represent certain classes of people. This article reviews the context in which these animals are mentioned throughout the Bible.

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Are all of Zechariah’s prophecies literal?

December 19, 2012 Comments off

Some Old Testament prophecies seem to have been fulfilled in a literal manner, but others clearly have to be interpreted. Why are some literal, and others not? In prophecy, things of a spiritual nature are represented by symbols.

Here are some prophecies of Zechariah that are said to have been literally fulfilled by Jesus.

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The resting place

December 13, 2012 Comments off

One of the symbolic meanings attached to mountains in prophecy is connected the fact that the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. In many prophecies the mountains are symbolic of blessings, promises, and revelations of God. The Genesis account of the flood connects mountains with rest. After the flood men tried to build “a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” The progressive revelation of God’s plan in prophecy focuses on mountains, especially mount Zion, and a city, Jerusalem, which were raised up to heaven in a spiritual sense. These contrast with the tower of Babel, a kind of man-made mountain, and the city of Babylon. In the table below, references to mountains are listed, and the possible symbolic meanings attached to them in prophecy are noted.

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The pattern of the “time, times, and a half” and the writing on the wall

October 14, 2012 Comments off

A key to understanding the church’s history, and how it illustrates the fulfilment of prophecy over the centuries, is applying the symbolic expression which occurs in both Daniel and Revelation, “a time, times and a half,” to the whole age of the church. The numbers in Daniel 12:11-12, and Revelation 11:3, and 12:6, fit this patten.

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Natural and spiritual interpretations of Rev. 11 & 12

August 25, 2012 Comments off

In the table below two kinds of interpretation of Revelation 11 & 12 are compared. The column at the left identifies many of the symbols in these chapters. The middle column presents commonly held views based on a literal approach, and what is here considered the natural or human point of view, represented by the little horn in Daniel 7, with “eyes like the eyes of a man.” The column at the right contains a more mature, spiritual interpretation. Often, scholars will offer a mix of interpretations from either of the two columns.

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Genesis and the two witnesses

August 20, 2012 Comments off

Elements of the prophecy of the two witnesses of Revelation 11, possibly alluding to the account of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden in Genesis 2 & 3 are identified in the table below.

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A sermon on prophecy by S. F. Jarvis

August 9, 2012 Comments off

In the following sermon, Samuel Farmar Jarvis (1786-1851) discusses the certainty, use, intent, and importance of prophecy. [Samuel Farmar Jarvis. Two Discourses on Prophecy. James A. Sparks, N.Y., 1843]

2 Peter 1:19-21
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

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The mountains of Ezekiel 36:1-15

July 19, 2012 Comments off

Bible scholars have suggested various meanings for the mountains of Israel in Ezekiel 36:1-15. These include (1) the land; (2) the people of Israel; (3) either the land or the people; (4) they are metaphors representing God’s promises. Correctly interpreting the mountains is key to understanding the prophecy. Daniel I. Block wrote on the theological significance of this prophecy:

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Revelation and elevation

July 15, 2012 Comments off

David wrote, in Psalm 36:6, “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains.” The great mountains of the earth are regions of snow and ice, that remained inaccessible to men until the nineteenth century when adventurers developed mountaineering skills, and began to discover routes to the tops of the high peaks of the European Alps, and other mountains of the world.

The reason David compared God’s righteousness to high mountains must have to do with their altitude, and their metaphorical connection with high and lofty thoughts, such as the prophet Isaiah referred to when he described God’s thoughts as higher than those of man.

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Milton S. Terry and the grammatico-historical principle

July 14, 2012 Comments off

Israel’s promised land, described as a land of milk and honey, and the seventh day sabbath, are both types of the rest that Hebrews 3-4 encourages believers to enter. Entering this rest requires belief. 

After the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they endured 40 years wandering in the wilderness. At the end of that period Joshua addressed them, and he spoke of their promised inheritance as rest. “Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.” [Joshua 1:13]

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Weaned from the milk

July 11, 2012 1 comment

The author of Hebrews contrasts milk and strong meat. The meaning of milk, and strong meat, as symbols representing elementary and advanced kinds of spiritual knowledge, is evident from the context. The milk of God’s word includes the accounts of the lives of men of faith, and the accounts of the history of Israel, the gospel accounts of the ministry of Jesus, and the Acts of the apostles, all the events in the scriptures related in a straightforward manner.

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E. W. Hengstenberg on balanced interpretation

June 5, 2012 Comments off

The following are comments by Lutheran scholar Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg on determining the meaning of Old Testament prophecies, and pitfalls that exist in either literal or excessively figurative views. [From Christology of the Old Testament, Volume 2. T. & T. Clark, 1858. pp. 430-439.]

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