Yes, we are in the Book of the Revelation, the most controversial book in the Bible. This book has set up more schools of interpretation than any other. It would not be profitable even to name these schools. Of them all, no two are in agreement, and each one is uncertain of the rightness of the others. The only safe and profitable way is to find what is certain. This is the Bible's way of solving and answering its problems and questions. That is, interpretation and application by spiritual principles. In passing, we do point this out as a really valuable and satisfying method of approach. Apply it to the first chapters of Genesis and there will be a very great deal of rest from the weariness of mental wrestling with questions and problems there. The same is even more true with 'Revelation.' This is what we shall do in this message. We begin with reference to:
The Apocalyptic Method
It is essential to accept the fact that, whatever actually and literalness there is behind the record here (and of course there is such; it is not a book of myths) it is all presented to us in symbols, figures, resemblances, similitudes, and representations, and not in real and actual things. Dragons, and Beasts, and Bowls, and A Lamb, etc., are not actually such. We ask: why this method?
Well, at least part of the answer relates to the time and condition of the writing. It was a time of terrible and fierce persecution of the Christian Church. The focal point of that persecution was the Christian testimony to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; what the book calls "The testimony of Jesus Christ." That testimony came into direct and immediate collision with Roman Emperor-worship. Caesar took the title of God, and claimed worship as such. The Christians both refused to acknowledge this, and preached Jesus Christ as Lord.
This set up a situation in which it was dangerous to speak in plain terms, names, and definitions. So, in writing to the Church and Christians for their instruction, counsel, comfort, correction, and warning, their spiritual discernment and perception was called into use, and they had to - as we say - 'read between the lines.' No Caesar's name is mentioned, but a representation of him is there. No system is named explicitly, but its character is delineated; and so on.
But the method applies to much more than the immediate historic background, or the prophetic horizon: it is applied to almost everything in the book. That has to do with the nature of the book. Now we proceed to the question - Why the book? In another place we are occupied with the last chapters of this book. Here it is with the first chapters, and mainly with chapter one. In this part we are met with -
(continued with # 7 - (A Challenge to Christians)