Have you ever felt frustrated by the Book of Revelation and all the symbols found there? If so, you’re not alone.
Read a random dozen out of the thousands of books that have been written about Revelation and you will find a dozen wildly different opinions.
Most people start reading with a lot of enthusiastic anticipation, hoping that Revelation is going to show them what will happen in the future. However, after a few pages full of symbols and symbolic language, many readers come away scratching their heads and wondering, “what was that all about?”
Why is Revelation so hard to understand?
A big part of the problem is the reference material that people use. The vast majority of the readers start out struggling to understand on their own and then turn to a book or video about Revelation. But the writers of these books generally start by researching other books.
These writers often compare Revelation with ancient documents that were written around the same time as Revelation. They see what the “church fathers” or famous commentators had to say. Furthermore, they compare Revelation with other “apocalyptic” literature that didn’t make it into the Bible.
Many of the commentators assume in advance that symbols found in Revelation must be a symbolic commentary on the political and social conditions of the time. Thus, they apply it to the history of the ancient Roman empire. Other writers assume that Revelation must be relevant to our day, so they try to plug in the current headline news.
Many have guessed and speculated about the meaning of its symbols or have tried to “plug in” the current international trends and headline news. But the source material that God inspired the apostle John to use was the Bible itself.
The book of Revelation is packed with references and allusions to verses, themes, and stories from the Bible, primarily the Old Testament. Thus, it is only by comparing the themes and symbols of Revelation with the inspired scriptures that we can hope to understand this book.
This video shows how to use Old Testament links to understand the symbols of Revelation, using two examples from the Seven Seals.
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