Thursday, January 17, 2013

Revelation and the Anti-Christ

I am sorry to say that I was not impressed with this book.  The best thing about it was the comparing of various scriptures throughout the New Testament to passages/events/personages in the book of Revelation. 

 First of all, the commentary was rather meager.  Not that there wasn't much written, but what was written often seemed to be a mere paraphrase of the text he just quoted.  But there was some commentary, and here is where the author diverges from Scripture several times.  First of all, he rejects a millennial reign of Christ, saying instead that, "The Scriptures indicate that Christ has continuously reigned over the church from heaven from its beginning in the first century and will reign over the church in a new heaven and a new earth beginning with the end of time.  Ever since the first century, the church has always been the kingdom of Christ on earth…." , "Christ will not return to earth to set up an earthly kingdom; the kingdom is here now."   And, "The Kingdom began after the resurrection and ascension of Christ in the first century."  Mr. Dewberry seems quite emphatic that there will be no material kingdom on this earth. But Christ did not say this, rather, when  His Apostles/disciples asked Him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?"  Christ replied "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. "(Act 1:6-7 ESV)   One would think that Christ would have pointed them immediately to the supposed fact that Israel would not have a Kingdom, that they should be looking for the invisible Kingdom about to come into existence when He ascends into Heaven.

 And so, what about the thousand years that Satan is bound?  "The thousand years that Satan was bound in the Abyss is referred to as the millennium, a figurative term denoting the period of time from the first century when Satan was confined to the Abyss to the time that Satan is released from the Abyss during the end time.  We are still living in that time period so no one know the date when Satan will be released and the end time will begin.  That time is symbolized by one thousand years.  After the time symbolized by the one thousand years comes, the end time will begin.  The exact, literal length of that time is unknown by anyone but God."   A thousand years symbolizes an unknown amount of time(and Satan is not prowling around like a roaring lion? 1 Peter 5:8)?  These odd symbolic numbers are elsewhere in the book, as we see when he reaches Revelation 11 which speaks of the two witnesses, "There may be any number of people proclaiming the word of God at that time.  The number two is most likely a symbolic number for all those who are proclaiming the word."   But in a mere glance at the chapter, these two witnesses seem to be antitypes rather than types as we read, "'And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.' THESE ARE the TWO olive trees and the TWO lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. (Rev 11:3-4 ESV)  The olive trees and lamp stands seem to be symbols of these witnesses, and both groups of objects are groups of two, which rather seems to emphasize how many witnesses there are. 

He also takes the number of the 144,000 to be "symbolic of the complete number - not the literal number"  of God's people.  And these 144,000 are not descendants of Israel(despite detail being given about the number from specific tribes of Israel), but rather symbolic of saved people "from many cultures."  According to Mr. Dewberry, "The reason John identified the redeemed at the end of time with the twelve tribes of Israel is because when he wrote Revelation, the church was predominantly Jewish and could identify wit the symbolic descriptions he used."  If the numbers are symbolic, were various numbers used?  Why do numbers in Revelation like 1000, 144,000 and 2 all symbolize an unknown number?  Why was John so specific when he could have used a more vague description as he does elsewhere in Revelation when he says:  "a great multitude that no one could number(Rev.7:9)"?  Besides, when commenting on Revelation 17, speaking of the woman who rides the beast, he says, "The woman in verses nine and ten is the Roman Empire that was supported by Satan.  Rome, the capital of the Roman empire, was built on seven hills."  Why should the number seven be taken literally?  Based on the apparent use of other numbers in Revelation, shouldn't it be taken figuratively as well? 

I agree that Revelation is made up of symbolism, but doesn't Biblical symbolism have something literal about it?  Otherwise every single thing in it is vague and useless to us because it all pictures something without using anything literal(such as numbers) to work with.   If an allegory is completely vague, then we will come to a vague conclusion: The Bible doesn't mean what it says,  It means the Church, not Israel, it means a vague amount of time, not  1,000,  the 144,000 are not virgins, "The expression 'were not defiled with women' means they were not idolaters".  In that case everything becomes open to figurative interpretation,  I could ask, "what if 144,000 isn't really a symbol of a number, what if it is actually the figurative name of the Antichrist that the vague number 666 was actually symbolizing? "  And what do we conclude?  Nothing.  If in an allegory a specific number symbolizes a vague number then we have an allegorical type that leads to another type, an allegory of an allegory, a symbol of a symbol.  If that is the case then Revelation doesn't reveal it actually conceals.  

 I received this book as a complimentary copy from BookSneeze® in exchange for my review(which does not have to be favorable). 

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