H O M E
 
B A C K
THE LAKE OF FIRE PART .1
THE POTENCY OF SYMBOLISM
Revelation in perspective
THE LAKE OF FIRE XVI PART C: HELL - "THE ORIGIN OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT"
THE LAKE OF FIRE PART 1 - "REVELATION IS A BOOK OF SYMBOLS"
FROM THE CANDLE STICK TO THE THRONE PART 1
FROM THE CANDLE STICK TO THE THRONE PART 2
L. Ray Smith (Bible Truths)
J. Preston Eby (kingdom Bible Studies)
SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD - THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH
THE BOOK OF REVELATION - CONFLICT, CONQUEST AND COMFORT
John Cripps
THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE BOOK OF REVELATION
studyjesus.com
APOCALYPSE! - APOCALYPTIC BELIEF AND THE WESTERN WORLD
FRONTLINE - PBS
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST TO HIS SERVANT JOHN
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY
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Introduction

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)

There is no portion of scripture in the whole of the Bible that so vividly etches upon the minds of men and with full potency, the graphic nature of God’s wrath and fury, than the “lake of fire” found in the book of Revelation. It is upon this very image of wanton cruelty and imaginable torture and suffering, that a sinful and already suffering world pins its last hopes for justice and relief. This unruly world of ours will not find any comfort in the Word of God as taught by mainstream Christianity today however. It is by this unconceivable instrument of “eternal” torture, that the Church today states God will purge the universe of all evil forever and dispense a perfect justice, upon a world that deserves little mercy – albeit a world GOD himself created!

It is a mysterious image, this “Lake of fire.” For search as you might, you will not find a single verse in the New Testament, mentioning its existence. In fact the only Old Testament reference we have bearing witness to anything like Revelations “Lake of fire” is found in the book of Daniel.

”A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire.” (Dan 7:10-11)

Actually, few Christians realize that Daniel was an apocalyptic work which wasn’t even written until about 200 years before Christ! The writer shows insight insomuch that the historical prophecies had already come to pass! As such, the prophecies contained in the book are accurate down to the career of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria and oppressor of the Jews. Most modern interpreters agree that the four powers of Daniel represent Babylon, the Medes, Persia and the Greeks, ending with Hellenistic Seleucid Syria and with Hellenistic Ptolemaic Egypt. The symbolism of four metals in the statue in chapter 2 comes from Persian writings, while the four “beasts from the sea” in chapter 7 reflect Hosea 13:7–8, in which God threatens that he will be to Israel like a lion, a leopard, a bear or a wild beast. The consensus among scholars is that the four beasts of chapter 7, like the metals of chapter 2, symbolise Babylon, Media, Persia and the Seleucids, with Antiochus IV (reigned 175-164 BC) as the “small horn” that uproots three others (Antiochus usurped the rights of several other claimants to become king of the Seleucid Empire).

That Daniel uses the symbol of fire as Gods judgement there can be no doubt – however, how is “fire” employed in the New Testament and what is its spiritual significance? Oh the symbol of “fire” is ubiquitously used throughout the Bible, but never a “lake of fire.” Indeed, one could say that “fire” itself describes explicitly the very nature of God and His operations with mankind...“for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:29)

But where did this new phrase “The lake of fire” come from? Who taught it? Who preached it? What is it? Where in the scriptures is its “spiritual” match and what does it even accomplish? Oh there are answers to these questions, but they in a completely different league to those Christendom might offer as explanations. Mainstream Christian theologians state that this “lake” is nothing other than an eternal torture chamber for the wicked and unrepentant. And not just ANY kind of torture!

Generally, Christians do not pause for more than a brief moment to consider such things, to ponder the grotesque and contradictory ‘reality’ of their doctrines. If they did...if they REALLY did, they would be reaching for the nearest puke bucket at the very thought of their unsaved loved ones, family members and friends being boiled alive both physically and spiritually forever and ever and ever. If the Christian ‘reality’ of Hell and “the lake of fire” REALLY struck home, if Christians could give more than a moment’s thought to consider the fate of most of their family members and friends being cooked alive, scorched and seared, eaten by worms from the inside out, tormented with a immeasurable sense of foreboding – the eternal separation from God, in unparalleled agony....they would not be living such nonchalant lifestyles.

If Christians REALLY believed that this is the eternal fate of most of Earths inhabitants, they wouldn’t be able to function! They wouldn’t be able to concentrate at work! They wouldn’t be able to hold down a meal! So why aren’t Christians throwing themselves at the feet of their unsaved family members and friends! Why aren’t they tearfully and sincerely throwing themselves at the feet of their neighbours, at every passerby in the street, stopping traffic, PLEADING, BEGGING anyone who might listen, day in day out? Why aren’t they kept up at night by the sheer magnitude of the horror to come!...

Seriously. According to Christian theologians, there is no earthly comparison that comes anywhere near close to the torment of the unsaved post mortem. Think of the most despicable evil acts upon the Earth (really, let your imagination run wild here, think sick....really sick) and now times that by eternity....for what you have yourself imagined is NOTHING compared to what God (according to carnal theologians) has in store for our ‘unsaved’ family members and friends. But if you are struggling to conjure up an appropriate means of punishment befitting this sinful world, then consider the following...

 

 

Perillos and the brass bull

Throughout history, man’s cruelty to man has and still is, an ever present reminder of just how far from God’s glory the degenerate carnal human has fallen! Nothing is “new under the sun” as far as mans deprave propensity to do evil. One such story should serve as a stark reminder of such carnal mindedness.

The ruler Pharalis “the tyrant of Acragas” ruled (Agrgentum) in Sicily, from approximately 570 to 554 BC. A self proclaimed dictator, he was entrusted with the building of the temple of Zeus Atabyrius in the citadel, and took advantage of his position to make himself despot.

Under his rule, Agrigentum seems to have attained considerable prosperity. He supplied the city with water, adorned it with fine buildings, and strengthened it with walls. On the northern coast of the island, the people of Himera elected him General with absolute power, in spite of the warnings of the poet Stesichorus. According to the Suda he succeeded in making himself master of the whole of the island.

Yet it is not his lust for power, but rather the depths of his depravity, for which he is remembered the most, for Phalaris was renowned for his excessive cruelty. Among his alleged atrocities is cannibalism, he was even said to have eaten suckling babies. It was his formidable reputation that led an Athenian bronze metal worker called Perillos to invent a torture and execution device worthy of Phalaris’ baseness. This invention became known as the brazen bull, bronze bull, or Sicilian bull. The Bull was offered to Phalaris as a gift and how it worked is disturbing to say the least.

A life-sized bull was fashioned out of solid brass. A trap door on the back or side of the bull was designed to be lifted so that a criminal or prisoner could be placed inside the claustrophobic device and then locked causing panic! A fire was then lit UNDERNEATH the stomach of the bull and the brass was SLOWLY HEATED until red hot. The rising temperature of the BRASS ensured that every place skin touched the hot surface it was SCORCHED --with NO RELIEF!

SWEAT from PANIC and HEAT would be produced to BROIL the victim from OUTSIDE IN to INSIDE OUT! The physical pain would have been horrendous, the mental anguish unbearable. SUPERHEATED AIR within 15 LONG, TORTUROUS MINUTES would have then scorched and finally collapsed the lungs causing SURE DEATH!

But let’s not forget the spectators! Brass is dense so a person screaming in pain COULD NOT BE HEARD OUTSIDE the BRASS BULL. Tubing was the last hope for outside air. Phalaris commanded that the bull be designed in such a way that its smoke rise in spicy clouds of incense. The head of the bull was designed with a complex system of tubes and stops so that the prisoner's screams were converted into sounds like the bellowing of an infuriated bull. Perillos said to Phalaris: “[His screams] will come to you through the pipes as the tenderest, most pathetic, most melodious of bellowings.”

Yes, as the victim SCREAMED IN PAIN, SUCKED AND BLEW AIR they “mooed” themselves to death for the entertainment of the audience. The MOO-ing of the BRASS BULL meant the person was still alive and being tortured- until SWEAT PRODUCED steam (like a tea kettle)for a SOLID MOO-ing sound! According to legend, when the bull was reopened, the victim's scorched bones “shone like jewels and were made into bracelets.” END OF FUN--- and feast continued.

Seemingly disgusted by Perillos’ words, Phalaris ordered its horn sound system to be tested on Perillos himself! When Perillos entered, he was immediately locked in, and the fire was set, so that Phalaris could hear the sound of his screams. However, before Perillos could die, Phalaris opened the door and took him away. What a joker! Perillos believed he would receive a reward for his invention; instead, after freeing him from the bull, Phalaris had him thrown from the top of a hill, killing him. Ironically, Phalaris himself is said to have been killed in the brazen bull when he was overthrown in a general uprising by Telemachus.

Some scholars of the early 20th century proposed a connection between Phalaris' bull and the bull-images of Phoenician cults (cf. the Biblical golden calf), and hypothesized a continuation of Eastern human sacrifice practices and though this idea has subsequently fallen out of favour, though the original arguments have not been refuted.

The story of the bull cannot be dismissed as pure invention. Pindar, who lived less than a century afterwards, expressly associates this instrument of torture with the name of the tyrant. There was certainly a brazen bull at Agrigentum that was carried off by the Carthaginians to Carthage, when it was again taken by Scipio the Elder, and restored to Agrigentum circa 200 BC.

The Romans were recorded as having used this torture device to kill some Jews, as well as some Christians, notably Saint Eustace, who, according to Christian tradition, was roasted in a brazen bull with his wife and children by the Emperor Hadrian. The same happened to Saint Antipas, Bishop of Pergamum during the persecutions of Emperor Domitian and the first martyr in Asia Minor, who was roasted to death in a brazen bull in AD 92.The device was still in use two centuries later, when another Christian, Pelagia of Tarsus, is said to have been burned in one in 287 by the Emperor Diocletian.

But rest assured, the Brazen Bull is but a walk in the park compared to what billions of men, women and children from every walk of life, from every age and civilization throughout history (who haven’t accepted Christ as their Lord and saviour) will endure after judgement day...according to the enlightened modern church!

For the brazen bull is a complete human failure as far as an implement of justice, compared to Gods invention is it not? Oh the short comings of mans attempts to be God! After all..

1. ONLY ONE PERSON could fit inside the BRASS BULL-- at a time.

MOST OF CREATION can fit INSIDE GOD’S BRAZEN BULL (LAKE OF FIRE) at ONCE!  (in fact it will/can hold about 90-95% of all created beings-- world-wide!) 

2. In mans Brazen Bull, No one could hear the SCREAMING!

In God’s torture device; WAILING, SCREAMING AND GNASHING OF TEETH-- CAN AND WILL be HEARD!  Also, THE REDEEMED CAN ENJOY HEAVEN FOR ETERNITY AND LISTEN TO IT ALL - with no more crying and tears! 

3. In mans Brazen Bull, the TORTURE ONLY LASTED 15 SHORT MINUTES!

TORTURE IN THE LAKE OF FIRE LASTS FOREVER... AND FOREVER... AND FOREVER AND FOREVER!

4. In Man’s pathetic Brazen Bull, the PERSON D-I-E-D...ENDING THE PAIN!

In God’s LAKE OF FIRE (THE GREATEST FEATURE OF ALL)....THE PERSON NEVER DIES! After all THEY DESEREVE IT, they REJECTED MY SON, JESUS via their OWN FREE WILL! (albeit most of the worlds historical population has never heard of Jesus!)

So ask you may - why all the nonsense about brass bulls and megalomaniacs and images of torture? Well, just how do we reconcile such abhorrence with the righteous judgements of God or the love and mercy of God? Why indeed do Christians shy away from the subject of Hell and judgement? Maybe.....just maybe, Christendom’s take on the subject is simply that – it IS irreconcilable to God’s nature, His workmanship and His Word? Reconcile if you would the following statement to our study of the brazen bull.

“And GOD SAW EVERYTHING HE had MADE and, INDEED... it was V-E-R-Y GOOD!”  (Gen. 1:31)

Is it? Is creation GOOD? Is it “good”...as the scriptures plainly state it? Or did God not see it coming...the whole failure of creation thing? And just what is the perfect solution to this shameful experiment? Maybe, start again God....good try...just start it again? Well....NO! cries the church. Blame it! Burn it! Torture it forever! Exact upon it an evil worse than anything the Devil himself could ever come up with! Such are the teachings of Christian theologians worldwide...There HAS to be a better solution other than THIS nightmare scenario......and thankfully, there is!

 

 

No Lake of Fire in the Old Testament

Despite Daniels “river of fire,” the Old Testament texts are devoid of any such mention of a “LAKE of fire.” Any revelations to the existence of such a place are all but silent! Where are the Prophets warnings? Where are the lamentations for the wicked that perish? Why was Solomon in his wisdom so neglectful to mention this fate to all those that hung on his every word? Indeed, why are there not DOZENS of Old Testament verses warning of the fury of the “Lake of fire,” the horrific place of judgement that awaits ALL evil doers and Blasphemers? What of Paul or Peter? What of Christ Himself on his ministry on Earth? The silence is deafening is it not?

Thankfully, we can put our minds at ease. It is a comfort indeed that God is a God of His Word, that he doesn’t change his mind – from Genesis to Revelation what was understood in the beginning of his dealings with mankind as truth, is the same truth that shall remain to the end of the ages. “God does not change His mind.” (1 Samuel 15:19), and “I am the LORD, I change NOT.” (Malachi 3:16)

These foundational scriptural truths however, have by and large been ignored by Christendom’s brightest and most scholarly minds. For what then is left in all the holy scriptures that promulgate the Christian notion of “endless punishment” in “Hell,” seeing that the concept of anything “eternal” concerning such in the Biblical Hebrew and Greek is non- existent, seeing that “Sheol,” “Hades,” “Tartarus” and “Gehenna” cannot be rendered “hell” (as erroneously translated in most modern Bibles) and seeing that God never warned anyone in the Old Testament scriptures of punishment after death? "The soul that sinneth, IT SHALL DIE" (Ezek. 18:4).

In defending the blasphemous doctrine of eternal torture, the church therefore must turn to the only portion of scripture left that could convey such an idea of everlasting retribution. But in doing so, let us be reminded that in Gods dealings with Adam and Eve in the first pronouncement of the wages of sin, THERE IS NO MEN TION OF A LAKE OF FIRE but on the contrary, a sentence of dissolution into original dust. "Dust THOU art, and unto dust shalt THOU return." (Gen. 3:19) Does God change his mind? Well not according to the word of truth...but then modern church theology has little concern for matters of truth and consistency.

Where then in all the scriptures do we find the ongoing belief and understanding of a doctrine of eternal damnation in a “lake of fire?” Again; Where in all the scriptures spanning hundreds of years of revelation and divine interpretation, from the Prophets and scribes of the Old Testament to the Apostolic writings of the New Testament cannon, do we find anything that lends credence to such an idea? Yes, there is indeed such a lucid and enduring image of judgement and unspeakable suffering proclaims the church, just read it for yourself!

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."(Rev. 20:14-15)

Enter - the last climatic chapters of the last apocalyptic book of the New Testament cannon. Enter – the last remaining bastion of hope for the doctrine of damnation in fire for most of God’s creation.  Enter – the mother of all retributions. Enter.....“the lake of fire.”

Let us consider then, the Old Testament teaching of “the lake of fire.” Did God fail in his duty to give appropriate warning to Adam and Eve before their sin, or is this just nescience on our part as seekers of the truth? When God stated to Adam and Eve "you shall surely die....for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return" did he really mean “you shall suffer the infernal fires in the great lake of doom forever for your disobedience?”

Well no. Remember what we have already learnt here. Their life was but a slow death until they returned to the dust of the ground. God said that their judgment for sinning was to be RETURNED to the ground from whence they came. They didn’t come from a “lake of fire,” so how could they “return” to such a place when God plainly stated that they would “RETURN unto the ground?”

God pointed out the different judgments against Adam and Eve, such as multiplied childbearing pains, sorrow in gathering food all the days of his life, thorns, thistles, and sweat, but no mention of punishment in death or after death. No “lake of fire” here.

“When I say unto the wicked, You shall surely die [hey, isn’t that exactly what God did say to Adam?] and you give him not warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand(Ezek. 3:18).

Remember Ezekiel? Has God utterly failed to warn the human race of a destiny that is trillions of times worse than mere death considering God would hold Ezekiel responsible for the death of just one wicked person, whereas God Himself feels no responsibility for failing to warn the entire human race of a fate trillions of times more severe? Where is the warning here of the horrors of the “lake of fire?”

Remember again Cain’s predicament; in killing his brother Able? Did God threaten Cain with “the lake of fire?” No.

And now are you cursed from the earth which has opened her mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand: When you till the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto you her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shall you be in the earth" (Verses 8-12).

No “lake of fire” here! Maybe it is the punishment due the sinning masses of humanity in Noah’s day? What “lake of fire” awaited these wretches according to scripture?

"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall DIE" (Gen. 6:5 & 17).

Yes, again. God’s word does not contradict.....They shall die!” Tortured in the “lake of fire?” No, they “shall die.” Do we think that God said, “shall die,” but secretly meant: “punished endlessly?” Again and again...No “lake of fire!” Search all we may, we won’t find this “lake of fire” doctrine of Christendom in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Why doesn’t even one of these verses tell us that this wicked people will be judged in death and then sentenced to an eternity of torture in a “lake of fire?” Why? Why wouldn’t God give us at least one verse somewhere? He could have said something like this:

"Be it known to all sinners that whosoever repenteth not of his sins and dies, shall be sentenced to punishment in fire so hot as to burn brass, and he shall never ever be set free, and his pain and suffering shall never come to an end, no not ever, saith the Lord."

There are thousands and thousands and thousands of words in the Old Testament Scriptures, so why isn’t there one word warning us that unrepentant wicked people will be sentenced to an eternity of torture in the “lake of fire?” Why? The books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy have 186 combined chapters. So why couldn’t at least one of these 186 chapters contain at least one verse which warns of the horrible eternal torture for most of the human race? Why? Dare we say it again? Not one word, not one mention in the entirety of the Old Testament Scriptures regarding endless punishment in a “lake of fire.”

 

 

 “The Lake of Fire” of the pagans

Throughout our studies, it has become plainly obvious that all of the “eternal damnation” doctrines of Christendom have their origins in Pagan philosophies and myths. For as sure as God spoke "When I say unto the wicked, You shall surely die (Ezek. 3:18) in Old Testament times, this great truth is echoed in the new Testament “For the wages of sin is death?” (Rom. 6:23)

If theologians and pastors are correct in teaching that "For the wages of sin is eternal life in the lake of fire," how do they account for these two verses? The orthodox answer is: "Death IS, eternal life (in the lake of fire)." Theologians have no problem with square circles and contradictions.  Of course we cannot dismiss the very fact that Gods Word testifies to the reality of a “lake of fire.” Christ Himself has revealed it to us in the last book of the New Testament. Whatever this “lake” does, it surely CANNOT contradict what Christ spoke to the Old Testament Fathers and Prophets of old, concerning future retribution and punishment. Furthermore, it can in NO way reflect the belief systems of PAGAN Nations and notions. But, before we look for the scriptural answers to the enigma that is “the lake of fire,” let us consider these pagan versions....it makes for very interesting reading indeed!

Few Christians understand or would ever admit to the astounding similarities between ancient pagan traditions and the current theological dogma we know as “eternal punishment” Yes, without a shadow of a doubt, the teaching of life immediately following death, the immortality of the soul, and the teaching of a hell wherein the wicked are punished and/or tortured endlessly, are all inventions of the ancient pagans, centuries before the people of Israel began to believe and teach these doctrines, or even before Israel existed.

We can trace the history of this Satanic lie regarding man’s condition and `whereabouts after death, for the very bedrock of Christian doctrine regarding the fate and condition of the dead is traced back to the nation whose very name is synonymous with SIN:

"And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city [Jerusalem], which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified" (Rev. 11:8).

And the first of these three was Egypt.  As we shall see though, there are some vestiges of truth concerning God and creation found in the ancient religious beliefs of the Egyptians, for example, the unusually pervasive teaching of a flood which is shared by several ancient cultures. However, many strange and unscriptural doctrines regarding the origin of man and the afterlife also were birthed in these ancient civilizations. Egypt as a longstanding major ancient power was immeasurably influential.

Amazingly, few Christians will ever be exposed to the historical truth regarding the corruption of Judaism and Christendom’s ability to absorb these pagan influences and make them its own. The Old Testament or Hebrew scriptures know NOTHING of an eternal damnation of sinners in a “lake of fire.” A similar notion does however appear in the so-called “inter-testamental era,” circa 330 B.C. to 100 A.D. in various Jewish writings, in particular the “Pseudepigraphia” and “Apocrypha.” Hellenistic Greek notions (borrowed from Egyptian myths) of an underworld filled with fiery rivers and lakes came to be accepted by some Hellenized Jewish individuals, or sects, from which a Hellenized Christianity later emerged.

"...fire was also an important element in the Egyptian concept of the underworld, often in ways strikingly similar to the medieval Christian conception of hell. According to the Coffin Texts and other works, the underworld contained fiery rivers and lakes as well as fire demons (identified by fire signs on their heads) which threatened the wicked.

Representations of the fiery lakes of the fifth "hour" of the Amduat depict them in the form of the standard pool or lake hieroglyph, but with flame-red "water" lines, and surrounded on all four sides by fire signs which not only identify the blazing nature of the lakes, but also feed them through the graphic "dripping" of their flames.

In a similiar manner, in a scene from the funerary Book of Gates, the damned are subjected to the fiery breath of a huge serpent..." (p.161. "Brazier." Richard H. Wilkinson. Reading Egyptian Art, A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Painting and Sculpture.1992. Thames & Hudson. London)

Muller notes scenes of the damned being tortured in the underworld. They are hacked up with knives,  consumed in flames erupting from a great underworld serpent or dragon, dragon in Greek means "great serpent" (fig.187. p.179. W. Max Muller. The Mythology of All Races, Egyptian. Vol. XII. Boston. Marshall Jones Company. 1918) placed in fiery pits, their bodies or "shades" float in underworld an river, the subterranean Nile (fig. 188. p. 180), or consigned to "a lake of fire" after judgement (fig. 186. p.179).

Bernstein's scholarly work on the origins of Hell, notes that the Egyptian damned are placed in fiery pits, hacked up, burnt by fiery serpents, or placed in a “lake of fire,” but, this is NOT an eternal punishment, each day brings a new round of destruction for the newly dead, quite contrary to the Christian notion of the damned enduring Hell fire for all eternity.

"However horrible the suffering of these victims, their punishment is not eternal. The dismemberment and burning lead to quick destruction. Each night, Re or Osiris consumes the enemies collected the previous day." (Alan E. Bernstein. Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds. Ithaca & London. Cornell University Press. 1993)

Ooohh! Sound familiar? Yes indeed. Who would have thought that the modern Christian “lake of fire” could be so similar to the fables and tall tales of ancient mythology! Yet these influences are well documented and prove beyond a doubt that the doctrine of hell and all its “Christian values” are PAGAN to the core! It takes the Spirit of God though, to discern ancient symbols from the realm of fiction, to that of spiritual truth, as we shall discover.

 

 

Egyptian or Christian?

But why all this focus on pagan myths and philosophies, and what do they have to do with “the Lake of Fire?” Well, to understand the modern churches’ teachings, we have to understand that just like the pagan cultures of old, Christianity has borrowed and bettered certain myths to fit the accepted theology of the day. It’s not just the concept of “hell” and “eternal punishment” which has been recycled by Christendom, but the churches’ teachings as a whole owe more to pagan ideas then any of its own.

The importance of symbols such as the womb, the phallus, eggs, sex and fertility, were at the very core of all ancient religions. And virtually all of these symbols have been passed on down through the Christian Church via the architecture of her temples and churches, her holy days and festival, her symbols and mythology, and her doctrines.

Virtually all of the great gods of Egypt became the great gods of Greece and Rome. They invented a few characters of their own, but the main characters of Greek mythology come straight out of Egypt. And all of this is a matter of reams of documented history. The lowest and worst part of “hades” is called  “Tartarus” in Greek. "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Gk: ‘tartaroo’]…" (II Peter. 2:4).

As we know, Tartaroo IS the Greek tartarus. But Tartarus is not from the Greek, it is EGYPTIAN. Tartarus comes from the Egyptian word “tartar,” which had to do with the lamenting at Egyptian funerals when a loved one was forbidden burial across the lake. The paradise of the Egyptians was called Elisout or Elisaeus, or the Fields of Reeds. When copied by the Greeks and Romans these areas of paradise were called the Elysian Fields. All of the major gods and goblins of the Egyptian netherworld were copied and reintroduced into Greek mythology. From there they were copied by the Romans, and then allowed to remain as part of the Roman Catholic Church, even though the theologians knew these practices and beliefs were pagan to the core.

God has sternly warned:

"Take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them [the pagan nations], after that they be destroyed from before you: and that you enquire NOT after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? EVEN SO WILL I DO LIKEWISE" (Deut. 12:30).

What are we clearly told by Paul concerning the apostatized church of our day?

Paul said:

"…evil men and imposters seducers [Gk: ‘imposters’] shall wax [grow] worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Tim. 3:13).

These are those which Paul says:

"…shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Tim. 4:2-4).

One cannot turn away from the truth, unless they once had the truth. This is speaking of the Church. But how has today’s Church gotten worse and worse than burning their sons and daughter in fire? By teaching that their sons and daughters will not be burned up in fire, as the Canaanites did, but by teaching that their sons and daughters will BURN IN FIRE FOR EVER!

The earliest Egyptian myths concerning creation range from the fanciful and bizarre to hints of the actual Biblical record. Different regions of the Nile Valley had their own       individual gods of creation. Understand that virtually all Egyptian myths are fanciful, exaggerated, contradicting, convoluted, and bizarre.

Again, what, you might ask, has this pagan Egyptian nonsense to do with the Christian teaching of “endless punishment in a lake of fire?” Everything! This fantastic, comical, absurd pagan religion of the Egyptians is the bedrock foundation for the most basic of Christian doctrines and heresies. This inane religion is the basis for fundamental Christian teachings. The [1] immortal soul, [2] judgment at death, [3] entrance into a paradise for some, and [4] on going punishments for others, were the fundamental elements of Egyptian paganism, and they are likewise the fundamental elements of Christian doctrine.

 

 

The Egyptian Funeral

As we have said, the term “lake” is an interesting one. It is a symbol that is associated with several ancient cultures. There were different places in Egypt that had “sacred lakes.” Lake Acherusia near Memphis may have been the model for this custom. According to Diodorus, there were judges or assessors who would determine the character of the deceased persons, and to determine the day of burial. This judgment took place on the shore of such a lake (the burial tombs being on the other side). Forty-two judges were appointed for this task. Anyone could then bring charges against the deceased person. If the judges deemed the person to be evil, he would be denied the journey across the lake for burial.

If the accusations could not be substantiated, or if there were no witnesses against the deceased, then the relatives could eulogize their loved-one with praise, prayer and supplications to the gods of the underworld so as to have him received into the society of the blessed. The multitude assembled acclaimed him of excellent character and asked that he be joined into the regions of Amenti (the Hades of the Greeks). They would then put him into a boat and ferry him across the lake to his burial site or sepulchre.

Should one be found guilty of evils in his life, however, he would be refused immediate transfer across the lake and would be taken to the home of the deceased and propped against the wall for a period of time during which prayers were offered (and of course a little money under the table for the priests to shorten this purgatory period).

If the deceased heart was not too heavy with sins during his life, he would then be brought before the throne of Osiris who would grant that he could pass through and continue his voyage to the afterlife, where he would be granted a plot of land in the Field of the Reeds.” This field of reeds was the paradise of the ancient Egyptians. Here they would grow crops, drink beer, and life a life of plenty similar to their farms and homes along the Nile River Valley.

Should the heart be heavy with earthly sins, however, the beast Ammut, who sat under the scale, would gobble up his heart, and he would then be brought before Osiris who would pronounce the worst possible fate for an Egyptian.

Right here, however, we have two teachings. According to some Egyptian mythology, if a person were not extraordinarily wicked, he would be given a sort of purgatory where his soul would be put into the body of another, or an animal. According to Wilkinson:

"the souls which underwent transmigration were those of men whose sins were of sufficiently moderate kind to admit of that purification; the unpardonable sinner being condemned to ETERNAL FIRE.”

Thayer points out to mean “never ending fire,” as they had no one word to represent “eternal.” And so we see the “heaven and hell” doctrine of the Protestant Christians, and the “heaven and hell or purgatory” of the Catholic Christians, being taught by the Ancient Egyptians long before there was any such things as Old Testament or New Testament Manuscripts!

The Egyptians were way ahead of today’s science (or maybe rather: science-fiction). They mummified their bodies for the express purpose of preserving their bodies forever. It was essential that they have physical bodies in the hereafter. Poor people unable to afford the expense of mummification could substitute little figurines to take the place of an embalmed body. The wealthy Pharaoh’s built huge pyramids that are now referred to as "Resurrection Machines."

For little did the Egyptians and the apostate Church as it teaches, realize that the body does not exist independent of spirit. Remember what we learnt from our last study? Without the spirit from God united with the body, nobody will ever live. It is the spirit that gives live, not the soul. Man only becomes a living soul after God adds the SPIRIT. This is theology 101, however, not one orthodox seminary on earth understands or believes this Scriptural truth.

The ancient Egyptians believe that the soul of a man (Ba) was the consciousness of the man and dwelled inside the body. The spirit-like aspect of man was called Ka. The Ka was like an invisible spirit double of the man. Both the Ka and the Ba where present in every human at birth. The Ba (soul) was pictured as a bird with the head of a man. Every evening the Ba could leave the mummy body and return back to earth among the living and check on friends and relatives. This is how the dead could keep in contact with the living.  No, souls of people do not go to a heaven or hell upon death. Such doctrines are straight out of the tombs of the Pagan Egyptians. This immortality of the soul nonsense is Egyptian (SIN), not Scriptural (RIGHTEOUSNESS).

The modern church doctrines owe much to Egypt, from where it was borrowed by the Greeks, and passed on to the Romans. The Catholic Church in turn held on to such pagan doctrines, so as to have almost supernatural power over the people by the use of fearful doctrines. They found it needful to find a way to interject this most damnable of all pagan doctrines, into the very translation of the Scriptures themselves. This is the single most egregious sin against "man adding unto the things of God’s word" in the history of God’s recorded word. Little has changed.

 

 

The Disciples and pagan doctrines

Of course, the common argument Christians employ to support such doctrines, is to quote historical references stating that at the time of Christ, Hell and eternal punishment was an “accepted” belief. They are absolutely right! They WERE “accepted.” Boy were they accepted! But they didn’t learn them from their OWN SCRIPTURES! No. Jews at the time of Christ were FULLY indoctrinated in the beliefs of their pagan overlords. Just as Israel had a long history (against Gods command) of following after the ways of their pagan neighbours, their beliefs in the afterlife where no more real than the Greco-Roman myths they too mingled with. The doctrines of men and demons indeed!

The pagan teaching of an “immortal soul,” was believed by ALL pagan nations even though there is not a word concerning immortal souls or suffering in death in all of the Hebrew Scriptures! Long before there was a single New Testament Greek Scripture written, New Testament Jews believed similar unscriptural fantasies. Even Jesus’ own DISCIPLES had to “unlearn” the old beliefs they too had become indoctrinated with such pagan ideas.

“And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1-2)

What? This is the DISCIPLES here! How, pray tell, could this blind man be responsible for his own blindness when we are plainly told that he was “born blind?” Not only did the disciples believe the pagan doctrine that the soul is immortal, but they believed the transmigration of souls. This doctrine teaches that souls do not just live on, as in “immortal” after death, in some fabled hellhole of eternal torture, or some heaven on a rock in outer space, but rather that at death, the immortal soul migrates to inhabit the body of another person about to born into the world. Seriously, why would Christ’s disciples believe that a man could have sinned before he was ever born?

But what is even more remarkable is the fact that Jesus did not correct them, but rather went along with and acquiesced to their pagan notions. Jesus did not demean their foolish statement or their foolish belief, but countered with: “Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents…” (John 9:3). Jesus spoke the truth, for truly this man had not sinned (however, Jesus did not inform them that it would have been impossible for him to sin before he was born). But just in case you think that we are misinterpreting this portion of scripture, regard these “accepted beliefs” in action on the following occasion:

“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that You are John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:13-14).

Some even thought that He might be John the Baptist, which is really strange, seeing that Jesus was already the same age as John, when John was beheaded. Did Jesus Christ believe in reincarnation and the transmigration of immortal souls? Where did this teaching come from, and why does Jesus make reference to it? Why didn’t Jesus expose this pagan heresy to His disciples instead of going along with their false statements? So common and intrusive were the pagan philosophies of the day that even Jesus’ parable of the Rich man and Lazarus incorporated the rich symbolism of the Greek “hades.”

“And in hell [Gk: ‘hades’] he [the Rich man] lift up his eyes, being in torment, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23).

The Egyptians called their place of punishment in the underworld, amenti. When the Greeks borrowed most of the Egyptian myths surrounding this place called amenti, they called it by the name hades. Thomas Thayer supports Professor Stuart, Greppo's Essay, and Spineto, that: “The Amenti of the Egyptians originated the classic fables of Hades and Tartarus.” (Doctrine of Eternal Punishment, Chapt. 3, P. 7).

Did Jesus believe that when people die, they are consciously alive and tormented in the pagan hell of the Greeks named after their pagan god, Hades? Why would Jesus use pagan religious doctrines and beliefs to teach spiritual truths of God? Haven’t these things deceived the Church and caused the many different denominations of Christendom? Yes, of course they have, and so have ALL the parables which Jesus taught that virtually no Church understands. The Church does not even understand the few parables that Jesus explained! How many theologians believe and understand that all the parables are the same parable? Tis true:

“And He [Jesus] said unto them, Know you not this parable? And how then shall you know all parables?” (Mark 4:13).

All parables are the same parable! It takes the Spirit of God to understand these spiritual teachings. And just as when Jesus said: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” no one understands what He meant until it was fulfilled. Everyone thought he meant the literal physical stone temple rather than His own body. Likewise, only the “Chosen few” can understand the parables as they are fulfilled in their own lives, generation by generation, until the parables are fulfilled.

The Jews of Jesus’ day learned these pagan teachings referred to above, plus many more, but from where did they learn them? For a fact they did not learn them from Moses, the Prophets, or Hebrew Scriptures. Who taught these pagan doctrines? Can we trace back such doctrines as “the immortality of the soul,” “reincarnation,” “consciousness and everlasting punishment after death?” Yes, we can. All roads lead back to Egypt! Egypt is still alive in well in the church today.

 

 

Revelation – the beginning of a doctrine

So, what have we learnt then? Well, the only beliefs concerning anything resembling a “lake of fire” had its origins in pagan philosophies and religions of the day. That’s right. Before circa 70AD, a scriptural “Lake of fire” didn’t even exist! Yet today, a whole doctrine is taught that not even Jesus and Paul make mention of! Seriously, were these surrounding pagan nations privy to a secret truth that God kept hidden from his own people? Can we not see how foolish this “doctrine” is?

It must be asked then, what then do the scriptures really teach concerning the symbolism of fire, brimstone and death as recorded in the book of Revelation? Where did this symbol come from and what does it mean? 

These are all the Scriptural references in the entire Bible that mention the “lake of fire” and “the second death.” Sometime in the last half of the first century AD, the apostle John (whom Jesus loved) was on the Isle of Patmos when he found himself “in spirit on the Lord’s day.” Among his many remarkable visions he saw this:

“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” (Revelation 19:20)

 

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev. 20:10)

 

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:14-15)

 

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8)

Concerning the “Second Death,” John also has this to report:

 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Rev. 2:11)

 

“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6)

And finally this one:

“...and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:10)

As we have already discussed, Theologians and clergymen by the thousands have been telling the world that this “lake of fire” is little more than the final HELL of eternal separation from God accompanied by unfathomable pain, torture, and despair, wailing and gnashing of teeth, the realm where real or spiritual fire barbecues their bodies and/or souls while worms eat their flesh. This hideous scene is to continue day and night for trillions of billions of quadrillions of centuries upon centuries--for EVER!

We are told that those who will spend eternity in this prison of pain have themselves chosen to spend eternity there - that God doesn’t send anyone to hell, but that people actually choose, themselves, to go there. Even a fool knows that no person would ever choose such a fate, but theologians must somehow get God off of the hook of responsibility, for surely this place exists and will continue to exist for eternity they assure us. Famous TV preachers like John Hagee tell us that;

“...every boy and every girl who dies without knowing Jesus Christ spends an eternity in a city where the fire is never quenched and the worm dieth not.”  And Mr. Hagee adds, “AND IT’S JUSTICE!”

World renowned pastor, educator, and theologian Dr. James Kennedy tells the world that for a man in India who told a lie, and for a man in the Islands who stole chickens by night to feed his family, their sins will put them into the tortures of an eternal hell, even if they never heard of the name of Jesus Christ, their only possible Saviour! And Dr. Kennedy adds, “HELL IS FAIR!” Does the Word of God actually and literally teach such a hellhole of eternal torture in fire from which there is no redemption ever? That the Scriptures DO speak of a “lake of fire which is the second death” there is no denial.

However:  What is it? Where is it? When is it? Why is it? Who will go there? Is it an actual place? And How long will it last? What actually takes place in this lake of fire

which is the second death? Is John’s vision to be taken literally? Does this lake of fire and second death serve no purpose other than to vent God’s frustration and vengeance on most of humanity which He Himself created? Would a loving God really create billions and billions of people which He knew in advance He would torture for all eternity?

If ninety to ninety-five percent (a ballpark statistic used by many theologians) of humanity is destined for this atrocious destiny, how could any sane person worship a god who would design and carry out such a vile and eternal nightmare on so many billions of helpless and weak creatures? Some have even taught that God and His Saints will actually derive happiness and pleasure from this fabled eternal torture and misfortune of the majority of all humanity that has ever lived.

Men are bold and audacious in how they characterize the very nature of God Almighty. Saddam Hussein was said to enjoy his leisure by watching videos of men being tortured! Most of us shudder at the very thought of anything so satanic and evil. And yet ... and YET, many theologians (and Christian lay members as well) would put God Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ in the base company of such depraved minds! God have mercy on them all; they know not what they say!  The Scriptures answer all of these questions, and the answers are not even in the same universe with what has been popularly taught by theologians.

 

 

The Lake of Fire - General Christian views

There are several possibilities for the interpretation of this lake of fire and second death as far as mainstream Christian doctrine goes. The teaching comprising the largest number of adherents (Christian Fundamentalists) state that the lake of fire is indeed a literal and/or spiritual fire, but that the second death part is figurative or symbolic seeing that its victims never actually become literally dead or even unconscious, but rather they interpret this second death as separation from God or a symbol for extreme and relentless suffering or physical and mental torture.

After all, It is a physiological impossibility for a literal fire to cause pain on the nervous system of a person and yet never actually kill them and burn them up if the fire is applied eternally. Furthermore, real fire does not cause symbolic or figurative death - real fire causes real death.

Others (as the Jehovah's Witnesses) teach that both the lake of fire and the the second death are symbolic and not literal. They believe that this metaphor is a "word picture" that does not represent a place or condition of literal torment in literal fire.  However, they believe that it does picture or represent the total annihilation of all those who are judged and are not granted salvation.

This teaching is certainly billions of times more merciful than the Christian fundamentalist theory, however, it too is unscriptural as we shall see.  What kind of an eternal example would that be for those who are saved? Does God really teach us to “train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6), but that God Himself is incapable of training His

children in the way that they should go and that most of them WILL DEPART FROM IT? Does God really teach us to LOVE OUR ENEMIESwhile God Himself HATES OUR LOVED ONES” by destroying most of them for all eternity? Did you ever consider that? This teaching is also blasphemous.

Mainstream Christian teachings generally hold to three bedrock doctrinal teachings, which are really only assumptions regarding the lake of fire: That the "lake of fire" part of this verse must positively be taken LITERALLY, that this lake of fire and second death are just other terms for HELL and that all the wicked, unsaved, and unbelieving sinners will be consciously TORTURED in this lake of fire hellhole by having their flesh or soul spiritually barbecued FOR ALL ETERNITY, which is said to be the second death.”

Are any of these three assumptions true or Scriptural however? Well, the scriptures actually prove outright that these verses are NOT to be taken literally, that they can NOT represent a place called hell – dare we believe it!

 

 

Interpretation – the key!

But here is the truth. The lake of fire is figurative and symbolic and the second death is also figurative or symbolic. And how do we know this? Well, It is the only way that these Scriptures on the lake of fire and the second death will harmonize and not contradict the rest of God’s Word and God plainly tells us in chapter one, verse one, that an angel “signified” this whole “Revelation of Jesus Christ” contained in this book. He SYMBOLIZED”  it, for that is what “signifies” means--to make known by signs, and signs are symbols. The word “signified” is from the Greek “SEMAINO” meaning to indicate or communicate by means of signs and symbols. Therefore it can’t be literal! Yes. Revelation is a book of SYMBOLS!

Realize this. The Scriptures teach the opposite of divine and infernal retribution because - unlike carnal degenerate MAN - God NEVER punishes for the sole purpose of torturing! God ALWAYS punishes and chastises for the ultimate purpose of correcting, righting, amending, changing, fixing, rectifying, redeeming and saving! That God can and will accomplish these things with every creature in heaven and earth is fully substantiated by hundreds of Scriptures in His Word. And there are no Scriptural doctrines or teachings to the contrary. NONE! This IS the Good News Gospel which precious few on this earth have ever heard. It is God’s “WILL” that all mankind be saved (I Tim. 2:4), and God’s “will” WILL be done (Matt. 6:10 and Isaiah 46:10-11)!

Of course these Scriptures (at translated in most modern Bibles) sure sound like the beast, the false prophet, Satan, and all who are not found written in the book of life will be tortured forever and ever in the lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.  Granted, in the King James translation, it does definitely sound that way. But when we remove a few unscriptural assumptions, a few pagan traditions, and a couple of totally mistranslated words, words that never appear in the Greek manuscripts, we will discover an even more profound love that God has for His creatures, rather than some monstrous god of eternal hatred which has been concocted by theologians and promulgated through bad translations for centuries.

Revelation is no ordinary book and as such, it requires extraordinary discernment to understand it. But to even begin to decipher the symbolism of the “lake of fire,” we have to understand why it was even written in the first place, the exegesis and hermeneutics (the origins - if you will) of the term. For if there was ever a book in the Bible so misunderstood and misused, it is the book of Revelation. There is available today, literally thousands upon thousands of articles, sermons, books, teachings and essays on the subject - let alone the endless list resources on the web. All share an opinion, all offer an interpretation, all offer themselves as the TRUE path of understanding.

Christian theologians would have us believe that Revelation is a book that focuses on mankind’s historic journey in relation to Satan’s rise and fall on earth and beyond, not to mention the immeasurable suffering and fate of his many followers. Today, most Christians are completely unaware of the erroneous dispensationalist origins of end time prophecy. They are tossed to and fro with every new book that hits the market or every new fad end-time scheme introduced by some celebrity preacher.

The popularity of Revelation today is due to man's insatiable curiosity to divine the future, the interest in the unknown tomorrow, which characterizes the restless human soul. To claim that in the pages of the Revelation we can see the signs of the present times and thus predict the tomorrows; to pull back the veil and claim to lay bare the future is to attract an audience, for that is the nature of man - fascination with the future! And that is the thrust of the scores of books always appearing, almost all of them claiming to be able to unravel and accurately predict the great world events about to unfold.

Man reveres the past, but he is intoxicated by the heady wine of prophecy. The very claim, then, of these many books - that they can reveal to us things which are soon to come - helps to explain the popularity of those books on the Revelation.  99% of these books are complicated, confounding, downright contradictory and few of them teach anything even NEAR the truth! What makes our article any different right? Indeed...it requires the “Spirit of truth” to understand such things as this.

 

 

The Patmos files

Now, most of us that have grown up in the church have at some point overheard discussions and debates about the book of Revelation and how it is apocalyptic” in nature. Few of us have ever ventured any further into researching beyond the point of knowing this fact. There is a reason why Revelation is known as “the turn back book,” namely because it is so contentious and confusing, that when Bible classes make their way through the New Testament and they get to Revelation - they “turn back” to Matthew!

Yes, the book of Revelation is one of the most neglected and yet one of the most abused books of the New Testament - today and in times past. This view point is expressed in various forms by many biblical scholars;

Neglected, misunderstood, and grossly perverted, the Book of Revelation stands quite alone in the New Testament. (Revelation - "Victory in Christ", by Robert Harkrider )

The book of Revelation has also been used by many religious fanatics, who have preyed on the weak and ill informed to promote their wild and fanciful speculations and theories. Many Christians today are just as ill informed as to the content of the book of Revelation, with a general concept that it is too difficult and can only be understood by those who are Biblical scholars or by those who have some type of higher secular education. Yet this attitude toward a portion of the inspired Word of God should be un-acceptable to all those who profess to be Disciples of Christ!  After all, the Word of God;

 “...is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2Timothy 3:16-17)

Revelation is as important to us today as it was at the time of its writing. Study should be a constant way of life for the child of God. One needs to always keep in mind that we are to have an OPEN MIND AND AN OPEN BOOK if we are to come to a fuller understanding of God's Divine Will and purpose.

Like any portion of Biblical text, the scholarship is divided on some aspects of Revelation. This is not unusual though, as from a textual point of view, every book in the Bible is contentious! Many secular scholars have a habit of discounting everything. Too many Christian scholars likewise seemingly discount nothing. Some go as far to suggest that Revelation should never have been included in the New Testament cannon and that it only did so by “scraping by.” Furthermore, some scholars contend that it was not the Apostle John who wrote revelation, rather some other little known Christian “John.”  However, Revelation in its entirety is a study for another time. So before we get back to proving that the “lake of fire” is indeed symbolic, lets (as briefly as possible) look at the background of the book in which the term appears.

The actual location of John’s composition would appear to be one of the smaller mysteries connected with Revelation. John states that his first vision took place on the island of Patmos. One must not confuse the Asia known today as the Asia Minor of the Bible. The province of Asia was a Roman colony in the region that is now known as Turkey. The Island Patmos is about ten miles long and at its widest point about six miles across. There is an area where the sea almost pinches off the Island forming a natural harbour. Tradition says that exiles were sent here to work in the mines. Eusebius, relying on tradition says John, was exiled here during the reign of Domitian. Being so close to the coast, it is was not far from the seven churches in Asia Minor to which he was writing. He states that he was “on the island of Patmos on account of the Word of God and of witness to Jesus,” which most likely implies that he had indeed been exiled.

John directs the record of his visions to the seven churches in the province of Asia, which incorporated approximately the western third of Asia Minor. His words to the churches contain evidences that he was familiar with the local conditions and traditions of these churches, which may have been personally known to him from his association with that area. The reason Christ inspired the writings to these particular seven churches is entirely spiritual – they incorporate the WHOLE spiritual state of Christendom as it was then and now.

On more practical terms, the order in which the churches are listed, probably has to do with geography and communications: The cities in which the churches are located, are all centres of communications, and a messenger bearing Revelation to the cities would arrive in Ephesus from Patmos, travel by a secondary road north to Smyrna and Pergamum, and then go east on the Roman road to Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

 

 

A question of time

The earliest external evidence for the date of Revelation is the statement from Irenaeus (c.130-c.200 C.E.) that the book was seen at the end of the reign of Domitian. Domitian was emperor from 81 to 96 C.E., so this account would suggest a date of authorship around 95-96 C.E., though some have interpreted John's language to imply that the work was written down somewhat later than the visionary experience. Yet there are some who accept and defends the earlier date (A.D. 64-68)

“External evidence points to the reign of Domitian, A. D. 95; internal evidence to the reign of Nero, or soon after his death, A.D. 68.” Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. I. page 427.

After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70 by Titus, “Babylon” had become a symbolic name for Rome in Jewish literature. This symbolic association is used by the author of the epistle of First Peter as well. The designation originated, in part, due to it having been Babylon that had destroyed the first Jewish temple and Rome which had destroyed the second. The designation also associated the Rome of that day with the decadence, wealth, and great power of the Babylon of 600 B.C.

This is where the heart of the debate lies. This type of symbolic language implies that Revelation was written after the destruction of the Temple by Titus. A date after the Temple's destruction would also fit the description of the Temple in 11:2 where John writes that the temple's outer court has been “handed over to gentiles - they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months.” Early Christian writers date the specific time of writing to one of four different Roman emperors: Claudius, Nero, Domitian, or Trajan. A time after the fall of the Temple would exclude both Claudius and Nero. New Testament scholars Carson, Moo, and Morris represent the general consensus among scholars when they state

 "the conditions generally presumed in Revelation are more likely to have existed in the reign of Domitian than earlier . . . We are inclined, then, to follow the oldest tradition on this point and date Revelation in the last years of Domitian."

Yet there are reasons why some challenge the “accepted” later date.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass (Rev 1:1)

Now. Revelation on a spiritual level is directed at the events unfolding IN THE LIFE of the believer – namely the revealing of Christ. Yet the “outward” statements refer to soon events of cataclysmic Jewish importance. If it was written in 96 AD, there are no events soon from that time that could even remotely fit. If, however, it was before 70 AD, then the destruction of Jerusalem rises to the occasion as both Jewish and cataclysmic. An ancient second century Syrian version of the book has the title of "John the Evangelist in the Isle of Patmos, where he was thrown by Nero Caesar." Nero, of course, was dead by 68 AD.

The study of the symbolic significance of numbers in Scripture is the study of the numbers formed by the letters of words themselves, which is known by the Greek word “gematria.”  This is the study of the words formed of letters of the alphabet used as number figures.  The Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and many other ancient peoples used their alphabets for numbers.  In their alphabets the letters are used for numbers with the value corresponding to the place in the alphabet. 

The Hebrews used all 22 letters of their alphabet plus 5 finals. The Greeks used the 24 letter alphabet and 3 additional finals. The Romans only used 6 letters of their alphabet and their combinations to form numbers: I= 1, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50, C = 100, D = 500.  The number 1,000 was formed by two D's (combined to form an M like figure).  By adding up the values of component letters of a person's name, for example, the total yields the "number of a person's name."

John recorded in Revelations 13:18 that the number of the Beast was 666 and that this number was the number of a human being.  Most ancient MSS (hand-written manuscripts) of the book of Revelation record 666 as this significant number while others manuscripts record the number as 616.  Is it a coincidence that all the Roman numeral added together total 666 (excluding the symbol for 1,000 which was not a separate letter/ number but two "D"= 500 place back to back)?  Is it also a coincidence that the gematria for Neron Caesar (an alternate Hebrew spelling of the Emperor's name in wide use in the 1st century AD) totals 666 while the Greek spelling of Nero Caesar totals 616?  Six is the number of the beasts and of man (both created on the 6th day).  It is also the number which is symbolic of man's nature to rebel against the law of God. 

This could be strong evidence that Caesar Nero really was the one (in the physical) being referred to as “the beast” and that the change from 666 to 616 in some manuscripts was intentional for that very reason. It is nearly impossible to find another person's name in that time frame that would do this.

The 6th king in Revelation 17 is the one that persecutes the saints.  Roman emperors are (1) Julius, (2) Augustus, (3) Tiberius, (4) Caligula, (5) Claudius, then (6) Nero. Nero was the first and only Roman Caesar of the Julian line to persecute Christians. Nero's death ended the Julian dynasty. The one ruling after him reigned only a little while . . Galba, 6 months. If the 6th king is indeed Nero, he would be the one that “now is” according to the prophecy, and this would date the writing before 68 AD when Nero supposedly committed suicide. Nero also persecuted Christians for 42 months as is stated in the prophecy.

Despite differences of opinion, one thing is for sure, the political climate at the time of John’s writing was INCENDIARY!  By the time of Revelation, Caesar worship was the one religion which covered the WHOLE Roman Empire; and it was because of their refusal to conform to its demands that Christians were persecuted and killed. Its essence was that the reigning Roman Emperor, as embodying the spirit of Rome, was divine.

Once a year everyone in the Empire had to appear before the magistrates to burn a pinch of incense to the god-head of Caesar and to say: "Caesar is Lord." After he had done that, a man might go away and worship any god or goddess he liked, so long as that worship did not infringe decency and good order; but he must go through this ceremony in which he acknowledged the Emperor's divinity...To refuse to burn the pinch of incense and to say "Caesar is Lord", was not an act of irreligion; it was an act of political disloyalty. That is why the Romans dealt with the utmost severity with the man who would not bow and no Christian could give the title Lord to anyone other than Jesus Christ!

 

 

 

The Apostle John

Now before everyone cries “Preterism” and “heresy,” let’s get one thing straight. Revelation as a body of work is HIGHLY political. For those of you reading this that think we have missed the point here, stick with it and keep reading. Apocalyptic writing in essence, captured vividly the “zeitgeist” if you like, the essence of the times in which it was written. Revelation was inflammatory to say the least. The readers understood the symbolism! It was a damning indictment of the oppressors of the Church – namely ROME. You cannot get around this! Take the political overtones simmering throughout many of Shakespeare’s plays – often coded, often hidden – yet at the same time scandalously overt!

John understood too well the natural dualism within this potent symbolism.  Jesus’ words were fore mostly for the comfort of His church - Practically – as well as spiritually for the generations of believers to come. In these politically charged times, it would be a stretch to believe that some unknown or obscure ‘John’ would have the connections and indeed the gravitas needed to impact the early Christian community, as these writings obviously did . The best evidence does then seem to point to the Apostle John as author, though it is up to the student to speculate on other theories. The careful student will examine all arguments for and against various authors and determine which in his mind is the more plausible.

However, one needs to be warned against the danger of making such an issue of fellowship, since the evidence is purely a gathering of facts made by fallible men who are in no position to assert the finality of their decisions upon those who differ. When one examines the issue of authorship of this Book and of other inspired writings one must look in various places as to his determining which author is the more acceptable.

The internal evidence of the authorship is limited to four passages in the entire Book of Revelation. It is in these four passages that the author refers to himself as “John.”

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants - things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified {it} by His angel to His servant John,” (Rev 1:1)

“John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,” (Rev 1:4)

“I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev 1:9)

“Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.” (Rev 22:8)

From these passages and other passages it is safe to assert that the writer of Revelation was:

1. A servant of Christ - 1:1

2. That he is a Christian, since he refers to himself as a brother and companion in this tribulation - 1:9

3. That he was a prophet - since he identifies himself as such in 1:3 ; 10:11 ; 22:6-10, 18, 19 ; 22: 9 ,19.

4. That he was exiled because of his testimony of Christ - 1:9

It is also safe to assert that the writer of Revelation was a Palestinian Jew, from his usage of the Old Testament and Targums and who also was steeped in the rituals of the temple and the synagogue. The fact that the very title of the Book includes in it the name John, cannot be overlooked.

This title "occurs in several MSS, including the Codex Sinaiticus" Hastings Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by James Hastings, D.D. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts. January 1989. p. 797).

Since no mention is ever made by the writer as to his apostleship, this has led many to speculate that this John is not the Apostle of Christ, the son of Zebedee. However, the majority of biblical scholars hold to the authorship as that of “John the Apostle” of Christ. These conclusions are largely based upon the external and Grammatical evidence.

Those who oppose the idea that John the Apostle of Christ as the author of the Book, suggest that the mysterious John the Presbyter who lived at Ephesus or the mentioning of John was only a pseudonym used by the original author to lend acceptance as though it were a letter of authority. All said and done, the evidence for John the Apostle as author of the Book probably outweighs the evidence produced to adequately dispose of this conclusion. Apart from this evidence, it is recorded that the Apostolic viewpoint was widely received by the church and it was only in AD 264 that this was openly opposed.

"The earliest witnesses ascribe Revelation to John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee. Dionysius, the distinguished bishop of Alexandria and student of Origen (d.c. 264), was the first within the church to question its apostolic authorship." Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Vol 2. Edited by Walter A. Elwell. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. December 1989. p. 1847)

Homer Hailey states concerning this matter:

"Although a few relatively early writers raised the question of authorship, the Apostle John's composition of Revelation was never seriously questioned until modern nineteenth-century liberal criticism." Revelation An Introduction and Commentary by Homer Hailey. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. November 1987. p. 21)

An early tradition about Revelation comes from Justin Martyr, about 155 C.E.:

“And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgement of all men would likewise take place.”

The author is clearly designated as “John, one of the apostles of Christ,” which would identify him as John the son of Zebedee. About 185 A.D. Irenaeus writes with the assumption that John the Apostle was the author of both Revelation and the Gospel which bears his name. The traditional view that John the Apostle wrote Revelation is also implied by its inclusion in the list of the Muratorian Fragment from Rome (c. 200 C.E.), and the writings of both Hippolytus of Rome (170-236 C.E.) and Tertullian of North Africa (155-220 C.E.).

There are certain issues, however, which prevent one from being absolutely certain that the seer in Revelation is one of the apostles. As early as the third century it was determined by Dionysius of Alexandria that due to language, style, and thought, Revelation could not have been written by the same John who authored the Gospel of John or the epistles of John, which Dionysius did believe was the Apostle. Dionysius attributed Revelation to John the Presbyter (Elder), who the fourth century Eusebius says is attested to by Papias:

“This confirms the truth of the story of those who have said that there were two of the same name in Asia, and that there are two tombs at Ephesus both still called John's. This calls for attention: for it is probable that the second (unless you prefer the first) saw the revelation which passes under the name of John. The Papias whom we are now treating confesses that he had received the words of the Apostles from their followers, but says that he had actually heard Aristion and the presbyter John. He often quotes them by name and their traditions in his writings.”

The Greek of the Gospel of John is simple, but grammatical. The Greek found in Revelation, however, is described by Raymond Brown as “the poorest in the [New Testament] to the point of being ungrammatical, which probably reflects one whose native language was Aramaic or Hebrew.” Though inconclusive, these hints serve to show that the authorship of Revelation cannot be known with certainty.

There is no way to verify whether John the Apostle, John the Presbyter, or some other unknown John was actually the author. The name “John” was, evidently, a common name among the early Christians. Therefore, possibilities abound. In the end though, what is most important to our understanding of Revelation, is that it is NOT the testimony of John on display, rather the testimony of CHRIST JESUS – the ACTUAL author and subject of these writings!

 

 

The purpose of “Apocalyptic” literature

Notice that the book is “Revelation” and not “Revelations.” Although the book is made up of many Revelations the books name is in the singular.

The name “Revelation” comes from the Greek word apokalupsis {ap-ok-al'-oop-sis} which Strong's defines as “disclosure: -appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation.”

1. Thayer defines this as – “an uncovering; 1. prop. a laying bare, making naked”

2. Vine says of this Greek Word – “an uncovering (akin to apokalupto)”, which defined “signifies to uncover, unveil.”

The name Revelation {apokaluptis} classifies the type of literature the writer has used in his effort to uncover the message of God that was revealed unto him.

“Apocalyptic” refers, in a broad sense, to a group of writings found in the biblical world between 200 B.C. and A.D.100. Two specific historical markers are usually given for the span during which the Jewish apocalyptic works were written and edited. They are the persecution of the Jews by the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes (167 B.C.) and the destruction of the Jewish nation by the Roman emperor Hadrian (A.D. 135).

Such literature was well known in Judaism, with its most familiar example being the Book of Daniel. Two lesser known works of Jewish apocalyptic, both written after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D., and therefore roughly contemporary with the writing of Revelation, are IV Ezra and II Baruch.

In the Old Testament there are three inspired Apocalyptic writings ie. Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. Revelation is actually the only New Testament book that takes on this style of literature. Writers of apocalyptic works looked upon their days as the worst of times. Simply put - Apocalyptic literature is crisis literature.  These basic threads are woven through the fabric of apocalyptic thought. When one studies the book of Revelation, these same issues are also discussed: the meaning of history, the suffering of God's people, the coming of the Messiah and God's kingdom.

A discussion of the challenges presented when trying to interpret apocalyptic literature is given in the book Biblical Hermeneutics:

“Associated primarily with the Books of Daniel and Revelation, it is a unique literary form. It was a popular means of communicating among Jewish people just before and after the birth of Jesus. . . . Highly figurative, with extensive use of symbols, it needs special care and study. Readers in that era had a context which enabled them to understand the intended meaning of the author, but centuries of time have changed that for us. We need to use all the hermeneutical tools at our command but still interpret with humility and love because others will differ with us on it.”

Later in the same book a further observation is made:

“Apocalyptic literature relies upon common symbols to reveal the shadowy world of the eschaton. Hence, biblical apocalypses were not intended to be read as literary constellations whereby one can predict the future. Apocalyptic symbols are analogical images which affirm the certain future of God's victorious reign over evil. Becoming familiar with stock symbolism of other apocalyptic works enables the modern reader to make sense of the strange images found in the symbolic world of the Apocalypse. Indeed, the more we understand the literary devices of any particular genre in the Bible, the better we understand the meaning of Scripture.”

Apocalyptic writers did not generally speculate about the end-time as coming in some far-off future time. This would have held little meaning for the people to whom they wrote. The apocalyptic writers were interested in the here and now. God's Messiah was coming very soon to take away the burdens of the Jewish people, and lift them on high over the gentile nations.

“Apocalyptic literature was always relevant to the historical situation of the day. Daniel and Ezekiel were written during the Babylonian exile to comfort the chosen people in their faithfulness and to prepare them for trails, even down to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes and to the Roman Empire. Revelation was written at a time when God's saints were being tried in the crucible called Rome.” (Studies in the Book of Revelation by Ferrell Jenkins. p. 1)

Writers of apocalyptic works “addressed their own generation with the urgency of those who cry out for meaning in their struggle and suffering. Their question was not "When will the End come?" but "What is the meaning of our suffering?" It was not speculative calculation but the tenacity of faith which came to expression in their conviction that the End must be near (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, "Revelation," p. 43). M. Eugene Boring

It is interesting to note, that one of the distinguishing features of early Christianity was the belief that prophecy had returned! Johns work contains many traditional prophetic forms and acts, though they are often coloured by apocalyptic judgement pronouncements. These include symbolic actions, such as the eating of the scroll, the seven blessings, words and promises of God, and interpretations of visions by intermediaries or the prophet himself. John even describes the ecstatic vision that qualifies him for this position: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day . . .” The vision itself is an interesting example of the kind of experience that classical Hebrew prophets claimed as validating their message. John then, may indeed be thought of in the true sense, as an apocalyptic prophet.

Ironically, we struggle with the mysterious apocalyptic nature of Revelation, yet the real purpose was not to cover up the message but rather through a series of visions, and symbols make the message of God clearer! The purpose and theme of the Book of Revelation, the message one must see is that of the present Glory of Christ and the power He has to give victory unto those who endure the sufferings of this present life for the cause of Jesus Christ.

The anticipated destruction of Babylon-Rome is given specific attention by John. The event is presented as a final battle between Jesus, who leads the heavenly armies, and his natural and supernatural opponents. Satan's defeat ushers in a millennial kingdom which is concluded by the final defeat and judgement of Satan and his allies. Following the destruction of the first heaven and earth, a new heaven and earth are created, and the heavenly Jerusalem descends from heaven to earth. This provides a restored Eden where Christians will enjoy eschatological salvation in the eternal presence of God and the Lamb.

 

 

 

“Hard time - Blues”

So in understanding the social politics of the times and the prospect of persecution and death, apocalyptic writing was a necessary outlet for beleaguered believers. One might even say it was the “blues music” of the day – there’s a reason the great Blues legend Son House sung a song about “John the revelator!” Revelation (like the Psalms) is in fact Biblical poetry. This kind of prose is well recognised for its rhythmic qualities and repetitive patterns.

Like all good music that soothes the soul, the immediate purpose of the book of Revelation served as a respite for the First Century Christians. As we have stated, the purpose is a message of comfort during a time of conflict that ultimately results in a conquest and a victory over the oppressor and although this message was directly written to the Christians of the First Century, the “spiritual” message is applicable throughout the ages as well as the ages to come.

In the minds of early Christians the overall result they foresaw must have been that they stood to be defeated and totally eliminated from the face of the earth by Rome who, at this point in time, was well armed and was recognized to be the mightiest army in the world. Against this army stood a small band of Christians who believed in a Risen Saviour whose only weapon of war was the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit, cf. Eph. 6:17.

How hopeless their plight must have looked to them and to others whom they were trying to persuade to believe. By the year A.D. 95 a Roman Law was proclaimed that it was a crime to be a Christian and that such was punishable by death. Emperor Worship was at its pinnacle and allegiance to the Caesar was demanded of all Roman subjects. It is under these circumstances that this struggle between the Church of Jesus Christ and the Evil forces of Satan is depicted in the Book of Revelation.

"The one proclaimed its allegiance to the Divine Christ, and the other proclaimed its allegiance to Caesar, who himself laid claim to divine rights. Christ versus Caesar! Who would finally win in the fight that lay ahead?" (The Seven Churches of Asia by James M. Tolle. Tolle Publications, Box 13. Fullerton, California. 1968. p. 5)

These two forces were diametrically opposed to one another. Two great Kingdoms went out into the world to capture the hearts of men, women and child. One empire subjected its subjects by physical force while the Kingdom of Christ subjected its followers with the spiritual message of God. The vast difference can be seen in the method of subjection:

1. Roman Empire -- Physical Domination with involuntary servitude, threats of death and destruction is one did not comply.

2.Kingdom of God -- Spiritual Domination with a voluntary servitude, with spiritual blessings to all those who would come.

In the visions of John the message is clear that the conflict which “soon is to come to pass” 1:1 the Christian is admonished and is comforted in knowing that the Lord Christ is God and is victorious over the Evil forces in the end. One night say, "It is not over until it is over" or "Hang in there it is worth your while in the end."

The optimism that is depicted by John is not arrogant stupidity but rather one that comes from the strength and the knowledge of the Power of the King that we serve. Two passages of Scripture can be given from the Book of Revelation to show this overall theme of victory for those who endure in the Faith of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw {some} of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those {who are} with Him {are} called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)

 

 

Old Testament Symbolism

If Revelation is indeed a book that brought comfort to its readers, then surely the symbolism must have been recognisable and understandable? Well yes. In fact the imagery is drawn from all the realms known to man, ie; the heavenly, the spiritual and the material universe. These symbols reveal spiritual and “eternal” lessons that have long sense been forgotten by the church today.

It is important to realize significance of the letters to the theme of Revelation.  The letters are to the churches.  The rest of Revelation is ALSO to the churches....and further still, Revelation is written for the churches of ALL generations.  

The key to interpreting the Revelation is, for the most part, the Old Testament period. Its symbols are in fact ROOTED FIRMLY in the Old Testament. People who do not understand its symbols simply do not know the Bible quite well. Do we think we know the Bible today? What were phylacteries for example? For us today, most of the symbols in Revelation are not even recognized as Biblical symbols! It is due to this kind of misunderstanding, that some have erroneously suggested that Revelation is nothing more that Gnostic mythology! It is NOT! Cultural issues of the day were used to figuratively bring a message to the people in VERY plain terms, hardly hidden, hardly secret! These references were VERY familiar to the readers to whom it was written. Since the early church was comprised of people who very much were familiar with the Old Covenant, there abounds many references to the Old Testament writings that were borrowed and used as allegories of the message for the people of the early New Testament church.

First of all, Revelation begins using TEMPLE SYMBOLS. Candlesticks are immediately mentioned as being BEHIND JOHN, who has to TURN and see where the voice comes. When he TURNS, he sees the seven candlesticks (the seven-branched menorah). If he had to TURN, then where in the tabernacle would he have faced if the candlesticks were directly BEHIND HIM? They were SOUTH in the holy place. That means, John faced NORTH. And what was NORTH? THE TABLE OF SHEWBREAD! John was truly FEASTING in the Spirit on the bread and wine!

Revelation tells us that the spirit of prophecy is the TESTIMONY OF JESUS. What is the testimony of Jesus? Why, none other than the DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION, and His ascendant glory! Revelation is speaking about THAT. It’s NOT the end of the world that is in mind. It’s a REVELATION of Jesus, and HIS COVENANT!

Like several of the Old Testament books, Revelation is (as we have briefly mentioned) POETIC! All the prophets always spoke in this way! There are images of creation in Genesis that were referenced repeatedly by the prophets.

Rev 1:1 said the book was written in SIGNIFYING manner. Symbolic - Just like Psalm 23. But what mockers always and consistently throw their heads beneath the sand to avoid seeing, is that most of Revelations symbols are TAKEN FROM THE BIBLE ITSELF. That is a far cry from one brother who takes Daniel’s references to a Leopard kingdom from a “confirmation” in a newspaper where Germany was said to have Leopard tanks! Seriously - we get the symbols from the Bible itself!

John never made up the images. And we cannot interpret them using our own ingenuity. They are carefully taken from the rest of the Bible. Christ is a Lamb because a LAMB was sacrificed in Exodus’ Passover and not because Lambs are gentle, loving creatures.

Studies have found that 348 allusions in Revelation are from the Old Testament. You see the similarity in wording and the context mirrored in Revelation and the particular Old Testament story, and immediately can recognize the reference source! That’s, IF you know the bible well enough to even notice that.

95 of the 348 plain references used in Revelation as taken from the Old Testament are repeated in Revelation. That makes about 250 Old Testament passages are cited. How many chapters are in Revelation 22. That makes about TEN OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCES FOR EVERY CHAPTER! There are 235 references in Revelation from the writings of the Prophets: 57 from the Pentateuch and 56 from historical and poetic books of the Bible.

So anyone can see that Revelation is founded upon the Old Testament more than any other New Testament book! God is not going to give visions to His people using unknown references and symbols. The whole point is REVELATION! It is REVEALING! Thus we apply these symbols used in Revelation (that were taken from the Old Testament) to the life of Jesus and the early church. You find the stories of the Old Testament, from which Revelation takes references, actually PARALLEL Jesus and the early church!

There is a sequence to the unravelling of mysteries that take place in Revelation. The word “mystery” is used to suggest that a symbol is being interpreted. Look at “The Statue of Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream” for example. Revelation 1:1 is an allusion to Daniel 2:27-28.  These verses also speak of a mystery. Daniel interprets the “mystery” of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  Likewise, Revelation 1:20 interprets the “mystery” of the seven golden lampstands in verse 12 and the seven stars in verse 16. 

Thus we see the allusion to Daniel 2:27-28.This verse is also an allusion to Matthew 13:11, Mark 4:11, and Luke 8:10, where the parables are spoken of as being “mysteries.”  Jesus is saying that the “mystery” of the kingdom of heaven is given to the disciples, but is hidden from the wicked.  And this is why Jesus spoke in parables. 

In all three of these accounts, the mystery is hidden from the wicked so that:

“though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand” (Luke 8:10). 

Each and every one of the seven letters to the seven churches says:

 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

And Revelation 1:3 also says:

 “Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it.” 

Therefore, Revelation as a whole is a similar mystery. It’s hidden from the wicked, but those who are wise will hear it and take it to heart.  And Revelation uses Old Testament symbolism for the same reason that Jesus spoke in parables.  The mystery of Revelation is hidden from the wicked so that “though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.”

 



The Revelation of – Jesus Christ

If we want to decipher the real and lasting meaning of Revelation, it is paramount the words are understood as the scriptures state. That it is a “Revelation of Jesus Christ” and that it is a book of symbols.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”(Rev 1:1-2) 

History lessons aside, the book of Revelation is in fact, THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST. Far from the dispensationalist nonsense taught these days, Revelation is a book that teaches who and what Jesus Christ is. It reveals Him in all of His glory, unveils Him in all of His fullness. You will find Jesus the Christ in every chapter of the book, for it is the revelation of Himself. When we read the message of the Revelation with a heart that seeks after Christ, we see in every page His face and hear from every line His voice. If we do not see Christ in the pages of the Revelation, then all we see is vanity.

Here is a truth rarely taught. The book of Revelation is another gospel of Jesus Christ! Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote what they saw of Jesus Christ on the earth in the days of His flesh. Luke, in the book of Acts, wrote of the revelation of Jesus that came by the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and throughout the in-part realm of the earnest of the Spirit during the church age. But John, in the book of Revelation, wrote what he witnessed of the full and complete revelation of Jesus Christ that comes to and through “him that overcometh.”

It is the revelation of Jesus Christ in sons upon mount Zion, in the manchild on the throne, and in the New Jerusalem come down from God out of heaven. John the Revelator wrote what he saw of the ascended and glorified Christ manifesting out of the heavens of God's Spirit. This book releases the mind of Christ out of celestial realms. Yes, just as Christ’s “Gehenna fire” (Hell fire) has to do with his own Disciples, so too does this prophetic book.

 

 

Spiritual and symbolic

In most cases it is not difficult to determine whether a verse is literal or not. But, since we use figures of speech so often we tend to forget that much of what we say daily is not literally true. Many of us would hardly be able to carry on a conversation if we had to drop out of our vocabulary every word and every phrase we speak that is NOT LITERALLY TRUE. The English language, as well as all other languages, is just filled with symbolic and metaphorical phrases. The first eleven verses of Chapter one in Revelation are an introduction regarding where, how, and what John is going to record for us. Much of this introduction can be taken literally, however, not all. Beginning with verse twelve, we are confronted with one symbol after another for the remainder of the entire twenty-two-chapter-book.

Everything written in Revelation is true, but most is not literally true. The fact is there are many truths in the Bible that are not literally true. Jesus “said” that the bread He gave His disciples at the Lords supper was His body. Yet, Jesus Himself explains in other places that this was not literally true. He gave them literal bread, and not His literal physical flesh. What that bread represented, and symbolized, was indeed, His body--but not his physical body. Jesus said that the words that he spoke were SPIRIT (John 6:63). Jesus Christ changes not. His words are STILL spirit and they certainly were spirit when John wrote the words of Christ regarding His unveiling or revelation. Just as we physically feed on physical bread for PHYSICAL LIFE, thus also we spiritually feed on Jesus Christ’s spiritual body for SPIRITUAL LIFE.

Understand this! Some think that by accepting the Scriptures as they are given (in the case of Revelation that means AS SYMBOLS), that somehow this “spiritualizes away” the teaching. What? It is the “spiritual” aspect of these symbols that IS THE REAL THING; THE REAL UNDERSTANDING! Physical things, life times and histories “pass away” whereas spiritual things are “eternal!” The very FACT that this book is written in “symbols” is proof positive that the real and lasting understanding of them, is to be found in the SPIRITUAL and not in the physical or literal.

Symbols, metaphors, and parables ARE NEVER LITERALLY TRUE! But they powerfully demonstrate SPIRITUAL TRUTHS! “This is the second death--the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15 and 21:8) is a metaphor that is no more literal than Jesus taking the bread...said, “Take, EAT. This IS My body” (Mat. 26:26).

Paul did not instruct Timothy to “STUDY” the scriptures if a mere casual reading is all that is necessary to comprehend its many deep and profound teachings. All God’s Word is TRUE, however, much of it is figurative language which is not literally true to fact, but rather in what the figurative language of symbols, metaphors, and parables represent. Here are some of the fully substantiated figures of language used in Scripture.

 

FIGURES OF LIKENESS which include:

similes (when something is like, or as something else, it is a simile rather than a metaphor)

metaphors (where one thing is said to actually be something else) as in, "all life is grass" I Pet. 1:24. Therefore, the subject of this paper IS a metaphor and CANNOT be literal: John says, "...the lake of fire, This IS the second death" (Rev. 20:14), and "...the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which IS the second death" (Rev. 21:8)

Parables (there are many, the shortest one being, “Physician, heal Thyself" Luke 4:23)

Allegories (as in the two women standing for two covenants, Gal. 4:22-28)

Visions (as in a sheet let down from heaven, Acts 10:11-16)

Signs (as in the sign of Jonah the prophet, Matt. 12:39)

Types (as in Adam corresponding with Christ, Rom. 5:12-21)

Shadows (as in the law being a shadow of good things to come, Heb. 10:1)

Examples (as in the tabernacle vessels being examples of what is in heaven , Heb. 9:23)

Images (as Christ is the image of God, Col. 1:15)

Impersonations or personifications (where things are spoken of as persons)

Condescension's (as where God takes on human attributes)

 

There are FIGURES OF ASSOCIATION which include:

Association or metonymy’s.

Appellations (as when a quality or office is used instead of a proper name, as in "Son of Mankind" instead of saying Jesus Christ)

Compound associations (as "the word of the cross" I Cor. 1:18, which has to do with Christ’s shameful and agonizing death)

Near associations (as in a phrase that is partly literal, "Then went out to Him Jerusalem [that is the people of Jerusalem]", Matt. 3:5)

Retention's (this one is too complicated to explain, but I’ll give you an example, "the tablets of the heart" II Cor. 3:3)

Circumlocutions or periphrasis (what is "circumlocution"? Well, it’s a descriptive phrase in place of a name in order to emphasize the association. Examples, "the product of the grapevine [though not named is, wine]" Matt. 26:29, "the city of David [though not named is, Bethlehem]" Luke 2:11,

Enigmas, and symbols (where a known object or something else is used to typify something else, or even an intangible quality such as love, power, beauty, etc.)

 

There are also FIGURES OF OMISSION which include:

Omitted nouns (as in "the wicked [people is understood]," "the blind [people]," "the rich [people]," "the poor [people]," "the twelve [apostles is omitted but understood])

Omitted verbs (as in incongruous omissions like, "Milk I give you to drink not solid food" The omission of "to eat" is understood, as one does not "drink solid food" I Cor. 3:2)

Unfinished sentences (the King James usually finishes sentences that are unfinished in the Greek, such as, "As I swear in My indignation, If they shall be entering into My rest!" Heb. 3:11)

Omission or non-sequence (as in “These which you are beholding__there will be coming days...” Luke 21:6)

It is most important to understand that the study of the Scriptures is not the same as studying a high school or college text book. It is far different. School text books, as a rule, would not contain even one percent of the figures here. And if we do not have even an elementary understanding of these many and varied figures of speech, we will hardly be in a position to TEACH God’s Word to others. It is the height of naivety to believe that whenever someone shouts, “My King James Bible SAYS... “, that what follows will be non-refutable Scriptural proof of that person’s doctrinal preference.

Thank God that:"...no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation" (II Pet. 1:20).

This is the key to understanding revelation. The Scriptures themselves really do interpret other Scriptures. This is true for interpreting prophesies and in fact all doctrinal issues such as “the lake of fire.”

Consider the following: Who "wears the pants" in your family? Has "the cat taken your tongue" lately? Can you "carry a tune in a bucket?" Do you follow the "spin doctors" with their commentary on the "movers and shakers" in Washington, DC? Where do you stand when "the tire hits the road?" Do you know for a fact that "the early bird gets the worm?" Does "a stitch in time save nine?" Are any of your friends "square?" Is it "cool" to eat chilli on a hot day? Do people turn "blue" when they are sad? Do cowards really have "a yellow stripe down their back?" Are you "worth your salt?" Do you know people who are "pigeon heads" and "hot heads?" If people realized that "silence is golden," maybe they would stop "breaking your ear drums." Do you think that I am just "pulling your leg?" And just when will "hell freeze over?"

All languages have many, many figures of speech that are not literally true. And God also uses symbols (some of them even pagan), figures, idioms, metaphors and parables, over and over in His Word--hundreds and hundreds of times!  Few theologians believe it, but it is true nonetheless, that Jesus taught the masses in parables and parables ONLY so that they would NOT understand the message He was giving them (See Matt. 13).

Figures, parables, metaphors, and symbols are in many ways like poetry. Take the phrase, “No man is an island” How wonderfully worded and true are those words? Or this line, “Every man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.”  How many unsaved friends do you have? Will YOU not be diminished for all eternity if they are not saved? Will GOD not be diminished for all eternity if billions and billions of His creatures are not saved but are rather separated and tortured in some hellhole of fire?

Elementary school children are not likely to understand such a poem as “No man is an island.” They would say, of course no man is an island, neither is a man a house or a car or a telephone pole either. Yet this is the same childish mentality that many theologians use in interpreting Scripture such as the “lake of fire” and “second death.” For all too many, these marvellous Scriptures have no meaning beyond the literal meaning of the literal words.

So for most, the Word of God remains a giant enigma. How sad!  Some of these things are extremely elementary and others are extremely complex. God told Daniel that the “wise will understand.” It is not wise, but foolish to insist that countless symbols in the Bible are literal. Look at the King James Bible. The KJV says in the beginning of the Book of Revelation: The Revelation of Saint John the Divine.” And then verse one says, The revelation of Jesus Christ...” Which is it? It is, of course the latter, seeing that the title is merely man’s interpretation which is obviously wrong. As we have said, the book of Revelation is a revelation OF Jesus Christ. It is not just a revelation from Jesus Christ, but a revelation of or about Jesus Christ. It is a revelation of HIM!

 

 

Symbols...and more symbols!

Most modern church teaching is dispensationalist and therefore most believe that the book of Revelation was a literal prophecy about events that will happen at the END OF THE WORLD! - Prophesies that had virtually no meaning for those who have lived during the past two thousand years since it was written. But just how was this revelation to John to be recorded and preserved? Reemember?

 “and he sent and SIGNIFIED it by his angel unto his servant John” (Rev. 1:1)

Certainly this prophecy of the revelation or unveiling of Christ was written down (ver. 19), but it means more than just that. To “signify” has to do with signs and symbols.

From Webster's Twentieth Century Dictionary p. 1541, first definition of signify: "to make known by signs or words"

First definition of sign: “any symbol ...that represents an idea” That which, being external, represents or signifies something internal or spiritual. The synonym for sign is: symbol.

These symbols have a SPIRITUAL meaning and application. The fact that John was “in the spirit” on the Lords day conclusively proves that he was not literally there! Let us never lose sight of this fact: John WRITES what has been SIGNIFIED (WITH SYMBOLS) the things that he SEES and HEARS IN A VISION--IN SPIRIT!

Beginning in verse twelve John starts to tell us what he saw and heard,

"And I turned to see the voice that spake with me ... his eyes were as a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass ... And he had in his right hand seven stars and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword..."

All these things are symbols that stand for other things. And God immediately gives us proof positive of this in verse 20,

“The mystery [this is not literal--it was a mystery until God tells us that one thing really means or represents another and DIFFERENT THING] of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars ARE THE ANGELS OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest ARE THE SEVEN CHURCHES.”

The stars are not literal and the candlesticks are not literal. In the first 20 verses of Revelation we can find eleven statements that are not literal, but rather symbolic. They represent truths that are presented in symbols. The literal language is not the literal truth being presented. The statements themselves do not teach us the truth OF the statements. We must look elsewhere in the Scriptures for the interpretation.

Now chapter one was easier to follow as God told us just what some of those symbols represented. But there are dozens and dozens more symbols in this book of Revelation that are not explained in the verses that follow immediately. How shall we understand all those symbols? First of all, without the Spirit of God, the answer is we will never understand. But guided by God’s spirit, God can show us in other places in His Word what these mysterious symbols represent. It is God Who provides us with “ears to hear and eyes to see.” Now look at chapter two:

Verse 5: Will God literally punish the church of Ephesus by removing a literal candlestick? NO! Removing a literal candlestick would be no great loss to anyone. But from what we learned in verse 20 of chapter one, the candlestick IS one of the churches . So Christ is threatening to REMOVE THE WHOLE CHURCH, not some piece of furniture or candlestick from the building of a church.

Verse 7: Is the tree of life a literal tree that one literally eats?

Verse 9: Was the church in Smyrna literally in poverty and literally rich at the same time? Does "synagogue of Satan" mean a literal synagogue where Satan has a Rabbi teaching the Law to a congregation every Sabbath day?

Verse 13: Is a name something that one literally holds fast to with one’s hands?

Verse 16: Will Christ literally do battle by using a literal sword which He literally keeps in His mouth? Or do we not read in another place in God’s word that this "sword" IS God’s Word? (Heb. 4:12).

Verse 17: Will Christ reward the faithful with a literal little white stone? Can’t we see that the stone and the name written in it represents something else? Something of much greater value?

Verse 20: Was the harlot Jezebel literally in the Thyatira church? Literal Jezebel died CENTURIES before this book was written by John. Jezebel in the physical represents or symbolizes a SPIRITUAL condition in the church of Thyatira.

Verse 22: Will Christ literally throw literal Jezebel into a literal bed where she will literally commit adultery with literal men?

Verse 23: Will Christ kill literal children of the literal harlot, Jezebel?

Verse 27: Will the saints beat the nations with a literal rod of iron into literal small pieces like broken pottery?

Verse 28: Will Christ give the literal morning star to His saints? Where would they put it? What would they do with it?

Chapter 3:1: Was the Sardis church literally alive and literally dead at the same time?

Verse 4: Were members of the Sardis congregation wearing literally soiled clothing?

Verse 7: Is there literally a metal key of David that is needed to open a literal lock?

Verse 12: Will Christ literally turn people into stone pillars in the temple?

Verse 16: Will Christ literally spit the church of Laodicea out of His mouth?

Verse 17: Were the members of the Laodicean church literally poor and literally blind and literally naked without clothing to wear? Are there not other Scriptures that tell us what it means to be SPIRITUALLY “poor, blind, and naked?”

Verse 18: Did Christ try to sell Laodicea literal gold? What would they do with the gold? What, pray tell, would Christ do with the money?

Verse 20: Does Christ literally knock at the doors of our homes and then come in and eat a literal home cooked meal and pecan pie with us?

Is it necessary for me to go through this entire book verse by verse before we can fully realize that this book is written in figurative, symbolic, and metaphorical language?

Let’s look at just a few more:

Chapter 4: Was a literal trumpet "talking" with John?

Chapter 5: Is Jesus Christ literally a "Lion," an "animal?"

Chapter 6: Are these literal "horses?" Do the literal stars of heaven fall on the earth? The smallest known stars are a million times larger than the earth.

Chapter 7: Were angels literally holding back four "winds" on four literal "corners" of the earth? I thought the earth is round without corners? Can one literally wash his clothes "white" in red "blood?"

Chapter 8: Will an angel cast a literal mountain burning with fire into the sea?

Chapter 9: During the fifth trumpet will it literally be impossible for mortal men to die?

Will there be literal locusts shaped like "horses?" Locusts that literally have "hair like a woman, teeth like a lion, and breastplates of iron?" LOCUSTS with breastplates of "iron?"

Chapter 10: Did John eat a literal book? That was literally sweet in his taste buds, but literally bitter in his stomach? Why would anyone "eat" a literal book?

Chapter 11: Are God’s two witnesses that prophesy, literally two olive trees and two candlesticks? But if we study Zechariah 4 we can determine what is meant by "two witnesses."

Chapter 12: Will there literally be a pregnant woman "clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars?" Was this same woman able to literally "fly into the wilderness with wings of an eagle?"

Chapter 13: Will there be a literal lamb that will speak like a dragon? Just how do dragons "speak" anyhow?

Chapter 14: Does Babylon cause all nations to literally drink of the wine of the literal wrath of her fornication? I thought wine came from grapes not wrath (of course there is that famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath).

Chapter 15: Are the seven last global plagues and catastrophes really contained in seven literal tiny gold vials or bottles?

Chapter 16: Is Jesus Christ going to return to this earth as a literal "thief"? Will every island and mountain on earth literally disappear?

Chapter 17: Will there really be a woman who will ride a literal scarlet coloured beast, having seven heads and ten horns. Can whole nations literally fornicate with a harlot? But here once more in this chapter God does reveal to us who this beast is and what the symbolic horns represent which again proves that ALL OF THESE THINGS are not literal but symbolic and represent things other than what is being described.

Chapter 18: Will the entire social, political, and economic system of the world literally collapse in just one hour because one literal city (Babylon) is destroyed?

Chapter 19: Will a literal prostitute "corrupt" the entire earth? Will a literal "lamb" marry a literal "wife?" Will the King of the universe really wear clothing dripping with literal "blood?" Is God’s wrath a literal "winepress?" Will literal armies of heaven follow Christ to earth riding on literal "flying horses?" No, NONE of these things are literal!

 

 

Carnal Stupidity!

Let’s interrupt for a moment here. Now. Any theologian or preacher on international television would be laughed to scorn if he were to preach a sermon trying to prove that all of the above Scriptures are to be taken absolutely literally. Such a sermon would be seen as foolish by nearly everyone. No educated man in the Word of God would ever dare to present anything so STUPID!

And yet ... and YET here is the mother of all theological stuff ups!, when we come to verse 20: will a literal beast and a literal false prophet be cast alive into a literal “lake of fire burning with brimstone?” How do these same theologians and preachers answer? They answer: "YES!!! YES, of course they will be thrown into a literal lake of fire, because THIS IS LITERAL."

Chapter 20: Will the devil, the false prophet and the beast be cast into a literal lake of fire and be literally tortured day and night “FOR EVER AND EVER?”

And will all those not found written in the book of life be cast into a literal lake of fire? Answer: “YES, THIS TOO IS LITERAL, ABSOLUTELY LITERAL,” shout our fundamentalist friends once more.

Chapter 21: And will the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, be cast into a literal “lake of fire burning with brimstone?” Yes, Yes, “A THOUSAND TIMES YES, THIS IS SOOO LITERAL, ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY LITERAL” shouts every red-blooded fundamentalist worth his salt!

Amazing. Absolutely amazing--the power of the carnal mind to self-deceive. Why are fundamentalists so totally sure that these verses on a lake of fire are literal? Well, of course, they aren't sure; they just pretend to be sure. They desire with their whole heart and being that this lake of fire is real fire. Why? Because the eternal torture of billions of men and women and boys and girls in some fabled hellhole doesn’t “diminish” them one iota!

They want people who don’t believe as they believe to have their flesh barbecued over fire and brimstone for all eternity. The very idea gives them great joy. And it makes them proud. They have no love for sinners as God does. They hate sinners. They hate unbelievers. They love only themselves. They pronounce CURSES on anyone for quoting Scriptures that show God will save everyone. They highly disapprove of God being the saviour of the whole world. They won’t hear of it; they won’t have it! They don’t approve of a God who would save everyone by bringing them to repentance, and purging them, and turning their hearts to God.

 If God were to save everyone through the purging of his SPIRITUAL FIRE, then they could not wag their fingers at all these people sizzling and popping like bacon in a hot skillet saying, "I told you so, I told you so..." for all eternity. Hitler and Himmler are not the only ones out there with depraved minds.

God did not write nineteen whole chapters of Revelation giving us symbol after symbol and metaphor after metaphor, and then in chapter 20 switch to writing in literal language with literal meanings.  The book of Revelation was “signified” by the use of signs and symbols. Signs and symbols always represent or mean something other than the sign or symbol itself.

We are all familiar with symbols and signs so that we should never be confused as to what a sign or symbol is or is not. A red and white striped barber’s pole is not a barber shop, neither is it a barber, but it is a sign or symbol that immediately conveys to our understanding what it represents--namely a barber shop with a barber.

There are many more Scriptures that will prove that this “lake of fire” has a much more benevolent purpose than barbecuing human flesh for all eternity for the sheer sick and depraved entertainment of Christian Fundamentalists.

Be it known however, that the “lake of fire” and the “second death” DO INDEED picture something spiritual that relates to or has some properties of, LITERAL FIRE and LITERAL DEATH. Without some similar properties, the metaphor would be meaningless. A metaphor is where one thing is said to BE something else. Here’s a Scriptural example: "All flesh is grass" (I Pet. 1:24). That’s simple enough. Now then, is that statement by Peter true? Yes, of course, it is true. Is it literally true? No, it is not literally true. Then how do we know for sure what there is ABOUT this metaphor that is true? If a metaphor is not literally true, how is it true at all? If one has the ears to hear, then it is simple.

There can be little doubt then, that the lake of fire AND the second death are both symbolic and figurative language. Is it true that one part of a metaphor must be literal or there is no way to understand the metaphor? No, that is not true. Take the following example.

“Now at their eating, Jesus, taking the bread, and, blessing, breaks it, and, giving to the disciples, said, ‘Take eat [this bread], This [bread] IS my body” (Matt. 26:26).

The greatest minds in theology have haggled for hundreds of years over this metaphor that Christ used at the last supper. Does the bread literally turn into the body flesh of Christ when we eat that bread as the Catholic faith demands? What a silly question. IT’S A METAPHOR! And the idea that one of the two parts of a metaphor must be literal is likewise fatuous. Here’s the Scriptural proof:

“I am the BREAD OF LIFE...” (John 6:35).

 

“For we, who are many, are ONE BREAD, ONE BODY, for we all are partaking of the ONE BREAD” (I Cor. 10:17).

 

“The Jews, then, murmured concerning Him, that He said, ‘I AM the Bread which descends out of heaven.” (John 6:41).

 

“I am the living Bread ... Now the Bread also, which I shall be giving for the sake of the life of the world IS MY FLESH” (John 6:51).

But just as most are totally blind regarding the meaning of Scriptural metaphors today, they were also ignorant of Christ’s words when He spoke them:

“The Jews, then, fought with one another, saying, ‘HOW THEN CAN THIS ONE GIVE US HIS FLESH TO EAT?” (John 6:52)

They also thought that metaphors were LITERAL! Christ is the Bread that came down FROM HEAVEN, not the bread that comes from wheat out of the ground. Christ is NO LONGER flesh and blood. He has been raised with a SPIRITUAL BODY I Cor. 15:44, “...it is raised A SPIRITUAL BODY.”

Besides “flesh and blood CANNOT inherit the Kingdom of God.” We partake of Christ’s spiritual body, not literal flesh, blood and muscle protein. If we fight and argue as the foolish Jews did over what part of metaphor must be literal, we will learn nothing. If we can’t understand a simple metaphor as “Take eat, this [bread] IS my body,” how will we ever understand “The lake of fire which IS the second death?”

 

 

“Physical fire” vs “spiritual fire”

Of course without realizing it, those who defend a literal fire in this judgment of God will have a very hard time showing that anyone can be "tormented day and night forever and ever" in a literal fire. If the fire is literal, then the idea that anyone could be tormented forever and ever is totally impossible! How so? Yes, for some, it is necessary to state the obvious. Notice who is thrown into this lake of fire:

“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet ... These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Rev. 19:20).

If the beast and false prophet are humans (as literal dispensationalists claim), then a real lake of fire would BURN THEM UP making it impossible for them to be tortured forever and ever! .....oh it’s a ‘special fire’...God can do anything the argument states. If the beast and false prophet are supernatural, superhuman, or spirit in nature, then physical fire CANNOT HARM THEM in any way. So, if the fire is literal, it can serve NO useful purpose! “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire...” (Rev. 20:10).

As this is Satan, he is a spirit, and therefore CANNOT be tortured with REAL FIRE! Real, physical fire has NO effect on SPIRIT! Since God “makes His angels SPIRITS; His ministers a FLAMING FIRE” (Psalm 104:4), it isn’t likely that the Head of the “sinning angels” would be the least bit hurt by literal fire!
 

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:12 & 15)

If it is argued that those resurrected to judgment are still mortal, then physical fire will BURN THEM UP, hence there can be NO torture or torment forever and ever. If they are resurrected with "SPIRITUAL bodies" as we are told is the case in I Cor. 15:44 with all who are resurrected back to life from the dead, then a physical fire CANNOT harm a “SPIRITUAL BODY.” If spiritual bodies can be pained or injured by physical things, then we will continue to have accidents and injuries for ALL ETERNITY!  Oh dear. God’s Word says no. Again, a literal fire is of no value! It’s a spiritual/literal fire!.....need we state the obvious?

If this lake of fire is not real, physical, literal fire, is there then such a thing as “figurative fire” or “spiritual fire?”...... As a matter of Scriptural fact, yes there is such a thing as “figurative and spiritual fire.” Let’s start with the most profound Scripture regarding spiritual fire. As we all know, “God IS SPIRIT” (John 4:24). But here is the key to all the unopened theological doors.

“For our God IS A CONSUMING FIRE” (Heb. 12:29)

God has shown Himself to be not only a fire, but a CONSUMING FIRE all through the Scriptures. It is amazing how often God speaks of fire in bringing judgment on humanity. ALL IS OF GOD, II Cor. 5:18, Rom. 11:36, Eph. 1:11, etc. God IS a consuming FIRE. In fact FIRE has NOTHING to do with Satan, no not ever! FIRE is a quality that God in his perfect wisdom possesses.



God IS this “Lake of Fire!

Yes, it all begins to unravel! It is GOD HIMSELF! God IS this “Lake of Fire” But since it is not literal fire, what does it burn? What does it consume? Here is the only true scriptural answer to these Questions, questions that carnal theologians and millions of Christians worldwide have NEVER even heard. -- It is the “works of the flesh” that made sinners of those thrown into “the lake of fire” in the first place.

It is these very works of the flesh that are consumed in this “lake of fire.” And let us not think for a moment that it is not a most painful and tormenting experience to have one’s carnal mind with all its ungodly passions, thoughts and deeds, burned clean and pure by the consuming fire of God’s Holy Spirit!

God doesn’t change. He will use the same method in the day of judging at the white throne as He uses on US - Although the intensity will get considerably more severe for those who blaspheme till the end. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). However, that does not purge us from all our filthy thoughts and deeds. No, there is more. There is also a consuming FIRE that God uses on us:

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, WOOD, HAY, STUBBLE; Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed BY FIRE; and the FIRE shall TRY EVERY MAN’S WORK of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be BURNED, he shall SUFFER LOSS; but [pay close attention to this BIG BUT] BUT HE HIMSELF [the one who had his works burned and consumed in God’s consuming fire] SHALL BE SAVED [What will save him?] yet so AS BY FIRE” (I Cor. 3:11-15)!!!

There it is! One of the most profound scriptures in the entire Bible! Can we begin to understand the workings of God? God consumes with fire, the wood, hay and stubble in our lives. The things that don’t deserve to continue. But he REFINES the gold, silver, and precious stones (those doctrines and godly character traits of God’s spirit that abide the fire).

It is figurative language, it is an analogy, it is a parable, it is metaphorical (where one thing is called another thing). Our lives have either qualities of character (which are likened to gold and precious stones, things of value to refine and retain), or gross lacks in character (which are likened to wood, hay, and stubble and which are not worthy to retain or preserve).

And just as real literal fire is used to refine and purify gold and precious metals, so God’s SPIRITUAL FIRE refines and purifies us from our sinful and carnal nature. And likewise, as real literal fire is used to burn up wood and stubble, so God’s all consuming SPIRITUAL FIRE will consume and burn up all the impurities in our life. These things MUST DIE. This purging IS the SECOND DEATH!

And whether the person God subjects to His consuming fire has many good qualities or none, the person himself shall be purged, purified, and SAVED BY GOD’S ALL-CONSUMING SPIRITUAL FIRE!!! We just read it in God’s Holy Word. How can any deny it? Every person who has ever lived will be subjected to the cleaning fire of God’s spirit. God is the JUDGE (Rev. 20;12). NOT Satan. This judgment throne is "WHITE" not black! God judges in righteousness.

“He shall judge the world with RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Psalm 96:13)

 

“Because He [God] hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Acts 17:31)

Let’s face it, how many who have ever attended a fundamentalist church, have heard a sermon on this verses? We read that God has appointed a day (a period of time) in which He will “JUDGE” the whole world. Revelation 20:10-15 IS THAT DAY OF JUDGMENT! Now we know that those not found in the book of life will be put into FIRE, and they will be TORMENTED. This is certainly part of this judgment. But it is not literal fire. Literal fire burns up physical things and literal fire cannot harm spiritual things. So what does the fire do or accomplish? MUCH!

This judgment in Revelation 20 IS that worldwide judgment spoken of in many prophecies. But is the purpose of this worldwide judgment to torture people by burning their flesh in real fire for all eternity? Is that HOW God judges in “righteousness?” Absolutely not. We just read where God burns up our fleshly WORKS, and this is “tormenting” for sure.

But God does not torture our flesh for all eternity. There will be severe chastisements on those who despise God and His Savior and His Gospel. But out of their ashes will come salvation. Here is another marvelous Scripture which answers what happens to sinning humanity when God JUDGES THE WORLD in righteousness.

“For he [GOD] bringeth down them that dwell on high; the lofty city, he layeth it low, HE LAYETH IT LOW, even to the ground, he bringeth it even to the dust” (Isa. 26:5)

Make no mistake, God will judge the wicked with great severity. However, ALWAYS FOR A BENEVOLENT PURPOSE:

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when Thy judgments are in the earth, THE INHABITANTS OF THE WORLD WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Isaiah 26:9)!!

Yes, there will come a time when those who only knew how to blaspheme the name of God, will come to LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS. They will not just “hear” of righteousness, no, they will actually LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS!” The whole book of Isaiah speaks of judgments on Israel and on the nations. But the end of all these judgments is SALVATION TO ALL.

Notice Isa. 45:22-23;

“Look unto me, and BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness [as in, ‘For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth,’ I Tim. 2:3-4] , and shall not return, That unto me EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW, EVERY TONGUE SHALL SWEAR” (See also: Phil. 2: 9-11 & I Cor. 12:3).

God’s words will NEVER return empty or void. When God speaks, it will be done. When God wills, it will be done. When God desires, His desires WILL BE DONE:

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, MY COUNSEL SHALL STAND, and I WILL DO ALL MY PLEASURE ... I have spoken it, I WILL ALSO BRING IT TO PASS; I HAVE PURPOSED IT, I WILL ALSO DO IT” (Isa. 46:10-11).

Oh the blasphemy of those who teach that God’s most heartfelt desires WILL NOT COME TO PASS, but will utterly fail!!! Jesus Christ is not the potential Savior of the world; He IS THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!!! HE WILL SAVE THE WORLD!!!

How many self-appointed, bible-thumping, doomsday, fire and brimstone, eternal torture in hell preachers believe these verses in Isaiah? Not one! Most Christians have never been taught these wonderful truths of the Scriptures. These things are despised by many who call themselves “Christian.” And yet, God’s Word is FULL of such statements of God’s salvation to all.

 

 

Conclusion

These grand truths seem to be almost unknown in the Church system today. The glorious climax and fulfilment of all revelation has been eclipsed by human perversions. As a result the God of the popular Churches has lost the essential attributes of Deity. Men are quick to set up their Golden cows and revert to the comfort of their pagan ways. Egypt is still alive and well in the church, its myths, its symbolism, its own carnal lake of fire, its torture, its judgements remain intact by the tenacity of its high priests, zealous for the reputable office of that old fear mongering religious order.

That order likens God to the fickle gods of the ancients, he is like the foolish man who started to build but could not finish. Man's theology brings nothing to a conclusion. It attains no definite goal. Sin, suffering, and insubordination are never conquered. Death is never destroyed. Redemption is never fully secured.

God is compelled to work a lasting miracle in order to maintain a never-ending eyesore in His creation, once so subject and so good. He has to eternally keep His great foot on the lid of hell; for if even one of the devils should get out there would be hell everywhere!

Yet where’s the further scriptural proof? Hold on. That’s all very nice but...but haven’t we MISSED something?  What happened to the “Old Testament” references to the “lake of fire” and “sulphur” and “brimstone?” Where’s the explanation for that? If the “lake of fire” is not and cannot be pagan, then surely it IS scriptural right? Well yes.

There is indeed an Old Testament scriptural reference to the “lake of fire” - but it is well hidden! One must piece together in sequence, the different parts of the puzzle. Few realise that wrapped up in the Old Testament stories of judgements and woes, there exists a physical representation, a geographical location, that embodies a “lake,” “fire,” “smoke,” “judgement,” “death” and “wrath!.” Furthermore, it contains both physically and spiritually ALL the properties of “healing,” “restoration” and the DIVINE! Ancient historians knew about it, local populations were fascinated (as many are even today) and sometimes weary of it. We shall look into this mystery next. It will prove beyond a doubt, that the intentions of Gods fearful and terrifying judgements are actually and purposefully applied to bringing about the conversion and purification of ALL mankind!

Remember. Revelation is the revealing of the character of Christ. The symbols of the “lake of fire” and the “second death” likewise must display His righteous character! The truth of His Word and character is all so different to that which is taught in churches today. Death in all its forms shall be destroyed in the “Lake of fire” until it shall be said:

“There is no more death!” Jesus is Conqueror! Then shall every creature in the universe bow and in glad chorus sing, "O death, where is they sting? O grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be unto God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (I Cor. 15:55-57).

 

 

 

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