Bible Symbolism

Just like the book of Daniel records 5 separate visions of the same future each revealing different details of the same timeline in each separate vision . The book of Revelation does the same thing. In fact in 2-4 different visions, or 2-4 different parts of one vision, it mostly deals with what is left to be fulfilled of Daniels visions and adds more detail. This is being lightly detailed  to show how the pictorial illustrations of the temple are used in different ways. That they are not inconsistencies in Bible prophecy but rather pictorial illustrations used in different manners that prophecy past, present and future events or realities. Then to also show that when people fundamentally misunderstand what these prophecies mean or what the illustrations are about, especially when they take what is a so called a "literal viewpoint."  Like the woman at the well took a "literal viewpoint" of the living water in her conversation with Jesus. They then create contradictions in Bible prophecy and scripture as a whole.


      These next two sets of verses are part of Johns first vision, or the first part of one whole vision in Revelation 4-11 about this subject. In the prophetic timeline laid out by OT prophets and NT writers Revelation 7:9-17 is a prophecy of the saints murdered by the Roman Empire after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. In this prophecy these martyrs are being mentioned specifically because  great judgments against the Roman Empire are about to be uttered due to  its opposition to the government of God and its murder of the saints.  Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, see, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be to our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying to me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and from where came they? 14 And I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sits on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the middle of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

     These next verses are the end of the timeline for the judgments specifically against the city of Rome, (but that don't bring about the end of the empire who's capitol had already been moved to Constantinople.) These judgments were due to this cities murder of the saints as prophesied above in chapter seven.   Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which is, and was, and are to come; because you hast taken to yourself your great power, and have reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth. 19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightning's, and voices, and thundering's, and an earthquake, and great hail. Chapter, 12,  adds some detail to this time period but also reveals some prophecy about how long the empire will continue. This vision is missing a lot of detail that gets added in the next vision, or next section of the one big vision.  Not only about the same events but about the future of the empire and beyond it. 

    These next verses  in chapter 14 are part of Johns final vision, or final section of one vision that begins in Revelation 13. These are a different prophetic vision of the same events of Revelation 7-11 above that follow the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In this one it prophesies the great harvest of souls that occurred in the Roman empire with Rome's response being the murder of the saints and Gods judgment against them for it.  Or rather than Gods judgments one might say the natural and unavoidable results of the mass murder of the righteous in the earth. Why do I say that? When you read these verses picture the clear New Testament teaching of the temple of the Lord being Gods people rather than a building in heaven as this is illustrating it. Here we have an angel coming out of the "temple" reaping a great harvest of salvation in the early Roman empire. Who in reality was doing the harvesting? Sure it was God with his angels but it was through the believers who were preaching the Gospel to pagan peoples living under Rome.  Since this is true, why would these calamites that befell the empire not be related to the saints who were being persecuted? Their cry's of pain and sorrow, seeing their children and parents brutally murdered and tortured to death. Their prayers for mercy and salvation for their persecutors. This all reached the ears of the almighty. This is a big subject, not very well understood or received. What do you think scriptures like this mean though? Revelation 2:26 And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 3:21 To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. There are consequences for persecuting the people of faith that work their way through those people just like salvation does; whether they understand it or not as it is shown in the next paragraph. 

   Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from now on: Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. 14 And I looked, and saw a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in your sickle, and reap: for the time is come for you to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. 17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. 19 And the angel thrust his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even up to the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. Revelation 15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, oh King of saints. 4 Who shall not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name? for only you are holy: for all nations shall come and worship before you; for your judgments are made manifest. 5 And after that I looked, and saw the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: 6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.  7 And one of the four beasts gave to the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. 16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.....17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightning's; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. 19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

     Verse 17 of chapter 16 is the same event  as verse 15 of chapter 11.  Two visions with different details of the same events. The great harvest of souls, the murderous rampage of the Roman empire and the calamities that befell the city of Rome because of it. All of this is gone over in great historical detail in the article : End Time prophecy. The point of this page was to point out the difficulties of understanding the illustrative language of Bible prophecy. In this case regarding the Temple of the Lord. All of this prophecy is not symbolic in the sense that it is simply symbolizing truth. However it is using symbolism or illustrative language to prophesy literal events that were to befall the world. One might even call it coded language. Something not to be toyed with or looked upon superficially as those do who are using it to falsely prophecy the end of the world.

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