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The Three Key Interpretative Principles for understanding this awesome Book of
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Please note: It was written FOR us — but it was NOT written to us!
Therefore it is essential to understand it within the context of its first recipients for
God is a good communicator and therefore does so within the semantic framework of its recipients.
Sometimes, the misleading yet seemingly legitimate question is posed: Literal or Symbolic?
This contrast is misleading for its full literary and historical context gives the answer to this and sometimes it is both.
The Primary
Just two
FALSE Interpretation
See: Satan's
Primary Tactic
examples of fallacious thinking which arose directly from a serious lack of knowing the full context are –
the 24-Elders of Heaven's Court represent the 'two Testaments' of Holy Scripture
• the Old Testament (somehow from the 12-tribes of Israel) and
• the New Testament (from the Twelve Foundation Apostles)
; and also therefore that
Seven Sealed Scroll is simply the 'Revelation' itself,
instead of it actually being understood as the legal Inheritance Scroll (to inherit the Kingdom of God)
in terms of Roman Private Law at that time, being opened in the Court of Heaven

arising originally from
the Twelve Tables
of Rome's founding
Constitution, a valid
legal will always required
Seven Seals, from –
• the Testator,
• Five Witnesses: and
Familae Emptor (Executor),
so giving seven-seals
on one thread
through its edge, so
all needed to be broken
to begin opening the
Testamentary Scroll.
(Roman Private Law,
Kaser 1968:292,
First Principle –
1. What is seen in the visions is real (1), but their appearance is symbolic (2).
For instance:
The vision of the first chapter demonstrates this primary principle:
Jesus Christ is real, but the form of His appearance is completely symbolic.

   Understanding This Symbolism
Second Principle –
2. Contextual Consistency.
Biblical and Historical context together provide us with the meaning of these symbols to the first recipients of this awesome Revelation.
Just two
examples of wide-spread error in this regard are:
The Mark of the Beast is physical, such as a micro-chip. If this were so, then the Seal of God in the foreheads of the Redeemed would also be physical mark of His ownership, which it is not;
The Prostitute City ('Babylon the Great') is the Roman Catholic denomination. If this were so, then the Bride City ('New Jerusalem') would also be a Christian (Protestant) church denomination, which it is not.
The presence
of God in Heaven is presented in Chapter Four as a Throne, encircled by an emerald rainbow, with a Person of jasper and carnelian upon this Throne. Further out, the Throne is encircled; firstly, by four winged living beings full of eyes with four different faces, lion, ox, human, and eagle; and secondly, by twenty-four Thrones of Elders/Seniors clothed in white and wearing crowns.
2.1 Biblical Context  
four faces of the living creatures around the Throne (identified as cherubs in Ezekiel 10:20) represent the four categories of earth-life guaranteed by God's Flood Covenant in Genesis 9:9-10, of which we are meant to be reminded by its covenant rainbow around the Throne. This presence around the Throne assures the readers of the future survival of life in the face of the coming terrible judgments and destruction contained in the visions which will follow.
A Biblical
Structure of History
twenty-four thrones are those which were part of God's Judgment Court in Daniel's vision ('thrones' plural, 7:9) and which were referred to previously as the Watchers, by whose decree/decision the rule of Nebuchadnezzar was suspended for seven years (Dan.4:17) to teach him humility.
2.2 Historical Context  
sealed Scroll on the right hand of the One upon the Throne, identifies itself by its Seven Seals in terms of Roman Private Law at that time as a Deed of Inheritance. Hence the great grief of John that initially no human being is found worthy to inherit God's rule or kingdom, for all have sinned and come short of His glory.

seven-sealed scroll
      Principles One and Two Applied:  
A.   The Four Living Creatures  
1.1 The reality:
         cherubs; special angels which demarcate God's presence.
  The Angels of God
1.2 The symbolic appearance:
         faces representing the four categories of life protected under the Covenant of Noah.
Genesis 9:9-10.
B.   The Twenty-Four Elders  
1.1 The reality:
         the Watchers; the Assessors in God's Judicial Court.
Daniel 4:17; 7:9.
1.2 The symbolic appearance:
         'thrones' of authority, 'white' garments of victory/triumph.
C.   The Lion of the tribe of Judah  
1.1 The reality:
         the human Jesus, born of the Jewish tribe of Judah.
Genesis 3:15;
Luke 3:23-38.
1.2 The symbolic appearance:  
           a lamb/lambkin slain (sacrificed), having seven horns (complete power) and seven eyes (complete knowledge).  
Third Principle –
3. The Sequence-Order presented in the text has semantic significance, and not chronological!
other words, the events represented in the symbolism are not given in the order of their future historical fulfilment. Prophecy is not history in advance!
It is a practical moral-spiritual message to its first recipients. This is important and ignorance of this has misled many sincere persons. The events are metaphorically described in semantic layers which overlap with an increasing intensity of meaning building toward its climax.
As an
example of this look carefully through Chapters Ten to Twelve, beginning in the interlude between the Sixth and Seventh Trumpets:

  The 3½-Year Final Witness
1 The strong angel with a little scroll that is sweet to John's taste but with a bitter consequence 10:1-11
2 The measuring of the Jerusalem Sanctuary and exclusion of the rest to be trampled underfoot* 11:1-2
3 The authority of the two witnesses to complete* the testimony and only then their martyrdom 11:3-13
  'Seventh Trumpet' Proclamation of Outcome  11:15-19
4 The woman [Israel] pursued but protected* and final persecution of the siblings of Messiah 12:1-17

* 1260 days; or –
    42 months; or –
  time, times (duo), and half a time.
  3½-Years exactly!
These layers
describe a future and unique time in human history of 42 months/1260 days in which the world, under the wrath of God, faces the final testimony of God which precipitates the return of Christ as the Reaper (John the Baptist's inspired metaphor for the Christ in Matt.3:12).
Jesus, at
the completion of His ministry as the Sower (metaphor used of Himself in Matt.13), had said of this unique time ahead –
"And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved [survive].
But for the sake of the elect [the Christians on earth] those days will be cut short [interrupted by Christ's return]."

Matthew 24:22.
The Book
of the Revelation completes the inspired Word of God given to all believers. This book is not an optional extra concerning what happens after Christians are raptured away to Heaven and therefore of no direct relevance!
It was given to be understood because it gives an understanding necessary for Christ's Church to complete its historical task.
widespread error regarding this 3½ years period (evident in so many commentaries) arises from ignorance of the Bible's teaching on The Hidden Time, and the consequent misguided attempts to then stretch this set 3½-year period into thousands of years in order to explain the time that has lapsed since Christ came.
it unfortunately needs to be noted that sometimes scholars who do not believe in the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture and therefore do not believe it is true, are occasionally more apt to grasp the symbolic meaning of a text within it's own historical-cultural context than sincere scholars who, believing that the text is truly inspired, try to then interpret it within their own theological world or denominational view. This is sad!
The context of the text
must rule.

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