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"APOKALYPSIS' = uncovering, exposing, or unveiling

      "Uncovering or unveils the reality that in the end, God and His forces will       overwhelmingly triumph"

SETTING: LARGE! - the whole world or the whole universe.

THE CAST: LARGE! - the main figures of the universe (God and His angels,
      Satan and his angels, the nation of Israel, the Antichrist, the False Prophet,       counterfeit religion as a whole, the godless world system as a whole, etc.)


      (1) Present situation: Evil appears to be invincible (It appears that Satan's
           forces cannot be defeated).

      (2) Near future: An end-times struggle between both God and Satan and
           between good and evil when evil reaches its worst.

      (3) Far future: The total victory of God over Satan, of good over evil! 
           Sin has so polluted the world that the only solution is for Satan's
           system to be totally annihilated.

The Purpose of Apocalyptic literature?


THE LITERARY FORMS: LARGE!  Huge symbolic figure describe the primary characters and forces involved in this universal struggle.  They were possibly a code that only the Jewish readers understood.  Those in power over the Jews, who were unfavorably depicted in these books, would not have understood them; and would not therefore have had reason to retaliate against them.  Because we too are not familiar with these symbols, they may also seem to us to be more veiling than unveiling.  The symbols were animals, birds, grotesque figures, numbers, colors…  Some came from mythology of time: dragons, etc.

Can you give some examples from Daniel and Revelation?



DANIEL SEVEN: What are the apocalyptic symbols in this chapter?  What is the meaning of the symbols?  What is message of this chapter?




THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROPHETIC AND APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE (Though different, they do not contradict each other)

      Prophetic:  Focuses on Israel.  God judges His chosen nation for their sins       partially through foreign nations.  God will drive Israel out of the Promised       Land.  God will judge the nations for their sin as well.  Israel will return to       the Promised Land.  God will deliver Israel from their enemies and set up       His Kingdom.  God's King will rule on David's throne in Jerusalem.

      Apocalyptic:  Focuses on world and universe. 

      Prophetic:  Israel suffers for her sins and receives God's mercy

      Apocalyptic:  The faithful of God's people during suffering and persecution
                         will be rewarded in the end.

      Prophetic:  Focuses on judgment of Israel and the nations.

      Apocalyptic:  Focuses on the future judgment of Satan and his kingdom.

Non-Biblical Apocalyptic literature:

1. Pretend to have been written by people of the Old Testament:  Isaiah, Moses,
    Enoch, etc.  "Pseudopigrapha"

2. Why the pseudonyms?  Possible answers - So that authors would not be     known and be punished; so that these writings would be more likely to be     accepted; and because it was a custom.

The first word in the book of Revelation is the Greek word "Apokalypsis".  In English it means uncovering, exposing, or unveiling.  Apocalyptic literature is a form of literature that was used during times when the enemies of God were in charge, and when it appeared that they would prevail.  It, in a very dramatic way, unveils or uncovers the reality that in the end, God and His forces will overwhelmingly triumph.  The book of Revelation was written primarily using this literary form.  The books of Daniel and Zechariah, as well as parts of some other books in the Bible (Joel, Amos, Matthew 24,25, I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11) were apocalyptic.  Also, there were books outside of the Bible that used this apocalyptic method of communicating God's ultimate victory. 

The following are some of the characteristics of apocalyptic literature.  The setting of this literature is the whole world or the whole universe.  So, the stage is quite large.  The cast are the main figures in the universe: God, Satan, the angels, and all the peoples of the earth.  The plot is the struggle between God and holiness verses Satan and evil.  The books end with the total victory of God and good over Satan and evil.  The plot takes us from the present struggle between good and evil where it appears that evil is invincible, to the dramatic and total victory of God over evil.  A primary characteristic of apocalyptic literature was the use of huge symbolic figures to describe the primary characters and the primary forces involved in this universal struggle.  Examples of these symbols are the horrible beasts in the book of Daniel; and the "enormous dragon with seven heads", "Mystery Babylon" the "great prostitute", and the description of the glorified Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation.  It is possible that these symbols were used as a sort of mysterious code so that the Romans and other nations in power over the Jews would not be able to understand that the apocalyptic books were describing them as beasts and dragons who would inevitably be totally conquered by the God of the Jews and the Christians.

The book of Revelation is filled with apocalyptical symbolism.  The following quotes provide some guidelines for interpreting these symbols.  "To be thoroughly literal we would have to insist that a literal (actual) woman sat literally upon seven literal hills! that Jesus Christ has a literal sword coming out of his mouth! and that beasts can act and talk like men!....Every effort must be made to discover whether the symbol had any meaning in the culture of the writer....With special reference to the book of Revelation the Old Testament must be searched thoroughly for every possible clue to the symbols that were used."  "Taken from PROTESTANT BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION by Bernard Ramm.  Copyright 1956 by Baker Book House.  Used by permission of Baker Book House."  "Make sure that your interpretation of such imagery would be entirely clear to the original author.  In evaluating commentaries in this regard note how far the commentator has been able to enter into the thought of the original writer.  When a commentator fills apocalyptic imagery with his own ideas he disqualifies himself as a true interpreter."  "Taken from INTERPRETTING THE BIBLE by A. Berkely Mickelson.  Copyright 1963 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company.  Used by permission of Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company."

Often, the symbols can be interpreted by looking at their meaning within the book of Revelation.  Secondly, we can often use the Old Testament and particularly the book of Daniel to interpret these symbols.  Finally, the use of the symbols in other apocalyptic literature of the time can be helpful in the interpretation of the symbols in the book of Revelation.  In short, a knowledge of the whole Bible and its overall themes help us to interpret the symbolism in this the last book of the Bible.  We need to have done a thorough reading of the whole Bible before we can understand the final chapter of the Bible.