Figuratively Literal

I read Revelation 12 this morning and it got me thinking. I love the book of Revelation and I highly recommend Scotty Smith’s book Unveiled Hope as a guide to read it. Anyway, one of the questions I’ve been asked by non-Amils (typically asked by Dispensational pre-mills) is “Well, if you don’t take the 1,000 years literally, what else don’t you take literally? Was Jesus in the tomb for three literal days? Why would you take the three days literally but not the 1,000 years?”

The way I answer is that I take things literally when the type of literature I’m reading intends it to be taken literally. What I would love to ask them is why they take some things literally and some not. For example, from Revelation 12, there is a woman who is taken figuratively (usually of Israel) and she is protected for “a time and times and half a time” which is literally three and a half years. You can see the inconsistency. The woman is figurative but the time is literally three and a half years even though the text does not literally call the “times” a year. The examples could be multiplied. Just one would be the bride in Revelation 21 who is figurative of the church but the 1,000 years from chapter 20 is literal.

This arbitrary hermeneutic drives me nuts. The book of Revelation is apocalyptic literature and it employs figurative language which should be interpreted figuratively therefore I take the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 to mean “golly, a real long time.” But something like Luke’s gospel is not figurative so I would take the three days Jesus spent in the tomb to mean “at least a portion of three days” which is how a Jew would have understood it. If you take the three days literally by our standards then Jesus didn’t die on Good Friday, He died on Good Wednesday or Thursday (depending on how you count.)

When evangelicals criticize theological positions they don’t agree with, too often they criticize them poorly. If you don’t hold to my interpretation, you’re in danger of becoming a liberal or Roman Catholic or whatever. For people so focused on being saved by grace, we sometimes show precious little of it to others saved by it.

Print This Post Print This Post

Be the first to leave a comment. Don’t be shy.

Join the Discussion

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>