without form - the abyss (Gen. 1:1) Notice
that the first pair items matches the last pair.
Creation (Gen. 1, 2)
The fall from God's image (Gen. 3)
Death begins, a Redeemer is promised (Gen. 3:15)
Call to Abraham - a people chosen (Gen. 12)
God's people in slavery; escape to the wilderness (Ex.)
Restoration of knowledge about God's plan — His law (Ex.)
Christ introduced in the sanctuary system (Lev.)
God's people in captivity for unfaithfulness (Ezek., Dan. and others)
Christ revealed in human flesh (Gospels)
Heaven's greatest gift — redemption through the cross!
Christ revealed through the Holy Spirit (Acts)
Medieval persecution; church in the wilderness (Rev. 12, 13)
Restoration of lost truth — the Reformation (Rev. 12)
Christ seen in the heavenly sanctuary — Judgment message (Rev. 14)
God's people threatened; forbidden to buy or sell; endurance (Rev. 13; 14:12)
Call of the mighty angel; Elijah, Appeal to God's people to come out (Rev. 18)
Resurrection of the righteous to immortal life (1 Thess. 4)
Restoration; incorruptible bodies; like Christ's glorious body (1 Cor. 15)
Earth desolate for 1000 years; Satan in the abyss (Rev. 20)
Creation of new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21)
| The Bible used
in this commentary is the King James Version (also called the Revised Version)
partly because it is in the public domain (not copyrighted). The KJV Bible
was first published in 1611, then revised a number of times between 1613
and 1739. The 1739 edition is now the only one commonly available. When
I use other versions they are noted. The New King James Version (1979-1982)
is, in nearly all cases, a better translation than the KJV and is my favorite.
It is noted by the letters NKJV. I also recommend the New American Standard
Bible and the New Berkley Version. The link codes I use show book, chapter,
and verse and are not page numbers which differ depending on the printing
of the Bible.
For my codes, ge1507 would be Genesis 15, verse 7 or Gen. 15:7 or a passage beginning with that verse. In my commentary, you can click on the link code which will take you to that verse which will usually appear at the top of your screen on the left. To the right is often more explanation. I recommend that you take a little time and memorize the order of the books in the Bible. Then you can find the texts rapidly like using a dictionary. When you want to turn to a verse in Jude, for example, you recall that it is just before Revelation, or for Luke, you will remember that the Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, so it's after Mark. You will also remember that the NT (New Testament) is much smaller than the OT so you open your Bible to about three-forths of the way to the end, then move in the direction needed to find Luke. For a Bible without many pages of helps in the back, Psalms is in or close to the middle. I have used ink to mark key chapters in my main Bible. This just saves time. I suggest practicing on a dictionary or another book first.
The Bible is the inspired word of God. A precious gift to humanity!
|Knowing when a passage is symbolic is fairly easy. For example Daniel (Dan. 7) saw beasts coming up out of the sea each having strange characteristics. The king of Babylon had had a dream earlier where an image was made from head to toe with various metals (Dan. 2) and Daniel had accurately interpreted it. The king was the head of gold and other nations would follow.|
|Apocalyptic or end-time prophecies take special care to understand. Some people who perhaps have special ideas in mind tend to bend them to fit their overall understanding. Of course, when looking at any prophecy, the reader has to do some guessing. The most notable exception is the the one mentioned above from Daniel 2.|
|Principles for understanding
Pray for divine help. The Scriptures were given by the Holy Spirit 2 Peter 1:19-21. He can help us understand if we pray sincerely with personal faith in what the texts say John 7:17, John 17:17. Daniel had a prayer meeting and went to tell the king the interpretation the next day Danl 2:14 and onward.
Match prophecy with history. Because we are living in the end-times we may expect that most prophecy of the Bible has already been fulfilled. Like the king's dream about the image, some is still being fulfilled. We can understand where we stand as we match the prophecy with what we know from history. Obviously, not all prophecies are as simple as the one of the king's dream but the major things we need to know to be ready to meet God are repeated many times with various elements added or deleted and in different symbol sets.
Prophecies are usually given as units. Many of these units have been noticed by people who have divided the original text into chapters. Also seeing a new set of symbols or other major change marks beginnings and endings.
Promises of God which depend on human response are conditional. As a basic reference, see Deut. 28. The story of Jonah also illustrates the principle where the people believed and repented and the city of Nineveh was not destroyed as the Lord told Jonah to predict, Jonah 3. This means we must avoid literal and future fulfillment of many of the Old Testament prophecies. When the people rebelled, they forfeited the blessings promised. Many will be fulfilled to spiritual Israel but the texts must be understood in their new as well as old context.
Identifying symbols. Interpreters are tempted to take a symbol like "666" or an element from a dream of Ezekiel and build unwarranted ideas from it. Symbols must be true to the context of the prophecy they are in and of their possible larger series of prophecies.
Frequently used symbols. Usually a symbols such as "light" and "horn" mean essentially the same things in various parts of the Bible. By considering the context this may be verified. One of these is the year-for-a day principle. Rev. 13:5, note b.
Christ as the center. The whole Bible is God's letter to us to draw us to the One who saves us from sin and who will finally end the misery on this old planet. An interpretation that does not have this goal as its objective or part of the objective is probably false.
|Methods used to interpret prophecy. The approach of this commentary is expressed above and on the home page. The most popular way today is called Futurism. Please click to see it described. Basically, by creating a scheme of events expected in during or after a coming millennium, interpreters are largely freed from the more direct reading of the prophecies as outlined above. Many sincere people believe these theories especially by reading the Left Behind novels.|