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It is ironic that the two books, the Revelation of Saint John and the Book of Daniel have come to gain the reputation of being the two most cryptic (‘to keep secret’) and unclear books in the Bible. Was it by intention that the writers of these books tried to write something which was a puzzle and remained a puzzle for all generations? Or is it only the remoteness of the modern eye from the original culture and context that creates this ‘puzzle’ image?
All human cultures in all of history have used symbols to express their ideology, religious beliefs, and social structure. As humans, we are totally surrounded by symbols. Names for everything are in fact symbols. How would you for example describe what person you refer to without his or her name? It is impossible to communicate and explain something without the use of symbols because all language consists of symbols that represent our reality.
Some symbols are universal, for example, the thumbs-up sign, and others are separating one group or nation from others, for example, the cross (Christianity), the Bald Eagle (United States), and the Svastika (Nazi Germany). Symbols that represent nations are the glue that binds individuals together as a group. Nationalistic symbols separate nations from each other both for good and for evil.
The meaning of symbols is not self-evident, it has to be learned. An example of that the Bluetooth symbol.
When you know what a symbol stands for it tells more than a thousand words.
But the meaning of a symbol is never self-evident. The meaning of a symbol is not inherent in the symbol itself but has to be culturally learned.
BUT WHY ARE THE BIBLE USING SYMBOLS TO REPRESENT NATIONS AND THE PROPHETIC TIMELINE OF HISTORY?
Think about it, ALL language and everything you are surrounded by in the world consists of symbols. All communication is by the aid of symbols. All physical things, all nations, all names on persons in the world are symbols. And none of these symbols are self-evident. They all have to be learned and remembered in order to be understood and used as a communication tool. Nobody says: Why is life so complicated that we have to learn countless lists of symbols (words, names, places, etc) in order to communicate. Why couldn´t we just do this in a more userfriendly way?
Prophetic language is no different from a common language. It consists of symbols and the symbols represent things, nations, and events before they come into existence. As is the case with all other languages and symbols in the world, prophetic language and use of symbols have to be learned before it can be understood, and when it has been learned it all seems so logical.
Even your name is a symbol that represents you as a person. Every physical thing that has a name is represented by a symbol – Lion, Bird, Fish. But what about abstract things like nations.
And remember that all symbols have to be learned. No child look at a symbol and know what it means. Prophetic symbols in the Bible is a language. It has to be learned. Prophetic language is different from other languages in the sense that it describes nations and events BEFORE they exist. God’s method of communicating prophecies is by giving dreams to people. Daniel is such a person whom God gave dreams. The dreams were not consisting of long written descriptions of events but consisted of strong images that easily were burned into the memory of Daniel. Daniel merely translated the images in the dream into written language. So one kind of symbol (dreamed images) was transformed into another kind of symbol (written language), and this kind of symbolism is again rendered back into images when you read the Book of Daniel.
But to form these dreams into language
Kære Annette, du spørger hvorfor så kompliceret med symboler i stedet for en ganske enkel forklaring? I profetierne får vi FØRST en billedlig beskrivelse og bagefter får vi forklaringen på symboleerne. Så vi er ikke overladt til os selv. Billederne forklares for os. Så kan du spørge hvorfro Gud ike nøjes med forklaringen. Det er af samme grund som at Jesus også bruger lignelser til at forklare det åndelige. Han bruger “billeder” fra naturen som vi kender til for at vi bedre kan huske. Hvis jeg siger “sædemanden”, så husker du omgående hvordan han sår frø som lander på jorden, på sten og på vejen. Forklaringen som Jesus giver bagefter udvider og multiplicerer din oplevelse og din åndelige fatteevne. Denne teknik bruger Jesus fordi han ved at vores mentale fatteevne er brgrænset og at den stimuleres bedre med mentale billeder. Vi “SER” det for os. Derfor elsker børn lignelser i undervisning. De forstår det bedre. Gav vi dem udelukkende akademiske definitioner på begreber så ville de hele tiden spørge: “Giv et eksempel på hvad ordet betyder”. Og når de får det, så siger de “nååh, ja, nu forstår vi”. Så derfor skal vi BÅDE have definitioner og forklaringer men de får en langt langt større virkning på sindet hvis de ledsages af billeder. Desuden skaber billedsproget poesi, så oplevelsen af profetierne dramatiseres, som en slags film af verdenshistorien der ruller forbi på et indre lærred. hvis jeg siger “de fire dy”, så ser du dem omgående for dig. Men beder jeg dig forklare hvad de betyder skal du bruge lang, lang tid og mange ord. Billederne vækker nysgerrighed, stimulerer sindet, og det gælder både de profetiske symboler og natursammenligningerne som Jesus benytter i sine lignelser.
Men der er flere grunde. Tænk på hvor umuligt det ville være hvis vi kun havde en lang og ordrig forklaring, så kunne den ikke så let opfanges af forskellige kulturer og forskellige tidsaldre. men billederne står fast, som mejslet i sten. De er de samme og kryder kulturelle, tidsmæssige og sproglige bariaarer.
Men billederne kan ikke stå alene. Derfor hjælper Guds ord os i gang så vi bliver uddannet i at forstå billedsprog. Når vi først dykker ned i dette nye og til at begynde med ukendte sprog, så udvides vores horisont. Det er på samme måde som at mestre et nyt sprog. Ikke bare talesprog, men kunst og musik er også sprog. Hvis man fx skal lære at udtrykke sig ved hjælp af filmsprog, så er lærerens opskrift altid: “Sig det med billeder i stedet for at forklare det, for hvis du forklarer det så kan du lige så godt lave radio”. Et billede taler stærkere end 1000 ord, siger man. Men i profetierne får vi som sagt – ud over billederne – også en forklaring. Og det er disse to tilsammen som giver dem ekstra vægt. Den ene kan ikke stå uden den anden uden at miste styrke. Men vi får ikke alle detaljer forklaret. Og hvorfor ikke? Fordi så ville Biblen blive en ufattelig tyk bog. Gud har i sin visdom formået at billedliggøre 2500 års historie på 2-3 sider. Det vidner om hans ufattelige visdom, kreativitet, genialitet og skaberkraft. Gud giver os NØGLEN til at lukke forståelsen af profetierne optttttttttttttt
When we read the prophecies in the Book of Daniel and in the Revelation of John we are faced with an overwhelming and compact scenery of strange symbols. There meaning is not understood right away. They first have to be unpacked like an encrypted message in order to understand and unfold their meaning. Luckily for us, the Bible itself provides us with the key to crack the. But the question is why did God inspire Daniel and John to write down the end-time prophecies in symbolic images and figurative language? Why couldn’t they just have explained what God had in mind in a simple, straight forward language? Why should it be so strange and difficult written in a coded language? The answer is: This is the only way we can understand it!
First of all: We have a saying that an image speaks louder than thousands of words. Why? Because to see something – even though it is a mental image – is much closer to reality, than a description. For example, in Daniel chapter, God has in only 3-4 sentences given us a strong symbol that describes over 2500 years of historical development.
We have the term “figuratively speaking”. This is when we
Jesus speaks in parables
Abstract concepts can best be taught symbolically. Most abstract concepts are hard to grasp without some kind of an association as a learning aid. For example, the spiritual world and its principles are difficult to understand on the basis of a definition only. But if explained by the use of natural things we can see and have experienced in the realm of our earthly existence, then we can be better understood. Therefore Jesus used parables to explain spiritual matters which would else be difficult to grasp. Take for example the parable about the sower. In this story, seeds are used as a metaphor for faith. After telling the story Jesus explains the symbols. So why does Jesus first give a parable in symbols instead of only defining what faith is and how it is received by different kinds of people? You see definitions of unfamiliar words and terms are very often difficult to understand. So we ask for an example. In that, we can see an application of the word in a story that evokes an image in our minds. “Ahh, now I see!”, we say. So understanding is seeing. God knows our nature. He knows that we are not alone academic creatures. We need images and explanations and parables in order to understand something fully.
Images and symbols can bridge cultural and linquistic differences
Symbols can be timeless, culture-free, and language-free. When such things as plants, animals, or manifestations in nature are used to teach principles, they can be used without reference to a particular language, time, or people and can bridge the barriers of communication that often exist between ages or cultures.
By using symbols God could bridge all cultural differences. Symbols are language-free.
Parables are poetic and have an element of beauty
Parables are poetry and evoke our own creative thought process whereas definitions and explanations alone are for most people mentally exhausting like academic lectures.
People and cultures express meaning through symbols
Think about it, a lot of human cultural activity is based on symbolic expressions. Christmas for example. We have a tree in the house. It is a symbol of Jesus. We have a flag for each county. It is a symbol. We have logos for each and every company. Think of all the car brands. The logo on the car is much easier to remember if you want to explain to someone what constitutes a Mercedes or a Volks Wagen.
Another thing: Satan can and people can change names.