Sunday, November 04, 2007

Metaphors And Symbolism: The Two Witnesses

Recently, my good friend Mustang from Social Sense opened one of his posts, with a short provocative commentary about John of Patmos, also known as John the Apostle. If I understand him correctly, I think I know what Mustang is trying to say. But to do that, I think you must read his entire essay.

But refuting or supporting his statement is not what I want to do with this post.

There two kinds of writings contained in the Bible, literal and metaphorical. John's writings in the Book of Revelations are the latter. If one reads the metaphorical biblical texts and attempts to make sense of them without some understanding of the literal texts (more specifically the historical accounts contained within), it's close to impossible to gain some level of understanding.

The Book of Daniel, which is said to be (by many biblical scholars) to a companion book to Revelations, was metaphorical. At the end of his writing, he records how he asked God, what was the meaning of the prophecy he had both received and written? Immediately afterward, he tells how God told him to close the book, because it was written for another time, not his. If we understand this simple premise and apply it to all of the prophetic writings, we know that a certain history has to exist before any real sense can be made of these deeply esoteric writings.

The Bible is full of parables. Christ used them, the OT prophets used them, and His apostles used them. Each parable has a meaning, but one must be acutely aware of events that manifest themselves in a concrete manner. Then, and only then, can some reasonable analysis of these deeply veiled words begin.

At the end of my last post, many moons ago, I asked those that cared, to read the entire 11th chapter of Revelations. I also asked that special attention be paid to the two witnesses, described within that passage. But for those that didn't and want a shortcut, here is the part I want to reference:

3And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed

These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified

9And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

Most of the denominational world teaches that these will be two men that will perform these deeds and miracles. On the surface, we can see that this not a far fetched idea. Some even go as far as to say that Elijah and Elisha will be resurrected for this purpose in the end days. Knowing that Elijah prayed fire down from the sky, would tend to reinforce that this passage of scripture could be interpreted as literal.

But I assert that this is not a literal possibility.

Knowing some history that took place after John recorded his vision on the Isle of Patmos, I think I can offer a more reasonable explanation of what this passage means.

he Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had not existed in John's day. Their reign started, when Constantine converted to Christianity, probably around 325 AD. Secular history tells us that it grew big and powerful throughout the ensuing centuries. In the deepest and most powerful moments of its existence in Europe, the Bible was not used much. Catholic masses were not extracted from the scriptures, but written by priests using ancient Roman rites and ceremonial texts. They may have contained some scripture in the words used, but they were not the primary text used.

The Bible is made up of the Old and New Testaments. Both were witnesses of Christ. The OT pointed to His future existence on the earth and the NT pointed back at his life, the people He taught and ministered to for 3 1/2 years, and those that accepted his message. The NT was written for people that had consciously chosen to follow Christ and contained historical accounts and lessons for living a Christian life.

Two witnesses that the RCC (in effect) killed, the OT and NT, their bodies lied dead on the street for all to see. The Bible was seen but not used, for centuries in the Roman Church. No one was able to use it for their own edification, because people were taught to trust the RCC clergy and only the clergy, for their salvation.

To understand why I believe this, let's read on:

11And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

Scriptures not being used, corruption running rampant through the RCC, and suddenly a man named Martin Luther reads one of the four passages which clearly states, "the just shall live by faith". It quickens his mind, it renews his zeal for searching for the truth, and it motivates him to get the message out. More people begin to rediscover the Bible/Two Witnesses. From that point on, the Christian world rediscovered the Bible. Its words came to life again.

None of this had occurred at the time John had recorded his vision. So it only stands to reason, he couldn't have known and understood what these words specifically meant, anymore than Daniel could have. To the reader that has no understanding of the big picture, they are mere poetic prose that have no meaning, And unless the history of the RCC is known, this version I am submitting for consideration will not make sense.

ottom line here:

The Revelation of Christ to John was not written for John's edification, but as in Daniel's case, it was written for people that live in another era. As Daniel did his, John too closed his book. It is my firm belief that Martin Luther reopened it. Could it be for our era this was written?

I'll take any questions.

I cannot offer communion. But I can pass the offering plate. ;)