Will the Events of Revelation be Manifested Physically?

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Hi, C____​,

Thank you for your questions. They provided me with the opportunity to clarify the fact that signs and symbols, types and shadows, are just as applicable to their outward dispensational fulfillment as they are to their inward spiritual fulfillment.

Here are your concerns:

I will answer your e-mail paragraph by paragraph in the order in which you have written it. Your first statement is:

Yes, indeed, the book of Revelation is primarily about Jesus “Christ revealing Himself to us within”, simply because we are plainly told that this prophecy is “the revelation of Jesus Christ” with which we are blessed if we “read… hear… and “keep the things which are written therein”. We are even told that 2000 years ago “the time is at hand” to “read, hear, and keep the things  which are written therein.”

Rev 1:1  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
Rev 1:2  Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

You tell me:

For that to be true you must have a handle on the concept of this prophecy being “signified” in such a way as to make it applicable at the time it was first penned as well as in every generation since.

Besides being told that we are to “read… hear… and keep those things which are written therein”, we must also acknowledge that the things written therein are all “signified”, and are therefore revealed to us only through signs and symbols, just as is every parable given to us from our Lord… “He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John”. 

A movie about end-time events was produced several years ago, entitled ‘Left Behind’. That movie is a sad commentary on the lack of spiritual understanding on the part of many highly regarded Christian leaders and many Christians who attend the churches to whom the teachings of these men appeal today. The writers admit that ‘Left Behind’ is a work of fiction, and at the same time they lead their viewers to believe that it is based upon the scriptures concerning the events which are prophesied to take place “at the appearing of our Lord” by taking the “signified” words of Revelation 11 concerning the “two witnesses” in a completely literal way.

There is no appreciation in this movie for the meaning of the word “signified” which is a very important key to properly understanding this prophecy. That is why it is given to us in the very first verse of this book. But the writers of this fiction simply were not given the eyes to see that ‘key’, and instead they go so far in their literal interpretation of this prophecy that they portray the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11 as two literal men endowed with the supernatural ability to breath out literal fire from their mouths, and with that literal fire these two literal men literally kill anyone who literally attempts to hurt them. After all, that is exactly how it is all signified:

Rev 11:3  And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
Rev 11:4  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
Rev 11:5  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.

I must emphasize again, the authors of this work of fiction completely ignore the key to understanding this prophecy which is given to us in the very first verse of the very first chapter of Revelation.

Rev 1:1  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

They also ignore another key to understanding this prophecy which the holy spirit gives us in verse 3 of chapter one:

Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand

This verse very clearly informs us that at the time of the writing of the book of Revelation “the time [was] at hand [to] read, hear, and keep the things which are written therein”. Yet the entire movie about these two men is cast as an event which has only an end of the age application, and they arbitrarily decide for themselves which parts of this prophecy are literal and which are not. Notice that no one casts the “two witnesses” as literal “olive trees” or literal “candlesticks”:

Rev 11:3  And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
Rev 11:4  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

If you are led to do so, you can read the very in-depth commentary on the entire book of Revelation beginning at this link:

The Book of Revelation Introduction/

Christ Himself, speaking of the very same events, also tells us “the time is at hand” for all the events He mentions in Matthew 24 to be lived out by all in whom He is being revealed:

Mat 24:32  Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
Mat 24:33  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Mat 24:34  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:35  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

“You know summer is near, even at the doors… this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled”. That does not sound like something which will only be fulfilled 2,000 years down the road of time. The need for “these things [to] be fulfilled” is presented to “[that] generation” as “near, even at the door”! It is presented as an immediately urgent event, which must be ‘read, heard and kept, for the time is at hand to do so’ (Rev 1:3)

“My words shall not pass away” tells us that Christ’s words have a quality about them which make them applicable in every generation of mankind so it can truthfully be said at any time, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”.

This is verse 34, and the “all these things” of the preceding verses include “the abomination of desolation” which stands in the holy place, as well as “the tribulation” and “the end of the age”. Those events, as well as the deceiving of the whole world, the wars and rumors of wars, the famines, pestilences, and earthquakes and “the end of the age” all took place in “[that] generation” according to our Lord’s own signified words.

In Matthew 24 the disciples asked Christ:

Mat 24:3  And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign [Greek: sameion, G4592] of thy coming, and of the end of the world? [Greek: aion, G165, age]

In answer to this question Christ gives us what is commonly referred to as “the Olivet prophecy” in which He first warns us:

Mat 24:4  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Mat 24:5  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Then in answer to this same question He tells us:

Mat 24:6  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Mat 24:7  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

For a very good reason, Christ three times warns us against being deceived in this same chapter 24 of Matthew. Here are all three:

Mat 24:5  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Mat 24:11  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Mat 24:24  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

The reason Christ does this is to let us all know that we will all at first be deceived. We know this is true because He plainly tells us that He speaks to us in parables because none of us are, at first, “given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”. We must all “come out of [Babylon]” before we are given eyes that see and ears that hear:

Mat 13:10  And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
Mat 13:11  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given

Rev 18:4  And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

“Without a parable [Christ] spoke not unto [the multitudes]”, for the express purpose of keeping the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven hidden from the masses of humanity. Everything Christ spoke, He spoke only in parables which “signified” everything He is telling us:

Mat 13:34  All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
Mat 13:35  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

Verse 34 answers all of your questions. Everything Christ spoke, He spoke in parables, signifying what He was telling us. The book of Revelation is not exception to that verse whether we are speaking of its inward spiritual meaning or even if we are speaking of the “outward dispensational fulfillment as well”. Both are “signified” so that we can safely say that the answer to every question you ask is an absolute, No!

So just put a big, No! after each of these your questions in your next paragraph:

But do not think that in saying they will not be “literally scorched with the sun” in an “outward dispensational fulfillment” that therefore that is no “outward dispensational fulfillment”. The fact is that there will indeed be an outward dispensational fulfillment which is also “signified” with the same words which apply to the inward, spiritual fulfillment.

Being “signified” does not meant they cannot have an outward, physical fulfillment. Here is an example of how a signified prophecy was fulfilled outwardly and dispensationally. Here is how Christ Himself signified the prophecy of His own crucifixion:

Joh 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Joh 12:33  This he said, signifying [Greek: semaino, G4591] what death he should die.

This Greek word ‘semainoG4591 translated here as “signifying”, is the exact same word translated as “signified” in Revelation 1:1, and it is the same Greek root for the word the disciples used in asking Christ for “the sign of [His] coming and the end of the age”:

Rev 1:1  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified [Greek: semaino, G4591] it by his angel unto his servant John:

Mat 24:3  And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign [Greek: semeion, G4592] of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

There is nothing in the words, “If I be lifted up” which specifies that Christ was speaking of being put to death through crucifixion. Nevertheless, the holy spirit tells us those words “signified what death He should die”, and that prophecy took place at that time, exactly as it had been “signified”.

This very same Greek word is again translated as “signifying” in these verses where Christ is speaking to Peter by the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection from the dead:

Joh 21:18  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
Joh 21:19  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

There is nothing in the words, “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not”, telling us specifically “by what death [Peter] should glorify God”, and yet we are told that is what Christ was telling Peter, and if we have ears to hear, He is also speaking to us “signifying by what death [we] should glorify God” as we offer our own bodies “signified” as “a living sacrifices unto the Lord”.

With this understanding of the meaning of the Greek word ‘semaino‘, translated as ‘signified’ in Revelation 1:1, let’s reword your question to fit the qualifications of Revelation 1:1:

“Will men [in a “signified way] be scorched by the sun [Yes, they will!], will the seas and rivers [in a signified way] turn to blood [Yes, indeed they will!], will we see huge [signified] swarms of locusts [Indeed, we will!], will there be some [signified] ‘mark’ forced upon the people [Indeed, we are born with that “mark of mankind” – Ecc 3:18], will 1/3 of the [signified] grass and trees be burned up [Yes, they are and will be being burned up! – 1Pe 1:24], will there be [a signified] charismatic world leader who will gather and unite all the [signified] nations of this [signified] earth [within you and me]? [Yes, you see him in the  mirror every day! Eph 5:29] etc.

Jer 22:29  O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.

1Pe 1:24  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

Eph 5:29  For no [normal] man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

In conclusion to all of your questions, considering that Christ prophesied of His own crucifixion in signified words which came to pass just as He had “signified”, the obvious fact is that signified prophecies are not intended to provide specific details of the event with which they deal. They are instead designed to try our faith and to keep us vigilant, diligent, sober, alert and faithful to the end of our ‘age’.

Here is your last paragraph:

I will close by agreeing with you and with the holy spirit and with Christ and with Peter that “the time is at hand, it is near, even at the door, and we must never make the mistake of thinking what we all just naturally will think:

2Pe 3:3  Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
2Pe 3:4  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
2Pe 3:5  For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
2Pe 3:6  Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
2Pe 3:7  But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2Pe 3:8  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
2Pe 3:10  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
2Pe 3:11  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
2Pe 3:12  Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
2Pe 3:13  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
2Pe 3:14  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

It is my sincere prayer that you and I will “be diligent that [we] may be found of Him in peace without spot and blameless” and never of the spirit which thinks “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation”.

Your brother in Christ, Mike

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