1 Other Principles of Interpretation by Jeff Pippenger PRINCIPLE # 1 THE SCRIPTURES ARE CHRIST-CENTERED Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." (John 5:39). Christ is the center of the Scriptures. It is the main theme of the book of Revelation which begins by saying, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1: 1). Then any interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation must magnify Christ. PRINCIPLE # 2 COMPARE SCRIPTURE WITH SCRIPTURE We should not superimpose principles from other disciplines over the Bible, nor should we interpret Scripture based on our own whim. The Scriptures are explained by Scripture. The Word of God is a perfect whole where one portion explains the other. God describes His true church as a pure woman or a virgin. Paul, addressing the Corinthian church said: "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.. "(2 Corinthians 11:2) See also Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 1:16; Ephesians 5: An important description of the true church of God in these last days says: "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:17). The true church of God will keep all the ten commandments, by His grace; But, what is "the testimony of Jesus Christ"? By comparing Scripture with Scripture we find its meaning: Revelation 19:10 says: "... the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." God's true church will not only keep the commandments of God but will possess the spirit of prophecy or the prophetic gift. PRINCIPLE # 3 THE CHURCH IS THE ISRAEL OF TODAY All the prophecies concerning Israel in these last days refer to the church, not to the land of Israel or to the Jews. "That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed " (Romans 9:8). See Romans 9: 6-8. "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise... know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." (Galatians 3:29,7)
2 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28). "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16). "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed (biological) of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." (Romans 9:6-7). The Jewish nation was the Old Testament church. However, due to its rejection of Christ, who is the head of the Church, they ceased to be the true church of God. Therefore, Jesus told the Jewish leaders: "... the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." (Matthew 21:43). As was prophesied, "The stone (Jesus Christ) which the builders refused(the Jewish nation) is become the head stone of the corner." (Psalm 118:22). As Paul said: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers (the Gentile nation) and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." (Ephesians 2:19-20) If we err in the belief that the Israel of God still refers to the Jewish nation, then our interpretation of the prophecies will focus on the Middle East rather than applying to the whole world. Our eyes will be on the nations at war, rather than fixing them on the war between self and sin. As we will see in the following principles, the church inherits the privileges and promises of Israel of old, because the Church is the Israel of today. Dear readers, know with certainty your position on the following principle because this will greatly influence the whole interpretation of the prophecies. PRINCIPLE # 4 THE LOCAL SYMBOLIZES THE WORLDWIDE God uses literal and local names, and places of the past to help us fully understand the kind of events that will happen in the future on a worldwide level. And as we saw, the church is named in the Bible with the same names that were applied to the Jewish nation. For example: "holy nation" (1 Peter 2:9); As a "Royal Priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5,9); "A peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9); "A chosen generation" (1 Peter 2:9); "Holy people" (1 Peter 1:15-16); "A people of inheritance" (Ephesians 1:18); "the wife of Christ " (Ephesians 5:23-33, 2 Cor 11:2, James 4:4); As "Zion" (Rom. 11:26; 1 Peter 2:6-8).
3 Not only is the church symbolized by names and places found in the Old Testament; Babylon, the enemy of Israel, is a preeminent figure in chapters of Revelation. Some believe that Babylon in those chapters refers to Iran or Iraq. Why? Because they believe that Israel today still refers to the Jewish nation of Israel and that the battle of Armageddon will literally be fought in the Middle East. It is no longer a literal Babylonian empire. In fact, God said it would not rise again: "Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues." (Jeremiah 50:13) Babylon means "confusion." And while there is no literal Babylonian empire today, Spiritual Babylon is causing much confusion in the churches and in the world. The Book of Revelation refers to her as a harlot. Unfortunately, she is also represented as the MOTHER OF HARLOTS (Revelation 17:15), representing many daughters joining with her to confuse the world in one direction, i.e: A New World Order of Church and State. God symbolically represents this false church as Babylon, because she is very much like the Babylonian empire of old. Iraq and Iran are candidates who with difficulty could represent a false church within Christianity, or one to receive the support of nations. In fact, in the Gulf War, the whole world was seen to be against Iraq and Saddam Hussein's war machine. The apostle John was inspired to use more than 300 names, places and phrases from the Old Testament to write the book of Revelation. Two out of three words in Revelation are found in the Old Testament. The names, places and stories of the Bible are used to describe the characters of individuals, powers (governments) at the time of the end and future events which are already happening or will soon be developed at a worldwide level. PRINCIPLE # 5 NAMES OF THE BIBLE A great emphasis has been placed on biblical names. "And Adam called his wife's name Eve (which means Living); because she was the mother of all living." (Genesis 3:20). Daniel means "God is the Judge" and as soon as we study the book of Daniel we will find God judging Babylon (Daniel 5:26-28); God begins His judgment of the human race in Daniel 7:9-10. This principle takes on importance when we study the sixth plague and the battle of Armageddon. Armageddon means "mountain of Meggido". There is no literal site in the Middle East called "Armageddon". With all this there will be a universal battle between a rebellious planet and its Creator.
4 PRINCIPLE # 6 THE BIBLE INTERPRETS ITS SYMBOLS The book of Revelation is a book of signs and symbols. It begins with these words: "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." (Revelation 1:1). SOME SYMBOLS IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND ITS INTERPRETATION SYMBOL/ INTERPRETATION/ PROOF (BIBLE)/ Babylon/ Religious Apostasy/ Gen. 10:8-10; Rev. 17:1-5; Rev. 18:2-3/ Balaam/ Compromise/ Num. 22:5-25; Rev. 2:14/ Beast/ Political power, Kingdom/ Dan. 7:23; Rev / Black/ Apostasy, Sin/ Exo. 10:21-23; Jer. 4:20-28; Rev. 6:5/ Blood/ Life/ Lev. 17:11; Deut. 12:23;Rev. 17:6./ Crowns/ Kingdoms, Victory/ Eze. 21:26-27; James 1:12; Rev. 13:1/ Day/ Literal year/ Eze. 4:6; Num. 14:34/ Dragon/ Satan or his agencies/ Rev. 12:7-9/ Egypt/ The world, Atheism/ Exo. 5:2; Dan. 11:42-43; Rev. 11:8/
5 Harlot/ Apostate Church/ Isa. 1:21; Jer. 3:1-9; Rev. 17:5/ Horn/ King of his kingdom/ Dan. 8: 5, 21-22; Rev. 17:12/ Image/ Likeness/ Exo. 20: 4; Rom. 8:29; Rev. 13:14/ Israel/ True followers of Christ/ Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:9/ Jezebel/ Apostasy, Union of church and state/ 1 Kings 21:25; Rev. 2:20/ Oil/ Holy Spirit/ Zec. 4:2-6; Rev. 4:5/ Harvest/ End of the world/ Matt. 13:39; Rev. 14:14/ Time/ Literal year/ Dan. 4:16,23,25,32; Dan. 7:25, Rev. 12:6,14/ Two Witnesses/ Old and New Testament/ Zec. 4:1-14; Rev. 11:3/ Waters/ Peoples, multitudes, nations Rev. 17:15/ White/ Purity, Justice/ Isa. 1:18, Rev. 19:11/ There are many other symbols presented in the prophecies but the symbols are always interpreted by the Bible itself.
6 PRINCIPLE # 7 LITERAL APPLICATION The Bible says, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Romans 15:4). The Bible is not only a true record of the past but it was also written for our instruction so that we can understand the things that happen to us and the things that are going to happen to us. Paul said, "Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." (1 Corinthians 10:11). The experiences of Israel of old were written "for our admonition," especially for those "upon whom the ends of the world are come." The deliverance of ancient Israel from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the plagues that fell on the Egyptians, the captivity of Israel by the Babylonians, the construction of the temple and its services were written as "types" to illustrate the experiences that the church of God will experience all over the world. SOME LITERAL APPLICATIONS MADE BY THE CHURCH OF ROME Spiritual applications are based on literal things. The Church of Rome has invented and maintained a literalization of things that are now spiritual and symbolic, such as the use of candles, water, bread and a visible high priest. We should not light candles as a form of works, but we should study our Bible, which is the light that directs the way of every man. (Psalms 119:10; 2 Cor. 4:45). The host or bread in the mass is not the literal body of Christ, but it symbolizes Christ, the bread of Heaven that gave His life for us (John 6:27-68). Bread also refers to the Word of God from which we must participate daily for our spiritual sustenance. We must not apply some mysterious sanctity over running water, but we must allow the Holy Spirit to work through the Word of God to cleanse us from sin. (Titus 3:5, Ephesians 5:25). The pope is not the high priest of the church. Christ is the King, the High Priest of His Church. (1 Timothy 1:17, Hebrews 8:1,4, Hebrews 4:14-16). The Holy Spirit is the appointed representative of Christ in His church on earth while Christ ministers for us in the Heavenly Sanctuary.. (Hebrews 2: 17-18, Hebrews 8:1-2, Hebrews 9:11-24). There is also the literalization of burning incense, temple building and the ordination of a priesthood. We should not burn incense in ritual worships, but we must be in constant prayer (Psalm 141: 2; Rev 5:8). It is not the adornment of buildings that brings us closer to God, but God wants to live in us so that we may be His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16,
7 Ephesians 2:21,22). Another priesthood has never been set up. God calls us to be His ministers (Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Peter 2:9). PRINCIPLE # 8 REPEAT AND ENLARGE The principle of repeat and enlarge is often used in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. The visions are repeated using different symbols to enlarge the figure which will give us more information. The image of Daniel 2 which is made up of four different metals, corresponds exactly to the four beasts of Daniel 7. The four metals represent the empires of Babylon, Medo- Persia, Greece and Rome. The four beasts represent the same empires. Through this repetition we learn important, additional information. Also note that more attention is given to the last part of the vision since it is repeated by means of different symbols in other visions. For example, in chapter 2, the iron part of the image representing the fourth kingdom of the earth, receives great attention in chapter 7 with the fourth beast. The principle of repeat and enlarge applies to our personal lives. We are creatures of habit, created in the image of God. As we repeat kind and pure actions, we not only become transformed according to what we repeat but new possibilities for doing good are also opened to us. To the extent that we keep studying our Bibles, especially the life and teachings of Christ, we will not only learn the deep things of God; we will learn to love Him fully. PRINCIPLE # 9 DAY FOR A YEAR This principle is essential for us to understand the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Is the time prophecy of Daniel 8:14, 2300 literal days or 2300 prophetic years? In the time prophecy of Revelation 12, did you find the true Church of God sheltered in the wilderness for 1260 literal days or for 1260 prophetic years (Revelation 12:16,14)? You can imagine how important this is for us to know if we are dealing with 1260 literal days or 1260 prophetic years. The Bible clearly says that one day represents a year in the prophecies of the Bible. For example: "And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise." (Numbers 14:33-34) "For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year." Ezekiel 4:5,6.
8 PRINCIPLE # 10 SYMBOLIC NUMBERS Three represents the Deity as follows: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However, there is a false deity called: the dragon, the beast and the false prophet (Revelation 12:13; Revelation 16:13,19; Revelation 19:19,20) Four represents things that are universal like "the four quarters of the earth" (Revelation 20:8). Six is the number for Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, built a golden image 60 cubits high and six cubits wide (Daniel 3:1). Six musical instruments were played to deceive the people into worshiping the image of gold (Daniel 3:15). King Belshazzar worshiped six gods (Daniel 5:23). In the book of Revelation, spiritual Babylon is also associated with the number 6. The "harlot" woman is mentioned six times in Revelation chapter 17 (Revelation 17:3-4,6-7,9,18). There are six things associated with her clothing (Revelation 17:4). Seven is the number that represents perfection. There are seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation depicting the whole history of the era of the church. There are also seven trumpets representing the whole history of the earth. The seven last plagues represent the total destruction of this old world before the second coming of Christ. There are seven days of the week. God created the world in 6 days and rested on the seventh day, which was placed as a memorial of His work of Creation. Eight represents life coming from death, or going from something old to something new. There were eight people in the ark of Noah who passed from the old to the new world. Jesus was resurrected on the eighth day of the week or, the day after the seventh day of rest. This world will exist for six millennia or six thousand years before the second coming of Christ, which will end about 2000 AD. During the seventh millennium, the saints will reign with Christ for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-4). At the start of the eighth millennium, Christ will create a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 20-22). This old world will be finally cast into the lake of fire. Twelve is the number of the Kingdom of God. There were 12 tribes of Israel and there were 12 disciples. The new Jerusalem will have 12 foundations and 12 gates. Thirteen is the number that represents rebellion. The dragon, which is Satan, is found thirteen times in the book of Revelation (Revelation 12:3-4, 7(2 times),9,13, 16-17; Rev. 13:2,4,11; Rev. 16:13; Rev. 20:2). Meggido which is the root for the word "Armageddon," is mentioned thirteen times (Joshua 12:21; Josh. 17:11; Judges 1:27; Judges 5:19; 1 Kings 4:12; 1 Kings 9:15; 2 Kings 9:27; 2 Kings 23:29-30; 1 Chronicles 7:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22; Zechariah 12:11; Revelation 16:16).
9 PRINCIPLE # 11 TRIPLE APPLICATIONS The Old Testament was a literal account of literal Israel using literal names and places. During the era of the church these same names and places are used symbolically to describe the church and its experience. However, after the seventh millennium, when Christ creates a new heaven and a new earth, things will become literal again. For example, there is a literal Jerusalem in the Old Testament and in the New Testament the church is spiritual Jerusalem (Revelation 11:1-2; Rev. 14:1,4,20; Joel 2:32). However, after the millennium there will be a new literal Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22). In the Old Testament there was a literal temple and in the New Testament there is a spiritual temple which is the mind and the human body (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). However, after the millennium there is a literal temple for the people of God once more (Revelation 3:12, Daniel 9:16-18, Ezekiel 40-48, Isaiah 60:11,14, Revelation 21:1-3,5,22). In the Old Testament there was a literal nation called Israel. Today, spiritual Israel is made up of believers all over the face of the earth. However, in a short time-beginning from now-jesus will be here to gather his children from the four ends of the earth. Then once again, He will have a literal nation.