Figurative or Literal
In this natural world, intelligence and a relatively high IQ are essential when it comes to learning, especially difficult facts and concepts. When Jesus taught, He spoke simply and plainly to the poor and mostly uneducated crowds, including His own disciples.
Luke10:21 tells us Jesus rejoiced that Scriptural truth is hidden to proud, unrepentant people; but grasped by simple, humble, unsophisticated people who hunger to know and please God. His truth goes right over the heads and hearts of those who reject Christ, no matter how intelligent they are.
I’m so glad that when God chose the writers of the Bible, that He did not choose many of the so-called intelligent people to write it. They would, no doubt, have utterly confused me with their intellectualism.
Thank God, that we can understand the Bible literally. Certainly, there are figures of speech which are to be understood figuratively. For example, no one has a problem with Jesus being described figuratively as the door to salvation or a grape vine, to which we are joined as branches. We do not believe that Jesus is a wooden door or a literal grape vine. Those are obvious figures of speech.
But when it comes to prophecy, some intellectuals are convinced that Jesus used figurative speech to explain what lies ahead. If that’s the case, it’s beyond me how the common, uneducated people understood what He was saying. It’s true that the Apostle John, by inspiration of God, described coming events in The Revelation as seals on the title deed to the earth being broken and opened. He describes judgment being poured out of bowls on to the earth and he also describes coming events as trumpets sounding. Though seals, bowls and trumpets are figurative symbols, the contents of those judgments are certainly literal.
In spite of some figurative language, most prophetic writings can be interpreted as literal events yet to occur. Jesus said, in Matthew 13:11 that it is God’s desire that we understand prophesied events. Verse 15 of that chapter explains that the lack of understanding on the part of many is not a mental problem, but a heart problem; a heart that has been hardened by sin.
In John 7:17 we learn that those with a desire to love God and do His will have no problem understanding Biblical truth; whereas, those who are rebellious towards God, are blinded to truth by their rebellion.
The question we must face is, are we to interpret prophetic truth concerning the second coming of Christ, as figurative, or literal? That’s not a difficult question to answer. Just look at all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the first coming of Christ to this earth to die for our sins. All of them were fulfilled literally.
EXAMPLES OF O.T. PROPHECIES OF CHRIST’S FIRST COMING and their literal fulfillment in the N.T.
Jesus is referred to as the Promised Seed of the woman Genesis 3:15 He is ultimately victorious over Satan. Revelation 20:1-3, 10.
Jesus is the promised Seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Genesis 12, See Galatians 3:16
Jesus is from the line of Judah Genesis 49:10 See Revelation 4:5
Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:17 refers to Jesus as a star out of Jacob and reigning with His scepter. Revelation 22:16
From David’s family II Samuel 7:12-13 Psalm 89:34-37 Luke 2:4
Born of virgin. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:18-23 Luke 1:26-37
Born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 Luke 2:1-7
Came out of Egypt. Hosea 11:11 Matthew 2:16-21
Announced by an Elijah-type herald. John the Baptist Malachi.3:1 Matthew 3:1-5
Bethlehem‘s babies massacred Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16
His ministry would include Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1-4 Matthew 15:21-28
His ministry included healing Isaiah 53:4 Luke 9:6
Teaching with parables. Isaiah 6:9-10 Psalm78:2 Matthew 13
Rejected of men Isaiah 53 Psalm 118:22 John 1:11
Triumphal entry Zechariah 9:9 Psalm 118:26 Luke 19
Betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. Psalm 41:9 Matthew 27:9
Opened not His mouth when accused. Isaiah 53:7 John 19:9
Given vinegar and gall to drink Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:48
Parted garments, cast lots for His robe. Psalm 22:18 Matthew 27:35
Description of His crucifixion and dying words. Psalm 22
Not a bone broken. Psalm 34:20 Numbers 9:1 John 19:33
His side pierced. Zechariah 12:10 Psalm 22:16 John 19:34
Buried in a rich man’s tomb Isaiah 53:9 John 19:38-41
Raised in 3 days. Psalm 16:10-11 Jonah 1:17 Matthew 12:39-40
He would ascend into Heaven. Psalm 68:18 Acts 1
He would sit at the right hand of God. Psalm 110:1 Hebrews 1:3
All of these Old Testament prophesies were fulfilled to the letter when Jesus came the first time to die for our sins. Why should we not expect the prophesies of His second coming to be fulfilled as literally as they were at His first coming?
O.T. PROPHECIES OF CHRIST’S SECOND COMING
Jesus, from Tribe of Judah, to reign. Genesis 49:10 Isaiah 9:6-9
The Millennium will be a reign of peace. Psalm 2:6,10 Psalm 46, 72:1-8
A description of the Millennium Isaiah 11, 35, Micah 4:1-8 Revelation 20 is all that this sin-sick world longs for.
The salvation of the Jews Zechariah 12,13
Geological changes when Jesus arrives on the Mount of Olives
Holiness the hallmark of His reign. Zechariah 14
BE CAUTIOUS HOW YOU HANDLE PROPHETIC TRUTH
To deny these facts of His second coming is as sinful as to deny the facts of His first coming.
Note what Jesus said about His return. Luke 12:35-40, 17:20-37, 19:11-19
John 14:1-3 To reject what Jesus said concerning His return is to deny His virtue and credibility.
Let us join John in praying for His coming. Revelation 22:20
Join the Apostle Paul in waiting for His coming. I Corinthians 1:4-8
Look for His coming. Titus 2:11-14, Hebrews 9:27-28
Hope for His coming in our lifetime. I Corinthians 15:19-26, 50-58,
I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Titus 2:13
Let that blessed hope motivate us to live a pure life. I John 3:1-3
Love His coming. II Timothy 4:8
Be warned of the curse in I Corinthians 16:22 “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha (Cursed when I come.)
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