|I must digress: many people (especially futurists) dismiss
the poetic theory on the grounds that Revelation is not poetry. Indeed, it cannot be, because poetry (or
allegory, or spiritual interpretation) is worthless. Chuck Smith puts it this way: “(the Spiritual interpretation) ...confuses
things so completely that nobody understands what is what. This stand takes everything in a spiritual
sense and nothing means what it says.
Everything has an interpretation as a spiritual allegory. When you spiritualize the Scriptures you
remove any authority or teaching from them, because every man is free to
interpret the spiritual allegory as he desires.”
disagree. First, it is a poetic
interpretation; poetry is a way of
telling the truth. God used it in the
Psalms (in which we see plenty of “spiritual allegory” -- a word which Pastor
Smith misuses, as is common in America).
I submit the question is not whether or not poetry can tell the
truth; it can -- God used it in the
Psalms. The question is, is Revelation
a poetic book?
|I submit that it
is. To understand why, we need to look
at how poetry is constructed in the Bible.
Poetry, except lately, rhymes.
But how? There are three kinds
|• Sound (“rain in
Spain stays mainly in the plain”)
|• Rhythm (like a
|• Thought (“The Lord
is my shepherd; I shall not want”)
|The last is the
Lord’s own method in Hebrew (and a good one -- it translates into any
language so well). But we need to look
further than that.
|Many people view
poetry as restricted to wild outpourings of the heart. A good example of this is Psalm 51, David’s
plea for forgiveness after his adultery (and murder) with Bathsheba. But there are other ways to write poetry in
thought. As Psalm 51 is a wild splash
of color across the poetic canvas, Psalm 119 is a tapestry. Each section begins with a Hebrew
letter; in the Hebrew, each verse in a
section begins with that letter. It’s
like an acrostic in English.
Revelation is like a tapestry, a point which I will make visually in
the next slide.
question: if it’s poetic, does that
mean we must not take it literally? Of
course not. The Psalms are full of
historical allusions, and in some cases (Psalm 106, for example) the Psalm is
practically a history lesson. If God
writes history in poetry that way -- why not future history?