Reading Revelation – Putting Yourself in Their Shoes

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One of the biggest difficulties in understanding Revelation is our lack of familiarity with several things: Old Testament prophesy, intertestamental literature, Jewish tradition, and Greco-Roman political and religious mythology. It is very easy to read Revelation without tapping into a good commentary that has taken these things into account when appropriate and miss the point. (The two that do this best are Reddish and Witherington, IMO)

People want to find themselves in this book. But before you can do that with any degree of accuracy you first have to find out where the first readers/hearers found themselves in this book. In order to do that you have to put yourself in their shoes and see these symbols and mysteries as they were seen by those in the first century. When you immerse yourself in their culture many of the mysterious things in Revelation begin coming to light and it opens up a whole new world of understanding which allows us to make proper application to our lives today. But if we don’t hear it with the meaning and symbol it was intended to be read with it is very easy to miss the point entirely.

In two upcoming posts, I am going to deal with two specific examples in the book of Revelation where putting yourselves in their shoes is a must in order to understand what is being revealed. In these two examples, a failure to do so would lead the reader on a wild goose chase that could only end in misunderstanding and confusion. The first is the woman and the dragon in Revelation 12 and the second are the two beasts of Revelation 13. More to follow…

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