Man and His Symbols (Color, Illustrated)

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They come through the mind of a poet, not the pen of an illustrator. For example, in chapter 14, the vision opens with a lamb standing with , upon Mount Zion. We have met the Lamb before. It is the Savior. Chapters 5 and 6 depict Him as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world who has power to undo the seals and open the book of God. Chapter 14 focuses on the period just before the Second Coming and shows that Zion has been established and the Lord is with His people there.

Only when that gathering is done does another angel begin his work, the harvesting of the vineyards. Note how the images blend together to show that God will secure His people before He unleashes the destroying angel. Further, Christ does not personally act as a destroyer. His role is that of Savior. The strength of the Apocalypse lies in its ability to communicate its prophetic message by inviting the reader to imaginative participation.

God designed the symbols to communicate ideas in a vivid and arresting manner while John developed the narrative flow of the book to produce emotions, reactions, and understanding that would have been much more difficult, if not impossible, through conventional language. Indeed, in the Old Testament it represents that force which only God can subdue.

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John sets this symbol against that of the virtuous woman, who represents poise, harmony, beauty, and life-giving creation. It is fiery red, the color of that which engulfs and consumes. The color seems to suggest the despiteful, violent, and murderous means by which Satan, the dragon, brings about his ends. The dragon has seven crown-wearing heads and ten horns. The numbers are significant.

The seven crowned heads suggest the universality of his rule as the king of chaos. Horns symbolize power. Ten represents the part of a whole, but not the whole itself.

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This is not true of the Lamb whom John depicts with seven horns, the symbol of fullness The picture John paints in chapter 13 continues; the dragon has more than one assistant. The other is a lamb, a diabolical and perverse image of the Lord. The lamb has two horns, the number suggesting witnesses, that help identify what it represents—false philosophies and doctrines.

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It is buying into these that cause institutions and governments to follow after the dragon. Now they can imitate by deception the true Godhead. As the Son has his two witnesses, so too the dragon has his two monsters; as the Son draws his power from the Father, so too the first beast draws authority from the dragon; as the Holy Ghost glorifies the Son, so too the evil lamb glorifies the first beast.

The second beast never comes fully into view but remains in the background, the deceptive distance catching those who might not otherwise be attracted to the first beast, and in this way betrays people into the worship of the latter. Indeed its whole function seems to be to seduce mankind into this false worship. And what is the objective of worship? In a word, materialism: the ability to buy and sell and to get gain. And what was the objective of all that plotting? To learn the trade of turning human life into property. Evil and conspiring men formed the secret combination, which then swept across oceans and survived through time.

The seer shows that this power will stoke the destructive forces of the latter days. Slowly genuine humility and brotherhood will be surpressed under a vast and complex coercion of sophisticated and bewitching propaganda and the brutality of pragmatism and unrestrained egotism. The real issue is worship. The battle is for the hearts and minds of mankind. The objective of the false lamb is to get men to worship the beast. Thus, the false prophet takes on a priestly role with pseudoreligious authority.

Man and His Symbols

A false religion drives the people, blinded by selfishness and lust, into the worship of secular power that is able to explain away real miracles. The result is the universal victory of secular humanism in which God is denied and mankind is exalted. Such miracles have deceived many into false faith and blinded many into a false security. Willingly, the deluded follow the ways of the first beast.

No discussion of Revelation would be complete without at least mentioning the one number most associated with the work, John associates the number with the mark of the beast. Understanding the nature of the mark opens the meaning of the number. It also describes the brand a master places upon an animal or a slave.

No one is to be free of the mark. This mark stands in contrast to and is the converse of the seal placed upon the faithful followers of the Lamb see The mark of the monster consists of the letters of its name written in its numerical equivalent.

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Most ancient people did not have a separate numbering system and alphabet, so letters also served as numbers. Generally the first nine letters of the alphabet stood for numbers one through nine, the next nine for numbers ten through nineteen, and so on. Anciently, some had fun making up riddles by translating a name into its numerical equivalent.

Scholars and amateurs both have suggested many ingenious solutions ranging in possibilities from single individuals to whole institutions. First, there are two manuscript traditions. The majority give the number , but a significant number of others give Historically, the one man who has left his mark as the arch-persecutor of the Christians because he was willing to use the full force of the state against the people of God was Nero.

This was Domitian. As emperor, he sought to exterminate the Church of God. To John he may have seemed to be Nero reincarnate. But a specific historical entity may not be what John had in mind. It may be that he was portraying a spiritual condition. As the mark and the number cannot be separated, so, too, the mark and the worship of the beast cannot be separated. The mark stands for the beast. The number 6 would then be that which comes the closest to perfection, and falls short in each of its digits.

In that light, it represents a trinity of imperfection: the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet see chapters 12 and It designates those who throughout time have been bitten by the serpent from the sea and who carry its venom in their veins. We can see that although symbols make Revelation difficult to read, they also give the book a depth and richness when properly interpreted.

For example, at the end of his vision, John saw the future celestial kingdom and those who gained it. One feature of the vision is arresting. John specifically states that the river represents the waters of life. But there is more to it. The source of the water is important. The point seems to be that there is only one source of life—God Himself.

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Thus both the Father and the Son occupy the same throne, for life flows from both. There is, however, yet another and more significant symbol for water. Herein lies the power of the water. It bequeaths and sustains life because it is love—pure and unaffected. On one level they have protected the message from being lost or diluted through two millennia by corrupted hands.

On another level, one based on insights from the Restoration, they have provided the message with a richness and depth of understanding that allows the Latter-day Saints to appreciate the Lord and His work more fully. John the Divine , ed. Why else did the Lord reveal it? The common notion that it deals with beasts and plagues and mysterious symbolisms that cannot be understood is just not true. It is so far overstated that it gives an entirely erroneous feeling about this portion of revealed truth.

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Certain parts are not clear and are not understood by us—which, however, does not mean that we could not understand them if we would grow in faith as we should. Thanks be to the interpretive material found in sections 29, 77, 88, and others of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants [and other latter-day scriptures];. Monte Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr.