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Bible verses about Biblical Imagery
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 3:14-15  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is amazing to realize that God laid out these major players and events in His plan by the third chapter of the Book! These two verses are remarkable in that in symbolic language God preaches the gospel in detail to the first sinners immediately after their first transgression. He made sure they were not ignorant of the truth.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part One)


 

Exodus 4:21-23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The Bible uses a large variety of metaphors, imagery, similes, types, parables, allegories, and analogies as teaching tools. They are used either to hide or cloud a meaning from outsiders, or sometimes to make them clear—so that God's people understand either way. Here, in Exodus 4:21, Israel is shown as a cohesive body—as a single, human son. In other places, Israel is portrayed as a virginal woman, married to God, and in yet other places, as a harlot who is still legally married but who, in reality, has left the marriage and pursued lovers.

In like manner, the church is typified as a body (of which Christ is the Head) and the firstborn of God. In another analogy, the church is portrayed as the firstfruits—not a body, but an assembly of individuals harvested as a crop. In another place, it is pictured as a loaf of bread that has leaven in it. The New Testament contains many other symbols for the church.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part 1)


 

Leviticus 1:6-9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The imagery of each part of the animal teaches us the following: The head signifies one's thoughts and judgments; the fat, one's general health, energy, and strength; the entrails, one's emotions; and the legs, one's walk, the actual conduct of one's life. Again, the burnt offering indicates total surrender to God; nothing is held back; nothing is reserved for the self.

Jesus' life provides us with ample examples of His dedication. His first recorded words—at age twelve—appear in Luke 2:49, "I must be about My Father's business." In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus reveals what He is to accomplish in this work, and in John 4:34, He shows His attitude by saying, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." John 19:30 records His last words as a man, "It is finished." Through His offering of His entire life, His gift of total devotion, He accomplished what God sent Him to do. Psalm 49:10-20 vividly contrasts how the worldly expend their energies and what they produce and how those wholeheartedly devoted to God work and what they produce.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Two): The Burnt Offering


 

Isaiah 28:9-13  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

This is very similar to Jesus' explanation of parables. God says He scatters understanding on any given subject throughout the Bible, and our job is to put it all together and see the amazing truth that results. Therefore, parables cannot be interpreted alone; they rely on the revelation of the rest of Scripture.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables and Prophecy


 

Hosea 12:10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

A similitude is a similarity, a comparison, a likeness, a shadow—essentially the same as a parable. Paul says all the Old Testament accounts are written for our understanding today. Hosea writes that the prophets spoke to us in similitudes or similarities. Thus, what happened to Israel and Judah in the prophecies applies in principle to the church today, the New Testament "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). Further, what is occurring in the church today is similar to what is occurring and prophesied to occur in the physical nations of Israel. It may not unfold in exactly the same detail, but very similarly. What understanding this concept opens up to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear!

Staff
Biblical Symbolism


 

Matthew 13:9-17  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Christ did not speak in parables to make the meaning clear to just any reader! From the very beginning, God has supervised the writing of the Bible so that it cannot be understood without outside help. Even prophets and righteous men of old did not understand, nor did the multitudes who heard the parables of Christ. According to Romans 11, the meaning is veiled from most of mankind until the day God offers them salvation. They are relegated to unbelief until a later time (i.e. the Millennium or Great White Throne Judgment), lest they rebel and must be destroyed.

Staff
Biblical Symbolism


 

John 3:1-12  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The root and trunk of the born-again doctrine is found within John 3. Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not speak directly of it at all, though without directly naming it, they supply supporting information. It is not until the epistles of Paul, Peter, and especially John that main branches of this doctrine make appearances. Thus, as we begin, it is helpful for us to perceive the wide treatment of figures John uses to prepare us for how he uses them to support the various elements of this important, foundational doctrine.

He begins using symbolism immediately in John 1, identifying Jesus as the Word, the central Figure in God's spiritual work in men's behalf. He continues, speaking of light, darkness, baptism, the Lamb of God, and the Temple, among others, before the reader arrives at John 3.

The imagery regarding the Temple (John 2:18-22) is especially interesting because it immediately precedes Jesus' teaching on born again in John 3. The Jews listening to Jesus immediately reject what He teaches based on what He says being a physical impossibility. Indeed, it is physically impossible, but note that this is the same reason Nicodemus rejects Jesus' teaching on born again. Similarly, in John 4:7-15, the woman at the well immediately jumps to the conclusion that Jesus speaks of natural water, and in John 4:31-38, even Jesus' disciples fail to grasp the spiritual significance of food.

In John 6:32-63, those who listen to His manna discourse follow the same pattern. In fact, His "eat My flesh and drink My blood" imagery so offends many of His disciples that they stop following Him! This consistent failure to grasp the meaning of His imagery continues through the entire book. If, in studying John 3, we follow the same pattern of misunderstanding His spiritual imagery, like Nicodemus, we will also misunderstand being born again.

We must recognize that this spiritualizing continues in John 3. In fact, for the children of God, it not only continues, but it also increases exponentially in terms of its importance to their spiritual lives! It is an unvarnished truth that only those who are born again will see and enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). Jesus is teaching that, besides one's biological birth, one must also experience a supernatural, spiritual birth. Just as surely as a Christian is not merely biologically begotten but born, there is no such thing as a non-born-again Christian.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Born Again or Begotten? (Part One)


 

Hebrews 9:9  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The author writes verse 9 at the end of several verses describing the Tabernacle and its furniture. Under the Old Covenant each article in the Tabernacle was used in rituals those performing them may never have understood. But now, the symbols of those rituals and articles give us understanding of humanity's relationship with God under both Covenants. They clarify our privilege and responsibility to such a startling degree that it should fill us with wonder and thanksgiving.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Biblical Symbolism


 

2 Peter 1:19-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

It is from verse 20 in particular that we derive the principle that the Bible interprets itself. This means that somewhere within the pages of Scripture, the timing, the location, the characters, and the symbols employed in symbolic texts like parables and prophecies are explained or defined. It is our job to search them out.

When we add the following three vital verses to our understanding of this principle, however, we end up with a very significant corollary:

» For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. (Malachi 3:6)
» Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
» Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

Each of these verses proclaims God as constant, consistent, unchanging. It is this quality of God—that He is faithful to what He is—that allows us to trust Him. We can have confidence in God and His Word because He never changes! Could we rely upon a double-minded God (see James 1:6-8)? Could we have faith in a Being who constantly blew hot and cold? Never! With our God, though, we need not fear inconsistency.

Thus, if God is constant and His Word interprets itself, the corollary principle is that the Bible's interpretation of its symbols is consistent. This must be true! If the Bible gave us two contradictory interpretations of a symbol, how could we ever feel confident that we understood its meaning? This corollary underscores II Peter 1:19, where the apostle informs us that "the prophetic word [is] more sure" than even eyewitness accounts! We can have confidence in our understanding of the prophecies and parables if the symbols we interpret match what we understand in other areas of Scripture. Otherwise, we could never be sure!

This means that every symbol from Genesis to Revelation is consistent in its interpretation. If a rose means something in one part of the Bible, it will mean the same elsewhere, though the context may modify it slightly. If God is consistent, His Word—His revelation of Himself to us—must also therefore be consistent.

This conclusion may raise some questions. How can that be? How can, for instance, a lion represent Satan in I Peter 5:8 and Jesus Christ in Revelation 5:5? Is that not contradictory? Not at all! Our understanding is correct, but the meaning we give to the symbol is wrong. We have defined it too narrowly.

A study of the symbol of the lion brings out several characteristics the Bible emphasizes: It represents strength, predatory ferocity, majesty, and leadership. The lion is the symbol of a ruler, a king, and often a very fierce and powerful one. These are the general meanings of the symbol based on a lion's traits. They help us to comprehend what God wants us to focus on in the context. Thus, a lion can represent both Satan and Jesus because they both have a lion's characteristics.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables and Prophecy


 

 




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