Hiding the Truth in Plain Sight — Understanding God’s Methods of Hiding Information in the Bible! Pt 2
(Ver 2.1) This is part two of a series of lessons on methods that God has used to conceal information in the Bible for us to find. By studying these methods we will greatly increase our ability to understand the truth of God’s Word. Today I want to talk about a subject that I have taught on before, but this is so important and you should be able to see why I feel that it fits with this series to do again. If you did not read from the beginning I would strongly suggest that you go back and start with “Part 1“.
Technique 2: Symbolism and Symbolic References
Another technique in the Bible widely utilized by God is the usage of symbolism. Symbolism is usually an interesting coded message. Biblical symbols often times describe spiritual things in the terms of natural things, events or people. God uses symbols of things that we can naturally see and understand to describe and point us to the things that we cannot see in the spiritual realm. Daniel and Revelation are both covered with symbolic references and are probably the books of the Bible that come to people’s mind when describing this subject. In Revelation we have a harlot, the great dragon, a beast, the serpent, the sun, the moon and the stars, a woman, a city, a bride as well as many other symbolic references. Why did God use this type of writing? It is interesting to see how this writing style makes it so challenging for us to figure out what God is talking about. Most people who just read the verses in Revelation without studying them are very confused and do not understand very much about what is being said. So interpreting symbolic references correctly is critical to understanding these references in the Bible. So how do we interpret symbolic references correctly? I believe that we must use other interpretation rules that I have not really discussed yet. One of these rules is that we let the Bible interpret itself. Another rule is, we use the law of first mention to help determine the definition. Still another rule is that we look at other descriptions and related dependent symbols to help point us to the true identity of the main symbol. Often times by figuring out a descriptive symbolic reference first, it will help us discover the bigger symbolic reference. For example, if you want to identify the symbolic woman in Revelation 12 you must first start by correctly identifying the “sun” that she is wearing and the “moon” that she is standing upon. By correctly discovering the identity of the sun and the moon we can only then correctly identify the woman. The error that most people make is that they assume that the woman is Israel and then try to make the other symbols fit their erroneous assumed interpretation. But, I learned by the help of God that this is not the correct approach to take.
I mentioned Daniel and Revelation as being heavily symbolic books. But there are symbolic references in almost every book of the Bible. For example, Genesis contains heavy symbolism in the first three chapters of the book and I will briefly go into a few examples to help you to start to look for and recognize them. You see the first three chapters are largely all symbolic references with some real events and people mixed in among the symbols. There are 6 days of creation and the 7th day God rests. If you read your Bible carefully you will discover these 6 days are all symbolic. The division of waters from land is a symbolic event. The division of day from might is a symbolic event. The Sun that rules the day and the moon that rules the night are both symbolic references to spiritual truths. The mention of fruit and trees are strongly symbolic. The serpent in the garden is symbolic coded reference to a hidden spiritual being. The woman is symbolic; the seed of the woman is symbolic. The marriage of the first woman and the first man is also a symbolic event. I could go on and on, but I hope you get the message.
But, please do not misunderstand me. I’m not saying these symbols did not occur in Genesis. Adam is a real man. Eve is a real woman. Dividing the waters was a real event. On and on I could continue to go. What I am trying to say is that there are parallels of truth in almost every statement. One truth is a natural truth and the other truth is almost always a greater spiritual truth. Anyone can see the natural, but the spiritual truths are the messages that were hidden from our plain sight. Let’ look at a new example of this next.
Let’s look at another important Bible reference which describes a different type of symbolism. But this time it speaks of another usage of symbolism that is called “allegory”. Allegory is always a Bible story with two meanings. The first meaning of the story is the literal description of the subjects given. The second meaning of the story is a symbolic reference to a much greater spiritual truth. Notice what God said in the book of Galatians:
Gal 4:22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Gal 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Gal 4:24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
You see from these verses God specifically shows us how he has used allegory in the story of Abraham to demonstrate a much larger spiritual truth. In these verses in Galatians 4, we are told that the story of Abraham having two sons is a story that contains an allegory. We are then told that the two women Sarah and Hagar represent two covenants. Sarah is called the freewoman, and Hagar the slave woman who is in bondage. Hagar represents the earthly Jerusalem and the Old Covenant wife of God. Therefore we know that Abraham represents God in this scenario. We are told that Sarah represents the heavenly Jerusalem who is called the spiritual mother of the church. There are certainly many other spiritual truths to learn from these verses, but I will not elaborate further in this blog. So an allegory is an extended metaphor in which actual people, places, objects, and actions in a story are equated to meanings and truths that lie outside of the realm of the story. In other words an allegory is a real story in which the people, places, and things represent spiritual concepts, individuals and moral qualities that we cannot see or perceive with our natural senses. We can see from this great example that God gives us a view of something that is of extraordinary value through an actual event and the people in a story that happened in human history without telling us this in the story.
You see there is absolutely nothing found in the book of Genesis that tells you the story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar is a picture of God and his spiritual family, but when you read in Galatians 4 you discover that God has encoded this information within the story in a hidden format. Remember point 1 was widely dispersed truth and now point 2 is about symbolism and allegory. Therefore we can clearly see how God combined two different methods together to hide a greater spiritual truth. Do you understand these concepts?
This is a very important lesson key for correct Bible interpretation. These are very prevalent methods that God has created and used in concealing spiritual truths in the Bible. The story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar is not the only allegory in the Bible. It is however, the only one that God tells you about so that He can give you a clue into how He has hidden information for you to search and to find. God uses real historical true stories with real people and places to reveal some very powerful spiritual truths that have been hidden in the Bible for thousands of years. The book of Ruth is heavily allegorical information. The book of Genesis has significant amounts of allegorical information throughout it. The books of Exodus and Numbers are widely interspersed with allegorical content. I do not understand how God is able to do this; I just know that He did it. God obviously is not bound by time and He could see human history before it happens. To say that God caused it to happen this way would violate man’s right to choose and his right to freewill; so I do not believe that God manipulated people to get things to happen the way he wanted them to happen. But, that is my opinion.
Please understand the difference between symbolism and allegory. A symbol is a reference to something that you might understand, but it might not actually exist in the natural realm. For example, in Revelation a prevalent symbol of Satan is a dragon and I have never seen one of these in the world, but I understand what they are because of books, movies and cultures like those that are found in China where they parade a large dragon figure down the middle of the street. So a dragon is a fictional character representation of the real spiritual being called Satan using a coded name. An allegory is quite the opposite, because it is always a real Bible story where each character named in the story represents something else in the spiritual realm. An “allegory” is always real historical people and “symbols” can be either real or fictional representations for real spiritual things. They are both very similar while being totally different at the same time. They both convey a truth that is well hidden on the surface only reading that most people do when they read their Bible.
The usage of symbolic references is widespread and can be found in almost every book of the Bible. Especially the books that contain prophetic scriptures where the prophesies concern the coming future events, people, things or places. Of course practically every book of the Bible contains some prophetic verses and you should be aware of that also. Because of God’s usage of allegory where any story found can represent a greater future spiritual story you will have to read every story in the Bible with new ways of looking for how does this potentially fit into what is going to happen in the future.
You see there are scriptures in the Bible that declares “the thing that has been, is that which shall be and the things that were done is that which shall be done again” (Ecc 1:9). In other words God said history will repeat itself. What happened naturally in the Bible is that which will happen in the spirit realm. This kind of information causes you to look at things in the Bible with some totally new perspectives; if it does not do this then you are clearly spiritually blind. Surely you can see the importance of learning how God has hidden information in the Bible and I pray that you will benefit as I have from knowing this.
If you would like to continue reading this series, please continue with “Part 3“.
Posted on February 27, 2010, in Bible Interpretation, Keys to Understanding and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, Genesis, God, Interpretation, Jesus, Prophecy, Religion, Revelation, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.