In order to properly interpret Revelation, we must be able to base our study
on sound Biblical principles. Revelation can be understood by following the
pattern which was established by God in the Old Testament. Many of the literal,
physical events which took place in the Old Testament were patterns of
spiritual events which were to follow in the Christian age. This pattern is
illustrated by the above drawing. We will briefly go through each part of
the drawing to understand how this works and then use this pattern in following
lessons to interpret Revelation. This pattern is based on the travels of the nation of Israel from the time
of their bondage in the land of Egypt until they passed over the Jordan River
into their promised land of Canaan. This pattern was followed by Christ as
he came into this world to deliver mankind from the bondage of sin and
eventually take us home to our promised land of heaven when He comes again.
In each of the following comparisons, the first statement will explain the
pattern established and the second statement will explain how it is fulfilled
in the Christian age.
Physical Bondage - Spiritual Bondage
1a. God promised Abraham that he
would make him the father of a great nation.
This promise began to be fulfilled when Abraham's
grandson, Jacob, was
forced to take his
family to Egypt because of a famine in the land.
Jacob's son, Joseph,
had been sold into
slavery, but because of his great power to interpret dreams, he had risen
to become a ruler in Egypt. Joseph did many great deeds in Egypt, but as
time passed by the Pharaohs forgot the deeds of Joseph. The Israelite
people began to increase greatly in number and the rulers in Egypt began
to fear that they would soon outnumber their own people, so they forced
the Israelites to become slaves in hopes of controlling their numbers. They
continued to increase, so the taskmasters made them work even harder as
slaves. When this failed, Pharaoh ordered that all male children of the
Israelite women were to be killed. The Israelite people found themselves in great
physical tribulation. They were in physical bondage as slaves and needed
someone to deliver them.
1b. Before Christ came into the world the first time, all mankind was in
the bondage of sin. John 8:32-34 states, "And ye shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed,
and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made
free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever
committeth sin is the servant of sin." Since everyone had sinned (Rom. 3:23),
all were in the bondage of sin. The Israelites had been in the physical
bondage of sin in Egypt and all mankind was in the spiritual bondage of
sin before Christ came to this earth. The greatest spiritual tribulation
which one can experience is being in the bondage of sin.
Red Sea - Blood of Christ
2a. The Israelite people were in great physical bondage in Egypt and needed
someone to deliver them. God spoke to Moses through the burning bush and
told him that he would be the one to lead the people out of Egypt. He led
the people to the banks of the Red Sea as God directed. God parted the
waters of the Red Sea and the people crossed over into the wilderness on
dry land leaving their bondage behind. The Red Sea was the dividing line
between the tribulations of physical bondage and slavery in Egypt and
freedom in the wilderness.
2b. The great parallel comparison to Moses delivering Israel out of
physical bondage is God sending his son, Jesus, into the world to provide
a way for all mankind to be delivered from the spiritual bondage of sin.
Jesus created a Red Sea for mankind to cross as he shed his blood on the
cross. Even the name of the Red Sea has symbolic significance since the
color red is symbolic of blood. Man can escape the bondage of sin today
by crossing the red sea of the blood of Christ.
We leave the great spiritual
tribulations of bondage and slavery in sin behind
and cross over to freedom
from sin in the church.
Mount Sinai - Mount Zion
3a. After the people of Israel
crossed the Red Sea, they headed for mount
Sinai. It was at this place where God gave Moses the
Ten Commandments which, along with many ordinances,
became known as the law of Moses. This was the law
which the Israelites
had to follow in order to be acceptable to God.
3b. The spiritual parallel of this great event in the history of the
Israelite nation was the giving of the gospel on mount Zion by the Lord.
Micah 4:2 states, "And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us
go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob;
and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the
law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." The
gospel, or the law of Christ, was given on spiritual mount Zion. This is
the law which Christians must follow today in order to be acceptable in the
sight of God. (Please see the following lesson for a full discussion
of mount Sinai as it symbolizes spiritual mount Zion.)
Physical Wilderness - Spiritual Wilderness
4a. After receiving the law on mount Sinai, the people of Israel headed to
their promised land of Canaan. When they reached the promised land, they
were forbidden to enter because of their lack of trust in the Lord to give
them the land. Therefore, they had to wander in the wilderness for forty
years before they could enter Canaan. During this period of time, God
cared for his people. He fed them manna and quail and provided water for
them to drink.
4b. The church is wandering in the wilderness of the world today as it
awaits it's promised land of Heaven. The gospel was given on mount Zion on
the day of Pentecost and the church was established. The spiritual nation
of God, the church, is dwelling in this world surrounded by a world of
sin. God is caring for his people as he feeds us spiritual manna and water
which is his word. The period of time in Revelation which parallels the
forty years of wandering in the wilderness is the 1000 years in
chapter 20 which is the period of time God's people live and reign with
him on this earth.
Jordan River - Second Coming of Christ
5a. In order to enter the promised land of Canaan, the Israelites had to
cross the Jordan River. This was the dividing line between a land of need
and suffering and a land of rest and plenty.
5b. In order for the church to enter the promised land of Heaven, it
must pass from this world into the next at the second coming of Christ. The
second coming of Christ is the dividing line between a land of trials and
work and a land of rest and plenty.
Promised Land of Canaan - Promised land of Heaven
6a. The land of Canaan is described as a land of milk and honey. It was the
land which God promised to the descendants of Abraham. Only those who had
been faithful to God in the wilderness were allowed to cross Jordan.
6b. God has promised his people a beautiful land of rest from our labors.
Only those who are faithful to God during the time we live in this world
will be taken home to heaven when Christ comes again.
God's pattern for Individuals
It should also be pointed out at this time that every individual must also
follow this pattern if they want to be acceptable to God.
1. Everyone who has not obeyed the gospel of Christ is in the bondage of
2. In order to leave the bondage of sin, one must cross the Red Sea of the
blood of Christ by passing through the waters of baptism.
3. When we come up out of these waters, we come to mount Zion which is the
church. See Heb. 12:22.
4. We must remain faithful to God as we live our lives in the wilderness
of this world surrounded by sin. We live and reign with Christ during this
period of time.
5. The crossing of the Jordan River represents the death of our physical
bodies and entrance into that spiritual realm.
6. We will enter our promised land of Heaven if we have been faithful on