Eight Characteristics of Apocalyptic Writing
A line drawn in the sand between two opposing forces. – God vs, Satan, Light vs. Darkness, the Lamb vs. the Beast
Also includes an element of time: Present evil age vs. the coming reign of God
- Doom & gloom – all is lost – we have been forsaken and left for dead
- The idea that God has already made up His mind about how history will unfold.
- End is known before the beginning
- Just get in line and let everything play out
- Apocalyptic literature is loaded with imagery
- Revelation loaded with imagery
- Glorified Christ
- Beasts rising from pits
- Blood flowing from horses’ reins
- Angels dumping bowls of fire onto the earth
- Images have great meaning – but are not to be taken literally.
- Numbers, numbers and more numbers
- Numbers have meaning beyond their numerical value
- 7= wholeness, completeness
- 3½ = incompleteness
- 666 = the name of the beast
- 12, 24, 144,000 = the people of God
- Going over the same subject repeatedly with variation
- Revelation revisits the same theme at least five times
- Apocalyptic literature is always written when things are going bad
- It’s a cry from the bottom of the pile
- A speech of pain
- Suffering of the seven churches birthed Revelation
- Writer uses someone else’s name
- Someone who lived in the past
- Someone with a lot of credibility
Six Characteristics of Prophetic Literature
- God as Creator
- The prophets connected the God of the beginning with the God of the ending.
- The God we see in Revelation makes all things new.
- He finishes what He started.
- God as Covenant Maker
- Prophets knew that God works in and through His people
- Through a lineage of failed kings, God will bring His Messiah.
- Prophets are optimistic
- They always have hope because salvation comes from God
- A New Israel/People of God
- The prophets – and John too – celebrate God’s intent to create for Himself a people who worship Him in spirit and in truth.
- An Ideal King/Messiah
- God would establish a ruler to lead His people
- Righteous and holy
- The Spirit of the Lord would rest on Him
- He would rule in wisdom and power
- A Rebuilt Temple
- The prophets always looked forward to a rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Because that is all they knew.
- Acts 7:48
- “…the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.”
- Revelation 21:22 – John describes a new Jerusalem with no temple
- The End of Evil
- The prophets imagined a day when evil would no longer exist.
- Evil destroyed
- Lambs lie down with lions
- Cows graze with bears
- Evil destroyed
- Apocalyptic writers looked for the end of history
- Prophetic writers looked for the end of evil within history.
Finally – we can’t ignore that John wrote his revelation in the form of a letter to the seven churches.
- He opens (1:4-7) and concludes (22:21) as he would a letter.
This is a further reminder to read it in context first.
Taken from Answers for Chicken Little: A No-Nonsense Look at the Book of Revelation by Dan Boone