About Last Wednesday Night
by Kenny Gardner

Several things were on my mind last Wednesday night as I was listening to brother Jack Bowling present his lesson on the “Rapture.” I always appreciate Jack and the lessons he presents, because he’s so well prepared—you can tell he puts a lot of work into his lessons. We’re fortunate to have men such as Jack, and the other men who teach on Wednesday evening. They’re conscientious men who are not only diligent students of the Scriptures, but who are also devoted to teaching the truth. As always, Jack’s lesson last Wednesday night was very good.

I also thought the comments made by both Ernest and Charles were good. What they said was correct, appropriate, and needed. For example, Charles, agreeing with Jack, pointed out that the book of Revelation is a book of figurative language, discussing such things as a dragon and a beast with seven heads. And Charles and Jack are exactly right. At the very beginning of Revelation, John said that his book was a book of symbols. He wrote that this “revelation,” which was “of” Jesus Christ, originated with God, who gave it to Jesus, who in turn “sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Rev. 1:1, KJV). Please notice that Jesus “signified” the revelation to John. The original Greek word translated “signify” is semaino (shmai/nw), which means “to give a sign” (Thayer), or to express by signs (Vine). Even our English word “signify” means to “make known by signs” (Dictionary.com). Albert Barnes affirms that Jesus “indicated it [the revelation] by signs and symbols.” The Greek word semaino, he goes on to say, “is a word most happily chosen to denote the manner in which the events referred to were to be communicated to John, for the whole book is made up of signs and symbols.” The Pulpit Commentary states, “Jesus Christ signified, i.e. made known by symbol and figure, the things which must come to pass.” The Gospel Advocate Commentary says:

The term “signify” comes from the word “sign” and indicates that the things to be revealed to John would be presented through signs and symbols. . . . It is an appropriate word to express a revelation which was to be made largely through symbols. The symbolic nature of much of the book is evident from even a casual reading of it.

By the way, did you notice that the book of Revelation is about “things which must shortly come to pass”? John says this twice, both at the beginning of the book and at the end (Rev. 22:6)—it must mean something. The book would not have had much significance to John and his fellow-believers in the first century if it were predicting events which still have not taken place, some 2,000 years later, as premillennialists aver.

The point that Charlie and Jack were making, and I cannot agree with them more, was that we cannot base some hard and fast doctrine on the symbolic language in Revelation, as premillennialists do. Of course, that doesn’t mean the book is meaningless to us today; it’s a message of triumph over evil, a triumph that comes through obedience and perseverance, two qualities that are minimized by our “faith-only” religious neighbors.

One other thought was on my mind Wednesday evening. It’s a thought that comes from passages such as the following:

“I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10, KJV).

“But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:9, ESV).

“Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:14-15, ESV).

And, finally,

“Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19, KJV).