The Book of Revelation-Now reader mark! What wonderful thing St. John tells us.
Answer: Introduction to the Revelation and Figurative Language of Prophetical Writings
Those sentences which are colored in orange are from Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati book Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) and those which are colored in black are Jerry Thomas’s response.
The Book of Revelation-Now reader mark! What wonderful thing St. John tells us.
Learned men and those who are acquainted with the prophetic language have always pointed out that the book of Revelation like other prophetical books of the Holy Bible contains figurative language. Maharishi either out of ignorance or out of blatant prejudice had not taken into consideration of this fact and went ahead with his faulty interpretations and the questions that arise thereof. This point is of utmost importance as one would notice that most of his questions arise out of this ignorance or blatant prejudice.
I will begin by pointing out that the Book of Revelation itself bears witness to the figurative language and how it ought to be interpreted. Further, I will show how the rest of the Holy Scripture bears witness to the figurative language of the prophetical books and then give the witness of a learned man.
The witness of the Book of Revelation to its figurative language:
(A) Revelation 1:12-16- The figurative language of lampstands, and stars:
Revelation 1:12-16 “Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
Revelation 1:20 Interpretation of the Figurative Language:
Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.
(B) Revelation 5: 5-6- LORD Jesus Christ figuratively described as the slained Lamb
Revelation 5: 5-6 But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”
John the Baptist had already introduced LORD Jesus Christ as Lamb.
John 1:29 the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
(c) Revelation 12: – Satan as Dragon
Revelation 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
(d) Revelation 17- heads as mountains and kings, horns as kings, waters as people:
Revelation 17: 1-3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast [which was] full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name [was] written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, [and] the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition. "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those [who are] with Him [are] called, chosen, and faithful." Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.”
The witness of the Holy Scripture to the figurative language in prophetical visions:
(a) Genesis 37: Sheaves as Men:
Gen 37:5-8 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told [it] to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, "Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf." And his brothers said to him, "Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
(b) Genesis 37: Sun, Moon and Stars as Father, Mother, and Brothers
Genesis 37: 9-10 “Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me." So he told [it] to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?"
(c) Daniel 4: Tree as an Emperor and cutting down the tree as dethroning him.
Daniel 4: 19- 26 “Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonished for a time, and his thoughts troubled him. So the king spoke, and said, "Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation trouble you." Belteshazzar answered and said, "My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!" The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong, whose height reached to the heavens and which could be seen by all the earth, whose leaves [were] lovely and its fruit abundant, in which [was] food for all, under which the beasts of the field dwelt, and in whose branches the birds of the heaven had their home– it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth. "And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, 'Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, [bound] with a band of iron and bronze in the tender grass of the field; let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let him graze with the beasts of the field, till seven times pass over him'; this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. "And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump [and] roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.
(d) Daniel 7: Beasts as Kingdoms
Daniel 7:2-3 Daniel spoke, saying, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.
Daniel 7:16-28 I came near to one of those who stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things: 'Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever.' "Then I wished to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the others, exceedingly dreadful, with its teeth of iron and its nails of bronze, [which] devoured, broke in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet; and the ten horns that [were] on its head, and the other horn which came up, before which three fell, namely, that horn which had eyes and a mouth which spoke pompous words, whose appearance [was] greater than his fellows. "I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made [in favor] of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, Which shall be different from all other kingdoms, And shall devour the whole earth, Trample it and break it in pieces. The ten horns [are] ten kings [Who] shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; He shall be different from the first [ones], And shall subdue three kings. He shall speak [pompous] words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. 'But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever. Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.' "This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly troubled me, and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart."
Conclusion: Thus we see that the Holy Bible itself very clearly teaches that the figurative speeches of the prophetical books need to be interpreted.
How the learned men have understood the Book of Revelation? Sir Isaac Newton probably might be accepted by the Vedic Maharishi as a learned man and not a savage – a word that is reserved in his uncivilized discourse for Christians and others. Therefore, I am quoting from Sir Isaac Newton’s commentary on the book of Revelation.
Sir Isaac Newton, Commentary on Daniel and Revelation Chapter 2. Of the Prophetic Language (http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_author.cfm?AuthorID=11)
“For understanding the Prophecies, we are, in the first place, to acquaint our-selves with the figurative language of the Prophets. This language is taken from the analogy between the world natural, and an empire or kingdom considered as a world politic.
Accordingly, the whole world natural consisting of heaven and earth, signifies the whole world politic, consisting of thrones and people, or so much of it as is considered in the Prophecy: and the things in that world signify the analogous things in this. For the heavens, and the things therein, signify thrones and dignities, and those who enjoy them; and the earth, with the things thereon, the inferior people; and the lowest parts of the earth, called Hades or Hell, the lowest or most miserable part of them. Whence ascending towards heaven, and descending to the earth, are put for rising and falling in power and honour: rising out of the earth, or waters, and falling into them, for the rising up to any dignity or dominion, out of the inferior state of the people, or falling down from the same into that inferior state; descending into the lower parts of the earth, for descending to a very low and unhappy estate; speaking with a faint voice out of the dust, for being in a weak and low condition; moving from one place to another, for translation from one office, dignity, or dominion, to another; great earthquakes, and the shaking of heaven and earth, for the shaking of kingdoms, so as to distract or overthrow them; the creating a new heaven and earth, and the passing away of an old one, or the beginning and end of the world, for the rise and ruin of the body politic signified thereby.
In the heavens, the Sun and Moon are, by interpreters of dreams, put for the persons of Kings and Queens; but in sacred Prophecy, which regards not single persons, the Sun is put for the whole species and race of Kings, in the kingdom or kingdoms of the world politic, shining with regal power and glory; the Moon for the body of the common people, considered as the King’s wife; the Stars for subordinate Princes and great men, or for Bishops and Rulers of the people of God, when the Sun is Christ; light for the glory, truth, and knowledge, wherewith great and good men shine and illuminate others; darkness for obscurity of condition, and for error, blindness and ignorance; darkning, smiting, or setting of the Sun, Moon, and Stars, for the ceasing of a kingdom, or for the desolation thereof, prop
ortional to the darkness; darkning the Sun, turning the Moon into blood, and falling of the Stars, for the same; new Moons, for the return of a dispersed people into a body politic or ecclesiastic.
Fire and meteors refer to both heaven and earth, and signify as follows; burning any thing with fire, is put for the consuming thereof by war; a conflagration of the earth, or turning a country into a lake of fire, for the consumption of a kingdom by war; the being in a furnace, for the being in slavery under another nation; the ascending up of the smoke of any burning thing for ever and ever, for the continuation of a conquered people under the misery of perpetual subjection and slavery; the scorching heat of the sun, for vexatious wars, persecutions and troubles inflicted by the King; riding on the clouds, for reigning over much people; covering the sun with a cloud, or with smoke, for oppression of the King by the armies of an enemy; tempestuous winds, or the motion of clouds, for wars; thunder, or the voice of a cloud, for the voice of a multitude; a storm of thunder, lighting, hail, and overflowing rain, for a tempest of war descending from the heavens and clouds politic, on the heads of their enemies; rain, if not immoderate, and dew, and living water, for the graces and doctrines of the Spirit; and the defect of rain, for spiritual barrenness.
In the earth, the dry land and congregated waters, as a sea, a river, a flood, are put for the people of several regions, nations, and dominions; embittering of waters, for great affliction of the people by war and persecution; turning things into blood, for the mystical death of bodies politic, that is, for their dissolution; the overflowing of a sea or river, for the invasion of the earth politic, by the people of the waters; drying up of waters, for the conquest of their regions by the earth; fountains of waters for cities, the permanent heads of rivers politic; mountains and islands, for the cities of the earth and sea politic, with the territories and dominions belonging to those cities; dens and rocks of mountains, for the temples of cities; the hiding of men in those dens and rocks, for the shutting up of Idols in their temples; houses and ships, for families, assemblies, and towns, in the earth and sea politic; and a navy of ships of war, for an army of that kingdom that is signified by the sea.
Animals also and vegetables are put for the people of several regions and conditions; and particularly, trees, herbs, and land animals, for the people of the earth politic: flags, reeds, and fishes, for those of the waters politic; birds and insects, for those of the politic heaven and earth; a forest for a kingdom; and a wilderness for a desolate and thin people.
If the world politic, considered in prophecy, consists of many kingdoms, they are represented by as many parts of the world natural; as the noblest by the celestial frame, and then the Moon and Clouds are put for the common people; the less noble, by the earth, sea, and rivers, and by the animals or vegetables, or buildings therein; and then the greater and more powerful animals and taller trees, are put for Kings, Princes, and Nobles. And because the whole kingdom is the body politic of the King, therefore the Sun, or a Tree, or a Beast, or Bird, or a Man, whereby the King is represented, is put in a large signification for the while kingdom; and several animals, as a Lion, a Bear, a Leopard, a Goat, according to their qualities; are put for several kingdoms and bodies politic; and sacrificing of beasts, for slaughtering and conquering of kingdoms; and friendship between beasts, for peace between kingdoms. Yet sometimes vegetables and animals are by certain epitaphs or circumstances, extended to other significations; as a Tree, when called the tree of life or of knowledge; and a Beast, when called the old serpent, or worshipped.
When a Beast or Man is put for a kingdom, his parts and qualities are put for the analogous parts and qualities of the kingdom; as the head of a Beast, for the great men who precede and govern; the tail for the inferior people, who follow and are governed; the heads, of more than one, for the number of capital parts, or dynasties, or dominions in the kingdom, whether collateral or successive, with respect to the civil government; the horns on any head, for the number of kingdoms in that head, with respect to military power; seeing for understanding, and the eyes for men of understanding and policy, and in matters of religion for , Bishops; speaking, for making laws; the mouth, for a law-giver, whether civil or sacred; the loudness of the voice, for might and power; the faintness thereof, for weakness; eating and drinking, for acquiring what is signified by the things eaten and drank; the hairs of a beast, or man, and the feathers of a bird, for people; the wings, for the number of kingdoms represented by the beast; the arm of a man, for his power, or for any people wherein his strength and power consists; his feet, for the lowest of the people, or for the latter end of the kingdom; the feet, nails, and teeth of beasts of prey, for armies and squadrons of armies; the bones, for strength, and for fortified places; the flesh, for riches and possessions; and the days of their acting, for years; and when a tree is put for a kingdom, its branches, leaves and fruit, signify as do the wings, feathers, and food of a bird or beast.
When a man is taken in a mystical sense, his qualities are often signified by his actions, and by the circumstances of things about him. So a Ruler is signified by his riding on a beast; a Warrior and Conqueror, by his having a sword and bow; a potent man, by his gigantic stature; a Judge, by weights and measures; a sentence of absolution, or condemnation, by a white or a black stone; a new dignity, by a new name; moral or civil qualifications, by garments; honour and glory, by splendid apparel; royal dignity, by purple or scarlet, or by a crown; righteousness, by white and clean robes; wickedness, by spotted and filthy garments; affliction, mourning, and humiliation, by clothing in sackcloth; dishonour, shame, and want of good works, by nakedness; error and misery, by drinking a cup of his or her wine that causeth it; propagating any religion for gain, by exercising traffick and merchandize with that people whose religion it is; worshipping or serving the false Gods of any nation, by committing adultery with their princes, or by worshipping them; a Council of a kingdom, by its image; idolatry, by blasphemy; overthrow in war, by a wound of man or beast; a durable plague of war, by a sore and pain; the affliction or persecution which a people suffers in labouring to bring froth a new kingdom, by the pain of a woman in labour to bring forth a man-child; the dissolution of a body politic or ecclesiastic, by the death of a man or beast; and the revival of a dissolved dominion, by the resurrection of the dead.” (Emphasis mine).
Thus we see that the prophetic language of Revelation, as per the Book of Revelation and as understood by the learned men is figurative language and has significance.
While answering Maharishi’s questions on the Book of Revelation, one needs to bear this in mind. I will be giving the interpretation of learned scholars to correct the erroneous understanding of Maharishi and the questions that arise from those understanding.