The Apocalypse A Drama -- By: George F. Herrick

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 075:299 (Jul 1918)
Article: The Apocalypse A Drama
Author: George F. Herrick

The Apocalypse A Drama

George F. Herrick

Present conditions in Europe have stimulated efforts to find in the world war now raging explicit fulfillment of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation.

Lifelong studies in the interpretation of Sacred Scripture have crystallized in certain convictions of the writer touching the purpose of this last book of the Bible, and the meaning of its symbols, which may possibly be helpful to others.

Many questions elaborately discussed by commentators do not seriously affect the purpose of the present writing. Let it be accepted that the author of the book was the apostle John, and that the time of writing was one of the last years of Domitian’s reign.

1. The whole book was, in the first instance, addressed to Oriental readers, men of imagination, men fond of parables, symbols, elaborate imagery, and “dark sayings.” But portions of the book (chaps, 2, 3, 21, and 22, for example) are not difficult to be understood, even by an Occidental.

2. The prime purpose of the book was to fortify Christians to endure with patience and fidelity the trials before them, and to administer consolation under suffering. Properly read and understood, this book will serve the same purpose at the present time.

3. The declaration found at the beginning of the book,

and again at the end, that events foretold were shortly to come to pass, would seem, at least as regards the first five seals, to direct attention to events occurring during the lifetime of men then living.

4. It is plain that later chapters of the book look forward to further fulfillments of predictions in part fulfilled in the time of John’s contemporaries. There are also many glimpses of events that connect the kingdom of God in this world with his eternal kingdom.

5. Apocalyptic is distinguished from prophetic writing, in so far as both are predictions of events still future, in four respects: —

(1) Prophecy has time and place limits. Apocalyptic transcends those limits.

(2) In its narrower scope, apocalyptic is an appeal to God to intervene in behalf of his suffering people: prophecy foretells the judgments to be visited upon their enemies.

(3) Prophecy moves in the material, apocalyptic in the spiritual realm.

(4) In its wider scope, apocalyptic takes within its survey the kingdom of God as it wages successful war with foes of truth and righteousness in our world. In this view apocalyptic writing is found in the Old Testament prophets, especially in the Second Isaiah, and in the pas...

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