One of the most misunderstood scriptures in our Bible centers around Revelation 21:21. This is the “pearly gates”, “street of gold” scripture. Should we take this scripture literally? Let’s explore what the scriptures reveal.
Revelation is undoubtedly a unique book. While considered part of the New Testament, it is different from other books of the New Testament. More importantly, it is different from styles of writing used today. Revelation is apocalyptic. The word ‘revelation’ in Greek is “apokalupsis”, which means ‘an uncovering’ or ‘unveiling.’ Thus, Revelation is a book that was intended to reveal, not conceal! The book is an example of apocalyptic literature.
Apocalyptic literature is a literary style popular from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. It is a style known for highly symbolic or figurative language written during times of persecution. It usually depicts the conflict between good and evil while encouraging the righteous to persevere. Other examples of apocalyptic literature are parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and Matthew chapter 24.
One of the most difficult passages in the Bible is found in Matthew chapter 24. Referred to as the Olivet Discourse, this part of the Bible is the main jumping off point for a lot of the prophecy teachings regarding a period called “the end time” or “the last days.” Matthew 24 is a frightening scripture that mentions earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, famines, and pestilences, among the few calamities in store for planet earth. As the teaching goes, all of these horrible things will be a sign that the “end of the world” is right around the corner.
Over the years, I began to realize that there is an entire industry that has grown up focusing on the “end time.” There are books, movies, conferences and seminars that support this area of Bible study. The basic pitch is that terrible stuff is coming! And why is that? Because they believe that the Bible tells them so. The pitchmen declare that they know best how to interpret all this apocalyptic imagery and symbolism. Of course, to avoid all this bad stuff you need to purchase their (...)