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FAQ - SYMBOLIC FIGURES
Please explain `Jer. 2:12,13`. What are the
"heavens" referred to; and what do the "broken cisterns that can hold no
water" represent? (B.S.A.)
<ANSWER>--Evidently the Prophet is using highly symbolic language to convey his thoughts. The larger portion of the prophecies of the Bible are put forth in figurative expressions and in parables and dark sayings, for they were not intended of the Lord to be understood until at the time of their fulfillment. The "heavens" would symbolize the powers of ecclesiasticism and the "fountains" would symbolize the truth, the Lord's word. The time would come, therefore, as foretold by the Prophet, when the Lord's professing "people," Christians, would forsake the Lord and His Word, and would "hew" out or fashion for themselves "cisterns" or receptacles to hold the muddy waters of the traditions of men. The creeds and religious systems are in a very dilapidated and broken state and wholly incapable of holding the waters of the truth. The old effete systems of the past are breaking up and are absolutely useless so far as holding the waters of the truth are concerned.
What is the meaning of the words "the sea and the waves roaring?"
(`Luke 21:25`.) (R.H.)
<ANSWER>--The murmuring of the rising wind is distinctly audible to the ear. The sea and the waves of the troubled masses of humanity are already beginning to heave and toss and foam. The increasing winds of strife are driving the great sea of mankind into a frenzied state of revolt against the present social order--"the world that now is"--wave on wave, mounting higher and higher and rolling in upon the rocks and cliffs. The sullen thunder and roar of the sea as it breaks in ever increasing fury upon the shore, jarring and shaking the mountains to their center, forecasts only too well the on-coming of the cataclysm that is foreordained to overwhelm the entire world. The "earth" (society) and the "mountains" (kingdoms and governments) will be removed and carried into the midst of the sea (the turbulent and raging masses of humanity). (`Psa. 46:2,3`.) The great "waves" (nihilism, communism, socialism, and anarchism) are sweeping with irresistible force against the bulwarks of present institutions. [Habitation (the spiritual realm), He hath reserved in age]??
Is the Scriptural statement, "and there were no more sea," to be
taken literally? See `Rev.21:1`.
<ANSWER>--In the Scriptures the word "sea" is used, not merely as a name for a body of water, but also symbolically, as representing lawless, restless, dissatisfied, discontented humanity. In His great prophecy (`Luke 21:5-36`) our Lord tells us that in the time of trouble, with which the Millennial Age will be introduced, the sea and the waves will roar; and in `Psa. 46:1-3`, is pictured, that the symbolic mountains, or kingdoms, of earth will go down, overwhelmed by the symbolic sea, in an anarchistic storm. When once the Messiah's Kingdom shall have brought order out of the present confusion, after it shall have established the world's interests upon a proper basis of equity, there will be "no more sea," in the sense that there will no longer be a restless, dissatisfied element amongst the masses of mankind. But while many of the prophecies have had both a literal and a symbolic fulfillment, yet we are not wise enough to say whether or not this one will have a literal fulfillment. We feel sure, however, that it will have a symbolic fulfillment as already suggested. Even if the literal sea should continue, we know of no reason why the continents of earth might not be united by the raising of submerged lands to connect them. However, it is best for us not to indulge in speculation along this line, of which we have no absolute knowledge.
Will you kindly explain the seemingly harsh Bible statement, the expression of
the Savior, as given in the `24th chapter of Matthew, the 19th verse`-- "And woe be
unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days?" (J.G.D.)
<ANSWER>--This expression is a portion of our Lord's great prophecy relating to events and conditions that would develop in the last days of the Christian dispensation. As with all prophetic expressions it is in highly figurative language. The clue to the understanding of this prophecy is found elsewhere in the Scriptures. A woman is used as symbolical representation of the church. Thus the true Church of Christ is referred to as the "chaste virgin" and also in another picture as the "Bride the Lamb's wife" (`2 Cor. 11:2`; `Rev. 21:9`). The false churches are represented as corrupt and debauched women (`Rev. 17:1-5`), compare these five verses with `Rev. 21:9-11`. The "mother church" is represented as a lewd woman, and also as the great mystical city of Babylon. Her daughters, the ecclesiastical systems that are the offspring of the parent system, are likewise represented as being babes both embryonic and new-born. They have need of the milk of the Word as the Apostle says (`Heb. 5:12-14`) they are not sufficiently developed in knowledge and grace to assimilate the strong and important doctrines. It will be a special time of sorrow for the false religious systems in that day, "those who are with child," and also to those who are dispensing the milk--in other words "giving suck."