Symbols, Stories, Facts
As a documentary type writer I always look first, to the literal writings. So when I study the Scriptures, I read them literally. Because there are parables and symbols in scripture, that tells me God has layered his word. So first I look at the literal meaning then I dig into the layers and sometimes, there are many layers ( 5, 6 and 7 layers ). I am going somewhere with this.
It is part of the Holy Ghost’s job to give us understanding of God’s word, Jesus said in John 14, 15 and 16. See
John 16:13 KJV “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
One thing I always do before reading or studying God’s word is pray, “Heavenly Father, I pray the Holy Spirit give me understanding and revelation of your word, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.” And God always gives me some nugget from his word.
So where am I going with this? As teachers of God’s word, some teachers have shifted away from the truth. Because they see an “allegory” they declare everything an allegory. That is how the false teaching that the church has replaced Israel sprung up. That teaching is not scriptural. Israel is Israel and the church is the church. When you read these in scripture, unless God says it is a symbol or a parable or there is clear evidence it is an allegory, then we must take God’s word literally. Even in our studies. Let me explain.
An Allegory – presents ” ideas or thoughts ” that are symbolized, often the symbols represent people. Every person, place and thing has a symbolic meaning in an allegory. An example of an allegory is in Daniel. In Daniel 8:1-11 KJV is a vision Daniel had. The vision is “allegory” meaning the vision has symbolic meaning, symbols. And God sent the Archangel Gabriel to explain the symbols to Daniel ( see Daniel 8:16) and in Daniel 8:20-26 Gabriel explains, interprets the vision, the allegory.
A Parable – Parables are like fictional stories that represent or teach a truth. They are a story designed to teach a principle. A parable can use symbols, objects, people, places or things. But instead of focusing on the symbols of a parable (like you would with an allegory) with a parable you focus on what is the lesson to be learned. What is the principle the parable is teaching.
One of my favorite parables is Luke 8:4-15. Jesus told the parable to many people but afterwards, his disciples asked him to explain the parable, or the lesson behind the parable, the principle. Jesus did. This parable of The Sower shows many layers in learning about many things. But the principle is pay close attention to how you respond to the seed, God’s word. Know things will try to choke God’s word in your life. Even the devil will try to take it from you. And then there’s the cares of this world. So parables are stories with a message, a principle and we are to heed and learn the principle.
When God uses a parable, it is usually identified as a parable in scripture. So if scripture does not identify it as a parable and there are no “symbols” being used like in an allegory, then we have to take the teaching as a true story. A truth God put in his word to teach or warn us.
People like true stories because they are real. It is real life. When God tells us true stories, do we understand they are real? Real life? Or death? So now I have a challenge for you. Below are 2 examples. The first is a true story. The true story Jesus tells so people know it is real, not a fable, not an allegory and not a parable. The second example is an allegory. See if you understand why Jesus told the true story and what the message is Jesus was conveying. For the allegory, Jesus spoke the allegory and pick out the symbols and identify what the symbols mean.
Example 1: The True Story –
Luke 16:19-31 KJV ” There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Example 2: The Allegory –
Luke 10:17-20 KJV “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
Until next time.