Ezekiel 28 & Interpreting Prophetic Literature

Since we have been “unplugged” the past two weeks, I will bullet some notes for those of you who would be looking for then from the last two classes (3/14&21/2010) in NewLife. Do take note that the examples that we began looking at and the categories we covered are not exhaustive in the process of interpreting prophetic literature, but provide the facts that:

– Interpreting prophetic literature takes though and work

– A look at genre in the Biblical Corpus is important

– The Bible is Its own genre

– The Bible is meant to be understood

– ****Theme point here**** We must interpret prophetic literature literally until the text requires us to interpret it symbolically.

– The book mentioned that could be a help for this is, Interpreting the Prophetic Word by Willem VanGemeren.

So, in week one we turned to Ezekiel 28 and saw that mid-way through the chapter there seems to be someone else being talked about besides the King of Tyre. How do we know? We look at the language and see that there is language describing what would be Satan, the devil. Now on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the most sure, this one is about a 4, as far as thinking that it is referring to Satan. Other passages we looked at:

– Isaiah 14 – 2.5-3 (by itself) that it is talking about Satan (see here: http://bible.org/article/lucifer-devil-isaiah-1412brthe-kjv-argument-against-modern-translations for more on this)

– Revelation 5 – we are absolutely sure, because it names him.

We are pretty sure here in Ezekiel, as well.

The question is: why? Why turn from this direct, historical reference and get all allegorical? Enter the Metanarrative – the Story outside the story. Satan was behind these evil people and is part of the “not flesh and blood – but, principalities and powers” that we fight against. The meaning is heavy.

In week 2, we looked a bit more, by formulating some common issues and using principles to interpret them.

1. Examples from common images

– In Ezek.1:18 and Revelation 4:6-8, two different kinds of things are spoken of as being “full of eyes.” In Ezekiel, it is the wheels (that had inner wheels and contained the spirits of the living creatures). In Revalation, it was the living creatures themselves that were full of eyes. Now, which of these seems most plausible to be a literal meaning: a wheel with eyes or a creature with eyes? A creature. Now what about the wheels? Well, on a first approach, a wheel could be covered with buttons or the like and would be described as having “eyes” all around. This is held by many and likely so. Yet, since it seems that the living creatures of Ezekiel 1 & 10 and those of Revelation 4 are the same creatures, the meaning could be one in the same as well.

2. Immediate (?) Fulfillment

– In Psalm 2, some commentators believe that the reference to the “Anointed One” is merely a dynastic reference, probably King David. All of the capitalized pronouns are supplied theologically through translation and are not found in the Hebrew text in a form that requires Divine capitalization. So, could it be true? Well, no. In Acts 13:33 the issue is settled when it refers back to Psalm 2, naming Jesus. ****NOTE: the first rule of hermeneutics (The science and art of biblical interpretation) is when you are unclear about what a passage means – KEEP READING. Either keep reading and find answers in the immediate context, or in other texts of the Bible.****

3. Numbers

– In 2 Peter 3:8, the teaching ┬áthat to the LORD 1000 years is like a day is given. Some use that to interpret Revelation 20 and try to explain away the Millennial Kingdom by saying that 1000 years means “a long time.” So, are the two texts connected? Well, no. In Peter, the linguistic device is a simile which requires interpreting it symbolically. However, in Revelation 20, 1000 years is spoken of in a very normative way, using chronology – before, during and after.

4. Just plain hard

– A regular reading of Hosea 11:1 would lead a person to believe that God was saying that He took His people. Israel, out of Egypt in the Exodus and would not send them back again. Well, in Matthew 2:15, the verse is referenced for the flight to and from Egypt that Joseph, Mary and Jesus took when the Lord was a child. I let this one lie to be a “thinkaboutit.”

Remember:

– Interpreting prophetic literature takes though and work

– A look at genre in the Biblical Corpus is important

– The Bible is Its own genre

– The Bible is meant to be understood

– ****Theme point here**** We must interpret prophetic literature literally until the text requires us to interpret it symbolically.