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LAYERS OF MEANING IN THE BIBLE

particularly in prophecy

Extracted from the free commentary set, available for download at


http://sites.google.com/site/freecommentary
(you can copy this address and paste it into the address bar)

'There are so many layers of meaning' in the Bible -- is so often said, but with so
little explicit detail.

Just what exactly are these layers?

Take for an example the first fulfilled and obvious prophecy of the Bible.
Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

See whether you could dismiss the presence of the following dimensions of
meaning, as taught by the Bible itself. Expect a little overlap in the semantic
labelling of so many extended meanings...

~ Face-value:

God did indeed create order out of chaos ordering the light to appear, and it
happened just as He said it would.

A prophet will often make his reputation on his words having an obvious and
often immediate historical fulfillment, so that others record his words for
whatever future value they may also have. Moses for instance, who wrote
Genesis, proved himself in public first, before he wrote Genesis, and people
preserved Genesis.
If you wanted to be called a prophet by later generations, you can 'write a
prediction after the event' but you wouldn't be recognised as a prophet or have
your words preserved as scripture.
But no-one can write a multiple layered prediction of the distant futures 'after
the event', unless he truly is a prophet.

~ Historical:

Face-value dates and details in the Bible, are reliable.


(But in this unusual case, we at least have no conflict with science. No
definition is given for light before the Sun and earth and stars, and no time
span is specified for the earliest 'light', other than sometime after 'in the
beginning'.)
The dates of face-value events in the rest of the Bible are compatible with
science and with archaeology and history, in as much as digs in the Middle-
east confirm sites, dates, etc, and secular historical records confirm Biblical
claims.
To get a new and science-compatible slant on Adam and Eve, and on the
Flood, download the whole Bible Commentary.

~ Spiritual:

i.e. the heart of the matter: 'Wow! He is Creator! He must be God. I need to be
on His side...'

~ Implicative:

God is creative, orderly, powerful, transcendent, etc. He speaks to men. He


chooses prophets like Moses to write scripture for men.

~ Symbolic:

Light symbolises good and true; darkness symbolises disorder, evil, etc.
All of Genesis 1 sets up foundational images used throughout the Bible -- of
beasts, sea-monsters, trees, grass, birds of the air, etc -- all are later used to
signify spiritual and political things, by analogy.

~ Evangelical:

Jesus' arrival in the first century, announcing the Good News, the prophesied
'evangel', was like 'light shining into the darkness'; separating good from evil;
beginning the new day called 'Today'.

~ Christologic:

The Light, coming in to the world, at the beginning, is Christ, according to


John 1. His name is 'the Word, God'. He is the Firstborn heir of all creation.

~ Prophetic:

Day One is the Christian celebration day, prophesied here by saying that the
Light of the world arrived on Day One. It will likely be a Sunday at his second
coming when the second resurrection takes place, since we learn from verses
1-5 of the Bible, and from John's first five verses, that the first day of the week
is the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

~ Eschatological:

i.e. prophetic of the very 'end times': When Christ finally appears as the
luminous jasper capstone to the new city of God, the whole earth will walk by
his glory, i.e. his 'light'.

~ Zion-centred:
The book was written for Israel, by an Israelite prophet to Israel, about the sky
and land of Israel 'at the centre of the world', prophesying a new Zion, and a
son of God ruling all creation, from the new Zion, after crushing the Serpent.

~ Allegorical:

The creation week has not yet ended; we wait for the promised rest; we do not
yet see the image of God ruling; we are still in day 6, the age of man.

~ Parallel:

In the book of Revelation we find a parallel 'week'. The week of destruction


will target the 7 stages of creation in a Day by Day systematic dismantling of
the old created order.

All of these proffered meanings are Biblical themes -- give or take particular
interpretational spins -- which suggests that the Author of Genesis is the same
Author of the books of scripture which conform to Genesis, and of the history
which confirms Genesis. E.g. The Son of God was struck by the Serpent and did
die.

All of these are arguably deliberate, accurate and important. This suggests that
the Author is a Master of His craft.

It is not fuzzy. I can quote chapter and verse of other prophets saying what it
means. The prophecies are explicit, unexpected, even outrageous, and certainly
sufficient for the world and its problems.

All of these layers of meaning are deliberately implanted into all prophecy.
For instance, all prophecy seems to have the three time-slots of (a) immediate,
(b) first century, (c) end-times; The test of 'scripture' is whether it is 'prophetic'
and 'christologic'; The methodology of multiple-layering-of-meaning demands
'symbol', 'parallel', 'allegory'; And the divine authorship demands a 'spiritual'
application 'implied' by the wording. The focus of all prophetic fulfilment is in
Zion, so it is no surprise either, to see 'Zion' behind all earlier predictions.

If you would like more insight on the figurative and spiritual aspects of the Bible's
prophecies, remember to download the 'freecommentary' from Google 'sites'.