Monday, October 12, 2015

Symbolical Language Is Common

Great Seal of the United States
The Great Seal of the United States is a round piece of metal cast on both sides.  It was first commissioned by Congress after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The final design was approved on June 20, 1782.

The Secretary of State keeps it for use on official documents (but only if the President orders it.)  The front of the seal is the Bald Eagle, wings spread, with a shield of the US on his chest.  The shield has 13 red and white stripes and 13 stars in the glory above the eagle's head for the 13 original colonies. The shield stands on the eagle's chest with no support to represent that the US relies on itself, it's own virtue, for right and justice. The top of the shield is a horizontal blue stripe that represents Congress.  And in one of the eagle's talons he holds an olive branch with 13 leaves for peace.  In the other it clutches 13 arrows for war.  In the beak is a ribbon with the inscription, "E pluribus unum" meaning "From many, one." The motto has 13 letters also. This was to mean, from many states come one nation. The phrase dates back to St. Augustine in his Confessions (Book IV), c. 397-8. Above the eagle's head is a circular cloud filled with 13 5-pointed stars to mean "a glory" or breaking through a cloud.
Back of the Great Seal
The back of the seal has a 13 layer pyramid, once again to represent the 13 original colonies. The stone of the pyramid is to represent lasting strength. And on the bottom is MDCCLXXVI  for 1776 (The date of the Declaration of Independence.)  So what does that big eye on the pyramid mean?  It is to represent the all-seeing eye of Divine Providence. It is open to many, many other interpretations. Above the pyramid are the latin words "Annuit coeptis --" He [God] has favored our undertaking." And at the bottom of the pyramid are the words "Novus ordo seclorum - A new order of the ages [is created]."

Gaillard Hunt wrote The History of the Seal of the United States. It was first published in 1892. It is available as editable web page on Open Library.

I mention all this to emphasize that people of all ages and nations have made wide use of symbolism to portray who they are and what they represent. As we proceed further into our study of the Revelation of St. John it remains important to remember that the book is indeed a book filled with symbols. It is a huge mistake to attempt to give the symbols of Revelation literal meaning as so many still persist in doing. And remember that those symbols can only be understood by referring back to the many symbols of the Old Testament. 

Blendspace: 3D Common Symbols
Symbols are and always will be all around us. Some of them are so commonplace that we simply take them for granted. No one needs to interpret many of them. Consider, for example, the symbols next to this paragraph. They are so common that you know at once what they stand for and understand how you are to respond to them. Nevertheless, if you do indeed understand what these symbols point to, it is because you have been taught their meaning. 

The very language we use is symbolic. For instance you may assume that there is some kind of link between the English word 'dog' and the animals that term represents. However, the same set of animals is represented by a completely different word and sound. In French it is 'chien', in Spanish it is 'perro', in German it is 'Hund'. We simply learn to associate the opaque symbol (sound 'dog') with the four legged creature that wanders around our houses. 

I won't belabor the point. If you wish to explore the development of symbolical language there are many, many websites available, e.g. Symbols, Symbols, Symbols

As I have emphasized again and again, the symbols of the Book of Revelation come directly from the Bible. And the Bible interprets itself. And it is a book that proclaims the Gospel. Christ has come, as promised by the prophets, to bear the weight of all men's sins upon the cross of Calvary. He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and now reigns on high over all things. Revelation is thus is a book of hope and comfort. As we continue we will see and hear again and again this message. Christ reigns. His conquest of the dark forces of evil is certain. When He returns we who trust in Him will reign with Him forever. Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20). Amen. 

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