Symbolism in Revelation
Revelation shows us events in the spiritual realm. We see how conflict in the spiritual realm manifests and impacts events in the physical world around us. Because humans typically do not “see” things and events of the spirit world, we do not have a vocabulary to discuss or understand them. The figurative, symbolic language of Revelation is the only way such an insight can be provided to God’s people. In other words, the Revelation shows us things and events using language that we can understand to explain things we cannot normally understand. None of it is mysterious or hard to understand: the Bible, itself contains all the keys to interpretation. The symbolism in Revelation is drawn directly from the rest of Scripture, much of it from the poetic and prophetic writings of the Old Testament. A great deal of it is based on the physical Tabernacle, for example. As we read, we imagine each symbol as John describes it and ask ourselves what it means based on how the symbol – items, colors, numbers – are used in the rest of Scripture.