Week 5 Idealism

Here are the overheads for week five on Idealism.





Here are the notes on Idealism:


The Idealist view also know as the spiritual, metaphorical, or poetic view.

The Idealist view of Eschatology maintains that the book of Revelation is to be interrupted symbolically as describing the conflict between good and evil. The events of Revelation cannot be interrupted as describing specific events, people, or places. The book of Revelation is a symbolic representation of the ongoing struggle between good and evil and demonstrates that ultimate victory belongs to God.

In other words the Idealism model views the book of Revelation metaphorically as metaphor for the on going struggle between good and evil.

One view of how to read Revelation from the Idealism model is that the seals, trumpets, and bowls seem to repeat the sequence of events in a sort of telescoping pattern. The same retelling of the events gets more intense as you move from seals to trumpets to bowls.

It can also be viewed as telling the same event from a different perspective or that the different telling of the same event could represent a different telling of the same event to a different (one of the seven) church in a different way.

I have not been able to pin down exactly when the Model known as Idealism came into existence. There have been people expressing views along these lines at least as far back as the Protestant Reformation.

This model is sometimes paired with other models such as post millennial model or Preterist view.

Many in the Idealist camp would dismiss the dispensational premillennial model as cult-like at best and down right horrible theology at worst that promotes a separatist worldview. Separatist in that Christians can depend on the rapture to rescue them from the worst events that might unfold in the Middle East so instead of working to resolving conflicts in the area and bring lasting peace it encourages just writing it off as a lost cause that can only end in the battle of Armageddon.

Idealism as a formal model is also new enough that it is still being defined and redefined by some thinkers. For example if you look at the chart thumbnail here 2008_history-as-parable.jpg (click to enlarge) you can see one such example. You can follow the link to the web site where it comes from and if you can explain exactly what is going on here to me then we will both understand it.

The imagery of the Idealist model is an ideal place to place the info about how the book of Revelation is focused on the revelation of Christ as told through the cycle of Jewish Festivals. The true focus of the book is not on beasts, antichrists, battles, etc, it is the story of the revelation of Christ.

The story is told through a literary form known as Chiasm which is incorporated into Hebrew literature through out the Old Testament. Its name comes from the Greek letter chi “X” and means a literary form where the structure is built around parallel thoughts that built like a crescendo to the most important point and then reverses itself as it descends which each point on the descent from the center point corresponding to a point on the ascension to the center. It would look like the left-hand side of the letter X. (Here is a link to more detailed info on Chiasms which is well done a time well spent reading. Then build on your Chiasm knowledge with this link to demonstrate how the book of Revelation is written in Chiasm form–also excellent and informative work )


– B

— C

— D

— C’

– B’


The Chiasm can be built with words, phrases, sounds, ideals, trains of thought, numbers, etc. The book of Revelation is built this way in the pattern:

A- Prolog — 1:1-8

B — 7 Churches — 1:9-3:22

C —- Seals and saints — 4:1-8:5

D —— Warning of judgment — 8:2, 6-11:19

E ——— Conflict over worship — 12:1-14:20

D’—— Execution of judgment — 15:1-18:24

C’—– “Sealing” of the wicked — 19:1-20:15

B’— Victorious church — 21:1-22:5

A’- Epilog — 22:6-21

Here the foundation of Revelation is the sanctuary festival calendar. Each festival reveals a different piece of the plan of redemption. While each piece can be viewed separately to understand the overarching plan of Christ’s redemptive work they have to be viewed in unison to see how they fit together.

It’s impossible to appreciate the book of Revelation without understanding the Old Testament and its inferences back to Jewish festivals.

Let’s look at the book of Revelation from the stand point of Jewish festivals beginning with the Passover Feast and how they are drawn on as the book of Revelation is written.

Passover Feast

The first festival of the year (Lev 23:5). This festival started as he the exodus from Egyptian captivity and later became a memorial to that release. Christ is sacrificed as a lamb would have been sacrificed for our sins. (1 Cor 5:7).

Key features of Passover included service of all 24 priestly courses (1 Chron 24:1-5) and the sacrifice of the lamb (Exod 12:6). the twenty-four priestly courses are represented by the twenty-four elders in Revelation (5:9) who have been redeemed implying that they are men and are performing priestly duties.

Feast of Trumpets

This feast begins the fall festivals. Each month, the shofar (use this link to view a page which provides information on how this type of horn is used as a trumpet) was blown on the first day. On the seventh month, the sabbatical cycle was completed. Rabbinical sources indicate that it was regarded as “little judgments leading up to the great judgment.” Hence the images in Revelation of the trumpets signaling increasingly harsh judgments being poured out on the earth.

The Day of Atonement

The most important day of the year was the Day of Atonement when the high priest went through an elaborate ritual in which he entered the Holy of Holies and it was important that the camp be silent during the Holy of Holies ministry. In the seals, trumpets, and bowls judgments all end in the Day of Atonement. In the seventh seal (8:1-5), there is silence and the large amount of incense. The seventh bowl has a “loud voice from the throne saying ‘It is done’” (16:17), concluding the Atonement.

The Feast of Booths

The final festival was the Feast of Booths (Lev 23:34-43). This was a reminder of the miraculous deliverance from Egypt. Here the Hebrews made temporary “booths” of the branches of trees in which they lived for a week. These symbolized the protection from the desert sun while in the wilderness. The Feast of Tabernacles is foreshadowed in Revelation 7:15-17, where it says God “will spread a booth over them.” Further echoes of this festival include protection from “sun, heat, and thirst” in verses 16-17. This foreshadowing is more directly presented in Revelation 20:7-10. There the second resurrection leads to the attack of the wicked on the saints who have descended from heaven. Fire from heaven destroys the wicked, and the saints are protected.

Shemini Atzeret.

Further, the Feast of Tabernacles was centered on a seven-day temporary residence in booths. After the festival, the people were to leave their temporary shelters and move to their permanent homes. The key feature of Shemini Atzaret is the movement from temporary to permanent dwellings. This is represented in Revelation by the New Jerusalem.

Since “Jewish” festivals permeate every part of Revelation, it is impossible to separate the book into “church” and “non-church” segments or Jewish and Christian segments. All people become one in Christ as the Mosaic age of the old convent flows into new convent of the Christian age. This would deny any as Darby states “dividing the Word” between those parts which pertain to the Jewish people and those which pertain to the Church.

The revelation draws more on the Old Testament text than any other book of the Bible. There are thirty-four direct references to the Book of Daniel in the Revelation; 49 to Isaiah; 31 to Ezekiel; 21 to Exodus; 23 to the Psalms; 16 to Jeremiah; 10 to Zechariah (that’s 184 direct quotations!). Also referred to are Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Kings, Proverbs, Hosea, Joel, Malachi, Amos, Job, Maccabees, and Micah.

Hope everyone has a good week and will see you next Wednesday at 6:30.


%d bloggers like this: