There are two ways in how to study these two books:
- As is…
- Allegorically or symbolically
The book of Revelation and Song of Songs need to be studied as they are written, and they are also meant to be understood allegorically for the purpose of knowing who God is. The reason this is done is that we may engage with the Holy Spirit, and it would be revealed to those who love the Lord. (We need to study it in its fullness by also understanding the allegorical view, especially in our culture where that type of thinking pattern is not as popular as the Hebraic mindset, more common for the Jews. It is impossible for those who are not saved to understand the Scriptures and interpret it correctly without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Those who are saved and do not engage with the Holy Spirit also will have a difficult time interpreting things correctly.) Good thing the Scriptures has a huge database of its own definitions of different allegories and symbols defined by different authors in the whole Bible. Because of that, the majority of visions, dreams, and symbols can be understood if we are well versed in the Bible or if we know how to research it up with a software that does word-search as we engage with the Holy Spirit. As we go through these studies, our main focus is to retain God that it would produce a lifestyle of worship, rather than just knowledge.
The Holy Spirit showed me how to study these books before and how to study other Scriptures, and the focus is on using one Scripture to compare it with another one. When we do this, we are comparing light with light or the spiritual with spiritual (1 Cor. 2:13) because the Scriptures was written by people who were inspired by His leading (2 Tim. 3:16). Before I share some practical in how to interpret these Scriptures, you have to be careful to not rely on your own understanding or to become presumptuous. Even the most educated in the Scriptures missed God in their studies because of their pride (Matthew 22:23-29; 2 Peter 3:16) or ignorance (Luke 24:45). We need to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us and to guide us throughout the readings and the study of these amazing books. The purpose of the reading of these books and other books is to learn about who God is in our efforts of seeking Him wholeheartedly.
As we are going through these books, we need to ask, “How is God revealing Himself in these Scriptures?” When you see how God is revealing Himself in the Scriptures through the Holy Spirit, just begin diving into worship of God and go crazy after Him. Take an intended time to worship Him and be in awe of God. Take time to go, “Woa,” “Wow,” “You’re amazing,” and “Glory” or “Holy.” Those are the common words I like to use when I am in awe, and I’m sure you can be creative with certain explosions of worship from dancing to joyful noises. As we are going through these Scriptures and any other book, there should be an explosion of worship.
If we are offended or feel angry at God, stop and take time to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us and expose any areas of lies that we believe that hinders the knowledge of God. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring down the stronghold of any ideologies or arguments in our minds that go against the knowledge of God. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 states, “4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” As we engage with the Holy Spirit in reading these Scriptures through the weapon of prayer, we will begin to understand His great love for us and to fall in Love with God authentically, producing an awesome time of worship.
It is so crucial to engage with the Holy Spirit as we are reading the Scriptures because the Holy Spirit will begin transforming our lives by revealing the Truth, Jesus Christ, to us rather than just getting knowledge or retaining information. Romans 1:28 states, “And even as they did not like to retain God n their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting…” If we are reading the Scriptures for the sake of knowledge, we will fall into sin and compromise or continue in it because faith will not be produced. If we are reading the Scripture for the sake of seeking God or retaining God, the Lord will give us the minds of Christ and our faith will be encouraged (1 Cor. 2:16). The Scripture also states, “Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:11-12; NKJV).
The type of thinking pattern that we need to actually understand the Scriptures more fully is similar to the way the Hebrews think, especially books before Matthew and things that have parables, visions, and dreams. Allegorical interpretation is not weird or “reading into it too much” when done correctly because it is also revealed to us in the Scriptures that several authors of the books of the Bible think this way as well.
For example, Paul stated in 1 Corinthian 10:4, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Paul was referencing to that time when the Israelites drank from the water that actually proceeded from a rock that Moses struck twice, instead of speaking to the rock (Numbers 20:8-11). The way to interpret this passage if we lived in Paul’s time when Paul did not write the Corinthians book yet, or to be in Paul’s mindset, is to see it from the perspective that Paul actually had a revelation that God is the Rock. Because of that revelation, Paul was also able to connect to the passages from Numbers 20:8-11. Since many allegories in the Bible have already been defined for us already like in 1 Corinthians 10:4, we can simply just do research or do parallel verses with one another. It is helpful to understand that Paul thinks that way, and it is more helpful for us personally when we go back to Numbers 20 and study it from the perspective that God is the Rock. We are able to receive more understanding of the ways of God. Therefore, you can read this and ask, “If God is the Rock, then why did Moses strike the rock?” What does it mean to strike the rock, since Paul referenced that passage to an allegory of Jesus Christ? If we read it allegorically, we may be able to understand the depth of why God did not allow Moses to take the people into the promise land.
“Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.’So Moses took the rod from before theLordas He commanded him.
And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.” (Numbers 20:8-11; NKJV)
When we study that same passage from an allegorical perspective, we begin understanding that Moses got offended and angry at God, not just people. He struck God, not just a rock. He took it personally, and their responses to God caused him to ultimately be offended at God. He struck the rock or He hurt God when Moses responded poorly toward the people of God by making this process to be about him and the people, without the perspective that it was God who saved them. In one way, Moses took the glory of God away from Him when he made it to be about his work and gifting rather than something, like salvation, belonging to the Lord (Numbers 20:12). When we read it that way in the same consistent manner, we begin to be shocked that God actually was wounded because of Moses’ response and the way that he badly portrayed God. To verify that this ideology is true, we can see that God has been wounded in other times as well in other Scriptures because of our sins (Isa. 53:5). (This is an example of comparing light with light or the spiritual with spiritual.) As a leader, Moses was suppose to raise His hands up with the rod speaking to the rock as a symbol of intercession or speaking on behalf of the people to the Lord as he has seen before in impossible times rather than having a prideful perspective that he was the one who saves. He lost sight of God, and instead of looking at God, he looked at the people’s behavior and that produced great anger and pride in his heart. (Moses was a person of righteousness, and God gave the Law to him. When we live according to the Law without gazing upon God, it will produce violence, anger, and many more things.) Because of that prideful perspective in Moses’ heart, he would not be able to go to the promise land, leading people to the ultimate purpose of worshipping God in the promise land. As a leader, Moses was responsible to the measure of the revelation of God that was given to him, and he responded in doubt or sin even when he knew God intimately as a friend. “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle” (Exodus 33:11; NKJV). This lifestyle in Joshua was already engrained in him before he was set before the people as a leader after Moses. The Lord afterward raised up Joshua to lead the people because Joshua was a man after God’s heart learning of the heart of the priestly way before he was even known, which was through intercession and the lifting up the hands by never departing from the tabernacle, which was the part that Moses failed to exemplify of God (Exodus 33:11; Psalm 141:2).
By the way, did you just notice what I did with that same passage with Exodus 33:11?
“So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.”(Exodus 33:11; NKJV)
(I don’t know what he actually did in the tabernacle but we can certainly know that he learned of the ways of the priest, and somewhere in that process, he received the Spirit of God in him as stated in Numbers 27:18.)
When we research up the word “tabernacle” or understand the purpose of the tabernacle and what it represents after Christ’s ascension, we begin to understand that the priestly ministry was never removed even after Christ’s ascension among the people. Psalm 141:2 compared the evening sacrifice and the incense done in the tabernacle as the lifting up of the hands and the prayers of the saints. Therefore, whenever we read about the lifting up of the hands, we can equate that symbolically, most of the time, as our sacrifice of worship before God through our physical posture. There are times that symbolism would not be true, and because of that, we need to read the context.
When you begin reading the Bible like this, it will begin to be very rewarding. It is generally difficult for someone to read the Bible like this if they don’t know a lot of Scriptures well or willing to go through the time to find all of the definitions of the different symbols used in the Bible. This is especially true if we are not saved and not skilled in the word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:13-14). The writer of Hebrews rebuked the people for not being able to understand the Scriptures and draw the connection of Christ to the things written in the past because they were unskilled in the word of righteousness when it was normal for their thinking pattern. (This thinking pattern will take time to develop especially in our Greek culture in US and that is okay.) When we live in darkness, we will not be able to understand the Scriptures as stated by Jesus, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, andtheirsins be forgiven them.” We have been forgiven by God as believers, and it is possible to understand parables, visions, poetic language like Song of Songs, and dreams which are more popular among the Hebrew thinkers. Thank God for the ministry of the Holy Spirit that does this amazing transformation in our lives as He reveals Christ to us, that we may know Him. So, remember to engage with the Holy Spirit when you read this even in the context when I show you how to do it practically, and worship God when He reveals who He is to you to retain God, not just knowledge.
– Tammy Dao