SymbolismPMT 2015-046 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the third in a series responding a reader named Rick. As he looks at preterism, it seems to reduce supernatural actions of God to mundane historical events and apply glorious images of eternity to contemporary history. This was leaving him spiritually depressed. He wonders if preterism is inherently deflating for the Christian hope.

I reduce his lengthy question to several focused observations. I am dealing with the second summary observation in this article:

2. Why can we not interpret Rev 8:8 as referring to a meteor strike and the enormous consequences resulting from it? Why should we discount a more literal understanding when it is entirely feasible? Are we limiting the supernatural power of God?

On the surface, interpreting Rev 8:8 as a meteor strike is not unreasonable. We know that such a strike would produce catastrophic destruction. And God certainly has the power to providential direct a meteor to the earth.

Theological Debates Today (5 mp3 messages)
Conference lectures on contemporary theological issues:
1. The Great Tribulation; 2. The Book of Revelation; 3. Hyperpreterism;
4. Paedocommunion; 5. God’s Law
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But we have to interpret Scripture according to its genre and context, rather than in a manner that is more impressive and exciting.

John’s expressly stated time-frame controls where in history we should look for the fulfillment of Rev 8:8. John clearly states that the events in Rev are to take place soon, because the time is near.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John” (Rev 1:1).

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev 1:3)

This is especially significant in that we can see OT imagery employed in Rev 8:8. And that imagery speaks very similarly to John’s burning-mountain reference. Since John is mimicking the OT prophets (with his grammar, OT allusions, place names, and so forth), this should lead us to consider the collapse of the temple and Jerusalem (as I noted in my last article) as the proper and relevant understanding of the passage.

Besides this, we cannot get around the fact that Rev is an extremely symbolic book, so that a literal interpretation should not necessarily be the first option to which we turn. In Rev we see numerous symbolic statements. Consider:

Do we not see Christ with feet like glowing hot burnished bronze (1:15; 2:18)? His hand holding seven stars (1:16; 2:1)? His mouth having a sword coming out of it (1:16; 2:16)? His possessing keys to death and Hades (1:18)? His giving faithful saints the morning star (2:28)? His holding David’s key (3:7)? His making his overcoming followers a pillar in the temple of God (3:12)? His spitting people out of his mouth (3:16)? His standing at a door and knocking (3:20)? Strangely compounded creatures filled with eyes and having six wings (4:6–7)? A slain but living lamb with seven eyes (5:6)? Four lone horsemen wreaking cultural havoc (6:1–8), with one of them carrying a pair of scales (6:5) and another having Hades following him (6:8)? Men talking to mountains (6:16)? People washing their robes in blood (7:14)? A third of the sun and moon being smitten (8:12)?

Have we not notice a key for the bottomless pit (9:1; 20:1)? Locusts with bodies of horses, faces of men, teeth of lions, crowns of gold, and tails like scorpions (9:6)? Lion-headed, scorpion-tailed horses belching fire and smoke (9:17) with tails like serpents (9:19)? Fire-breathing prophets (11:5)? A woman with eagle wings standing on the moon (12:1, 14)? A seven-headed red dragon with ten horns and seven crowns who pulls stars down from heaven (12:3–4)? War in heaven (12:7)? A serpent vomiting a river of water from his mouth (12:15)? Ten-crowned, seven-headed beast who is a compound of three carnivores (13:1–2)? A two-horned beast that speaks like a dragon and forces men to worship the seven-headed beast (13:1, 11)? Two angels possessing sickles and who reap the earth (14:15–19)? Non-coagulating blood flowing for 200 miles to the depth of horses’ bridles (14:20)? Bowls full of the wrath of God (15:7; 16:1)? A sea that becomes blood like that of a dead man (16:3)? Frogs coming out of the mouth of a dragon (16:13)?

Theological Analysis of Tongues
(6 mp3 sermons by Ken Gentry)
This six part sermon series covers the key issues for understanding tongues-speaking
as intended by Scripture.
Very helpful even for eschatology, given tongues-speaking serving as
a sign of covenant curse upon Israel.
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Are we not encouraged in this direction by statements regarding the collapse of all mountains on the earth (16:20)? A harlot sitting on many waters (17:1) and riding a seven-headed beast (17:3). A harlot which is drunk from drinking blood (17:6), having the blood of all the saints in her (18:24)? Sins being piled up to heaven (18:5)? Christ returning with a sword in his mouth and on horse from heaven while wearing many diadems (19:11, 12, 15)? An angel possessing a key and a chain to bind the evil spirit Satan (20:1–2)? Death and Hades being thrown into a lake of fire (20:14)? God preparing to marry a city (21:2)? The city the size of a 1500 mile high cube floating down out of heaven (21:10, 16; cp. 3:12)? Gold that is like clear glass (21:18) or transparent glass (21:21)? Each of the twelve huge gates to the city made out of a single pearl (21:21)? A tree bearing twelve different fruits and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations (22:2)? Jesus as a bright morning star (22:16)?

Upon entering Rev we are entering a different world from that found in the Gospels and Acts. We are clearly entering a symbolic world. Thus, to interpret the burning-mountain symbolically is not stretching matters. In fact, it should be expect.

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  1. Barry Will April 15, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Excellent answers by Mr Gentry! As a former premillennialist I understand the inquisitor’s (Mr Georgia) dilemma. It will take some retraining of the mind to see these Scriptures in the framework of the preteristic (biblical) hermeneutic.

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