Human Intelligence and Symbolism

Human intelligence differs from that of animals. Every creature is equiped to survive with various aspects of intelligence or instincts, but human intelligence is superior to that of animals in that we are able to use symbols and “figures.” We are able to use language that is made up of words that are symbols. For example, the word “dog” spoken or written, is not an actual dog, but a symbol for that kind of animal. The word, “food” cannot be eaten, but is a symbol for something that we all know about and need. The young babe begins to learn to recognize the sounds of these word symbols and is then schooled to learn to write them on paper, to read them, thereby expanding his perception of the world and universe in which he finds himself.

Not only are word symbols used in conversation, writing and reading, but in the use of number symbols the human mind has the ability to do abstract thought into more and more difficult areas of calculations.
Then there is the intelligent use of map making and map reading, that ranges all the way from using a simple drawing, to geographical maps and globes, to the “mind boggling” aspects of astronomy. Human intelligence can produce blueprints, develop inventions, and manufacture the various gadgets now commonly used for communications and entertainment.

Human intelligence also differs from that of the animal world in that man is able to comprehend that which is invisible. He can find evidences in the natural world to convince Him of an intelligent Designer and know that there is a God which is not visible here and now. He can comprehend a vicarious act in which he can find forgiveness for sin and escape the load of guilt. He can understand that there is a future and the difference between eternal death and eternal life. He has the ability to examine his own motives and life experiences of past and present and determine the course of action needed. These insights depend on the use of words (symbols) to form thoughts and beliefs.

Symbols and the Bible

The Bible is known as the “Word” of God. Not only is every word a symbol for some idea, but it uses several levels of symbolism. The use of symbols is a skill, in language or in numbers or any other area, that is developed with training and use, some persons becoming more proficient than others in their field of expertise. There are “levels” of symbolism that go beyond mere word or figure symbols that are often used in literature. There are parables that have hidden applications, there are stories or poetry that are called allegories because they too have hidden meanings, there are flags that are symbols for countries, animals that represent certain cultures, analogies using “like” or “as” in open comparison, or “simile” wherein words are substituted for similar ideas.

The language of the Bible is rich in the use of symbolism. Biblical symbolism ranges from the simple use of “words” to be understood in their most obvious or literal meaning, to the use of prophetic symbols such as images, heads, horns, seas, eyes, rivers, seas, waters, earth, toes, churches, bride, groom, wedding, used in the prophetic triad of the books of Daniel , Revelation, and The Song of Songs.

A word of caution: When dealing with prophecy, there is a tendency to create confusion by unprincipled persons to make incorrect applications to symbols or to declare that which is obvious and literal to be symbolic, or visa versa. For example, if a speaker does not really know the meaning of a word, has not researched it, nor verified its true meaning, he may simply say with assumed authority as a speaker-teacher-theologian, that the word is “symbolic” and his congregation assumes that the matter is settled! he declares the word is “symbolic” in the sense that it has a hidden meaning so that he cannot give it a logical explanation! This evasive technique should be recognized and confronted. The presenter of truth needs to state plainly that the question is not “Is the ‘daily’ literal or symbolic but rather “What does the word, ‘daily’ mean?” If we don’t know what the English word means then go to the Hebrew original word, “tamiyd” and tell us what it means. A Hebrew Dictionary tells us that it refers to a “continuum” that stretches in both directions into eternity! It is not the ministry of Christ but in the book of Daniel refers to the power, seat, and authority---of one empire after another or the “power to rule” which originates in God’s eternal throne. {Ps. 45:6).

In regard to the word, “daily” as used in the book of Daniel, there is much confusion and false assumptions. The Bible expositor needs to look at the word in its original Hebrew meaning. The “best Bible student” among the pioneers was S.N. Haskel who knew exactly its meaning. He knew that it referred to the “power to rule” also called the “sovereignty” of any nation or government. He knew that the “daily taken away” in the book of Daniel and explained more fully in the book of Revelation referred to the “power, seat, and authority” (Rev. 13:2), that was taken away from pagan or Imperial Rome and transferred to Papal Rome.

“Paganism—the ‘daily’ of Dan. 8:12—was taken away, it is true, and Rome became nominally
a Christian empire. Her emperor professed the name of Christ, and carried before his army
the banner of the cross…to John this transfer from Paganism [sun worshipping Rome] to the
Papacy is represented as a transfer of power [to rule] from the dragon [Imperial Rome] to
The beast [Papacy]. Rev. 13:2.”
S. N. Haskel. The Story of Daniel the Prophet, p. 128.
See “The Daily’…and the New World Order by Marian G. Berry for a complete definition of
the “daily” esp. p. 42, 43.
See the Vatican explanation of the details as to how this transfer of the power to rule, seat, and
authority was taken away from the emperpr of Rome and given to the Papal bishops ln
The Story of Christianity, a Celebration of 2000 Years of Faith by Michael Collins and Father
Matthew A. Price p. 72.
Quoted in Daniel and Revelation Bound Together by J. S. Risbeck. 2010. P. 51.

Furthermore, the prophetess wrote as follows:

“Then I saw in relation to the ‘daily’ (Dan. 8:12) that…the Lord gave the correct view of jt
To those who gave the judgment hour cry. When union existed before 1844, nearly ALL
Were united on the correct view of the ‘daily’; but in the confusion since 1844, other
Views have been embraced, and darkness and confusion have followed.
Early Writings, E. G. White, p. 74, 75.

There is no excuse for anyone to be in confusion over the meaning of the ‘daily taken away” when it has been so clealy researched from its original Hebrew meaning, defined, explained, and endorsed by the prophet, and rests of the testimony of Roman Catholic historicists, Adventist pioneers who gave the judgment hour cry, and recently re established in the above mentioned literature.
The ‘daily’ is the “power, seat, and authority to rule” or sovereignty of the nations dowh through the ages, which at last will be taken over by God who will restore this lost dominion to the saints and becomes that “tamiyd” or continuum that will be an eternal blessing. No. it is not the ministry of Christ, and no, it is not a symbolic term that cannot be explained.

Futurism and Preterism and the Misuse of Symbolism.

European reformers and Advent pioneers saw in the book of Daniel, chapters 7 and 8, the symbols that placed the “time, times, and dividing of time” into a symbolic context, making them (1260) days symbolic time. They interpreted the symbolic days by the use of the Year-day Principle. (Nu. 4:34 and Eze. 4:6.) to refer to 1,260 literal years of Papal Supremacy over Europe. This brought about the separation from Rome and formed the Protestant movement.

As large countries in northern Europe broke away from Papal control , Rome became desperate to find a way to counter those prophecies in Dan. 7 and 8 with a new interpretation. A Jesuit priest, Francisco Ribera invented a new interpretation. He simply ignored or denied the symbolic context and declared the “time, times, and dividing of time” to be a literal three and a half years, in which an unknown individual would be the antichrist to reign at the end of time. This took the accusing finger off Rome.
Another Jesuit priest, Louis d’ Alcazar, did the same declaring the symbolic “time, times, and dividing of time” to be three and a half literal years, but placed them in the distant past in reference to Antiacus Epifanese, a Greek ruler who persecuted the Jews. This also took the accusing finger off Rome.
Discussions could be carried on regarding these two opposing views, without Rome coming into the picture.

A Protestant preacher from England picked up Ribera’s futurism views and introduced it to the Protestant world. It was accepted by American Protestant denominations and Hal Llindsay in his book, “Left Behind” and movie, established the rapture theory in the minds of millions. Protestantism was left without a reason for their existence, defenseless, unable to fatham the meaning of Daniel 7 and 8, and declaring the whole book of Revelation a sealed or closed document too fragmented and complicate for human understanding. Much, much depends on the correct use of Biblical symbolism.

This writer would suggest that the Bible never be opened without prayer for the Holy Spirit that leads to Truth, not confusion. Not only is the Bible the “Word” using the lower level of symbolism in every word, but in prophecy using the highest levels of symbols which becomes a trap for the wicked but a source of information to those who are willing to be led by God. There is good inspired counsel given to those who love Truth, as follows:

“The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious (literal)
Meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed.” The Great Controversy 599.

The Bible is its own interpreter of symbols. The context will tell to what a symbol is pointing.
It is no longer safe to listen to uninspired men giving their opinions on such important matters. Let the Holy Spirit lead into all truth and apply the rules consistently. Be not content to study that which has been taught for more than a century (Dan. 1-9) but look at the whole book, (Dan. 1-12) and examine the last chapter to see if the symbolism of heads, horns, beasts, etc. is still in the context. If not, then follow the rule, to explain it in its most obvious meaning. as literal time. Examine every word. Find the “Present Truth” for today and know that is coming in the future. Know where we are today in the stream of time.