Mountains

Posted in: Spirituality by bill-o on May 22, 2009

In the Bible, mountains are often symbolic of kingdoms. Hills, in turn, are smaller kingdoms or principalities. Islands are symbols of democracies or republics, and the landless sea is a symbol either of outright anarchy or perhaps of tribal rule. Valleys are symbolic places of the weak and disadvantaged in society.

With this in mind, the biblical reader can discern parabolic meanings:

But it is to the words of the prophets Micah and Isaiah that I would most like to draw your attention to here:

“And it will come about in the last days: The mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the greatest mountain. It will be raised above the hills, and people will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he will judge between many peoples and render decisions for mighty and distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war.” (a modification of the NASB version)

What is this mountain of the house of the Lord that is somehow associated with the coming of peace on earth? How can something as mighty as a mountain (which is symbolic of a kingdom) be associated with a single house? What would induce all of the nations of the world to stop fighting each other and voluntarily go up to this “house of the Lord”?

We’ll explore more about this in the coming days ahead.

Story of the Good Samaritan: A Fresh Perspective

Posted in: Spirituality by bill-o on August 09, 2008

You’ve probably already heard of the Story of the Good Samaritan. It was Jesus’ answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?”.

What you may *not* have heard is the symbolic interpretation of this story. Amazingly enough, looking at this story as being symbolic (allegorical) produces a sweeping picture of the entire story of humankind from beginning to end.

The story begins with a traveller going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. This is a steep downhill journey. This is symbolic of Adam being placed into the earth with the purpose of ruling over it after having been designed and thought of in the eternal, heavenly mind of God. [Note: The very beginning of the story in the original language (ancient Greek) even says “a certain man …” (the traveller), which is translated as “Adam”.] Yet before Adam can realize his true potential of ruling over all of the earth, he and his wife, Eve, make a tragic decision. Without fully realizing what they are doing, they surrender their privileges as a son and a daughter of God.

The thieves who attacked the traveller are symbols of the devil and demons. The robbery of the clothes of the traveller represents a loss of authority and identity, which is what happened to Adam and Eve (and to all of humanity, their descendants) when, after being tricked into doing so by the serpent, they disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree. This was then marked by their expulsion from Eden and their loss of a regular, face-to-face relationship with God in that garden. As happened to the victim in the story, they became “half-dead”. All of humanity is created in the likeness of God, and yet this stain of separation from God remains.

The unhelpful passers-by, the priest and the levite, represent religious law and religion systems. Neither is able or willing to help. [As it is written: By the works of the law, no one will be justified (helped).] Symbolically in the story, the law comes by first and then the religious ceremonies, formalities and systems that surround that law. [The Levites assisted the priests in ancient Judea.]

The Good Samaritan represents Jesus. The Samaritan pours oil and wine upon the victim’s wounds. Oil often represents the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God) in the Bible, whereas wine often represents the blood of Christ, shed for all of humanity on the cross. Samaritans were part Jewish and part gentile (non-Jewish). This is symbolic of Jesus being God and man. The victim is then carried by the Samaritan to Jericho. This symbolizes Jesus Christ doing what humankind carelessly gave up the ability to do on its own: going “down” to its divine (heavenly) destiny of ruling (the story of Genesis says subduing/possessing/having dominion over) the earth. The inn where the traveller is housed in safety is a symbol of the church, the body of Christ. Finally, the promise of the Samaritan to return represents the second coming of Jesus back to the earth.

Another facet of this symbolic interpretation is offered by Sam Soleyn in his new MP3 series entitled “The Culture of the Kingdom”. See:

http://www.soleyn.org/download_materials.html

In program 139 of this series, Mr. Soleyn sees the two coins as symbolizing 2,000 years. This is because the type of coin in the story refers to one day’s wage for the average worker at that time, and also because, in the Bible, references to one day were often symbolic of 1,000 years. If this is correct, Jesus is saying that he would return for his church after about 2,000 years.

By the way, seeing this story as a series of symbols is not a new invention. Rather, it has ancient roots. The respected 3rd-century theologian Origen wrote down this interpretation and said that other followers of Christ had passed it down to him. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_samaritan#Allegory_of_the_Fall_and_the_Redemption

Do you also find this symbolic interpretation interesting or do you consider it to be just a distraction from the more direct meaning of the story?