LITERAL OR FIGURATIVE?
DISCUSSIONS WITH A WATCH-TOWERITE
Maurice M Johnson vs. Tujohn
TUJOHN: Question is, is that a literal statement or figurative?
JOHNSON: Which one?
TUJOHN: Revelation 20 and 10. Is that a literal statement? You believer in a literal lake of fire where devils will be tortured and wicked will be tortured forever? Is that literal? If it's literal, the beast is literal, the fire is literal, the pain is literal. If it's symbolic, it has nothing to do with literal suffering, literal beast, or anything else. Now, it's either symbolic or literal. If you make it symbolic, your foundation is denied. If you make it literal, you got a beast to roast.
JOHNSON: All right, now when you get through...
TUJOHN: One or the other. Let's have it.
JOHNSON: When you get through...
When the Lord Jesus Christ was referred to as the Lamb of God, we know from other scripture that he wasn't a four footed wooly lamb, but He was the lamb of God. And by comparing scripture with scripture on the subject of lamb, we get much very rich teaching in typology and prophesy, and then the antitype Christ and the fulfillment, the lamb. He's the lamb of God.
Now, we read in Romans the 1st chapter about men who turn from the knowledge of God that they have. And then they burned in their lust, burned. Now, I do not gather from the old scripture that that was... it doesn't say a fire started by coal oil or hard coal or soft coal or gas, but it doesn't bother me because I'm not a crook or an infidel. I believe that that was a fire that burned in men. I believe in many respects it was probably much worse than burning your fingers on the gas jets or the hot state of your hand. I think it was a most deadly fire, and it was one they felt, and it did awful damage to those men that "burned in their lusts" -- that's inspired language. Now though I believe it's figurative so far as literal fire's concerned, what we call literal fire, and I think probably we often, we too often let somebody like Webster or some other man that got the dictionary together, tell us what is literal and what is figurative.
For instance, I have a friend who... one time when he referred to Christ as the door, and someone said, "Well that's figurative.", and he said, "Well just a minute. I'm not sure at all that that's figurative." "Well... you don't think Christ is a door with hinges and a knob?" "No, I think that's the figurative and Christ is the original door." And I think my friend was right.
WILBUR JOHNSON: Amen.
JOHNSON: I think we all too often speak of figurative things... Christ was the lamb slain from the foundation of the World. Well that's before any wooly lamb was ever killed. And foreordained before the foundation of the world we're told in the Word of God. And so there's a very definite sense in which the fire that burned in those men that lusted, "burned" we're told there, probably shouldn't be called figurative but maybe that's the real fire of destructive fire so far as inside of men's lusts. And the outside fire could be more nearly... figurative. But it was literal, physical fire of course on the outside where the trash pile was burning.
Now it's the fire over here we're told that, "They will have no rest day nor night forever and ever." And we're told, "The smoke of their torment will ascend up." Now it isn't my problem to give you the chemical constituency of that smoke. It isn't my problem nor my desire nor have I the ability to take that smoke into the smog expert's laboratory (they're not being able to analyze much here I guess) and say, "Will you please tell me exactly what kind of smoke that is, and what kind of fire?"
If it is figurative language, then He's using language that to us would express the most horrible that our language could bring before our eyes. And it wouldn't be the figurative... the figurative language you know is never weaker than the thing it prefigures. Never. The Lamb of... the lamb back yonder, the wooly lamb, were never stronger and more meek and wonderful than the lamb they figured in the sacrifices, the lamb they prefigured. The figure was a wooly lamb, meek (comparatively), but it figured one that was infinitely meek before his shearers, the crucifiers. And so the lake of fire, the lake of fire, it certainly doesn't suggest to any rational mind, people to be cast in the lake of fire, this is the second death, that it would mean it would have to be a lake of fire... to be cast into a lake of fire where there would be no conscience punishment at all. Yet the scriptures say, "the smoke of their torment ascended up", "they will weep and wail with gnashing of teeth", and "they will have no rest day nor night forever".
And I... back in Hebrews 10, "He that despiseth Moses' law died without mercy," same in this translation, "died without mercy under two or three witnesses." He was called before the whole congregation of Israel, accused, tried; if he was found guilty of two or three witnesses, then he was stoned to death publicly. That was first a lot of humiliation, and then in the presence of his loved ones and neighbors and all, he was stoned to death. And that wasn't a very pleasant punishment. It was a death that had a lot of suffering, humiliation preceding the actual death, stopping of his heart. "Of how much sorer punishment," the inspired language says, "suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" How much sorer punishment than being tried publicly before your neighbors and all and stoned to death. How much sorer than that?
Now if death means cessation of being, then stoned to death over there, put in the lake of fire here, no conscience punishment. And yet the Scripture says, "weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth", "no rest day nor night forever", "he that is unjust, let him be." He said awhile ago that 'being' shouldn't be referred to any human being, any human, it should be only deity: I Am, God, the Father. But we read here, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still," end of the book of Revelation. That sounds like they are going to continue to exist after the white throne judgment.
WILBUR JOHNSON: Amen.
Return to Navigation