As with Part I, the views discussed here came in the wake of writing The Two Witnesses, which, as already explained, is a commentary on the broad aspects of Bible prophecy, with major emphasis on Revelation 11. I believe this portion will also be seen as complementary and supportive of The Two Witnesses. However, Acts 27 and 28 will provide an even larger portrait of the Christian era. Not to exalt my role in the discovery, but the picture is absolutely amazing when seen. And if the reader grasped the images from God's 'darkroom' in John 11, I'm convinced you will see these even more clearly.
By now, you must have guessed that I like to teach by analogy. Successful teachers are well-aware of how parallelism reinforces any teaching-learning situation. The best instructor in the business obviously knew this---Jesus did it routinely. Recall the cow's face I used in my work as an optometrist? It was very hard for many to see without assistance. But, when seen, people could hardly believe that they had overlooked it. I related this difficulty to our tendency to miss metaphoric meanings in Scripture. I'd like to once again use pictures, only this time from the perspective of how modern photographs are actually made.
Several years ago, photography was a very serious hobby of mine. And I do mean serious, almost, I reluctantly admit, to the point of obsession. This occurred during my "wilderness-wanderings" of those days. However, with 20/20 hindsight, I now see that God [as He often does with rebelliousness] could turn this background around and use it to His glory. Let me share some things I learned in photography that may help you better understand my approach to certain Scriptures believed to contain metaphors and allegory.
I owned all kinds of equipment necessary to do photography, from expensive hand-held cameras to large field cameras which had to be mounted on tri-pods. I also had a fully-equipped darkroom in my optometric office where I spent countless hours during evenings and weekends [with pre-determined freedom from interruptions] trying to make the "perfect print". I also own, and have read numerous times, most of Ansel Adams books on his techniques of creative photography(1).
Bringing out the details of metaphoric meanings seems to work very similar to the way a quality picture is developed in a photographic darkroom. As you know, first, using a camera, an image of a desired scene is exposed on a film. The film is then developed. A negative image (the opposite of the way a photograph looks) is created on the film. Later, using an enlarger, this image is transferred to printing paper by shining light on it through the negative. The image is then latent [invisible] on the paper. Now here's where the fun really begins for a darkroom photographer. When the paper is placed in a special developer solution, within seconds, an image will begin to appear---first a little hazy spot here, then a line there, next a curve is revealed, etc., continuing a few moments until the whole picture emerges which had been captured on the film.
To get the main idea here, the reader needs to know another technical fact: the image on the negative almost always contains more information than is transferable to printing paper. Even with today's phenomenal technology, the science of developing prints, automatically, just isn't that good. This is where high-quality photography comes into play. It's what made Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams. He, better than any other, could get virtually every tone and texture onto paper of that which existed on the negative. His life was dedicated to doing this. And to validate his skills, his prints are now all over the world---in books, galleries, libraries, etc., with some of his prints being worth thousands of dollars.
Here's where the analogy really begins to relate to Scriptural allegory. In the process of development, there are many techniques [in addition to the simple one just outlined] which can be done to enhance the picture, drawing out those slightly-hidden images. This is achieved in a variety of ways: by careful selection of developing paper, developer solutions, temperature controls, placing the print in other special solutions which bring out certain shades of gray, tints, tones, shadow detail, etc., until you eventually have a picture truly worthy of being called a quality print---i.e., one which has most of the details on it which were present on the negative.
Thus, in terms of information, all expert photographers know that the secret lies in the negative. No picture, regardless of who's doing the developing, can be any better than the negative itself. One can almost always find more detail, especially in the shadows, on a negative than can be transferred to a print. That's just the way it is. However, a dedicated lab-worker will work diligently towards bringing out the most he can from a negative, and transfer it to the final print.
Now let's apply the analogy. Think of God's Word as the negative. God has put all the necessary information in the Bible for our scrutiny and benefit. Every aspect of His intended-meaning is there---the main and obvious picture; the highlights; the straight lines; the curves; the brightness variations; and also the shadow detail and other subtleties. It is mainly in this latter area, the shadow details and other subtleties, where I am concentrating in this book. Bringing out non-obvious shades of meaning requires sensitivity (which God Himself puts in us), background (gained from study and experience), diligence, plus the desire and motivation to do it. Drawing as much information as I can from the "negative" and placing it onto the "print", is my strong desire. My ultimate objective is to be obedient to the Lord in this effort, with the hope that the reader is blessed by the results.
I do not wish to convey by the title given this book that God is an unknown or mysterious kind of God, that He willfully hides things from us, or that He prefers the dark to the light. For, according to 1 John 1:5, "This, then, is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
God's 'darkroom' is not dark to Him at all. But, it is quite obvious that much of His Word remains dark to us. God does not need the light of the sun in order to see. But we do. Reason suggests [and God demands] that for us to see as He sees, we must get closer to Him. Subtle things are just as obvious to God as plain things. This includes every nuance of meaning in the Bible. Knowing this truth prompts me to get a little closer to the Lord so that I can see those softer hues and tones which are not very obvious to me. If you agree, come along and let's take a look at a few more images from God's 'darkroom'.
In Acts 27 and 28 is one of the most interesting and most descriptive narratives found in all Scripture. It's incredibly detailed. Of course, God could have used any disciple to give us the account of this story. But I think He was being very logical in selecting Luke, who, drawing from his natural background and instincts as a physician, was the man most likely to provide the precise information for the story, right down to the last jot and tittle. It's not only one of the most exciting stories in the Bible, just from the historical events themselves, but when the allegory and metaphors are also seen, the story literally explodes with other fantastic meanings.
First, the setting---from which we will draw the 'hidden', prophetic images---is this: Paul, having
been falsely accused and brought before the Sanhedrin (Jewish leaders) in Jerusalem, and later
before several other Roman officials, had subsequently demanded, and received, an appearance
before Caesar in Rome, Italy(2). Commencing in Acts 27, is the account of events and
circumstances which will affect Paul and certain others as they travel over land and sea to their
It'll be more exciting if you and I imagine that we now join Paul and the others. As we move with them through their voyage, we will discover that many of the things which affected them will be parallel to many aspects of the Church's voyage as it has moved through the sea of time over the past 2,000 years.
It's a beautiful story. To me, it causes more emotion than looking at a perfectly-exposed and
exquisitely-developed print. But then, what else would you expect from a Son-set scene? I found
it breathtaking when I first saw it, and I believe you will too.