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I have read the book of Revelation several times and I always wonder two things I was hoping you could answer.  (1) What things in Revelation are to be taken literally if any?  (2) Is the time of Christ's return really as close as a lot of people say it is?  (3) I know that nobody knows the time or day or anything but some of the signs are coming true aren't they?  Like that whole things with Israel reuniting and conflict to rising between them and pretty much everyone else.  If you could provide some answers to these questions that would be much appreciated.

The name "Revelation" in Greek is "apocalyptic" which means discover.  God wants us to know the future.  It's God revealing the future to us.  He uses two methods in Revelation:  (1) literally  (2) symbolic.  Majority of the whole book is literal.  Among the signs and wonders mention in Revelation such as red dragons, lambs, woman, colored horses, wine, grape juice etc. are symbolic.

In Revelation 1:20 the seven golden lampstands are symbolic to the seven churches and the seven stars are symbolic of the seven angels.  In chapter 2 and 3 within the 7 letters to the 7 churches there are literal mix with symbols.  Chapter 5:6 the  "Lamb" symbolic Jesus.  "Seven horns and seven eyes symbolic of seven spirits of God, which are seven angels of God (see Heb.1: 14).

Revelation chapter 6 mentions several colored horses, which are symbolic of "wars", representing God's churches from pureness to apostasy.    Chapter 7 it mentions the 144,000, those who are sealed, which is literal.  In Chapter 12, the woman, moon, sun are symbolic of God's church, purity, glory and power.  Chapter 13 there is the beast, which symbolize the "anti- Christ".  Chapter 17 the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet sits on the beast symbolize the "worldly church"; the ten horns symbolic the " ten kings."  Chapter 19 the white horse symbolize "war" and Jesus Christ, Himself came to fight and won the victory.  Chapter 20 -21 talk about the New Heaven and New Earth.  They are literal.

Christ Return

Many Christian are excited about Christ return, some people think that it is so soon that they plan to sell of their property and wait for His return.  Lots of signs famines, earthquakes, pestilences, wars, knowledge increases, men traveling to and fro (Dan 12:4) are fulfilled as stated in Matt 24:3 -51and Luke 21:7-36Yet there are signs that are not fulfill such as the gospel though it is preaching fast but it has not be preached to the whole world.   In Roman chapter 11 you will see that God is also reuniting the Israelites, His chosen tribe to be recruited in His coming too.  Today, you heard and see evidences of wars, fighting among the nations of Israel, this is one of the sign yet to be fulfilled.  The fighting are uniting all the Jews from everywhere into one harmony nation.  Roman 11:23-26 "And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive three, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?  For I do not desire, breather, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And also all Israel will be saved, as it is written…"

Is true nobody knows when Christ will return.  The exact time of His return has not been revealed.  Matt 24:36 says, "But of the day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but My Father only."  In view of the fact, Christ tells us in verse 42 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming."  Christ also warned us that we might not be taken surprise in Luke 21:34 -36 ""But, take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighted down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day came on you unexpectedly.  For it come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

We must always be prepared everyday weather Jesus will come today or later.  To some, if they pass away because of sickness such as a stroke or heart attack or accident, it is their end of life. They may not see Christ returning but it was their last day on earth.  They will be in the grave until Christ return.  We should be like the "five wise" virgins mention in Matt 25:1-13 "watching always neither the day nor the hour for His coming."  Matt 24:27 "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the son of Man be."

James 5:7,8 "Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer wants for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and later rain.  You also be patient.  Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand."

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