Interpretation of revelation is more of an art than a science

Interpreting prophecy and other revelation that we receive from God is more of an art than a science (Thompson 2004). When you do a scientific experiment one of the criteria required is that it is repeatable, and must have the same result again and again.
Although God will sometimes use images which have a particular meaning a few times with us, we should never presume that they will always have the same meaning. When Jesus healed the sick he seemed to use a different method every time.
When God communicates prophetically he does so to help us visualise what he has for us. He often either paints an image with words or gives a picture which then has to be portrayed in words.

If you were about to paint a picture, would you get out a ruler, hold it at arms length and start measuring the object? Would you then use those measurements to scale it down to the paper in order to draw the object? Probably not as this is a method more suited to technical drawing not art!

The reason that God often uses a picture in his communication with us is to engage our imagination. Aristotle said that “Thought is impossible without an image.” A Chinese proverb which has been attributed to Confucius says “A picture's meaning can express ten thousand words.”

An artist is drawing a young lady starting with her eyes

"The eyes are the window of the soul"

When we are given a picture by God, a part of it will often stand out clearly to us. This part can hold the key to interpreting the whole picture.

All revelation is only ‘in part’

1 Cor 13:9 “For we know in part and prophesy in part.”

When you receive revelation from God, especially if it is a picture or a vision it can be like a telephoto view of a subject in the far distance. It will give you information about a certain part of the subject, but you may not be able to see those things around it or the complete picture.

An architect's drawing of what a building will look like

In the case of the photo above, if you zoom out then you see a lot more and the whole picture changes as seen below. Like the photo above, a lot of prophecy is a pictorial representation of what is about to be built, and the reality might look like the one below.

A wide angle photo which shows what the building looks like in reality - half finished - the drawing is included at the base of the building

Another meaning of this is that if you have more than one prophet in a situation and you add their parts together you should get a more whole picture.

1. Introduction.
2. God is the only one who can interpret.
3. Bible is the best source.
4. Circumstances and knowledge can help.
5. Don't jump to conclusions.
6. Art or science? It'is only in part.
7. Ask for more.
8. Remembrance of the past can help.
9. How to interpret symbols correctly.
10. The importance of context
11. Don't add or subtract.
12. All prophecy must witness.
13. What if the opposite happens.
14. Dream interpretation.
15. Preparing to bring a prophecy.
16. How to bring a prophetic word.
17. Judging prophecy.
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