Jesus’ teaching was full of symbolism. He presented Himself as a Shepherd, a Sower, a Bridegroom, a Door, a Cornerstone, a Vine, Light, Bread, and Water. He likened the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast, a seed, a tree, a field, a net, a pearl, and yeast. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other symbols in the Bible.

Note that a literal interpretation of the Bible allows for figurative language. Here’s a simple rule: if the literal meaning of a passage leads to obvious absurdity, but a figurative meaning yields clarity, then the passage is probably using symbols. For example, in Exodus 19:4, God tells Israel, “I carried you on eagles’ wings.” A literal reading of this statement would lead to absurdity—God did not use real eagles to airlift His people out of Egypt. The statement is obviously symbolic; God is emphasizing the speed and strength with which He delivered Israel. This leads to another rule of biblical interpretation: a symbol will have a non-symbolic meaning. In other words, there is something real (a real person, a real historical event, a real trait) behind every figure of speech.

Question: “How can I recognize and understand biblical symbolism?”

Answer: The language of the Bible is rich with metaphor. The biblical writers used familiar, everyday objects to symbolize spiritual truth. Symbols are quite common in the poetic and prophetic portions of the Bible. By its very nature, poetry relies heavily on figurative language; when Solomon calls his bride “a lily among thorns” (Song of Solomon 2:2), he is using symbols to declare the desirability and uniqueness of the Shulamite. Prophecy, too, contains much figurative imagery. Isaiah often used trees and forests as symbols of strength (e.g., Isaiah 10:18-19;32:19). Daniel saw “a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes” who “came from the west . . . without touching the ground” (Daniel 8:5), and we interpret this as a kingdom (Greece) and its king (Alexander the Great) who speedily conquered the world.

Jesus’ teaching was full of symbolism. He presented Himself as a Shepherd, a Sower, a Bridegroom, a Door, a Cornerstone, a Vine, Light, Bread, and Water. He likened the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast, a seed, a tree, a field, a net, a pearl, and yeast. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other symbols in the Bible.

every figure of speech.

Here are a few symbols used in the Bible:

Old Testament

Walk with God:To “walk” with someone is to live in fellowship and harmony with him. Since God can only live in a way that reflects His holy character, to “walk with God” is to live according the path He has laid out, to obey Him.

Genesis 5:22;6:9;Deuteronomy 10:12;Joshua 22:5;1 Kings 8:23;Micah 6:8

Dust, stars, sand: The Bible often uses these metaphors to represent the number of descendants God promised to Abraham. This would include Abraham’s physical descendants (Jews and Arabs) as well as Abraham’s spiritualprogeny (those who live by faith, Galatians 3:7).

Genesis 13:16;15:5;26:4;28:14;32:12;Exodus 32:13;Isaiah 48:19;Jeremiah 33:22;Hebrews 11:12

Flowing with milk and honey: God often referred to Canaan as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” An abundance of milk and honey was symbolic of lush, fertile farmland, plenty of water, and rich grass for dairy animals and flowers for bees. Milk and honey were two of the most prized foods in Old Testament times, and a land “flowing” with them would be very desirable.

Exodus 3:8;17;13:5;33:3;Leviticus 20:24;Numbers 13:27;14:8;16:13,14;Deuteronomy 6:3;11:9;26:9,15;27:3;31:20;Josh. 5:6;Song of Solomon 4:11;5:1;Isaiah 7:22;Jeremiah 11:5,32:22;Ezekiel 20:6,15

Circumcised hearts: Physical circumcision was the sign of the covenant between God and His chosen people, the Jews. It was, of course, an external alteration. What God really wanted, though, was an internal alteration—a spiritualcircumcision, as it were. To have one’s heart circumcised was to fully identify with Him. It is not enough to obey His Word on the outside; we must be characterized by His Word on the inside.

Deuteronomy 10:16;30:6;Jeremiah 4:4;2:28-29

Cedars of Lebanon: In Israel, large trees were hard to come by and very valuable. The cedars in Lebanon grow up to 130 feet tall with trunks up to eight feet in diameter. They were valued for their resin, which Egyptians used in mummification, and wood, which was used to build ships. The cedars are used symbolically in the Bible to represent strength and stature or pride.

Judges 9:15;2 Kings 19:23;Psalm 29:5;72:16;104:16;Song of Solomon 5:15;Isaiah 2:13;14:8;37:24;Hosea 14:5-6;Zechariah 11:1

Hearts of stone or flesh: A heart of stone is emblematic of a spiritually dead heart that cannot respond to God’s grace. God promises to remove our heart of stone and replace it with a living, loving heart that can follow Him.

Ezekiel 11:19;36:26

Ephraim and Judah: In the divided kingdom,

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-symbolism.html#ixzz3PG2vHIqO

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