Indeed, he finds such language in the Old Testament books of Ezekiel, Zechariah, Isaiah and especially Daniel. In the New Testament accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, Stoffel finds such language in Paul’s writings, the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke-Acts, John and especially Revelation.
The author points out that the word “apocalypse” comes from the Greek term meaning to reveal or unveil. Most of what we hear about apocalypse seems to dwell on catastrophe. However, Stoffel continues, such language can be described as positive, triumphant, comforting, poetic, dramatic and highly symbolic. Apocalyptic language “was used to express truth when ordinary language was not sufficient.” Stoffel readily admits that his language is not easy with which to deal.
The language and symbolism are bizarre. Number symbols are often used, along with grotesque animal and bird imagery. The sun is darkened and the moon turns to blood. There are earthquakes and angels making announcements. We find God portrayed as sitting on a throne with angels all around. Angels are seen holding the four corners of the Earth, and beasts are rising out of the sea to attack the people of God. There are horsemen with grim visages riding across the Earth and even through time, for example, the famous four horsemen of Revelation. Angels are often employed as intermediaries or to make announcements concerning the purpose and work of God (p. 8).
However, Stoffel adds, sometimes a messianic deliverer appears as victorious, creation is renewed and a new age is born. Indeed “Death is destroyed . . . . In the book of Revelation the victory of Christ and his church is seen. All of this is accomplished by God, and people of faith are called to courage and patience” (p. 7).
This book deserves to be read by scholars who preach and preachers who engage in scholarship, and by believers who seek and seekers who become believers.