In order to understand God’s plans for the future, to understand the prophetic books of the Bible and to be able to interpret them in a biblical way, it is imperative first of all to understand God’s blueprint .
A lot of people are concerned about the future of the world. The current spate of natural disasters around the world, the political upheavals of the last decades and the shift of economic power, demand our attention. Many turn to the apocalyptic books of the Bible for answers.
The most well-known apocalyptic book is the book called ‘Apokálypsis’ (αποκάλυψις), which is simply Greek for the name of the book otherwise known as “Revelation”.
It is the last of the sixty-six books of the Bible, and often the least understood. One of the main reasons for this is that Christianity has distanced itself from its Hebrew and Jewish roots. The book of Revelation was never meant to stand on its own and cannot be properly studied or understood without understanding its origins.
Even though it was received by the early church as a deeply comforting book, full of consolation and hope, this view changed over time. For various reasons the book of Revelation tends to be sidelined, as often by Jews as by Christians. Both groups tend to ignore how typically Jewish it is. The language and the symbolism all come from the TaNaCH (the ‘First Testament’ of the Bible or the ‘Hebrew Bible’) and it follows the pattern of Gods blueprint – the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible).
For many Church fathers their rejection of the Jewish roots of their faith, also made the book of Revelation inaccessible for them. In spite of their valuable contributions to Christianity in so many other aspects, Martin Luther, amongst others, even felt that it should not have been included in the Bible.
These days there are people who travel far and wide to all kinds of interesting meetings and speakers on the subject of ‘The End Times’ or the book of Revelation. Many of them forget that the book of Revelation is part of a package. It is a book that is a rightful part of our Bible; full of descriptive language and expressions that are only fully to be understood by those who understand the basis on which it was written.
Why would God give us a book and guard it for two thousand years, so that it would not be lost, but available to everyone who wanted it, even giving it the name ‘Revelation’, only to make it completely incomprehensible?
The problem is not the book, it’s the reader. The book of Revelation works on the assumption that the readers already have a basic knowledge of a number of things. This is not unusual in the Bible. Jesus himself, when teaching, used many symbols and examples and expressions that His audience already knew and were familiar with.
The question is therefore, how can we acquire this knowledge? The answer is easy. Jesus audiences were all familiar with the first five books of the Bible, the Torah. The same is true for the believers in the first century, who received with great joy ‘the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John’.
God’s blueprint can be compared to an architects drawings and plans. Without good drawings and plans and detailed measurements and materials made by a trained architect, it is impossible to build a house with everything in the right place, or even to understand at which stage the building process is. So it is with God’s blueprint, the Torah.
The Torah in Judaism
The Torah  is the name given to the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. In the Bible it is often referred to as the ‘law’, or ‘Moses’ or the ‘Books of Moses’. It is sometimes called the ‘Pentateuch’ (from the Greek word for ‘five’), or the ‘Chumash’ (from the Hebrew word for ‘five’).
For the Jews, the Torah still has a central place in religious life, even today. It was divided into portions, one portion for every week of the year and then subdivided into 7 portions, one for each day of the week. In this way, the Torah is read every day all year round  (or in some cases in a triennial reading cycle). Every year, when the end of Deuteronomy is reached they start straight away all over again at the beginning in Genesis. This is celebrated at the end of the feast of Tabernacles and is called ‘Simchat Torah’ (the Joy of the Torah). Besides the Torah, a portion from one of the other books of the First Testament is also read, frequently from the prophetic books . This is called the Haftara (Haphtarah).
In the synagogue, in the time of Jesus, it were mostly Jews from the tribe of Levi who were allowed to read the Torah portion aloud, and Jews from other tribes who read from the prophetic books. It was an honour for Jesus to be asked to read aloud in the synagogue in Luke 4, and as he was not a Levite, the portion he was to read was from the prophet Isaiah. The portion for that week was from Isaiah 61 and spoke about the Messiah and his ministry. Jesus spoke often of the fact that the Torah and Prophets spoke about him (Luke 24:27).
There are Christians who believe that the Torah is no longer valid for believers and no longer has anything relevant to tell us. However Jesus himself said that he had not come to invalidate the Torah, but to fulfill it! He emphasized the importance of even the smallest letter in the Torah (Matthew 5:17-48). Jesus himself gave us even more commandments than those contained in the Torah (there are 613 commandments in the Torah and more than a thousand in the New Testament).
The Torah contains Gods instructions for the whole of mankind but many of the things God commanded were specifically for the children of Israel, and were never a requirement for the gentiles.
Paul knew and emphasized the importance of the Torah and the First Testament. In his first letter to the Corinthian church he explains that the First Testament told us that Jesus would die for our sins and after three days he would rise from the dead (1Corinthians 15:3-4). In his second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 3:12-18) Paul talks about being in Christ and reading the Torah (he uses the expression ‘when Moses is read’). Knowing Christ removes a sort of veil that made us (and the children of Israel) blind to what the Spirit of God is saying and doing through the Torah and the Old Testament (Isaiah 25:7, 2Corinthians 3:14). When Jesus opens our eyes, the Spirit of God reveals the glory of God to us through the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). Paul then describes the powerful effect it has. As we look into it and study it, it changes us so that we begin to reflect Gods glory ourselves: “… from glory to glory”…
The believers in the early church were nearly all Jewish, and had grown up with the Holy Scriptures (see 2Timothy 3:15-17). Scripture was for them the collection of the 39 books that form the Old Testament or the First Testament in our Bible. They studied these Scriptures daily (see Acts 17:11). The New Testament didn’t exist yet.
The Torah is the ‘Word of God’ and was given on Mount Sinai, with a trumpet call. The Messiah, the ‘Word made flesh’ will come in the same way: with a trumpet call.
The Torah familiarizes us with specific biblical principles, expressions and symbolism. In order to fully understand and appreciate and enjoy the New Testament it is important to begin with Gods blueprint.
The Torah is God’s Word (Hebrew: DaBaR – דבר) and was given in the desert (Hebrew: MiDBaR – מדבר). The two words are related in Hebrew. As the blueprint of God’s plan of redemption for mankind the Torah points continually toward “the word made flesh”, the Messiah – Jesus.
The Torah is not a book of rules. The word Torah is in most Bibles, generally translated with the word “law”. This is not really an accurate translation of the Hebrew word Torah.
The word Torah comes from the Hebrew verb, ‘yarah’ (ירה), which means amongst other things: instruction or teaching. The Torah is Gods instruction for us, to teach us how to receive eternal life and how to serve God and how to love our neighbour.
Both the names Jerusalem and Moriah are derived from the same verb. Moriah was the place where Abraham was to offer his son Isaac, which is the area where Jerusalem is later built. Jerusalem is the city in which Jesus laid his life down for our sin. In this prophetic place the Lord gives us a wonderful instruction. The Bible also connects Moriah with Gods provision.
The Torah roll
The Torah is still today written on a roll made of parchment made from animal skin. The first time we come across animal skin in the Bible, God gave an animal skin to the man and woman in the Garden of Eden to cover their nakedness.
The parchment is rolled around two wooden staffs. Each staff is called an “Etz Chaim”, meaning a “tree of life”, in Hebrew. The tree that gives life is a reference to the cross in the Bible.
The structure of the Torah
The five books of the Torah are like the fingers of a hand. They are different, but each is connected to the others. The first four books are very similar in form and content. In Hebrew, each book begins with the word: “…and…”, connecting them to each other.
Deuteronomy, the fifth and last book, is a sort of summary that repeats elements of the first four books and complements with them, just as the thumb works together with the four fingers.
In the Bible, the hand is symbolic of action and specifically of when God acts, which is a central theme of the Torah.
Just as the human body is built up symmetrically, with not only two limbs, but also a number of organs in pairs, so the Torah is built up in a clearly symmetrical pattern like the pattern of the menorah, the lampstand with seven arms that stood in the Temple. This symmetrical pattern is also evident in other parts of the Bible, such as the book of Lamentations and the five books of Psalms (that together make up the 150 Psalms in the Bible).
The contents of the Torah
The Torah speaks of what was and what is and what is to come (compare Revelation 1:19). It was not meant to be a sort of history book for us, nor an archaeology book, or even literature. It is a prophetic book (Luke 24:27,44). The Torah speaks, sometimes using the events in peoples lives, about Gods plan to save humanity and the future of the world.
It explains how we can be part of Gods great deliverance and which role Israel played in it all. It is a book of freedom for people in slavery and comfort and hope for those who live in a broken world.
The other books of the Bible, including the prophetic books and the New Testament expand on the things revealed in the Torah and God has never deviated from His plan (see Hebrews 6:17).
The building blocks of the Torah
The Torah is constructed with the help of 22 little ‘building blocks’, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet or ‘Alefbet’. Hebrew is the language of the Old Testament and each Hebrew letter is not only a letter but also a number. This means that every word in Hebrew has a numeric value.
This information makes it possible to understand what was meant by the number of the Antichrist in Revelation. The number of Antichrist is recognizable in the numerical value of the letters that make up his name (written in Hebrew letters not English). Revelation tells us that that value is 666. However the Greek text is very clear that the numerical value is not six, six, six as many people believe, but six hundred and sixty and six. (The numerical value of six, six, six, is eighteen 6+6+6=18).
The Hebrew letters
Each Hebrew letter also has its own meaning.
The Aleph (א), the first letter, with the numerical value 1, means head, and refers to God. We are told in Deuteronomy 6:4 that God is one. He is the first, the basis of everything.
The Bet (ב), the second letter is a house (בית), and is the first letter of the Bible. The Bible is a book about a house that God is still building – a blueprint.
The third letter, the number three, is a Gimel (ג), a camel (גמל) – a method of transport from one place to another in the lands of the Bible. The number 3, in the Bible represents preparation and is all about the price of freedom, or in other words redemption. Abraham travelled for three days to reach the place called Moriah where he was to sacrifice Isaac. Moses was hidden for three months before his mother put him in the river in a basket of reeds. It took all three men, Aaron, Moses and Hur, standing together on the rock, in order to defeat Amalek. Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights.
The fourth letter, the Dalet (ד), means door (דלת). Jesus told us that He is the door to God and He is from the tribe of Judah, the fourth tribe of Israel.
The fifth letter, the Heh (ה) means breath, and is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (the word for spirit and wind are the same word in Hebrew). After his encounter with the Angel of the Lord, Abram (אברם) received the letter Heh in his name and became Abraham (אברהם) the symbol of a Spirit-filled believer, saved by grace through faith.
It is possible to go through the whole alphabet like this.
The importance of the numbers
Some Scriptures are difficult to understand until you look at the numbers as well as the letters. For example in Genesis 49:10 we read: The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. The numerical value of the phrase ‘Shiloh comes’, is 358 (three hundred and fifty and eight), which is in Hebrew the numerical value of the word Messiah . This is consistent with the context of the text and is points towards Jesus Christ.
In the book Revelation we encounter the lampstand in the context of the Church of Jesus Christ. The lampstand is a concept already established in the Torah in various forms. In Exodus 25, God instructs Israel to build a golden menorah, the lampstand with seven arms, for the tabernacle. The Torah itself and the books of the Torah are structured according the model of the menorah.
The pattern of the menorah or lampstand in the Torah all refer to Jesus, who is the light of the world. The oil which was burnt in the lampstand is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The lampstand or menorah in the Temple was made of solid gold, which is a biblical symbol of perfection, as gold does not rust like other metals.
The menorah or lampstand has seven arms. There are three arms on either side of the central arm. The central arm is called the ‘shamash’ meaning servant. It both supports and serves the other arms, and the other arms all come together in the central arm.
The central arm is the Lord Jesus – the ‘servant’ of God (Isaiah 53:11). In him everything comes together (Col 1:17, 20). When we give Jesus the central place in our lives, we allow ourselves to be formed by Him until everything we are and do is ‘in Him’.
One of the significant features of the menorah is that the arms on either side of the central arms are a reflection of each other. The similarity between the arms on one side and the arms on the other side is called parallelism. The prophetic books make use of parallelism in various forms. But it is important to realize that the most important sections are often not in at the beginning or the end, but in the middle.
Western European and American cultures are based on a Greco – Roman world view, and are very different to the Semitic, biblical way of looking at things. African and middle-eastern cultures are often actually much closer. The most important though is going back to the biblical roots and Hebrew origins of the wonderful message of the gospel that has been entrusted to us. The things God longs to build in us and with us are based on a blueprint that is not only valid but also necessary.
Where do I start?
Many verses in the New Testament are citations from the First Testament. Most Bibles give a reference to the book, chapter and verse that is quoted. To get the full meaning of a verse it is important to look up these reference verses and read them in the context. This will often shed a fresh light on the Bible text and will help you to understand what the writers had in mind while writing God’s Word.
 A blue-print is a photographic print (contact print) of a drawing or other image rendered as white lines on a blue background, especially such a print of an architectural plan or technical drawing. The term “blueprint” has come to be used to refer to any detailed plan used as a guide for building or action.
 Torah (תּוֹרָה) is Hebrew for ‘Instruction’. The word ‘Torah’ is derived from the Hebrew root ‘Jarah’ (ירה) which means ‘to teach’, ‘to shoot an arrow’ or ‘to hit the mark’. The meaning of the word is therefore not ‘law’, but ‘teaching,’ ‘doctrine,’ or ‘instruction’; the commonly accepted ‘law’ gives a wrong impression.
 During Temple times the practice in Israel was a triennial reading cycle. The Jews in Babylon and other countries outside Israel used to read the Torah in one year.
 In the Hebrew Bible the book Joshua belongs to the ‘Early Prophets’, but in the Septuagint and the Christian Bibles Joshua belongs to the ‘Historical Books’.
 The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 49:11a reads: “Kings and rulers shall not cease from the house of Judah … until King Messiah comes”.