Thanks to pastor and author Roger Snow, who emailed me about his book Fifty Ways to Leave Left Behind subtitled: Seeing Exodus as the Pattern for Understanding Revelation (Tate Publishing, 2007), which he then kindly sent to me for review. The review has been a long time in coming and I apologize to him for that. He also has a CD of songs he wrote that were inspired by this study, which I admit I have not listened to extensively.
In Fifty Ways, Pastor Roger Snow seeks to free Christians from doom and gloom perspectives on the Book of Revelation – particularly those often fostered by the Left Behind books. In the forward to the book, friend Ronny Ross writes, “While others profit with stories of our Lord’s Church needing to be rescued from disaster, Fifty Ways shouts, “Look up! Christ wins!” (13).
One of my professors in seminary talked about how it always seemed that when it came to the book of Revelation normal hermenutical standards usually went out the door. He wasn’t sure why this was the case but it just seemed that with Revelation people just have trouble keeping things on track. Probably part of the problem is all the different symbolism and figurative language used that makes it hard to discern what they mean – it just so enigmatic in so many different ways. Well, just as with other genres of Scripture we know there are certain hermenutical keys to understanding each different type of genre, there are certain hernemutical keys needed to unlock our understanding of the book of Revelation. For example, there is what I like to call the Joseph hermeneutic. Just as Joseph understod Pharoah’s two dreams to be one and the same, so too should John’s visions be seen as one and the same (from different perspectives). God is showing John what is about to happen and the matter has been firmly decided, etc.
Roger Snow’s book, Fifty Ways, provides us with one essential hermenutical key that will help us understand the basic flow of the book of Revelation and that is the storyline. In this book Snow argues that the storylines of both the book of Exodus and the book of Revelation are one and the same. “Exodus is the type, Revelation the fulfillment. Moses is the type, Jesus is the greater Moses. Moses lead the people out of Egypt, but Jesus has already led a greater exodus than Moses ever dreamed of” (22). This is a good key (perhaps I could call it the Exodus hermenutic?). This is a real eye opener because once one begins to see the parallels it really opens up what is going on in the Revelation. And once one realizes what the situation really is, one is faced with the choice to either go with how it really is or to ignore that and go on with a Left Behind bunker/doom and gloom kind of mentality about the end times.
While perhaps John integrates many aspects of the Old and New Testaments into his work – the basic story line mirrors that of the book of Exodus. Snow takes a chapter to set up his case and help us get the big picture (21-38). Then he offers 50 parallels between the two books (that’s right 50!) and goes through and comments on each of the 50 parallels between the storyline of Exodus and compares it to the storyline of Revelation (39-148).
What is the basis of this thesis? We all want to know the point and purpose of the book of Revelation. It has for centuries remained an enigma, no? Roger Snow’s book is one person’s effort to help bring clarity and understanding to the purpose and intent of Revelation – through the mirror image produced by the book of Exodus. In comparing the two books, we can see the intent and purpose – redemption.
What is the basic storyline? Oppression – War – Victory – Matrimony. The beginning of both books note the oppression of God’ people, the plagues and the seals are the war against the people of God’s enemies; Victory is seen in the Exodus and crossing of the red (reed?) sea and the casting of Satan and the Beast into the Lake of Fire. Matrimony comes when God dwells with is people in the Tabernacle in the Shekinah glory and so on.
I do not want to give too much more information than that but the parallels are striking and indeed compelling. I’ll say that I am convinced. I left the Left Behind kind of thinking long ago but reading the book sure did help me see the gist of the point of The book of Revelation, which is really Snow’s goal, to help regular people see the basic gist of the storyline and end goal of the Revelation, even if we do not understand all the symbols or their meaning – but knowing the basic thrust really helps to relieve one of the Left Behind doom and gloom mentality that often gets associated with understanding Revelation, that is , if one is willing to face the evidence and go with it.
I support the thesis of this book and think it is a great asset to works on Revelation. If anything, one person who endorses the book notes it is along the work of Greg Beale but on a more popular level – If that is the case I think that is all the better since not all are able to get into Beale’s massive work on the Revelation.