Does the Bible mean what it says? Does it say what it means? Can the Bible be understood like other books? Or, are there special rules for interpreting Bible texts?
Specifically, in the field of Bible prophecy shall we interpret words and ideas using their natural and normal meaning? Few I think would disagree that this is the proper place to start. To start. However, along the road we find strong evidence that Bible prophecy is often expressed in words that cannot be interpreted in their normal sense. Are you willing to believe it? Or, will you stand by a “literal-physical interpretation” at all costs? If you follow the latter path, you will find yourself at odds with Jesus.
The famous prophecy at the close of the Old Testament says: “I will send you Elijah the prophet” (Malachi 4:5). If you could interview anybody who ever lived on earth to learn the true interpretation of this prophecy, whom would you ask? How about Jesus?
Here is what He said: “Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist… For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you will receive it, this is Elijah, who was to come. He that has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:11-15). Do you have ears to hear? Are you willing to receive this “strange” declaration? Jesus said that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the prophecy that God was going to send Elijah.
Conclusion? Jesus would disagree with any teacher who says, “I always interpret Bible prophecy literally.” We must be open to evidence that many Messianic prophecies find their fulfillment in a spiritual, not a literal-physical way.