I have in my library the book The Revelation Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Prophetic Book of the End of Times[i] by Henry M. Morris – a commentary on the final book of the bible and a sort of bookend companion piece to his similarly named commentary on Genesis. And it is a howler, ridiculousness on nearly every page, far too many to share them all...
Morris states in his preface to the book that his is “following the literalistic, futuristic, sequential, Premillennial, pretribulational, interpretation of the book. “ He adds that “This approach has been assumed to be the most natural and therefore the most proper way to understand the book.” For Morris it is the “most natural, most scientific, most Christ-honoring, and most soul-satisfying way to understand Revelation.” [ii]
This is foundational to the dispensationalist system – a strictly literal interpretation of the words. Unless it is patently and completely obvious that a passage should be understood figuratively, dispensationalists insist that the scriptures should be read as literally as possible. In fact Morris says that “a ‘literal interpretation’ is a contradiction in terms, since one does not interpret (that is ‘translate’ saying ‘this means that’) if he simply accepts a statement as meaning precisely what it says. … Literal is literal.” [Emphasis is his] [iii]
But while all dispensationalists insist that they are following a strictly “literal” understanding of Revelation, each of them …fudges a bit here and there. None of them are able to abide by their own rule of allowing the words to mean precisely what they say. And Morris is no exception.
When, in chapter eight, John writes, “And the second angel sounded, as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood.”[iv] Morris goes on at great length to tell us what this means. You see, while John said blood he didn’t actually mean blood, not literal blood.
“The ability to turn water into blood, either by filling it with the actual blood of dead animals or, more likely, by transforming it chemically or biochemically into blood-red water, poisoned by multitudes of dead microorganisms (as in the well-known ‘red-tides’ which occur infrequently in modern oceans), made such an impression upon ancient Israel that it was recounted in their songs.”[v]
Even though Morris says he holds to a strictly literal reading of John’s words, and even though John wrote “blood,” Morris believes that it is more likely to be something other than actual literal blood.