Hank Hanegraaff, host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, notes that the figure of speech known as hyperbole employs exaggeration for effect or emphasis. If you step onto a scale and exclaim, “O my goodness, I weigh a ton!” you are obviously not intending to say that you literally weigh two thousand pounds. While hyperbole is commonly used in our culture, it is virtually ubiquitous in the Bible. This is particularly true of prophetic passages. In prophesying Jerusalem’s destruction, Jesus says, “For then there will be great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” In doing so, He was not literally predicting that the destruction of Jerusalem would be more cataclysmic than the catastrophe caused by Noah’s flood. Rather, He was using apocalyptic hyperbole to underscore the distress and devastation that would be experienced when Jerusalem and its temple were judged.
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