The book of Revelation, where John receives a stunning vision series of the future Earth and Heavens, is by far the most unusual and difficult book in the New Testament Christian Scriptures. John writes in the highly symbolic apocalyptic style, which uses dramatic images to convey spiritual truths. Once the reader gains a basic knowledge of the symbols John uses, the meaning becomes clearer.
Revelation has three levels of interpretation. First, John writes to encourage first-century Christians suffering at the hands of the Roman Empire. Second, God uses these same words to encourage and challenge Christians to faithfulness today. And third, John points prophetically to the eventual triumph of Messiah over the forces of evil as God judges the world once for all and creates a new heaven and a new Earth.
God is sovereign. He is greater than any power in the universe. God is not to be compared with any leader, government, or religion. He controls history for the purpose of uniting true believers in loving fellowship with him. Though Satan’s power may temporarily increase, we are not to be led astray. God is all-powerful. He is in control. He will bring his true family safely into eternal life. Because he cares for us, we can trust him with our very life.
Messiah Yeshua came to Earth as a “Lamb,” the symbol of his perfect sacrifice for our sin. He will return as the triumphant “Lion,” the rightful ruler and conqueror. He will defeat Satan, settle accounts with all those who reject him, and bring his faithful people into eternity. Messiah Yeshua’s return to Earth assures suffering Christians the strength to endure. We can look forward to his return as king and judge. Since no one knows the time when he will appear, we must be ready at all times by keeping our faith strong.
John wrote to encourage the church to resist the demands to worship the Roman emperor. He warns all God’s faithful people to be devoted only to Messiah. Revelation identifies who the faithful people are and what they should be doing until Messiah returns. We can take our place in the ranks of God’s faithful people by believing in Messiah Yeshua. Victory is sure for those who resist temptation and make loyalty to Messiah their top priority.
One day God’s anger toward sin will be fully and completely unleashed. Satan will be defeated with all of his agents. False religion will be destroyed. God will reward the faithful with eternal life, but all who refuse to believe in him will face eternal punishment. Evil and injustice will not prevail forever. God’s final judgment will put an end to these. We need to be certain of our commitment to Yeshua if we want to escape this great final judgment. No one who rejects Messiah Yeshua will escape God’s punishment.
One day God will create a new heaven and a new Earth. All believers will live with him forever in perfect peace and security. Those who have already died will be raised to life. These promises for the future bring us hope. Our great hope is that what Messiah promises will come true. When we have confidence in our final destination, we can follow Messiah with unwavering dedication no matter what we must face. We can be encouraged by hoping in Messiah’s return.
There have been many approaches to interpreting this Book of Revelation, but each theory can be divided into four major systems: the Preterist theory, historical theory, historical-spiritual theory, and futurist theory.
The Preterist theory says all of Revelation has been fulfilled in the past. It had to do with local references in John’s day. It had to do with the days of either Nero or Domitian. The view was held by Renan and most German scholars, also by Elliott. However, the problem with this theory is that Messiah Yeshua never returned and set up his kingdom on Earth.
The Historical theory says the fulfillment of Revelation is going on in history, and Revelation is the prophetic history of the church, according to this theory. However, the problem with this theory is that it only focuses on Revelation chapters two and three, while ignoring the rest of the book.
Historical-spiritual theory is a refinement of the historical theory and was advanced by Theologian Sir William Ramsay. It argues that the two beasts are Imperial and Provincial Rome. The point of the book is to encourage Christians. According to this theory, Revelation has been largely fulfilled and there are spiritual lessons for the church today. Liberal scholars have adopted this unbiblical view because it dissipates and defeats the purpose of the book.
Finally, the Futurist theory holds that the Book of Revelation is primarily prophetic and yet future, especially from Revelation chapters 4 on to the end of the book. This is the view of many conservative premillennial prophecy scholars and it is the view embraced and accepted by scientist and eschatologist Sir Isaac Newton.
Related Sources: Biblical Mysteries; Donald P. Ryan, Ph.D; 2000. The Bible; Jim Bell and Stan Cambell; 1999. The Complete Guide to the Bible; Stephen M. Miller; 2007. The Hand Writing of God; Dr. Grant Jeffrey; 2000. The Signature of God; Dr. Grant Jeffrey; 2010. The Septuagint With Apocrypha: English; Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton; 1851. Bible Prophecies; 2013. The Book of Revelation; J Vernon McGee; 1988.