Skip to comments.On the Interpretation of Revelation
Posted on 06/21/2005 4:27:46 PM PDT by Buggman
Over eighty years ago, H.A. Ironside wrote, It is certainly cause for deep regret that to so many Christians the Book of Revelation seems to be what God never intended it should bea sealed book. Sadly, eight decades later, the situation is little changed.
Why is that? The problem is not simply that your average Christian hasnt exhaustively studied the End Time prophecies. Few have exhaustively studied the doctrines of the Trinity, or salvation, or even the prophecies of the Messiahs First Coming either, but those subjects are not nearly as mystifying or divisive as that as the Bibles final book.
The biggest difference is how most churches treat the subject. Even in Evangelical churches where over half the congregation has read the Left Behind novels, serious study is all but taboo. Most pastors and Sunday school teachers are afraid to touch it because of its controversial and/or extreme nature. If I may be forgiven for using a personal example, some years ago, I began attending a Southern Baptist church with my parents, and the pastor came to our house for dinner to get to know us. I was at that time just rediscovering my love of the Scriptures after a long dry spell away from any immersion at all in Gods Word, and I felt drawn to study the prophetic books and passages in particular. Desirous of not drifting off the path that God had set, I asked the pastor if he or anyone he knew in that church had studied the prophecies in hopes of getting some tutelage. He didnt know a single personnot one person in a congregation of over a thousandwho could help me. I, like so many others who have delved into this area, was left to my own devices.
With such an attitude all but universal in our churches, how is your average person supposed to learn? Could you imagine a pastor saying there was no one to help me with a question about salvation? Or a moral dilemma? Or about Messiahs deity? If not prepared to give an on-the-spot comprehensive answer, the pastor would have at least been able to point me in the right direction on almost any other question. How can a preacher complain about the extremist and sensationalist views people take on prophecy if they are not prepared, and not willing, to teach it?
The problem is compounded by a pair of peculiar misperceptions: That prophecy is irrelevant, and that studying it is too hard.
How many Christians have, when asked about prophecy, said, Oh, thats nice, but Id rather focus on something that actually affects my life? Granted, the End Time prophecies will be most relevant when we are actually in the End Timesbut on the other hand, how will a person really know when theyre in the End Times unless they know what the Bible says about them? But ignoring that, a basic understanding of Biblical prophecy, both of the End Times and otherwise, gives one a far greater understanding of and appreciation for the whole of Gods Word. It also gives one all new reasons to be sure that ones faith in Messiah Yeshua is well placed.
Of course, we can hardly blame those who consider eschatology (the study of last things) to be irrelevant, because this is precisely what most of the Church has taught for the last two hundred years. Weve turned prophecy into an intellectual game rather than a living part of our faith. Many pastors and commentators have been taught that the whole of Revelation and its related prophecies were fulfilled in a spiritual fashion in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. In believing so, they do indeed remove Revelation from relevancy, for not only does it contain no message for us today, the exegesis (interpretation of the text) needed to defend that position is so poor that it is useless even to use as a part of ones defense of the faith! Many others have been taught that the Church will be taken out of the world in the Rapture before the events of Revelation take place, so what does it matter if we understand it or not?
But what if Revelation is about our futureperhaps even our very near futureand the Church will indeed go through a significant portion of it? Suddenly, understanding this last book of the Bible becomes very important indeed!
A few years ago, I took part in a Bible study on the book of Daniel, Revelations sister book, that took place in a Presbyterian church. The course itself was predominantly premillennial in its direction, but because the pastor and his elders were amillennial, he wanted to address the class to offer his view. (If the reader is unfamiliar with these terms, they will be explained shortly.) Fair enough. He presented his view with grace and dignity, but was not really prepared for the questions that we asked him. In the end, trying to deflect further questions while being conciliatory, he smiled and said, Well, if your view is right, well all be Raptured out before the bad stuff happens anyway, right?
Sir, I said, I do believe that Revelation is about the future, but I dont necessarily believe that the Rapture will be pretrib (before the Tribulation).
What I remember most about that exchange was the stunned look he gave me. He was completely caught off-guard by my statement, and completely unprepared for the possibility of going through the Great Tribulation. Suddenly, for that moment at least, it wasnt just an intellectual game to him.
Understanding what the prophecies of the Scriptures say will also open up new doors to witnessing the Gospel, believe it or not. First of all, one can hardly study the Second Coming without also studying the prophecies that Yeshua fulfilled in His First. Most Christians do not fully appreciate that throughout the book of Acts, the Emissaries (Apostles) present Yeshua almost entirely from the Tanakh's propheciesand did so with such success that they often were kicked out of the synagogues because the Jewish rabbis could not refute them! Secondly, not only do those prophecies prove that Yeshua was the promised Messiah, but they also prove that the Bible was indeed authored by more than mere men. To steal a catchphrase from Dr. Chuck Missler, We have 66 books, written by at least 40 authors over two thousand years, and yet they are an integrated message system from outside our time domain. And third, there are many people not believers in the Messiah who can see the troubled storm clouds on our horizon who are eager to find out what the Bible says about the days ahead. And you can hardly share the Bibles prophecies without also sharing about its Author!
Unfortunately, if you dont hear, Oh, it doesnt matter, youre likely to hear, Thats really neat, but its too hard for me to understand. The underlying premise of that statement is that Biblical prophecy is such an arcane and mystical subject that no one but a sainted genius could ever possibly figure it out.
Not at all! Just consider the Thessalonians. In his second letter to them, Shaul is writing to clear up some misunderstandings and false teachings that had come out about the End Times. Well come to those in good time, but for now just notice what he says to them: Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
To understand the significance of that statement, one has to note that we are told that Shaul had only been in Thessalonica for three weeks. Think about that for a moment: In three weeks, Shaul had preached about the Messiah, won several converts, and had already taught these baby Christians the basics of the Messiahs Second Coming, including at least a rough outline of what would precede it, before being forced to flee town. Likewise, the writer of the book to the Hebrews considered teaching on the Resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgmentboth eschatological issuesto be foundational and elementary principles. If the Emissaries considered this subject to be important enough to teach to even baby Christians, practically still dripping from their ritual immersions, why dont we?
Thats not to say that one can just flip open the book of Revelation, read it in an hour, and all things will be instantly clear. But a basic and general understanding of just what the Bible says about prophecy is no more difficult for the average person to come to than a basic and general understanding of what the Bible says about the deity of Yeshua Messiah. In both cases, one can also go beyond that basic understanding and attempt to delve into the deep theological waters if one has the desireand this book does attempt to swim those waters. Either way, I firmly believe that a basic knowledge of Biblical prophecy will quickly dispel many of the theological myths that surrounding the End Times that confuse most peoplejust like a basic knowledge of the Bibles claims regarding the nature of Yeshua will quickly dispel the claims of the Jehovahs Witnesses.
Of course, no man is an island, intellectually or otherwise, but there are a plethora of tools available to the student today that simply werent around to those in previous decades and centuries. In addition to the numerous books that have been written about the subject, the computer age has opened up all new resources. No longer does one need a degree in Greek and Hebrew or hours upon hours to pour through expensive lexicons; there are numerous programs that one can use to better understand the original languages and do word searches, several of which are available for free on the internet. In addition to these, one can find many older commentaries in e-book format or on searchable websites, as well as good articles written by reputable scholars on a wide variety of subjects. And finally, one can also find communities of fellow Christians online who are also interested in this subject with which one can discuss their views and get encouragement, guidance, and suggestions, as well as discover and debate opposing views. Of course, there are many sites that arent worth the electrons theyre printed on, but one can quickly learn to spot and avoid these. This new openness of dialogue would seem to fulfill the prophecy of Daniel that his book would be sealed until the time of the end, but that in that End Time, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increasednot just knowledge in general, but a knowledge of the prophetic Scriptures.
Of course, your greatest resource in understanding any part of the Scriptures is not commentaries, websites, or lectures given by your fellow man, but the tutelage of the Ruach HaKodesh, the very Holy Spirit and Breath of God. Yeshua said that the Spirit would teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. This wasnt a promise just to the Twelve. Yaakov (James), the Lords brother, tells us, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and without reproach; and it shall be given him. Thats a promise that you personally can hold God toin fact, He wants you to hold Him to every last one of His promises. I firmly believe that whatever wisdom may be found in this book is there because I repeatedly prayed this promise back to Adonai, opening my heart and mind for Him to teach me, and I beg that the reader, that you, do the same, especially if you feel that this subject is somehow beyond your reach.
As I engaged in my own study, I also read many commentators from a wide variety of viewpoints to learn their views on the original languages of the Scriptures, the cultural and historical background behind the Bible, and to understand how the whole fit together, and Ive done my best in this volume to give credit where credit is due. However, I have also sought to test every writers interpretations against the iron yardstick of the Scriptures themselves, just as the Bereans did to Shauls teachings. There is no sin in seeking the teaching of others, especially when wrestling with a difficult and controversial topic; the sin is in letting those teachers come between us and God and His Word.
I call on the reader to do the same with this work. It is my hope that while you will find this book helpful and instructive, that you will also seek to test it against the iron yardstick of Gods Word and to grow beyond it in your own studies. If this book inspires you to do that, it will have accomplished its purpose even if every single one of my interpretations is completely wrong, and to Adonai will be the glory. Conversely, even if Im somehow correct in every one of my interpretations and models (and I can guarantee that Im not), but you simply read it, agree with it, and go no further, then it will have been a dismal failure.
 Ironside, H.A., Lectures on the Book of Revelation (37th printing, Loizeaux Brothers, 1985), p. 7
 2 Th. 2:5
 Ac. 17:2
 v. 5
 Heb. 6:1-2
 In fact, if the reader is in a rush, they could simply read the first three interludes and chapter 6 and have a good outline of the End Times. I dont recommend thisRevelation is a book that does indeed bless the diligent student who studies it as a wholebut it is possible.
 Dan. 12:4
 Jn. 14:26
 Jas. 1:5
 Acts 17:11
 cf. Mt. 23:10
What Is Prophecy?
In the simplest terms, prophecy is nothing more or less than telling Gods will, not simply by interpreting the pre-existing Scriptures as we are used to, but by speaking, writing, or seeing as one is moved by the Ruach HaKodesh. As it turns out, prophecy did not end with the First Coming of Messiah, but continued as a spiritual gift in the Church. Those who believe that any or all of the spiritual gifts came to an end with the first century Church will find a dearth of support in the Bible. Shaul writes, Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. . . [for] he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He was in agreement with Moses, who said, Would God that all Adonais people were prophets, and that Adonai would put His Spirit upon them! It would seem that God wants each and every one of us to hear and speak His will, but few are truly walking with Him and listening.
Of course, prophetic utterances were not allowed to run amok and change the Churchs message. Shaul tells us that if our gift is prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of the faith. Proportion of is a translation of the Greek word analogia, from which we get our word analogy. It means the right relation, the coincidence or agreement existing or demanded according to the standard of the several relations . . . In other words, all new prophecy must be consistent with our pre-existing knowledge of Gods will, especially that contained in the Bible. God would not contradict Himself, for For God is not the author of confusion, but of shalom . . . Furthermore, for God to contradict Himself would require that He either have lied or be mistaken and surprised, neither of which are possible due to His very nature and character. For this reason, the whole of each congregation was called to listen and judge any prophecy given by a member.
When we think of prophecy, the first thing that we think of is foretelling prophecy, seeing into the futureand certainly thats part-and-parcel of what Biblical prophecy is. However, the object of Biblical prophecy, if you will pardon the cliché, is not so much to foretell as to forthtell, to declare Gods will. Indeed, as we survey the prophets of the Tanakh, we find them spending far more ink on exhortation than prediction. We find the same when we study prophets in the later Church. For example, a pastor who says that the Lord has laid it on his heart to preach about a particular sin that is rising in the Church or who is given the command to build a new church in the next town, just to pick a couple of examples, is really prophesying, speaking the will of God. God does not send His prophets to give attaboys to His people, but to correct themwhich is why prophets are rarely popular in their own countries or congregations.
Thats not to downplay the predictive power of the Bible or predictive prophecies given by the Ruach HaKodesh, but lets make sure we understand the reasons why God proclaims the future to us. First of all, its to authenticate the message of the prophet. God gave two tests by which we can know a false prophet: First, if he tries to draw us away from worship of the one, true God, and second, if he predicts something that fails to happen.
This latter test tells us something interesting about both God and the Enemy. God says of Himself, I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. God alone stands outside of the dimension of time. In fact, by nature of being the Creator of all things, He must, for time itself is a physical property of the universe. Time is dependant on mass and velocity; it couldnt very well exist before matter and space were created. Being outside of time, God can see every moment at once, and can declare to us the moments that are, from our perspective, yet in the future.
C.S. Lewis eloquently described Gods perspective this way:
But God, I believe, does not live in a Time-series at all. His life is not dribbled out moment by moment like ours: with Him it is, so to speak, still 1920 and already 1960. For His life is Himself.God alone has this outside-of-time perspective. Neither the angels, nor the cherubim (cherubim), nor Satan himself share it with Him; therefore, His ability to tell us with absolute certainty what will happen in the days, years, and even centuries ahead is His way of authenticating His message, so that we can know what is truly from Him and what is the false message of the Deceiver.
If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn. We come to the parts of the line one by one: we have to leave A behind before we get to B, and cannot reach C until we leave B behind. God, from above or outside or all around, contains the whole line, and sees it all.
The second reason God gives us predictive prophecy ties into the first. Not only does the prophecy authenticate the prophet and his message, but it also authenticates the object of the prophecy as being Gods work. God pronounced both destructions of Jerusalem so that we would know them to be His work and will as a result of the sins of Israel, not a victory of the Enemy over Gods plan. He declared that Israel would arise again in the End Times so that we would know that reemergence was also a part of His plan. The ultimate work that God proclaimed to us was, of course, the work of His Son to save us from our sins and redeem the whole world. When challenged by the Pharisees that His self-witness was not valid since it was not backed by any other witness, Yeshua answered, I am One that bear witness of Myself, and the Father that sent Me bears witness of Me. The Father bore witness to His Sons coming hundreds of years before, in the words of the prophets.
The third reason God gives us prophecy is to protect and comfort us. We see this particularly in the book of Revelation. Yes, many of Revelations passages are difficult and frightening, but just imagine if the Enemys chosen king were to arise with all power and signs and lying wonders, and we hadnt the slightest clue what to expect! By telling us about those dark days, God provides that we can know the Devils devices when they come to fruition so that we will not be deceived or dismayed. Behold, I have told you before!
And the fourth and most important reason God gives us prophecy is so that we can know His will and obey it, both in a general sense and also His specific will at specific times. Michael Evans, author of The American Prophecies, writes, The fulfillment of prophecy concerning Gods people has never been a unilateral act of God. First, God informs His prophets what is to come to pass (which can mean quickening His Scriptures to them as happened with Daniel), then His people begin to pray, and God moves in the hearts of leaders to fulfill His Word concerning these things. When Daniel realized that the seventy years of Babylonian captivity prophesied by his fellow prophet Jeremiah were close to an end, his reaction was not to sit back and watch how God accomplished it, but to fall on his knees in prayer. It is hardly surprising then that God chose to give Daniel the honor of presenting King Cyrus with the scroll of Isaiah, which hundreds of years before had called Cyrus by name, told the manner of how he would take Babylon captive, and called on him to release the Jewish people and allow them to return to their own land. And it was again largely through those who took the prophetic Scriptures seriously that God used to bring about the resurrection of Israel some 2500 years later.
Those who take the prophetic Scriptures seriously now, and see the world moving quickly towards the events they describe should not simply treat them as an intellectual game, a mere puzzle to be unraveled for entertainment, but should fall on their knees and pray Gods promises back to Him. It is from those that the Lord will call men and women to complete His will in the acharit-hayamim, the End of Days.
 cf. Dt. 18:15-19
 2 Pt. 1:21
 Rom. 12:6, 1 Cor. 15:10
 1 Cor. 14:1, 3
 Num. 11:29
 Rom. 12:6
 Vine, W.E., Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Thomas Nelxon, 1997), p. 897
 1 Cor. 14:33. The Hebrew word for peace, used here, speaks not simply of quietness or lack of conflict, but primarily of wholeness.
 ibid. v. 29
 Deut. 13:2-3
 Deut. 18:22
 Isa. 46:9-10
 Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity (Touchstone, 1996), p. 148
 Being aware of this, the Adversary constantly raises up false prophets and false prophecies to muddy the water, to try to take away the distinctiveness of the Scriptures. However, at best, they provide educated guessesnone has the 100% success rate of the Bible.
 Jn. 8:18
 2 Th. 2:9
 Mt. 24:25
 Evans, Michael D., The American Prophecies: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nations Future (Warner Faith, 2004), p. 62
 Jer. 25:11
 Dan. 9:2-19
 Isa. 44:28-45:13
Modes of Prophecy
The single biggest issue that comes between students of Biblical prophecy is the most fundamental of all: How do we approach the text? Do we take it literally or do we approach it as symbolic and allegorical? If a little of both, how do we determine between the literal and the symbolic without being arbitrary and turning the prophetic Scriptures into a matter of private interpretation? As always, let us use Scripture as our guide.
Not all prophecies are delivered to us the same way or meant to be interpreted precisely the same. Of course, many prophecies are simply given as utterances or writing, delivered in everything from simple, straightforward prose, like the latter chapters of Zechariah, to exquisite poetry like Isaiah. In many ways, straightforward prophecies like this can be considered our baseline or foundation for understanding Scripture, requiring a minimum of interpretative work beyond understanding the meaning of the words and their context. Daniels prophecy of the Seventy Weeks and Yeshuas Olivet Discourse both fall into this category, and both together provide the foundation for our understanding of the book of Revelation.
It is interesting to note that every time someone in the Bible interprets a prophecy, they do so in the most literal manner possible, and often interpret the prophecy more literally than the text seems to allow! For example, Mattityahu (Matthew) understands it literally that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem and be born of a virgin, rather than, say, simply a young woman. He even cites a prophecy of Hosea as proof that Gods Son would at one point come out of Egypteven though that passage is seemingly so manifest in using Gods son as a symbol for Israel! If one simply goes through the Gospel accounts with an eye for how the prophecies of Yeshua HaMashiachs First Coming, death, and resurrection were fulfilled, one finds an amazing degree of literalism! So why should we then expect that the prophesied events leading up to and surrounding the Second Coming would be fulfilled only allegorically and even that in a pale shadow of their promise? And yet many otherwise excellent scholars will say that you cant take those prophecies literally, and thus we have a thousand years that arent really a thousand years, a Satan that is bound in the Abyss at the same time that Shaul calls him the god of this Age, 144,000 Israelites specifically numbered from the twelve tribes that really represent the Church, unfulfilled promises to Israel of a physical, earthly kingdom that are spiritualized away and given to the Gentile Christians, and on and on . . .
But what then of the blatantly symbolic imagery that floods the apocalyptic books like Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation? This second type of prophecy can be called symbolic prophecy or prophetic visions (some would call it apocalyptic prophecy). We see this kind of prophecy in both Daniel and Revelation, in which beasts and statues represent kingdoms, or in which trumpets and bowls represent the wrath of God, and so on. Strangely enough, Im going to suggest that we should interpret these prophecies literally, or rather, normally, as well.
Are we to understand then that the Antichrist will really be a beast with red skin, seven heads, and ten horns? No, not at all. But theres a clear distinction between interpreting a symbol and allegorizing the text: When the Scripture means something to be symbolic instead of literal, 90% of the time it comes right out and tells youand then goes ahead and gives you the interpretation right then and there! The other 10% of the time, we simply let the Bible tell us what it means by checking every other appearance of that symbol throughout the Scriptures. The heads and horns of the Beast of Revelation 13 are explained in chapter 17 and its body in Daniel 7, Daniel chapter 2 tells us with no misunderstanding what the layers of Nebuchadnezzars dreamt statue mean, etc. There is no need to speculate endlessly, because God has told us what everything means in His own Word. Amazingly, this collection of laws and ceremonies, histories, poetry, letters, and apocalyptic visions is consistent throughout its pages in its use of these symbols so that we do not need to have any doubt about what they mean. But in all cases, unless the Bible tells us that a symbol is in use, uses an obvious simile or metaphor, or makes an obvious symbolic comparison (e.g. Assyria was a cedar in Lebanon . . . in Ezk. 31:2), it is better to simply assume that God is quite capable of saying what He means and meaning what He says than to try to help Him with a tortured interpretation.
This is especially important when dealing with prophetic types, the third class of prophecy. Missler writes, The western mind views prophecy merely as prediction and fulfillment. The Jewish mind saw prophecy as a pattern being recapitulated, where a pattern of events illuminates a thematic replay in the future. A prophetic type then, is an artifact, a construction, or a historical event or figure that appeared in the past (or in a few cases, will appear in the future kingdom of the Messiah) which reflects future events or spiritual realities. Our proof-text for this type of prophecy is Hos. 12:10, in which God says, I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. The word translated similitudes is damah, which this context means a likeness. This same word is used in Ps. 102:6, in which the author writes, I am like (damah) a pelican of the desert . . .
For one prominent and well-documented example of a damah, Abrahams sacrifice of his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah was a type of another Fathers true sacrifice of His only Son on that same mountain (and likely on the very same spot) two millennia later. Likewise, the book of Joshua, for all that it is a historical record rather than a book of prophecy, seems to prefigure the Yeshuas ultimate conquest of the land in Revelation. God often told the prophets to do weird things in order to act out prophecypoor Ezekiel, who had to lie in bed on one side for 390 days and on the other for 40 days, besieging a clay model of Jerusalem (among many other strange acts), is a prime example.
It should be noted that evidence of a symbolic type does not deny the existence of the literal object. For example, 1 Cor. 3:16 indicates that Solomons Temple was a type of the believers lifethat does not mean that Solomons Temple never existed, nor does it prove that the future Temple described in Ezk. 40-47 will not physically exist, or that Shaul was necessarily speaking of the believers psyche in 2 Th. 2:4. In the same fashion, Abrahams sacrifice of Isaac on Mt. Moriah was a type of Messiahs atoning sacrifice on that same spot, but that doesnt mean that Abraham and Isaac were not real people.
Its also important to beware of building doctrine on prophetic types, which generally are not meant to be fully understood until after the fact or in the light of a later, more straightforward prophecy. To use the previous example of Isaacs sacrifice, we would probably not have known what it meant if not for the other prophecies of the Messiahs atoning death and their fulfillment in Messiah Yeshua. There are doubtless many more hidden types in Scripture that we will only fully understand or even recognize after they have been fulfilled. There are others that we may be able to recognize in advance because of allusions in other prophecies and Scriptures. For example, when Yeshua warned His talmidim, His disciples, to watch for the Abomination of Desolation, He was referring to a prophecy of Daniel that was already fulfilled, in type, by Antiochus Epiphanes when he set up an idol to Zeus in the Holy of Holies in the second century B.C. (We will explore this event and its final fulfillment in the chapters ahead.) However, we have to be very careful when looking at as-yet unfulfilled types, or we soon find ourselves wandering away from the Biblical view and into the realm of purely private interpretation and sheer speculation.
One important thing to bear in mind when interpreting prophecy is that Gods time is not our time. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. A prophecy of the Scripture may, in the course of a single line, or even in the space of a comma, jump from one event to another hundreds or even thousands of years apart. Nowhere is this truer than in the prophecies of the Messiahs two Comings. An example that the Lord Himself interpreted for us can be found in Lk. 4:16-19, in which He quotes Isa. 61:1-2 as proclaiming His mission. He finishes with His mandate, To preach the acceptable year of Adonai. What you dont realize unless youve gone back to Isaiah to read the original prophecy for yourself is that Yeshua cut off right in the middle of the sentence! The rest reads, and the day of vengeance of our God. In that comma, the prophecy jumped from the time of Messiahs First Coming some two thousand or more years into the future to the time of the Second Coming. This is hardly an isolated example in Scripture, and well be looking at others as we proceed.
In addition, we need to be aware of what Van Kampen refers to as a near-far prophecy. In other words, prophecy often operates on two levels of fulfillment. On the first level, there is a divinely revealed near prediction relating to a soon-coming event. But on a second level, there is a corresponding far prediction that will be fulfilled in a later time . . .  For example, there are prophecies that promise Abraham both a son and also speak the distant Son that would be the Messiah. There are other prophecies that were partially fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes that will be completely fulfilled by the final Antichrist. However, Van Kampen warns, and rightly so, that misuse of this principle of prophetic interpretation will cause every bit as much confusion as ignoring it. For a near/far interpretation to be valid, it must clearly be allowed for by the context and by the specific wording of the text itself, as well as be consistent with the rest of Scripture.
 2 Pet. 1:20
 Mt. 2:6, quoting Mic. 5:1
 Mt. 1:23, quoting Isa. 7:14
 Mt. 2:15, quoting Hos. 11:1
 2 Cor. 4:4, NKJV
 Some readers may object to my use of the term Antichrist on a couple of different grounds. Some may object that 1 Jn. 4:3 uses this term in a general way, not specifically of the Man of Sin at the End of the Age. Others of a Messianic persuasion may wonder why I dont use the term anti-Messiah instead. In answer to both, it is simply a matter of using a familiar title of the coming world ruler for brevitys sake, and I trust that I may be forgiven for whatever incorrectness the reader may find in me using it as such.
 Missler, Chuck, Pattern, not Just Prediction: Midrash Hermeneutics, Koinonia House, May 2001
 See Heb. 11:19. In fact, Avraham knew that he was acting out prophecy. Avraham called the place, Adonai Yireh [ADONAI will see (to it), Adonai provides]; as it is said to this day, On the moutain Adonai is seen (Gen. 22:14). We will continue to use this example of a prophetic type throughout this chapter because it is such a clear illustration of the Ruach HaKodeshs way of creating a multilevel text.
 Ezk. 4
 Mt. 24:15, Mk. 13:14
 2 Pet. 3:8
 Van Kampen, Robert, The Sign (Crossway, 1993), p. 29
The Major Prophetic Viewpoints
Of course, different scholars have different views on just how we should understand the book of Revelation and its related prophecies in the Scriptures, and out of those differing methods of interpretation come the many different and often confusing views on prophecy. The reasons why I have adopted the views I have and rejected the competing views will be explained in detail throughout this book, but since an understanding of the different views and what they believe will be useful to the newcomer to Biblical prophecy, lets take a brief look at them.
The prophetic viewpoints can be summarized by three primary qualities: Millennial, how they view the Millennium of Revelation 20; Temporal, whether they believe that Revelation was fulfilled in the past or lies yet future to us; and Raptural, when the Rapture of the Church will take place in regards to the events of Revelation.
In Rev. 20:1-5, we read of a period during which Satan will be thrown into the Abyss and the Resurrected saints will reign with the Messiah a thousand years. How one understands this passage is foundational to their understanding of the prophetic Scriptures.
Over the centuries, three competing views have developed.
Premillennialism is the view that we are now living in the time before (pre-) the Millennium of Revelation 20. As a general rule, premillennialists believe that God still has a plan for the nation of Israel and tend to interpret prophecy more literally than those of the other viewpoints. Premillennialism was unquestionably the first prophetic viewpoint of the early Church.
Amillennialism (literally, no millennium) holds instead that we are currently living within the Millennium, but that the thousand years described in Revelation 20:3, 4, and 5 is simply an idiom for an undefined, but very long time. Most amillennialists do believe that the Messiah is coming bodily again, but that the Church has replaced Israel in Gods plans and that there is no place for the latter as an ethnic nation. Amillennialists correspondingly tend to interpret prophecy allegorically.
Postmillennialism is a position that we can understand to be a subset of amillennialism, and throughout this book, refutations of amillennialism should be understood to apply to the postmillennial view as well. The major distinction between the two is that postmillennialists believe that Messiah will return to a triumphant Church that has successfully converted the world. Some will go so far as to posit that not only should the Church live in accordance with the Torah, but even seek to impose it on society. The Dominionist, Reconstructionist, and Kingdom Now movements are all postmillennial in their view.
In prophetic commentaries, we often see discussions or critiques of the various millennial viewpoints. What are more often ignored than not are the different temporal viewpoints of Revelation: Is the whole of Revelation about our past or future as we stand today? These can be summed up as follows:
Preterism is the belief that all, or nearly all, of the Bibles prophecies of the End Times were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel as a nation in 70 A.D. Most preterists still believe in a future, literal Second Coming, but there are those, known as extreme or consistent preterists, who believe that the only Second Coming was the Lords coming in an invisible form to judge Israel. Preterisism universally holds to replacement theology (sometimes called reform or covenant theology), which means that they believe that the Church has replaced Israel as Gods chosen people. Preterists are nearly always amillennial or postmillennial, and very allegorical in their interpretations.
Historicism is a view that developed during the Reformation that Revelation is a book prophesying the whole of Church history from the time that Yochanan penned it to the Second Coming. This viewpoint subscribes heavily to both allegorical interpretation and the idea that days in the prophetic Scriptures nearly always stand for yearsthus, the 1260 days of the Beasts reign in Revelation 13 are really 1260 years, nearly always associated in some way with the Roman Catholic papacy. Most historicists are amillennial and replacement theologians, but there are exceptions.
Futurism, in contrast to both of the above views, states that the vast majority of Revelation is about a specific seven-year period right before Messiahs Second Coming. Futurists tend to be dispensational to one extent or anotherthat is, believing that God has dealt with humanity in different ways at different timesthough not all would subscribe to all of what is currently termed Dispensationalism. The vast majority believes in a more or less literal interpretation and that God will fulfill all of His promises to Israel in the Tanakh to Israel.
Idealism is a method of interpretation which removes the book from any real-world application, instead viewing it as an allegory of the Churchs or even the individuals struggle to victory in Messiah. While certainly much of the book has application to the individual and the Church in its warnings and lessons even outside of the End Times, Revelation itself claims to be a prophetic picture of events in Yochanans future, and as we will see, links together all of the other End Time prophecies in the Bible.
And finally, there are several viewpoints on the Rapture, when Yeshua will catch the Church up to Himself as per 1 Th. 4:15-17 and 1 Cor. 15:51-58. Will it before, during, or after the period described in Revelation? Those of the amillennial camp, whether historicist or preterist in their outlook, view this as a moot issuesince the taking of the Messiahs Community did not happen in the past, obviously it must come at the end along with the Second Coming. For futurists, however, this is a very importantand divisiveissue.
Pretribulationism believes that the Rapture is a separate event that will come before Daniels Seventieth Week (if youre unfamiliar with this particular prophetic term, a detailed explanation appears in our first interlude), which pretribs often refer to as the Tribulation Period. Pretribulationalism is usually associated with Dispensationalism because of the clear distinction it draws between Israel and the Church, even to the point of declaring that God will not really deal with Israel until after He removes the Church from the world.
Classical Posttribulationism is the opposite view, holding that the Rapture and the Second Coming are one and the same, and both will happen at the very end of the Tribulation Period at the battle of Armageddon. Posttribulationalism was the clear teaching of the earliest Church fathers. Posttribs see the Church as passing through but being preserved from Gods wrath, just as Israel did in the days of the Exodus through the ten plagues.
Midtribulationism is an attempt at a mediating position between the first two. It holds that the Church will undergo the first half of Daniels Seventieth Week, or the Tribulation, but be spared from the second half, the Great Tribulation, in which the Antichrist will reign.
Prewrath, the belief held by the author of this book, is a relatively young system, the term having been coined by Marvin Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen in the early 90s. However, it can be considered to be a modified posttrib position, and thus agrees with the earliest Church on the subject. Prewrath draws a distinction between the Great Tribulation, Satans persecution of the people of God, and the Day of Adonai, or the Day of the Lord, the time when God will pour out His wrath on the earth, and states that the Rapture and the Second Coming will occur in between the two, sometime within the second half of the Great Tribulation. For reasons that will become clear as we continue, this event must take place no fewer than six months before Armageddon.
As it turns out, the question of what should be considered literal and what should be considered symbolic actually has very little to do with why I interpret Revelation normally and view it in a pre-millennial and futurist light. The simple truth is that I have read a wide variety of prophetic books from all manner of perspectives, and to read Revelation as a highly symbolic representation of the fall of Jerusalem or of the current age as a whole falls utterly flat if one simply cross-references all of the other relevant prophetic passages before attempting to compare them to history. This book will give numerous illustrations of this as we proceed.
Does this mean that there is no value at all to be had in looking at certain prophecies from a preterist or historicist point of view? Not necessarily. The rabbis point out that every Scripture has four different interpretations, and in deed the Hebrew word for interpretation, pardes, is an acronym for those four methods:
The first is the pashut (to spread out or make a road), the simplest and plain interpretation. For example, in the Akedah, the narrative of Abrahams sacrifice of Isaac that we spoke of earlier in this chapter, the pashut is simply what the story says: That God tested Abrahams faith by having him offer up his long-promised son in sacrifice, and that Abraham passed the test.
The second way of interpreting a passage is to look for its remez, a hint of something deeper or an allusion. In the Akedah, we see that hint in Abrahams confident statement to Isaac, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering in his naming of the place of sacrifice, Adonai Yireh; as it is said to this day, On the mountain Adonai is seen. As has already been pointed out earlier in this chapter, Abraham knew that he was acting out prophecy, and indeed, two thousand years later, God offered His own Son as an offering on that very same plot of land, offered Himself as a Lamb in Isaacsand everyone elsesplace, and on the Mount of the Lord our redemption was provided. That prophetic fulfillment is the remez.
The third way of interpreting a passage is called a drash (to follow or to seek and ask) or midrash (teaching or learning). This is the homiletic meaning, the way the passage can be applied to our own lives. In the Akedah, the drash of the story is that we can trust God completely. Abraham knew that God had made a promise that through Isaac a great nation would be born, so if God commanded Isaac to be killed, then God would have to resurrect Isaac to fulfill His promises. Abraham was so certain that God would do exactly as He said that he was willing to trust God even with the life of his son. For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him.
The fourth way of interpreting a passage is called the sod. This is esoteric interpretation, the mystical conjecture, the hidden meaning. The sod is often found in a coded form, like the oft-abused equidistant letter sequences (the so-called Bible codes) or in comparisons between the numerical value of different words. There is a danger in pursuing the sod interpretation and that is that we can be tempted away from the plain interpretation. In fact, many occultist traditions have latched onto Kabbalah, which grew out of the pursuit of the Bibles hidden meanings at the cost of its pashut. A true sod would never contradict the plain Scriptures, nor will a true remez or drashthey will only deepen our understanding and will be confirmed by a pashut elsewhere, just as the prophetic type of Abrahams sacrifice of Isaac is confirmed in the plain interpretations of the latter prophets, and fulfilled by the plain interpretation of Messiahs work on the cross. For the most part, one is far better off seeking the plain meanings, the hints of deeper things (e.g. the prophetic types), and the personal applications of the Scriptures than in seeking non-confirmable mystical conjectures, and those are what we will focus on in this volume.
Understanding that a given Scripture can have multiple levels of meaning brings a fresh insight to the discussion about which view of Revelation is correct. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of interning at an internationally-known apologetics ministry. Those within came from a wide variety of theological opinions and backgrounds, from pre-millennialist to amillennialist, Arminian to Calvinist. During a casual conversation with one of the senior members, a well-known speaker in his own right, the subject of prophecy came up, and he said to me something that has stuck with me ever since, Michael, to be honest, I think that when Christ finally does come back, well find that all three viewpoints will have turned out to be true. Perhaps he was just trying to avoid an argument, but his words struck me and still strike me as profound.
That is not to say that I consider the fall of Jerusalem or the whole of church history to be the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies examined in this book, but in many cases they could easily be looked on as prophetic types. One moderate preterist that I spoke to pointed out to me, To the first century Jew, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was the end of the world. Indeed. Yet the world continues as it did before that destruction, as decadent and violent as ever, so even if the fall of Jerusalem was a fulfillment of prophecy, it was not the fulfillment of the End of the Age or the beginning of Messiahs rule on the earth.
As Sir Robert Anderson so eloquently put it:
The question here at issue must not be prejudiced by misrepresentations, or shirked by turning away to collateral points of secondary moment. It is not whether great crises in the history of Christendom, such as the fall of Paganism, the rise of the Papacy and of the Moslem power, and the Protestant reformation of the sixteenth century, be within the scope of the visions of St. John. This may readily be conceded. Neither is it whether the fact that the chronology of some of these events is marked by cycles of years composed of the precise multiples; of seventy specified in the book of Daniel and the Apocalypse; be not a further proof that all forms part of one great plan. Every fresh discovery of the kind ought to be welcomed by all lovers of the truth. Instead of weakening confidence in the accuracy and definiteness of the prophecies, it ought to strengthen the faith which looks for their absolute and literal fulfillment. The question is not whether the history of Christendom was within the view of the Divine Author of the prophecies, but whether those prophecies have been fulfilled; not whether those Scriptures have the scope and meaning which historical interpreters assign to them, but whether their scope and meaning be exhausted and satisfied by the events to which they appeal as the fulfillment of them. It is unnecessary, therefore, to enter here upon an elaborate review of the historical system of interpretation, for if it fails when tested at some one vital point, it breaks down altogether.Like Sir Anderson, I can readily consider that Revelation and many other End Times prophecies have application to events of the past, that they may include double-prophecies or that certain cycles of history is a prophetic type of the End of the Age. As Joseph Seiss writes, The only prerequisite to the entertainment of both [the historic and futurist interpretations] is, that the two should be homogeneous, and that the one fulfillment should be regarded as inchoate [incomplete], and only a sort of preliminary and imperfect rehearsal . . . of the other. That is, the futurist interpretation of Revelation is its pashut, the historicist interpretations (including the preterist) may be either remez or in some cases sod, and the idealist interpretation may have application as a drash. Indeed, when we study the seven letters to the seven churches, we will see just such a multidimensional interpretation in this book.
However, to suggest that when it is all said and done that we will be able to look back at the panorama of history and see how God wove events into a prefiguration of the End of the Age is a far cry from the historicist ideal wherein all has been fulfilled in a highly poetic way and all thats left is a bowl or two before the Second Coming, or the preterist ideal that Messiahs Second Coming was fulfilled in the destruction of the Temple and that the prophetic Scriptures have virtually nothing to say to our own age. However, to exhaust a study of Revelation and its related prophecies as partially fulfilled in the cycles of history would require decades of time and volumes of books. Of necessity, this volume is focused on the final fulfillments of these prophecies, those which are closer to being fulfilled in our time than in any time previous, and I hope that the reader will bear with my focus in that regard.
Interestingly, I have found many of the amillennialist persuasion, both preterist and historicist, who would agree with many of the broad points in this book. We share a common belief that, as Professor Englesma, a Reformed Amillennialist, writes, The hope of the Reformed church and believer at the beginning of a new year is the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the body. The pastor of the Presbyterian church that I spoke of earlier told me that he believed that some kind of Antichrist figure would precede the Second Coming, and Ive spoken with several historicists who affirmed the same. Similarly, Prof. Englesma writes, The church in the end time will be a persecuted church, not a triumphalist church. The Messianic kingdom in history is the church, not a Christianized world.
My experience is that much (though not all) of the heat from the amillennialist side is actually directed at the teaching of a pretrib Rapture. In fact, Ive often found amillennialists who, though reserving the right to disagree with my views, have treated them with respect because I was not a part of the Rapture Cult (their phrase, not mine). If you fall into one of the amillennialist camps, let me say up front that I agree with you that pretrib is an incorrect teaching circulating in the Church that usually leads to a kind of escapism: Were all going to be beamed out before anything really happens, so why worry about it, right?
But let us not confuse the issues or throw the baby out with the bathwater. Pretrib is merely one line of thought within premillennialism, and while extremely vocal, it does not represent the whole view.
I once spent several weeks in an online message board debate in which my opponent constantly attacked straw-men built from false assumptions about my eschatology. He spent the whole debate attacking flaws in radical Dispensationalism and the pretrib Rapture belief, flaws which do not exist in the Olive Tree theology or pre-wrath Rapture system that I have adopted and which I will be presenting to the reader. When he realized that his attacks werent landing, he shifted into trying to prove to me that I was really a Dispensationalist after all, I just didnt know it! Im glad he cleared that up for me. Those readers who have ever had a Jehovahs Witness, a Unitarian, a Jew, or a Muslim try to convince you that you really worship three gods, not one God in three Persons, will understand the feeling. This book, though disputing certain prophetic positions, will not intentionally misrepresent them, though of course not every conceivable variation to each belief system can be analyzed. If I have unintentionally left out a strong argument for any other prophetic view, I beg the readers forgiveness up front.
For those of you who come from the amillennialist camp and have read this far, I ask that you not judge this book by whatever preconceptions you may have against premillennialism (which I hold to) or pretribulationism (which I do not). Rather, I ask that you agree to meet on common ground, accepting the Scripture as our mutual source of ultimate authority.
Interpretation vs. Models
Before proceeding, I must confess that I find myself caught in a curious tension: On the one hand, as I have grown in my understanding of both the prophetic Scriptures and of the world situation, I have also grown more and more convinced that the world is very swiftly aligning exactly as God told us it would, and the time is indeed near that Messiah will return. On the other hand, I am also cognizant enough of the history of the Church to know that many others for the last two thousand years have likewise believed that theirs were the End Times. The Crusaders went to war for the Holy Land convinced that Yeshua was soon to return there. The Reformers were equally convinced that theirs was the End Time struggle between the Church and the Antichrist, which they saw as the Roman papacy. The 1800s were rife with prophetic fervor brought on by numerous attempts at date-setting by the historicist camp. During World War II, many speculated that Mussolini was the Roman Beast and Hitler the False Prophet. And of course, in our own recent history, we remember the fervor surrounding the turn of the millennium and all of the predictions that proved false there. So I am well aware that it is entirely possible that the worlds situation as we see it today could stabilize for another generation or change entirely before the rise of the Man of Sin and his destruction at the hands of Yeshua HaMashiach.
That perspective grants a certain humility and caution in approaching Biblical prophecy, and for that reason I wish to make clear the important distinction between my prophetic interpretations and prophetic models. A prophetic interpretation is just that: An analysis of a given prophecys original language, intent, and any cross-referencing passages of Scripture that will shed light upon it. It does not attempt to put the prophecy into the setting of today or the near future, a not so fine art that many commentators have jokingly called newspaper exegesis, but rather tries to see what exactly the Scripture says and not go a single step beyond.
A prophetic model, on the other hand, attempts to take the prophetic interpretation already arrived at independently of any current events and then overlay that interpretation on the world as we see it and see if there are any correlations. Obviously, great care must be taken when dealing with any kind of prophetic model, and there is enormous potential for abuse or overreaching to make a desired point. So why then risk it? Simply put, because todays world does seem to correspond amazingly to what the Scriptures lay out about the End Times, even if not every prediction is yet perfectly lined up. If indeed we are near the time of the Second Coming, this correlation should not surprise us, and we would do well to see the world in the light of the Scriptures. For this reason, this book will occasionally offer models of how several prophecies may tie together with the world as we see it as of this writing. As I hope that the reader will see, these views were not arrived at simply by reading todays paper and imposing my pet issues on the Scriptures, but by a careful exegesis of who the Bible says the End Time scenario will be.
While prophetic interpretations change only as we learn more about the Scriptures, prophetic models have a way of being upset every few years when God decides to reshuffle the deck. Hal Lindseys classic, The Late Great Planet Earth, is a prime example. Many have accused Lindsey of being a false prophet, since he cites entities that no longer exist, such as the Soviet Union, as End Time players. Such an accusation is more than a little excessive; first of all, Lindsey never claims thus sayeth the Lord about any of his predictions. Rather, he simply built a prophetic model around his interpretation of what the Scriptures said. While I disagree with many of Lindseys approaches and interpretations, his model is no more worthy of ridicule than those of the preterists or historicists. Parts of that model are now clearly outdated, while other parts are still solid even if some of the names of the nations involved have changed.
The same is true here. If the Lord tarries for another generation, doubtless the world stage will have changed as well. Conversely, even if the Seventieth Week begins this year, a misunderstanding of or unknown factor in the world political scene could render those parts of my model wrong. For that matter, I am doubtless wrong on many of my interpretations; I have no illusions that I, or any other commentator, has a flawless theologythat belongs to the Lord alone! The purpose of this book is to offer some views that I have come to after many years of study, but also to encourage the reader to study the Bible for themselves and come to their own conclusions.
 In distinction, while Messianics may likewise choose to live under Torah and recognize its eternal relevance, we also recognize that it can be imposed as national law only by Yeshua Himself.
 Extreme preterism actually goes far beyond the bounds of what is considered orthodox Christianity, denying the physical Resurrection at the End of the Age, and for this reason, nominal preterists usually dislike having their position associated with it.
 Rev. 1:1 and 19, 4:1, etc.
 Gen. 22
 v. 8
 v. 14, CJB
 Gen. 17:19
 Heb. 11:19, CJB
 For this reason I will leave the ministry unnamed, as not all would approve of the direction of this book or want the ministry to be associated with it.
 This of course ignores the fact that there is no basis at all for placing the writing of Revelation before the reign of Domitian in the 90s A.D. Preterism requires the book to be early-dated to the 60s A.D., a position that cannot be substantiated either from the writings of any early Church Father (all of whom put the writing of Revelation in Domitians reign rather than Neros) or from the text of Revelation itself.
 Anderson, Sir Robert, The Coming Prince (Kregel Publications, 1957), pp. 136-137
 Seiss, Joseph A., The Apocalypse: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation, (Kregel, 1987 reprint), pp. 121-122
 Englesma, Prof. David J., Jewish Dreams, originally printed in The Standard Bearer (January 15, 1995), retrieved from http://www.hopeprc.org/reformedwitness/1995/RW199505.htm on June 29, 2004.
The Structure of Revelation
One of the most marvelous aspects of the final book of the Bible is the very structure built into it by its Author.
A close study of Revelation makes it clear that it is not intended to unfold the events of Daniels Seventieth Week in a strictly chronological fashion. Those who have attempted to build charts doing so have always run into either internal inconsistencies or issues with other parts of Scripture. And yet, knowing that ahead of time, how can we determine where and when to place these events that are described to us? In my original notes, I was often disturbed by those occasions in which I felt that I was being arbitrary in my placement of events because of a lack of clear markers showing when the overlapping timelines of events described in Revelation started and stopped.
But as it turns out, Revelation does indeed have these markers that I was looking for, and they come in three different forms. First, the book outlines itself by the threefold division given by Yeshua Himself: The things that were, in chapter 1; the things that are in chapters 2-3; and the things which will take place after this, in chapters 4-22, those things that were wholly future to Yochanan when he recorded the visions. These divisions are quite obvious and widely known.
In addition to these, there are also four divisions that are marked by the phrase, in the Spirit. First, Yochanan is in the Spirit with Yeshua (chapters 1-3). Then he is in the Spirit in Heaven (ch. 4-16). Then he is carried away in the Spirit to see the fate of Babylon, the Beast, and the False Prophet (ch. 17-20). And finally, he is taken in the Spirit to see the New Jerusalem (ch. 21-22).
In addition to these, Revelation is divided into groups of seven. Four of these are obvious: The seven letters, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. In addition to these, I am indebted to Merrill Tenney for pointing out two less obvious groups of seven, the seven personages in Rev. 12-14:5, and the seven new things of chapters 21-22. Given the emphasis on the number seven throughout Revelation, it should hardly surprise us to find a seventh group of seven. And indeed we do: There are seven angelsincluding Yeshua as the Angel of Adonailisted in Rev. 14:6-20.
Each of these groups, whether divided by chronology, transports of the Spirit, or groups of seven, constitutes a separate timeline. Whether a given division follows, precedes or overlaps those to either side of it must be determined from the text itself rather than by any preconceived notions. For example, for reasons that will be fully clear in the following chapters, the seven trumpets do in fact immediately follow the seven seals rather than come before or overlap them; however, the seven personages backtrack to the time before Messiahs first appearance (when the woman, Israel, was about to give birth) before proceeding forward in time to recap and expand upon the same period of time already described in the seals, particularly the fourth through seventh seals.
However, there is a progression in Revelation, as indeed many commentators state that the structure of the original Greek demands. Obviously, the three time divisions progress from past, to present, to future. Likewise, each occasion in which Yochanan is carried by the Spirit seems to progress and look to a time further in the future than the last. This same progression is found, but more subtly, in the groupings of seven. While there are occasions in which the starting point of a group of seven may begin previous to the end, or even the beginning, of the group before it (like the aforementioned seven personages, which clearly look to a time before the seven trumpets), they always seem to end a little closer to the final consummation. The seven churches continue to the Second Coming. The seven seals continue to a point just a little bit after the Second Coming, with the start of the Day of the Lord. The seven trumpets take us to the end of the Seventieth Week and Israels Yom Kippur, her Day of Atonement. The seventh personage, the Lamb, stands on Mt. Zion with the 144,000 a few days later, in the great Sukkot. The seven angels appear to take us right up to the time of the Last Battle, which the seventh bowl finishes. And finally, the seven new things take us right past the millennium and into eternity. In this way, the divine Author who gave these visions to Yochanan works much like a modern author writing a novel, backtracking and overlapping when two or more events are happening at the same time, but always ending a section a little closer to the final climax.
 Tenney, Merrill C., Interpreting Revelation: A Reasonable Guide to Understanding the Last Book in the Bible (Hendrickson, 2001), p. 37
Prevenient normalcy!!!! You have now assured your place in future theology AND psychology texts.
Which one of youse guys has the best parties? I need references from all of the joints youse have been thrown out of.
We believe that Man is saved by God's gift (grace), which is received by trusting God, faith being a proper response to God offering the gift of salvation to us. The difference between Calvinists and Arminians is whether God sovereignly chose to give Man a valid choice whether to believe or whether He simply ordains some to believe and some to go to Hell.
Harley, if you're going to come onto my thread, the least you could do is to not lie about what we believe. And yes, it's an outright lie when you've been corrected on this point repeatedly and still continue to misconstrue the argument. The Neeners pray for the day when you can manage to have a debate without constructing strawmen by willfully misrepresenting the other side's arguments.
But we're not having this debate here; this is a thread about interpreting the Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, and I don't want it sidetracked into another pointless Neener/GRPL debate--not on soteriology, anyway. If you'd like to debate my eschatology or hermeneutics, as they've been presented here so far, that's perfectly fair game.
Provided you can debate what I've actually written and not a strawman, of course.
If I hear you correctly, bman, you are arguing for some variety of midst the tribulation rapture. I think you see the rapture occuring somewhere near the end. Is that correct?
Where you place the rapture determines who peoples the millennial kingdom. These people are in fleshly bodies such as we now have. They are "regular" people in "regular" bodies as we know bodies to be.
Who do you see peopling the millennial kingdom?
If you're looking to get thrown out of this place, then I suppose we'll have to give the GRPL's the edge on that one.
"Where you place the rapture determines who peoples the millennial kingdom."
It could also determine who your friends are.
I have noticed the disappearance of certain posters as well as the moderator's intervention. Hmmm.
OTOH, if the Rapture occurs at the beginning of or early into the tribulation, then those who came to Christ as a result of the tribulation would be the one's who would populate the earth during the Millenium.
The scriptures are clear that at some point not all will die, but that many will be caught up to be with the Lord in the air. If that happens at the physical return of Christ, then there will be no one left on the earth except the reprobates and those who took the mark.
What are the implications of that?
Per the official keeper of the Great Reformed Ping List:
The GRPL (Great Reformed Ping List) was conceived by Orthodox Presbyterian and initiated by drstevej as a ping list for FReepers who affirm monergistic regeneration regardless of their denominational background.The "Neeners" arose more or less as a loose association of those who were most vocal in taking the "other side" (soteriologically speaking) of the debates with members of the GRPL.
The history between the two groups is...rather colored.
I believe you'll find some members here who are more than happy to take credit for aiding in their departure.
"There is nothing in Scripture that says the purpose of Christ's return will involve 'taking us away someplace' for a period of time. That is a constructed hypothesis read into various passages of the New Testament. It's a misunderstanding of the plain and simple meaning of the imagery that is used. The imagery used in reference to the second coming of Christ repeatedly reflects conquest and return from conquest. In the culture of the day, particularly of the Roman armies, what happened when a Roman general returned from a military campaign of strategic importance? What does he do when he returns? Does he just march into his city with his troops and spoils of war? No, he does not. He camps outside the town and sends his messenger into the Imperial Palace where Caesar is notified of the victory. Then the general waits for the city to prepare for the triumphal entry, which Rome made a big deal of. Meanwhile the soldiers with their booty and captives were camped outside the city. Finally when everything was prepared - the triumphal arch through which the victorious army was to pass was constructed especially for the occasion, incense was sprayed and garlands of flowers were spread around - the signal was given: a trumpet blast. Then first the citizens of Rome were given the right to go out and meet the victorious general and march in his procession, participating in his glory, and they would march with the armies coming into the city through the arch because the victory was considered as a victory for the people of Rome - not just for the Caesar or the general or the armies that represented Rome. So it is with the imagery of the New Testament from Paul, who frequently suggests this kind of occasion. The imagery is true of the second coming - the trumpet blast heralds the King coming in glory and in triumph and His people go up in the air to meet Him. Why? To leave? No, to participate in the eschatological promise we have from the beginning of the Old Testament - to participate in the victory of the Messiah, to march with Him in His triumphal entry - not this time on the back of a donkey, but now coming in glory and power and honor and coming with His people, His saints. The notion of 'going to meet" is to meet someone who is arriving for a joyous, triumphant return - and to walk in with them. When Christ returns, His people are going to participate in that magnificent moment of redemptive history when His glory and power (which has been hidden from those who perish in this world) will be made manifestly obvious. Those who are enduring tribulation with Christ who are buried with Him in baptism to participate in His humiliation and death will now participate in His exaltation and His glory."I do disagree heavily with any notion that we as believers are somehow exempted from tribulation, even that which may occur just prior to His coming.
And contrary to popular belief, the majority of those GRPL's tossed out of this place have not been tossed out on soteriology threads, but on ecclesiology threads. (Of course that does not count all the retreads that have been tossed).
As a matter of fact, my last suspension occurred not in a discussion of soteriology, but when I tried to step between two people (A GRPL and a [FR5th]) who were engaged in heated debate over ecclesiology and I got caught in the
BTW: It is Definitely. Spell check is our friend.
It is not possible for the earth to be peopled only by persons who have received the mark of the beast. They are doomed to the lake of fire. The millennial kingdom on the other hand appears to have within it a number who are followers of the Lord.
Therefore, the return for the rapture and the return to touchdown on Mt Olive MUST be different events.
14:9 Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."
20:3 and he cast him to the abyss, and did shut him up, and put a seal upon him, that he may not lead astray the nations any more, till the thousand years may be finished; and after these it behoveth him to be loosed a little time. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them, and the souls of those who have been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the word of God, and who did not bow before the beast, nor his image, and did not receive the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand, and they did live and reign with Christ the thousand years; 5 and the rest of the dead did not live again till the thousand years may be finished; this [is] the first rising again. 6 Happy and holy [is] he who is having part in the first rising again; over these the second death hath not authority, but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years may be finished, the Adversary shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 and he shall go forth to lead the nations astray, that are in the four corners of the earth -- Gog and Magog -- to gather them together to war, of whom the number [is] as the sand of the sea; 9 and they did go up over the breadth of the land, and did surround the camp of the saints, and the beloved city, and there came down fire from God out of the heaven, and devoured them;
Who are the saints and with what body?
Where are the raptured and with what body?
These who did not bow before the beast, nor his image, and did not receive the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand appear to be part of the first resurrection....which includes the raptured under a small exception clause, "we who are alive and remain will be caught up...."
Who are the 144,000 and with what body?
Who are those who are deceived by Satan after he is released, and with what body?
Hmmmmm....this was one of the few times I ran the spell checker and it doesn't catch "definAtely". But it's definitely not definately.
That's essentially correct, though I would redefine some terms. For example, there's no Biblical justification for calling the whole of Daniel's 70th Week "the Tribulation." According to Yeshua, the Great Tribulation starts at the Abomination of Desolation, not before (Mt. 24:15ff). Also, I demonstrate in this book that the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord are two completely separate time periods that do not overlap, and the sixth seal is the dividing line between them. Since this position believes that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation, but be removed before God's wrath (which comes in the Day of the Lord), Marvin Rosenthal and Robert Van Kampen coined the phrase, "the prewrath Rapture" to describe it.
As they describe it, the prewrath Rapture can happen at any point between the beginning of the Abomination of Desolation and about six months before the Last Battle. For reasons that I get into in the book, I believe the Day of the Lord will be the whole seventh year (or Shabbat year) of the 70th "Week," meaning that the Church will be around for the first six years of the 70th Week.
All of that is getting a bit ahead of ourselves so far. Since this is the direction that both you and P-Marlowe are asking questions in, I'll round up the excerpts and diagrams that explain my Rapture position tonight or early tomorrow.
For the question of who will populate the Millennial Kingdom, I do believe that there will be those written in the Lamb's book of life but whom will not believe in Yeshua until after He appears on the clouds of the sky--the nation of Israel as a whole (including the 144,000) being the most prominent exception. In this, my view isn't that much different from pretrib.
"Who are those who are deceived by Satan after he is released, and with what body"
Perhaps, like the Children of Israel repopulating the families during the 40 year migration, these are children of those "Left Behind". Remember, there is 1000 years and a whole lot of fooling around going on.
"I do disagree heavily with any notion that we as believers are somehow exempted from tribulation"
does make me wonder why we would think we are exempted from tribulations. Our Lord Jesus states,
Christians naturally go through tribulation.
"does make me wonder why we would think we are exempted from tribulations"
Don't you think there is a difference between tribulations we face every day, i.e."...In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) and the Tribulation mentioned in Daniel and Revelation?
Strangely enough, I agree. The problem is not in Scripture or in my position, however, but in how we think of the Second Coming.
When you speak of the Second Coming, people tend to think of Yeshua simply appearing in the sky, touching down, and destroying the Antichrist's armies all in about five minutes of time. However, the Lord's First Coming encompased His birth, growing up, His baptism, His 3+ year ministry, His crucifixion, burial, Resurrection, and numerous "comings" and goings over forty days before His final departure into Heaven. Why should the Second Coming be any less complex?
I would define the Second Coming as starting with the Lord's visible appearance on the clouds of the sky after the Great Tribulation (Mt. 24:29-31), at which point the Church is Raptured (cf. 1 Th. 4:16-5:2), continuing through the Day of the Lord, when the wrath of the Lamb is poured out, and including the "coming" for Israel at which the Mt. of Olives will be split, the final "coming" at the Last Battle, and continuing right through the Millennium and beyond.
Hay, love your signiture line, I understood most of it.
I would like to know how to write
'Yashua, a mockshia tsidkanu'
I am just ignorant, please help. Privaledged to be a wild branch grafted into the real people of God.
Where's the Tribulation?
....I'll go get some popcorn....
I do agree with you here, duncan. I didn't mean to equate necessarily tribulations in general with the "Great Tribulation" referred to in eschatology discussions, although I do believe the former is a good supporting argument regarding the latter.
Those darn amillenialists didn't tell me I was supposed to be ridiculing premils!
You're asking the wrong person. I make no pretense about understanding eschatology.
God is in control. Our Lord Jesus is our Great Shepherd who stands and watches over His flock. And until Christ returns like a thief in the night it is He who sustains us. It matters not whether we go through a tribulation or The Tribulation. It is God who sustains us.
I read through Daniel several times now and find the text problematic to build a whole concept around. I think it tends to be dangerous. Here is another view:
Beloved, do not be astonished at the fiery trial which is to try you, as though a strange thing happened to you, but rejoice according as you are partakers of Christ's suffering, so that when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.If the first century Church was tried and purified by her tribulations, and if the vast majority of the Church around the world is tested by tribulations today, why should we in the Church in America think we should be exempt? Are we holier than the Apostles, who boasted of their sufferings?
--1 Peter 4:12-13
. . . in which you greatly rejoice, yet a little while , if need be, grieving in manifold temptations; so that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
--1 Peter 1:6-7
. . . no one should be drawn aside by these tribulations. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to them. . . [but] God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ . . .
--1 Thessalonians 3:3-4 and 5:9
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.
"But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the sanhedrins, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. And you shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the nations. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
"And brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. And the children shall rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated of all men for My name's sake, but the one who endures to the end shall be kept safe."
"Do not at all fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the Devil will cast some of you into prison, so that you may be tried. And you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life."
This Great Tribulation is not the Day of the Lord--it is not God's wrath and judgment, but the wrath of the Dragon (Rev. 12:12). God will use that period to separate the wheat from the tares, the gold from the base metal. And to be blunt, the Church in America needs that right now.
There is nowhere in Scripture that says that we will be exempt from tribulation--on the contrary, the consistant message is that we should rejoice in it, for it will strengthen our faith and make us more in the image of our Savior.
See post 79.
But the Seals, Trumpets and Vial/plagues are God's judgments not the "wrath of the Dragon". The 1 Peter references are to the trials the church was going through at that time as well as the 1 Thess. passage. There is nothing in the Revelation or Daniel passage that would compare with the intra family problems of the Matthew passage. It appears that these are references to the "I came to bring a sword" statements of Jesus rather than to an eschatological prophecy.
As far as the church in the U.S. is concerned, the Great Tribulation is cosmic, including the heavens and the earth. No particular church or country, (Babylon excepted) is singled out. The progressive judgments lead up to the "Day of the Lord" but they are still judgments of the wrath of God, maybe not THE WRATH OF GOD, and my reading of scripture is that the church will not experience the judgments of God for sin, only for works.
As an aside, with the torture that the church in China and the Muslim countries are experiencing now, why should they have to experience the Great Tribulation, simply because the church in America is soft? Laodicea says "turn or I will spit you out, not wait and see what I'm going to do to you."
All the verses you quoted were to Christians in the first church and throughout the ages. To me tribulation is tribulation. We go through no more or less than what we can handle as God sees fit.
I don't know about any interpretation of any differing views but looking at Rev 12:12-13:
Couldnt that be interpreted as 1) the devil coming down is nothing more than the devil entering Judas which, btw, is the ONLY time in scripture it states the devil entered someone; 2) the dragon seeing he was thrown down as the crucifixion and resurrection; and 3) persecution of the woman who gave birth to the male child as the church?
I can understand why Calvin never wrote a commentary on Revelation.
Please, understand, my questions are only to toughen you up for the "Larry King Live" call in program, right after the book hits #1 on the New York Times non fiction list.
Can you prove that the seals are God's judgments, or is that just a common assumption? I can prove that they are not:
The Fifth Seal: The Great TribulationCongratulations! You've just gotten more of my book out of me. :-)And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, Holy and True, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.The appearance of these martyrs under the altar signifies that place where the blood of a sacrifice for sin was poured out, as was that of the trespass offering. This indicates that these martyrs are of the same group as those who appear before the Fathers throne, those who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For that matter, so do the white robes that they are given after being told to wait. This period of time, this Great Tribulation in which they are martyred is detailed in the Olivet Discourse and Rev. 12-13.
The reader should note that the martyrs are asking when God will judge the earth and are told to wait just a little bit longer, which clearly indicates that neither this seal nor the four that precede it are to be confused with the judgments of God against the sins of the world. The Day of the Lord has clearly not begun yet, so the pretrib objection that since the Church is not appointed to suffer Gods wrath, it must be Raptured before any of the seal judgments are unleashed is shown to rest on quicksand. In fact, let us bow to the definitions given to us by the Word of God and toss away the fallacious term seal judgments altogether. Like using the term tribulation period to refer to the whole of Daniels Seventieth Week, there is no Biblical justification for calling the seals judgments, and it only serves to muddy the waters and slant the discussion.
 Lev. 4:18 and 5:19
 Rev. 7:14
 1 Th. 5:9
[Some presuppose] that a person who becomes a Christian now need not do so through fire and blood. This peculiar conceit seems to be an American invention, as we have become so used to living under a Constitution that protects our right to worship our Lord. Praise God for that! But faith tried through blood and fire is precisely the fate faced by millions of Christians around the world, from Islamic Africa and the Middle-east, to Communist China. Even in Canada, a law was recently passed that forbids teaching the whole of the Bible, lest one offend a protected group like the homosexual lobby, and pastors have already faced legal sanction for doing so. Similar laws have also been enacted in many European countries. If even Canada, so often called the fifty-first state in jest, can find its way to outlaw the Bible, can we honestly say that it could never happen here? On the contrary, the Bible teaches us that we should expect persecution, fire and blood.
The confusion comes from not keeping separate and distinct in our minds, as the Bible does in its words, the Great Tribulation, the wrath of Satan against Israel and those who keep Gods commands and bear witness to Yeshua, and the Day of the Lord, in which God will to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it, and Adonai alone shall be exalted. As Shaul states, we are appointed to tribulation, For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. This is in utter contrast with the Day of the Lord, of which Shaul writes, But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a thief. . . For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach.
Why, it is asked, would Messiah allow His beloved bride to go through the Great Tribulation? In answer, let us remember that the purpose of Messiah giving Himself for us was not so that we could simply come as we are, forgiven but still creatures of our old sinful habits, into heaven without a struggle, but rather that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Yet, without being tried, without ever having the opportunity to suffer for His name, how can we be purified? The Church in the West is filled to overflowing with lukewarm Christians precisely because having faith in Messiah comes so cheaply to us.
As always, Scripture contains the answer. As Kefa wrote, Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Yeshua HaMashiach. The phrase tried by fire invokes the imagery of a kiln that heats and melts the gold so that all of its impurities float to the surface so that they can be skimmed off, leaving the gold pure. Therefore, the primary reason for putting the elect of God through the great tribulation is so that the true church will be presented to Christ as His bride in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle . . . that she should be holy and blameless (Eph. 5:27), so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming (1 John 2:28).
Kefa went on to write, Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Messiahs sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. The first Christians were tested and tried by persecution and suffering, as indeed millions of Christians have had their faith tested even to the point of death throughout the last two thousand years. Even today millions of Christians around the world are tested and tried and put to death. If the Bible not only tells us that we are destined for persecution but also the reason why it must be, why should it surprise Western evangelicals? Even many pretrib commentators will state that though they believe in a pretribulation Rapture, they also expect pre-Rapture tribulation.
Yet, in facing that, let us not forget Messiahs promise to us, that though some of you they will have put to death . . . not a hair on your head shall be lost. We ultimately are destined not for the grave, but for a glorious Resurrection, which is the subject of the next seal.
 Rev. 12:17
 Isa. 13:9
 Isa. 2:11, 17
 1 Th. 3:3-4
 1 Th. 5:4, 9
 Tit. 2:14
 1 Pet. 1:6-7
 Van Kampen, p. 257
 1 Pet. 4:12-13
 Lk. 21:16, 17
Define "worse." What happened during the later Roman persecutions and the Catholic Inquisitions was pretty horrific. It's hard to imagine something being "worse" to the individual. However, it will be worse in the sense that it will be worldwide, with no country to flee to for safety, save perhaps Jordan.
Couldnt that be interpreted as 1) the devil coming down is nothing more than the devil entering Judas which, btw, is the ONLY time in scripture it states the devil entered someone; 2) the dragon seeing he was thrown down as the crucifixion and resurrection; and 3) persecution of the woman who gave birth to the male child as the church?
1) I think it will be something very much like what happened to Judas in that the Dragon will enter the person of a man.
2) Nope. There's no indication that the Dragon has yet been formally and finally evicted from Heaven, and the indications here are that he will only be thrown down to the earth during the last 3 1/2 years (cf. Rev. 12:6 and 14). For now, he continues in his role as "the accuser of our brothers . . . who accused them before our God day and night" (v. 10).
3) Nope, for the Church did not give birth to the Messiah. Israel did. Hence, the woman represents Israel, the Jewish people as a whole, who is persecuted during that time along with "the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (v. 17)--and it is that seed, those branches grafted in to Israel's root (Rom. 11) by adoption as God's children through His Son, who are the Church.
I can understand why Calvin never wrote a commentary on Revelation.
No comment. :-)
I have to go to a meeting with the General Contractor and Architects for a large church project that is about to implode so I won't be able to do justice to your reply until later tonight.
Once again dittos Buggman. I wish you success on your book.
And both of you, thank you for the toughening up.
Then it would not be "apocalyptic" but natural erosion. It seems that each of these events (judgments when I talk to B)are supra natural so that there isn't any question of natural occurences.
It isn't natural IF God does it intentionally on purpose. It simply means that He has decided to direct this act of the play very closely.
But His audience has to understand its purpose, or like me, I curse the grass that grows (having to mow) and I curse the grass that doesn't grow (those miserable brown spots).
Not to belabor the point, but if there are 99 types of grass and 33 varieties die off, isn't that also 1/3 of grass?
I agree with them more than I agree with premillenialists, anyway.
And as it was in the days of Noah, so it also shall be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and the flood came and destroyed them all. So also as it was in the days of Lot: they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but the day Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from the heaven and destroyed them all. Even so it shall be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.From these and other passages, I have to come to a few conclusions:
For you yourselves know accurately that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety! Then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail upon a woman with child. And they shall not escape.
--1 Thess. 5:2-3
1) "Sudden destruction" means "sudden destruction." The idea that we're looking a long wasting period just doesn't fit.
2) Just like the Flood or the nuking of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Day of the Lord judgments will be done in such a way that no one can doubt that they are of Heaven.
3) The Day of the Lord will begin on the very day of the Second Coming/Rapture. There won't be years between as some pretribs have proposed (Chuck Missler among them).
The book of Revelation was one of those books "on the bubble" as it were when decisions about the make up of the Canon were being made. It was included but not without some reservations. Because of its imagery, potential for wild speculation, and possible source for heretical opinion it has never been read in the Orthodox East in the cycle of liturgical readings.
When the Church gathered in council to put its understanding of the faith in the short form of a Creed it only affirmed that Christ would come again and judge the living and the dead. No other detail is provided or was considered necessary.
That being said two things are important. First that any and all of the "details" surrounding the end of history outside the basic affirmation that Christ will return are speculation and need to be explored with an enormous amount of humility and very much within the larger faith and human context of the Church. This is not a place for "lone rangers" and we have way too many loose cannons out there with elaborate and almost always spurious interpretations to sell.
Second the simple truth is this. We Christians would do a thousand times better to read and live the Gospels than engaging in end times speculations. Every second we spend with flow charts, scary books, wondering what the mark of the beast is and such is time spent away from feeding the poor, prayer, worship, caring for the broken, all the things for which we will actually be held accountable upon Christ's return. Could we imagine what the world would look like if all the energy used to try to determine that which even the Apostles were not able to know was directed to things that mattered?
This is not a place for "lone rangers" and we have way too many loose cannons out there with elaborate and almost always spurious interpretations to sell.
Since the larger part of the Church has chosen to ignore and not teach the Bible's final book, it has no right to complain about the "lone rangers" who have to do so on their own, as I've already stated in the original article.
We Christians would do a thousand times better to read and live the Gospels than engaging in end times speculations.
If it were an either/or issue, I would agree. But it isn't. First of all, I've already stated several reasons why all Christians should study the prophetic Scriptures with the same vigor that they do any other subject in the Bible.
Secondly, like Sha'ul, we are commanded to learn and teach the whole counsel of God, not just our favorite subjects. As I pointed out in the intro above, he taught at least the basics of eschatology--including the coming of the Antichrist--to the Thessalonicans during the three short weeks he was there, which means that he was teaching eschatology to newborn Christians.
Thirdly, the Gospel accounts show Yeshua teaching much about the End Times, both in His Kingdom parables, in the Olivet Discourse, and elsewhere. Ergo, if you try to teach the Gospel without also teaching eschatology, you're not really teaching the whole Gospel.
If you consider the book to be of divine origin (As I do) then you need to consider the fact that of all the new testament books, the only one that promises a blessing to those who read and keep the words in it is the Book of Revelation.
Now maybe none of us will understand it until it is all over, but nevertheless, we are admonished to read the words and to keep the words of the Book of Revelation.
Rev 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
So I think it is at least as important to read as the gospels. We may not understand a single word, but nevertheless, we will be blessed if we read it. We have that promise upon the authority of the Word of God.