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“The Book of Revelation is one weird book. I don’t get it — it is supposed to be the prophecy of the end, right?” — Devin
The Revelation of John, the last Book of the New Testament, is generally considered to be a prophecy of “the end.” And yes, it is strange — because it was written in an encrypted language totally foreign to us. It was most likely understood by its initial recipients.
We, however, are left to divine its hidden meanings — and the range of our interpretations is vast!
The operative question is this: “Which ‘end’ is it prophesying?” There are three basic views:
Some believe it is a message to first century Jewish Christians, warning them of the impending doom of Jerusalem.
By means of fantastic images and metaphors, the writer intended to encourage them to hold fast to their faith as the end approached (which came in AD 70).
A very popular interpretation holds that the Book is a prophecy dealing with the end of the world.
The Book, this position maintains, paints a vivid picture of the sequence of events sometime in the future: a time of tribulation, the rapture of the church, dramatic devastation wreaked upon unbelieving humanity, a final cataclysmic battle and the last judgment.
Satan and his followers end up in the abyss; Christ-followers occupy a new heaven and Earth.
A third view posits that the Book deals essentially with the story of individual persons — temptation and suffering as well as the reign of Christ are all going on right now.
Arguments may be made for and against the legitimacy of each view. In this space, we will simply make three points:
Be humble — resist allowing loyalty to one view to become a source of division.
Be cautious — don’t force the Bible to support a preconceived interpretation. Let it speak freely.
Remember the message — no matter how tough this life is, Christ has conquered and the believer’s ultimate hope is in Him.