8 Oct by iMonkThis is an essay Michael Spencer prepared as a way to help the young people he taught understand the book of Revelation.
One of the best things about working with young people in churches and in a Christian school, as I have for almost 28 years, is answering questions about the Bible. Perhaps the most frustrating part of these questions is that it is almost impossible to explain everything a person needs to know about the book of Revelation in a few sentences.
The difficulty in understanding the book of Revelation doesn’t come from what we know about the book. The book was written to seven actual churches in what was then called Asia Minor, the modern nation of Turkey. From those letters, we know that the churches that first read this book were going through some tough times. These suffering Christians would probably understand the book of Revelation much better than we do, because they understand what it is like to suffer, and to live with the choice of obedience or death. In Revelation, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, the lamb, the great prostitute and other characters were easy to identify if you knew what they represented.
The second way to understand the codes of Revelation is to study other books like Revelation, written in the ancient world, in similar situations, and using similar language. This essay can’t introduce you to the book of Daniel, but I can tell you how it is similar to Revelation.
One of the frustrating things about trying to talk about Revelation is that there is no book that has so many different opinions and ideas tossed around by so may different people–all claiming to be right.
A student of Revelation is going to have to accept the fact that he or she may have to learn several different options for understanding any part of the book, depending on what they are reading or who is talking and teaching.
Probably the #1 mistake most people make about Revelation is assuming it is all about the future. Some Revelation scholars believe these beasts predict a future anti-Christ who will rule the world and be the tool of Satan at the end of time.
Revelation’s message is that we have nothing to fear from anyone, as long as we trust Jesus as Lord and bravely obey him. Another rather silly way to read Revelation is to try and find something in the book that matches up with current technology, such as computers or microchips. There have been times, such as the Reformation of the 16th century in Europe, when the Roman Catholic Church persecuted and killed many non-Catholic Christians. Those who do believe in the rapture generally say it happens in chapter four when John is brought up to heaven. This is, again, one of those terms that is used in different ways by those who read and study Revelation.
But some of the scenes in Revelation are frightening, and to young people who have seen many scary movies, some of these scenes can be upsetting. Remember that Revelation is about God’s doing away with all evil, pain, death, and demons, and bringing all His people home to a wonderful place in a new heaven and a new earth. I could have used this essay back when I was a young person myself, the uber-point probably being that Revelation not only speaks of the future, but also spoke to people precisely where they were at the time. As for particulars, I know that John had to eat a tasty book, which apparently didn’t agree with his stomach, but I missed the part about the woman hiding in the dessert for 1,000 days. Thing is, when I share those beliefs with others, those others have read too much LaHaye or Lindsey or watched too many Cloud Ten or Mark IV movies. And I have seen some alternatives to the Dispy Party Line showing up on cable documentary channels of all places. Yes, Revelation was one of those books that the church had trouble with, and there was dispute whether it should be in the canon until late. The real issue I see with Bible Codes generally is only this, they try to foretell the future.
IM now has a group on Facebook, which is designed to help readers of the Internet Monk blog connect and communicate in other ways and places. To make this as safe and user-friendly as possible, we have made the iMonk Community an invitation only group. I was dining with a theologian recently who had lectured on the Book of Revelation for years. The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. There is a certain hang-over from Post-Modernism that makes the idea of the Book of Revelation being divinely vague very appealing. The Deuteronomy 29:29 is hardly a Biblical justification for the Post-Modernist to substantiate their claim that the Book of Revelation cannot be interpretted accurately and singularly.
If Deuteronomy 29:29 can be appealed to by anyone in regards to the Book of Revelation, it is surely the one who claims that God has revealed something to His people - which He intends to be understood - since it says that the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. There are generally considered to be 4 Schools of Interpretation when it comes to the Book of Revelation. There are general principles for interpreting Scripture that should equally apply to the Book of Revelation.
Considering these principles of interpretation, the reader is invited to read the Book of Revelation with the exegetical question always in mind: What did the original Turkish audience in AD65 understand when they read this?
The Futurist School of Interpretation commits the obvious error of assuming that all of the imminent language of the first 19 chapters of Revelation is to be ignored and dismissed. The Historicist Interpretation commits an equally obvious error by assuming that the events described in Revelation were not for the original audience, but was for unfolding over the centuries culminating in the events, coincidentally, around the time this School of Interpretation was devised (around the time of the Reformation).
The Full (sometimes referred to as 'hyper') Preterist Interpretation commits a less obvious error since it correctly examines the past to see if what was prophesied refers to what is now fulfilled events, but then fails to take into account the context of the original audience not agreeing with their conclusions. Applyng the classical hermeneutic principles for interpreting and understanding any Bible passage can and does equally apply to the Book of Revelation. Secondly, without a reasonable familiarity with the Old Testament, there can not be a reasonable understanding of the Book of Revelation.
Thirdly, any interpretation of the Book of Revelation must concord with all other eschatological passages in the Scriptures.
This is why the Classical Preterist position should be considered the most sound interpretation of the Book of Revelation.
I have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). Regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Book of Revelation, Dr Andrew Corbett in this 4 Part series on the Book of Revelation (presented as a seminar) is now available as a 4 Audio CD set.
The Book of Revelation consists of probably the most horrifying, wonderful, shocking, and positive paragraphs in all of Scripture. With much more than 2 hundred illustrations in every, Parts I, II and III may include the great scope of this . A chance to send premium Revelation art sections to friends by way of Twitter, Facebook and email is a vital feature of this application. The Book of Revelation… This book has long been seen as the most confusing and controversial book of the Bible. Sure, everyone loves Bible scenes acted out by little Lego men, but their take on Revelation is particularly worth a scroll. Staring born-again Christian actor, Kirk Cameron, this movie portrays the beginning of a modern-day apocalypse. Check out the full text of Revelation, so you can relive all the freaky visions first-hand.

Here's all kinds of informative coverage from PBS on the last and creepiest book of the Bible.
Biblical scholar Elaine Pagels sits down with Terry Gross to discuss her work, Book of Revelation: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics. Check out this map of Patmos, just in case you want to explore the home of our visionary narrator. Check out the little spot in Patmos where John is rumored to have seen all his heavenly visions. This is a classic Far Side comic, which demonstrates that work in Hell doesn't always go as planned. It’s been very rare that I have a student ask a question about the book of Romans or Acts. These churches were all very different from one another in size, but all needed encouragement. The Romans ruled most of the known world in the first century, and the Roman emperors were very powerful. The problem here is that there really isn’t anything exactly like the book of Revelation elsewhere in the Bible. We find that most of what is in the book of Revelation can be understood with very little work.
For two thousand years, Christians have been guessing wrong, claiming the Pope, Hitler, Ronald Reagan and others were the anti-Christ. This is evil and shameful, and the Catholic Church has admitted its errors in using violence against those who disagreed with it.
Once secretly to take the church out of the world before severe persecution (the rapture), and once to judge everyone at the end of time. It especially frightens children to hear that the world may end, bad people will be left and terrible things will happen to Christians. I encourage all pastors that it is safe to go into these waters, and people are ready for it, if they can be talked out of the silliness. Thanks to Christian (or should I say Evangelical Protestant) popular culture, those who think like Michael are in the minority. And I am not saying you haven’t done this, but I encourage everyone to get into the TEXT of Revelation. They finally compromised by including it in the Bible, but not reading it in church–on the grounds that ordinary people would have difficulty finding practical benefit from it. It was too certain in corraling study and interpretation toward a Dispensational outcome, when I went into the class knowing an overview of other eschatological perspectives.
Just because there has been a diverse range of alleged interpretations of the Book of Revelation does not mean that they are each equally valid or that one of them in particular may be the singularly and exclusively correct. God intends to convey something to His people which can be understood (otherwise it is not conveying anything). What God intended to communicate is discovered by interpretation of the text based on familiarity with the penman, audience, circumstances, vocabulary, literary style, and occassion.
While there can only be one correct interpretation of a text, there can be several reasonable applications of a text. Where Scripture states an interpretation of its own text, we need not disagree with it and look for additional interpretations. Despite the very plain wording of these first 19 chapters, the Futurist egotistically assumes that the Book of Revelation is written to them. But this makes a mockery of the clear time-frame references in the Book of Revelation and bewilderingly allegorises actual churches as epochs of church history. The Full Preterist (Pantelogist) considers all of the Book of Revelation's prophecies as being fulfilled.
Much to the chagrin of Post-Modernist Theologians, there must be a singular and correct interpretation for the Book of Revelation - otherwise what has been revealed?
At least 60% of the Book employs terms, concepts, and metaphors from the Old Covenant - particularly from the language of the Tabernacle. The application from the Book of Revelation is that despite what appears to be an impotent Church struggling to serve an apparently impotent Christ, the Church is in reality made up of overcomers who lay down their lives gladly to promote Christ and His Gospel.
Figures such as valiant Lamb, the prophetic Two Witnesses, the mercenary Four Horsemen , the Satanic Dragon and also the ruthless Beast have tormented yet motivated the creativeness of artists for ages. All of the text of The Book of Revelation, with out remarks or notes, has been integrated both outside and inside the images.
Just go to the section art gallery with a touch, choose a panel and select how you want to share it. Throughout May and June, we will dedicate our sermon series to taking a good look at Revelation. This film isn't much for historical accuracy, but it makes up for it with awesome low-budget dramatizations of scenes right from John's letter. In fact, when the New Testament was being put together, many Christian leaders felt the book should not be in the Bible because it would be too confusing.
Part of why I am writing this essay is to encourage young people to want to learn more, and hopefully find and read one of the easier books that will help them understand the book of Revelation.
There are other Christian leaders named John in the first century, but the writer of Revelation doesn’t tell us very much about himself. Chapters two and three of Revelation have specific messages from Jesus to these seven churches, and those chapters are among the easiest to read and understand. Many Christians refused to do this, and as a result were singled out for persecution of various kinds. What’s not easy about the book of Revelation is the way it is written, especially after chapter 3.
There are monsters, angels, weird events, mysterious characters, lots of numbers and riddles. But it doesn’t, or at least, not in the way we might want, with all the codes laid out at the end in easy-to-understand forms. In the Old Testament there were two temples, and there is much information about what went on in the temple.
There is one book that is close enough that it can be helpful, though, and that is the book of Daniel. I don’t know anyone who claims to understand all of what the book of Revelation says, and many scholars disagree with one another.
I disagree with that view on almost everything, so I really don’t like the Left Behind books, and usually discourage students from reading them. Certainly, much of Revelation comes around to the end of time and events at the end of history, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it is all about the future only. If there is to be an anti-Christ at the end of time, he will be obvious by his actions, and Christ will destroy him.
I would ask you to avoid any interpretation of something in Revelation that makes no sense in the first century world. Which interpretation would make sense to all Christians, and which one only makes sense to modern people?
At those times, however, it seemed entirely logical to say that the Pope was the anti-Christ of Revelation. Modern Christians have tended to see this as some kind of future identification that Christians should avoid, like giving a person a number on his forehead or a microchip on his body.

I am convinced the Bible teaches that Jesus only returns once, and that Christians should prepare for persecution, and not expect a rapture out of the world before the real tough times begin. Some parts of Revelation, read without all the book, can seem to say that Satan and demons are making everything happen. There, you came under the blood of a lamb and were set free, but the Pharaoh was on your tail. If you take the track Michael has described above, you may find a more coherent and accessible approach, and you may be able to overcome the bad teaching we were given and that is now being carried on by Hagee, Rosenberg, and the other crazies. This especially applies to Biblical prophecy where a prophecy is given and recorded as being fulfilled. Not even J.Stuart Russell, perhaps the most famous Full-Preterist, is prepared to say that he was certain that the last three chapters of the Book of Revelation were definitely fulfilled. It may sound like an audacious claim to have interpretted the Book of Revelation and even more audacious claim to suggest that it can be easily understood. When we read of candles, scrolls, beasts, trumpets, we are reading things that already had associated meaning for the original audience because of their Old Testament familiarity. How on earth can a Historicist accommodate Matthew 24:34 without a similar appeal to incredulity? In so doing, the Kingdom of Christ is extended, prayers are offered and heard, miracles are graced, and the believer can die with infinite hope that their Lord will keep them for eternity and clothe them with a new body which can not be subject to pain, injury, sorrow, or sin.
DeMille, illustrator Chris Koelle’s electronic convergence of ink, pen, woodcut, and modern-day unique effects generates both a gritty and grand visual function for this current translation by Philemon Sevastiades and Mark Arey. In fact, he makes it clear that he is more of a secretary than anything else, writing down what he sees and hears. At the time the book of Revelation was written, the Roman emperor was Domitian (dough-me-shun), and he was very strict about worship at his temples. Christians sometimes are harassed or told they cannot do some things they might want to do, but few American Christians have been imprisoned or killed for being Christians. It’s much more like a painting, full of characters and colors and numbers and events that have a secret meaning, which make sense to some people, but not to others. Sacrifices, priests, music, altars, incense–it is all described in many different places in the Old Testament. It also uses many pictures and symbols, in dreams and visions, to communicate the message that no matter what happens in history, God is in control. Most of us can’t take the time to learn the original languages and go to libraries and study. But an impressive majority of scholars studying Revelation agree on most of what the books says. Computers and bar codes might make sense to us, but they would be meaningless to first century Christians, and the book of Revelation is as much theirs as it is ours. When the Emperor Domitian began persecuting Christians 30 years later, some Christians felt like Nero had come back from the dead.
It ends with a wonderful view of heaven that has given comfort to millions of Christians for thousands of years. He was adamant that there was not any particular method to understand everything in the Book of Revelation.
For example, Isaiah's prophecy that a virgin would conceive a child is stated by Matthew to have been fulfilled when Mary gave birth to Jesus. The fact that none of the earliest Church Fathers wrote in support of the Full-Preterist position is cause for reflection too. It is offered as an interpretation from as early as the Second Century and again affirmed by the likes of Athanasius in the the Fourth Century.
With this knowledge we can endure momentary hardship during the brevity of this life on earth.
On the Friday just before Christmas the 22nd, so last chapter of The Book of Revelation can be launched and the whole book will be presented to buy. But, we will quickly move into studying the Book of Revelation itself and learn that it is a book for TODAY! Preachers on tv and in churches have a lot to say about the book of Revelation, and much of what they say seems very certain about the meaning of the book.
Others were poor and suffering churches, and they are usually commended for being faithful in suffering. Cities built temples to him, had large statues for people to worship, and even employed priests to enforce the worship of Domitian. No matter how rough or bad it gets along the way, Christians must be faithful, be willing to suffer, and wait on God to bring all things to an end in His kingdom. I would caution you to remember that every generation of Christians has tended to think they understood events in Revelation clearly, and all have been proven wrong about much of what they said. It seems even more bizarre to say that American Christians should pray for escape from their luxury, rather than pray for faithfulness in suffering, if that is what the future actually brings.
In Revelation you come under the blood of the Lamb and are set free, but then the Dragon is on your tail. I don’t have time to go through the hundreds of comments that go into spam every day, but let me know and if it's in spam I can do a quick search and set it free.
It seems unecessary to think that this prophecy might have multiple fulfilments - even into the future.
We can be assured that our greatest delights and deepest moments of fulfilment are yet to come in the life to come. This brilliant realization of an historical text we hope may activate discussion, problem assumptions and light up Revelation’s a lot of splendors for a world-wide audience.
In fact, it is our hope that you will discover that Revelation is a positive book of praise and worship that tells a story of victory and life in Jesus Christ. Naturally, young people are curious about the book when they hear that it predicts the future. This is what prompted him and other scholars to say that Revelation is a series of seven visions spanning the time between the first and second comings of Christ.
He cited Deuteronomy 29:29 to justify his belief that it was impossible to understand the Book of Revelation, claiming that The Apocalypse was a divine secret.
For the Full-Preterist to argue that this is now a heavenly climate begs the question as to what climate heaven endured before 70AD and why was that the case??? After all, if the Book of Revelation was never meant to be understood, then it can hardly be a "revelation"! It is commended to you in my ebook THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE, which you can download immediately. But there is one immediate and gargantuen problem with this idea: for Revelation to be a revelation it has to be a revelation. 11:8) When John told them of 7 kings where one of those kings was now reigning over them, could they have resonably thought of anything other than the Roman King currently reigning (which was Nero, whose Gemetria adds up to 666)?

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