This past year I have written a bit of what I have learned from my CSBS on each book of the Bible (although I didn’t write too much on the Book of Lamentations), and I have finally arrived to the Book of Revelation. Woohoo!
Obviously this book is the source of a lot of debate and I haven’t even yet scratched the
surface in developing any of my own conclusions.
What I think would be most valuable to share are some helpful thoughts/opinions that the teacher gave us to guide our own personal study. Here are the top seven I found to be the most interesting:
- You must make some assumptions when studying the book – information cannot be purely induced because of the obscure language and imagery.
- Capturing the heart of the book will help guide against incorrect assumptions and better interpretation.
- It is a good idea to read and study the entire Old Testament before trying to understand this book since 2/3 of the book’s verses allude to the OT.
- Cosmic/prophetic language (language used to describe an event in picture form, metaphorically) was used by the prophets in the Old Testament to describe future events but not necessarily end-time events, so therefore cosmic language in the Book of Revelation cannot necessarily always be interpreted as end-time events. For an example, Isaiah 34:4 uses cosmic language, but it was describing the judgment of Judah that happened around 586 BC, not the end-times.
- Although some like to study the book as if it was written in sequential (chronological) order, the book seems to be written more like a cycle or a repetition of ideas. It was as if John was looking at the vision and wrote what he saw from different angles. This explains the repeated themes – revolving mainly around the throne room of God.
- Numbers have symbolic meanings that meant something to the original reader. For example, the number “seven” was symbolic for “perfection.” Therefore the “seven spirits” mentioned four times throughout the book could refer to the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit is a reflection of perfection. Another example is the number “four” which represents humanity or the whole of the world (see, for instance, Rev 5:9 [tribe, language, people and nation]).
- The teacher was of the opinion that chapters 6:1-19:10 probably refer to the Church Age, the Age of Tension, which we live in today. It is the age referred to as “the age of now and not yet,” or “inaugurated eschatology.” The rest of the Book probably refers to future events and Jesus’ second coming.
- There are obviously different view points on this. For example, many “preterists” believe that chapters 6-19:10 refer to 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed, and not the church age. Futurists in general believe in a more literal interpretation and therefore take Revelation chapters 4-22 as end-time events.
But regardless of what stance you’ve taken (if any at all), I think most can agree that Jesus’ message in this book is one of encouragement – that He has already achieved victory and therefore has given us what we need to overcome and endure the evil and suffering of this present age. Final justice will come and death will be defeated!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:
Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things have passed away.
Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.
But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.