It was only a few months ago that a small Sunday morning adult Bible study at Provider Chapel, Ft. Carson, Colorado began a study of the book of Revelation. Little did we know, or even suspect, that we could soon be on the brink of another major global conflict. We had been studying books of the New Testament for several years and it seemed to be an appropriate time to leave the writings of the Apostle Paul and explore an overview of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John.
To date (March 2022) we have learned quite a lot, although we have just begun to study the lesson discussing chapters 14—16, with much more yet to explore.
Did you know that the book of Revelation might be the only book of the Bible that actually provides its own outline? Speaking to John in the first chapter, Jesus told him:
“Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.” (Rev 1:19)
What follows is John’s vision of the risen Christ, letters to seven churches that existed during John’s lifetime (2:1—3:22), followed by a series of events that were yet to take place (4:1—22:21).
Did you know that there are several approaches to studying the “things yet to take place?”
The Futurist Approach
The futurist approach to the book of Revelation regards the visions of chapters 4–22 as referring to events that lie in the future, events that will occur immediately prior to Christ’s second coming and the end of history. This is the most popular approach, yet there are differing opinions of certain future events.
A strength of futurism is its recognition that the book of Revelation teaches continued, and even increased, suffering for the people of God before the end of history. Futurism also properly emphasizes that the ultimate triumph of Christ and His people will occur only at the second coming of Christ.
The Preterist Approach
Preterism, as its name implies (deriving from a Latin root for “past”), takes the opposite tack of futurism. In this approach, the book of Revelation primarily refers to events that occurred in the past, either in the period prior to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD or in the early Christian centuries leading up to the destruction of the Roman Empire in the fifth century AD.
The Historicist Approach
The historicist approach reads the book of Revelation as a visionary symbolization of the sequence of events that will occur throughout the course of the history of the church, from Christ’s first coming until His second coming. Historicist interpreters of the book typically read its visions as a presentation in chronological order of the most significant developments in the history of redemption.
The Idealist Approach
The idealist approach differs from the first three approaches in its reluctance to identify any particular historical events, institutions, or people with the visions of the book of Revelation. This approach views the visions of Revelation as a portrayal of the church’s struggle throughout the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ.
We’ve also learned that there seem to be quite a few Bible scholars, from beginners to renowned theologians, who seem to have figured out all of the details of most of the events recorded in Revelation. As for our small Sunday morning class, we’ve decided to remain thoughtful concerning the details, but to focus on the major themes of Revelation, with which most commentators seem be in complete agreement!
God’s sovereignty— God is sovereign. He is greater than any power in the universe. God is not to be compared with any leader, government, or religion. He controls history for the purpose of uniting true believers in loving fellowship with Him. Though Satan’s power may temporarily increase, we are not to be led astray. God is all-powerful. He is in control. He will bring His true family safely into eternal life. Because He cares for us, we can trust Him with our very lives.
Christ’s return— Christ came to earth as a “Lamb,” the symbol of His perfect sacrifice for our sin. He will return as the triumphant “Lion,” the rightful ruler and conqueror. He will defeat Satan, settle accounts with all those who reject Him, and bring His faithful people into eternity. Assurance of Christ’s return gives suffering Christians the strength to endure. We can look forward to His return as King and Judge.
God’s faithful people— John wrote to encourage the church to resist the demands to worship the Roman emperor. He warns all God’s faithful people to be devoted only to Christ. Revelation identifies who the faithful people are and what they should be doing until Christ returns. You can take your place in the ranks of God’s faithful people by believing in Christ. Victory is sure for those who resist temptation and make loyalty to Christ their top priority.
Judgment— One day God’s anger toward sin will be fully and completely unleashed. Satan will be defeated with all of his agents. False religion will be destroyed. God will reward the faithful with eternal life, but all who refuse to believe in Him will face eternal punishment. Evil and injustice will not prevail forever. God’s final judgment will put an end to these. We need to be certain of our commitment to Jesus if we want to escape this great final judgment. No one who rejects Christ will escape God’s punishment.
Hope— One day God will create a new heaven and a new earth. All believers will live with Him forever in perfect peace and security. Those who have already died will be raised to life. These promises for the future bring hope. Our great hope is that what Christ promises will come true. When we have confidence in our final destination, we can follow Christ with unwavering dedication no matter what we must face. We can be encouraged by hoping in Christ’s return.
Online Source: Theopedia.com