How many of us have read the Book of Revelation? If we ask ourselves this question, many people will say they have skimmed it. We might have read the parts we like, and certainly some of us might have avoided the Book of Revelation completely, because it just seems too odd or strange. But I think if we ask the question—How many of us have ever talked about the themes of the Book of Revelation? — we would all say we’ve done that! Christians and even non-Christians have dabbled in the theories, themes, and imagery that appear in the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation is simply a revelation of Jesus Christ
Certain faith traditions have the crux of their faith in the Book of Revelation. If you’ve ever talked with a Jehovah’s Witness, you’ve entered the Book of Revelation. I would even posit that Christians have faith roots in the reality of the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Revelation is simply a revelation of Jesus Christ—the God who was and is God triumphant. The Book of Revelation gives you courage as one who is victorious through Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the devil. The Book of Revelation points the “reader” or “hearer” to the reality that no matter what you are going through, you will overcome it through the victory already won by Jesus.
It is beneficial for us to not only discover the answer to what the Book of Revelation means for us today, but also to embrace how to read the book. There are four views on how to read it. Let’s dive into these four views:
- The Preterist View: This approach believes that Revelation dealt only with the church in John’s day. In the Preterist approach, Revelation doesn’t predict anything. John simply described events of his current day, but he put them in symbolic code so people outside the Christian family couldn’t understand his criticism of the Roman government. In the Preterist view, the Book of Revelation was for then, not now.
- The Historicist View: This approach believes that Revelation is a sweeping and disordered panorama of all church history. In the Historicist approach, Revelation predicts the future, but the future of the “church age”— not the future of end-time events. In the Historicist view, Revelation is full of symbols that describe now.
- The Poetic View: This approach believes that Revelation is a book full of pictures and symbols meant to encourage and comfort persecuted Christians in John’s day. In the Poetic or allegorical view, the Book of Revelation isn’t literal or historical. Revelation is a book of personal meaning.
- The Futurist View: This approach believes that beginning with chapter four, the Book of Revelation deals with the end times, the period directly preceding Jesus’ return. In the Futurist view, Revelation is a book that mainly describes the end times.
No matter what you are going through, you will overcome it through the victory already won by Jesus.
Which approach is correct? Each one is true in some regard. The Book of Revelation did speak to John’s day. It speaks to church history. And it does have meaning for our personal life. While elements of the first three approaches have their place, we can’t deny the place of the Futurist view. Revelation speaks of the end times, which we are in now. These principles draw from Revelation 1:1-3. We get off target and out of context of what John and God intended when we put the Book of Revelation into only one of the four views.
When we read the Book of Revelation, we must remember that this book is first and foremost about Jesus Christ. It is not about knowing when He will return, the protection of land, or a restoration of Israel being the whole land of the Davidic Kingdom. It is not about beasts, devils, lakes of fire, and demons. It is about Jesus! It is about Jesus victorious—Christus, Victor.
We must remember that this book is first and foremost about Jesus Christ
So, when you read the Book of Revelation, you must ask yourself, “What is this saying about Jesus?” It is essential for us to understand there is a place for all four views of the Book of Revelation, but they are central to Jesus and must remain focused on Jesus.
The hearer or reader of the Book of Revelation should have great courage and confidence to know that a life well lived is a life that is given fully to Jesus physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Have you given your life fully to Him? Are you emotionally centered upon Him and spiritually entrusting Him? The Book of Revelation is a reminder that you as God’s creation are called and made with one purpose—to worship the Alpha and the Omega, the King of the Universe, the One God…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Lastly, the Book of Revelation is deeply connected to the Old Testament. One can’t read the Book of Revelation without knowing the Old Testament. More than 70 percent (404 verses) of Revelation make some reference to the Old Testament. From the Alpha (Genesis) to the Omega (Revelation), the Old Testament is paramount to the reader experiencing that the God of all time is the God victorious for all time.
A life well lived is a life that is given fully to Jesus physically, emotionally, and spiritually
In conclusion, remember that you can read the Book of Revelation without fear, hesitation, or apprehension! I encourage you to find the Word of God true. You are blessed to read it and hear it, for it is the victorious Word of God for you!